Jun 30, 2010

To Educate...Them All!

Yesterday, I asked you to look in the eyes of Kushum and see her. YOU let God speak to your hearts and as of 7:30p.m. yesterday, YOU had raised enough money to send this precious angel to her first year of school . But I owe you an apology. Because when I looked through the profiles of the 12 kids at Asha yesterday, I only saw this face:

I didn't even bother to look at the others. This morning, as I read through the 11 other profiles of the kids at Asha, I ran across this face:

He is the ten year old brother of Kushum. His name is Ravi. At first, I really wanted to rest on our laurels from yesterday. Kushum was going to school. One year of life she is safe from the evil world of a brothel and being offered an education. Wasn't that enough? But as I began to pray about Kushum, I kept being flooded with the knowledge that the sex industry doesn't occur in a vacuum. There are millions of men who pay for the services of young girls and women every day. A lot of women who enter this profession do so against their will and once they are old enough to leave they have no where else to go. But what about the men that pay for such services? These men need to be educated from an early age to value a woman and honor not only a woman's body but his own as well. Who really needs the education? The answer is that they both do. Ravi and Kushum are equal in the eyes of their Heavenly Father and they should be to us too.
People said there was no way we could raise $4884 dollars in 48 hours and send all 12 of the kids at Asha to school. They were right, we didn't. God did it in 28 hours!!!!!!!!!!!
That's right, as of the writing of this post, all 12 children at Asha will begin school tomorrow. Our God is righteous and He loathes injustice. Thank you for helping us slay it on behalf of 12 little ones who right now don't yet know that tomorrow is the start of their new education!

Jun 29, 2010

Give Her A Crown!

We've been home from Ethiopia for three months. We were only home two weeks when Ruta began BEGGING to go to school. Even though there were only eight weeks left before the end of Kindgergarten, she started with gusto. Each day she would bound from the car, scream "bye Mommy" and head for the door. My daughter's zeal for education was inspiring. While my niece and nephew were belaboring about the final eight weeks, my Ethiopian princess was in tears the last day of school. It was consistent reassurance that she would indeed go back to classes in August.

My daughter also LOVES movies. She calls them "films". Her favorites include Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog. The common theme in all these movies is there is a princess. And if you call her a princess, she sheepishly turns her head and whispers "thank you". It melts this mama's heart.

This week, I have a very dear friend who is travelling with Children's HopeChest to India. He has seen some devastating things and he has even been inside several brothels. There are a group of people you would not expect to see inside a brothel, children. But my friend Vince says they are everywhere. Some of them are working (a thought which makes me RAGE with righteous anger) and some of them are there to visit their mothers, who are working. When interviewing these women their only hope is that their children gain an education, so that they do not inherit the profession of their mothers.

There are 12 children in the Asha ministry program that are eligible to start school THIS Thursday. There is only one problem: each child needs $407 in order to have a uniform, supplies and tuition paid for the year. When reading through the profiles of the children at Asha, I got lost in the sea of need, until I saw THIS face:

Meet Kushum. She and my daughter are the exact same age. While Ruta is enrolled in kindergarten and will start on August 17th, Kushum lacks 407 miracles to start her new life. Here is how she is described by the staff at Asha:

Kushum has a quiet confidence that does not come from what others think of her or how others react to her. She is perfectly content to stand back and watch things unfold rather than be in the middle of the action. Kushum is a strong student in school and is learning English well for her age. Her stunning beauty, quiet nature, and ability to stop people in their tracks with a single glance from the "stink eye" are all defining qualities of Kushumlatha.

Today I am asking you to stare into her eyes and imagine that it is the eyes of a child you know and if you know me well, imagine it is my Ruta. Would you give Ruta money to go to school? Let's give it to Kushum.

Here's what we want to do. We have two days. While there are several other warrior girls (Amy, Sarah, Brandi, Melanie) advocating for the other children at Asha, Kushum is being advocated for by the Andrews' clan. For every dollar you donate through HopeChest, we'll match it until Kushum's school fee is paid. Simply click here, make your donation (make sure to mark it "india school-kushum" in the notes section) and then leave me a comment on my blog or email me the amount you gave so we can match it. I cannot give $4884.00 dollars, but we can spare $203.50, can you? We may not have a huge spread of food for 4th of July, but knowing that Kushum will have a start on her way out of poverty sure sounds like the definition of Independence Day to me.

Please blog, facebook, tweet and spread the word about this and give Kushum her own princess crown, one of education.

Jun 21, 2010


When we were in ET, Le was thrilled when Alazar and Ruta first called him "Papa". We were told that it was a sign of respect and love and was equivalent to saying "sir". Of course Le's heart soared when he went from being "papa" to "Daddy".

Since being home, several men have earned the endearment of "Papa" in my son's life. My bro-in-law Brian was holding Alazar our first weekend home and as he was falling asleep Alazar made up a song about his "Papa Chu". The nickname stuck and at least four times a day, Alazar asks "Papa Chu?"

Every time the doorbell rings, Alazar screams "Papa Clay!" and goes looking for my dad. And when Le's dad enters our house, one word escapes my son: "PAPA!"

Since we've been home, I find myself being overwhelmed by watching my children experience new things. The lake, an escalator, popsicles, and chicken nuggets all have a special memory in my heart. But I am most amazed at watching my children experience the love that surrounds them. No matter who it is, every member of our family has been caught in the current of love that rushes from Ruta and Alazar. But sometimes in the midst of all this joy, there is raw sadness some days. I cannot help but remember all those faces that greeted us at the orphanages in Ethiopia. They were searching my face for just one thing: Love.
Our small group has been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This week's reading was about giving away all of ourselves. One of my favorite quotes is "the good things we cling to are more than money: we hoard our resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends." It resonated with me that for so long I hoarded my family to myself and I was hoarding their ability to love and wanting it only for myself. For each member of my life, when they are with my children, I have a new appreciation for who they are and how they show love. While I have always adored my brother-in-law, I never before noticed how gentle and patient he is with those he loves. And while I've loved my dad my whole life, I've never heard him sigh like he does when Alazar nuzzles his chest. And it wasn't until three months ago that I knew how much my father-in-law can laugh until he hurts. I truly know by watching my family what it means that it isn't love until you give it away.
This Father's Day, watching my kids give cards to the special men in their lives, I started to cry. I wonder how many kids in the world are just waiting to give that kind of love. Waiting to call someone "Papa" and change the world for a family who is brave enough to stop hoarding themselves and give their love away.

Jun 14, 2010

Everyone Needs A LaLa

This picture depicts last weekend for my daughter. Her feet never hit the ground. Whether it was on the water, on the beach or at the lake house, she was in Heaven.

For the past twenty-nine years of my life, my sister has lived less than 20 miles from me. Always. And while we have always been close, we wasted our time together during those twenty-nine years. Not always. But we did the things that you do when you take stuff for granted; you think it will always be there. My sister and her husband left on November 30th, 2009 for Arizona, it was the day that we got our referral. I thought the distance would dictate the depth of relationship between my kids and their aunt. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Laura and Brian flew home for the first five days we were back from Ethiopia. And my daughter fell in love with her first member of our family. She clung to Laura like her soul depended on it and I cried like I've not cried in years when they left to go back home. So did my little girl.

Alazar is unable to pronounce his "r" and "u" sounds and when he says Laura's name it sounds like "LaLa". In his sweet sing-song voice, even her name sounds like a song. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.

We Skype all the time. We talk on the phone at least once a week and we have seen each other several times since that first weekend home and yet, at the end of every weekend, there is still something missing. It's our Lala. We tried for a long time to figure out the best way to celebrate Ruta's birthday. She didn't really understand what a birthday was and I didn't want it just to be a showering of gifts. We had a talk about babies and mommies and when the baby comes out that is your birthday. Ruta seemed to really understand. When I asked her what she wanted for her own birthday, she first said she wanted "water, chicken, bread and "baby cakes" (her words for cupcakes). I laughed and said "Ok. That can be your birthday dinner, but what do you want as a gift? What can mommy and daddy give you?" She only had one request: Laura.

When Laura and Brian booked tickets, I didn't tell Ruta she was coming. As we drove to the airport, she immediately asked "Laura?" "Laura?" I told her I didn't think so but that mommy had her gift flown to the airport. She literally stared at her for moments before she comprehended that Laura was here.

We went to the lake. She opened a lot of presents. She had a lot of baby cakes. But what she had for more than seventy-two hours was her favorite person in the world. While there were a lot of tears when she left for all of us, Aunt Laura is perfection in the eyes of my little girl and everyone deserves to be that idolized by someone. It's like having your own song...like having your own LaLa.

Uncle Brian...Alazar needs his own post for you too, but I can't cry anymore tonight. I love you both!

Jun 2, 2010

Much Needed Change

Well, I've been blogging for over a year now. It was time for some updating. Sweet Becky redesigned our blog. She did a great job of capturing my love of elephants, Africa, color and of course, turtles!

I couldn't think of a cool title for our header until I went back through and read some old posts. While I always want to be Africa Bound, I also want to consistently be in the center of God's will for our family. I don't know if we'll adopt from Ethiopia again, but I know we'll adopt again. "God defines family" seemed like an amazing statement that no matter where we are or where we are going, God is the one who brings us together.

Go check out Becky and support her adoption and get a great updated look too!