2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Captured in Video

Finally completed a video I have been working on for weeks.  This is a snapshot of the last 11 months. 
Update:  We are waiting to clear Embassy so we can pick Nardos up and bring her home.  We anticipate that will happen in the next week or so.  If you would like to contribute to bringing her home we have two options.  You can use the Paypal link on our blog or you can purchase a scarf. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Love one more

Introducing our newest family member - Nardos.  Brad and I just recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia.  We sat before a judge and told her that we have met her, we know about all the pain in her past, and yes, we know that this is permanent.  Anti-climatically, she scribbled notes on a stack of papers, looked up and told us with a straight face, "the court declares her as your daughter."  That's it?  No balloons, or bells and whistles?  I know I was probably out of place, but I couldn't help it, I squeaked out a "Woohoo!" 

Just 8 months prior we sat before this same judge and answered the same questions about Micah and Cassidy.  We were not worried, just curious about a foreign process - but when we heard the news from the judge that they needed an approved MOWYCA letter (local adoption approval) before they would become part of our family, our hearts sank.  How could we come so far and get "No" as answer?  Of course, we soon realized that the answer was not, "No," it was "Not yet." 

So, back to August 6, 2013 and this same judge plainly tells us, "We approve your application to bring this child into your family." So, no celebrating in this cold room, just encouragement to quickly move out so the next set of families could hear their ruling.  Fortunately we were able to celebrate with the most important person - Nardos. 

I look at pictures and am amazed at what God is doing in our lives.  There are times when I hear things like, "these kids are so blessed and lucky to have you."  I know it is a well meaning comment and stems from thoughts that I have experienced too.  But Brad and I would be the first ones to tell you, "We are not good enough for these kids.  We don't deserve them."  God has taught us so much about love and being vulnerable, through parenting. 

This was taken in November, 2013.  Cassidy was so excited to introduce me to her good friend.  We had no idea at the time that she would soon be a part of our family too. 

This picture was taken in January 2013.  We brought Micah and Cassidy back to the orphanage to say goodbye to their friends.  We remember Nardos was so sad, her last friend was leaving the orphanage.  She worried that she would never be matched with a family. We asked the agency about her and advocated for her to our friends.  God soon made it clear that she was meant to be a part of our family. 

This is Nardos and one of her favorite Nannies.  I am humbled by the love the nannies have for the children.  Look at the smile on Nardos' face - beautiful!
All the children are gathered around Nardos as she watches videos made by Dad and Micah to tell her about life in Utah.  Most of them know Micah and start saying his name.  They all love pictures and videos. 
I just love this picture - Daddy and Daughter. 
Gotta love us some AWAA porch time.  Sweet bonding time with crafts, games, candy and "Amhenglish" conversations (combo of broken Amharic and broken English to make both parties think that they understand the message).
I just love him and especially who he is in Ethiopia.  I am such a lucky girl ;) 
This was our court day.  Nardos changed her clothes (traded with some of the other girls her size), put on a necklace, nice dress flats (in lieu of the croc sandals) and a pretty headband, all for our outing to the Cupcake shop.  We were impressed with this place - highly recommend it if you get the chance to go.  The service was the best!  It was very modern and updated, not the typical environment for Addis. 
Nardos opened a small birthday gift.  Cassidy picked out the journal for her.  Nardos would turn 15 one week later, we had to celebrate while we were there
Can you believe this is her first cupcake? 
Love is everywhere. 
Next steps - we wait for birth certificate, visa and medical exams so she can clear Embassy and can come home.  Yay!  We expect this should be final the first half of October.  We are in the home stretch.  In the mean time, we are working on final fundraising as we need to raise $3800, and we are preparing to add another family member to our home. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

We Need Help!!

Simply put, we need your help.  For those of you who know me, you know this is very difficult for me to do.  At this point we don't have any other choice.  We are weeks away from traveling to Ethiopia for Court, the first of two trips required for the adoption process.  In order to complete the final steps in bringing our daughter home, we need to raise $7,000 in a matter of days.  I know this seems impossible, but God is teaching me that impossible things are possible with Him.  God has asked us to LOVE One More, He will not abandon us as we follow his lead.

Here is what we are asking from you:

  1. First of all please join us in prayer - Pray that God will show up in a mighty way and provide for our needs.  Pray for our 3 kiddos at home, while Mom and Dad travel to visit our newest family member (two of them have only been home for 4.5 months).  Please pray for a blessed time spent with our new daughter and a joyful bonding experience.  May God's will be done.
  2. Give.  We are asking each of you to give $10 and then to pass this on to 25 of your friends, asking the same thing.  Giving is easy, just click the PayPal button on the top right hand side of the blog.  You can pay with your PayPal account or debit/credit card. 
  3. Donate items to take to the Orphanage.  Card games, nail polish, jump ropes, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, puzzles, simple board games, beads, crafts, deflated balls, marbles, and baby wipes.
  4. We need a twin size bed for our daughter.  If you are able please consider donating a twin bed.   

P.S.  Another family recently visited with our daughter and gave her a care package that we sent to her.  They were kind enough to share their visit with us.  "She is so precious!  She cried when she looked through the photo album that you sent her.  I also found out that she and another girl take care of all the other girls' hair in the Transition Home!  Such a sweet and giving girl!"

God places the lonely in families.  Psalm 68:6a

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Micah - gift from God.

Have you ever had a day when you wondered if God was watching over you? There are times when I say things like, "Hey, did you see that? Why did you let that happen? Are you paying attention?"

More and more I am learning about the terrible impacts of poverty and my role as a Christian to respond to it. How can there possibly be so many living in unbearable conditions, dying from hunger and treatable diseases? This is even more evident as we have traveled the adoption journey.

When God lead us to adopt two beautiful children from Ethiopia, I had no idea what was in store. My sweet friend made me realize that God put adoption on our hearts when a beautiful young lady became very sick. She was already poor, struggling as a single mom to provide for two children. Was God listening? Yes he was. He surrounded her with loving neighbors who supported her family to the best of their ability. Her son responded in love and worked to help provide for their family, while other boys were tempted to pocket their earnings for things like cell phones.

As her health deteriorated, her prayer was for God to keep her children together. Meanwhile, God gave us a baby which seemed like a miracle at the time. Why a baby when we were praying about adoption? Shortly after, God took away our baby and threatened my life. Loss is difficult. It does not make any sense. The bible tells us to consider these times with joy as they will make us stronger. Will it be easy? No. Is it the path we would have chosen? No. We will be reminded that we are not alone and that God's power is in us.

God brought two families together from different cultures/countries to answer prayers. Simply amazing to me. I can see God's fingerprints everywhere.

A mom is gone, taken from two children who need safety and security, to be loved by a mom. Where will they go? Who will take care of them? Why is she gone? Can't she stay just a little bit longer? Answers soon come. You must leave. We love you and want to honor your mother's prayers, for she was a good woman. We don't have the resources to provide and care for you. We must take you to an orphanage. Meron, we will take you to the orphanage. Dawit, this will be harder as you are too old and the orphanage wants more information before we can take you there. Here is some money while we work to get you in the orphanage.

Dawit waited for 6 months while the community worked diligently to reunite him with his sister. She cried for her brother and missed him deeply.

We had the opportunity to travel to meet this community to see where Dawit and Meron grew up. We were overwhelmed by their love and affection towards strangers. But they did not see us as strangers. They saw us as answered prayer. They celebrated this answer with a big party, early before work and school with popcorn, dabo (bread) and freshly roasted coffee. The community gathered to celebrate and say a final goodbye to Dawit and Meron. I will never forget this trip and praise God that even though our lives have been joined because of loss, God was and always is there with each of us. He blesses us with gifts along our journey.

Dawit has been amazing to get to know. He has made a positive impression on people from all over the world.

For the first time I am reminded that his birth mom is unable to see him grow up. She already knew what a gift he was.  She cared for him, held him, fed him and wiped away his tears.  She knew that he:
He is such a caring young man.
He loves small children and is so good with them.
He has a beautiful smile that warms your heart.

He is an amazing soccer player and he absolutely loves it. The way he moves his feet is magical. 

He loves God.
He is so helpful at home, always eager to help.

Our Social Worker just came for our 3 month post adoption visit. She asked what the hardest thing has been since coming to Utah, he answered language. His favorite thing has been school.
He is doing really well in school. His teachers are impressed with his efforts and how quickly he is learning. The kids at school love him, love to play soccer with him, help him with his school work and cheer him on. 

He also loves to play jokes on his family. My favorite so far has been one he played on his sister. He called her in his room complaining that the cat had pooped in his closet. She ran out, "Mom, gross! Look!" I come in and he is holding it! "Look, rock!" And oh he laughed.

Yes - he truly has been a gift to our family.  I wait expectantly while God works in his life and walks beside him as he grows up.  With all this change - Dawit has asked for one more change.  "Please, can we change my name?"  So, we chose Micah.  Which, you guessed it, means "gift from God." 

P.S.  I wonder if Micah and Meron's sweet birth mom is holding our baby in heaven?  Wouldn't that be neat? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Congratulations - it's a girl!

Okay, so typically when you are preparing to have a baby there are certain protocols. Find cute ways to let your husband know he will be a dad, find creative ways to tell your parents, plan baby showers, prepare a nursery, pack for the hospital, etc. Adopting an older child is, well, different. The parents are anxious and excited about a new addition to their family. They know their lives will change forever. But, sharing their excitement with others is not always easy to do.

The announcements for us have been intimidating. We really had no idea how our families and friends would respond to adoption. So, cute and creative announcements were out. This announcement would come with a flurry of questions, and we needed to be prepared for that.

No showers, I mean, how do you welcome a new family member that is not an infant anyway? I think babies come with some pretty predictable needs; strollers, diapers, clothes, car seat, wipes, and on and on. What do you put on your "adoption registry" at Target? Well, I know they will need clothes, but I am not sure of sizes and there all these rumors that they grow so fast, so don't go crazy on supplying a full closet of clothes.

I think we will hold off on decorating her room. Luckily she gets to share her room with an amazing sister. It will be a good bonding experience for the girls to decorate their room together.

So, I truly believe the best thing that we can share with you is the fact that our new daughter knows she has a family! An orphan, saddened after watching all her friends leave with their forever families,wondering if she will ever get a family. How long will she have to wait in this orphanage? Why aren't there any girls her age at the orphanage? God, do you hear her? Do you see her? Do you love her? The resounding answer is "Yes!" She is His masterpiece and he has plans for her life. Below is the email we received from our agency with the sweet news. In order to protect her, we can't share her name until we pass court, so she is "N" for now.

" Zerithun told "N" today that she has a family. She said "N" was crying when she heard the news and that they were Meron's family. (Meron and "N" were friends at the orphanage) She expressed her happiest feelings, but was crying so they weren't able to have a long conversation. "N" was too emotional to really speak. Zerithun will meet with her next week and show her the picture you sent."

Oh how I wish I could have been there when they told her. I wish we could have been there to celebrate with her. I wish I could have held her in my arms as she sobbed tears of joy. Oh sweet girl, your forever family is coming for you. Your God loves you more than you know.

We are excited to get to know this young lady better.  She is 14 years old, same age as Tyler and Dawit.  She loves soccer and gymnastics.  She is very smart and loves school.  Her favorite subjects include; math, biology and English. Someday she would like to be a pilot


Sunday, April 28, 2013


Well after much prayer and consideration, Brad and I signed papers to welcome one more daughter in our family. So what's with the title you ask? I wish I could say that the week has been filled with joy and eager expectation for what God has in store for our family, but that would not be completely honest.

This morning I got in a stupid argument with my son. Yep, ridiculous. He asked in a "tone" why I didn't get the right kind of milk. I wish I was gracious and waved off his tone and just explained why I had his health as a justification for the change in my shopping habits. Nope, instead I threw a full on tantrum. Slamming stuff around, sobbing tears, unreasonable ranting...you get the picture. I think I totally freaked out our newest family members, they probably think I am crazy and need medication. We will have to save that for another day.

I excused myself to my room for some one on one time with my Abba father. Still sobbing, I asked for forgiveness and help. I had experienced this same sensation when we first started paperwork for Dawit and Meron. I was reminded at this point that our enemy was not happy with our obedience. He took it personal and brought out the big guns. I could hear the lies come pouring in as I cried. "You are not a good mother. They don't appreciate you and all that you do for them. What ever made you think that you can take on another child? Oh, and let's not even get started on your finances. How will you afford all this? How are you going to get all the time off from work that you and Brad will need? Why don't you just give up?"

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32. God stepped in and showed me His truth. His promise is that he will never leave us, he waited for me to cry out to him for guidance, courage, strength and joy. I am not perfect, but he is and he lives in me. I am to seek his approval above all else, no one else, including my kids. It is not about me, it is about God and his glory.

Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in The Lord always, I say it again, rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." God tells me to bring my requests to him, to remember all that he has provided and to rejoice. I don't know all the answers, but I do know that I can trust my God and his plans for our life.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you'" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

So, now I know the root of my anxiety and my tantrum. I had taken my eyes off God and his power and was shining the light brightly at my own ability. I pray that he will fill me with his mighty power so I will have all the endurance and patience I need. May I be filled with joy, always thanking the father.

I am done crying over spilled milk, so to speak, asked my son for forgiveness and am seeking God to protect my mind and heart. Ultimately, he is victorious.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Difficult decisions

January 21st, 2013 - our family went from 3 to 5.  It is crazy to think that it has been 3 months already.  We worked hard to bring Dawit and Meron home knowing that the journey was just beginning.  It has been fun to get to know them both.  We are all learning so much, although I cannot even begin to imagine what Dawit and Meron are experiencing in their new home. 

Last night we took them to their first movie in the United States.  We saw the movie Oz.  I highly recommend it if you have not seen it.  I love the story line and imagery was spectacular.  Surprisingly my husband brought up the fact that there was an adoption story woven through the movie.  I didn't catch that until he brought it up.  A sweet china doll has lost her family due to an attack from the wicked witch.  She is not only alone, but she is broken.  The wizard fixes her and she begs him to take her with.  I find it interesting that his immediate response is "no".  He immediately has a list of reasons why she cannot join him.  I think we are similar to him.  There are so many reasons why we cannot invite orphans to join us on "our" journey.  She is persistent and he agrees to let her tag along.  The story continues where she asks for her family back - the wizard is not able to bring her family back but he finally realizes that his "family" is good enough for her.  (Sorry for those of you who have not seen it - I just gave away a piece of the ending.)  He explains that they are not perfect, but that they will love her.  Of course she accepts this gift. 

God has brought two beautiful "china dolls" into our life.  We have been stretched in ways we never dreamed possible.  We have learned more about our strengths, weaknesses, fears and dreams.  We have been touched by their beauty.  We have been touched by our bio 14 year old's ability to welcome them in and share everything he has had to himself - graciously.  We love that Tyler is now passionate about Africa and looks forward to his next trip.  Meron and Dawit have given us small glimpses into their lives in Ethiopia - all filled with joy and fond memories.  We have shared some very special memories as a new family.  We have also shared some painful times. 

The transition has not been easy. 
  • In a way, we are pioneering the way - working with doctors who have no idea what a child needs to be tested for from a third world country.
  • Working with teachers who have very limited experience working with children who don't speak English (who are already overwhelmed with large workloads, helping two children learn a complex language in order to do complex homework assignments).
  • Serving food to a child who is extremely picky (were talking no: peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, pizza, dairy, lunch meat, wheat bread, etc). I mean what on earth am I supposed to fix her for lunch?  Why oh why does it frustrate me so much that this child, who has gone days with out food before, can wrinkle her nose at me when I have placed a plate of food in front of her?   
  • Tyler has been stressed when he thinks that he is responsible for Dawit's grades in school and doesn't understand why Dawit can't comprehend what he is teaching him. 
  • Brad has gone through a dark period due to this huge change in our family - change is just hard for him.  He clings to stability and routine and this adjustment has rocked his core. 
  • I struggle with balance - meeting everyone's needs with 3 busy teens and a husband who works two jobs. 
  • Dawit and Meron are listening to a new language all day long, they are learning new cultural norms, eating strange new foods, learning expectations in the home and how to express their needs. 
It is hard. 

Why all the details?  We met another "china doll" when we were in Ethiopia.  She is broken and is asking to be loved.  Brad and I have no experience with her pain - she would need help healing.  She is 14 years old and gentle in spirit.  Why would God want us to adopt again?  We are still learning how to be a family, adjusting to new schedules, strange habits, congestion in the kitchen and bathrooms, trying to figure out how to do their hair, how to communicate, etc.  We are still working thru all the change.  We are still paying off a lot of debt that we acquired from our first adoption process.  Why would we use tax returns and work reimbursements to invest in another child when we have debt hanging over our head?  Why don't Brad and I see eye to eye on this?  I believe that God wants us to adopt another girl.  No burning bush, but a still small voice to love one more.  Is this the one?  Brad thinks we are not ready as a family.  We need more time to bond before adopting again.  I absolutely don't want to force this on him, but I want to obey God.  Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  Why does this seem so "easy" in some ways and yet so difficult in other ways? 

I just read a segment from my journal on January 18th, days before we would leave all that we knew as "normal" and return home completely changed.  I wrote, "Are we ever ready to follow your will Lord?  Will we ever be able to lose our insecurities, tower over fear and walk boldly for you?"  I know that God uses these times to draw us close to him and remind us that he is the one who will provide, He is ALWAYS faithful, He will never leave us and He ultimately will bring us thru it.

I also expressed, "I appreciate what Brad is feeling.  I have some of the same questions swimming around my head."  I love that God brought us together.  Brad is good at asking the difficult questions out loud, where I tend to shy away from them.  I am grateful that he asks and expects a genuine answer:
  • Are you just doing this because our friends are adopting?
  • Are you suffering from post adoption depression?
  • Are you seeking to fill a hole that only God can fill?
  • Have you considered how this will impact our entire family? 
I believe that we know God is directing us when it is something that is in line with his character but is out of our comfort zone, maybe something we would never even consider.  I also believe that must seek God for wisdom and stay close to him for direction, daily. 

What is the answer for this "china doll?"  Honestly, I don't know.  We have to come together as a team and be on the same page.  I trust God will make it clear.  I don't want to be right - I want to follow and obey God.  Maybe God has another family for her.  Maybe....