Dec 18, 2012

Icing on the...gingerbread houses

Last weekend was the best I can recall in some time.
My niece and nephew stayed with us and it was laughs and games and
fun most of the weekend.
As Sunday drew long, I was dreading for them to go home.
It had been so long since we were all together
and I had a camera ready,
that I just had to add icing to the whole weekend.
 


By making gingerbread houses.

 
Each of the kids had their own house, and they had a blast decorating them
and eating what didn't stick to the icing.



It was all-around good times and exactly what the holidays were meant to be.
Togetherness, fun and icing.
 
You can never go wrong with icing.


 

Dec 12, 2012

 
One of my favorite people and Ethiopian travelling companions called yesterday.
She was working on a blog post about K, she and I's friendship and the book.
As we talked, she was perusing her pictures from last year's trip to Ethiopia.
 
She asked me if she had sent me all of the photos from her camera.
I couldn't remember if she had or not.
So I told her to email them to me just in case.
 
Enjoy.
 
I did.
 
 


But this one is my absolute favorite!
Probably of all time.


 
I have less than 200 still in my possession.
I am blown away and truly humbled by all of this and I am honored that you all have supported me so much through it all.
I just can't wait to sell the remainder so we can start planning the REAL fun...global, clean WATER solutions!
 
So if you want to order, click on the BUY NOW button and order before Friday, so I can ship it for Christmas.
 
You can now find the book on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.com.
If you received your book and loved it, please go to these websites and rate the book.
 
Thank you so much.
Thank you.

Dec 10, 2012

That's Your Job.

 
 
Almost 250 books have left my hands in the last two weeks.
Another 500 are being distributed by Amazon, BarnesandNobles.com and several private book stores.

I am excited, humbled and amazed that you all have been walking this journey with us.
 
The Hero asked me what I was going to do when this was over.
When all 1000 books are sold and we've chosen a site for the well.
I told him I really wasn't sure.
 
A really great friend is leaving for Ethiopia in the coming months.
She offered to take a copy of the book with her and read it to K.
It sounded great.
K would see the book in record time and would have a copy to keep.
 
I was telling The Hero her offer the other night.
He let me finish.
 
"Linz. Reading your book to K is only one person's job.
Yours."
 
I love it when he's right.
Just the thought of another trip to Ethiopia makes my heart leap.
I don't know dates or times or length.
But the last copy of my book left in my possession is already spoken for.

Dec 9, 2012

Where are We?

It's been a few days since our last post. I've been to Texas and back and then to Tulsa and back again with the book signings. My little family is feeling the stress. But they also are embracing our mission. 1000 books. One water well. A family mission we've all gotten behind. I think that I have about 200 book left in my possession. This number is rough.
The original printing was split equally. One half to me. One half to a distribution company in Tennessee. They have placed the books on all the usual suspect sites...Amazon, Barnes and Nobles.com and several other book sellers. I took the other half to do book signings and appearances in my area. Wow. And there are only roughly 200 left in my possession.

1000 of any thing can boggle the mind. But 1000 prints of my oldest son's profile is the most exciting, fearful, amazing thing I've done in my entire life. You may order the book at the Pay Pal button above. Look for us on facebook to spread the love and the page dedicated to the book.
Thank you again for just being willing to go on this amazing journey with us.

Nov 25, 2012

Painting this Season Differently

 
I've been thinking and praying for a while about how to do Christmas differently this year.
I want my kids (and myself) to feel the wonder of the season,
instead of just the pulse of MORE STUFF.
We've prayed about it as a family
and I've begged Jesus quietly on where the RESTART button
between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
 
I told The Hero I even wanted our Christmas cards to look different.
We are not the sweater and chino matching type.
And even though I try so hard to try to keep up with that image,
we are never going to be a J. Crew family.
 
I saw a pin on Pinterest awhile back about a photo shoot that involved paint.
I knew in an instant it was for us.
The perfect start to a different kind of holiday.
I called my friend, turned photog-pro Vanessa at Dear Okie
and asked if she was crazy enough.
 
I think her exact quote was "HELL. Yes."
 
I found us all white shirts.
And we "looked" like we'd take average ole, "stand in front of the fireplace" pics.
 
You should have seen the kids' faces when Vanessa and I pulled out the paint.
 
 
Vanessa explained we were going to paint the canvas as a family.
I doled out the brushes and
The Hero set up the canvas.




The kids got busy chucking paint.


I got lost in just being together.



The Dinosaur almost hyperventilated when The Hero threw paint on him on purpose.
He was so worried about his shirt.
Until I tossed a brushful in his hair.
And begged he do it back to me.
 


 
We painted one another.




Then went back to the canvas.

We tossed paint and wrote on each other for the best part of two hours.
Laughing and screaming.



 
Letting the paint and joy drip all over.

 We covered paint on every inch of each of us.
Including Vanessa.
(thank God we spared her camera).


 
I've never seen The Dinosaur make this face before.

Here is the masterpiece we created:
 


 
Out of the 340 pictures Vanessa took, only five of them were of all four of us staring at the camera.




The rest were so perfect, we didn't need to be looking at the camera.
It was us in our glory and mess.
Just like every day.
 


But with free license to embrace who we are without all the expectations.
Be. Still. My. Heart.

 
Here is to you and yours this holiday season from a family who is trying to start our traditions all over again.
And praying that we paint it right this time,
while covered in love and joy.
 
If you haven't had a chance to buy my kid's book yet, go to the top of the blog and hit the "Buy Now" button for paypal. All proceeds from the book go to build a water well in honor of our sponsorship son through Children's HopeChest. There are only 1000 copies printed and we are praying they are sold as soon as possible. Thanks and God bless.


Nov 23, 2012

A Black Friday I Can Be Excited About

 
 
 
I didn't expect to hear from my book printer for the next two weeks.
I just opened my inbox from my printer saying they had finished the first 500 books.
He wanted to know if it was okay to go ahead and ship them to me?
 
Uh....YES!!!!
 
So here you go.
The first peeps to see the cover of the kid's book that took me almost three years to complete.
 




Isn't my illustrator amazing?

I think so too.
 
So here is where I start begging you to buy the book.
I only had 1000 copies printed.
Because selling 1000 copies will pay for a water well to be built in our sponsorship son's honor.
And to be really honest with you, I didn't have enough faith or garage space to house any more books.
The book won't be available on Amazon or another online outlet.
Just here.
And a few in-person places in Oklahoma City.
My sights are really just set on this first printing.
If God has further plans for this simple children's story, then He will handle the details.
You may order at the button on the side of the blog.
If you are local, I will hand deliver your book to you.
Will love and tons of kisses.
Thank you so much for being on this journey with me.
If you've read here longer than two blog posts, you'll know my family's passion and love for Ethiopia and our desire to see the people of the world educated about clean water.
 
Can't buy a book?
No problem! Please help Tweet, Facebook and blog about this opportunity.
 
Thanks Again,
I couldn't do this without you.
And I wouldn't have written this story if it weren't for him.

Nov 22, 2012

Thanks Is Not Enough

 
 
 
Thank you Jesus.
There is simply nothing I did or will do to deserve the love of these three hearts.
 
 
 
Full with a thankful heart today.
Love to you and yours.




Nov 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday 2012 Westmoore Community Church




November is National Adoption Month and today, specifically was Orphan Sunday. A national day for churches and organizations to gather to honor and reflect on the millions of foster care, abandoned and orphaned children in our world. Our church put together a great video of families who have adopted, are adopted or are fostering. How amazing to be with so many like minded people. We were honored to be asked to appear

I had a plan for today. I thought it was a really good one. One of those plans that when pulled off to perfection makes a pretty postcard moment memory and I look like supermom.

I should have known better. In three years of motherhood no plan that I have devised has come close to working. And I don't think supermom feeds her kids ice cream for dinner; but alas I tried to plan today nonetheless.

We would have church and then prepare a simple meal of beans and rice and reflect and spend time as a family praying and discussing re-vamping our Christmas expectations.

Only one thing happened as planned.

We made it to church. Well, three of us made it to church. The Hero ended up being at the station today. The Dinosaur had a soccer game, so we spent the day racing from one event to the next.
And I drove through McDonalds for dinner. Nothing says reflection and prayer like a big Mac.
As I sat down tonight after putting the kids in bed, I felt really guilty about not making today more poignant for my kids and I.

But as I sit here typing this, two Ethiopian angels are tucked into my bed waiting on me to come and sleep. And no matter how today started, it's about to end just perfectly.

Nov 2, 2012

A Face To Africa

 
I wrote my first children's book three summers ago.
On a legal pad.
While vacationing at my sister's house.
Watching my two kids swim in her crystalline pool.
I was supposed to be working.
All that yellow paper was designed for some thing legal.
But it was destined for some thing lovely.
As the kids swam and splashed with their new aunt,
I swam and splashed through my tears at the edge of the pool.
 
How so much can change in a small span of time.
We hadn't been together four whole months yet.
English was still an accent on their tongues.
Most smells and sights were new and each experience more exotic than the last.
And Africa was still very much in my heart and thoughts.
 
I think I've said before that I believe David when he said
"God sets the lonely in families."
I believe that because I never knew how lonely I was until I got my kids.

As the kids splashed and played,
I wrote.
Wrote the story of the boy who walked every day for water.
A boy who carried the liquid on his back,
while my new kids covered themselves in water I was telling them not to drink.
I wanted a way for kids every where to learn about his story that stole my heart.
A story that would bring him and others clean water.

I found an illustrator that weekend.
It was a pure divine encounter.
He fell in love with the story too.
As he began sketching the outline, we met several times.
He asked me when I envisioned my story set in Africa, did I see a face?
I laughed out loud.
But of course, I did.

This was the first picture I sent to him:




This was one of the first illustrations Jerry sent back:



AHHH!!!
My words didn't seem to do the art justice.
But now at least Africa had a face.


In other news, I just heard from the printer and books will ship November 21!
I'll start taking pre-orders in the next few days.
Scared.
Scared out of my mind.
But the kind of scared you get as you top the incline of a roller coaster. :)
 




Oct 23, 2012

Permision to Break the Rules


The Angel has been having trouble at school again. A girl who daily tries o tell The Angel she is not enough. And because of her skin color, The Angel is less than the crowd.  It's almost impossible for me to believe that any one would want to give her a hard time. But then again, I'm her mom and I know that not every kid has the love and support that The Angel gets at home.  And not every one knows that she is as close to heaven on earth that I will ever be. But we've talked a lot about that whoever is giving her a hard time may not be being lifted up or loved at home.That the only real resolve we have is to approach the throne room each night about this girl and pray for her heart and her home.

I pack her a lunch almost four times a week. She loves it and I love sending her a mid-day reminder in my handwriting that I am with her, no matter where she is or what she is going through at the time.

School has a rule that you are not allowed to share your lunch with some one else. That sounds like a great rule. No exchange of germs. An attempt to shun judgement as a comparison to "what's in your lunch box is better/worse than mine."

Today, when I picked her up, she asked me to forgive her if she got in trouble. I was astounded that she would ever get in trouble at school. She told me that the girl giving her trouble did not have enough to eat in her lunch bag today, so The Angel gave her a portion of hers.  And as we drove down the road, I fought back the tears and told her that if there was ever a reason to break the rules...The Angel had found one. And I would back her to the end.

 

Oct 17, 2012

Finally Choosing.

 
 
It's closing in on three years since my first trip to Ethiopia.
Three years since we first met our sponsorship son through Children's HopeChest.
Three years since I became an every day mama to two kids.
And carrying love for many others in my heart every day.
 
How do you measure time?
I know that most value it in minutes or hours. Some even days.
A count down of sorts.
To graduation.
A driver's license.
Marriage.
Retirement.
Death.
 
I've totaled all of these things in hours, years, breaths and moments.
But the older I get, the pieces of my life that resonate most memorable
are the ones I remember having to make a big choice about.
 
Choosing to finish law school re-focused any day dreams of  being young and
 paying off student loans.
(paying that bill every month still takes my breath away.)
 
Choosing to love The Hero was easy.
But walking down the aisle refocused my ideas of commitment and loyalty.
 
Choosing to be a mother spun my thoughts on selfishness and "me time."
(Is there really any "me time" as a mommy?)
 
But leaving my heart in Ethiopia was never up to me.
It was always out of my control.
There is not a day I don't wake up and ache for a different time zone.
The macchiatos.
The air.
Feeling as though I've arrived home.
 
Three years ago, I knew I was there for a reason.
More than just to be a mother.
More than just to write a few blog posts about our trip across the ocean.
 
I had read all the good Christian literature about how to respond to the fatherless and abject poverty.
But it wasn't until I had been and seen for myself that I learned
true love is nothing if not acted upon.
It is not a feeling. It's a force.
 
The Angel and The Dinosaur were toddlers when we landed back in Oklahoma.
I struggled to explain to our family and friends about the wrestling of poverty and pure beauty.
I worried I might never find the words.
I finally settled that I wouldn't.
 
But I kept writing those sponsorship letters.
I kept remembering the boy who walked to a cesspool he called a river to get water.
Every day.
Where cows and humans relieved themselves next to women bathing clothes and children.
Every day.
 
 I couldn't return to my life and act like I didn't know.
Every plastic water bottle felt heavier in my hand.
Each hot shower more of a luxury.
And a washing mechanism for our clothes and dishes; well that was just greedy.
 
I wanted to tell everyone I met his story.
So that maybe an avalanche of love could change it all.
 
I wrote his story for children.
Because that's how Jesus says we are to come to Him.
It's the purest form of ourselves.
The most honest and true parts.
 
I found an amazing artist who slashed his rates to walk this boy's story with me.
We went through re-writes and re-dos and rewinds.
I knew I wanted the proceeds to benefit water projects.
A well in his honor.
 
No publisher really seemed to agree.
Because of the intensity of the illustrations and the size of the pages,
few printers were willing to touch it.
 
So I did exactly what the enemy wants us to do when we're trying to start an avalanche:
I let life get in the way.
 
For 18 months, the project was stagnant.
About six months ago, I found a printer in Tennessee who agreed to print it.
Hard cover.
Just like one you would buy in a book store.
But I would have to print 1000 of them.
Did you see the zeros after the 1?
I threw up in my mouth when they sent me the estimate to print it.
Could I really do this?
 
So I it did it again:
I put the estimate under my desk
and focused on soccer games, home work and advocating for some really amazing causes.
 And I let life get in the way.
 
No one really calls me out like The Hero.
It's probably one of the main reasons I married him.
During a cleaning session a few weeks ago, he found the artwork for the book.
"You should have done this a year ago"
was all he said.
 
I contacted the printer last week.
Checked that the estimate was still correct.
And today, I came home to this envelope on my porch.
 
 
 
 
The print proofs.
 
The urge to throw up has been present all night long.
I still haven't opened them.
It has set on the table like a guest who needs to be introduced.
The Hero is at the station or he would have ripped it open.
 
I think there was a reason Jesus was always saying things like
"Do not be afraid" or "Fear not."
It seems to be the biggest issue in my life.
Being afraid of the unknown, risks, or the biggest F word of all....
Failure.
 
But then I'm reminded that fear is a choice.
And tonight, I am choosing that for the sake of building a water well
in the name of someone I love,
I will not be afraid.
 
Hold onto your shorts.
You're probably going to get really tired of hearing about this project
in the coming weeks.
Let's start an avalanche.
 
 
 


Oct 12, 2012


It drives me nuts when my kids ask me a question and then five seconds later ask the same question again. I'm repeatively saying "if you would have listened the first time..."
Back in September, I was sent home with pneumonia and was on bed rest for a week. I never remember being so sick in my life. I even cracked two ribs due to all the coughing. My doctor took me off almost all physical activity and no long distance running for 6-8 weeks. Because of all the hacking, coughing and wheezing, sleeping longer than six hours at a time was almost impossible for months. But even still, I've been waking up in the middle of the night almost every morning. I toss and I turn and force myself to try and fall back asleep, which only leaves me cranky and stressed in the morning.
My body has simply not recovered from being so sick, several weeks ago, I went back into the doctor because my pneumonia cough had returned and I just couldn't stop being tired. I also couldn't stop hacking. I was sent in for several rounds of tests and x-rays and all of them came back clear. I had yet another bronchial infection. My doc again advised me to take care of myself and again suggested a bout of bed rest, my lungs just need time to fully heal.

Like every one else, entering the busiest seasons of the year, I am yearning for more hours on the clock. Kids, soccer, school, work, laundry and dishes are pushing me to the limit. My prayers go up every several hours "where am I going to find the time?" And now even my lungs were needing time to rest.
Traveling to Ethiopia in July was not recommended and still the thought of not being on African soil this summer breaks my heart. But like my kids, I guess I need to be told more than once sometimes and if I want to finally get back to max capacity, I guess I better get started.

Sep 17, 2012

There and Back Again...by The Andrews Clan

If you know me at all, you know that The Lord of The Rings trilogy speaks my religion. I think there is more fervor about Christ in those three books than in most churches on a given Sunday. I think Tolkien had a solid grasp on the pulse of Jesus. I love them both for that.

Five years ago, The Hero and I stood amongst a sludge of adoption paperwork: local and international, foster care and respite care, red tape and bureaucracy. After several phone calls to our local Human Services department, I threw away their information. It sounded so overwhelming and they seemed to only push us towards fostering. After enduring infertility treatments, I knew my heart was not ready to love through another type of loss.

As you all know, The Angel and The Dinosaur joined us by way of international adoption in 2010. After several failed attempts at a Thai adoption and false starting on several domestic adoptions, we were back to square 457. For the second time. God just kept breathing the word "home" into my heart. I felt it over and over again. I was sure that when I wrote this post, that home was leading us back to Ethiopia. I called our home study agency and even advised them to revamp our home study in order to make it approved for Ethiopia. Two days later, we were changing course. Again.

I had never heard of a group home five years ago. I didn't know they existed. But "group home" is just fancy terms for a kid who needs a family. And I kept repeating only one word: Home. Our social worker's sweet clear voice asked only a few things that I could piece together on the phone that day.

"12yr old."

 "group home, 7 years."

"group Home."

 "Are you even interested?"

"not foster care...forever placement."

"group HOME."

I remember telling her I'd talk to The Hero. I promised I'd pray about it. But deep in my heart, I already knew the answer: Of course we were interested. Our family's goal isn't Ethiopia, or fostering, or even really adoption. Our goal is to be who and what and where HE is asking us to be. To whomever He is asking us to be that to.

The Hero never blinked when I printed off the packet of information. He nodded and we prayed and we confronted our kids about an older brother. They were elated. And so here we are. Several visits into our integration process and the newest member of our family who will be living here primarily in the next few weeks.

We do believe our road will lead us to Ethiopia again for adoption. The Angel is certain of it.  She also consistently reminds me now that we girls are out numbered. But to see the face of what is to be our newest son and say no was not something any of us could do.

I'm sorry that I kept the secret from you all so long. There is still much we are not allowed to say.  Adoption is never beautiful all the way around. There is loss and grief and pain. Transition and belonging and acceptance. But never in my life do I see Christ loving me more fully than when we accept a child into our family just as they are. Isn't that what He did for us? Accept us in the broken pieces to go there with us through the ugly and the dark, only to turn around and do it all again the next day? It's why I love Jesus. As He love me in all my failures to be there and then be back again each morning, again and anew. There and back again. There and back yet again. Day after day.

Please join us in prayer. There are so many unknowns yet for our little family. Payments for costs we have not yet seen, hurts we have not yet encountered, legal hurdles to be moved and we will need your love and support every step of the way.

So that's what we can tell you. We haven't fallen off the earth the last two month. We've just been going down the road to home. And now back again.

Jul 13, 2012

Christmas In July

Having kids almost five years apart can be challenging, I'm learning. Remember? Still new to this mom thing. And some times I'm just slow on the uptake. But having kids five years apart AND being of two different genders is, well, like a remake of Cowboys v. Aliens. The Dino's favorite game is "How to Hack Off My Big Sister In The Shortest Amount of Time." He beats his record almost daily now.
The Princess's favorite game is "Let's See How Loud I Can Huff At EVERY. THING. My Brother Says." I stopped counting her decibel levels a year ago.
The Hero and I have been trying really hard to maintain our patience and remind them that continuing to drive their parents crazy will only end up with all of us in the loony bin.  But I hear the loony bin cooks for you three meals a day AND does the laundry. And "NO", I have no googled loony bins in our area. Maybe tomorrow.

So tonight when they had been together less than thirty minutes and their were both ready to play their individual games with one another, I called a time out. I set them both down together and announced that if they really were serious about wanting  a brother and/or a sister to come home and live with us from Ethiopia, then they were going to have to get along. We just couldn't bring another person into our family if they were not going to be nice to the family members we already have because that wouldn't be fair to anyone. I asked them both to pray over dinner and ask God to help them know and love their sibling here and their sibling(s) to come, so that we could be the family God wants us to be.

Guys...I cannot make this stuff up. They both prayed and asked for patience, love and kindness towards one another and that God would prepare their other siblings for them as well. It was all I could do to choke back the tears.

They've been asleep now for almost an hour. I can't be sure because I didn't hear the angels announce it from heaven, but I think the Lord Jesus has come back to earth. Or my children have been inhabited by aliens. All evening they have been amazing to one another. They snuggled on the couch during a movie, they have "pleased" and "thank you'd" each other almost to death and while I was cleaning dishes, I heard The Dino say "NO! I WANT to carry your shoes to your room. Because I love you!"

I write you all tonight to document this event, so that this Mommy may have a reminder in the morning when the squealing over "He-got-more-orange-juice-than-me" starts, I can remember that for an entire evening, for the first time, I remember thinking "there really is Christmas in July."

Jul 11, 2012

Going Home


When I was a teenager, preparing to leave my parents home for college,
my dad  had a joke for me.
He use to say "you know Sis. They say you can never go home again."
I'd laugh.
And wonder if he was serious.
As the oldest of three, maybe they were ready for me to leave.
To be gone, to never return.
If I really could never load up my car and spend summers on their couch,
raiding their refrigerator and forgetting that there was life outside
the cocoon they had lovingly created.

 I'm sure they took it hard when I left down that long, winding road for college.
21 miles due north.
Despite the distance, I saw them at least once a week.
And talked to them at least four times.
Sometimes all in one day.
It took a solid 20 minutes from my dorm room parking lot
to their gravel drive way.

The summer between college and law school I moved home.
My dad changed his joke.
"Sis, they say you can't go home again."
"But I have no idea who 'they' are, so feel free to come home whenever you want."

I never did move home after that summer.
I think a part of me regrets it to this day.
I mean, who doesn't love your mom making breakfast and doing your laundry?
(I wonder if she'll move back in. :)

Law school meant studying and studying meant late nights at the library.
I kept an apartment on the west side of campus,
north in the City,
almost 40 miles from my parents' front porch.
Then The Hero appeared and well, I had a new home.
Wherever he laid his head was my address.

But I never forgot Dad's reminder.
That if I ever needed a place to rest, to relax, to be who I am,
that the front door is always open.
It's one of the first things I want my children to know about The Hero and I:
The front door is always open.
You can always go home.


When I left you lovely blog readers last, we had a dilemma in our adoption planning.
One blank to fill, so that there would be less blanks in our family pictures.

I fought it.

Hard.

With prayer and Italian heritage stubbornness,
I knew there was no way God was calling us back home.
The Hero and The Angel were adamant I was wrong.
The Dinosaur was unpersuasive.
Could we return to the land I loved again?
Wouldn't God place us some where else?
Why could this country, these people, that boy, those memories, why couldn't they be still.

Why couldn't they let me be still?
Why was I always called back there?

And then one day, it hit me.

Dad's words from so long ago.

Because this place, that boy, those memories, they were one thing to me:
HOME.

That continent that hangs on my neck,
that stirs in my heart.

That landscape where our ministry, our business, our family rooted and grew.

The treasures we'd already received from being there once before.
(Yes. The Dino is in a dress. The Hero continues to lament my failures
 to parent while he's at the fire station.)


The culture we've come to accept as part of our own.

Those faces LoPa Art fell in love with and advocate for through Children's HopeChest
(You can STILL sponsor a child at Hands For the Needy, but you better hurry only 20 of our 210 kiddos remain.)

That place with the hurt and the anguish.

And then there's that boy.
Would we ever be able to adopt him?

With our without him through adoption, he is our life.
Our family.
Our love.

I could no longer be arrogant that the only other Ethiopian child I could love
would have to be that boy.


So yes, dear reader, our next adoption will lead us here:

to this flag,



to this place



but if nothing else, it will lead our children: HOME.

And home is always a place you can go.

Jul 3, 2012

How Do You Choose?

We have an agency.
We are home study ready.
Our finger print application can be sent off ASAP.
Only a few minor tweaks need to be made to our paper work.
And then there is one glaring blank:

Country:______________

For about four weeks now, we've been asked to fill in that blank.
Our family vote has been  bottle necked.

Two votes Ethiopia.
One votes India.
Mommy's vote can tie it up or give direction.

The Angel and The Hero are set that it's Ethiopia.
The Dinosaur just likes screaming "I'm an Indian."
(I have no idea why this is fun. But he loves saying it.)

So at dinner each night as we pray, we've been asking for direction.
We've received nothing but silence.

To be honest, I'm not sure He cares.
Don't get me wrong.
I know He has a plan and that He has chosen a very specific person(s) to join our clan.
But we know what the Word says.
The mandate is out there for us to receive.
And now that our eyes have been opened we know what to do.
But like all things, we have a choice.

Geography is up to us.
He is leading our every step, He's waiting on us to choose to fill in the blank.


Jun 21, 2012

It Happened


Everyone said it would happen.
I knew it would eventually.
Even though I fought it.
Pushed it down inside.
Prayed it would last forever.

But it didn't.
I believed I would see it in snipets.
Snapshots over a series of days, strung out to months.
But it happened with one shot.
I stepped back to capture her.
Just like always.
The flash sizzled and I checked the view finder.
And I teared up.

She wasn't there.
The little girl that I once knew.
She had been replaced.
With the most amazing young lady.



It's been three summers now.
I never understood why my mother continues to call me her baby.
34 years after delivering me.
I do now.
And it brings me to tears.



I don't regret the time I didn't have her.
It's five years of her life, I'll never know.
I regret not diligently watching every moment,
to know exactly when she stopped being little.
And started being a lady. 

Jun 17, 2012

Lorax Birthday

The Angel turned 8 last week.
OMG!
Really.
Has it been three of her birthdays home already?
I'm already missing her accent and being a little girl.
She's almost grown.

Don't believe me?
We now wear the same size shoe.
Drop to your knees and pray for me now ya'll.

She wanted a Lorax themed birthday party.
So we added a few truffala trees for a photo booth.
And took everyone's picture with the birthday girl as they entered our home.


Got her an amazing birthday cake.
And Daddy used his artistic skills to draw a few signs.




And The Dinosaur...
Well, he donned a mustache and then headed to the pool.




While The Hero goofed with his favorite girl.




And Mommy and Daddy tried not to cry.
That their baby is growing up.


Jun 16, 2012

The Thing About A Garden

The thing about having a garden is that it is a lot like having another child.

The waiting.
Trying to remember patience.
Dreaming of the future.
Being diligent about weed removal.
Hoping for the maximum amount of growth.
Studying diseases and organic home remedies.

And while all of that sounds like a lot of work.
Trust me, most days it is just work.
Watching each individual plant mature and produce,
is such an amazing joy.
We are learning more about how God developed our world.
And yet, we are also learning about how He develops our hearts.
No wonder there is so much scripture about seeds and harvests.


The Angel calls this the world's smallest jalapeno plant.
But if you look close, you can tell there are at least two,
 just waiting to mature.

Jun 15, 2012

A Life First




About a month ago, I told The Hero that running wasn't that much fun anymore.
Hitting my treadmill three to four times a week just wasn't cutting it.
He suggested maybe we up the ante just a bit.
I agreed.
I don't play poker, so I really had no idea what he was talking about.
He suckered a few friends into joining us and we headed off early on a Saturday morning.
To a field.
To run.
A 5k.
While being covered in mud.
Huh?
Yeah. That's what I said.
We ran our first mud run.
This was what we looked like at 9:00a.m.


This was us just 45 minutes later.

We laughed and laughed and had the best Saturday morning
I've had in a long time.
Running just got a little more fun,
and compared to doing it in the mud,
it also became a lot easier.



Jun 14, 2012

This Just Needs to Be Said

I can always tell when we are starting, praying about or in the middle of an adoption.
I know because of the paper work that lies about,
the emails that clutter my inbox,
and the anticipation that seems to linger in the air.

But more tangibly, I know because the whole world seems to go awry.
The axis of the earth seems to tilt,
the Super Moon graces us a bit longer
and our house starts to come alive.

Not like the house in Ammityville,
but alive with activity
and none of it is the good kind either.

On our date night last week, The Hero and I discussed our second adoption.
We made some very direct goals and hard decisions.
Almost immediately, our house responded.

The vacuum cleaner sparked and died on Friday.
Behavioral issues abounded with our children.
The washing machine keeled over Saturday morning.
And Monday we awoke to the air conditioning units refusing to pump cold air.

The repairman told us both units would have to be replaced.
(For those of you who have not replaced one it quite some time,
it's about the same cost as an international adoption).

The Hero met me at the door on Monday, smiling.
I found nothing to smile about.
But as we sat at the dining room table,
we started talking about our last date night.
And I started laughing.

Our house was under attack.
Literally.
Spiritually.

While The Hero called our insurance,
I called our adoption agency.
And sent them some money.
And just for good measure,
I made some small financial gifts to some of our favorite places.
And prayed over our house.

It's Thursday morning.
The Hero called me from his car.
The a/c repairman just left.
Units are fixed and pumping.
And it's covered by our insurance.
His only words "give thanks baby. This was all HIM today."

The Hero found a part for the washing machine.
And fixed it for less than $30.

Behaviors have been identified and specifically prayed over.

The only total loss was the vacuum cleaner.
But considering it was almost 12years old,
it didn't seem like too big a loss.

Whatever is keeping you from adoption, remember:
THE DEVIL HATES IT
AND WILL TRY ANYTHING TO STOP IT.

Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."




Jun 13, 2012

Seeing...


LoPa started as a dream of three mamas who loved Ethiopia and wanted to provide a way to fund the children we had come to know with food, education and the love of a Heavenly Father.
We started funding the program with just the sales from the art that you all bought and
Hands for the Needy officially opened last September as an Ethiopian non-profit.
We had 50 kids in the program.
50 precious gifts who would no longer be defined by their existence in a trash dump.
The Hero and I travelled last September to finalize the paper work and to help organize
a few things on the ground.

One of the team members who travelled with us was my amazing friend Amy,
whose husband works for Children's HopeChest.
The entire trip we kept praying and hoping that God would allow
LoPa, Hands for the Needy and Children's HopeChest to join forces.

We are thrilled to announce that it is finally happened.
With this partnership, there are currently over 200 kids
enrolled in the Hands for the Needy program.
I never thought that I would see how God was using so many people
that I love so much to continue to do His will.

But here it is:
A chance for you to see.
To write.
To connect your heart to another.
For only $34 a month.

LoPa is going to continue to bring you great product.
Our proceeds are going to continue to fund Hands for the Needy.
But as individual sponsors step up and choose to be a part of this program,
LoPa will be able to fund bigger projects, building projects, trade training projects...
So for the next couple of posts, I'm going to introduce you to some of the kids
we met back in September, who are now available for sponsorship.
Many of you have asked us about the kids in our program
and now you have the opportunity to walk this journey next to them.

First up is Asechalew.
He gets to go first because he is The Hero's favorite.
This is his family.
Asechalew is on the far right.
He is a twin with the precious angel standing next to him.



He and The Hero played thumb wars.


A lot of thumb wars.


Asechalew is 8 years old and is ready to be sponsored.
If you go here. It will take you right to his profile and you can start sponsoring him.
We are so blessed to be able to bring you this opportunity
and can't wait to see who God lays on your heart.