Thursday, June 17, 2010

Minus One

This is an unbelievably beautiful video that was done by a family that traveled to Ethiopia with our good friends the VanderGiessen's when they went to bring home their daughter, Maleah.  I don't know how you cannot be moved ...  (Pause the music on my blog so that you can hear the beautiful song.)  Oh, might want to grab a tissue ...


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blog Stalking

One of the things that has encouraged me the most throughout this adoption process is reading blogs of families who have been there done that.  Most of them I have never met .... One of them that I enjoy and who has encouraged me a great deal in our fundraising efforts is this family ...  They've made some really cool t-shirts ... and I'd love to win one!  Check them out here:

Also, scroll down to the blog list on the sidebar to see others that I love and read ... in my spare time!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Houston's Lament

My sister teaches my oldest two kids piano lessons ... and she is so great at helping them learn how to feel the music ... to put their heart and soul into it.  A couple of weeks ago during Kristen's lesson, Jill titled one of her sad pieces ... Houston's Lament ... to help her connect with the emotion of the piece.  It is a fitting name ... though I'm not sure that Chopin would agree.

So far this blog has primarily been about our adoption ... but today ... I think it will delve into another part of my life right now.  You see, my sister, my best friend ... one of the only people who really knows and gets me ... is moving ... to Houston.  She leaves on Saturday morning.  We've known that she and her family are moving for several months now ... and I have successfully put off really "going there" ... going to the place of emotion that allows me to fully express how great this loss is.  I told my family at one point, I'm afraid if I start crying that I might never stop.

Jill and I have always been friends.  I'm sure there was some occassional bickering when we were growing up, but nothing serious.  However, our relationship took on a new depth and intensity about 12 years ago ... when as adults we walked through some very deep, dark waters together.  We lived apart from each other during that time.  Our phones were our lifelines ... and this was before cell phones were so common.  We cried, laughed, screamed and encouraged each other ... and we knit our hearts together in an unbreakable way.

When she and her family moved here almost exactly 5 years ago ... it was a dream come true for both of us.  We had never imagined that we would actually get to live near each other.  They moved to the same small suburb on the other side of town, and with the red lights, it took about 10-12 minutes to get to each other's houses.  We were in such awe of this blessing ... to pop into each other's homes, see each other on the road, bump into each other at a store ... after a few weeks, we started saying, "I'm still not tired of it" whenever we'd leave each other.

It is so ironic that we have each made a decision to change our lives in fundamental ways at the same time.  Her family's life will change by their move, and ours will change by adding a son.  We did not have to do either of these things.  We could have kept moving along the same path ... but we know that we are following where we are being led, and move forward with the hope that the changes that are coming will bring blessings in the long run.

I could fill pages with memories and things that I have loved about having her near, milestones, holidays, celebrations that we have shared ... but I am left with just a few that matter.  First, she has made me a better mom ... I have learned to let go of doing things out of obligation, and instead choose to willingly do things ... even if sometimes I would rather not or they are inconvenient.  I am more calm and relaxed and better at expressing what I'm thinking and feeling.  She has connected with my kids in a way that is unique.  They are able to be silly, express their feelings and laugh with her and her kids in ways that have only made them more delightful and well rounded human beings.  And finally, our lives and the lives of our children are intertwined forever in a way that I could not have imagined 5 years ago.  We are better, stronger, and closer.  Moving away will change the daily routine of our lives ... but never who we have become to each other.

I'm still not tired of it ....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Never Doubt

That our God still does miracles ....

Some of you already know some of the background behind our decision to adopt ... some do not.  Essentially, we have felt a pull to adopt for many years now, but finances had always held us back.  The timing of the decision to actually do this came after Dave had been unemployed for almost 6 months ... we had used up whatever meager savings we had, and had been pulling money out of a home equity line in order to live.  In other words, we were in debt, and with Dave newly employed, some would say, we needed to start being responsible and work on saving money and getting out of debt.  All ideas that we strongly endorse.  However, Dave knew that we were supposed to step out in faith at this time for the simple reason that we had seen God provide throughout his unemployment, and it no longer seemed ok to say that we weren't going to follow the calling he'd placed on our hearts, simply because of a little thing like money.  :-)

So here we are almost a year after beginning the paperwork .... having spent many thousands of dollars of our own, that we didn't know we would be able to come up with ... often wondering each month, how we have been able to make all of these payments and still stay afloat.  And yet, each of our needs have been supplied.  We have cut back spending from our already frugal ways (from the unemployed months), we have sold things, used tax returns, delayed spending, refinanced the house ... all the while reinforcing to ourselves and our children that we are so incredibly blessed that it would be foolish to feel upset for the small things we do without when so many do without so much more.

In April, when we finally received our referral and the beautiful picture and name of our son, we had to make a sizable payment, and our reserves had run out, so we put it on a credit card.  Our first debt of this process.  We had been praying about sending out a letter to friends and family updating them on where we were at in the process, asking for prayer and sharing our financial need, and finally decided to send the letter. I basically went through my email list and hard copy address book, and sent it to people who I thought might have a heart for what we are doing and want to join with us in some way.  I was sure that there were people that I missed along the way, but figured I would just trust that God would move the hearts of those people who wanted to help.

Fast forward a couple of weeks ... I had just posted a blog about a friend's lemonade stand ... and a week or so later, I received an email from a friend who is essentially just a Facebook friend.  We have known each other for many years, since childhood, but have had very little relationship until connecting through Facebook.  He and his wife had been reading my blog.  They were so excited about what we were doing, and had seen in the lemonade stand post that we had a financial need.  They said they had been blessed financially, had a huge heart for orphans, and wanted to be able to help us.  We exchanged several emails ... where in a kind way, they were pushing us to say what our needs were ... So we finally laid it out for them, how much we really needed ...

And here's where the miracle part comes in .... they finally emailed us back and said that they wanted to give us .... are you ready for this ..... $10,000 .... of the $15,000 that we are trying to raise ... yes, you read that right, they are giving us ten thousand dollars!!!  to help with our adoption expenses.  I'm still stunned by this amazing offer ... I keep asking myself, "Who does that?"  And in case there's any doubt, God does.  Because you see, we didn't even send them a letter asking for help.  Despite knowing them for many years, for some unknown reason, I didn't send it to them .... had it not been for my friend and her lemonade stand, perhaps they would have never realized that we needed help to bring our son home.  Meanwhile, God has made caring for orphans so much a part of their life, that when they heard there was a need, they thought immediately about how they could help .... if they had sent us one thousand dollars, I would have been floored and so completely grateful ... but this is so far above what we could have ever asked or imagined ... I know that it was God.  This amount will basically cover the cost of our plane tickets for the 5 of us to fly there and back ... and if we get a great deal, might cover Kenenisa's one way ticket as well. 

We are just overwhelmed by the magnitude of this blessing.  Truly!  And so it is hard to say this ... but, we do still have a need ... we're not trying to be greedy or take away from the enormity of this gift ... but our current financial situation has not changed ... only the amount that we will need to go into debt in order to completely pay for the ransom to bring our son home.  We know that God will provide, whether through other donations or through our own continued sacrifice.  We have NO DOUBT!

I don't even know how to end this ... I am still in awe ... 

Never doubt ... when He calls you to do something that seems crazy ... just do it.

Soli Deo Gloria ... To God Alone be the Glory!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lemonade, Anyone?

A dear friend of mine from college, Debbie Kipps, called me this week-end to tell me a wonderful story ... about how her family responded to a fundraising appeal letter that we sent to friends and family last week. The letter was basically asking people to pray for us and to consider whether or not they could join us by giving money to help us bring our son home.  It was not an easy letter to write because we assume that most people like us ... live up to their means, and have very little left over each month.  However, as with so many things with this adoption, we stepped out in faith and waited to see what happen.  I will try to paraphrase Debbie's details and hope she will forgive me for any errors.  :-)   Debbie and her husband, John, have 3 boys whose ages range from 8-13.  She read our letter to them, and asked them to consider how their family might help bring this orphan home to his forever family.  They had family friend's visiting, Tiffany and Halle Parks, and together, they suggested that they could have a lemonade stand in a local park after school one day.  So they bought supplies and made signs and then set out for the park.  A friend of their 13 year old even came and heard what they were doing and decided to stay and help.  At some point, one of her neighbors joined in as well.  So they ended up with 8 kids and a complete stranger (to me, at least), working to raise money to help bring our son home.  And even stopping to tell people why they were doing this to anyone who would listen.  In Debbie's words, "Amy, I would have been thrilled if we'd made even $30 .... but we made $100!"  in one afternoon.  Tears streamed down my face as she shared this beautiful story ... And it made me wonder ... how many people were made aware of the needs of orphans through this stand? how did these young kids' perspective grow by working to help meet the needs of a young boy half way around the world?  And how did my faith grow to see that God can use even one small letter to change so many lives?   We are blessed beyond measure!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


we became parents to our fourth child. He is no longer an orphan ... he has a forever family ...

We would like to introduce you to

He is almost 4 years old (and looks like he will be an active little guy.)  Many people want to ask what his story is ... how he became an orphan.  I have been equally curious regarding my friends and the children that they are adopting, and so I do understand.   However, at this point, we are choosing to keep the details of his birth family fairly private.  Just know that despite the beautiful smile on his face, he has experienced loss greater than most of us ... and our primary job once we have him home will be to love him and be a channel of healing for him.  So your continued prayers are much appreciated.

We do not have travel dates yet, but will keep you all posted.  It should be anywhere from 5-12 weeks from now.  All of the sudden , my to do list just got a lot longer!