Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just sharing the love

My kids love to put on 'shows' for me and are constantly coming up with new ones. Thought this one was too cute not to share. :0) Do they have talent or what?

I love you too sweet babies!!!

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I was thinking...

I was thinking the other day where I would be had I not said yes.

I was thinking the other day how my life would be so different had I not believed.

I was thinking the other day where I would be now had I let the world determine my ways.

I was thinking the other day how much I would have lost out on had I succumb to fear.

I was thinking the other day how glad I am that I listened to the voice of truth.

I was thinking the other day how empty I would be...

without you.

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A raffle too precious to miss

Friends of ours are raffling off some cool stuff to help bring their precious one home from Ethiopia.

One thing that I love is watching families and friends pull together and work together to raise the money to bring a child home. There is just something about knowing others have your back. Something about seeing others lift you up as you trust in the Lord to provide. Something about bringing people together for ONE PURPOSE- to bring HIM glory through adoption. Something about knowing He will indeed provide it all.

While most of us quiver at the thought of fundraising- I also believe that when we jump in with both feet and scream YES GOD WHATEVER IT TAKES- we will be blessed beyond measure as we watch HIM work through others.

Please stop by here and be God's hands and feet to help them bring their child home. Together we truly can make a difference.

Thank you Christi for being who you are. Your life, your faith and your example have blessed me more than you will ever know. I smile when I see your joy in serving Him- and I love how you have jumped in with both feet with a grin on your face the whole time- because you believe He will.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Team work

When we first brought Havyn home from Ethiopia in March we were overjoyed with our amazing daughter. However, it was obvious that at 6 months she was rather delayed and we had quite a bit of work ahead of us. Thanks to our amazing ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) workers- our occupational therapists and speech therapists- we were soon working our way towards recovery.

A lot of the issues Havyn was having revolved her being 2 months premature. She was having a lot of swallowing issues and horrible reflux. After a swallow study we found out she was indeed aspirating- even on her own saliva. Poor baby had been in horrible pain. We soon began thickening her formula and she also began sleeping on a wedge. It was a balancing act really- she would eat small amounts every 2 hours- but had to be kept upright for at least an hour after her feeding. ECI also wanted us to push tummy time so in between feedings every 2 hours and one hour being upright we then went down on our tummy. Lots to juggle. However- it began to pay off and she is now almost caught up and growing in leaps and bounds. She is 16 lbs and ready to take off.

Honestly though I have to attribute most of her success to her support team- Mya, Aleigha, Kaden and Carson. They are her biggest fans (as well as mommy and daddy and her oldest brothers and sisters). They encourage her, cheer her on and have crawled by her side. :0) Even ECI said that older siblings are the best therapist there are!
I am so thankful for these amazing, beautiful kids and I am so very, very blessed.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

T4A- are YOU going??

So what are your plans for October 1-2?

I know what I am going to be doing- I am so going to be at T4A!!!

T4A-I mean seriously- even the name is cool don't you think?

What exactly is T4A you ask? (you did ask didn't you?)

Trust me, it's something you do not want to miss. Together for orphans 2010 National Conference is in Austin Texas Oct 1-2.

To read more about it you can check out

This years conferences promises to be a great one and I cannot wait to go! There is a fantastic lineup of keynote speakers and they are estimating a little over 1,000 cool people who are passionate about God, adoption and orphan care under one roof.

Can you imagine? All.Under.One.Roof. It's this orphan loving girls dream come true. :0)

So often times we adoptive families feel like we are in this alone. One reason why I love the blogging world is because here I know that there are others who 'get it'- and it's a safe place where we can turn to for support. That is what is so incredibly awesome about T4A!

Just think-two whole days surrounded by people who have heard God's call to care for orphans and are living that calling out.

Two whole days spent with people who 'get it'.

Two whole days spent with people who understand the heart of God.

It simply doesn't get any better than that.

This years conference theme is “The Gospel, the Church, and the Global Orphan Crisis"- and one thing I can promise you is that it's gonna be good.

So don't wait- go sign up here for the early bird special. I cannot wait to see you there!!!

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Kids helping kids

Have you ever had a time in your life when you knew you had reached a turning point? Where you knew things were going to be different- that YOU were going to be different. That is what happened to me when I was 9 years old.

My name is Addisyn and I am about to turn 15 years old. This is my moms blog but she asked me to share part of my story with you.

When I was 9 years old we adopted my sister, Aleigha, from Guatemala. My parents had asked my brothers and I how we felt about adopting a baby and we were all on board. What I didn't know though at the time was how adopting a child would change my entire family- and my entire life.

When you are 9 years old it's pretty important to you that you are like every one else. It's pretty important to you that you fit in. I remember wanting to dress like my friends, talk like my friends and do the same thing as my friends. Adopting my baby sister changed my being like everyone else. When she entered our family we no long 'looked' like everyone else. When we went out in public people stared at us or asked questions. We were no longer just an ordinary family- we were now a multi racial, adoptive family with five children (who many people considered a large family). It was sort of hard for me to pretend I was just like everyone else anymore- because God had called our family to be different.

What I didn't know then was how God would use this experience to mold me into becoming who I am today. What I didn't know was that God would use our experience to create a passion for the least of these. What I didn't know then was how glad I would be that He did.

Going against the norm isn't always an easy thing to do. Actually sometimes it's downright hard. While God has blessed me with many supportive friends- we still do things differently than a lot of other families. Different isn't bad- it's just different and most kids my age just want to fit in. I'm okay with not fitting in. I'm okay with just being who I am. I may not win any popularity contests- but at least I definitley don't struggle with trying to figure out who I am .

Because of our adoptions, I have had the opportunity to go to Guatemala and work at Eagles Nest Orphanage and also travel to Ethiopia this past March to bring home my baby sister, Havyn. I loved Ethiopia before I even set foot there and that love only doubled when I did. My favorite part of being in Ethiopia was getting to spend the day with missionaries Gary and Peggy Ifft. Gary took us to Adami Tulu Preschool in Ziway, Ethiopia and I am pretty sure I left a piece of my heart there. I have a quote hanging on my bedroom wall that reads "When you walk with God, you always reach your destination.
I had reached mine.

Being at the preschool that day also made me realize how much I had been taking for granted. I no longer wanted to just claim to be a Christian- I wanted to LIVE as a Christian. Instead of just memorizing the verses in the bible- I wanted to put them into action. I knew that I couldn't return home and go on with my life the way it had been. I couldn't open my closet door and see 12 pairs of shoes in there without thinking about those left behind with none. I couldn't go into the mall with friends and spent $15 on yet another t-shirt knowing that $15 would have fed 5 children at the preschool for a month. I couldn't just be a regular American teenage girl anymore- I was different.
And different, I am realizing, is a good thing.

Last Tuesday families in Ziway, Ethiopia lined up to sign their children up for preschool. Over 50 children came- and there were only 30 openings. Such a huge need! Each child enrolled will need a school uniform. The cost for boys is $6.20- which includes pants, shirt, a vest, their book bag and supplies. The cost for girls is $5.83 which includes a skirt, shirt, vest, their book bag and supplies. The monthly fee for a child to attend is 25 Birr ($1.84). Yes, you read that right- $1.84 A MONTH is all it cost. You and I probably spend more than that on chewing gum and yet some children are too poor to even pay that.

Soon, children all over America will go 'school shopping' with their parents. Shoes, clothes, socks, and supplies will be thrown into their carts without much thought. And one thing I can guarantee you is that it will cost you far more than $6.20.
My challenge for you is to talk to your child. Tell them. Teach them. They won't know unless you do- I didn't. Teach them something far more important than what they will learn the entire year at school. Challenge them to go without one of those items thrown into your cart and instead send that money to Lifesong for Orphans and for Adami Tulu preschool. Show them how to think of others. Help them develop a heart for giving. Show them how to think outside of their own wants. Teach them to make their lives count. Develop in them an awareness for others. Teach them how to care.
More than anything in this world I would love to sit in my desk at school this year, love for your child to sit at their desk this year, knowing across the world, in Ethiopia, another child is getting the same privilege as we are because you and I chose to care enough to do something about it.

Will you please help me? Will you please help your child help another? Even if you can just give enough for one child to have a uniform and a book bag, that is huge to that one child.

Today, you can choose to live a life that is bigger than you. Today you can reach far beyond your ordinary existence. Help educate a child. Give them a chance. Change their life.
They changed mine, now it's time for me to do the same for them.
Please feel free to post this on your blogs, facebook, or yell it from the rooftop of your child's school. ;0) Thank you so much for spreading the word.

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Can you guess what we just saw?

I love you 'til infinity and beyond!!!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last year our oldest son Travis went away to college. While it was hard to let go, hard to not have him under our roof and hard to watch him grow up and go his own way- it was also a blessing to see him stand strong in his faith and make choices we can be proud of.

I look back now and realize how quickly our children grow up- and how precious the time we have with them truly is. I don't want to take a minute of it for granted. While at college Travis met an amazing young lady, Martina, who has become very dear to our family. It has been such a joy to get to know her. She is such a sweet, smart girl- everything you would want for your son. I am quite positive her family must be pretty proud of her too. Today I had the opportunity to take pictures of the two of them together and we had a blast. Thought I'd share some of their cuteness with you. :0)

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Allowing change...

Almost 7 years ago, after bringing home our first adopted daughter from Guatemala, God started to really work in our lives. After seeing what we had seen, it became impossible for us to continue living the way we had before. Thank God.

Todd and I were both aware that the Lord was making changes in our lives that needed to be made. We were resistant at first, because change is never easy- even when it's much needed.

At that point we had no idea that the future would hold 4 more adopted children- but one thing we did know was that God was asking us to surrender completely to Him and His will for our lives. For us, that meant saying good-bye to our old selves, our old ways, changing our priorities and walking away from our desire to live the American Dream.

And it was hard.

Truthfully, it was all we had ever known. All we really ever wanted. I don't think I even knew any better and I truly believed that 'things' were what would make us completely happy. We had fallen for the lie that to be successful in this world you had to display your success in the form of a big house, a new automobile and kids that were picture perfect. We wanted to look the part, act the part and be the part.

For awhile after God called us- we performed the balancing act. We would allow God 'some' of our life- while still clinging to bits and pieces of our former life that we valued the most. The bits and pieces that we felt for certain we must have misunderstood God asking us to surrender. But God is not a half way God. So He patiently waited as we slowly began to let go of the grip we had on those things we had once held so dearly. We began to let go of our old lives and move onto the new... The new us that many people didn't recognize anymore. The new us that people questioned. The new us that looked a whole lot different than the old- which was exactly what was needed.

After a period of time, we sold our dream home, moved from Indiana to Texas and became sold out for Christ.

We bought a much small house that needed a lot of tender loving care to become a home. But the price was right and it was the perfect property to raise children.

As we have welcomed more children into our home one by one- God has faithfully provided everything we needed to make room for each and every blessing. Our once 3 bedroom house now has 6 bedrooms thanks to a lot of hard work and friends who have come beside us. Our home is not fancy and new- but it's comfortable and safe. God knew it would be the perfect place where our kids could




God knew all along what we didn't. His plans are always better than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves... and we couldn't be happier.

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Little fish

It has been hot, hot, HOT here in Texas which means we have spent countless hours in the water...

Which means, two little boys have who love the water are turning into fish...

And fish know how to swim really good... with no floaties! :0)

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Uniquely you

You make everything more beautiful....

This past weekend I took the girls out for a little photo shoot. I am so in awe of how God put our family together and I absolutely love how each one of our children is beautiful in their own way. Each child is different in color, body shape and size- yet they are all uniquely beautiful.
But more than anything what completely blows me away is their inside beauty- and I couldn't be more proud to be their mom. :0)

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

If I had to do it all again-

I'd choose you...

Thank you for being the BEST father in the world. Thank you for loving our children with all that you are and all that you have. Thank you for putting God first and for being that kind of example to our children. Thank you for loving us and expecting nothing in return. Thank you for being you so that we can grow to know Him better.

I love you with all of my heart...
***And to MY daddy. I love you Dad. I cannot thank you enough for all that you taught me about life and about what truly matters. You are such an inspiration to me. Thank you for being a wonderful Grandpa and loving us just the way we are.
I love you- hope you feel better soon. Miss you like crazy!
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Friday, June 18, 2010

I believe in miracles...

Some people don't believe that Jesus still in the miracle business today.

But I do, because one happened today in front of my very eyes...

This little boy 'officially' became our son. No more silly heart stickers covering his sweet face. I'd like to introduce you to our amazing gift from God~ Carson.
(sorry about the quality of the video in the beginning... it was the only copy I had after my lap top was stolen)

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

As the scars fade...

Everyone who knows me knows I am passionate about adoption. I love a good happily ever after. But I also know that there is a part of adoption that we don't really like to think about. A part that does not include 'happy'- the part that our children have to live with~ loss.

As my children get older and start to process exactly all that 'adoption' entails-the questions become deeper and harder to answer as they begin to try to understand. I truly believe that at some point or another 'most' adopted children will have to come to terms with the past and deal with 'loss'. And loss of course can be very painful.

While out of respect for my children I try to keep their story their own- I also believe with all of heart that to truly live a Christ filled life we have to be willing to share our hurts, trials and pains- in order to help someone else- and that will be crucial to their healing. So because my children's story is in part 'my' story I will share 'my experiences' in adopting an 'older' child who is dealing right now with the loss.

We adopted Mya from Guatemala when she was just 2 months shy of 4 years old. She lived in an orphanage there for approximately 8 months. She vividly remembers her birthmom and the life she had there. But what she does remember is the day her birthmom left her- along with the pain and the loss. And that pain carries with it insecurities- and those insecurities carry tendencies to lie, please at all cost, and hide what is truly inside.

And I am beginning to realize that the scars run deeper than I ever had a clue.

Now I will fully admit that while I have tried my hardest, I am quite sure I have not always handled raising a child with this degree of loss as perfectly as I could have. While I have read book after book and sought advice after advice- the truth is, what works for one child doesn't always work for another. So, I try and then try again. Some days it is truly exhausting. Other days I see progress and I am over joyed. Yet regardless of the day- what I do know is that God personally assigned me this job and it is a privilege. And I know that it is okay if I don't have all of the answers right now. I know that what is important is that I am here for her.

The thing is with children who have experienced such loss- the scars run deeply and sometimes we don't realize that the ways they respond to certain situations are due to the scars that are present deep within. When a child has a broken arm it would be silly for us to expect them to lift weights with such an injury. It is the same as a child with a deeply wounded scar. There are just some things we cannot expect for them to do the same. While the scar may not be visible on the outside- it is still there and we must treat it with extra care and love. We must give this child grace- and give them a place where we do not rush the healing. And it is crucial we provide an opportunity for them to feel safe and allow them to process the past.

Mya has been home close to 4 years and still her #1 fear is that I will abandon her. Still. No matter how many times I have told her I will never leave her- that fear is still very real and very scary to her. Because this fear is still so alive and real to her-once again it effects her and runs over into our everyday lives.

One thing I have learned is that no matter what I cannot take the way she responds in fear personal. Actually, in the past I have posted notes around the house that say 'do not take it personal' as a reminder- because parenting a hurt child is hard.

And I have found that it is even more important for me to stay close to the Lord and His guidance for the answers. Because they are right there in His word. And I truly believe that He word will be the one thing that will finally be able to bring complete healing to my precious daughter.

I trust with my entire heart that God will be able to take those scars and turn them into something beautiful. Because the reality is-none of us are going to make it through this world without scars. None of us are going to have days without pain. But what we do with those scars and how we use the pain we have experienced is what is important.
Last night I sat watching Mya ride her bike around the front yard, proud of her accomplishments of riding with no training wheels. I loved watching her overcome the fear and jump on that bike and go. That is my deepest desire for her life.

I pray daily that she will continue to grow closer to God and discover that His love is more than enough.

It isn't always easy and while I fully admit I don't have all of the answers- I am so thankful I serve a God that does. And I trust as she grows God will heal those scars and replace the loss...
and she will bloom and grow.

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