Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas, Snow & I-171H

We spent part of our Christmas break in New Mexico and it was beautiful!  The snow made everything feel clean and pure as if everything were right in the world.  (The snow was deep enough that we didn't have to see the yucky, muddy slushy snow--just the sparkling white stuff.)  One afternoon when we were all sitting in the snow preparing to take a group picture, nine deer came down the path near our cars and cabins and walked toward us.  It was a great few minutes admiring the gentle animals.

Our little cabin was perched on the side of a hill and offered a gorgeous view from the front porch.  Snow skiing was great, but the sledding was a little painful on the egos.  A few of us ended up with bruises in all sorts of places!

We returned home last night to find our USCIS Form I-171H in the mailbox!  Hooray!  I quickly got it notarized and sent off to Kate at KBS Dossiers today.  Hopefully we are officially on the waiting list in the next few days.

Hoping each of you had a wonderful Christmas.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two Bits of Info to Share

I read a recent post by Tom Davis and thought I would share it.  You can read it here or here:

What do you get an orphan for Christmas?

In the U.S., we ask the question, "What do you get for the person who has everything?"  Let's turn that around... "What do you get the child who has nothing?"

At first, you might think of basic necessities like food or clothing.  Perhaps you'd even think about toys or a bike.

Over the past decade of working with children who have less than nothing, I can tell you this:  What an orphan wants for Christmas is for another human being to express the lavish, extravagant, and unconditional love of Jesus to them.  They want--like all children do--to know that they are special and chosen and loved.

Would you like to give this gift?

I have seen thousands of orphans lives transformed through relationships built with their U.S. sponsor.  When you give yourself to a child, it is something unique and personal.  It does not need to be shared with others.  And it is cherished above all other gifts I have seen.

I've also watched thousands of sponsors transformed into the hands and feet of Jesus--through prayer, letter writing, short-term missions, and orphan advocacy.

It's more than sponsorship.  It's how you give the gift of yourself and your family's love to a child who longs to know what it feels like to be loved.

If you would like to start this process with me and Children's HopeChest.  Go to this link for more information and to sign-up online.

It will be the best Christmas present you give this year.

Also, we were so excited to learn that our friends, the Bottomlys, wrote a book that will be published in March.  How cool is that?!  The title of their book is "From Ashes to Africa."  More information on the book here.  Amy's blog about their adoption of Silas offered tons of information and insight when we were in the decision making process.  Can't wait to get a copy of the book!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Welcome Eli!

After months and months of waiting, the Winters passed court!  Tons of us in the adoption blog world were refreshing our computers every so often until the good news was posted yesterday.  Introducing Eli....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankfulness Tag

Joy tagged me with five reasons to be thankful.  So, here goes:

1.  My sweet husband who not only tolerates my many emotions, but loves me regardless.  We make a pretty cool team and I am so thankful he asked me to marry him on a summer evening in 1991.

2.  My great kids!  Madison and Sage show me everyday what God's unconditional love looks like.  Having them makes me want to be better tomorrow than I am today, each day.

3.  My family.  Each person in my family has helped shape me and mold me at some point along the way.  I am so very thankful that God placed me into the family that He did, for each person that makes up the very colorful and wonderful family that I am a part of.

4.  My friends.  One in particular.  How she saw something in me when there wasn't much to see.  How she always encourages me and mentors me and exemplifies a truly godly woman, wife and mother.  She always brings out the best in me.  She is a mom to five outstanding kids that radiate God's love in so many ways and places.  I thank God for friendships.

5.  Hope.  I am so thankful for hope.  I am so thankful for the hope that Jesus placed into my heart that someday I get to worship him face to face in spirit and in truth.  I am so thankful for the hope that this life, with all of its joy and sorrow, isn't as good as it gets.  The best is yet to come.

6.  The part of our family that lives in Ethiopia right now.  I thank God for the child/children God has planned for our family.

I am tagging:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Meet "Our Kids"

Russ Weir put this video together of the kids at Kebebtsehay Orphanage in Ethiopia that Red Letters Campaign is sponsoring.  For those of you who have read some of my previous posts, this is it!  This is what it is all about.  Enjoy their smiles!  And there are still plenty of kids to sponsor if you are interested.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rise Expected in Ethiopia Orphans

Found this article.  Hard to picture Sage or Madison as the head of a household, but by God's grace they were born in the U.S. and not in Ethiopia.  225,000 households run by children by 2010?!?

Ethiopia to see sharp rise in orphans running households:  NGO
Nov 7, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - Ethiopia will by 2010 see a four-fold increase in the number of orphaned children aged between nine and 19 who are heading families due to AIDS, poverty and conflict, a local NGO said on Friday.

Some 225,000 households will be run by children, up from 77,000 in 2005, Addis Ababa-based African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) said in a report.

"This is going to be an explosive problem," said Assefa Bequele, the agency's director.

"In some households, the oldest child is also the principal care-giver to a terminally-ill parent," said the report.  

Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries.  The government estimates that 1.5 million Ethiopians are infected with HIV, while the World Health Organization says nearly 2.8 million are infected.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Sponsorship Info

Here's a new video from Children's Hope Chest of their recent trip to Ethiopia. Check here for more information on sponsorship.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sponsorship Info

Anyone interested in sponsoring an orphan in Ethiopia?  Anyone interested in visiting your sponsored child on a yearly trip with a community of people also sponsoring orphans in the same orphanage?  How cool does that sound?

I wrote a little about it here, but late-breaking details at Amy's blog!  Go take a look and see if this is something where God would call you to jump in and be involved!

We are pumped!  Not only are we excited about adding to our family by way of Ethiopian adoption, we are so happy to connect to other children who will grow up in Ethiopia and be a part of loving them and serving them through sponsorship.

Update:  And go take a look at Joy's post on sponsorship.  I love the way she shares on this same topic!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bad Basketball Behavior

Madison had a basketball game this afternoon.  I saw something at her game today that made me cringe as a mom.

The opposing team's coach was young, possibly his first teaching job out of college.  During the first half of the game (when his team was ahead) he became frustrated at his players.  Remember, they are sixth grade girls around the ages of 11 and 12.  The coach got mad, stood up from his chair on the sidelines, turned around and raised his clipboard over his head and slammed it on the chair.  I was appalled.

A few minutes later was a break between quarters.  He gathered his players around him on the side of the court and proceeded to scream at them, with gestures and hand motions to match.  I could tell he was screaming because I could hear him from where I was sitting on the opposite side of the gym among all the commotion of the crowd.

Later in the game he threw his pen down with enough force to shatter it across part of the gym floor.

Am I over-reacting here?  I don't really like to see high school coaches act like this, but their kids have at least had some experience playing the game.  These are young girls just learning how to make plays and work together as a team!  What could they have possibly done wrong to warrant such extreme and outrageous behavior from their coach?

So, I wrote a letter to his principal.  It was a polite letter and stated the facts of the young man's behavior.  The goal of my letter was not to criticize as much as it was to encourage this young educator to mature in his coaching skills and choose more age-appropriate behavior.  Personally, I would have loved to have written a really nasty letter, but refrained because I really and truly want this young man to become a good coach, a good teacher and a good mentor to his students.  

I realize the principal may throw my letter into file #13, but at least I tried.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted

The kids' classes held mock elections this week.  Sage wore a VOTE NOW t-shirt to school today that we bought at Old Navy for $1.  During our morning carpool, all kids were voicing their opinion on how today's election would end.  Madison said is was not fair that kids didn't get to vote.  I assured her that she will be 18 soon enough!  Everywhere I went today, conversations were buzzing with anticipation of the vote.  I like that word... vote.  

And as our kids headed off to bed, we told them how we will support, honor, uphold, respect and pray for our new president-elect.  Our vote did not result in a win for our candidate, but nonetheless, we still exercised our right to vote.   And that is a precious thing.  I hope our kids always know what a honor and privilege we have as U.S. citizens to be a part of the democratic process.  We are so thankful to have been born in a country where we choose our leaders.  We are so thankful to live in the United States of America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kolfe Orphanage, Addis Ababa

Tom Davis' most recent blog post is about Kolfe Orphanage in Addis Ababa, home to about 130 boys .  Many families adopting through Gladney visit orphanages while in Ethiopia and I have heard this particular orphanage mentioned several times.  However, I had no idea the extent of poverty that these young men experience daily.  Please read more about Kolfe and their immediate needs on Tom's blog.

In addition, I found this video with a few more pictures of Kolfe.

Nachos Anyone?

Hey, Madison here. When you saw the pictures you were probably thinking what the heck do they do with that thing, plow the fields !?!? Ha Ha Ha Just kidding :)  Our neighbors own the donkey that lives in the pasture across the road. Her name is Nacho.  We're not sure where her name came from, but my two year old cousin seems to like it.  My cousin can't quite pronounce her words right sometimes and when she says Nacho it comes out "Na-noche.''  It is pretty funny.  Nacho will come up to the fence and start braying until someone hears her and comes to give her a treat.  Luckily I saw her tonight before she started that honkin noise of hers. So I just went inside and got some carrots for her. One thing that is really weird about Nacho is that she LOVES bread.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Red Letters

Dustin and I recently read Red Letters by Tom Davis. Powerful book. One of the quotes that I underlined in the book is from an eighteenth-century English philosopher named Edmund Burke. He said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing."  I hope to read his book Fields of the Fatherless next.  (My current read is The Connected Child.)

Amy Bottomly's recent post gives information about the opportunity to sponsor kids in Ethiopia through Tom Davis' organization Children's Hope Chest.  Tom recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia where they were assessing orphanages to see where they can come alongside and support the orphanages and the orphans individually.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Amazing Song, Amazing Singer

This video makes me smile and I hope it does the same for you! Dustin's aunt sang this song at our wedding 16 years ago. I loved it then and I love it now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weekend Dinner at the Queen

Over the weekend we ate dinner at the Queen of Sheba with Dustin's sister, brother-in-law and their four great kids.  Sage was so pleased when the owner, Mimi, recognized him from our last visit.  Mimi said she remembered him because of how well he ate.  The lamb dish is his favorite.  Madison is still coming around to the injera.  She likes it but she doesn't love it.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Dossier Authenticated

Kate from KBS Dossiers sent an email today saying that our dossier has been authenticated.  All we are waiting on is our CIS fingerprint appointment on October 28th and then the hallowed I-171.  With the approval of CIS, we will officially be placed on the waiting list.  

Madison and Sage both prayed for their brother or sister tonight, that they would sleep well and wake up to a beautiful morning.  How reassuring to know that God has the exact child/ren in mind for our family!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


7 Random and/or Weird facts about us:

1. Our first date was on 12/30/88. Our second date was on 12/31/88 with a first kiss at midnight. (We don't want our kids kissing on their second date!  Maybe we just won't let them date.  Yeah, that's it.  We won't let them date.)

2. We've owned 11 dogs (I think) since we've been married. We currently have three that we live with (Dustin would say tolerate.) We've had way too many cats to count and currently have two that live in a barn.  Don't worry, we haven't actually killed any dogs.  They just die of natural causes around here.  Natural causes i.e. country roads, fast drivers.  Get the picture? 

3. Two concerts Nikki attended in high school were Bon Jovi and ZZ Top. Two concerts Dustin attended in high school were Van Halen and Motley Crue (does anyone really need to know this!?)

4. We've lived on a farm for 13 years, which is funny because Dustin's dreams were to move to Vail, CO, to be a ski instructor while Nikki's dreams were to move to Austin, TX, to be a school teacher.

5. Nikki has always wanted to travel to Australia. Dustin has always wanted to visit NYC for a very extended vacation.  Think months.

6. We are avid Dave Ramsey fans. We visited his office in Nashville, TN a few years ago, and sat with him in the studio during a live radio show. He was so cool! We loved how he circled up some of his office staff prior to the show and asked for someone to pray for him. Dave looked at Dustin and asked him to do it. Dustin's favorite Dave quote is, "Live like no one else so that later, you can live like no one else." Our kids have heard it a million times!

7. Nikki's always wanted a tattoo but is too chicken to get one. Dustin has always wanted a Yamaha YZ250.

So in return, I am tagging:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bread of Life

(I wrote this post two days ago, obviously in quite a reflective mood.  Today, I re-read it and it's a little deep and I am tempted to delete it.  But maybe a year or two from now, I will be glad I put it in writing.  Read on if you like, but don't feel that you must.  -NS)

I was reading a lesson this morning about the hungry crowd in John 6.  Jesus provided for a tremendous crowd with a little boy's lunch of five loaves and two fish.  Common story, heard it as a child, studied it as a teenager, taught it to kids at VBS.  (I remember wondering as a kid how God multiplied the lunch.  Did he keep replacing fish in the bottom of the basket and every time the disciples reached in, there was always plenty?  I have also wondered if the phenomenon was noticeable or did the new fish and bread just appear quietly?  Hmm.)  This time reading through the scripture, it was through the lens of adoption.  

Then Max Lucado smacked me with this question, "What can we learn from Philip's response?  What was the larger obstacle for Philip:  the lack of food or the costs involved in feeding such a large crowd?"

I couldn't help but ask myself the same question rephrased, "What is the larger obstacle:  the great number of orphans or the costs in providing for so many children?"


"What is the larger obstacle:  the situation itself, or the fear that Jesus will not provide for the situation?"

Some situations seem so impossible, so out of reach.  Some days as a mom I question myself if I will be a good mom to three or four kids when I struggle with two at times.  Jesus knew He would provide lunch for the crowd even before He asked Philip about it.  Jesus knows we will face obstacles that appear to have no solutions and Jesus wants to provide.

When we were contemplating adoption and the equation kept coming up short in timing and resources, Jesus knew and He wanted to provide.  I look back at all that we struggled with to come to the decision to adopt.  At times we were looking to ourselves to provide for an adoption, much like Philip.  And yet God provided in His perfect time, giving a greater amount of glory to Him than if we had attempted this on our own strength and resources.  His glory is our prayer.  

From Max's book In the Eye of the Storm he writes about this passage in John:

"Don't miss the contrasting views.  When Jesus saw the people, he saw an opportunity to love and affirm value.  When the disciples saw the people they saw thousands of problems.

Also, don't miss the irony.  In the midst of a bakery --- in the presence of the Eternal Baker --- they tell the "Bread of Life" that there is no bread.

How silly we must appear to God.

Here's where Jesus should have given up.  This is the point in the pressure-packed day where Jesus should have exploded.  The sorrow, the life threats, the exuberance, the crowds, the interruptions, the demands, and now this.  His own disciples can't do what he asks them.  In front of five thousand men, they let him down.

"Beam me up, Father," should have been Jesus' next words.  But they aren't.  Instead he inquires, "How many loaves do you have?"

The disciples bring him a little boy's lunch.  A lunch pail becomes a banquet, and all are fed.  No word of reprimand is given.  No furrowed brow of anger is seen.  No "I-told-you-so" speech is delivered.  The same compassion Jesus extends to the crowd is extended to his friends." 

Forgive me, Jesus, when I tell you through my thoughts and actions that there is no bread and yet you are preparing a banquet.



Saturday, October 11, 2008

Adoption Video and a Loving Mother

This is one of the first adoption videos I found last summer when Dustin and I were in the decision process.  It is a video of the McConnell family adopting three boys, two are brothers and then another unrelated boy.  Tears flow every time I watch it...  the boy's mother in Ethiopia, her smiles for her sons and then when one of them looks up at her, as if to ask, "Is this o.k.?"... I lose it.  I really cannot imagine what it would be like to sit with your mother and look at a picture album of your new family.  If you have a chance to watch it, you'll know what I am talking about.

Family Photo

Dustin's parents recently gathered everyone together for a family photo session.  This is the four of us with Dustin's mom and dad, Butch and Jolene.  I purchased the copyright for this one image to have Christmas cards made for our family business.   I wish I had all of the other pictures on disc to share, including Dustin's sister and her family!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

A huge birthday shout out to my sweet mom, Anna.  I know,  we don't look much alike.  Never would have guessed we were related, right!?  Happy Birthday Mom.  I love you.

Their Walk by Faith

Wanted to share about a family with three biological children and adopted twins that came home from Ethiopia in April.

Their August 14th post is a shocking reality check and a hard read, but ends with hope and promise.  Isn't that what adoption is all about?   Whether it is orphans in a foreign country, orphans in the U.S. or any of us as followers of Christ who were orphans at one time and by grace have been given a home in Jesus?!  Hope and promise.

Their big decision was posted on their blog yesterday.  But please feel free to read their posts in between!

Why Adopt?

Why adopt?  A few reasons pictured here:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Interview with Belay and Yordee

Belay Tafesse is one of Gladney's in-country representatives.  He and others from Gladney and the Ethiopian government are traveling in the U.S.  We were so sad that we were unable to attend a dinner at Gladney's Fort Worth office last night where Belay and other guests shared a traditional Ethiopian meal with adoptive families.  A channel in north Texas aired an interview this morning with Belay and Yordee Brown.  Yordee was adopted from Ethiopia when she was seven.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Time and Timing

In light of the great waiting game we have ahead of us, I am often reminded of this quote that I heard Beth Moore share a few years ago:

Timing is more important to God than time.

(Beth credited a pastor by the name of Adrian Rogers as the original author of the quote.)

Dustin and I waited a very long time to make the decision to adopt and I often wondered why the delay.  We obviously felt God's calling to reach out in some way and really felt the stirring of adoption for our family, and yet doors were not opening in a way to allow us to step forward.  We attended two different adoption seminars and still nothing, no clear "GO" signal.  I was confused.  Why would God put something on our hearts and not make the way seem clear.  Did we go ahead with this life changing event just trusting God would work out the details?  And yet as anxious as I was (Dustin was a little more hesitant at times.) to get started, we did not have that inside peacefulness that said to our hearts, "It is time."

So we waited. 

A year went by.  

We waited some more.  We contacted friends and family who had been adopted or knew someone adopted.  

We waited some more.  I worried that if we did not move on this calling that God would see it as a lack of faith on our part.  We asked a dear friend who has done great humanitarian work in the Kibera Slums of Kenya what he thought of adopting from Africa and was it the right thing to do?  Was it o.k. to remove a child from everything that is familiar, albeit utter poverty, and relocate them to our home in a rural setting with little diversity?  His response helped, "If God has put this on your hearts, I doubt He will let you sleep until you do it."

Another year went by.

We mulled it over in our hearts and minds for so long, that the topic was fairly common place around our house.  We knew that we wanted to adopt an older child because they are less likely to be placed in comparison to infants and toddlers.  We knew that we didn't want to wait too long because it was important for Madison and Sage to be close to their new brother or sister.  We wanted them to have plenty of years growing up together rather than Madison or Sage heading off to college having only spent a short time really connecting with their newest sibling.  I think a few factors came together at just the right time to give us a push forward, as if God said, "O.K.  Now it is time."  We believe God's timing was and is perfect.

So, now we wait some more.  We have one final step to complete our dossier, then it will be authenticated at the state and federal levels.  At that time we will officially be placed on the waiting list to receive a referral for the next member of our family.  Will we adopt a son or daughter? Or both?  How old will he or she be?  What circumstances in their little life caused them to become an orphan?  What heartaches will they carry with them to this new country?  What joys will they experience in the newness of everything?  What will the depth of their loss be when they leave everything that they have ever known to live with a family that they really don't know?  How much will this new way of life affect Madison and Sage?  Will any or all of them have a bad day and wish we hadn't done this?  Will a son or daughter wish they could go back to Ethiopia?  Will Madison or Sage wish they could go back to the way things were?  How long will it take to really feel like family?  How long will it take to recover from a 30+ hour plane ride with three (or four) kids?!  I guess these answers will come only after waiting.

We have many people ask how long until the adoption is finished.  We are guessing (and I do mean guessing!) that we will be placed on the wait list sometime around Christmas.  Most families are on the waiting list for 3 to 5 months.  Once we accept a referral for a son or daughter, then a person goes before the Ethiopian courts on our behalf in order for the courts to approve the adoption.  This process can take another three months.  Once our case is approved in the Ethiopian courts, then we will travel approximately three weeks later.  Adoptive blog friends, did I get all of that right?  (I might be wrong... wouldn't be the first!)

While we would love to travel next summer, we are trying very hard to keep an open mind so that we do not have unrealistic expectations.

So we wait. And we pray.

Thank you, God, for this time of waiting.  Some days will be difficult, we know, but thank you for these last few months with Madison and Sage as a family of four.  Help us make the most out of this time and place a peace in a little person's heart in Ethiopia tonight.  Help him or her to know that they will be a part of a family again.  We trust you, knowing that you are working your perfect timing into this situation.  We pray that it is you who is glorified and praised in the midst of our planning and preparation.  Please don't let us ever forget that we, too, are orphans given a place in your family because of Jesus' amazing act of love and grace on a nasty, ugly cross.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gladney Swim Party

We attended a Gladney Family Association swim party this weekend.  Madison and Sage had a ball and loved the heated pool.  This weather has been heavenly!  I cannot remember when we have enjoyed so many beautiful days for this length of time.   Is there anything nicer than warm sunshine on your face accompanied by a light, cool breeze?!  It was a perfectly delightful fall afternoon!  (Hmmm.  I must be getting old....I thought only "old" people discussed the weather!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday's Quote

"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."

-Mark Twain

Some days as mom and wife get the best of me. I got a kick out of this quote when I turned my flip calendar over this morning. Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Injera and Congratulations!

Beef, chicken, lamb, salad, green beans, chick peas, lentils and potatoes!


My sister, brother-in-law, niece and I went to the Queen of Sheba Restaurant again last night.  It was fun and we all enjoyed the family style sampler meal.  My sweet sister is quite the cook and is now anxious to try her hand at making injera.  Anyone have any suggestions or success stories?  I hear it is quite a process to make.  Because you use pieces of the injera to scoop up your food it is a utensil, bread and plate all at the same time.  You might notice the large piece of injera under the food on the sampler tray.

Congratulations to Grace on meeting her sweet Anna for the first time!  Read about her first day in Ethiopia here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We received an email this afternoon that we are officially approved by our adoption agency. Completing our dossier is next on the list. We are actually waiting on just a few documents and CIS approval to finish up the dossier requirements. One step closer to Ethiopia.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pre-Teen Giggles

Madison is going to kill me... the girls were goofing around on the computer tonight and I couldn't resist posting this "self portrait" of her and her sweet friend "B".  They crack me up!  The only reason Sage didn't get in on the picture is because he and Dad were playing baseball on the wii.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Blog Design

I am so excited about the new look on our blog.  Nikki (a different Nikki) designed it for us.  The money she charges for blog designs helps her go on mission trips.  She is currently saving for a two week trip to Ethiopia in February 2009 and a later trip to the Dominican Republic.  On top of that, she donates $5 of her fee for a charity.  Currently her charity for the month of September is Ethiopia Reads.  I think it is a great combination...our blog looks great and she gets to travel to serve others!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dinner at the Queen of Sheba Restaurant

Several families gather twice a month at the Queen of Sheba Restaurant.  Sage has asked for a few months, "Is it the right Tuesday for dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant?!"  So, tonight was a night that families usually get together.  As we were pulling into the parking lot, Dustin told the kids not to make a scene if the restaurant smells unusual or if they don't like the food.  We really didn't know what to expect.  It was wonderful!  Madison wasn't crazy about the injera, which is a crepe like bread with a sour dough flavor that Ethiopians use to scoop up their food.  Sage was in heaven... it was actually acceptable to use his fingers!  We ordered a sampler plate served family style.  We tried chicken, beef, lamb, chick peas, green beans, potatoes and lentils.  Each of these dishes are eaten with the injera.  Sage really liked the lamb.  The spices were yummy and seemed so exotic in comparison to regular American food.

We did not recognize anyone at the restaurant and asked our server if she knew the Bottomlys or any of the other families that usually get together.  She pointed to a table of three people and said that she knew one of the women.  I introduced myself and they asked us to join them.   It was wonderful meeting Shala and her friends, Mark and Dawn.  Dustin and I enjoyed sharing stories and hearing how God is working in each of their lives.  Isn't it cool when total strangers come together with the common thread of Jesus and you can visit and enjoy one another's company?  Thank you Lord for new friends.

"May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all.  Then we'll be a choir - not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!"  Romans 15:5-6 (MSG) 


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gladney Gathering

After school and work we made a quick trip into the city to attend a kind of meet and greet with Gladney families.  It was a lot of fun and Madison and Sage enjoyed meeting some new kids.  Madison was especially glad to meet Malak!  We had read tons of great stuff about The Gladney Center for Adoption when we were in the decision stage and felt good about choosing them as our adoption agency.  But meeting actual Gladney families and hearing their stories really added a boost to our already confident decision.  One mom was telling us how much she loved Gladney because their philosophy is "family for life" and they are available for any circumstance throughout an adopted person's life.

I am terrible with names, but met one man who introduced himself as a Gladney kid.  I didn't quite get it at first, but what he was saying is that he was adopted through Gladney when he was just a toddler and he is now 34 years old.  We met beautiful children from Russia, China, the US and Ethiopia tonight.  Go Gladney!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy 81st Birthday Boppa!

Niece, me, Boppa, Sister, Cousin and her Daughter

Happy September!  Where in the world did August go?  

We celebrated my Boppa's 81st birthday on Friday.  I am the oldest grand kid on my mom's side of the family and had the special first privilege of mispronouncing names as a toddler.  Somehow grandpa or papa wound up as Boppa and he's carried the name proudly ever since.  As a 30-something I still introduce my grandpa to everyone as Boppa.

My cousin was home from Virginia along with my sister and me.  We took Boppa to lunch while Nana was gone for the afternoon working as a docent at a local historical home.  A special note about Boppa is that he is recovering from a quadruple bypass surgery he had on 7/29/08.  Doesn't he look amazing?!

Nana, Boppa, Niece, Mom, Sister

Later that same evening my sister and I made dinner for my grandparents and my mom.  It was nice and the evening ended way too soon and it was time to head home.  On my way out of town I stopped and got gas and this thing was in the parking lot:

It is called a tornado intercept vehicle.  Ugh!  Just what I wanted to see when I was preparing to get on the highway for an hour's drive home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I cried today...

Yep, imagine me, crying!  I called our bank earlier this morning and asked that they prepare a document required for our dossier. A kind woman said she would take care of the request. She called back just now to say that the notarized letter was in today's mail (great service!) and then she hesitated. She said her prayers were with our family. She said she has a family member who adopted and had some rough days and wanted to encourage us. She made me cry and I don't even know this person! God is so kind to show His love through total strangers. In my silly tears I offered a "Thank you" to the One who has called us to this incredible journey.

"May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God's love and Christ's endurance." 2 Thess 3:5 (MSG)


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adoption Video

For those of you who may be interested, check out these videos of Baby Abe adopted in Ethiopia yesterday.  Grab a tissue, you may need it.  Congratulations Team Alexander!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cross Country Season Starts

Madison ran in her first Cross Country meet on Saturday.  She ran in the Middle school division.  It brought back tons of memories from high school.  It was a 1 mile race and she placed 4th with a time of 7:08.

On the adoption home front, we have started working with Kate of KBS Dossiers to help us prepare our dossier for Ethiopia.  Dustin and I went to the local blood donor center last week and asked them to complete the four blood tests that we are required to have to adopt:  TB, Hep B&C, HIV and Syphilis.  I previously contacted our county health department but they weren't able to do all four tests.  I was so thankful for the woman I spoke with at the health department.  She told me to contact the blood donor center.  Otherwise, our doctor's office/hospital fees for the blood work would have been outrageous.  The blood donor center charged $65 per person and did a complete profile.  One more thing marked off our list.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Madison was reading blogs this evening and saw a great video on www.godtube.com.  We went to look for more and found this video.  I am not familiar with this ministry but LOVE how they put 143,000,000 orphans into perspective.  When we were trying to decide on adopting, Dustin and I often asked ourselves, "But this would be just helping one or possibly two children.  It doesn't even make a dent in the sea of children who need a mom and dad!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Favorite Quote

"Life is the garment that we continually alter, but never seems to fit."
                                                                                                  -Chuck Swindoll

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Free Adoption Book Offer

Just thought I would pass along the opportunity for a free book. The author, Laura Christianson, is sending a free copy of "The Adoption Network" to anyone purchasing "The Adoption Decision" on Amazon on 8/21/08. Following is an excerpt from Amazon's review of Laura's book:

"In North America, more and more families are adding members through adoption. And there are more ways to adopt—and kinds of adoption—than ever. This quick–start resource will help prospective parents consider key emotional and spiritual issues up front...before they plunge into the near–overwhelming mass of details and start to run into roadblocks, even dead ends.
Laura Christianson—an adoption educator and mentor, and an adoptive mom herself—brings her experience and knowledge to address unspoken but crucial questions about...

loving an adopted child
extended family’s reaction
openness in adoption
the role of birth parents
physical disabilities
emotional/behavioral challenges
racial and cultural prejudices

Recounting real–life miracles and mishaps of adoptive families, the author will help prospective parents—and their friends and family members—think through adoption’s challenges and joys, and confidently move forward from a firm emotional and spiritual footing."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to School

Madison and Sage started school last week.  Isn't it funny how we can't wait for school to be out in May to enjoy the summer with our kids and then we can't wait for school to start in August?!  Summers are so fun and the lack of routine is a nice change of pace.  But a return to routine is nice, too!  Madison started Middle School this year and loves the whole locker and changing class thing.  It seems like she has grown up over night.  Sage did not get the teacher he was hoping for, but he already really likes his teacher.  The kids had a pile of homework last night.  Piano and voice lessons begin next week, so we are officially into the school year!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Application Complete!

We did it!  Our application to our adoption agency, The Gladney Center, is complete.  We mailed the last required document today.  Tackling the dossier is our next big hurdle.  Dustin is quite sure that we have to submit fingernail clippings and written book reports that we completed in the fourth grade.   I am trying to convince him that it isn't going to be that bad....or is it?  

Pictures from Yesterday's Water Park Fun

Thanks, Angel, for letting me borrow a few pictures from your blog!

Madison and Sage making new friends
Kaiya-home just a short 8 weeks ago!
Sami and Zoe

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adoptive Family Get Together Today

A very kind and sweet Amy Bottomly invited our family to join her and other adoptive families in Oklahoma City today for some fun at the Will Rogers Family Aquatic Center.  Amy and her husband Josh adopted the very cute Silas Bottomly last year from Ethiopia.  We met families with adopted children from Ethiopia. Guatemala, Ukraine and China.  It was such a blessing to see such beautiful children and visit with other parents.  I especially enjoyed visiting with Michelle Riggs who adopted 9 year old Sami from Ethiopia just four months ago.  Because we will be adopting an older child I was completely smitten with Sami.  I hope to post a few pictures tomorrow.

We are often asked if we are adopting a boy or girl.  At this time we don't know that answer.  We are torn about requesting a gender because we already have a daughter and a son.   Dustin and I do not want either of them to feel less than because we request a child opposite of their gender.  God has called us to this amazing adventure and we totally trust that He fully knows the exact child that will become ours in the coming months.  We feel like we did not select the gender of our biological children and so we think we'll kind of stick with that approach and not request the gender of our adopted child.  We are also open to God having a sibling group in mind for our family.  That is a little scary, thinking we could become parents to four overnight.  Again, it's that trust thing.

A note to those of you who have sent emails or left comments to us after reading our first blog entries... Thank you!  Your encouraging words mean so much to us, you cannot imagine!  You know who you are and we thank you so very much!  

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Hey, Madison here.   This is our dog Zeus.  He is a 9 year old Great Dane.  He is the funniest dog you have ever seen!  Two of my aunt's friends, Kim and Danny, rescued him.   He was emaciated and covered in fleas and ticks and they nursed him back to health. A few months later they found out that they were expecting twins and wanted to find a new home for Zeus!  Mom had always wanted a Great Dane so Sage,Mom,and I just had to convince Dad.   And two years later he is the laziest and silliest dog you have ever seen!  One picture is when Zeus climbed into our old car when the door was left open.  The other is a picture of how he sleeps with his head tucked under his chest.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What To Think

Hey, this is Madison.  To tell the truth when Mom and Dad first said that they were thinking about adopting I thought they were kidding, especially Dad. But at night now I think that wow, we are really going to do this.  I think about the living conditions my little brother or sister are in. Every night I pray that God watches over him or her.  Even if you stumbled across this blog on accident I ask that you pray for our family.  Until next time...   

Two Months Down

Many of you know about our family's decision to adopt and if not, this post will be our official announcement.  Long story and lots of wrestling with God, but we have decided to adopt an older child from Ethiopia.  Dustin and I are from the "We are the World" generation and I think of the pictures on the news of the effects of a horrible drought in Ethiopia.  I was probably 11 or 12 years old.

Aids and poverty have almost wiped out an entire generation of parents in Africa.  

Did you know there are 143,000,000 orphans in the world?  There are 5,000,000 orphans in just the country of Ethiopia.  To put it into perspective, there are about 400,000 children in the US foster care system and about 100,000 of those are available for adoption.  (Yes, we first checked into being foster parents before we decided on Ethiopia.)

I read just today that if 7% of all the Christians in the world adopted then there would be no more orphans.  We sometimes feel like we are not even making a dent in the statistics, but we know that God has a child waiting for our family in a country far from here.

So here we are, two months into the adoption process, wading through piles of paperwork and enjoying our last days of summer with our kids.!