Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Fall!

We are gearing up for the Orphan Sunday: Voice of the Orphan event that our ministry is hosting on November 7th. We have 16 major area churches who will be inviting their congregations to join us that afternoon to hear about the orphan crisis and how we can all do something to help. We are praying for the hearts of those God will bring to the event that they will be moved to respond to whatever He is calling them to do for orphaned children. We are also specifically praying for God to provide more donors for our community adoption grant fund that helps fund adoption of children by local Christian families. Related to that, we are praying that we sell a lot of stuff from our Benevolent Bazaar that day. We have brought in a ton of merchandise, the sales of which will also go directly to building our growing adoption grant fund. We would love your prayers in the week ahead. There is still much to be done.

Happy Fall from our family to yours!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

At Least They Weren't Teletubbies

It's not Photo Friday yet but I somehow have three minutes to post some pretty cute pictures so I'm going to take advantage of it. The girls recently attended a Noah's Ark birthday party dressed as - that's right - a unicorn and a Care Bear. Thanks to a sweet aunt and an ever-growing niece, these dress-up treasures were lying at the bottom of the costume bin and I was just too darn tired and cheap to think up something more appropriate, particularly given how much I had shelled out to Pottery Barn Kids that same morning for what will debut later this month as we go on parade around the neighborhood. (And no, I could not just have made something myself because well, once again I am too darn tired and I have no sewing skills. So, I pay through the nose. Enough said.) I told people at the party that we read The Message translation so we figured a unicorn and Care Bear just might have been passengers on the ark. I'm sure some of our more conservative friends may have found that shocking but, hey, at least we didn't show up as Teletubbies. It could have been worse. Plus, like I said, the costumes were free and they looked OH.SO.CUTE on the Little Ladies.

The girls also posed today for their first official "We Actually Like Each Other" picture without being threatened or bribed. They, of their own volition, snuggled right up together on their little kitchen stools and posed away as we prepped to make a batch of banana bread on a rainy day. I will treasure this series of photos. I hope to fill my walls with a lifetime of pictures just like these.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Funnies from Her Majesty

Here are two funny stories you may enjoy from life in the trenches with the Big Bear.

Story #1
Me: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Big Bear: "I want to be a princess...(*long pause*)... No, I want to be the mean king!"

My heart fluttered with pride just a bit at my little feminist daughter who has already realized she needs to be at the top of the food chain.

Story #2
(Setting: I had a frantic evening searching everywhere for what I thought was my lost phone. I had pretty much given up hope and was already bemoaning the pictures and videos I had never downloaded as I never sync my phone to my computer like I know I should. Not to mention all of the contacts that I had no other record of. As I was cooking dinner in the kitchen I was asking God if He might be able to give me a break on this one as it had been a bit of a rough week already. Super Dad agreed to go out to my car one last time with his Super Hearing to listen again for my phone which was of course on vibrate.)

*Enter Super Dad looking slightly annoyed and holding my phone in his outstretched hand.*

Me: (Grabbing the phone ecstatically) "Thank you, Jesus!!!"
Big Bear: "Mommy, why you calling Daddy 'Jesus'?"

Happy Friday. I hope those made you smile as Big Bear makes me smile each day often for no other reason than she is mine.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So Whose Kid Is This Anyway?

We have been dealing with a lot around here lately. Our orphan ministry has exploded which is a total blessing but it also means that we have an event almost every week for the next several months. We are in full promotion mode right now for our city-wide, multi-church event for Orphan Sunday. The Lord has opened so many doors for us and brought so many wonderful people to join our efforts to get orphans on the radar of Christians in our community. We now have adoptive parents representing Russia, China, Ethiopia and Honduras working on our leadership team as well as some amazing families that are praying about adopting out of foster care here in the US.

On top of all that is swirling with the ministry, we recently lost my sweet Grandpa, a war hero whose love affair with my Grandma spanned 68 years. The day he died, I loaded the girls up in the car and headed to my parents' house to help with funeral preparations. While there, my mom and I worked for hours on a slideshow that showcased my grandfather's amazing life story. I went to bed at 1am the night we finished the project only to be awakened at 5am by a screaming child (this is always a great way to start your day). I went to Junia's room and found her screaming on the floor (this then woke up Eden who also started screaming ... did I mention I had had four hours of sleep at this point?). Junia had evidently rolled out of her toddler bed which is just a few inches off the ground (and the irony is she sleeps in a big girl bed at home!) As Junia is prone to drama at times, I put her (and Eden) in bed with me and got them both calmed down a bit. Junia through more tears told me "Mommy, it hurts to touch it." As this sounded like more than the usual drama, I turned on the very bright bathroom light (at 5 am ...) only to see a VERY LARGE bump where her clavicle should be. I then called poor Super Dad who had just returned to our house from a business trip to the opposing coast and who was also running on four hours of sleep to ask what a broken collarbone looked like as he had had one as a child. It was very clear at that point given my mad skills in diagnostics that the bone was indeed broken (being able to feel two distinct pieces is usually not a good sign). Given that my only other alternative was to sit with two screaming preschoolers in an out-of-town ER for 6 hours while waiting to be seen by some disinterested resident, I opted to throw my bedraggled kiddos into the car and drive (at 5 am...) the three hours home directly to the front door of our pediatrician's office so that he could confirm my diagnosis (which he did in about 3 seconds) and help my baby girl.

As I drove bleary-eyed up the freeway through the morning-commute LA traffic, I was thinking about a comment made by a good friend of mine recently. Keep in mind that this friend is someone we know really well, someone whose kids are friends with my kids, someone who is in our social community. She asked me if I thought I would ever want to "have my own someday". Now this is not the first time I've been asked this and I have learned to put on my happy face and self-censor a bit and use these opportunities to help teach people about adoption, recognizing that this is something very foreign to most people who define family by blood ties. That being said, I found this particular interaction more troubling than most because this is someone who knows us well. And yet, she still didn't get it. She still didn't understand that by asking a question like that she was negating the legitimacy of my children as "real children" - children that are "my own". She still didn't understand that God had forever knitted us together as family in a mysterious and amazing miracle, not unlike how He works in the miracle of conception. I left my conversation with her saddened. For all we are doing right now to raise awareness about orphans and to promote orphan care and adoption, it appears our efforts may not have succeeded in our closest circle. As I drove 80-plus miles an hour because my baby was in pain and needed her Mama to fix her, I thought to myself, "If this isn't my child, then who does she belong to?" Seriously, if you ask me if I want "my own" kids that implies that the kids I have are not mine, and if they are not mine, can someone please tell me whose they are? If they aren't mine I am certainly going to a fair bit of inconvenience and enduring a fair bit of life disruption for children that belong to other people. They certainly appear to belong to me when one of them wakes me up screaming at 5 am or when one of them grabs both of my cheeks in her small little four year old hands, puts her nose to mine and and says "I love you, Mama" or when one of them calls for me from her darkened bedroom and says in her smallish two year old voice "Mommy, I want you. Sleep with me, Mama." From all I can tell practically speaking, they are mine. Two governments say they are mine and more importantly God says they are mine and will hold me accountable for what I am doing to raise them. So, dear friend, please don't ask me if my precious girls for whom I have rearranged my career, my social calendar, my sleeping schedule, my bathing rituals, my long-term financial plans and, generally speaking, the sum total of all my life goals are "mine". It should be obvious to you by now that they are and it breaks my heart when you ask that because these children are as "real" to me as yours are to you. They are my life as your birth children are to you and no child that comes from my body will ever have more status as "my own" than these daughters born of my heart.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


There is so much I want to say right now but time does now allow (shocking, I know, since it's been a month since I was last here). I have to find a way to carve out time to blog as this has really been my digital baby book for the girls and I don't want to give up on this ongoing record of their history in our little family. Somehow I WILL find a way. I will find a way to tell you what I've been thinking lately about the umpteenth person who has asked me if I ever want to "have my own someday" and about broken bones -- two things on my radar of late. Someday I will tell you about these things but not today. I'm still trying to figure out how to negotiate two full time kids, a full time job, what has now become an almost-full-time ministry and blogging. Blogging has lost out. For now. I shall return though. Someday. At least you get a few pictures for now. Sometimes I look at my daughters and I'm awestruck by how beautiful they are. They amaze me every day in so many ways. Perhaps because they didn't grow in my body for nine months, they are still new enough to me to amaze me. I am still just amazed by how little humans work -- that they walk and talk and think and have opinions. No, I didn't see my little girls roll over for the first time. But I did laugh in amazement last week when one of them looked at me incredulously and said, "Are you kidding me?!" for the first time. They sparkle and shine in so many ways and I remain amazed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Longest Blog Drought

So, yes, I have disappeared again. Thanks to sweet Jennifer who actually emailed me wanting to know what had happened to me! This is the first time I have had the chance to blog in literally almost 2 months. It's been quite the blog drought. We've been living in a tornado - albeit a good tornado. The only reason I have the chance to blog now is because we are away on a much-needed get-away weekend as a couple and Davis is out surfing. I will be out running in a few minutes myself but the lack of blogging has been eating at me SOOOOOOO from this quiet, kidless, B&B on the West Coast, here is why I have been absent for so long this summer - as told in pictures. More to come - hopefully in less than 2 months!

We went to VBS for the first time - and had fun with "Crazy Hair Day".

We took tap dancing lessons (and gymnastics - not seen here!).

One of us got a little older.

We got to be flower girls for the first time. Congratulations, Auntie Alisa and Uncle Jim!

We had a great family vacation connecting with old friends - whose families have also grown!

We got to see ...

... and do some new things we thought were pretty cool.

We played in some very cold water.

And we played in some warm water.

We were reminded that even as exhausting as preschoolers can be sometimes, being a family is pretty great.

One of us got to meet a very special boy we'd love to have in our family.

We had our lives touched and our hearts broken - again - ... amazing and precious children who need forever families.

We watched in amazement as God took a dream for an orphan ministry and turned it into a reality, a reality much larger than we expected and one that has made our lives very, very busy.

And we ALL started school this year. We learned that preschool is more fun when you share it with your sister.

So that's where we've all been. Jennifer, I'm still alive - just trying to hang on living in this blessed tornado.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So you want to hear something REALLY crazy?

It appears that I will be leaving for Ghana in just two weeks. An opportunity for our ministry presented itself that we all agreed was one that God had obviously provided. I will be working with several local pastors serving in an orphanage of 25 kids, all orphaned as result of AIDS. We have been looking to develop a long-range collaborative relationship where we can support believers on the ground as they care for orphans in Africa. The connection we have made for this trip may allow us to do just that. We are also hoping that our ministry may be able to play a role in helping find forever families for these particular children. It is going to be a CRAZY push to make everything happen that needs to happen before I leave. Super Dad is going to hold down the fort in my absence along with help from Gammy and Poppa. Our family would so appreciate your prayers as we take what feels like a HUGE step of faith. Our team has been asked by the pastor we will be working with to bring vitamins for the children. I will be traveling with three amazing girls from another church in town. We are going to cram as many vitamins as we can into our suitcases. We will also be providing monetary support to help feed the kids as the orphanage is very poor. If you have a heart for African orphans, or perhaps Ghana in particular, and would like to send financial support along with me, you are welcome to do so. We will actually be purchasing the food when we get there and driving it TEN HOURS (ouch.) to the village, along with a medical team who will provide the children with deworming, medical care, etc. If you feel moved to donate, feel free to email me at the address here on the blog. I will happily post pictures upon my return to show how your money was a blessing.

Thanks in advance for your prayer support. It is much needed. I am not the most spontaneous person around (it take me 2 hours to pack for a weekend away - at my parents' house!) so just jumping on a plane to Africa is a stretch, but it is a door that we feel God has opened so we are stepping through it.

Still not sure how I'm going to manage not seeing these faces for a week...

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Camping" Part Deux: The Promised Slideshow

So I actually did it. Here is the promised slideshow for those of you who may find this remotely interesting. Please excuse the repeated clothing, bad hair and general disarray in these photos. Remember we are "camping". The girls got to see real snow (not the shave ice stuff that was delivered to the preschool for a California version of "snow day" last winter) along with A LOT of marmots at the top of one of the mountains we climbed (and I do mean "climbed" - up hill, with many -- many --switchbacks and a 34 pound kid needing to be carrying a good chunk of the way...made for a killer time your spouse asks if you really need two hiking backpacks, the answer is yes). Inspite of a grueling climb, the snowball fight at the top was very worth it. We also spent the best $14 of our lives on a rope swing that we tied up to a rafter on the deck (they are on sale at Target now for $10 - go get one!). The little ladies LOVED this and when they weren't rolling around in the dirt (and I do mean this literally where Little Bear is concerned), torturing the critters in their bug boxes, or smearing sticky marshmellow mush on Mommy's sweatshirt, they were often to be found recreating scenes from Tarzan on their swing. The girls also got to dip their Barbie fishing poles into the water for the first time. I can't really see Barbie fishing but apparently she does that too these days now that she has quasi-normal feet. All in all, good times were had by all. Thanks to Uncle Ray who was kind enough to entertain Junia on mornings she got up WAY TOO EARLY. We somehow managed not to hear her (see previous post about exhaustion) and he was good enough to take Big Bear on a brisk morning walk around the camp in the wee hours in her striped jammies, bright orange crocs and poofy pink down jacket. He also put his fine motor skills to work coloring Dora the Explorer. Pays to have a doctor in tow who is used to early morning rounds, especially one who excels in both orthopedic surgery and coloring.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


We set off on a grand family adventure over long holiday weekend taking the girls up to the mountains for our second annual 4th of July family "camping" trip with some dear family friends. (Ok, so we were in a cabin with a flush toilet but still...) We had a wonderful relaxing time. It's hard to believe we are starting to have "second annual" events with our little ladies. How time flies when you are having fun (or really exhausted all the time - sometimes we are not sure which is operating in our case). I had grand visions of catching up on my blogging given that we were supposed to have wifi on the deck at our "camp site". Sadly, the wifi was down last weekend so I continue to find myself further and further behind in my blogging life, having had numerous funny, serious, silly and sad posts rattling around in my head for weeks. I am realizing that you have to choose your platform to advocate for orphans. There are those who have amazing influential voices here in the blog world and there are others who are working outside of the virtual domain on so many orphan projects that we find our blogging personas becoming more and more ephemeral. There are also those Incredibles who somehow manage to do both. For my part, I just can't seem to effectively straddle the demands of the virtual and the "real" these days. I miss you, Sweet Blog. Maybe someday I will come back here and stay awhile. For now, here are just a few pics from our trip. Slideshow to follow...

(How stoked is my entire family - Grizzley Adams included - about the $1.00 poppers purchased on a last-minute whim from CVS?)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Congratulations, Big Blog Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to friends near and far who entered our Big Blog Giveaway. We wish we had goodies to send to all of you who entered. Congratulations to Shannon Rapp who was our big winner. She will be getting her autographed copy of Priceless in the mail along with the sweet sari bag from Raven and Lily. We hope you enjoy them, Shannon. So exciting to hear that you will also have a pair of little Ethiopians coming your way soon! Please email me at the address on the blog with your address and I'll send you your goodies.

We are off to the mountains this weekend. I am REALLY hoping not to get barfed on on this trip. Junia has barfed on me TWICE on road trips of this nature -- once all over the back of my head when we still had several hours to go. Yum-o. Crossing my fingers in my sleep tonight.

Happy 4th of July to all!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big Blog Giveaway Is On - Enter Here and Now!

And so commences the BIG BLOG GIVEAWAY. The lucky winner of this giveaway will win an autographed copy of Tom Davis' new book Priceless. Because I think great things -- like my girls -- come in pairs, I am throwing in something else that I am loving right now, one of Raven and Lily's recycled sari bags. The bags are stylish and functional and have sold really well at our We Heart Orphans parties. This bag will be great for taking your sunblock and your new copy of Priceless to the beach this summer! So here's the lowdown on how to join the party:

1. To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post saying you want this cool stuff and telling me how long you have been reading this blog (I'm curious!). Simple.

2. You can get an additional entry in the contest if you post about the contest on your blog. Make sure to tell me in your comment that you've done that so you get your additional entry!

3. If you don't have a blog, you are still welcome to enter, you will just have to come to my house and babysit my kids - for free. (Seriously, if you aren't a blogger, you are still welcome to enter. Just post a comment saying why you'd like to win and how long you've been reading this blog.)

The winner will be announced next Wednesday, July 1st, here on the blog so make sure to check back to see if you've won! If you win, please email me your address and I'll send your goodies your way!

Want to hear more about Priceless? Here's my review.

Priceless tells the story of one man being thrust into the dark world of sex trafficking where he becomes an unlikely hero who puts his life on the line to rescue girls from sexual slavery. Priceless is based on the reality that Tom has seen in his work with orphans worldwide and his passion for fighting for justice for vulnerable children is palpable in his writing. While I prefer non-fiction accounts of current issues like human trafficking (Tom Davis' non-fiction work Red Letters was hugely significant in our decision to pursue an African adoption and is one of my favorite books) and don't generally gravitate toward Christian fiction, I found Priceless to be engaging and a good choice for more of a casual Christian reader who might not find a gritty non-fiction title on this issue appealing but who would pick up a related fiction book. As a work of fiction, Priceless serves as a entry point to make a difficult and uncomfortable topic accessible. It would work well in a Christian book club setting as it serves as a conversation starter about a deplorable, and yet incredibly important, issue in our world today. Our orphan ministry will be hosting an end-of-the-summer book club event featuring Priceless that will cap off with a Skype conversation with Tom Davis. He will take questions from readers and share more about how we can fight to bring justice to victims of sexual slavery - many of them orphans -worldwide. In short, Priceless attempts to tell a story that needs to be told again and again and again until we abolish the heinous practice of enslaving and exploiting human beings. As Christians, we need to be on the front lines of the abolitionist fight against human trafficking as were our brave predecessors like William Wilberforce 200 years ago. I applaud Tom Davis for trying to rally the troops toward this fight with Priceless.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blog Giveaway!

This week, I will be offering a fabulous BLOG GIVEAWAY in honor of Davis' birthday! I will be reviewing Tom Davis' new book Priceless and giving away a free autographed copy to one lucky blog reader. In addition, I am throwing in one of our hottest sellers at our We Heart Orphans parties, a nifty catch-all bag made from recycled saris by our much-loved Raven and Lily.

These special people will be helping me choose the lucky winner.

Make sure you check back tomorrow and if you've never posted a comment before, this is your chance! No more lurking! Stand up and be counted...and win a great prize. Details to follow!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Good Man

On a day that calls for the celebration of dads everywhere, we girls in our little corner of the world send all our love and gratitude out to a man who gives of himself every single day to make sure that we are healthy, happy and safe. He is a man with endless patience, an introvert who somehow ended inhabiting a world with three very talkative women. And yet even when two of the little women in his world have used up his word allotment for the entire day before breakfast, he still finds the grace to keep on smiling and engaging with them about their misadventures. His grace also extends to obliging one overly-enthusiastic Mommy with Big Plans who seems to recruit him for endless projects related to our orphan ministry or our Little Ladies, often at a cost to his already-depleted reserves of time for other loves like fishing and surfing. And he has a sense of humor that brightens our days and allows him to laugh when his eldest looks at the gorilla at the zoo and says "He's hairy - like my dad."

He loves his girls and his heart breaks because of injustice - not unlike His Father. There is nothing more attractive than that in a man. When I collapse next to him in bed each night, I often tell him what a good man he is. As the cliche goes, those are hard to find. We three girls are blessed to know him and to be loved by him each and every day. Happy Father's Day, Davis! We love you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crafty Ladies

We have some very crafty women in our family. And while I'm not so sure I'd put myself in the "excels in handicrafts" category, I am very grateful to have women in my family who do. For Junia's 4th birthday, she was blessed with many lovely gifts but her favorite - hands down - has been the new friend that arrived for her party with Gammy and Poppa. To give this gift context, I have to rewind to a time when I was Junia's age. My favorite doll was a huge rag doll my mom had made for me named Sunshine. She was as big as me and I carried her everywhere. She guarded my bed every night and proved to be a good friend for many years. One of my favorite things to do with her was to take the elastic straps on the bottom of her feet and strap them to my own so that we could dance together.

Now fast forward almost 30 years (ouch - hurts to put that in writing) and I have a little girl of my own who on her birthday pulled out her very own Sunshine from a very big box with her name on it. The most special part of all is that her Sunshine looks like her - thanks to a lot of Rit dye and an extreme makeover. I have teased my mom for years about being a pack rat but I will now keep my mouth shut. My sweet mom had saved faithful Sunshine in some box in the garage and schlepped her from house to house during many moves over the years. And now for her granddaughter's birthday, Sunshine was restuffed and dyed (many times and with considerable input from Poppa who stood by the sink saying "More red...more blue..." until he felt the skin color matched Junia's to his satisfaction) to create a loving cocoa companion for one much-loved little girl born on the other side of the world. She also now sports delightful corn rows that end in bright colorful beads. Amazingly, that well-loved fabric still looks great even after all these years. To be sure, Sunshine will be loved for many more years by a little girl who carries her everywhere and makes sure she stands sentinel as she sleeps. They've also been known to take a spin together on the dance floor in our kitchen.

Thankfully, another rag dog from the past also hopped in the sink for the makeover session Gammy orchestrated. She was refashioned into a little friend for Eden and Eden has named her "Ashley". We have no idea why given that she does not know anyone named Ashley.

On the note of crafty ladies, I couldn't talk about touching homemade gifts without posting a picture that I've been wanting to put up for awhile. My mother-in-law, aka Grammie, did all of the bedding for the girls' room before they came home including two complete sets of twin bedding and a crib set, all of which involved handmade patchwork quilts. No small endeavor. They are to die for. She recently gave us the final touches for their bedding - these amazing rosette pillows that took hours to make as each petal is individually sewn. We now have two little girls in "big girl beds" as Eden recently discovered how to climb out of her crib. Their room could not look cuter now that Grammie's completed handiwork is on display.

These precious examples serve as a testimony to what orphan care can look like. We all have gifts that we can use to bless children who are or were orphans. Within our own family, we have witnessed gracious, loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins embrace just two of the world's orphans using what God has given them - time, talents and treasure - to do their part to knit them into our family fabric. The same has been true in our larger "faith family" here in our community. I share that because I feel it is imperative that orphan care - and adoption in particular - be framed in terms of faith. As adoptive families waiting for children to join our families we can get so caught up in planning and reading and planning and searching the web and planning and ... that we forget that God is involved at all. Ultimately, when we choose to use what we have been given to love orphans through adoption, we are doing so as an act of faith in a God who loves. A God who loved each one of us enough to adopt us as His own. Yes, there is risk involved in adoption and it's good to try and be prepared for a variety of scenarios but the bottom line is that if God calls you to do something you have to trust that it is He alone that completes the good works He begins. Adoption is a good work and we are blessed each and every day to see how God is completing this good work in our family as lavishes His love on His two precious daughters that we are lucky enough to also call ours.

Friday, June 11, 2010

One Fabulous Day Turning Four

I am finally getting around to posting pictures from Junia's big birthday bash. I'm not posting these to be one of those braggy bloggers who use their blogs to self-aggrandize. Seriously, I'm not. However, if I'm honest, I will admit that I secretly have fantasies of having one of my parties show up in Sunset magazine. I really love to throw parties. I am one of those dorky people who spends time before a party shooting pictures of place settings, flowers in vases and food on trays knowing no one will ever look at the pics but me. I guess I keep thinking someday Sunset may just hear about what I'm up to and call. We were lucky enough to have our friend Raya, who also happens to be a professional wedding photographer, bring her camera along to Junia's party. She shot over 500 images and got some really amazing Sunset-esque pictures of our fabulous day. I just couldn't resist sharing. Highlights of the day included taking rides on Smoky and Holly (two miniature ponies who joined us for the big day), eating way too many cupcakes, and trying out hula hoops for the first time. Another highlight was having all of the dads in the horse-shaped bounce house. Nevermind that their combined weight of nearly 800 pounds almost knocked the entire thing over and gave the Mamas a bit of a scare. Eden was ecstatic about the horses. We wonder if she is going to be a veterinarian given how much she loves animals. And Junia just beamed when her entourage of little besties from church gathered round to sing her Happy Birthday. Sadly, we ended up with a false start on the big song when I lit the cowboy boot decoration on fire along with the candle. Those stickers are apparently not flame retardant! All in all, it was a lovely day celebrating a lovely girl who has changed our world forever.

I was talking with another adoptive mom at the party about how things like birthday parties are different when you have adopted kids, especially ones with history like ours. We have little girls who by God's grace are now thriving. But that was not always the case. Our daughters are precious girls whose lives have literally been redeemed on a physical level. Not so long ago they were very sick, very thin and hungry and now they are dressed up in cowgirl boots riding ponies in their backyard and eating too many cupcakes. Yes, so many (far too many) more orphans remain but for these two little girls - orphans no more - theirs is a story of new life blooming. It reminds me a bit of the story of Lazarus brought back to life after so much sadness. When God redeems a life, you celebrate. And celebrate we did. God has lavished His love on our children and in that we rejoice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

We Heart Orphans Party and Our Cowgirl

We have a We Heart Orphans party scheduled for this coming Monday at this great couple's house. They are a couple we have known since we were newlyweds doing high school youth ministry. They were both high schoolers when we met them! Now they are all grown up, married with two kids, and passionate about God's heart for orphans. We are excited to see how God is going to use this young family as an ember in our community burning with the story of God's amazing love seen through His adoption of all of us as His children and through His tangible love for the fatherless in our world today. There are probably going to be 20 people coming. Please join us in praying that God does a work in the hearts of those who are coming and that He brings exactly the right people to hear the message I will be sharing (pray for that too please!). We are blessed to know people like Kelly and Ryan who are putting their faith into action. We will be featuring the fabulous Raven and Lily at this party. This company is a wonderful supporter of women in some of the world's poorest countries and they are also now a supporter of our ministry to orphans. We are proud to be working in partnership with them. We heart Raven and Lily! Sophia and Kirsten, you ladies are amazing!

On another note, today's Rootin' Tootin' Cowgirl Birthday Roundup was a huge success and much enjoyed by one very excited little girl. More to come...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Princess and the Queen

This past week, I was getting Junia out of her carseat and said something in passing about her being my princess. I don't often use that language but for some reason it fit in that moment. She looked at me, laughed and said very frankly, "No, Mommy. You're the princess; I'm the queen." And so it begins. The story of mothers and daughters negotiating for who will be Queen in the castle. I laughed and told her "Honey, Mommy is ALWAYS The Queen." It has now become a bit of a running joke where she tells me in the middle of whatever we are doing "Mommy, you're the princess and I'm the queen!". This is followed by an outburst of giggles stemming from her sheer delight with herself and her fine joke. Shall I remind her that there is certain to be another claim to the throne from her little sister who is bringing up the rear?

In just a few more days, Her Mini-Majesty, the Princess/Queen, will celebrate her fourth birthday with a rootin'-tootin' cowgirl party complete with two miniature ponies for her and her little cowboy and cowgirl friends from church to ride on. Yes, the ponies are a bit much but I just couldn't help myself when I found out we could have real ponies in our backyard. It sounded like WAY too much fun for a little girl who loves horses and just two years ago didn't even have enough to eat. We are so blessed to have her in our lives, even if she is already engineering a coup d'etat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Enough said.

Aviator sunnies on an almost four year old rock. Enough said.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Keynote Speaking, Outrageous Nonsense and Elvis

I fear I am in danger of falling off Planet Blogosphere due to my lack of blogging of late. I feel like it is becoming the norm to begin my posts this way. The truth is that I have been so busy with things with our orphan ministry that I just have not had the time to get back here. I hate to have my on-the-ground work completely eclipse my ramblings here in cyberspace as my participation in blogging has really been instrumental in my entire experience with adoption and orphan advocacy. I feel blessed, however, to be seeing how God is moving in my local community for orphans and if that means some a few more absences in my blogging attendance record, I guess I'm ok with that. I'm hoping that as things slow down for me at work this summer that I will have more time to share about all that we've got going on around here.

This weekend was a busy orphan advocacy weekend for our little family. I had the opportunity to represent our orphan care organization and speak at an orphan care seminar held in an outlying town on Saturday. Davis also got to lead worship for the event. Somehow I ended up being the keynote presenter asked to open the entire event! I was flattered to be invited and given such a position of prominence but also a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of having such a featured role in the event. I couldn't help but feel like people might be thinking "Who does she think she is?", particularly other professionals who were there from the adoption/orphan care culture who could have probably done as good of a job or better than me at presenting on God's heart for the orphan. All that to say, I really gave the event to God knowing my own shortcomings were many and asked Him to move in people's hearts through my words. The presentation went really well and I got lots of great feedback from people who attended saying how their hearts were touched by what I shared. I guess I can't ask for more than that! With nearly 100 people in attendance, I can only pray that many forever families will be birthed from seeds planted at that event by all those who spoke. We also were able to sell some more of our fun We Heart Orphans products and made $500 at the event. We will only keep a fraction of that but every little bit helps with funding real adoptions here in our community. Part of what our ministry in doing is setting up a community adoption grant fund that will be open to all Christians in our region. The money that our events and We Heart Orphans parties bring in all goes to help with building up this fund. The more we sell, the more families we can support financially. The more families we can support financially, the more kids get homes! Part of our proceeds are also going to fund the great work that Children's Hopechest is doing on the ground to feed, educate and nurture orphans in Africa.

Today, we hosted our National Foster Care Prayer Vigil event at a local park. We had horribly high winds today and it was freezing (strange for us this time of year) so we cut our event short but we did have 10 people show up from various churches to lift up foster kids and those who care for them in prayer. We ended up going to dinner with one young couple after the event (who we have known since the couple was in high school!) who is feeling called to adopt. They are drawn to adding to their family of four by embracing a child from the foster system. They have many questions but willing hearts. Even though our event today was smaller than I would have hoped (I made 4 dozen cupcakes!), all it takes is one couple to give a child a family. If all that came out of today was encouraging one family to move forward as they give hands and feet to their worship, then it was worth it. We have two We Heart Orphans parties scheduled in the next few weeks and we are excited to see how God is going to stir the hearts of those in our community for the cause of the orphan. I was encouraged to hear that one woman who received the invitation emailed our friend who is hosting the party to say that this was the sign she needed to move forward in pursuing adoption. Evidently, it was already on her heart and she just needed a little push. All it takes is one family. One by one by one and we will find homes for these precious children.

I was inspired today by the lyrics of the song Fade With Our Voices by Jason Gray. Evidently, everyone seems to know it but me! I think it is profound. If we are to do anything as believers, let our worship be that of love in action. As The Message translation of James 2:17 puts it: "Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?" I love that. If we as The Church are truly going to be resonant in a broken world and change lives for the Kingdom then it's time for, as the great theologian Elvis once put it, "a little less conversation, a little more action".

Fade With Our Voices

Does our worship have hands?
Does it have feet?
Does it stand up in the face of injustice?
Does our worship bow down?
Does it run deep?
Is it more than a song
That fades with our voices?
Does it fade with our voices?

Lord it's you we long to please
Make our lives a melody
That we proclaim when we live in Jesus name

So if we raise our hands high
Let us also reach them out
And if we lift our voices up
Let it be the sound of love

Let our worship have hands
Let it have feet
Let it stand tall
In the face of injustice
Let our worship bow down
Let it run deep
And be more than a song
That fades with our voices

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day #2...and HIV/AIDS

My how we have all changed in a year! Some of us are bigger. Some of us are browner. And life is good - albeit fairly exhausting a good deal of the time (thank God for oversized sunglasses!). As hard as motherhood is - and it can be really hard - I would not trade even one second of being Junia and Eden's mommy for the carefree life I used to lead. They are now a part of me, stitched into the fabric of my soul, by the God who knew we would need each other.

Sweet Davis tried very hard to make today special, including coordinating some very cute toddler handprint artwork and making arrangements for a special brunch at a favorite restaurant. Two smaller guests made the brunch (and the pre-brunch "let's actually try and get out the door of this house") a bit of a trainwreck but he gets a "A" for effort. He told me he had thought about lining up a babysitter so we could enjoy a quiet brunch together for Mother's Day sans the toddler tantrums that have been punctuating our days with relative frequency of late. He said he didn't because he thought I might feel bad if the Little Ladies weren't coming along since it was Mother's Day. I told him ANY TIME he wants to line up a sitter for brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee, tea time, light appetizers - you name it - I am in.

While the AM was a bit of a wrestling match, we did have a lovely afternoon with friends at a very swanky hotel in a neighboring town. This hotel is really fancy but there never seems to be anyone there so they don't really care what you do. They just assume you are rich and famous and should be catered to. Works for me! The girls and dads spent time on the putting green while the mamas sipped drinks under the shade of a tree on the green. It was truly delightful. Davis and I have decided it might need to be a weekly event.

On the note of things going on this week, Friday was World AIDS Orphans Day. This topic is close to our heart as the issue intersects with our lives in an intimate way. I had hoped to post about this on Friday but was busy with some event planning for our orphan ministry and just didn't get to it. (Are you going to be a part of the National Prayer Vigil for Foster Children? Join us and many others in just a few weeks!) Sadly, there are many children all over the world today who do not have mothers because of AIDS. At a seminar I attended at the Christian Alliance for Orphans conference on HIV/AIDS and orphans, the speaker, who was a leading AIDS researcher at the CDC (and a mom of 8 adopted kids, 10 kids total - and I complain about my workload?) suggested that orphan crisis and the HIV/AIDS crisis are synergistic epidemics meaning that AIDS is creating more orphans and many orphans in turn end up with HIV/AIDS as they move into adolescence. She indicated that the growth in the orphan population may in turn double the global HIV/AIDS population which currently stands at roughly 33 million cases worldwide. She also put out a frightening statistic that I have not yet heard saying that global orphan population, in a large result because of HIV/AIDS, now stands at closer to 163 million rather than the 143 million figure we often hear talked about.

I share this because on a day when we celebrate mothers, it is so important to remember that adoption, the amazing experience that made me a mother, is often birthed from the pain caused by much larger global issues, like poverty and disease. While I believe that adoption has always been a part of God's grand design, I also know that in this world we inhabit it is not The Answer. It's a small part of addressing a lot of broken things that need to be fixed, kind of like putting a bandaid on a really big wound. If we are going to pray as Jesus did asking that God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven (Matt.6:10), then we, as Christians, need to be on the front lines of doing all we can to eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDS. To learn more about about HIV/AIDS and how we can all get involved, it is well worth reading Erin's post on this. She is an adoptive mother of an HIV positive child and advocates for this vulnerable population.

And so on Mother's Day, in our family, we remember the brave and beautiful woman who made me a mother and made us a family through the gift of sacrificial love she gave to her precious girls by putting them up for adoption knowing she could no longer raise them. And in her honor, we say that we will do what we can to fight a disease that is creating so many orphans. As with the issue of sex trafficking, we must acknowledge that we stand at a unique moment in history, one that calls for us to say with the actions of our lives "Not on our watch."