Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Celebrating the Season

OK, is anyone else telling themselves, I need to slow down....., I need to take more time to reflect on the season......, I'm trying to savor every minute, but it's going too fast, ! While all that is true, with the days going by so fast, it does bring us one day closer to our Amanuel, so honestly, my feelings are mixed. This year I really feel like time is getting away from me. My firstborn is 10 1/2 years old already, and my girls almost 9 and almost 7. To try and spend some "quality" time together on Sunday, we made Time Capsule Ornaments. My blogger friend Amy gave me this idea and I think it is awesome, so we tried it. It wasn't without some trial and error, but they turned out really neat.

Some of the other things we've done this December, other than of course receiving the great news that Amanuel will be joining us this spring: we participated in the local Christmas parade on 12/3 and had dinner that night with our dear friends to celebrate our referral. Some neat memories from that night were the the Choir from Waupaca - like 25 high schoolers singing to us while we ate, the kids and grown-ups too thought that was so neat. We were also able to share the news of Amanuel with many of our friends from church who were all so excited to hear of our news!
The next day we went to Wild Rose to cut down our own Christmas tree- an experience, one I'm not sure we will repeat. Lots of walking, carrying a heavy tree, complaining kids, and not dressed for the weather- looks like a fake tree will make it's way into the living room next year.
The day after that Jon and Payton went to the Packer game vs. the 49ers, they won 34 to something; MAJOR snowstorm on 12/11 foiled our plans to get together with some other great friends from out of town, but we were still able to attend a fun Christmas party with lots of friends from church; Christmas cookie decorating was canceled too, but we did reschedule for a day after school and had a fun, sprinkly time.

We also started the new tradition of wrapping up Christmas - themed books and letting the kids open one each night. I will buy a new book each year to add to the collection, right now we have about 10 books. This year I bought The Princess and the Kiss; Three Gifts of Christmas.

The kids had their Christmas program last night, Payton Ava both played pre-service music and did such a great job - mom and dad were so proud!

Court Date!

We have a court date already! Jon received the call on 12/20 from AGCI letting us know that we will be traveling very soon- leaving on the 17th of February and returning the 23rd and our court date is February 21st at 8:30am. We are very excited, a little nervous and very thankful this came up so quickly. Time to start talking with a travel agent to get some flight reservations made!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Amazing Christmas Blessing!

On Thursday, December 2, 2010, at 1:50pm we received a call from K, our case manager at AGCI who had some amazingly exciting news to share with us! Unfortunately, I missed her first call (downstairs doing laundry), so she called my cell, which was also upstairs (we now have a phone downstairs again). Then she called Jon and told him. In the meantime, I saw that I had missed her call, and called her back about 6 minutes later. I was expecting to get an update on our numbers, thinking we were about 13 or 14 on the list. But, K had other news! She wanted to tell us about a little boy who had come to Hannah’s Hope on November 25, - Thanks. Giving. Day. I know, how can that not be from God? She got Jon on the other line b/c he was at work, just 15 minutes away but it felt like he was physically in Ethiopia- too far away. She proceeds to tell us that his name is Amanuel and that he is 3 years old. I totally lost it when she said his name. Amanuel of course means “God with us”. We have totally and completely believed that God has orchestrated this entire process, strongly bringing it to my attention back in November of 2006, bringing Jon on board in October, 2009, submitting our paperwork to our local agency on 11/13/09 and believe it or not, signing our names on the paperwork with AGCI exactly one year from our referral date, December 2, 2009. Whew………God is SO AMAZING!

Of course, Jon was at work when we got the call and wasn’t able to get home until 7:30 that night! I had called my mom and dad pretty much after getting off the phone with K from AGCI to tell them and then again, asking them to come and take pictures for us when Jon got home. I had already seen his picture when K first send his referral picture, but I didn’t want to tell the kids until Jon got home. It was such a beautiful and special moment. My sweet, sensitive husband gathered us all together (in the meantime, uncle Brian arrived and was quickly handed the video camera)and with such emotion, shared that God had decided to add one little boy to our family, he could barely get the words out, so they came in a whisper. In true Alaina fashion, she says, “Dad, why are you crying, I thought someone died.” Jon quickly explained his tears were tears of joy. Payton and Ava were teared up as well, it was such a special moment. The kids never asked why we were not getting our “little dudes” as that has always been “our plan”, we just simply explained that Amanuel is our “little dude” and him joining our family was God’s , which is way better than anything we could ever dream up on our own. In one of the photos, Amanuel is kicking a soccer ball and Alaina says “What if he beats me in soccer?”- which got everyone to laugh. That girl is going to be a comedienne!

I had planned to make Shake-N-Bake Chicken for supper that night, but of course, didn’t check to see if I had the Shake-N-Bake first, so then I was left with 8 chicken parts and nothing to make it with, so got the bright idea to make some duro wat, a traditional Ethiopian meal, which we all really liked the last time I made it. Still had to run to the store anyway b/c I didn't have any lemon juice, which was ok, b/c it helped kill some time. Well, it took 2 ½ hours to get done, which was perfect timing- a great celebration meal in honor of our Amanuel.

Although we were ecstatic about our news, wouldn’t you know it, the devil thought he could get in and distract us, cast doubt, take our focus and attention off of this amazing news. With a few people less than excited for us than we'd hoped, he thought he’d get us down. With me, getting very ill the day after the referral and diagnosed Monday with strep throat, he thought he’d keep us down. With our INTERNET NOT WORKING AS OF SATURDAY MORNING- he thought he’d won. BUT…… he was wrong! Sure these things have caused a few glitches, but we continue to praise God! My mantra Scripture reference lately has been 1 Thes. 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.“, and we have been discussing that lately in my bible study. So thank you God for that reminder, to praise you in all circumstances. I’m not sure why I got so sick and why our online service went kaput, but God knows and will use those circumstances for our good. You might wonder, what is so significant about having the internet? Well, not only could I not forward pictures of our beautiful little boy, to anxious family and friends, I could not make an announcement on my blog, and I couldn’t use it to do research for our transition plan which needed to be done by 3pm on Tuesday! (Thank you Mr. Charter Man for coming to hook us back up!) So, despite the fact that my house is a disaster (when Mama is sick, things tend to get a little chaotic, although, I must say the kids made sure I was taken care of yesterday), me feeling super yucky, Jon coming down with the aches and sore throat yesterday, me missing out on the Packer game with my hubby, and no online service to work with, I have not been able to keep the smile out of my heart! We are so overjoyed with the blessing God has entrusted to us and we know Amanuel was always meant to be part of our family. If I haven’t mentioned yet, he is absolutely adorable. We can’t post a photo online, but trust me, as soon as I can, I will!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to those who have supported us, encouraged us, shared in the excitement with us, and most importantly, prayed for our family. We are certain God will see us through the remainder of our journey and as always, we ask him to use every detail, every circumstance, each happy, sad and frustrating moment to His honor and glory!

I will try to be more regular in my posting now that I have some exciting news to share!

Written: Monday, December 6th

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hungry Kids, Stuffed Church

I hesitated putting this on my blog, because I don't want to "guilt" anyone into anything they don't feel called to do. I am just asking people to think, especially this holiday season before going out and spending $$$$ like crazy on stuff we don't need. Every little bit we can do to help someone else honors our Lord and pleases him and that alone should motivate us to give to those who need it most.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Yep- got the official call Wednesday night that we are indeed #16 on the list for siblings & or a single boy. Our case manager said again that they just are not getting many siblings into Hannah's Hope and that it is very likely that we will be matched with just one child. I am praying about this as it is different from what "my plan" has been all along. But really, I am at peace with this too. We have put our trust in the Lord from the beginning in this process, so who are we to start questioning God's plan now? He knows what we can handle and what is best for our family. So, we wait - kind of like waiting to find out if you are having twins or not, except the wait time to find out can't be put on the calendar like you can with an ultrasound!

Since I shared my favorite number (27) a while back- I should mention that 16 is Jon's favorite (high school football jersey # :) And no, we did not dress up in our old high school garb just to show we are #16 on the list. This photo is from Jon's 40th (80's themed) birthday party a year and a half ago. I should have shared more photos back when, but then some of you may have chosen to stop checking out my blog!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

At a loss for words

I know I haven't been a very good blogger lately. There has been such little activity for us with the adoption, but I thought I'd at least post where we are UNOFFICIALLY at on the waiting list. I checked it today and it said 18! Wow- things have been moving quickly during the last few weeks. Honestly, it gets scarier as we get closer.

I had a nice talk with a friend today, and in my speaking out loud, I realized how great our kids are and what great helpers they will be. When the first 3 were little, it was hard. Hard to get out of the house, hard to prepare meals, hard to have any quiet in the house, hard to have any awake/alone time with Jon, just plain hard..... some days. I know this will be hard too, but I have helpers now! Helpers with keeping the little guys entertained, getting them a snack, reading them books, picking out clothes, showing them that brushing teeth is fun!

Please continue to pray for us as we wait and for our little boys - that God is preparing their hearts to join us soon!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A broken heart

For about four years now God has put the love of orphans on my heart and giving him all the glory, he has lead us to adopt. But with this, comes the reality. And it is haunting...

  • The reality that approximately 24,000 children are STARVING to DEATH every day. Once you really grasp that concept, you will never forget it.
  • The reality that babies are being abandoned on the streets because there is no food.
  • The reality that moms and dads have no choice but to give their precious children away.
  • The reality that even though God has led us to adopt, our little boys will grieve and suffer tremendously before we get to bring them home.
  • The reality that today, we don't know where our boys are, who is caring for them, if they are being fed, clothed, loved.
  • The reality that this is going to be really hard.

I haven't felt this way, or thought this deep in quite some time. Today my heart is literally broken and aching. I don't know what is going on, but recently, I feel like something is happening, like our boys are at a critical time right now, that they are grieving, feeling abandoned, lost and lonely. Please pray for them, that they would feel God's comfort and hope and peace.

But God works in awesome ways. After taking the kids to school, I was planning on going to work out this morning, but an awful pain in my hip kept me up overnight, so I came home and decided to lay low instead. I caught up on some of my favorite blogs and turned on Family Life Today. I love that program so much, but don't listen as often as I used to. Today the program happened to be about adoption, go figure, with one story specifically about adoption from Ethiopia. I cried through most of it, BUT GOD was speaking to me, just when I needed it and was feeling at my lowest.

  • God has promised that he will protect our boys.
  • God has promised he will be with our family through this all; financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually.
  • God has promised that he will draw us even closer to him through the adoption, that our faith will grow, that we will share his son Jesus with those who are lost- what a blessing to us!
  • God has promised this adoption will bless us, and those around us as much as it will bless the boys: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
  • God has promised that even though this will be hard, we can cast all of our worries and anxieties on him and he will care for us. 1 Peter 5:7
  • God has shown us that only $38.00 a month + (plus) prayer - (minus) one meal out to eat for our family of 5 = (equals) supporting a little boy named Isreal and his family of 9 for an entire month. (food, medicine, clothing, education, home supplies, etc.)
  • God has taken away our urge for many of the "must have" earthly desires, because he has shown us the true desire of our hearts; "defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy, deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4

If you have the opportunity to check it out- PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE listen to Family Life Today's radio broadcast. Please continue to pray if you feel led to adopt, or sponsor a child, or give financially to an orphanage, or look into foster care. You never know what God can do through you unless you ask!

On a happy note- we are now officially number 26 on the sibling waiting list!


Today is my precious little one's birthday. Before I had my children, my younger sister Kara was "my little one". She is 35 today and is as beautiful as ever, inside and out. She is my only sibling and God got it right when he created her! She is supportive, honest, loving, caring, humble, dedicated, feisty. She motivates me to be a better person and loves me unconditionally. Thank you my dear, sweet sister, my best friend. I love you! Happy Birthday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

It is so NOT about me.....

Hi y'all

I know, I know, I am not even close to being southern, so why do I start with y'all? Because I secretly covet the cute southern girl accent. We in central Wisconsin do not have accents. We have our plain, boring "hi, how are you" voices. Don't worry, I don't dwell on this daily or anything, it was just a random thought I had tonight and decided to share. But if you see me and I say hi y'all, you'll know why!

Anyway- on to explain the title of my post. There is a t-shirt that hangs in the club where I work out and I see it every time I am there. In big letters it says "It's All About Me!" I despise that t-shirt, because life is so NOT all about me, or you, or my hubby, or my kids, or my friends.

Our culture tells us on t-shirts, in commercials, in magazines that it IS about us, that we deserve the best and the recognition because we work hard, right? The spotlight should fall here because I got good grades, I helped a neighbor in trouble, I volunteer at my church, I got a promotion at my job, I excel in sports. You name it, we are looking for praise from the world for what "I" have done. (I am generalizing of course. Not everyone thinks this way all the time, but subconsciously our sinful nature kicks in and we all feel this way once in a while.) But when it comes right down to it, "I" have done nothing. Without God, "I" alone can do nothing. However, God promises: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phillipians 4;13. What an awesome reminder that not only can I do anything through God, but that is the ONLY way I can do anything.

This process of adoption has taught us so much about this passage in the Bible. We are not going to be able to do this on our own. We have and will continue to totally and completely lean on the Lord and His Word for his guidance, for strength, courage, patience and hope. We are not looking for a pat on the back or for anyone to tell us we are doing a great thing by adopting. We want all the honor and glory to go to the Lord, who put this desire in our hearts.

Honestly though, sometimes it still seems very surreal to me that this is going to happen. I go about my day, happily enjoying my three precious ones, even having time to myself on occasion to read, exercise, spend alone time with my hubby, visit with friends or hang out with my mom and sister. And then I do start to think "Maybe It IS All About Me?!?!". I've put in the 10 years of hard time, now I "deserve" some rest - right?". And selfishly, I think to myself, "do I really want to give up this new-found 'freedom' I have just found?"

And then God quickly puts me in my place and reminds me, like he did today with a sick child, that his purpose for me on this earth is to lovingly serve my children, to nurse them back to health, to love them unconditionally, to teach them to live for Jesus; to be their mom. If he chooses to bless me with one or two more precious little ones, I will be so honored, and work my hardest to share with them early on what it has taken me more than 35 years to figure out:

" It is ALL about Him".

******JJ- thanks for your inspiration and advice. You truly are a great mother and example! May God continue to bless your journey in motherhood!******

Saturday, August 7, 2010

27 is my favorite number!

OK - for selfish reasons, this is my favorite number b/c my birthday is February 27th and my firstborn's is July 27th, but we are officially number ******27****** on the waitlist, and it gets even better! We have also received our FDL -Favorable Determination Letter from USCIS (Immigration), stating we can move forward with the adoption!

We are super thrilled because these last few months with little to no change has been hard. It's not that we are anxious or can't endure the wait, to be honest, it has allowed the devil to work in our minds and raise a little doubt. For 5 months we worked on paperwork, ran here and there and then everything stopped and the waiting began. Jon and I talked about this and we know and still believe we are doing the right thing and are excited for our family, yet the fear of the unknown still exists.

AGCI assured us that summer and Christmas are the two most difficult times in the waiting game. Honestly summer wasn't too bad because we were so busy. For me, it will be the school year b/c all my precious ones will be at school and I will be on my own. I am trying to decide how to fill my days this school year, between volunteering and keeping up with the house and getting the kids where they need to be after school I am already busy, but I know God wants me to be doing something else. I feel the calling to facilitate another bible study, since the first one went so well. I also have thought about leading a prayer group at school to pray for our children and teachers. Both of these could easily fit into my schedule, I just need to stop procrastinating and start planning.

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. We truly are having a wonderful, busy summer and I just don't get to sit down at the computer much anymore.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We're still here!

I know- it's been too long. Life got in the way of blogging over the last month, but for a good reason. Jon and I were able to take a vacation together, just the two of us, and it was great. We spent 5 nights in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and honestly, it was the most relaxing vacation I've ever been on. We didn't leave the resort for any excursions, and didn't even participate in any resort games. We simply sat, read, swam, ate and slept...... oh, and Jon threw up, A LOT. We had one day where Jon was sick, we think from Caesar Salad dressing. Anyway, we loved the time together and big thanks to our parents and my sister for keeping the kids.

Well, no big news to report on the adoption. We are now #30 on the list waiting for siblings. Not too encouraging - since we were #31 a month ago. But again, we are confident God has a plan and that he is acting on it even if we can't see any progress. On a good note, we have our USCIS appointment in Milwaukee scheduled for June 30th to get fingerprinted again. This will be my third time getting printed and hopefully the last. Jon and I will have to make a day of it since our appointments are three hours apart. Thank you to those who have offered your prayers and congratulations. Your support means so much to us!

In other news, we are proud to report that Payton had an awesome couple of weekends in baseball. Last weekend he played in a tournament in Ripon and their 9U team took first place. This weekend they played here at home and they took second. For the most part he did great. He is pitching in his first year of kid-pitch and is doing really good. We are most proud of his attitude and character, letting his light shine for Christ as he shows respect for the officials, his coaches and teammates, displays good sportsmanship and genuinely just loves to play the game. Way to go buddy!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Yea! After months of paperwork, post-office runs, phone calls and lots of prayer, we are on the waiting list for sibling boys ages 0-5! We got the call on Friday and our number is 31! We were told that number sounds higher than it is because if a family is on a list for siblings and the single child list, if they receive a referral for a single child, their name is also taken off the siblings list. So, just simply guessing, having no real idea when we might receive a referral, we're thinking it will be 3 to 6 months before we receive a referral. However, God has surprised us many times through this process so, who knows!

Thank you for all your prayers and support. We so appreciate it. If you think of us this week, please pray for our little guys and the workers at AGCI as they work to match the precious little ones at Hannah's Hope with their forever families.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Dossier being reviewed today!!!!!

Well, it is official. The Dossier and Home Study are now at AGCI and going to be reviewed today! After my finger printing disappointment, I called my case manager at AGCI to let her know what happened. In her loving and very bubbly voice ( I love that about her :) she told me that she'd check with the Social Services Dept. to see if we could move forward and add the date of my print clearance when it comes back from the FBI.

I received an email 45 mintues later saying yes, go ahead and send the dossier! YEA! I was so relieved after two months of having that thing just sit in my work basket. If you have gone through the adoption paperwork before, you know how much time and effort goes into getting it all done quickly and correctly. And ours sat for 2 and a half months, finished. Not touched. Not mailed. Not reviewed. Until today!

So, we praise God for giving us the patience to wait. We thank Him for his master plan and for just letting us carry it out. We glorify Him in all of this, and are humbled he chose us to parent two more of His precious lambs.

To our little guys:

Mommy and Daddy are praying that God is keeping your bodies nourished and fed. We pray that you are getting hugs and kisses every day. We ask that God has revealed Himself to you and that you know how much your Savior loves you. We can't wait to meet you and hold you and care for you and love you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

F.B.I. Envelopes in the Mail!

This should be great news, right? This is what we have been waiting for for eight weeks- clearance from the FBI! Well, one envelope contained great news- Jon has no criminal record. Well, I knew that, but now everyone we know can rest easy too.

The not so great news? The other envelope contained a new blank print card and a note that my prints were rejected because of "code L0117- insufficient pattern area (s) recorded for identification purposes." Meaning, they weren't clear enough to process.

That sooooooooo stinks!

So, not only did we get a eight week late start in getting the prints taken and to the FBI, (due to a misunderstanding by our social worker) we then waited another eight weeks just for me to be rejected???? After a five minute pity party filled with tears (I was by myself, thank goodness), I pulled myself together, had a talk with God and I was assured, "this rejection has a purpose". Hmmm. "Any chance you'll let me in on the reason for that?", I said. I have a feeling when I see the picture of our boys for the first time, that question will be answered.

I am seeing many truths confirmed through this adoption:

* most glaringly: EXPECT the UNEXPECTED!

* our plan is not God's plan

* God's plan is better for us

* it doesn't do any good to feel sorry for myself- just makes me feel worse

* I am so thankful for my husband

* I see how compassionate and loving my kids are

* that I have great family and friends who are praying for us

* overcoming trials with perseverance makes us stronger

* God will never leave us or forsake us

* Each roadblock put in our way has a purpose which will lead us to the two precious boys God has planned to be part of our family

So, am I disappointed with yet another delay? Absolutely.

Will I get over it? Yep.

Am I confident in God's promise from Romans 8:28 ? 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.'

NO doubt.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Home Study received- finally!

Jon and I received our completed home study for review yesterday! Last night we went over the twelve page report and made any necessary corrections and revisions and I emailed it back this morning. Once that has been sent to All God's Children, we were told we could send in our dossier to AGCI for review to make sure it is all correct. Then we just have to wait to get our FBI clearance back and we can be put on a wait list for our boys! Please pray that the FBI is ahead of the 13 week schedule we were originally told, so far we are at 7 weeks!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy one year "placement" Maddie!

Maddie joined our family a year ago today. She was adopted from the Humane Society when she was 3 years old. To be honest, she wasn't the cutest dog when we got her. She had recently had puppies and so had lost lots of her hair, and looked like she hadn't had a bath in months. After "fostering" her for a weekend, daddy said OK to keeping her and she was ours!

For the first five months, Maddie was not the ideal pet. She pooped on the floor all the time, peed all over the family room rug and bit two kids, who happened to be our neighbors and good friends. We were also not the ideal owners. We hadn't done a lot of reading on adopting or training a dog and didn't have her kenneled when we left the house, so she had free reign.

After biting the second neighbor, Jon and my dad were adamant that she go back to the Humane Society, but I just couldn't do it. I felt like I had failed her. All I could think of was "if I can't take care of a dog and deal with her imperfections and somehow work with her to handle them, how can I even think about adopting two little boys who will come home not trusting us, be scared out of their minds, have no idea what we are saying to them, and be their mother?"

So, the next morning, I spoke to several dog trainers, went to the library and read a couple books, listened to Cesar on CD and started training her myself. I began to really pay attention to her needs and learn her habits, and to be consistent, loving and firm with her. Within a few months, she stopped growling at little kids, making messes on the floor and started to let us know when she had to go outside. She needed time to get to know us, be comfortable in our home, and trust us. Her barking still drives us nuts, but when she barks, she thinks she is protecting us, which is sweet. Terribly annoying, but sweet.

I can see now that God used our dog to give us just a small taste of what life will be like when we bring home two new children. I know that I cannot compare caring for a dog to caring for two children, but there are some similarities. We won't know their pasts or what they have endured in their short lives. They will not trust us, understand us or be comfortable in our home for a while. They will need time to attach and bond to us and us to them, just like Maddie did. Praise God for using this bundle of cute black fur to teach us a lesson.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A little somethin' new

If you noticed in the last post, Ava has a new do! She had been contemplating getting her hair cut for quite a while. I was ready long before her, but didn't want to pressure her if she wasn't ready. On Saturday, we went to Snips and Giggles - a kids salon and she donated 10 inches to Locks of Love. It was a fun experience, especially since she has only gotten her haircut in a salon once or twice before - Aunt Cindy usually cuts our hair (thank you!) Thanks to some friends- Destiny, Kalayna and Marissa for inspiring Ava to go for it!

So Cute!

Happy Easter!

Praising God for the ultimate gift- His Son and loving that we got to celebrate his resurrection with our wonderful family- love you all! I did manage to get a few pictures yesterday........

For those of you wondering if I got the MASSIVE grass stain out of Payton's pants- yes I did, after 3 washings and lots of SHOUT!

Thank you to all who asked about our adoption, it means so much to have your support and prayers!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An update

I know I haven't posted much lately about our actual adoption. Truth is, not much is happening. Believe it or not, I have been finished with all our of paperwork, home study and dossier since mid-February. Unfortunately, there was a major mistake made. I will not place blame, but we will now be waiting at least 8-10 weeks for our FBI print records to come back with a "you have no criminal history" stamp on it.

Frustrating yes, however we believe this is/was part of God's plan to lead us to the right 2 little boys who will be joining our family. Another major change that has taken place recently is that now Jon and I will need to travel to Ethiopia for the court proceedings, and will need to leave on rather short-notice w/in 1-3 weeks of learning of our court date. So, this momma will not be able to procrastinate in packing! If you didn't already know, Jon is not particularly fond of flying, (especially for 12 hours at a time), so this has been kind of unsettling for him. Please pray that God would remove some of his anxiety and would give him peace.

The biggest change is that when we come back from Ethiopia, we will not be able to bring our little guys with us. We will actually have to go back to get them. This just recently changed a few weeks ago. This of course was not something we had planned, but again, know it is part of God's plan for our family. Honestly, never in my dreams did I think I'd be going to Africa, let alone twice in just a couple of months! The reason for the change is that some families, after arriving in ET and meeting their child or children were choosing, for whatever reason, not to go through with the adoption. Because court had passed (without the parents being present), these children had already been adopted by this family. Ethiopia wants to prevent this from happening again, which is why two trips will now be required; both parents the first trip and at least one parent the second trip. I pray that Jon will be able to do both, if not, I will need a traveling companion or two for the second trip.

So now we wait. I am actually getting quite good at it. God is giving me the patience and peace of knowing that He is in control and all things will happen in His time. We would continue to ask for your prayers, support and encouragement during this very exciting time in our lives!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who was Philemon anyway?

Good question, huh? I have to say I could not have even ventured a guess before I read it recently. He was actually a slave master, and a friend of Paul's. Philemon's slave Onesimus ran away and met up with Paul, became a Christian and realized he must go back to his owner. Can you imagine? Actually the story isn't so much about slavery as it is about showing Christ's love through forgiveness, something we call could use a regular lesson on. However, after reading it's one chapter, that I have never really given any thought to, God wanted to make sure my eyes were opened to see that slavery still exists. I encourage you to read it, if you haven't lately.

The next day on the radio I heard about a website that makes jewelry to raise awareness of human trafficking- today in 2010. The name is 'Wonderfully Made'. The following is quoted from their website: "Human trafficking takes on many forms throughout the world ranging from sweatshop labor, to day laborers, to sex slaves. Sex trafficking occurs in every nation and preys on young girls and boys; over 50% of the victims are under the age of 18. It is estimated that 80% of the victims are females who are kidnapped, sold, or tricked into selling their bodies. Although not widely realized, 14,500 to 17,500 victims are brought into the United States on an annual basis (U.S. State Department). According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally every year. Trafficking is simply twenty-first century slavery."

This week in school Payton and his class had been talking quite a bit about slavery. He would come home with details about how slaves were treated in the 1800's, how Abraham Lincoln put an end to slavery. Sadly, I had to inform him that slavery, although not legal, certainly has not gone away. I didn't get into too much detail with him, but assured him that we needed to pray for those who are still brought into slavery every day. It may look different than it did in the 1800's, but it still exists.

Then, reading in my Proverbs 31 magazine last week, there was an article titled "21st Century Abolitionists Needed" written by Randy Bishop. There are some scary statistics here people. In the past, I have not tended to be an over protective mother, but I am now:

An estimated 200,000 U.S. children alone are at high risk for sex trafficking each year
UNICEF estimates there are 2 MILLION victims of child prostitution alone world-wide.
Approximately 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. annually.

These are some ways we can help:
Pray- for the victims and victimizers, if you aren't sure what to ask, God will help.
Become involved politically- a free resource that includes victims' stories:
Support fair trade businesses such as WorldCrafts, at to purchase items that will help women freed from sexual exploitation
Be aware of suspicious activity- to learn to recognize the signs of possible trafficking, go to hotline# 888-373-7888

I'm not done yet. On and off for the last 2 months I have been reading a book called 'Wasabi Gospel' by Shawn Wood, great book. (I have the bad habit of starting 2 or 3 books at a time.) I was completely shocked, (but was then reminded that God is trying to imbed something in my brain - so the shock quickly wore off) when 5 pages into my nightly reading he began to talk about Jesus' love for little children. "Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said...."Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the one who sent me." Mark 9:35-37

" A quick glance through Scripture will show you how serious Jesus was about children. Good thing we totally understand that, and always take care of our children, right? I mean, it was just those mean Romans and the barbarians in the Middle Ages that had children as slaves and such, right? Surely no children are slaves in the world today, right? Wrong! According to the International Justice Mission website: Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 12 billion dollars a year for those who.... sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage. And from Greg Atkinson: 'I was speaking to church leaders in Atlanta (in 2008) and I asked them what they were burdened about as a city..... their answer was "child sex trafficking." My response was "oh, you mean helping overseas?" They said, "No, right here. Atlanta is number one in the United States for child sex trafficking." My jaw dropped. I was speechless. They went on to tell me of girls as young as five and six years old that were being sold as sex slaves- in Atlanta!

I know that God has been trying to get my attention to this matter. I'm not sure why, maybe just to raise awareness for others that this exists. Maybe to keep a closer, even more protective eye on my own daugthers, maybe just to pray for the victims. I'm not sure why during the last 3 weeks, this message would come to me five different times, but I have heard it,loud and clear.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our Prayer Jar

I love blog world. I find so many neat ideas from other faith-filled moms! This one came from another family who is also adopting through AGCI. The kids and I ( mostly the kids) made our first Prayer Jar yesterday. Now we need to use it. My plan is for the kids, and Jon and I too, to write down people and things we want to pray for and then choose one time during the day, either supper or bedtime to pray the requests.

As a family we have been much better at bringing our requests to the Lord over the last couple of years. This is just a way to remind us daily and have some fun in the process! If you can't read it on the picture it says" the JOY of Family Prayer. We used a plastic peanut butter jar, cut-up tissue paper, clear glue and letters cut out from magazines- simple and fun!

Any prayer requests we could add to our new jar?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Love Languages

My hubby and I are pretty lucky in that we both know that gift giving is not either of our "love languages". So for Valentines Day there was no candy, no cards, no gifts. And honestly, we are both SO ok with that.

But, we did get to go out the night before for an incredible dinner, we ordered and shared our FIRST bottle of wine ( mom and Kara- you'd be proud)and then hung out with some friends and listened to some live music - still home by 10:30. (Thanks Mom D. for hanging with the kids and bringing the yummy supper for them!)

Anyway, I am so thankful that early on, we established what really makes us feel loved. I believe it is so important in a marriage to love as your spouse wants to be loved, not they way we think they want to be loved, or selfishly the way we want to love them. Any time my man picks up his dirty socks, unloads the dishwasher or makes the bed, I feel the love BIG TIME. For any of you that know Jon well, you can guess his love language, need I go further?

So- love your spouse the way Christ loves us, unconditionally, and without parameters, even when they don't necessarily "deserve" it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Growing too fast!

OK- can I just say that I want time to stand still for a bit? Our Ava was 8 on Wednesday and while I am thankful for the years God has allowed us to have her, they are just going by too fast! Ava is such a beautiful, even-keeled, spirit. She is so ready to go with the flow and really takes time to let things sink in. At a party with kids and grown-ups, she loves to hang with us old folks.

Last week after getting our teeth cleaned, she said "Now, I either want to be a teacher or clean teeth!" Thought that was so cute, as she has wanted to be a teacher since she was 4. My kids love going to he dentist- only because they get a new toothbrush, toothpaste and a pencil. Thankfully, none of them have had any cavities yet, but if/when that time comes around, they may change their tune a bit.

My precious Ava- Mom and Dad are so incredibly proud of the young lady God has led you to be. We pray for you to continue to grow in His grace, love him with your whole heart and serve him with gladness.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love is an ACTION word

Tonight, I don't have a lot to share personally, but I read the following post, loved it and wanted to share it with you all. "Love is an Action Word." She is a gifted writer and says exactly what she thinks. I wish I had a bit more courage sometimes to say more of how I feel, but sometimes the words just don't come out like I want them to. So please take a moment to read.

Storing Up Treasures: Love is an ACTION word

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Adopt? (Prepare to be reading a while)

I know I answered Why Ehtiopia in my last post, but thought it was important to share how we came to decide to adopt in the first place.

Unlike many of the women who say they have always wanted to adopt, I myself did not feel that calling until November of 2006. I had been out to dinner with a friend and on the way back around 9:30 at night, was listening to Family Life Today. The topic that night was orphaned children in Brazil. I cried for most of the trip home and it was at that point that adoption had first entered my mind. My son P had asked a number of times for a brother. We would tell him to pray about it, but never really said one way or another. He was too young to explain the word vasectomy to, so we’d leave it as “it’s in God’s hands”.

From the first time I felt the Lord calling us to adopt, it never entered my mind that I wanted a baby. In fact, at first, I didn’t want it at all. I kept asking God, “are you sure”? This went on in my mind and prayers for about 2 years, until November, 2008. It probably helped that it was adoption awareness month, and I listen to Christian Radio in the morning. Several of the stories told that week on Family Life Today and Focus on the Family helped me erase any doubt in my mind that this was what God wanted. He answered my questions and calmed my fears through those men and women as they spoke.

I am more open now to the possibility of caring for a baby, but still feel that God is calling us to adopt a sibling group of boys between the ages of 2 and 5. There are several reasons I feel this calling. It all began with P’s prayer for a brother. The reason we feel called to adopt siblings is that I would want my child to always feel they had someone else to relate to, that they were not alone.

The most important reason is I just feel that this is God’s calling. When I began my spiritual quest to live the life God had called me for, I had no idea what His plan was for me. I have been a Christian all of my life, but until March, 2005, I didn’t truly live my life passionately for the Lord. I went to church most Sundays, taught Sunday school for a few years, and volunteered on committees at church, but that was about it. I didn’t have an active prayer life, read the Bible regularly, or commit to daily time with the Lord. I also didn’t live my life as Christ would. I still read books that I shouldn’t have, watched TV programs that were not Lord-pleasing, and also did not spend my time wisely, watching too much TV, too much time on the internet searching for my dream home, trying to dig myself out of clutter, rather than taking the time to organize my space.

In March of 2005, I was part of a committee studying our congregation and school climate. During a phone conversation with a mother of two from our school, I started to open up to her about things not related to our survey. I could tell she just had a passion for Christ and spoke very openly and honestly about it. At the end of our conversation, she asked if she could pray for me. I was hesitant, but said yes. I had never felt the Holy Spirit before, until that exact moment she prayed for me. From that point on, I vowed to live my life for Christ and to follow his path for me. I began to read my bible here and there, read Christian authored books and really take a look at what I was watching on TV.

On February 18, 2007 I was very sick with the flu. It was a Sunday and I remember it well as I lay on the couch. Jon took the kids to church and then out for the day. I had recorded on DVR about 10 episodes of Oprah and thought I’d catch up. That day, I watched an episode on “Fascinating Families”, Lysa TerKeurst was one of the guests and she told her story of adopting two teenage boys from Liberia. I was bawling through the whole thing- it was such a God-inspired story. They did not elaborate on her occupation, so I was completely surprised the next day when I saw her name on a Family Christian Store flyer as an author of the book “What Happens When Women Walk in Faith”! I couldn’t remember for sure if it was the same name, so I went back to the Oprah episode and sure enough- the same person! This book is such a tremendous guide, I just loved it as well as her follow up “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.” Those books were very life changing for me and I thank God he led me on that path.

It has taken some time for Jon to see that this is something God is calling us to do. During the last 3 years, I have tried to be very patient. I would say this is the longest I have ever waited on someone else to make a decision, but I am so thankful I did. Jon has grown in his faith and has become more of a spiritual leader in our home as he has prayed to God, asking for direction. More on his "God Moment" in a later post!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

Several people have asked us why we have chosen to adopt from Ethiopia, not in an accusatory way, or negatively, people are just curious and I understand that. I have seen these statistics on several other blogs and I hope it is okay to "borrow" them to place here:

• One in ten children die before their first birthday
• One in six children die before their fifth birthday
• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old
• 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years
• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%)
• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)
• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.
• Coffee prices (Ethiopia’s only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002.
• Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.
• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.
Sources: Greening Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s Children, Global Income Per Capita, CIA World Facts

Believe it or not, Haiti was actually my (Jon wasn't ready to say yes yet) first country of choice. I knew the orphanage I wanted to adopt from near Port-au-Prince and followed their website regularly. Then about a year and a half ago, the laws in Haiti changed that you could only have 2 biological children to be able to adopt. All along I had prayed that God would open those doors He wanted us to walk through and close those that He didn't. This was an obvious slam in the face and I needed to start looking for a different country. Ethiopia was a new program with All God's Children at the time and because of the great need, the parameters meeting our family specifics, and the travel time being realistic for our family, I began to pray, study the above statistics and research Ethiopia and God said yes!

When Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.', we believe adoption from Ethiopia is what Jesus was talking about for us.

I love this quote "The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." F. Beuchner

I know my calling was to be a mother. I know there is tremendous hunger in Ethiopia, the two fit together perfectly- Praise God for leading us here!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Family Time

Christmas vacation is over. I am sad, I have loved having them around the last week and a half. We had a fun time though, getting together with our good friends the Jungwirths the weekend before, going out for pizza and then to see the Best Christmas Pagent Ever, so cute. The kids did an excellent job at their Christmas service on the 22nd, having 2 services with all of the kids, one at 1:30 and the other at 6:30. Christmas Eve we spent at Kara's with Paul, Cindy and Kaden, the Nowaks and the Kraftzenks and ate just appetizers. That was it- the first time Grandma Kusserow and mom and dad weren't there b/c of the weather. Then over to the Dahlke's to celebrate and eat again. Christmas Day was at mom and dads to open presents and eat, then to Jennerjohn's to visit and eat some more. All in all- lots of fun and celebrating and WAY TOO MUCH EATING!!!!!

Other highlights: Christmas celebration with Jon's extended family, out to The Wheelhouse for all you can eat pizza to celebrate Grandpa D's one month of no smoking after 55 years!!!, cousin Everett had a sleepover with us, had our visit with Deb on the 30th, celebrated Alaina's 6th birthday with a few friends, they decorated cupcakes and played together. Jon and I celebrated our good friend Joe's 40th birthday with him and several other couples on New Year's Eve, which was a lot of fun- but we were up way too late! New Year's Day was a family day- to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, then out to eat at O'Charley's thanks to a gift card from Aunt Jeanne, and then to Auntie Linda's to pick Grandma up to take her home. We ended up staying for 2 hours, visitng and playing a fun game called Eye to Eye. That was a fun, unplanned evening. Yesterday we had our friends Brad, JJ, Preston and Kalayna visit, they travel to Ethiopia to get their kids on January 28th- so excited for them! Last night was probably the most fun time for me of the whole break. I was feeling bummed that we were having to go back to our routine soon, so we called all the kids into our bed at 8:00 and daddy made up a new game called 'The Family Game.' Think of a word, tell how many letters, give the first letter of the word, and each person gets 3 guesses, the person who guesses correctly thinks of the next word. Most every word was related to our family, such as: Payton, family, Emanuel, Brewers (which Ava guessed right away!), love,Papa, etc., until dad gave a word: 5 letters, starts with 'B'. Hum, we are all thinking, guessing and can't figure it out. So, daddy gives us the first 2 letters, 'BU', still we are all puzzled, no one guesses, so daddy gives a clue, pretending to pick his nose. Payton and I looked at each other and said "booger???, that has six letters", and dad says, no- B-U-G-A-R, BUGAR, and oh were we rolling with laugther. He was certain he was right, but when your 9 year old challenges you and his mom agrees with him and not you, you have to concede that you are wrong. The vision of the 2 girls dancing on the bed pointing at daddy and saying "you don't know how to spell booger" over and over again will remain in my mind for quite some time! Dad earned the nickname of "bugar" for the rest of the game. Today was a very low-key day. We took down the tree and ornaments, went to church, worked on our adoption courses and watched football. A wonderful way to wrap up our precious family time together. I so love my family- thank you God.