"How can there be too many children? It's like saying there are too many flowers." Mother Theresa

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love is a verb

I did not write the following but copied it from someone else. I should have, could have, wish I would have written it.
from Courtney's blog...
"Love is an ACTION word"
I am going to be bold for a moment. Some of you may not like what I am going to say. That's okay. I am getting used to being unliked. There are just so many things on my heart these days and I feel like they need to be said. They keep me awake at night. And since the earthquake in Haiti and the death of Derek Loux, I have been moved to my very core. Bare with me while I try and put all of my swirling thoughts into some semblance of order.

Love is an action word.

Love doesn't sit idle.

Love doesn't stay where it is comfortable.

Love doesn't wait until there is enough money.

Or until all it's ducks are in a row.

Love doesn't need permission or approval from anyone.

Love doesn't worry about reputations.

Love doesn't weigh the cost or avoid sacrifice.

Love doesn't hunker down on the couch with remote in hand, feeling sorry for what it has just witnessed, but never doing a thing about it.

Love doesn't shrugs it's shoulders and let someone else do the work.
Love doesn't turn a blind eye because the problems are too deep and too wide to ever make a difference.

Love doesn't say "I'm not called".

Love is an action word.

Most people assume we are rich. They say things like "Oh you guys are just like Angelina and Brad". Um - yeah. Minus the 10 nannies, the private jets, the 7 mansions, the maids, cooks,the super model good looks, personal trainers..... oh and the MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of dollars. Yeah, we are just like them.

The honest truth is, we are usually broke. We live mostly paycheck to paycheck. We give away what is left. We rely on God to meet our needs. We have a nice life. Nothing extravagant. We have everything we could ever need. Our home is small. We wear hand me downs. And most of the world would consider us very rich. There are people who think we shouldn't be adopting. The fact is this. Whatever we can offer an orphan is going to be a million times better than what they would have had. Like a Mother and Father for example. Like a family.

We have went into every adoption with two pennies to rub together. We never had it ahead of time. And we have watched God provide it every single time. Some people don't agree with that either. They think if you don't have the money upfront, you shouldn't be adopting. It is baffling to me honestly. It is completely acceptable to raise money for
breast cancer research. Or for the Humane Society. Yet raising money to give a child a family is not. There is nothing wrong with giving to those things, but you will never have the joy of seeing the direct outcome of where your money went. Each time we give to an adoption, we have the honor of seeing the child come home, united with their family. We get to see the joy in their eyes. We get to be apart of changing a life forever.

Love is an action word.

If you are an American and you are reading this on your own computer, you are far more privileged than most of the world. You are rich. Just think about it for a moment. You could have been born anywhere in the world. You could have been born in Haiti currently living in a tent. You could have been born in Africa, the 8th child to an HIV positive women who is dying and cannot feed you. You could have been born anywhere. But, you were born here. Have you ever asked yourself why?

I don't think it was so you could live in American suburbia your whole life, work to make yourself as comfortable as possible, retire in a
ovely golf community in Florida , and then die. You were put here for a purpose. It is not an accident you were born into comfort and safety. It was not an accident you have more than most of the world.

When you come to the end of your life you will not regret what you did as much as you will regret what you didn't do.

Our lives weren't meant for comfort and safety. Jesus didn't come and buy a nice house in the suburbs, raise a family, and then die. He didn't sit back and wait for someone else to do something. He didn't shrug his shoulders while the rest of world was dying around him. He gave all that He had. He revolutionized this world. He forever changed religion. His life was marked with suffering and pain. He didn't seek comfort. He acted. He loved.

He was one man.

I am one woman. You are one person. Together we can put love into action. We can put our comfort aside and bury the American dream. Sure it may be hard. You might get hurt. You might not always be safe. You might lose everything. But, you will never regret it. Your life will never be boring. You will find the greatest joy you can ever imagine.

"faith without works is dead." James 2:20

Love is an action word.

Last night I stayed up watching Derek Loux's Memorial service. If you want to be inspired, I highly recommend watching it. What a life he led. I was so incredibly moved by how many lives he touched. He had an enormous heart for the orphan. In fact all over the room were photos of children that he directly helped to be adopted. No one mentioned what degree he held or how much money he made. No one said anything about how successful he was in his career. But over and over again, person after person, spoke of how he loved. I want my life to be like Derek's.
Before the earthquake there were 143 million orphans. That number has greatly risen in the past two weeks. Most of us, if we look around at our lives have the room and the resources for one more child. We can all fit one more. Even me. I can fit one more. I can feed, clothe, and love one more. And I already have ten.

Did you know that if only 7% of Christians took in one orphan, there would be no more orphans in the world?

Imagine a world without orphans.

People think adoption has become popular, fashionable even. That could not be further from the truth. I believe it is the product of an outcry of prayers from those of us who desire to see every orphan have a home. It is a movement in the body of Christ sparked by a spiritual awakening. It is so much more than saving a child's life. It is evangelism in it's very simplest form. Think about it. A child is taken into your home. He once lived in a place where the gospel was not preached. He lived in darkness and oppression. In your home he comes to understand salvation. Think of all of the lives that will be changed from his testimony. It is so much more than saving a life.

Supporting orphanages is not a solution. While orphanages serve a purpose, they do not solve the problem. God's best for a child is a family. A mother and a father. Not growing up in an orphanage. Most orphanages are over crowded. They turn away children because they cannot meet the need. And don't get me started on the foster care system. That is most certainly not a solution. Children need families. God's best for a child is not foster care or an orphanage. It is a family.

More now than ever before we need to come forward. We need to take action. We cannot stay silent and turn a blind eye. In the coming weeks, more and more Haitian orphans are going to need families. But, they aren't just in Haiti. They are in Russia, Africa, and right here in your city. They are all over the world. You can make room for one more. I am sure of it. If I can, you can too. This isn't about waiting until you have all of your ducks in a row. This is about taking action.

Love is an action word."

Monday, January 25, 2010

My brother came home Friday from Eku, Nigeria. His church helps support an orphanage, a leprosy colony and a seminary. I am so happy my brother got to worship along side our African brothers and sisters. If interested you can see some video @ betheglory.blogspot.com
We had a wonderful weekend alone celebrating our anniversary. Ryan prearranged us a hotel room, sitter (grandparents) dinners and shows for the weekend. It was great fun and good connection time. 6 years and 8 kids. We are wondering if the next 6 years will be as fruitful! lol. Ryan says as long as there are orphans we will have a bed. Don't freak out though, we have no future adoption plans. Each time we have adopted I have known it wasn't the last time. This time though, I feel a different kind of fullness. Maybe it's just to rest for a season, maybe our job now is to help others adopt. Whatever God leads us to we will follow. He has the pen and we are his characters. (What characters we are LOL)
Grace and Manny continue to have a smooth adjustment. I had a meeting this morning with their teachers. All seems to be going well for them. They have dentist appointments on Wednesday. I am expecting an extensive treatment plan.
I am scheduled to go back to work February 17? :-( ? We will see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Simon was very moved for the people of Haiti. When he hears about something or someone who is in crisis he goes into "What can we do?" mode. On our second trip to Ethiopia, he emptied his band account and had us deliver ALL his money to Grace and Manny. On this last trip to get Grace and Manny he gave his money to his Grandmother. Today he is giving the entire contents of his piggy bank to Haiti. $100.00. He earned about 50 bucks a couple of weeks ago shoveling snow in the neighborhood. He worked long and hard in below freezing temperatures. He used ALL that money plus some he'd saved from other projects and put it in an envelope. I am so proud of him. We never prompted him, never implied that he should give away his money. This has led me to think about my own giving. Have you ever given all you had away? Would you? Is that crazy or Christ like? Luke 18:22 tells us the story of the rich young ruler: [22] When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." [23] When he heard this he became sad because he was very wealthy."
Luke 6:20-26 "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the son of man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
But woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

Simon knows what is like to be without. He has been without food, water and adequate shelter. He has loved and he has lost. He has then received it again. He gives all. Unfortunately we, as a country, are stuck in the "woe" section of the scripture. Is it easier to give it all when you have only a little? Isn't it easier to understand where all blessings come from if you have few blessings?

Simon this morning having a bagel and tea before school. He looks so old with his hair braided!

The letter he wrote on the outside of his money envelope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Big sisters are good for...

Braiding hair, hugs, tickles and helping Mom in the kitchen. :-)

The transition is going well. Mercy has just reached a stage where she is trying to be like Grace instead of trying to tell Grace what to do. She wanted her hair to look just like her "sishters." Her hair is shorter than Grace's hair though.
Today is another big day for the kids. It is their first day of phys ed. Manny was excited but Grace seemed a little nervous. I went last evening and bought her some sneakers. All she had was Chuck's (converse). She was thrilled. Strange thing though, when I buy her new clothes she doesn't wear them. We often have to tell her to wear them. I don't pick out her clothes (I pick out everyone elses at bedtime for the next day)so I don't think she's waiting on permission. Kind of puzzling. There are so many questions I have for the two of them. I just can't wait for them to speak English to find out about their lives.
Our kids school is taking up peanut butter for Haiti. I'm planning to run out in a bit to get some for them. If you need somewhere to donate money our adoption agency has an orphanage there and they need financial support. Their children are safe, but the orphanage has been robbed of all food, water and supplies. One of the nannies was killed and I don't believe they've been able to get her body out. I wish I had an encouraging scripture to type here but I don't. All I know is God IS Good even when life is not.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend photos

Noah became a brother again! His father and step-mother had their first child, a baby boy, Gabriel. He is beautiful and perfect just like big brother Noah.

We went to Louisville to have dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant with other CCI families (Celebrate Children - our adoption agency). It was great fun! We hope to do it again.

One of the best things that has happened to us this year is this family...the Finleys. They live in the same town and attend the same church we do. They are also adopting from Ethiopia thru CCI!

What do you do with your napkin?

Beniam had a soccer game (indoor) and Dad snapped this pictures of us girls.

The man, the myth the legend...the sweet little boy, Ben.

In a big family, there is never a shortage of hugs, kisses, laughs and laundry :-( What's in your basket?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Brrrrr...cold hands, warm hearts

The kids had a good first day of school. Everyone was nice to them and they felt somewhat comfortable. Their second day was a snow day, as well as their third! Above is their first snow man with the help of a couple neighbors.

Building with Dad.

Grace made us a delicious meal of spaghetti with homemade sauce.

Manny is enjoying the dogs. This is Happy. Mercy sings Santa Claus is coming to town like this: " You better not pout. You better not mad. You better not be mean to my little dog Happy Hapster..Santa Claus is coming to town."

Ranger is not bothered by the activity of a large family!

Adjusting to life with cold weather.

Movie and cuddle time!

Our backyard at the beginning of the snow. Yes I posted these backwards. HeHe.
As for me, I am so enjoying being home with the kids. They are all wonderful kids and I am so honored to call them mine for the journey.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


People keep asking how the adjustment is going. It's going good. Today the kids had their physicals and tomorrow they will start school. (That is if we have school. No school today because of a dusting of snow.) We decided to put both kids in the same grade and we will shave some time off Grace's age. I was too afraid to put her right in the eighth grade because I believe they'd eat her alive in the 9th grade school next year. She is soooooooooooooooo shy. I had a few moments, well a whole day, where I thought this was not going so well. I contacted a couple of friends who adopted teenagers and ask for their advise. Well just like taking your car to the mechanic and nothing being wrong, the next day Grace started talking. I really believe I was rushing things and she is painfully shy. Today she talked with a friend of ours, Noah's Ethiopian uncle Mebit, she was just explaining to him what she needed to make spaghetti sauce in Amharic and she was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO embarrassed. She was fanning her face and she turned very red. This is a shyness like I've never seen. She is talking to Simon D, right now in fact, in the kitchen, I just heard her say she was not going to marry and Ethiopian man or a faringe (foreigner). I think I said the same thing once upon a time:-)and I married both! LOL. Manny on the other hand is wide open! He has just jumped right in with the other boys. It's funny to me that girl are more likely to be adopted than boys, because boys are so much easier. :-)
If you think of them tomorrow please say a prayer for their protection and guidance at school. While your at it pray for me, their Mom, who will be trying not to worry herself sick.

copied from Wrecked for the ordinary and praying that we all will be!

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Had to Say

Posted in social justice by Jamie Finch on 1/5/2010

This isn't going to start out any other way than any other thing I have ever written. But it is very much unlike any other thing I have ever written.

Because I don't want to be writing it.

This is one story I do not want to tell. But it is the one story that I need to tell. Because it is the one story you need to read. It's long, but please. There is much to say.

Tonight, I had coffee with a dear friend of mine. Standard event, typical occurrence. But no, not really. Tonight was different. I am so much older than I was yesterday. I am going to break a few rules here and tell you the effect before the cause, her response before what I had said.

She asked me if I ever did yoga.

I answered yes.

She told me something that someone she does yoga regularly with told her once.

"You know how, sometimes, you'll be in those really difficult positions and you become so self aware that you notice something strange about the positioning of some part of your body? (She bent her right middle finger) Like, when your hand is on the mat, and you look down at it and see your finger isn't quite resting as it should and it just looks kind of... ugly. The most important way to respond is to see it. Really see it, notice it for what it is. Call it the ugly that it is. Then accept it for being such, and then soften it. Make it gentle."

Well, no matter how badly I may be fighting this right now and how much I really don't want to do this, this is how I make my ugly into gentle. This is how I soften...

The other night I was coming home late from being out with some friends. Details don't matter; all that matters is that it was late. Really late. The kind of late that turns into early. And I was coming home. I came up out of the train and after taking a few steps, noticed that someone was walking, in near-perfect synchronization, with my pace, just a few steps behind me. I became uncomfortable. I got "that vibe"- every woman knows the one I'm talking about. My phone was dead so there is not much I could have done anyway, except just keep walking. Quickly. So I did.

I made it to my doorstep with this man still behind me, and I began to walk up the stairs. The first step had me feeling like maybe I had misjudged the man and jumped to conclusions too quickly. I was safe. I was home. I was on my front step. But when I reached the second step- I was sexually assaulted. The man reached up my skirt and- to be as delicate as possible- touched me inappropriately. I don't need to expound. You know what I mean.

In all honestly, I have never wanted to cry like a child in my entire life more than at that moment, right there. My knee jerk reaction was to yell, "Oh my god!" and then choke out that sob that wanted so badly to wrench itself out of my body. But in the next instant, I was angry. Livid. Not only because of what he did, but because he made me feel that way. And he was not allowed to make me feel that way. No one is allowed to make me feel that way. So I turned and screamed at him with everything I had in me. "DON'T TOUCH ME! GET AWAY FROM ME!"

He laughed. And walked away.

I cried that night, but functioned fairly normally for the next few days until last night, where a panel conversation among men about sex trafficking had a much deeper effect on me than I expected it to. A poem was read that left me in tears, choking back those same sobs from only 4 nights before, and after the panel, a friend and co-worker asked me if I was alright. I'm an honest person- I said no. We began to walk and talk and I started to tell her how I was feeling and midway through a sentence she stopped, grabbed my arm, looked me in the eye, and asked me if something happened.

After that question, I don't think I stopped crying for an entire hour.

Not just over this situation, another extremely hurtful and fairly demeaning one had occurred recently in my life as well; but in regards to this experience, she suggested I take action against this assault. Seeing as how I never got a good look at the man, I'm not sure if there is much that I can do. But something she said has stayed with me since that conversation. "You're not a victim if you take action."

And while contacting the police might cease to make me feel like a victim externally, more importantly to me, is the necessity of no longer feeling like a victim internally.

And for me, that means to write. The way I process, the way I heal, the way I communicate, is through my written words. And ultimately, as negative as this experience was, it made me connect with and understand something so important to me in a way that I never had before.

When that man took that action against me, something was taken from me in that instant: my value and worth. As a human being. As a woman.

In that moment, I was nothing more than an object that happened to possess the pieces necessary to make him feel a certain way. Turn him on. In that moment, I was treated as property- though never purchased- that he felt he had the right and ability to touch and use for his own pleasure at his own leisure. In that moment, I had no voice, no thoughts, no feelings, no soul, no mind, no emotions, no power, no potential. I only had legs and what lives between them. And he felt entitled to it. Entitled to receive something precious and protected from me without actually knowing or caring anything for me.

This is how I call it what it is:

Ugly. Violent. Shameful. Unacceptable. Wrong.

This is how I accept it for what it is:

Painful. Hurtful. Discriminatory. Disrespectful. Wrenching. Haunting.

This is how I soften it, reign it in, make peace with it, and turn it into something gentle:

I speak. I feel. I tell. I connect. I cry. I learn. I fight.

My horror is matchless to that which they endure day after day, year after year, but my heart stands with them in solidarity- in a more powerful way than I have ever experienced before. I do not stand on that step and cry like a child, I remember my strength and I yell like a woman. And then I remember that I do not yell only for my own sake, but for theirs too. I yell my story, and then I yell theirs louder.

These women, these girls who are sold like cattle, beaten as property, chained like prisoners, and abused like objects. These women, these girls, that have something taken from them 5, 10, 15, 20 times a day. I knew this. But never before had I been in the position of knowing what it feels like to have something taken from you in that way.

Until now.

As someone who has resigned and committed my life to eradicating sexual violence and slavery, I must speak up for myself now that I myself have been affected by a form of sexual violence and assault. I must speak because if I remain quiet, my silence claims that it is acceptable. And anyone who knows me well knows that if you want to fan my fire, ask me if I believe whether or not sexual exploitation, in any form, of women is okay.

Having just completed work on the initial appeal for the Nomi Network holiday campaign, I used the illustration of the power of our stories and shared the story of one of the women working with us in Cambodia (read it here). She was brave enough to share her story with the world, and it was and is my obligation to retell hers and share my own.
And the truth is: We all, each and every one of us, have an obligation to do the same. For if we remain quiet, our silence claims that it is acceptable.

We know what is right, and we know what is wrong. But do we feel it burning in our bones? Do our souls catch fire at the sight of injustice? Has it taken hold of our time, money, thoughts, energy, resources, conversations, lives? Because if not, it is only because we have tragically forgotten that we belong to each other. 

Had I chosen not to share my story and invite you all into in with all the honesty and vulnerability I have in me, I would only have been laying down in the tracks of what I fight against on a daily basis.

This has made me mad as hell.

Beyond that. Outraged. Infuriated. That man was not entitled to lording power over me in any way. No man is entitled to lording any sort of violence or domination or power over any woman in anyway. Ever. What that man did to me was unacceptable. What happens to millions of women around the world every single day is completely unacceptable.

We have got to stop acting like it doesn't matter if it doesn't happen to us or nothing will ever change. We have got to start speaking up, both women AND men, when we see or experience injustice. And we have got to stop pretending like it's not happening. We have all become responsible. And if knowing their horror and knowing their captivity doesn't make you want to scream and cry and fight for freedom with absolutely everything you have, I don't know what ever will.