Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My heart is melting

I put Samson down for bed about 99% of the time. Our bedtime routines are some of the most sweetest mother-son moments we have together. Hardly ever does he put up a fight when it's bedtime because I think he simply loves this special alone time with me. This alone melts my heart.

Last night after we read 3 books together, (I say together because there are some favorites that I have read over and over and now he "reads" them to me.) I turned out the light and laid down next to him, like always.

I was laying quite close but not close enough because he said, "Scootch over mommy so I can put my arm around you."

Well, this was by far the most heart melting moment I've ever had with him. In recent months, he has shown us so much of his gentle side.

So, I asked him to repeat what he said and he said again, "scootch over mommy so I can put my arm around you."

Fighting back tears, I said, "Oh Samson, that just made my heart melt!"

Then I scootched over close and he wrapped his arm tight around my neck!

This morning the first thing he asked me was, "Mommy is your heart back together?"
I said, "Huh? What?"

He said, "Well, you told me last night that your heart was melting and I was wondering if it is back together yet?"

My heart just melted again as I looked into his innocent big brown eyes.

If he keeps pouring all this sweetness on me, I don't know if my heart will ever be back together!

On top of all his sweetness, Samson is quite a charmer. And he talks a lot about what kind of family he will have when he is "bigger". He wants to get married and be a daddy. At one time, he said that he wants to marry ME when he gets bigger. >>  But Steve broke the news to him that he can't marry a married woman. So, now he talks about marrying someone who is not married. So glad he gets this!

The other interesting thing is that he is pretty sure he wants a big family - lots and lots of kids. He actually wants 10 kids. Oh and when he is a daddy, he will let his kids do things that we don't let him do now.

Yesterday I had his parent/teacher conference. I think I mentioned before that he is the youngest in his preschool class by about 5 months. I came home from this conference the proudest mommy on earth! His teacher told me that he has become very social, plays well with all the kids, is doing things way beyond his age level, is well behaved, polite and......he is a leader!! In a class where all the other 17 kids are 5 months to 1 1/2 years older than him, he is a natural born leader! Just had to share!! Can't wait to see what God has in store for Samson!

My heart is not only melting but gushing with love for this boy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Please Pray for DFW Orphanage!

Since before we travelled to Ethiopia, our family has felt a connection to the Drawn From Water organization. Since our trip, we have been involved in raising awareness for this incredible organization. I wrote about how we have been involved here.

Now the unthinkable is happening and they need our prayers. Please read their recent blog posts. It's a little unclear of what is happening  for sure but it appears like Levi and Jessie and the others who have made many sacrifices to rescue and care for the now 30 children at the orphanage may not be able to care for them anymore. This news is so disheartening and shocking.

We also sponsor a child through DFW. Her name is Kero and she is the oldest girl at the orphanage. It has been an amazing experience and privilege to support Kero over the past few months. With the current news, it sounds like we may not be able to support her anymore. This alone would be a huge loss for our family. It's all so very sad!!

Please, join me in prayer over this whole situation!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What is the answer?

Most of you know about or at least have heard about the changes going on in Ethiopian adoptions. There have been many concerns and conversations regarding the ethics surrounding Ethiopian adoptions.

I have read stories about children being trafficked for adoption. I have also read stories about birth parents being coerced into giving up their child for adoption. I don't disbelieve that this is happening or has happened.

This is very tragic! For the agencies who are practicing unethical adoptions, they need to be taken care of swiftly and severely disciplined for their actions.

Trafficking is something that I have studied a lot about in recent months. I have become an advocate against trafficking. I think a lot of my interest in trafficking spurs from the fact that I know a girl who has been rescued from domestic slavery. I also know of a situation where a six year old girl is about to be rescued.

1.2 million more children each year are swept up into child slavery.

The story of the two girls I know about is a very common situation that happens all over the world but especially in developing countries. Families become too poor to provide basic needs for their children. They become desperate especially when there is not a safe place for them to take them for help. (They don't have social services like they have in the US). In the case of the two children I know of, the local orphanages are full and relatives are too stretched with taking care of their own families to care for another child.

The only option left is for a parent to either abandon their child or sell them to another family. They use the money to provide for the rest of their family until they have to sell another child. Can you even imagine being faced with the decision of which child to sell?

Many of these children are resold into the sex slave. Or once they become someones domestic slave, they are most of the time treated as less than human.

As the case with the two that I know, they do all the cooking, cleaning, receive very little food, forbidden to attend school and are beaten on a daily basis. These girls are 11 and 6!

I am all for "cleaning up the system", more thorough investigations, more scrutiny on adoption cases but I've also seen first hand what happens to kids without a presence of safe help for the parents. This is also tragic!

There are legitimate cases of kids needing families. I have several friends who are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. One family is adopting older children who have been in an orphanage for around 3 years. One family is adopting older toddlers off a waiting list who are approaching 1 year in an orphanage. Another family has been waiting for over 2 years for a referral. All of these families want to provide a family for a child in need. They are all for ethically adoptions but will now experience a major delay in bringing their kids home.

Is slowing down adoptions the answer? This has been highly debated.

Are we doing more harm by slowing them down? Time will tell.

I hate human trafficking. There are a couple things that keep me awake at night. One is the thought of a 6 year old working as someones domestic slave, being treated like an animal and beaten over and over. In addition, I don't like how adoption has caused children to be trafficked for adoption.

The other thing that keeps me awake at night are the older child orphans, praying each night for a family of their own. I read a blog post just last night that will forever haunt me. It described a girl in an orphanage in Ethiopia who has watched her friends being adopted into families and she has been seen crying in the background of home videos and pictures. When asked why she is crying, she says more than anything else, she wants a family and she is afraid that she may never have one.

Now that adoptions are slowing down in Ethiopia, the hope for this beautiful girl to receive her forever family diminishes. She is also close to aging out the system. And once she ages out of the system, she is a huge target for human trafficking.

Do you think that by slowing down adoptions, there may be more trafficking? Time will tell.

This is an extremely complicated issue. It seems like there is a greater issue going on here. As one article I have read has suggested, do we even have the right diagnoses? What should we really be going after? What really needs to be fixed here?

I say I'm an advocate against human trafficking. Have I done all I can to prevent human trafficking? NO! There are others on the field literally rescuing children from slavery - they are doing so much more than me. There is no way I can say I've done everything I can. Human trafficking is a mountain that needs to be moved, so there is no way I can move this mountain on my own. But I want to do more - I really do.

I am praying about more potential opportunities to come along side efforts to aggressively fight against this injustice. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Truly Inspiring Story

Yesterday if you had a chance to watch the Today show, you may have seen the truly inspiring story of the Twietmeyer family and their special interest in adopting kids with hiv.

Since their adoptions of 6 children from Ethiopia, 2 with hiv, they have launched a non profit organization called Project Hopeful and now come along side other families through their adoptions of children with hiv.

I watched this segment on the Today show and was so moved by their story that I cried.

This is not the first time the Twietmeyer's have made national news with their story. They have been in People magazine and interviewed on other larger networks as well.

This time, Jenna Bush has conducted the interview and she is just as passionate about educating others on hiv as the Twietmeyer family. I'm excited for the Twietmeyers to have an advocate like Jenna to come along side them.

Check out the news segment here!

I didn't know much about Project Hopeful until just recently. I have a friend who lives in Haiti and just put money down on a home which she will use to care for up to 7 children with hiv. God has placed on her heart to educate the Haitian people and to lower the stigma that surrounds this chronic disease. When I learned about her plans to advocate for orphans in this way, I told another friend, Andrea about her not even remembering that Andrea works with Project Hopeful.

Well, Project Hopeful was looking for someone like my friend Rhyan to be their main contact in Haiti. It was a perfect match. They are truly meant to be partners in this endeavor.

Please visit Rhyan's blog and consider helping her out. The sooner she can raise the money, the sooner she can fill her new home with beautiful children and provide them with hope for a brighter future.

As Jenna stated in the Today show interview, hiv is not a death sentence. It is a chronic disease that can be controlled with medication, just like other chronic diseases like diabetes. I think most people don't realize this. Just a couple years ago, I myself had misconceptions about this disease. And I'm still learning.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting injustice

I have not written much on my blog about the things that God has put in my path recently. On top of all the winter blues and junk that comes with a very long winter, I have been blessed with "projects" that require spending time networking, defending and advocating.

It's all exhausting. It's hard work. It's mentally and emotionally draining. But the rewards are worth the time and energy.
Sometimes I find my self apologizing for being so passionate. But once my eyes have seen, I cannot turn the other way because I know God will hold me accountable for what I have seen and what I know.

I know there are things I have ignored in the past because for one, it's easy to judge. As long as I can make a judgement on a situation, I can rationalize not doing anything about it.

Well, now, I am passionate about doing something about it. And it is not my place to judge. After all, I trust God knows what He is doing.

There have been times of discouragement along this journey. This is the hard part because whenever I feel discouraged, I also think about how easy it would be to give up hope and question why I have joined this fight in the first place.

Recently a very wise friend reminded me that if we fight for what is right, there is less of a chance for Satan to win. But if we walk away from needs that God has shown us, Satan will for sure win.
Then Saturday night I had the opportunity to talk at length on the phone with a dear friend that I met on-line and who lives many states away. I am blessed to have like-minded people like her in my life just to stay encouraged. It was so refreshing to talk to her because she gets it! This godly friend of mine who has also worked hard over the years fighting against injustice, reminded me why people give up.

We talked about how people can walk away but then need a justification, so they turn to judging the situation to make them feel better. I have been in this place before. Now I'm in a different place.

And yet another friend strong in her faith, who knows the details of my battle and the depth of my weariness, reminded me that no matter what, I'm not alone.

Just a couple hours later, I had a major break through. Something very cool evolved and I hope to share it all some day. But for now, please pray for me this week. On Friday I have the opportunity to present the situations and ask for help from an oganization that may be able to help.

I know there are a lot of needs in our world but God picked these few to break my heart and cause me to get involved.

After several rejections and discouraging moments, there is someone out there who wants to hear more and help. God is so cool! He is so GOOD!

This morning, Samson got up and came into my bed to cuddle with me. He has watched me over the past few days. I think he knows how I have felt beaten down and discouraged. So, with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck, he said to me, "Mommy, don't be afraid because God is with you." Then he said, "and I will protect you from lions."

I immediately thought of the scripture that describes Satan as a lion prowling over us. Hmmm. What a wise little boy.

There is much we can learn from the confidence and faith of a small child.

This morning, I have a better outlook and more strength to go out there and fight. It's a great feeling!

Would you please pray?!!

- Pray for the safety and welfare of a pastor, his wife and family and 12 orphans who are in a desperate situation.
- Pray for two more dear friends of mine who have given their lives to serve the least of these somewhere else in our world and who God used to bring these needs to my attention.
- Pray that help is on it's way!
- Pray that God will give me the right words to plead their case to an organization who is open to learning more.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Have I said that I'm sick of winter?!!

My life is full!! I love my family and the joys that come with a family!
However, lately, I have been so done with winter and illnesses! I have lost track of who was sick with what and when but it seemed like we had been sick for over 3 weeks. In fact, Avery came down with the stomach flu early this week for the second time in 10 days!

One day last week, right after I made the decision to keep one daughter home because of a warm forehead, I loaded the rest of the kids in the van to bring to school, set my coffee down and my cell phone slipped into my coffee.

I quickly retrieved my phone, wiped it off and it was dead. Holding back tears as I proceeded to back out of the garage, I hooked my side view mirror on the van.

The other day, I heard Avery screaming in pain from behind a bathroom door. I let Coco down to run to check on Avery who was leaning over the toilet vomiting. I had just finished cleaning up her vomit from our bathroom floor when I returned to find Coco went potty on my kitchen rug.

After cleaning up Coco's mess and getting Avery settled on the couch with a pillow, blanket and a puke bucket, I realized that I still had to take the other kids to school that morning.

So, I went to the bottom of the stairs to yell for Laurena and Olivia and only then remembered that I had lost my voice. I was without or barley with a voice for about 5 days.

I helped them gather their items, fill their back packs, get water bottles ready....we were almost out the door and I remembered Samson. Where was Samson? For a few moments, while I was distracted with cleaning up messes, I forgot about Samson.

I ran upstairs and found him comfortably laying on my bed watching cartoons.

Now, this is very unusual, because Samson hardly ever stays by himself in a room. In fact, most mornings, he is running along side me and never leaves my side. Plus it's a mystery how he managed to turn the TV and get to the right channel on his own. (we haven't shown him how yet)

I scooped him up, threw his coat and boots on and brought him to the car. And, well, let's just say that Samson doesn't do well with quick transitions. Must I say more??

I managed to deliver both healthy girls to school on time that particular morning.

At last, back home with my 4 year old son. First, clean up breakfast dishes, feed and play with Coco, throw another load in the wash and off to think of creative activities for Samson and I to do together.

Sometimes we read books, play with puzzles or Legos. But most of the time, we play things that require more physical movement, like chasing each other around the house, hitting a balloon back and forth or passing the football.

By the time we have to leave to pick up the girls from school, I'm ready to take a nap. But when you have a teenager, napping after school is not an option.

Also, when you have a teenager, you do not want to be without a cell phone. The day my cell phone was taking a rice bath, was a day that I probably most needed it ever. Explaining my day without my cell phone would be a whole other post, so I'll save you the details. But trust me, it was not fun at all!!

Sometimes I crave adult conversation. I love gathering with girlfriends and chatting about spiritual stuff. Not that playing with Samson doesn't stimulate my brain enough because actually, having a conversation with him really does make me think...

Especially when he asks questions like, "Mommy, how do you make black and turn it into glasses?"or
"What if a cloud started talking to you?" "What if a cloud talked funny?"

I mean you really have to think when you answer these types of questions especially when you're feeling a little under the weather and not really wanting to think too much.

Speaking of feeling under the weather....why is it that you seem to hit your busiest times when you are not feeling well?

Laying my head on the pillow each night has become the best feeling ever to me.

Don't mean to sound like a downer and I know much has to do with the cold and long winter we have had and all the crud that comes during this season but boy am I ready for a change of weather!!