Mar 31, 2011

What They Need to Know

The last few weeks have been hard. Too hard.

The "R" word has come up a lot.

Too much.

Too often.

We knew it was coming.

It was in her grades, on her lips and on her teacher's face.

But last night it was in writing. Scrawled in black ink.

"Retention for 1st grade."

Our hears sank.

Her sweet face dropped.

There were tears.

But after weeks of planning, discussion, meeting with tutors and talks with her teacher,

we are all together on this.

We're going to have one more year of 1st grade.

It bothers the Hero.

It bothers the Angel.

And the Dinosaur doesn't know any different.

But here's the truth ya'll:

"I DON'T CARE!!!!"

Please hear me again when I say:

"I DON'T CARE!!!!"

Before you scroll to the bottom and leave me some comment about parenting, or retention, or some other opinion about why any of this should bother me; save it.

I still don't care.

Before you blow off my previous statements as flippant or uninvolved, please understand.

We highly value education. I personally have a love affair with learning.

I want to give that too my daughter. And to my son.

It just isn't going to be today.

There are no delays. No medical issues holding her back.

Just one more year of growth in an academic setting.

One more year getting her feet wet in a social environment.

One more year of alphabets and simple addition.

And she'll only be seven in June.

And she's only known English for 365 days.

This mama is completely at ease with her progress.

And whether I bore her myself or not, I still would have this opinion about retention.

So as we were discussing options these past weeks, I got to wondering what it was I want my babies to know for this life.

And the truth is...

nothing on my list was to be found in a book.

It's all found in THE book.

What I really want my kids to know:

Above all else...Love.

Be completely humble Ephesians 4:2

Compassion come to me that I may live. Psalms 119:77

Dance Jer. 31:4

Eagerly wait 1Cor 1:7

Faithful Proverbs 28:20

Grateful Ps. 100:1

Hope 1 Peter 1:21

Injustice Slayer Hosea 12:6

Joyful Habbakuk 3:18

Know the Lord is with you Joshua 22:31

Live a life of Love. Ephesians 5:2

Maintain justice Amos 5:15

Never be shaken Ps. 15:5

Obey [their] parents Ephesians 6:1

Patience 2 Timothy 3:10

Quiet life. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Rejoice Forever Is. 65:18

Sing Ephesians 5:19-20

Trustworthy 1 Timothy 3:11

Universally Love John 13:34

Walk Humbly Micah 6:8

Xpress love in all things 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Yearn for the Lord Ps. 84:2

Zealousness Ps. 69:9

So as we prepare for one more year in first grade,

we will continue to focus on our education,

both for school and for our souls.

Mar 26, 2011

The dinosaur turns 3 in a few weeks. For weeks, we have been debating about how to celebrate. Talking to him about it does no good. He does understand parties or presents or having everyone together to eat cake just for him. Oh, he definitely loves parties and presents and cake, but Christmas was confusing and awkward for him and The Angel. One of the things about adopting older children who have been institutionalized is their inability to have learned play. During Christmas with everyone we knew giving them gifts, they didn't really understand after the wrapping-ripping was done, what they were supposed to do with the toy or the clothes inside.

He the attention span the length of a burp and while he gets excited when he sees:

a RAH... as he calls them.


or Buzz

He simply has no concept of how to play with either toys or interact with a game that either other kids are playing or his sister is telling him how to play. So there will be candles and cake, that's really all we know for sure.

We've been working on helping them develop their own play with not only one another but other kids. But when we are at home not matter what we are doing, they would rather be right next to us, helping with laundry, mopping the floor or doing dishes. And while a huge part of me prays these attitudes continue through their teenage years, I do want them both to develop a sense of imagination and play.

A few weeks ago, hubby and I were working on some paperwork and we thought it a good time to mandate that the kids play in their room for 20 minutes without coming out. We left their door open which can be seen from our kitchen table. About two minutes after putting them in their room and bringing out play dough and shape cutters and explaining that they could make whatever they want and just play together, the Hero and I made it back to the table to look up and see something that looked like this from their room:
Both of them were sitting on their bottoms, legs crossed and staring at us in the doorway of their room. So needless to say, The Dino's bday needs to have lots of kids and cake involved. And probably no play dough.

Mar 22, 2011

Running Over

Some of you know that today is World Water Day. Some of you are asking what does that mean? Why is World Water Day any more significant that Cupcake Day or Hug A Stranger Day? Why should you even care?

For you, I have no answer. Maybe you shouldn't care. Maybe you should stop reading right now and go to the sink for your pot of clean water to make coffee and forget that you were reading a woman's words who was discussing water at all.

But for me, I do not have that luxury. My eyes have been opened and I have seen the water crisis and I have held one of its victims in my arms. I could bore you with facts and staggering numbers of humanity that has no clean water source, but if you were to ask me to put a face with a victim of clean water, there is only one:

Each day, a boy that I love, that I call my son and who calls me 'mama', walks from his home to an unclean water source. It 's a disgusting river where not only trash and debris are congealed together to form a murky liquid, but during my time with him, I observed tens of people using it as a public toilet. But for this boy, my son, there is no other water source around. While I am fighting on my knees and with my hands to see his situation changed, I've been advised of new challenges in the war for clean water. And please, I'm not being overly dramatic about this being a war, thousands die every day from water related issues.

Today in India, 1/3 of the wells that have been built in the last twenty years are broken. WHAT? People have access to clean water and the pump is broken? That makes me more mad than having no access to water at all. That's where the Adventure Project comes in. Over 100 bloggers across the globe are donating their blogs today in an attempt to get 10 of their blog readers to donate $20 each to help fix broken wells in India.

The Adventure Project is partnering with a group from WaterAid who trains women to repair wells. I LOVE that! Empowering women and attacking a problem at the same time. Check out the people in this photo. Note that the warrior in the middle, leading this group, is female.

You can go to to read about my amazing friends at The Adventure Project and you can go to make a donation. 10 readers giving $20 would mean $200 raised from YOU today!
So until K has a well in Ethiopia, let's fix the ones that are broken.

There is a verse in Luke that I've always loved. It's a promise of God's blessings on those who follow Him and give of themselves. It goes like this "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38. Last night I read a tweet from one of my favorite social justice heroes, Bob Goff, who is in Uganda right now building a school. "We've been pressed down and shaken together; now its time for us to get to the running over part."
So today, let's get to the running over part!

Mar 13, 2011


Was this really 365 days ago?

My eyes look so tired, because well, they were!

Wow! So much has changed. So much of me has changed.

It's crazy to think that we met our kids 365 days ago. I have no idea where our lives go from here, but its fun to know that wherever we're headed, we're headed together.

Mar 12, 2011

Extras! Extras!

Now that all the Recycle Love tees have been packed up and shipped out for over two weeks, I feel like I can breathe and I love looking at our furniture and not see it looking like this:

We had a packing party for the tees and it gave us the opportunity to meet the winners in persons and take advantage of their packing muscles! The Habudas came over and we had a blast stuffing envelopes and talking all things adoption, Africa, family and travel.

The Dinosaur took an instant liking to Matt. So adorable in their matching Recycle Love shirts!

As the packing started to wind down, The Dinosaur took the liberty of making accessory changes to his outfit.

We ordered extra shirts for anyone who might be interested and they are on the right side of our blog. If you missed out on your chance to get your own Recycle Love shirts, click, buy, wear and Recycle your love. We are offering these at a reduced price and they are only $20 each, including shipping!

Thanks again to everyone who participated. We would LOVE to see pics of you all in your Recycle Love gear, so feel free to email me a pic or two.

Mar 10, 2011

A Year & A First

One year ago, Le and I boarded a plane for Ethiopia.
Three days later we would be introduced to our destiny.
Tonight we headed to the airport for Ruta and Alazar's first airport homecoming.
We were so excited to be able to present when our friends Matt and Julie arrived home from Uganda with their sons, Paul and Timothy.
Ruta really got into it. She wanted to make a sign for the boys. And she was just a tad excited about showing it off.

Alazar, well, he was more into the balloons.

Congratulations Matt and Julie! We are so honored to have walked this journey to your sons with you!

Tonight was so much fun! I cannot wait to do it all over again!

Mar 9, 2011

A Unusual Blessing

Growing up southern baptist, I was always confused when my catholic friends would prepare for the season of Lent. I asked my father why my friends felt compelled to "give up" something for 40 days. He explained that Lent was the season for fasting a portion of our lives to grow closer to Christ. I was intrigued by the idea. When I asked what we were giving up for Lent, he simply replied "Honey, you're baptist. You've already given up everything."
Note taken.
As an adult, I am still captivated by Lent, a challenge to physically restrain myself in order to grow closer to God. Sounds good. But instead of choosing coffee, chocolate or e-mail, I wanted to propose myself a different challenge:
One Chapter.
Of One Book.
Of the Bible.
Each Day.
40 days.
Randomly opening my Bible.
choosing to pursue Him above all else.
Today was Psalm 27.
"1The Lord is my light and my salvation-
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life-
of whom shall I be afraid...
8My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!'
Your face, Lord, I will seek...
12 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord."
In my search for information on Lent, I found this Franciscan Blessing:
May God bless you with discomfort.
Discomfort at easy answers,
half truths,
and superficial relationships
so that you may live deep with in your heart.
May God bless you with anger.
Anger at
and exploitation
so that you may work for
and peace.
May God bless you with tears.
Tears to shed for those who suffer from
and war
so that you may reach out your hand
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with foolishness.
Enough foolishness to believe that you can make
a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others
claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God,
who creates,
and sanctifies,
be upon you
and all you love
and pray for this day
and forever more.
Here's to blessing you with discomfort, anger, tears and foolishness.

Mar 8, 2011

Just How I See Them

I've been writing stories since I was six years old. It's probably my vivid imagination but most people I meet, I relate them to either a character I've written or someone else who has written a similar character. Writing was my first designated profession to my parents; my dad broke down in tears and swore I'd have to live with them forever. I was ten at the time. I enjoyed it so much, I made it my major in college. But academia was hard on my talent and I felt myself writing more and more just for my own outlet instead of a career aspiration.
Like a lot of people, I dreamt of writing a novel. Princesses, fairies, dragons and sword fights across the printed page seemed like great fun. I never had the desire to write either a children's book or poetry.
There's a reason why someone a lot smarter than I said "Never say Never."
It's almost a guarantee that God changes your course.
We were together three days in Ethiopia when I wrote them their first lullaby.
They are the source of almost every non-legal thing I write.
Since I've started writing about them, whether here, in my journal or on one of the may legal pads that dot my house, car and desk, the way I see them has changed.

Ruta will forever be The Angel.

Alazar is definitely 100% visualized as The Dinosaur.
Boyhood mischief and destruction wrapped in his own shroud of grins and belly laughs.

And Le is the hero.
In every situation of my life,
Each new circumstance,
I always paint him as the hero.
A respite from my chaotic world.
And only the pictures in my head seem sufficient.
So if the coming weeks you read more about The Angel, The Dinosaur and the Hero, the characters of my life have not changed,
simply the way I see them.

Mar 7, 2011

I came home from work tonight and made a pie.
I would love for you to believe it looked like this:

Ha! Right!
I don't even know who took that picture.
Today was one of those days.
The crust was too hot.
The cool whip didn't thaw completely.
And we were left with this mess:

And while I was too focused on the laundry,
the bills, taxes, work and homework,
my kids were over the moon that there was pie.
Lord, help me be more like my kids.
Every day is dessert and I want to enjoy every bit of it.
No matter what it looks like.

Mar 6, 2011

This picture sets on my desk.
So that every time I look up, I have a reminder of a love far off.
Moments of missing not Africa, but him.

The necklace around my neck hasn't left since my body departed his continent.
That was almost a year ago.
The heart on the chain spells his name.
The prayers from my lips each day whisper for grace.
Asking the Maker of destinies what ours is to be.
Together? Apart? Now? Never? Later?
I wrote his story down, as if I would ever forget it.
An ode to the soul that I've come to adore.
One so small, who will change something so big.
None of these things puts him in my arms again.
Only God defines family and no matter his location in this world,
he is defined as my son.