Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are we trapped?

This photo is going around on Facebook today.

I saw this and of course felt moved. Sweet little tiny, malnourished hand! Oh! But something didn't sit well in my spirit. The title is "Perspective."

And the words on the image disturb me  as well. "You hate your life, while some people dream of having your life."

I think the intended message is: "You are whining about your life, but other people WANT your life." So buck up and be happy. You privileged thing, you. You have so much, be happy! Stop your whining!

Is that the point?

Something bothers me. What is it? I think it's the ethnocentric angle of it all: everyone wants to be where I am.


Have you seen the true joy during worship on the face of a child in a prison in Africa? Have you felt the electric joy that pervades the underground church in China? The utter reliance upon God in South Korea?

Why do we believe our lives and culture are superior?

We greatly struggled with taking an orphaned child from his home culture and raising him as an American. But we left that on the table when we realized that we were his last hope (second to a childhood spent in an institution) and we believe that having a family in another culture is better than orphanage life in his own.

But this is not what I sat down to write about.

Back to the picture above.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine this week. She said, "I really think our wealth actually traps us."

I think she's completely right.

If you don't have a boat, you don't have to worry about how to pay for the license, the beer for the next weekend party or the insurance rider in case someone sues you for slipping on the deck.

There is a genuine simplicity to life in underdeveloped countries.

I have seen, known and loved Christians in the underground in China. They do not wish they were American. They merely pray to be faithful to the task God has called them to right where they are. And incredibly, they do not even pray for their persecution to be lifted, but rather that they be made stronger and be drawn closer to God.

How often is that my prayer? Don't I whine about my "hardships" rather than pray to have them train me for righteousness? Is it possible that my luxuries are trapping me into a self-centered existence and I am missing out on the joys of serving others?

I have thought many times that our financial struggles have been a hardship, when in reality, they are a GIFT FROM GOD. I am not so entranced in my possessions that I would not give them up to live somewhere other than where I am. I certainly do love our camera and computer...but stuff is really just stuff and since I'm not dripping with diamonds I think I'm a little more free to just walk away. To go.

A lot more difficult when you are financially comfortable.

Remember that rich man in Luke 12 that Jesus told the story about? He had so much wealth his "problem" was where to store it all! When you have a lot of wealth, you have to worry about ways to protect it. It might be taken from you--or the bottom might fall out of the market.

When you are living in an impoverished country, you merely praise God for the rice and beans in your bowl. You may not know where it came from, but you know God was behind it. You don't know where your food tomorrow will come from, but you trust God to give it. And He does. (Sometimes through people like US!)

There's a certain freedom, intense reliance upon God and joy that can come from that kind of life. I have seen it on their faces and I have heard it in their voices.

I think the average American is indeed "trapped" by wealth. We have such an abundance that we don't know where to store it all. Sadly, Jesus called this man in Luke chapter 12 a fool and told him his life would be demanded of him that very night! Panic! His life was OVER? What? So...he gathered all that STUFF for nothing?!

What are you gathering? Are you trapped by your own wealth? Are you able to see there is a world that waits for your involvement? Your love? Your presence?

What if the caption on the picture above said something like, "There's are world waiting for your touch," or something that motivated people to get outside of themselves and impact another life? (Well, I would have shared it on my own Facebook wall if it had!)

There is no doubt that when Jesus told the rich young ruler in Luke 18 to give away all his possessions and come follow Him, that the man was trapped by his stuff. It happens. A lot.

Do we have to give everything away to be un-trapped? I think that is going to be on an individual basis. I don't think the point is if you have to or not, but is your heart WILLING to lay your life-long collections, your summer house, your golf habit, your children's college fund on the altar for God?

It's about your heart. He MAY ask it of you. He will probably ask something of you that you hadn't thought of. The question remains: Are you so committed to Him that you'll give anything?

The rewards are true joy in this life and in the life to come.

I'm in. Are you?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Countdown is on! November 6 is Orphan Sunday!

As you will see, just because we adopt one child does not mean the work is over. Orphan Sunday will be held on November 6, 2011.

I hope to help raise awareness for the needs of these precious ones around the world.

Will you join me?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The pie that freaked us out!

Thanks to a local friend, I was abundantly blessed with fresh red raspberries!! I promptly went home and tucked half of them into this "Bye Bye Summer" pie.

The message on the pie got Brian to thinking.

"I'd never have guessed a year ago that I'd have a Ugandan son running around in our yard." (Cue squeals of delight from said Ugandan child outside.)

I laughed. Brian cannot seem to resist writing something to the effect of, "I wonder where we'll be this time next year," in my birthday cards, anniversary cards, valentine cards, love get the picture.

It's just part of our adventure-love-life way.To wonder about where the adventure may go in the next 12 months. We often dream together. It's always about the future.

So it was a bit ODD that my husband launched a diatribe about the past year.

And then I realized...

"Honey, actually...


               called me and asked if I'd ever considered international adoption!!"

"No way!" "How do you know?" "Today?! REALLY????"

(He totally thought I was pulling his leg.)

I REMEMBER. It was a Monday. It was the 20th. It was September.

And today was Tuesday.

Yep! It's been just ONE YEAR since we even entertained the idea of adoption. And he's here now squealing with great delight as he runs and plays outside with our other children.

How incredible that God did ALL OF THAT in one year's time!!!!


It all ended with a familiar question. Can you guess what that was?


Monday, September 19, 2011

Learning Curve

I've been thinking a lot about adoption. Funny time, eh?

Well yeah.

But we are knee deep in the "rubber meets the road" phase. There is so much to adoption long before you ever see that face in a referral picture, long before you ever hear that sweet name.

And that's where I'd spent my my time.

Paperwork. Notarizations. Home study visits. Police clearances. Fundraising. Emailing with lawyers and orphanages. Trainings.

And the focus MUST be there. You simply cannot move forward in adoption without those things.

But there is more. 

A lot more. 

Things like holding and consoling and helping to quiet the fears of a child added into a busy family.

Things like attempting to understand the new foreign words coming out of your son's mouth.

Things like teaching how to sit at a table for a meal and use a fork. How to come running when called.

What private property is and personal space.

Attempting to help work through each "no" instead of crumbling into a screaming heap on the floor.

That I am Mommy and not to walk away with just any random white woman.

What it means to pray and be thankful.

How to get along with apologize and to forgive.

There's a lot happening. His learning curve is enormous.

And he's doing well. Very well.

We've been home for two weeks today--and I'm so very proud of our son and how well he is adjusting. But there's a long road ahead.

And we're here to walk it. With him, together.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Want an iPad2? (Help some orphans go HOME!)

I'm so excited because a wonderful godly woman has been given a referral of TWO precious children from Zareb's orphanage!!! One of these precious children has special needs and they really need to get her home ASAP.

As you might imagine, the cost of adopting two children from Uganda with an uncertain timeframe is going to be steep. They are doing something super cool though....

Go HERE to read about how to get one of these:
The iPad2--it doesn't have to be just a dream anymore!

...and by doing so you will become part of the story of God bringing TWO orphans home forever!!!

And THAT'S something worth getting EXCITED OVER!!! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not answering the phone these days...

Brian came home today and asked me, "Is it harder than what you thought?"

(Apparently seeing a harried woman amidst dirty pots and pans, a basket of unfolded laundry, toys strewn across the yard and children screaming in the background causes one to ask such things.)

"Ah, yes. YES!"

So, adoption. Adoption.

The 2 year olds in their traditional Ugandan clothes. A moment to CHERISH!!!

It's a great thing. I would do it again. Really. 

But right now...
it's H-A-R-D.

If I could sum it up in a sentence, it would read something like,

"I am ALL of your mother!!" (and that doesn't even read right!)


"Just because there are 5 of you does not mean there are 5 of me."

Or something.

The biggest trial right now is trying to adjust Darrah Kate to the idea of having a brother who is just 7 months older than she.

Now, she does ask for him the second she wakes up in the morning!

And these pictures are incredibly cute...but the other 95% of the time, these two are going round and round fighting over my lap, who I will carry, who gets the cracker first, etc.

So if you are waiting on an email from me, you wonder why I haven't called you back or you just simply wonder what I might be doing...

The answer is that 100% focus is now on my two 2 year olds. The only way I am able to post this is that Brian took the two screaming children to the hardware store with him. (Saint him, please!)

My life is quite a BIT different than I expected. So if you call me and I don't answer, you can just picture me sitting on the floor with two toddlers on my lap and try to keep them from poking each other's eyes out and singing together.

That's about all I'm getting done these days!

P.S. (for those who still think it's all sunshine and puppies):

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It's been a whirl-wind around here since we got home...but I just gotta say...

if you had ANYTHING to do with this...

then I just want to say...


Monday, September 5, 2011

Remember all that formula?

If you remember about a month ago, we were getting ready to leave for Africa. We had packed and were pleasantly humming along.

Then we heard about a desperate need. Three babies' lives hung in the balance...they would DIE without formula.

They only had a 2 week supply.

And we were about to leave.

God did a miracle (several really!) and we were able to deliver 2 large footlockers of formula to these village babies because of the generosity of our bloggy readers and friends!


I thought you'd like a peek at one of those to whom you showed sweet love:

The newborn baby girl who was given life by the formula!

Mama is positively GLOWING with happiness! Don't you think?

"For I was HUNGRY and you gave me something to eat,
I was THIRSTY and you gave me something to drink..."
                               Matthew 35:35

Thank you for living out this Scripture to the least of these...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not Son, but Brother!

Warning! This is another story from one of the children's prisons! If you've had might want to skip this post.

If they intrigue you, then come sit a spell for a good one!

Meet Fred.
Being a photographer, I can USUALLY get a smile out of most people. Fred was TOUGH.
Then again, none of my clients have faced what Fred faces.

After the praise and worship time that Sixty Feet leads on Mondays in the prison, I took a little self-guided tour around the facility.

I met Fred in THE BLACK HOUSE.

The Black House is the step down unit the boys go to after they've completed their time in the solitary cell. Still without any clothes except shorts, these boys are so happy to be given a simple (but putrid) mattress. 

Fred was no longer a Black House resident, but he followed me in there to plead with me to come talk with him. IN PRIVATE. He emphasized that part. I agreed and followed him for a long trip around the grounds of M. When he finally found a suitable place...(was he getting up the nerve?) we sat down.

He told me he wanted to speak to me personally because he listened to what I said to the group. He knew that I knew the heart of children. (His words) He began to tell me his story.

I will preserve his privacy and skip the details. Suffice it to say, I was brokenhearted. 


And then he asked me, "If you would become my REAL mother and your husband my REAL father, then I could go to school..." He worked this sentence into his diatribe a good three times.

I finally asked him straight up, 

"Fred, are you asking me to ADOPT you?"

Fred hung his head. His 15-year old manly voice nearly inaudible, "yes."

What does it take to ask a person you've never met to adopt you?

What came next tore me from limb to limb. 

I had to disappoint Fred. I had to say no to him. He did not take that "no" well. He shut down completely. I talked about getting "no's" in life and how God can use it to build our character if we let Him.

How I have an 11 year old daughter I have to repeatedly say "no" to about buying a horse. That hurts too, but not as bad as this did.

I really didn't think he heard anything I said.

I prayed over him. 

Hugged him.

Told him goodbye.

He was dejected. Worse than a teenage broken heart, he ached with the denial of a mother's love (again!). 

I'm telling you, this RIPPED ME APART!!!

"Here, let's take a picture together," I said. You can see how he felt about that!

I returned two days later to M. I spent my time putting a puzzle together with a group of children in the dining hall and interacting with the boy in the cell. 

And then I looked up. There stood Fred.

"Hi Fred! So nice to see you again!"


Blank stare.


I walked over to greet him properly but he would have nothing to do with me. One of the Sixty Feet workers told him earlier, "Amy is here, do you want to see her?" He returned the same empty, blank stare to her as well.

I could do nothing. I prayed for Fred, but beyond that, I did nothing else. My heart ached, but I did nothing.

This week, I traveled with the Sixty Feet team again to two other prisons. One of them told me something so incredible I had to hear it from the counselor myself:

Fred gave his life to Christ on Wednesday (the day before!)

What?!?! REALLY???

I asked the pastor/counselor (also actually named Fred!) and he confirmed it. Fred came to speak to him during the counseling time. He talked about how "that American woman encouraged me last week," and that he had planned on escaping that very day we talked.

He chose to stay.

And he continued to listen to what Sixty Feet team was preaching and he spoke to another team member who also encouraged him. And he decided he'd had enough of his empty, pain filled, angry existence and was ready to just surrender.

So he did.

Right there, in a children's prison, Fred did not become my son as he wanted, he became my brother!!!

I wrote him a letter. In it I told him that the "no" from me pales in comparison to the "yes" he has gotten from the Almighty God who loves him. He is now a son of the King of Kings and that he has no earthly idea all the joys that await him in this life and in the life to come!

It is with tears of joy I write this story...and know with confidence that it is far from over, but merely beginning!

I plan on seeing my brother Fred again when I return to Uganda.

I cannot wait!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dear Uganda...a letter to a land I love

Dear Uganda,


Thank you beyond words.

As in the phrase of the Mocha Club, "I need Africa more than Africa needs me."

You have changed me.

You have hosted miracles for me.

You have given me the most delightful, chocolate-skinned boy I have ever known.

We do not want to leave you...

                                                                 but the time is right, and for now we must.

I love your green leaves on the banana plants.

I love your well cared for roads.

I love your temperate weather.

I love your music!

I love your chapati.

I love your peanut sauce over steamed plantains.

I love your bottled Cokes!

I love your joy.

I love your stories.

I love your creative hair dos!

I love your welcoming nature.

"You are most welcome!" you say as I enter into a home or store.

I love your children.

I love your orphans.

I am so sorry for the pain you have. I want to stop it. I want to heal you.

I am sorry I come up short.

But I can pray with you, hope with you and work together with you to see God's redemption done in you.

I love your partnership with groups like Sixty Feet. I love that you know and trust them.

I love that you rule in the favor of legal guardianship so we may be blessed with this son of ours from your land.

Thank you. My heart is bound up in you.

Thank you more than all these words can say.

I will miss you.

And I will be back.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dairy Love to Uganda!

We've been blogging several of the things that have happened while we have been in Africa. But honestly,
there is NO WAY to tell it all.

However, I want to share some of the work that Brian did while he was here.

As many know, Brian is a dairyman. He operates a large (1,500 head) dairy operation in Ohio. Although he works in this small corner of our existence, he has a heart that goes out to the nations. He knew we were coming to Africa to adopt, but he could not pass up the opportunity to help out a few villages with his dairy expertise.

He spent two full days deworming cattle and goats and giving them an extra nutritional boost. I followed him around with the camera. (I preferred the safety of distance from some of these long horned fellows!)

We traveled on this footpath in a 4WD vehicle to reach the villagers!

Valuable tools to Brian's work!

This village man was a very happy, willing assistant!

"Open WIDE!!" It was funny, some goats whined and complained like toddlers...others said nothing!
Fortunately, deworming cattle is a topical thing now...

This should serve as a reminder to not ask Brian to give you your next shot!!
The goat hold!

A sweet boy who captured my attention while Brian worked on nearly 103 goats and over 50 cattle!

"You said you want to DE-WORM me??!?!?!"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crazy happy in LOVE!

We've had custody of our sweet son now for almost one week...
...and it's been a true JOY!

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