Friday, December 9, 2011

Our $2 Day

Almost half the world lives on less than $2 per day. A few organizations put together a challenge for families and individuals to try for just one day to feed our families on $2. Yesterday was the day.

When I first saw this challenge, I had "good" excuses to exclude our family:  Lauren is in Nordic skiing and has vigorous workouts after school; my younger girls receive snacks during school and I couldn't ask them to turn down the snack. Also, kids would make fun of them if they brought a very small sack lunch. How would they explain to their friends this weird thing that their family decided to do?

What about Samson? He has already experienced severe hunger in his life. How could I expect him to eat so little for one day?

This challenge just was not a fit for our family.

Then the closer we got to the day of the challenge, I realized more and more that my excuses don't hold any water. The whole purpose of the challenge is to know how it feels to be in half of the world's population shoes just for one day.

The challenge is suppose to help us feel the same pain that a mother feels when they can't provide an adequate nutrient filled diet for their children. It must be one of the most difficult things to watch your child's health diminish, to watch them grow weak because you can't provide enough food to sustain them.

So, I decided that our family can do this. I started planning, like many parents all over the world plan each day, how I would provide for my family for this one day. I decided that I would eat less so that my kids could  have more. I also made the decision to exempt Samson from the challenge because I don't want him to experience hunger again.

Days leading up to yesterday, I was beginning to feel what it's like to be a mother on a limited food budget. I told myself, how can I not experience this for just one day when mothers all over the world endure this challenge without a choice every single day.

I designed a menu. I did sacrifice my portions for my children. I packed a meager lunch for each of the girls. Without a complaint, they left the house with their lunch and agreed to not take the snack for the day. They had more confidence in themselves that they could do this than I had in them.

When I picked up the little girls from school, they were hungry but did not complain. Olivia shared with me that she explained the whole thing to her class. They asked her many questions. This sounded like it was a great learning opportunity for Olivia and her classmates.

Last night at the dinner table, Olivia thanked God for bringing our family through this experience. She was grateful!

I worried the most about Lauren. She is in Nordic skiing and she always needs a healthy snack after school to get her through practice. Yesterday was one of the most difficult practices they have had this year and she did it with no snack and very little to eat at lunch.

Her friends weren't as understanding or kind about it. They actually tried bribing her with food all during the lunch period. She said they thought it was weird. But she did not succumb to pressure and stuck with the challenge.

Lauren also had a AP Biology test today. Last night as she was going to her room to study, she looked weak and tired. I felt horrible for her and offered her more to eat so she could have the strength to study well for her test. But she turned down more food by saying, "kids who eat like this everyday must have to study for big tests."

When I put my little ones to sleep last night, I had a pounding headache. Avery also complained of feeling faint and weak. But I knew all of our headaches and our weakness would be gone in the morning. I knew that today we could eat a "normal" days worth of food and that we would all be fine.

It pained me to think about families who put their kids to bed hungry, wake up hungry and go day after day on little to eat. How selfish of  me to at one time think that we could not do this even for one day.

Sometimes I convince myself that I am doing enough to fight injustice in this world. I have even asked God to release me of some responsibilities because at times I feel overwhelmed.

But in reality, I know I can do more. I don't really believe that God ever says,
"That's enough! You are doing too much!"

Sometimes I think we have to put ourselves in someone's shoes even if it is just for one day to give us the motivation to respond. We need to be stretched and challenged otherwise we run the risk of becoming desensitized by the needs around us.

Also, when we make it less about ourselves and more about Him, I know we can do so much more. Admittedly, I fear asking for more. That seems risky too.

However, I rather ask for more and take the risk of God using me to make a difference in the world than to do nothing and risk missing out on the adventure God has planned for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We love you Grandma June

I lost my sweet, beautiful grandma June on November 1st. I love her so much and will miss her dearly. You know the story in the Bible when a crowd gathers around Jesus and the adults push there way to him but Jesus commands, "Let the little children come to me!" This story shows clearly that our Lord looks out for the little ones.

Well, this is the same image my grandma has left with me. She had a Christ-like character when it came to loving children. Wheelchair bound, she welcomed sometimes 2 children at a time to her lap and would adorn them with many hugs and kisses, telling them how much they had grown and how much she loved them.

The first time she met Samson, she was 89 years old and I was unsure how she would respond to him. But you know, that's another thing I will always remember about my grandma...she did not judge others. Never once did I ever hear her speak poorly about anyone else. She always thought of others first and she always had high regards for each person she ever came in contact with.

She embraced Samson with as much love and affection as she offered to his sisters. In fact at times she seemed to favor him. While other women about her same age were asking where he came from, calling him a "darky" and asking how I know he doesn't have aids, my grandma loved him unconditionally.

My grandma was also very generous despite having very little. When she lived in her assistant living place, the personnel would bring her to the local dollar store where she would buy little figurines to hand out to her visitors. The kids have several of these figurines.

Each time we visited, she wanted to give something to the kids, a piece of candy, an angel figurine or a small stuffed animal. She would look around her room at her very few possessions and come up with something that she could offer to each of the kids.

She lived to be 91 years old. The last week of her life, she was admitted to the hospital, placed on hospice and on a high dose of morphine.

During this week, she was visibly in a lot of pain. One day, on a whim, I decided to take Samson and drive to the hospital to see her.

She was not opening her eyes any longer and was unable to speak but when I held her hand, it was very evident that she was coherent. She responded to my talking by squeezing my hand and trying very hard to open her eyes and to talk.

After some time, I held Samson up to her and he gave her a kiss on her forehead and then he sang a few songs to her, like the ABC's and "I'm Bringing Home My Baby Bubble Bee". This obviously brought pure joy to her heart. She responded in such a way to Samson's presence I thought that for a moment she was about to open her eyes and speak. She grasped his little hand tightly into hers, not letting anything hold her back from showing her affection towards Samson one last time.

It is the hardest thing on earth to say good-bye to someone you know you will not see again on this side of heaven.

But I left that day with a happy heart too. I was happy that she would soon be free of her pain and in the arms of Jesus. What a comfort to know that my grandma knew where she was going and she knew Jesus.

She went home to be with Jesus that same evening.

We will miss you grandma June!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Really Cool New Shirts!

We have the new Bring Love In T-shirts in the store now! Go check them out!
All proceeds go to help orphan and widows in Ethiopia.

Coming soon: some really amazing metal artwork. Make sure to check back often for more new items

Monday, October 17, 2011

More than we can handle

You know the statement, "God never gives you more than you can handle?" Well, I share Katie Davis' perspective on this statement in that God absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.

Katie states that, He gives us more than we can handle "because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives."

Right now I am faced with the "impossible" because of my limited knowledge. I feel so directionless as an advocate for an orphanage in Haiti. But Katie's words encouraged me once again that God can turn this situation around. That maybe He is overwhelming me with the task so that I can die to myself and need more of Him.

I have followed up with the business man who showed interest in learning more about how he can help. He is still "thinking" about it. And although I have not given up hope, God has directed me to keep advocating and not to wait on this man.

There is an organization that I have been communicating with and they are interested in coming along side me in efforts to help the orphanage. They have people on the ground in Haiti and they are an organization that I have grown to know and trust the people who would work with me.

Several months ago, they entered into a very messy situation with another orphanage in the same city. There is evidence that this orphanage has been trafficking children and harvesting their organs among many other reported abuses. This has taken much of their time and energy.

Therefore, we will have to wait, which I'm fine with because it's important that the 75 children of this orphanage are freed of their bondage first. They are working on getting the orphanage shut down and then they will assist in placing each child in a safe and trusting orphanage.

In the meantime, they asked me to pull together a critical mass of people to help sponsor the children in Pastor Firmin's orphanage. I have pictures, names and ages of the children. I'm working on pulling together a monthly amount that would support each child.

At this time, I don't know how I'm going to present this or how I'm going to manage donors but I know in time God will show me how. Please pray for each of these 17 children. Pray whether God wants you to sponsor one of them. Together, we can make a difference for 17 children who desperately need our prayers, support and encouragement. Let's watch God figure this one out!

His Work

I started reading the book, "Kisses from Katie". I am so inspired by Katie's life and the experiences she shares loving the people in Uganda. If you don't follow Katie's story, you may want to check out her blog. Her writing will fill you up.

In her book, she wrote this:

"For years before I went to Uganda, I had fantasized about doing something incredible for God and others; what I have learned is that I can do nothing incredible, but as I follow God into impossible situations, He can work miracles in and through me."

I LOVE this statement. We cannot by our own strength do anything great for God. But instead, God can do amazing things through us when we let Him use us.

For a little over a year our family along with friends of our family have come along side the Benkert family serving in Ethiopia, first through Drawn From Water and now with Bring Love In. We have been running the on-line store.

The Benkerts have thanked us over and over again for our support. But really, it should be us thanking them for this opportunity. I personally do not feel qualified or worthy of this work.

And when my friend Rachael and I sat down to design the new Bring Love In t-shirt, I admit, my creative juices were not flowing. They were interrupted by thoughts going through my head, like "why am I chosen for this work?" "Aren't there others who are far more qualified than I?"

Like Katie, I have always wanted to do something great for God. But when we let Him do the work, He can do more than we can imagine.

I can be creative but I have limited software skills and knowledge. This is where Rachael fits in - she has experience with design work and the software.

So, the two of us sat there and at the end of our time together, we came up with something very simple and basic. We forwarded this to the Benkerts for approval and they "loved" it.

Now, I know there is nothing wrong with simple and basic - I'm slowly learning that simple is best in life. However, I just was not sure about the design, like we hadn't put enough effort into it and did not give it our best shot. Maybe the Benkerts were just being kind by saying they loved it.

Rachael shared the same feelings as I. She expressed that given the time to focus and concentrate, she maybe could come up with something different.

Really when I think back, we were trying hard to come up with something amazing but maybe we weren't letting God in on the project. Plus we both allowed our own insecurities be a barrier to God's work.

I prayed that God would work through her and help her design something amazing - a design that would be unmistakably perfect for the new t-shirt. I am far from perfect but I know that God can use us to perfect His work.

The next day I received a text from Rachael to check my email. I went to my computer and downloaded several new files to my computer and what I pulled up were the most incredible design ideas for the Bring Love In t-shirts.

Around the same time, Bring Love In showcased their new leather cuff bracelets.

The new t-shirt design ideas included a design that resembled the design on the bracelets! At first glance, one would think that they were designed together. But this was not Rachael's plan to design them this way - God just made it happen this way. This is the design the Benkerts chose as their favorite!

We are so close to adding the new t-shirts to the store. We are so excited to see the finish product and we know you will like them. Plus this time we are offering both a men's and women's shirt. So, keep checking the store, it will be there soon - I promise!

I know that Rachael would agree with me that all of this is God's workmanship. We can not take any credit. I am so blessed to have this work - it brings pure joy in my heart just knowing that the work God has given me will help give orphans and widows a forever family.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Our family has been blessed to come along side a couple ministries serving orphans in developing countries.

One of those ministries, serving in Ethiopia, is called Bring Love In. I have written about them before. They are serving widows and orphans in a unique way, bringing them together in forever homes. I will share more about our involvement and the ministry at another time. Check out their new on-line store. They are selling really cool handmade leather cuff bracelets. They had 300 made for the first run and they are already SOLD OUT! But more are being made, so if you want one, still place your order - you just may have to wait a little longer.

The other project that we are involved in is coming along side an orphanage in Haiti. As many of you know, Lauren and I traveled to Haiti about a year ago. While there we made some very special connections and have continued to build relationships with these connections via email or phone.

I knew that before I made the decision to go on this Short Term Mission trip that I wanted to stay involved and  help in some way. So, I have maintained my connections and for the past several months, I have been advocating for this small orphanage located in the city of Carrfour. The orphanage is run by Pastor Firmin and his wife. They have 5 children of their own and have taken in 12 children orphaned from the earthquake.

Their home was destroyed by the earthquake and they now sleep in temporary shelters on their house property. Since the earthquake, they have had only one team from the US visit them.

One of the last update I received was heartbreaking. They had been without food for several days and they do not have the funds to enroll the children in school this fall. This is highly concerning because as you all may know, education is the ticket to survival in a developing country.

There are days, especially when I hear reports of families in the community having to give up their children or children starving to death, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Honestly, there are days I wish I could just say, "I can't do it" and walk away. That's hard to admit. But a couple weeks ago I spent 10 days in a row with thoughts of giving up. 10 days where I was numb. 10 days someone was waiting for me to respond.

I prayed during these 10 days but still I could not feel what direction God wanted me to go with this project. It became such a weight on my life. I felt like the future of this unknown to the the rest of the world orphanage all in my hands. I came so close to not responding. I wanted to pretend that I did not know about them. I know this sounds harsh but after being unsuccessful with soliciting help from those who do know, I was feeling a little beaten down. Discouragement set in and took control of me.

Just when I was about ready to give up, I read something about fasting. It was at that time that I decided that I had not done everything I could. It took all the strength that I could muster out of poor discouraged little me and I fasted and prayed for Pastor Firmin's orphanage.

I fasted and prayed for 2 days. On the second day of my fasting, I received a call from my contact with an update. This is the same person who had been waiting 10 days for me to respond. He informed me that the orphanage had been without food for 3 days and on the 4th day, they were given food. The day that they ate was the first day of my fasting.

He also had another praise to report: the school principal at the school the children attend has agreed to let the children begin the school year despite not having their tuition payment.

I went from feeling alone in this battle to understanding that God has been there the whole time.

I have heard that the combination of fasting and praying are the only way to unleash certain demons. So I consulted with a very wise and Godly man, someone I can trust will speak straight truth. He said that he believes that fasting and praying does not unleash demons but instead fasting and praying unleashes "UNBELIEF". There is more that I learned from this conversation but that was the basis of it.

Through my feelings of discouragement, I started to lose faith and disbelieve. But through the combination of fasting and praying, I have truly seen miracles.

And there is more...
Steve and I have been discussing a long term plan to help Pastor Firmin and his community sustain themselves. We have some ideas but it will involve a lot of time and resources.

So this week, just one day after the amazing update from my contact person, Steve just happened to share something about this orphanage to someone during a business lunch meeting. This person has asked for more information about the orphanage and will consider financially coming along Steve and I to achieve this long term plan. We have submitted all the information we have and now we are waiting on a response. So, please all you prayer warriors out there, please pray that God will work through this business man's heart to help bring down the financial barrier that is keeping us from accomplishing a long term goal for Pastor Firmin's community.

I share this story about praying and fasting, not to draw attention to myself but only to show you how God really does work miracles when we believe.

I think about how close I was to throwing in the towel on this project. Just think how much I would have missed out if I would have chosen to limit God.

So, my questions to you is, "Are there things that you have thought about turning your back to because it's just too much?" "Are you limiting God to just the things that you can physically and/or financially handle?" "Or, are you trusting and believing in Him to carry out the work that He has planned in advance for you to do?"

Really ask yourself these questions when you are at a crossroads. Because once you turn your back, God cannot use you. Are you allowing doors to close? Or are you persevering through the doors that are open maybe even just a crack to allow God to accomplish more through you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


You hear about families in developing countries walking miles and miles to fetch dirty water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. This water contains bacteria that can cause diseases and death in children. But without water, we can die too. It's an unfair predicament that millions face each day.

Samson's birth family does not have access to clean drinking water. When we talk about his life before he joined our family, the fact that some people live without a clean drinking source is unthinkable to him.

He asks me questions like, "Well, why don't we give them some of our water? We have plenty." It's not that simple but yet he does notice our abundance.

And then just a couple days ago, he asked, "If my birth family doesn't have clean drinking water, why don't they go somewhere that does?"

Based on our conversations and all his questions, what he wants for his birth family more than anything is to see them some day have access to clean water.

This past summer when we got together with my friend Tanya and her sons, Samson's buddies from his orphanage, she told me about a triathlon that she was part of to raise money for a water project in our boys' home town Mudula, Ethiopia.

Samson was born in a village outside of Mudula. At this time I am still unsure of whether this fresh water project will reach his particular village but after communicating back and forth with one of the organizers of the project, I have learned that there is a strong chance that his birth family's village will benefit.

When completed, this project is said to reach 10,000! That's 10,000 people who currently drink from an unsanitary source; that means hundreds of women and girls who no longer have to walk for hours to fetch water from a stream but now can spend that time in school instead; that means diseases and death will be cut down dramatically. And for children like Samson, this is a big wish come true!

If you are interested in financially coming along side this water project, go HERE to make your donation. I like my friend Shannon's idea and that is, to challenge each of you to give the amount that your water bill is each month. Is it $50, $100, $200? What are you willing to pay to have clean water each month? Can you donate that amount today?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

His First "First Day"

I just returned home from dropping Samson off at his first day of preschool. As you may recall, he went to preschool last year but didn't start on the first day of preschool so this is his first "First Day" of school experience.

Last year my emotions were filled with excitement for him. I was persistent and fought for him to be in preschool last year. So, when he was finally able to start in October, I was ready to let him go and experience a world outside of our home. I was not nervous or sad really. Just excited.

This morning I learned that there is something about being there the first day of school that can trigger different emotions.

After we pulled into the parking lot, we watched a father walk his son hand in hand across the street, stop for a moment in front the school bell for a photo opportunity and then proceed into the school.

Then, we watched another mom and dad escort their son into the school shortly after. I thought to myself, two boys Samson doesn't know but will soon be his new friends.

We found his locker right away and as he was taking off his jacket, I looked towards the door of the preschool and saw another dad who was familiar to me holding his apprehensive son's hand. Upon seeing Samson, the dad said, "Look! There is Samson!" in hopes to bring comfort to his son.

As we approached the sign in table outside the classroom door, we were warmly greeted by another familiar face, the preschool teacher. We watched on while yet another little boy signed his name with his parents standing along side him.

I know this family enough to know that this is their first child they would be sending off to school. I could see on her face that the mother was at peace about letting go of her son. The father, on the other hand was trying so hard to hold back his emotions. I almost lost it myself when I heard him choking back tears as he came away from the sign in table with his son and gave him one last hug before he vanished into the classroom.

Inside the classroom, I snapped a couple pictures of Samson with each of his teachers. He took one quick look around the room, gave me one last hug and was off to do their first project for the day.

His teacher handed me a note as I left the classroom. When I walked out, I ran into a family I know bringing their son to preschool. The dad was taking all kinds of pictures and had a huge smile on his face, obviously so proud of his son.

There were so many sweet moments, watching proud fathers with their sons, taking pictures, giving them one last hug before their first day, comforting them. Watching these fathers is what stirred my emotions this morning. To see their love and care for their sons in action was so touching. There were a few moms there too but it was the fathers who were nervous and emotional. I tried to be strong and thought I was doing a good job holding in my emotions until I got to my van and read this note from the teacher:

"I gave  you a little wink and a smile as yo entered my room today.
I know how hard it is to leave and simply walk away.

You've been together for several years. You've been a loving guide.
But now the time has finally come, to leave your child by my side.

Just know that as you drive away and tears may start to flow,
I'll love your child as I would my own and help your little one to grow.

Know your child will be safe and loved as we work and learn each day."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Ruby" continued

We have had a crazy busy last couple weeks and I want to share soon some of the things our family has been up to but first I need to share something that happened already a few weeks ago.

If you have been following my blog, you know that the name "Ruby" continues to come up, almost to the point that our family is a little "spooked" by it.

If you have been following my blog, you also know how passionate I am about drawing awareness to human trafficking. I hadn't blogged about human trafficking specifically for a while, so I sat down to write a blog post about provocative dress and how it feeds to human trafficking.

I thought I would start with searching the Internet for this topic. I started to google "provocative dress human trafficking" and then I wondered if I wasn't going to get a bunch of stuff I really didn't want to see, so I backed spaced over those words and typed,

                                    "modest dress human trafficking".

The very first link that displayed in my google search was for a website called...

                                   "Ruby Eyed Okapi".

Not kidding!

Ruby Eyed Okapi is a website designed by a group of women who share the same passion that I do and blog about things like modest dress and purity. They also write book, TV show and movie reviews.

That blog post I sat down to write? I never even started because these women do an excellent job putting the very thing I have been thinking into words.

Check out the website for yourself!  Show it to your teenage daughters!

One of my favorite posts is the bikini post.

I was visiting my sister a few weeks ago and brought my girls and niece to the mall one evening. While we were passing store fronts, I was horrified to see full size posters of young teenage girls dressed provocatively. I have seen this before but now I'm paying more attention.

One store caused my jaw to drop more than any other. It appeared to be a store just for teenage lingerie. The full sized banner at the front of the store was advertising a push up bra on a 15 year old girl with the words, "Check out (whatever the girl's name was here) and her new look!" The model was wearing nothing but underwear and a push up bra!

What kind of message our we sending to our teenagers?! I know the message it is sending to at least one teenage girl:

My teenage daughter recently shared with me a conversation among girls her age where one girl told the others that when she turns 18 her mom said she can get a breast enlargement. Then the girl went on to say that if she ever ended up pregnant after being raped, her mom said that she would get an abortion.

Do you think that she may increase her risks of getting raped with a breast enlargement? Do you think plastic surgery of this kind is contributing to our sex crazed culture? Do you think that our sex crazed culture creates more of a need for prostitution?

If so, then provocative dress does feed into human trafficking. Many women and boys are forced into prostitution because of the demand for sex. This demand is increasing at a rate that by the end of 2011 it will surpass the #1 illegal money making industry in the world, which is drugs.

With three daughters, I am convicted and I admit that I'm not completely innocent. I know first hand experience as a mom how hard it is to say "no" to the culture. But that is our job as a parent. We do have a say in what our children are wearing when they leave the house! Take a stand moms for what is right!! Don't let your girls leave the house not covered up!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Up North

Our family's favorite vacation spot is "Up North". A couple weeks ago, we rented a cabin on a small lake for four nights. We went boating, hiked, fished, kayaked, canoed, ate, saw eagles, heard wolves howl and went alpine sledding. Minus the extreme humidity for 2 days, its was total bliss!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


At the U2 concert, one of the first things Bono said as we all cheered and raised our hands in praise for him, was "We can celebrate our freedom here but in many places in our world ...."(I don't recall his exact words but you get the idea)

Before the concert, Steve and I were sitting on a ledge outside the gates. There were volunteers running around with clipboards asking for signatures for different causes. They were causes that dealt with injustices in different parts of the world. They were causes fighting against and drawing awareness to very heartbreaking situations. Steve and I gladly signed our names because well, they just merely asked for a signature, that's it and we thought the causes warranted a voice to be heard.

But each time someone approached us, they had the look of that fear of another rejection. Then each person looked surprised when we agreed to sign their petition. One volunteer even told us how this job was much more difficult than she expected and thanked us over and over.

All three petitions that were going around were backed up and approved by Bono himself. They expected close to 58,000 people to attend the concert. Outside the gates, we were among several hundred (maybe even thousands) U2 fans waiting to enter the gates. After each petition signing volunteer left us, we watched them go from person to person, facing rejection after rejection. In fact most people waved them on before they had a chance to speak one word to them.

I was blown away by watching this!

Do they not want to know how bad things are in other parts of the world?

I turned to Steve and said, "Wow! People really don't have any idea what's going on in the world, do they?"

One petition was for the UN to draw awareness of the famine that is affecting more than 11 million people in the Horn of Africa. This is close to my heart because included in these 11 million people could likely be Samson's birth family.

Is this why it matters to me? Yes, I suppose so.

I also believe that stories of injustice come to life and seem real when we put faces to the stories. millions of people starving to death for example, doesn't pull at our hearts as much as the picture of a family with the story of how the parents sold 2 of their 5 children standing in the picture so they could feed the remaining 3.

In regards to the hundreds who would not sign the petitions, well, I can't judge them by their actions mostly because they just don't know. They are disconnected from the rest of the world.

So, maybe since I know and understand, maybe it's my job to educate. Maybe it's my job to tell the stories to those who are so far removed from what is happening in the the world.

I have many stories to tell, most shared second hand. But let me start with this one. The sample story I described above, is not a sample. I've described a real family and real circumstances. Would it make a difference if I had a picture of this family with their 5 children?

A family of 7 will soon become a family of 5 if their situation doesn't change soon. (To my knowledge, the family is still in together.)

This is a real family: father, mother and five children, 9 years old and younger. The youngest is 3 months old, the 2 year old severely malnourished and on the brink of death.

When I asked how does a family decide which two to sell, I was told that they will sell which ever 2 someone will take for their slaves.

This family lives in a developing nation. They are so desperate that they will sell or may even end up giving 2 children away just so the rest of family can survive.

Up the street from this family is the town's "middle class". "Hidden" in the open are domestic child slaves EVERYWHERE!

I bet the people waiting outside the gate for the U2 concert hadn't heard about this family of 7. They don't know the stories. They don't have a face to put on the injustice.

Steve and I have decided that it's time to step up the anty (is that how you spell it??) and start educating people. Like really finding ways to be the voice against injustice. So this is one of my purposes for sharing this story with you today.

This family of seven attends a local church. The pastor of the church and his family are already struggling to support their own 6 children and several other orphans that they have taken in.

I'm working on helping this pastor so that he doesn't have to continue to watch family after family give up their children. He has recently visited this family of 7 in their home (if you want to call it a home). The two year old is weak, does not walk or talk. She is not expected to survive.

I have been thinking this over for several days, trying to think of a way I could help this church and its community because I know I can't do it alone.

So today I come to you with a request. First, please pray for freedom of oppressed people all over the world.

Then, if you feel led to make a contribution to my pastor friend, please leave a comment with your email address and I will send you details on how you can help. I will not publish your comments.

I know that if you feel God leading you to help this particular pastor, that you are walking out on faith and not by sight. I know this is a lot to ask. But if you are interested, I will share more of the story, where this community is located and pictures.

Thank you for your time!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I am a huge Bono fan! Some people think of him as no more than a rock star. What they don't know about him is his love for ALL people around the world.

In the early 1990s (I believe), Bono travelled to Africa for the first time. Actually, he travelled to Ethiopia. He was so struck by the poverty and the devastation of AIDS, he returned to the US a different person than when he left.

He set out on a mission to help with the AIDS epidemic and alleviate poverty. He set up the non profit, ONE campaign (go check it out if you are not familiar with it) and was spearheaded the talks with the US government that resulted in forgiving Africa's debt and providing life saving medications for AIDS victims in Africa.

And, the coolest thing about him is that he is a Born Again Christian. And the other 3 members of his band are also Christians!

Back in early May when we attended Lauren's orchestra concert, someone was selling raffle tickets for the U2 concert. Steve bought 2 tickets for $10 per ticket.

I left that night thinking, "Well, that was a donation going towards a good cause."

Several weeks later, I had already forgotten about the raffle tickets when Steve and Avery arrived home from somewhere. Steve had just taken a call on his cell phone and Avery shared the news that we won the tickets to the U2 concert!!

They were prime seats, worth $250 per ticket and selling on-line for $500 per ticket!!

So, this past Saturday, Steve and I attended the most amazing and incredible concert we will probably ever attend in our life here on earth.

Just a glimpse into our evening:

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I don't have much time for words but wanted to post these sweet pics from the Mehaber last weekend. We had an amazing time meeting new friends and reconnecting with those we already knew and have a special place in our hearts.
This young man in the orange remembered Samson from the orphanage. The first time the two have seen each other in almost 2 years.

These two have stayed in touch since home. They connected again like brothers at the Mehaber and were inseparable.

Ethiopian dance lessons!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I have written about the name "Ruby" before. Today I hesitated to write and share some more but decided that whether I publish this or not, I need to document this. I hesitate to share because this story is all so bizarre and I feel a little weird about it. But it is a story that has left our family searching and wondering what this all means.
If you don't feel like reading my past posts about Ruby, I'll quickly bring you up to speed and tell you that this name continues to come up over and over again. It is too often to be a coincidence, like God is really trying to get our attention.

Two weeks ago while Olivia was gone to camp, Samson and Avery were in dance camp. When we arrived at dance camp the first day, the director explained to us that all the kids are broken up into "cabins" and directed us to find our child's cabin name on this list.

Samson's cabin was "Hero".

Avery's cabin was "Ruby".

One of the times that God whispered the name "Ruby" to us was through Samson. When he came out of his first gymnastics class this past spring, he whispered in my ear, "Mommy, there is a girl in my class and her name is and in a very quite whisper he pauses and says, "Ruby". At the time, he knew nothing of our stories of Ruby. I wrote about this already but just had to share again because of what I'm going to share next.

"Mighty to Save" is our family's song. We have a testimony surrounding this song that I will share sometime. Essentially, God used this song to speak to our family many times throughout our journey to Samson. Soon after we were home, when "Mighty to Save" came over the radio, Samson at one point said, "Hey! This is MY song!". At the time, he spoke very little English and he had no way of knowing the significance of this song and how it ties to our journey to him. In fact, at his age, he would not really understand our testimony that surrounds this song.

Now, back to dance camp... Avery came home her first day of camp and was excited to tell me that her group was going to be performing to "Mighty to Save". I know! It gave me goose bumps too!! Not only was she in cabin "Ruby" but she was also dancing to our family's song.

Our friends just returned from Ethiopia with their twin boys and brought home some amazing gifts for our family. One was a children's book about the origins of coffee in Ethiopia.

I read this book to Avery and Samson Tuesday, June 28th, the same day they had their first day of dance camp. I remember it being 9:00 p.m. because I was thinking it was late and I should have had them to bed earlier so they would be more rested for camp in the morning.

Anyway, in the book, this young boy has a dream about the stars in the Ethiopian night sky looking like red rubies.

Then on Thursday that same week, I picked up Olivia from camp. She could not wait until we dropped off her friend because she had something important to tell me.

She first asked me what our family was doing at 9:00 Tuesday night. I just told her that I was reading a book to Samson and Avery at that time.

She told me her story before I told her anymore about our day:

She was at chapel Tuesday night and the name "Ruby" came to her mind. She claimed that at that very moment, they began worshipping to "Mighty to Save". She said she had this overwhelming feeling that God was also speaking something to us at that very same time. She said, she looked at her camp counselors watch and it was exactly 9:00, which was the same time and day I was reading our new story book to the kids.

Again, I don't believe this is a coincidence!

We don't know what this all means. We have been praying. We are trying to be patient and we are excited to see how God plays this one out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A glimpse into our summer

Wow!! I was on someone else's blog the other day and noticed that it listed that the last update on my blog was 2 weeks ago. Oops!! So, if I still have any readers with me, here is just a little about what has been happening the past few weeks...

We started off our summer with cold weather and rain. So, the girls and I did some much needed deep cleaning through drawers, cabinets and closets. I was happy to see the warm weather finally arrive the beginning of July so that I had a good excuse to not clean anymore.

At the end of June, June 26th to be exact, Steve and I had the privilege to drive our friends home from the airport after arriving home from Ethiopia. What a treat it was to meet their 2 precious sons and hear about their adventures. Now we have someone that we can connect with at a very unique level. The next night Samson got to meet his new friends for the first time. I held back tears all day anticipating that moment. And it was very special indeed.

When July hit, things got busy!!!

Steve started taking sailing lessons, only one so far because of the weather of course.

Lauren started driver's training.

Over 4th of July weekend, we hit the beach one evening, attended a play in our community, shot off fireworks and took Samson to his first ever baseball game. On our way to the game, we were trying to explain to him why he would not be playing and that we were going to watch young adult men play. He seemed to be OK with that arrangement once we got there but was a little confused at first about what "going to a baseball game" was all about.

Avery is at Bible camp this week. Olivia was there last week and Lauren 2 weeks before then. Can't wait to pick my little June up from camp tomorrow!

Also, this week, we are hosting my niece while her sister is at camp with Avery.

I came home from a lunch meeting this afternoon to fresh baked cookies the girls made. They said they thought the recipe asked for too much butter, so they only put half the amount in that it called for. They were shocked to learn that the recipe was not wrong. But, you know what?? The cookies turned out great! I think I'll be cutting back the butter from now on!! LOL!!

The kids have enjoyed squirt gun fights in the back yard on the real hot days. Today I noticed Samson used the garden hose for his squirt gun and was making the girls scream as he chased them all over our yard.

Last week Samson and Avery attended dance camp. They performed a dance with just the boys and Samson is an amazing dancer! During the dance, they featured each boy and Samson did some funky break dancing kind of moves on the floor. It was so fun to watch him enjoy this!

Avery also danced very well. She is so precise and disciplined with her dance moves.

At the end of the week, Samson was talking about one of his friends who was part of the dance camp. He said, "Mommy, I was watching S... dance and she is a pretty good dancer. I think I'll marry her some day."

The biggest news of the summer is that Samson is riding bike WITHOUT training wheels! He insisted on getting his training wheels taken off and now he is completely fearless with his bike. There is just no slowing him down!

He has managed to keep the scrapes and bruises to a minimum on his bike. But the other day I must admit that I accidentally sat down on a stool with his big toe underneath the leg. OUCH!! Now he has a black and blue toe. The cute thing is that when he shows it to others, he calls it his "thumb" toe instead of his big toe.

I have many more things to blog. Hopefully more to come next week! Stay tuned.....