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.