Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I don't care..........

Along this journey of adoption there are great days, hard days, busy days, crazy days and very unpredictable days. This past Saturday I found myself in one of those unpredictable days where a situation stopped me in my tracks and made me realize just how much I love my kids. A day where someone said something to make me know of my deep love for the six blessings that have been entrusted to me.

Lindsay, Garrett, and Tia had a soccer game (football game if you ask Garrett) and so we as a family headed out to the field along with some friends who were visiting with us for the weekend. We got our chairs all set up and the kids started to play. Tia and Lindsay are really having fun playing soccer this season and Garrett is not only having a blast but he is a really good soccer player. This week was no different than the past few weeks Garrett started on offense and pretty quickly scored a goal. It is so much fun to see the joy on his face as he kicks and then watches the ball enter the goal- It never will get old watching his sheer joy when he scores!

Now Garrett is a very fast and somewhat aggresive soccer player from his years at the orphanage where all they had was one small ball to play with. He spent most of his days playing soccer on a small concrete driveway surrounded by four walls and many kids fighting for the ball. This comes out on the soccer field from time to time but it has never been an issue, he just plays hard and usually ends up with the ball.

This week during the game Garrett was playing hard and as he was playing hard he tripped a player from the other team. The referee blew his whistle and stopped play to allow the other team to kick the ball due to the violation. As the referee blew his whistle several of the parents from the other team started yelling, "Cheater! That kid is a cheater!" At first I wasn't sure I heard them correctly but about the tenth time they repeated themselves I knew that what I thought they were saying was indeed what they were saying. I then saw their coach say a few not nice things to the referee about my son and I knew that I must do something.

I very quickly got up from my seat and just knew in my heart that if the parents who were calling my son a cheater knew his situation then they would understand and quickly stop calling him names. I walked over to the four parents who were yelling and said very calmly, "Excuse me, but that is my son and he hasn't been with us very long. He spent the last few years in an orphanage in Ethiopia and he is continuing to learn the rules that we use here in soccer." Before I could even finish one of the fathers said in a very hateful voice, "I don't care where he is from, get him off of the field now!" As my body began to shake I turned and as quickly as I could and I walked back to my seat trying to hold back my tears.

As I sat back down I replayed what had just taken place. I looked beside me and our precious Megan was fighting back tears as she said, "Mom, I am going to cry. Why would someone be so mean?" I answered her by saying, "Megan, people aren't always going to understand. It is my job to stand up for Garrett in this situation but when people mistreat us we must turn the other cheek and be Christ like. All we can do is be nice and hope that our kindness will bring about change." Even as I spoke those words my shaking would not stop. My heart was breaking for my son that I love with all that I am.

As the game continued so did the shouting. It changed to them yelling things like, "Take him out", "Trip him" and many other very mean things. I sat quietly praying that Garrett would be protected from their ugly words and thankfully he was. He had no idea what they were yelling or even that they were yelling at him. He continued to play his very best and you better believe that when he scored the next goal I was on my feet yelling for him!

As the game went on I started thinking about the words that had been spoken to me- The words........I don't care. I know that so many really don't care about anything more than themselves, their kids, and their own comfort. I see it everyday, yet I don't know that I have ever had another adult actually speak the words- I don't care. Most people really don't care and even if it is unspoken it is clearly seen by how they live their lives.

I hope that by the way I live my life people will know that I do care! Are my actions matching my words? I thought about that as my body continued to shake. On Saturday their words were matching their actions in a negative way but it made me stop and thing about my own life..........I do care and I want it to show!

What about in your life? Do you care or would others conclude that you don't care when they look at your life? Just a little something to think about-

In case you wanted to know.........Our team won and after the game a player from the other team came over and called Garrett a cheater...... Guess who that players parents were? Our kids are always watching and learning- Do your kids know you care so that they can follow or are we raising a generation who says- I Don't Care?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Garrett's Heart.........

As I sit and write this post tears are steaming down my face.............
I am amazed again at what God is doing as we walk down this path of adoption that He has called our family to. Not only do we feel called to love these precious twins that needed a home but we have such a strong desire to love their extended family and friends that reside on the island where Tia and Garrett spent their first four years. The need on the island is great and as we have thought about and prayed about the enormous needs we sometimes feel overwhelmed but tonight as I sit here weeping I know that my God will provide ALL that is needed for the Zay people in ways that I would never have dreamed of!

After reading several of my blogs over the past few weeks where I have shared that my son Garrett wants to help his fiends and family who will forever live on the island, some of our very best friends started Garrett's Heart. Dave and Robin Laney who currently live in Nebraska hosted a very LARGE yard sale this past weekend and made well over $2,000.00 to help Garrett provide basic needs of food, water and medical help for those that he loves so much. I of course cried when I heard that so many people in Nebraska had given so much in order for this event to take place.

Dave and Robin are also partnering with a few churches and families by asking them to consider matching their water bill for a month and sending that amount of money to help build a well on Tia and Garrett's island. I am simply amazed that those who don't know Garrett or our family have been willing to donate items, give of their time and financially make sacrifices to help make sure that Garrett's heart can rest knowing that the needs of the ones he loves are going to soon be met.

Tonight I received this note from Robin, " I just heard tonight that one of my friends' daughters have just been approved by their private school to have a day dedicated to Garrett's Heart where the kids will pay to 'dress down' and have the opportunity to give even more as their hearts lead!!!! These girls (and their mom) read your blogs incessantly. :)" As I read this tonight the flood gates of tears that still will not stop started- Kids at a private school in Nebraska will give money to dress down for a day so a precious six year old boy in Charlotte, North Carolina will be able to provide for so many half way around the world! Our God is a BIG God!

If you want more information on Garrett's Heart you can go to

Off to try to stop the tears as I praise the One who has known all along the greatness of the task ahead and has every step covered as we follow Him-

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a difference.......

What a difference a year makes. One year ago today, David and I sent our kids off to school and he had a great day planned for my Birthday. We spent the entire morning together and had lunch at Foster's Grill. When we pulled out of the parking lot from lunch, where we had dreamed of what the next year would hold, I noticed that our adoption agency was calling. My hands literally started to shake because they never contacted us and earlier that morning I had received word that several waiting families from our agency had been issued a court date. I couldn't answer the phone quickly enough and David shared later how he just knew that God had saved this special phone call of a court date for my Birthday.

When I answered the phone the lady from our agency did not have a court date for us but instead said that she was sorry but that we should take another referral because the children that we had been waiting for were unadoptable. I made her repeat herself as I felt feelings that I had never felt before. Tears started streaming down my face and all of the excitement of answering the phone turned to sheer disbelief. This couldn't be happening I thought to myself. We have loved our precious twins for ten months and they knew we were coming. We had sent two care packages with our family photos and introduced ourselves as their mom and dad. We had even had phone conversations with them where we promised that we were going to come soon to bring them home.

I had a million questions of which I only ask the agency representative about three and her responses were all the same. She simply said, "I have no details but I can have the owner of the agency call you soon." As I hung up the phone I literally felt sick. I have faced having a heart condition, losing those close to me, moving far from family and a tubual pregnancy yet nothing even closely compared to the deep ache in my heart. By the time I was off of the phone David had pulled into the parking lot at the mall and I stepped out of the car and over to a small patch of grass because I knew at any moment I was going to lose the Birthday lunch that we had just enjoyed. David walked over to where I was and wanted me to recount the phone coversation that I had just finished. I couldn't form the words and I just cried in his arms. Finally after a few minutes I explained how she was calling to inform us that Tizita and Geremew were not adoptable and no reason was given as to why. We both were is disbelief and we neither one were in any shape to drive home. We just held each other and cried and I am sure that anyone passing by knew that something horrible had just happened in our life. We finally settled down enough to get into the car and drive home.

As we pulled into our driveway I notice that my good friend Angela was at our house waiting for me. I started to wonder how she knew what was happening and how she came so fast. As I got out of the car it then occurred to me as I saw her holding a gift for me that she was there for my Birthday not because of the news that we had just received. Tears were flowing down my face as I walked up the driveway to my sweet friend and she didn't say a word only held me in her arms. I then stepped back and shared with her the news that had just been delivered to us. God knew well in advance to have a precious friend at our home to meet us when we arrived there and I will never forget His goodness that arrived to us in the form of a great friend.

After we arrived home David and I knew that we had to come up with a plan to share with Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay this unexpected news. The thought of having to disappoint them with the news that their brother and sister would not be coming home was almost more than I could bear yet we knew as soon as they saw us they would know that something terrible had happened while they were at school. While we waited for their arrival home we crawled into our bed, cried and called out to God.

Lindsay and Jacob arrived home first and we called them to come up to our room. David explained to them that we didn't know exactly why but that Tizita and Geremew could not become a part of our family. They both burst into tears and started asking all of the questions that David and I had. With each question we just held them and said that we didn't know but that God did and we would just have to trust Him. When Megan and Kaylee arrived home we shared the same news with the same response. Tears were flowing and they had several harder questions like, "If we are following what God wants us to do by adopting then why would He allow them to not come home?" Questions like these had been flowing through my mind for the past three hours and there were no answers.

The six of us spent Friday night (other than a tear filled Birthday dinner at Olive Garden) and ALL day Saturday huddled in our bedroom. We cried and prayed for those two days- It was a weekend that none of us will ever forget. On Saturday David was wrestling with what he would share on Sunday morning. If you know our family you know we are very real and we share our lives like an open book. He knew that the series he was currently prepared for he could not speak on. He was sharing a series called Life at the Office and he decided to scrap that idea and share what was happening in our family instead.

That Sunday was another day that will not be forgotten by our family. The way that our church family loved on us and carried us was simply amazing. I just found out this week that the band was scheduled to play, "I'm going home" to go with the office series on that Sunday and they knew even before David shared that he wasn't doing the office talk that day that they couldn't play that song. People brought meals and gathered around us and prayed. One guy in his early 20's even shared that his adoptive parents had been told that he was unadoptable but they didn't give up and he became theirs.

We were told at the end of the weekend by the owner of the adoption agency that there was little to no hope but that he was willing to try and help us continue with this adoption. He shared that the birth family of Tizita and Geremew could not be located and without that they would never be adopted because they had be relinquished and not abandoned. He told us that he would contact us in several weeks with an update on their situation. We quickly started asking other agencies and those in the adoption field what we could do to help locate a birth family and more importantly we prayed for God to intervien for the sake of these two orphans that He had called us to parent.

Over the next few days I will share our full story of how we got from October 16, 2009 to today where I sat at Foster's Grill for my Birthday lunch beside the cutest twins in the world!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fair or Unfair........

Garrett and his big brother Welde (green shirt)

A few weeks ago the fair was here in town and of course all of our kids wanted to go. Jacob, Megan and Kaylee all ask if we could go to the fair at different times during the ten days it was here in town. My response was the same to each of them when they wanted to know if we could go. I explained to them that taking our family to the fair would cost around $150.00 and that I thought that money could be used for something far more important than a few hours of fun for our family.

Now our family is all into fun and we love to have a good time but I really want to continue to capture our kids hearts and remind them of where and how we spent our summer. While in Ethiopia this summer we had many family times of talking about how blessed we are and how much we could do without. How much money we spend on pleasure when people around the world are starving, homeless and fatherless was often the center of our conversations while living in Addis for six weeks. I have been so thankful that since our return I can see a marked difference in each of our children in the way they view life but as time goes by I want to continue to keep fresh in their minds what we experienced and more than what we experienced what kids their age are facing each day around the world as they live their comfortable lives here in America.

I decided that we needed to spend this same amount of money we would spend at the fair on something that could transform a life half way around the world. I was unsure of what that would be but I trusted that God would give me a chance to share with our kids what $150.00 was able to do other than take our family to the county fair for a few hours. Of course within a few days we found out about a need and we were able to give to fulfill that need.

Nicco contacted us the week after our kids had been asking to go to the fair and shared with us that Welde (Tia and Garrett's brother) had decided that he would like to attend school yet he had no way to pay for his education, housing and supplies. He has been a fisherman for several years but really wants to be able to do more with his life than just fish and he had shared his desire to return to school with Nicco. We of course wanted to help Welde get an education and so we questioned Nicco on the cost to help Welde get registered to attend school.

Nicco thought that it would cost about $100.00 to $150.00 per year to enroll him into school, provide a room for him (off of the island because school only goes to 4th grade on the island), 2 uniforms and school supplies. I was so excited to think that we could send our "fair" money to Welde and allow him to have an education for an entire year verses a few hours of entertainment for our family. I couldn't wait to tell my kids!

Our kids didn't think that it was unfair to not get to attend the fair when they found out that Tia and Garrett's brother could go to school for a year on the same amount of money that it would cost us for an evening of fun. Instead they were very excited to know that we as a family were investing in our extended family half way around the world! I am so thankful that they were able to experience what they experienced this summer.

I spoke to Nicco late last week to find out that he had received the money for Welde's education and that it was enough not only for Welde but for two of Tia and Garrett's sisters as well. The three of them are now attending school each day and being prepared for their future. I couldn't wait for the kids to get home from school last Thursday so I could share that our "fair" money was providing so much more than we even first thought- Life is not always fair but when we give Life is always sweeter!

Next time you start to spend $100.00 on something for entertainment, pleasure or self- indulgence I hope that you will stop and think about what a blessing it could be to someone who has so much less than you and I challenge you to give it away- I promise life will be sweeter!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Little Things.......

It's the little things that remind me of the long journey that we have been on the past few years. Each morning as I take Lindsay, Jacob, Tia and Garrett to school I pray out loud for them. Today as I pulled out of the driveway Tia said, "Mom, today me pray."

As we drove down Stallings Road today my precious six year old, Tia, prayed for each person in our family with her broken English. After she prayed I thought back to the countless days of Jacob, Lindsay and I praying for Tia and Garrett to come home. Tears of sweet joy poured down my face this morning as I kissed all four of them goodbye....... there were days I thought that mornings like this may never become a reality. I am so blessed!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Sometimes there are people who come into your life and they change you forever. In the photo above you will see a young man named Kediir who has made a huge impact in my life. I have only known Kediir for only a few years and I don't get to see him very often but he will forever hold a special place in my heart.

I met Kediir in the summer of 2005 while in Ethiopia serving at a soccer camp with Sports Friends and at the time Kediir was between 12 and 13 years old. Kediir was on my soccer team for the week and even though we didn't speak the same language I saw first hand him make a decision to trust Jesus with his life. He was from a Muslim family and so his decision to follow Jesus would not be an easy decision when he returned home after camp. It broke my heart the day he climbed on the van with the other guys from my team because I knew that they were all traveling back to their villages where life was going to be even harder than it already was. I cried and prayed for each of them as I knew that I would never see these boys again this side of heaven.

I was very wrong- The next day our team piled on a van and headed out to a few villages to visit a few of the guys who had just spent the week with us. To my surprise one of the first stops was at Kaddir's house. I was so excited to see him again and it was humbling to stand in his small village and meet his family. They were very warm and welcoming and as I hugged his mom I made a promise to myself that I would pray for this families salvation until I returned to Ethiopia the next time.

While we visited with Kediir that day he went into his hut and brought out a bracelet that I had been wearing the entire week at camp. It was a bracelet with photos of Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay that my kids had given me to wear while away from them. I had forgotten that on the last night of camp we had a large bonfire and as we were dancing around I had given the bracelet to Kediir to put in his pocket so I wouldn't loose it. He had also forgotten that he had it and when he left from camp it was still in his pocket. He handed it to me and had a translator tell me that he was so sorry that he had forgotten to return it. I handed it back to him and explained that I wanted him to keep it to remind him that I would be praying for him each day. I knew that he would cherish that bracelet and enjoy it more than I ever would.

In February of 2006, David traveled to Ethiopia and when he visited Kediir he was still wearing the bracelet that I had left with him the previous summer. David had new and updated photos of our four children as well as a few photos of Kediir and I from our week at camp to give to him. David was able to spend spend time with Kediir and I was so excited for the two of them to meet each other. Kediir also shared with David that two of his brothers had accepted Christ and how excited he was to not be the only believer of Jesus in his Muslim family. God was answering my prayers-

Over the next few years David and I have continued to stop by and see Kediir and his family everytime we have traveled to Ethiopia. Now several of his siblings are Christ followers. Kediir and his family are always overjoyed to see us and they usually cry with delight upon our arrival. That was no different when we visited with them a few weeks ago.

It had been over 2 years since I had visited with Kediir and so while we were in Ethiopia this summer a visit with his family was very high on my priority list. I couldn't wait for Megan, Kaylee, Lindsay and Jacob (and my sister Carrie) to get to meet this young man that they had been praying for with me. I couldn't wait for Kediir to get to meet the kids that I had told him about on all of our visits together.

I was so thankful that our great friend (and hero) Nicco had some free time and was willing to travel with us to be our translator with Kediir. We weren't sure that Kediir would even be home but as we got close to his village I saw Kediir walking out on the road. Eskel our driver stopped the van and I jumped out to greet him. Tears filled my eyes as I was so excited to get to spend some time with this young man and his family that I pray so much for. Our kids filed out of the car and each hugged Kediir and it was another moment of disbelief that this was actually happening. A day I had dreamed of happening but never thought would be a reality.

We walked towards Kediir's hut and his family all came running out to greet us. They couldn't believe that we were there to visit. My heart broke as Nicco translated Kediir saying that he thought that we had forgotten about him.Nothing was further from the truth and I made sure that he knew that I would always be praying for him and his family .

We spent the next hour catching up with his family and all learning how to use a whip. (See photo above!) It was such a fun afternoon of laughing, playing and just enjoying being together. We even found out while we were there that this brother-in-law is an employee of Nicco at Nicco's new truck stop- What a small, small world! When it was time for us to go, Kediir went into his hut and brought out all of the photos of our family that we had ever given him. He shared with us how much they meant to him and how he thinks of us each day.

Kediir has recently started his secondary education and is very rarely in his village because his school is a few hours away. I was so excited that he was home that day and I am even more excited that this young man who knows Jesus has and will continue to make a huge impact in his community.

I am so thankful that a few years ago I spent a week of my summer in Ethiopia sharing God's love with a group of guys- I would have never guessed how much it would have forever changed my heart and life!