Friday, December 23, 2011

Gingerbread Houses!

This year, we did something new.  We made gingerbread houses for the first time.  I mean, real, full blown, candy laden, frosting covered gingerbread houses.  It was quite an adventure!  I wasn't sure how stiff the dough needed to be, so my first few walls got a little warped in the transfer to the pan.  They wouldn't hold together.  But, I figured it out, and we were able to put together some pretty decent looking houses!  I'm thankful the Marriott Hotel came to town earlier this year, because they have an awesome candy bar.  Expensive, but awesome, and worth it for a special treat like today. : ) They were beautifully expressive to us! : )

She put a penguin gummy in the window.  Hilarious!

And, here's just a few pictures of our house this Christmas!

Christmas Tree in the corner...

Our countdown to Christmas and Ethiopia chain!

Christmas table setting

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yusuf Update

God prompted me on Sunday night after writing about Yusuf to just do a little research and SEE if there were any options for him.  Several hours later, I had found three hospitals in India who perform infant liver transplants AND have social aid programs.  I have contacted all three, and one of them has been very prompt and professional, and the ball is rolling....

Yusuf's medical records have been forwarded to them, they've asked for a current blood test, which the family is doing as I write.  Once they have the results, the head surgeon in Delhi has asked to see them in person.  We're hoping to get them there by the first of next week. God has even provided a friend of ours in Delhi to accompany them to the hospital to meet the doctor.

Please, please pray:

-That Yusuf will be a candidate for transplant
-That one of his parents will be a match to donate part of their liver to him
-That God will miraculous provide the means for this transplant to happen (whether through fundraising, or free treatment from the hospital, or a combination).

We are walking in faith that Yusuf's life is precious to God, he was given by God, and He will make a way....

Pray for this family.  They are walking in faith as well, but this is a scary path for them...  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Please Pray...

Please join us in praying for this little boy.  He's 7 months old.  His name is Yusuf.  He is the son of a friend of ours.  His father is a tailor and does not have enough income to meet Yusuf's medical needs...

Yusuf has a failing liver.  Two months after he was born and he was still jaundiced, his parents took him to a doctor.  The doctor did some tests and determined his liver was not functioning.  They did some kind of surgery (paid for by donations from people in the families community) that attempted to re-direct or re-route something in his liver. I don't quite understand it all.  

It apparently has not worked.  The doctors said it could take several months to see if the surgery would begin working.  Yusuf's stools are still white.  His eyes are very yellow.  The palms of his hands are even yellow.  He has been running a fever for over a month. 

The doctors say the only thing left to do is a liver transplant.  This will cost $50,000.  It is completely unattainable for them.  

Yusuf is a beautiful baby, with a loving and beautiful family.  I am struggling with this.  

What is the price of a life?  

Is it $50,000?  That's the price of Yusuf's life right now.  We are praying for healing.  We are praying for wisdom.  We are praying for a late onset of the first surgery taking effect.  

But each week that passes, and his eyes and hands are still yellow... his fever is still lingering... I fret a bit more.  What more can we do?  God doesn't always choose to heal.  I struggling to sit and watch this boy die...  I want to DO something... .

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Post: Give Hope Through Child Sponsorship

One of my favorite things about our adoption process so far is our family having been thrust into a new community of other adopting parents.  Walking this road with others has been encouraging, challenging, and such a blessing to me.  I've made several good friends over the past months that I've never even met, but feel such a deep connection with, because of a shared heart for the poor and neglected throughout the world.  My friend Missy, who is adopting two small babies, has decided adopting is not enough.  More must be done.  She has committed to finding sponsor families for an entire school full of children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  And that wasn't enough.  Now she's taken on another school.  She recruited help from us, asking ten blogging friends to find families for ten kids each.  That's 100 kids with families investing in them, loving on them, visiting them if you want!  We will be visiting this school, loving on these kids while we're in Addis in a few weeks, and if we get sponsors for all of them, I'll be happy to take them your love, and bring some back to you.  Virtually, at least. : )  Please do tell me if you sponsor one of these kids!

We can find sponsors for all these kids by Christmas.  10 days. One a day.  Share it, like it, spread the word....

Here is Missy's guest post :

Last night, my daughter fussed after I put her to bed, telling Mama that something wasn't right. I went in to check, and found a wet-diapered little girl who was trying to fall asleep in a big wet circle of spilled bottle, shirt soaked through. I let Daddy deal with diapers and fresh PJ's while I handled the sheets. As I tugged off the wet ones, my heart sank. I thought of all the big wet puddles on the crib sheets in the Enat Elam video, and the newborns with bottles propped up against blankets learning to self-feed... I thought of my own two adopted babies, waiting for me in a care center in Ethiopia, rocking themselves to sleep.  My babies.  I'll be honest. I lost faith for a moment.

The immensity of the AIDS and orphan crisis finally did what it does; it punched me in the stomach and told me that anything I can do is not enough.

As I scrambled to pull myself together and manuever crib sheets around bumpers, I prayed that God would keep my candle lit. I thanked Him for fresh sheets. I asked Him to handle the dark voice that did not belong to Him and remove it from my brain. (He did, because He does.)

I am battling that dark voice every day. We all are. The one that tells us that we are not big enough to make a difference, because the problems of this world are too overwhelming.

So we do nothing. And yet we have a responsibility as Christians. It's right here in black and white.

 Actually, it's in red lettering.

What EXACTLY does GOD say about our responsibility to the hungry? To those in Africa who are "sentenced to die" by starvation? 

Well, it's harsh, and you aren't going to like it. The first time I heard these words on Daily Audio Bible, I was floored:

11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death...

12 Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.
Soul-crushing, right? 

So what can we do?

Where is the solution for this impossible situation?

After reading this post by author Tom Davis, I read his book, Red Letters. I found an answer, amidst all of the statistics that reek of death... 

It lies within our five small barley loaves and two small fish.

The disciple Andrew asked: 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6: 1-14

The boy had faith. The disciples had statistics. 

Don't let Satan use statistics to trick you into thinking that you should not offer Jesus your small lunch because it won't make a difference. 

Have faith. Be the boy.

Ready and willing to help? Confused about what to do?

I understand. 

 I am, too. I will never fully figure this one out.

  How about sponsoring one? 

How about being the disciple who tells a lonely child of God that they are not forgotten?

The benefits of sponsorship go both ways. You and your family can write letters telling that child that Jesus has not forgotten them, and neither will you. You can back those words with a year or more commitment to sponsor them in education and health care.

You get to watch God work. And He DOES.

Want to see what your tiny fish and barley loaves can do when placed in the hands of Christ?

Want to see Jesus feed the 5,000 all over again?

Do you want to be the one to hand over your lunch while everyone else stands around asking questions?

Do you want to see what He can do with your tiny fish...

And your 5 barley loaves?

Offer it to Him. (He still puts on a show.)

Why am I doing this today, when I am sure we would all prefer a nice post about homeschooling or a walk in the garden? Because I have a 6 month old, 9 pound daughter...

who will not grow up sitting in the dirt begging for water, and a son who will never beg for food.

Because I have prayed and searched for the right charity to point my readers to, and I believe in this one, because sponsorship programs allow you to impact one person's life in a way that can change the future. Any of these kids could have been ours. And I mean all of ours.

These are God's kids, and they belong to all of us. We must mark the lives of the lost with the love of Jesus Christ. We must TEACH them LOVE.

These photos are the proof of lives changed through Children's HopeChest

You can be the hero by doing something that will give you more joy than you have ever known.

You can tell them you remember.

You can be the one to love "the least of these." - Matthew 25:40

  Today, you can a part of this miracle The blog hosting this guest post is joining together with 9 other bloggers to find 100 children their sponsor families.  

10 Bloggers x 10 Kids = 100 children. 100 children loved, fed, remembered.

The children pictured below were chosen specifically for this blog.   Choose your child today, and email with your child's name in order to request their sponsorship package:

1.  Sara

2.  Elsa

3.  Temsgen

4.  Hirut

5.  Yetemwork

6.  Frew

7.  Mintesnot

8.  Sirak

9.  Tseganesh

10.  Rahel

I promise you, this experience will bless you 100 times more than you could EVER bless these children.

  $34/month = one child loved, fed, and remembered.

  Are you a blogger who would like to advocate for these children by taking on your very own 10 Kids? Email


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Purposeful Giving

This Christmas season I've been seeing a lot of people talking about giving more than we're receiving. Giving more to people outside our families than within our families.  Giving to make a difference in people's live, to help to improve situations for people in hardship, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I love seeing this kind of heart for giving growing more and more in the church and body of Christ in America. I have often been told by folks that they WANT to give and are able to, but aren't sure which organizations are trustworthy, which ones make a difference, who does what, etc.  So here is a list of organizations that we as a family would recommend you look into if you're in this category of wanting to give, but not sure where to start!

-World Vision: An organization that does a bit of everything.  Medical needs. Education.  Rescuing women from exploitation. Child sponsorship. Disaster Relief. Advocacy.  Meeting basic needs with water.  View their Online Catalog to choose from an array of gifts that will change a life.  Read testimonies of receiving a couple of goats or chickens has improved the lives of people in Africa.

-Compassion International: An organization that focuses on freeing women and children from poverty.  You can do almost anything through Compassion: give mosquito nets, provide medical supplies, education help, sponsor a child or woman, provide clean water or other basic needs.  Possibilities are endless.  There is so much need.

-NeverThirst: An organization that conducts water projects across the world to provide clean water to as many people as possible.

-Word Made Flesh: This organization focuses its energies on the poorest of the poor in countries around the world.  Financial gifts go to support their staff on the ground in multiple countries seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the outcast, poor, the lowest of the low that most ignore.

-i-India: An organization that rescues children from the streets of the city I live in.  They have a portable shower bus that kids can bathe in, rescue children from walking and working the streets and provide them with education, safety, stability, food.  This is near and dear to my heart.  Please consider giving to change the life of children's faces I may have seen. You'd be surprised how far your money goes... $10 to feed 50 children, $40 buys a bed, $100 pays a teacher for a month...  See more

-imb Connecting:  Giving to their Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goes directly to support staff around the world reaching out to millions of people, being the light of Jesus in dark places.

-The Voice of the Martyrs: For followers of Jesus, consider giving to this group who reaches out to our brothers and sisters around the world who are enduring intense hardship and persecution for their faith in Christ.

-Children's Hopechest: Give a child a future for $34 a month. Or give a one time gift.

-Show Hope:  This organization gave us a grant for our adoption.  Consider donating to help other families bring their children home.

-International Adoption Guides: This is our adoption agency.  They sponsor several schools and orphanages in Ethiopia.  Your donation to them would purchase desks and chairs for a new school building, provide a computer for students to use, clothes, formula, food for orphans in their care.

This is a scratching-the-surface-sampling of options.  You can find plenty more on the world wide web. : )

And, if you'd like to buy gifts with purpose, be a responsible consumer, or buy handmade items that provide jobs for the poor, consider these online stores:

Sari Bari-beautiful handmade textiles, made by women in India who have been rescued from exploitation

Ergon Handicrafts-cards and journals made by women in India who are under-educated and very poor, and would otherwise not have access to employment or income. (Currently low in stock on cards, but journals are there!)

Bead4Life-Beautiful beaded jewelry made by women in Uganda.  I bought all the women in our family Christmas gifts here this year.

Home for Christmas: Go crazy here!  A master list of families selling all sorts of things to raise money for their adoptions.  There is something for just about everyone.  I bought all our Christmas presents for our entire family off this list last year! : )

So many more where these came from as well!

Happy giving!  And Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tapestry: Week 15

Well, we're not behind, because we'll finish our first two units before Christmas.  But, we're behind where I wanted to be at this point.  I'm just glad that I think we can get through before Christmas!

I got sick the week of Thanksgiving, so we didn't really get any school done that week.  So this week was Week 15.  It was a fun one! We studied the Israelites occupation of the Promised Land, Canaanite peoples, the battle of Jericho, Joshua's leadership of the Israelites, Rahab, and Caleb.  We also studied the geography and topography of Canaan to learn how different and refreshing it was from the 40 years in the dessert as punishment for their disobedience to the Lord.

Tuesday, we made an armored breastplate like Joshua and the Israelite army might have worn.  

Then Friday, we re-created the battle of Jericho.  We started by building the city and the wall. 

Then we pretended to be the Israelite army and march around seven times, like God commanded.

Then, the walls all fell down!

The kids loved that part! 

Especially Levi!

Yes! The Israelites were victorious, by the power of God! 

Kiryn finished her Handwriting Without Tears book this week.  For a four year old, she has excellent handwriting, thanks to this program.  Also, we are really loving the Horizons math.  It is definitely a push and challenge for Luke, but I'm really glad we switched to Horizons. We had a great week and look forward to continuing this study of the Israelites conquest of Canaan and the land allotment to the twelve tribes next week!

Levi Turns 2!

I've been looking forward to Levi's birthday for months.  Last year, when he turned one, we were all sick.  For several weeks after his birthday people were sick.  So we actually never got around to celebrating his birthday! I've felt guilty for an entire year! : )  So I wanted to do it up right this year.

We got up this morning and I quickly got cupcakes in the oven before we loose power at 9.  Then we made pancakes for breakfast.

While the power was out, we opened Levi's presents and played!

We thankfully got power back early at 10:30 this morning, so I was able to make the frosting and get the cupcakes put together in these cute Mater cup cakes before lunch.

Then we had tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch, followed by CAKE!

The afternoon was spent watching a movie and playing outside, and a little bit of Wii mixed in there too.  Tacos for dinner, and more cake.  He's one happy two year old today. : )

Can't believe my bubby is two years old.  He is in such a fun fun phase.  Here are some things I love about two-year-old Levi:

-He brings his me a stack of books, the same books everyday, and says, "Rez! MOM! Rez!!"

-I love the way he says "zeba" and "umlelalalala".  (zebra and umbrella)

-He loves to cuddle and snuggle with me

-I love it when I'm holding him, how he wraps his whole arm all the way around my neck

-I love the way he pops his lips when he kisses me

-I love the way he smiles when he's trying not to be in trouble, it's this totally cheesy put-on smile, complete with raised eyebrows

-I love how he loves to help and pick up: his favorite things are putting all his cars back in the box, and throwing his diapers away, and putting his empty bottles and snack dishes into the sink.

-It is so cute in the mornings when he's hungry and he goes in the kitchen to get a bowl and spoon and shows it to me saying, 'Bowl!"  It's his way of saying, "Breakfast, please!"

-As annoying as it can be, I love that he just wants to sleep in our bed, and can't seem to fall asleep by himself.  I can't say I blame him. I don't like sleeping by myself either...

-It is adorable how he mimmicks everything his brother and sister do... especially when it's something he shouldn't be doing.  : ) He thinks he's so much bigger than he is.

-I absolutely love to listen to him say all his letter sounds. My favorite is the x, he doesn't even open his mouth, it's just like a crash in his mouth with closed lips.  So awesome.

Oh, I could go on and on.  These are just things I don't want to forget. : ) I'm so in love with this little man!