Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Updating our story!

If you have linked here from my fundraiser on A Charity Project
thank you for visiting!!

Here are some links you may want to read to get acquainted with our story!

I leave for Ethiopia on January 5th - arriving the night of the 6th, 
and meeting our new 5 on Ethiopian Christmas - January 7th! 
Melkam Genna, everybody!

I will be able to share photos of our kiddos once we pass court in Ethiopia,
but until then, just imagine 3 boys and 2 girls ages 9 down to 3,
and put enormous smiles on their faces while holding photo albums filled with 
pictures of our family and promises that we are coming for them...
and you've got an idea of how precious they are!!

We are blessed that you would consider donating a dollar per plane ticket home...
just $7 from a bunch of people can be blessed, multiplied and expanded to cover
our trip home from Ethiopia with our new kiddos!! 
Thank you for being a part of our story!!

Paul, Chrissy and a dozen amazing kids!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

...and that's when I started to cry.

I didn't think it was getting to me.

You know, not having my kids all here this Christmas.
I mean, there was never a chance they'd be home by today...
so I shouldn't have it in my head that it was ever a possibility.

But then this morning,
our two littlest girls were laying on the couch with Daddy,
talking about the new names for their brothers and sisters.

Daddy says,
"You know... Mommy is going to Ethiopia soon to meet your brothers and sisters!"

#5 says:
"Mommy's going to bring them home now!!?"

Daddy says:
"No, not this time..."

I'm in the kitchen getting ready for brunch with family
and listening to this conversation,
and trying to maintain my Christmas spirit.

she says
"Oh, that's so sad, Daddy! 
They has no Mommy or Daddy in Ethiopia... that's sad."


...and that's when I started to cry.

That's what it is...
mindlessly putting up 14 stockings and being
lovingly reminded by my husband,
"let's just put up stockings for the kids who are here this year, okay?"

...and that's when I started to cry.

Crap, this is hard.
Being here, them there...
not wanting to be apart from either bunch of kids...
Christmas is about family.
It's about love.
It's about warm-fuzzies and
crazy relatives and
husbands cooking strange things and
egg nog in Santa mugs and
cookie baking with the kids getting sprinkles all over the place.
It's about squeals of happiness,
hymns in church,
and softly glowing trees visible through windows.

It's NOT supposed to be about having nearly half your children across the ocean.

I leave in 12 days.
And I'm spending Genna in Ethiopia with my babies.
That's Ethiopian Christmas!
I'm not totally missing it...
and I know they don't know they are missing being here.

But I know.
And it hurts.

Merry Christmas, sweet babies.
Next year.
Next year there will be cookie baking,
and candy canes in hot cocoa,
and 14 stockings by the fireplace.
And I will tuck you in,
and whisper "Merry Christmas, sweet baby."

And OH how sweet it will be!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 for 10 (or : "But what can *I* do?")

ALL of my kids at Kechene have sponsors!
Thank you all!!
Are you a blogger who would like to advocate for these children by taking on your very own 10 Kids? Email JWilson@hopechest.org

Throughout the past few years, I have had this nagging prayer: 
"Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours."
He is faithful to answer prayers...
all of them and especially this one.

I remember hearing in my heart one night,
"okay, baby girl... I'm going to break your heart for what breaks mine, but it's going to hurt. I made it the first time and I will put it back together."

The things that Jesus breaks and puts back together are better than the original.

Then...we flew to Ethiopia to bring our littlest three home. 
Among the great scenic beauty and wonderful hearts of the people, we saw children on the streets, starvation, desperation, and pain. These are HIS people. His children. And they are hurting. 
I saw first-hand mothers sitting on the street with their children sitting in the dirt. A child coming to the window of our car and just standing there looking into my eyes - thrilled with a handful of peanut butter candies. 3 and 4 year old children collecting water from puddles with old plastic oil bottles. I saw starvation. I saw lepers. I couldn't believe what I saw. 

Broken. Shattered. Torn to pieces.

And then we got on a plane and flew home - broken for what we saw, but overwhelmed with the need.

Another blogger friend and upcoming travel buddy has begun working with Children's Hope Chest to sponsor kids at an orphanage. I've got my very own group of kids who need sponsors and I've committed to get them all sponsor families! 
Okay... I've talked a lot about the why from my perspective... read on to hear Missy's heart and learn about the kids you can encourage and love from afar!

Last night, my daughter fussed after I put her to bed, telling Mama that something wasn't right. I went in to check, and found a wet-diapered little girl who was trying to fall asleep in a big wet circle of spilled bottle, shirt soaked through.
I let Daddy deal with diapers and fresh PJ's while I handled the sheets.
 As I tugged off the wet ones, my heart sank. 
 I thought of all the big wet puddles on the crib sheets in the Enat Elam video, and the newborns with bottles propped up against blankets learning to self-feed... I thought of my own two adopted babies, waiting for me in a care center in Ethiopia, 
rocking themselves to sleep. 
 My babies. 
I'll be honest. I lost faith for a moment.
The immensity of the AIDS and orphan crisis finally did what it does; it punched me in the stomach and told me that anything I can do is not enough. As I scrambled to pull myself together and manuever crib sheets around bumpers, I prayed that God would keep my candle lit. I thanked Him for fresh sheets. I asked Him to handle the dark voice that did not belong to Him and remove it from my brain. 
(He did, because He does.)

I am battling that dark voice every day. We all are. The one that tells us that we are not big enough to make a difference, because the problems of this world are too overwhelming.
So we do nothing. And yet we have a responsibility as Christians. It's right here in black and white. Actually, it's in red lettering.

What EXACTLY does GOD say about our responsibility to the hungry? 
To those in Africa who are "sentenced to die" by starvation?
Well, it's harsh, and you aren't going to like it. The first time I heard these words on Daily Audio Bible, I was floored:
11 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death...
12 Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.
Soul-crushing, right? So what can we do? Where is the solution for this impossible situation? After reading this post by author Tom Davis, I read his book, Red Letters. I found an answer, amidst all of the statistics that reek of death... It lies within our five small barley loaves and two small fish.

The disciple Andrew asked: 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” John 6: 1-14
  The boy had faith. 
The disciples had statistics. 
Don't let Satan use statistics to trick you into thinking that you should not offer Jesus your small lunch because it won't make a difference.
Have faith. Be the boy.
Ready and willing to help? Confused about what to do? I understand. I am, too. I will never fully figure this one out. How about sponsoring one? How about being the disciple who tells a lonely child of God that they are not forgotten?

The benefits of sponsorship go both ways. You and your family can write letters telling that child that Jesus has not forgotten them, and neither will you. You can back those words with a year or more commitment to sponsor them in education and health care.

You get to watch God work. And He DOES.
  Want to see what your tiny fish and barley loaves can do when placed in the hands of Christ?
  Want to see Jesus feed the 5,000 all over again?

Do you want to be the one to hand over your lunch while everyone else stands around asking questions?

Do you want to see what He can do with your tiny fish...

And your 5 barley loaves?

Offer it to Him. (He still puts on a show.) Why am I doing this today, when I am sure we would all prefer a nice post about homeschooling or a walk in the garden? Because I have a 6 month old, 9 pound daughter...

who will not grow up sitting in the dirt begging for water, and a son who will never beg for food. Because I have prayed and searched for the right charity to point my readers to, and I believe in this one, because sponsorship programs allow you to impact one person's life in a way that can change the future. Any of these kids could have been ours. And I mean all of ours.

These are God's kids, and they belong to all of us. We must mark the lives of the lost with the love of Jesus Christ. We must TEACH them LOVE.

These photos are the proof of lives changed through Children's HopeChest
You can be the hero by doing something that will give you more joy than you have ever known.
You can tell them you remember.
You can be the one to love "the least of these." - Matthew 25:40 Today, you can a part of this miracle The blog hosting this guest post is joining together with 9 other bloggers to find 100 children their sponsor families.  10 Bloggers x 10 Kids = 100 children. 100 children loved, fed, remembered.

  The children pictured below were chosen specifically for this blog.   

Choose your child today, and email JWilson@hopechest.org with your child's name in order to request their sponsorship package:
1.  Embete  Thank you, Rita!

2.  Mikias Thank you Treible Family!

3.  Dawit Thank you, Bolton family!

4.  Aman Thank you Stacy K!

5.  Medanit Thank you Kim!

6.  Lidia Thank you Tisha!!

7.  Henok  Thank you, Mom!! (Jeanne)

8.  Ayenalem Thank you, Beth C!

9.  Muluken Thank you Melissa!

10.  Tamirat Thank you, Amber G!!

11. Saubers family now sponsoring -  Sentaheyu! Thank you, my friend!
(yeah, I know it's 11 kids, not 10. It's going to be okay!)

I promise you, this experience will bless you 100 times more that you could EVER bless these children.  $34/month = one child loved, fed, and remembered.
Are you a blogger who would like to advocate for these children by taking on your very own 10 Kids? Email JWilson@hopechest.org

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I've been quiet...

It's just what every obsessed, email-stalking parent fears...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Moving right along

I got an email yesterday
that had me smiling 
for quite awhile!

"your dossier was submitted to court today".


For those not fluent in adoption lingo...
this just means that our great big book of every important paper in our lives
has been translated into Ahmaric,
and they took it and logged it in with the court 
so that they can look it over,
and assign us a court date!

Things are different this time around.

We will have to personally appear in court.
(which means we are making two trips out of the country)

So...sometime within 1-2 weeks
we should get another email
letting us know when to be there the first time.

No, we won't bring our kiddos home this time.
That will be unimaginably hard, I'm sure.

I made this awful visual aide for your viewing pleasure!

So... as you can see... we are at the beginning of this messy timeline!
Prayers appreciated...
sometimes I'm scared out of my mind,
sometimes I am so impatient I surprise myself,
and sometimes I just feel totally inadequate.

Come on court date!!
I want to go meet my babies!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30

I have SO enjoyed reading other 30 Days of Thanks posts here and on Facebook!
Thank you so much to everyone who played along! I hope you were as blessed by it as I was!

Day 30: I'm thankful for Adoption.

I am a Christ-follower.
I know what the Bible says.
There's more to it than James 1:27.
There's more to it than what you can find in 
every verse in your concordance
that references "orphans".
You won't hear me say that all Christians should adopt.
There are plenty of other ways to "care for widows and orphans in their distress".

A few weeks ago,
we swore before a judge here locally
that we do agree to finalize the adoption of our little three,
that we would consider them as our naturally-born children,
that we would provide for them the same inheritance rights
as our other children, and that in the eyes of the law - 
there would be no distinguishing between the little three and our first four.

Today, it suddenly hit me how closely this parallels our own spiritual adoption.

We were lost,
without a future,
without hope...
and the Father chose us.

Before we could fully understand the significance...
He chose us.

Not making any assumptions about you... 
but I know that
I was the "hard-to-place child".
I was the one with the "difficult past".
I was the "older child".
I was the one "prone to 'acting out'".
I was the one with "attachment disorders".
He chose me anyway.

I was the Special Needs,
the institutionalized,
the one not expected to thrive.
He wanted me anyway.

I was the child born addicted,
the one with a long line of dangerous activities,
the one without much history on paper...
HE chose me anyway.

And you know what??
I'm the Reactive Attachment Disorder child most of the time.

He loves me anyway.

And I also know I'm not God.
Not even a little bit.
Not even close.
Before you see me comparing myself 
because we have adopted children and are adopting children...
it's not a comparison,
it's an example that God set forth 
way before agencies
and country programs 
were ever thought of.

Adoption is hard.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hurt by comments from friends.
I'd be lying if I said I am totally at peace about 
finding the money for the rest of the adoption expenses.

But I DO know that the Lord put 
our previous and our present adoptions on our hearts and
we sought wisdom, and we know we are on the path He laid out for us.

And just like everything else...
I don't always have to understand it completely
to know that He isn't trying to harm me.
He isn't trying to ruin our lives.
He knows I can't live up to His example of adoption.
But, whenever you seek to do something well,
you copy the BEST example you can find.

And that's why I am thankful for Adoption.
MY adoption,
by the Father,
who chose me,
loves me,
and wanted me...
in spite of myself.

"Yet not as I will, but as YOU will." Matthew 26:39

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29

So thankful for friends who
share life's journeys with us.
Friends who call out of the blue,
ones who make me laugh,
some I've never met who understand what it's like to
wait and wait and wait and wait...
and ones who love you
even when you are having a pity party
(they will even attend just to sit by you and listen).

I've got such great friends!!
Not sure how I deserve this...
but so thankful that they are there for me!

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 28

Thankful for the ability 
to wash clothes in a machine,
put things away neatly,
vacuum our nasty carpet 
with a machine,
plug things in that turn on,
and drive to a grocery store
to refill our pantry with plenty of food.

You just can't take these things for granted once
you have seen the way most of the world lives.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 27

Day 27

Still super thankful to have had this day yesterday!!

And SO thankful to be HOME and NOT in the van anymore!!
Now it's time to put stuff away,
clean out the van,
go grocery shopping,
and get back to the routine of our lives
after a fun week away!

Even though the kids did incredibly well on the trip!
They are awesome travelers!!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 26

Day 26:

First time seeing the ocean!!
So thankful to have this fun morning!!

Then later...
we got to visit and have dinner with one of my very best friends and her family!!
She lives in PA still so we don't get to visit often enough.
She's an incredible mom,
absolutely gifted hostess,
one of the only people to ever agree to
closing down the local T@rget with me,
and even though I have not stepped foot inside her house since
May 2008...
felt like I'd never left the moment after we hugged "hello"!
Oh, my sweet friend, I miss having you around!!
Yes, I totally stole this picture from her facebook page...
oh well. That's my sweet friend, Sarah and her family!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 25

Day 25:

Thankful to have the day to relax,
let the kids just be kids,
and play outside,
some hilarious attempts
at getting the 9 of us all looking
decent for a family photo,
and a very fun evening with my 
husband's parents, brothers and sister and spouses
sitting around playing hilarious games until
way too late!

It was such a fun night!

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24

Day 24

So thankful to be surrounded by family,
tons of cousins, 
plenty to eat,
a beautiful day,
and that this time next year...
I get to help my own 12 kiddos fill up their
plates and hold hands while we
thank God for our blessings!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23

Thankful for a safe trip to visit lots of family, getting to see people we have not had much time with in years, and for kids who travel like  they are professionals!!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22

Day 22:
Wow... it's almost Thanksgiving Day!!

Today I am thankful for
variety in life.

Okay, that's vague....

At our grocery store you can get any one (or all) 
of more than 7 or 8 varieties of apples all year long.

Cereal AISLE.
That should explain that one...
but seriously, there are like 30 different types of CEREALS.

 Looking at our children...
they are as different as they can be most of the time!
One loves to read,
one thinks reading is a form of purgatory.
One loves rice in all it's forms,
one other child thinks rice is toxic.
Some are peach, some are brown,
some have brown eyes, one has hazel eyes,
some curly hair, others with straight hair.

It may seem strange to be thankful for variety...
but how boring would it be if we were all the same,
had only one type of apples, 
one type of cereal,
and all believed everything exactly the same??

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

Day 21:

I woke up at 5am because of the 
massive thunderstorm outside.
Lightening strikes light up the bedroom,
thunder shaking the windows,
rain beating against the side of the house.
It was a big storm!

I thought about how thankful I am
that I have this house to keep us safe.
How thankful I am that we are not living in 
a tent by the river,
or huddled together in a shelter.

We are blessed
with much.

And people say "how will you fit 5 more kids in your house?!?"
So what if several kids share a room?
What's the big deal??
When did it become a right of childhood
to have your own bedroom with your own TV and computer?
When did it become tantamount to child abuse to have your kids in bunkbeds?
Or sharing a bathroom? Oh the horror!!
But, that's for another day.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Thankful for my sweet baby girl,
who helps out around the house
way more than I probably realize.

She's responsible,
funny and so smart!

This morning she took over my job 
while I was taking our oldest son to 
his Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
She got the little girls
applied Babycakes,
got them dressed for church,
and even fixed their hair!

She babysits so Paul and I can go out
to dinner every once in awhile,
and so I can run to the grocery store
without lots of little hands grabbing stuff off of the shelves.

She makes us laugh,
has great taste in friends,
and she's just gorgeous
inside and out.

We love you, sweetheart!!
Thank you for all of your help this weekend!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 19

Day 19:
I'm thankful that my tacos were too spicy
for me to eat last night,
because after only two bites,
I handed my plate to my hubby
to taste (since he loves super spicy food)
and he immediately said 
"those are flour tortillas".

(Insert swirl of emotions here:

And (also thankful that) we were out with 
my Mom and Papa and friend Natalie...
so my mom hands me 6 or 7 of these
pre-biotic capsules
which are AMAZING
and I drank tons of water
and fought off the urge to stab the
server with my fork
when he tried to apologize.

I didn't get super sick.
I was itchy all over, 
got really sleepy,
and felt drugged..
but didn't have to be up all night with 
the toilet.

That's a lot to be thankful for today!!

30 Days of Thanks - Day 18

I see my post didn't go through yesterday..

Day 18,
I am thankful for 
my sweet hubby who
could work from home today!

Even though he's working,
I can still talk to him,
see him around the house,
and we even get to run a few errands together!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17

Day 17...
I'm tired.
I just spent the past 4 hours going through bags and bags and bags of stuff in the attic,
sorting it by boy/girl,
pulling out the boys smaller-than-2T clothes for a family in need,
and decided...
I could clothe a small elementary school!!"

I'm blessed to not have to go major shopping for 7 (or 12) children at the start of every season.
I'm blessed to have friends and neighbors who give me bags
of stuff their kids outgrew that my kids think is AWESOME!
It's like Christmas day around here when I come home 
with garbage bags full of  "cleaned out my closets"

I wish I was more organized...
I wish The Container Store would show up
with a bull horn
and announce that they are coming to organize my life
into cute polka dot bins
with printed labels
on nice clean stainless steel shelves...

But until then,
I have a "Boys" label, 
a "Girls" label,
and two GIGANTIC piles of mostly sorted
bags of clothes underneath.

And I am thankful to know I don't have to go to a mall 
ANYtime soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16

These two little girls...
who LOVE to dress alike
and LOVE it when people think they are twins!
today at school was "twin day"!
The idea is to dress like someone else...
a teacher, a friend... plan ahead and dress like twins.

I think they are SUPER cute "twins"...
even if it's the "Irish" variety! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15

I'm thankful for Moby.

Maybe you don't know Moby...

He's our big white van.

How's THAT picture for a little perspective?!?? 

Moby may not be the shiniest giant van on the block...
or the newest...
or the prettiest...
but he fits our WHOLE family,
those home now,
and those who will be coming home hopefully soon!

Moby recently needed to see the doctor...
and he got new tires too!
So hopefully Moby is ready
for a long road trip!!

Thankful that we have paid-for vehicles,
and especially for Moby,
so we can all travel together!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 14

Tonight I took my 8 1/2 year old (#4) 
to the store for new shoes.
He picked out a reasonable pair,
sold me on their virtues,
and the price was good.

So I showed him another pair.
They were on clearance.
For half the price.

He says,
"Yeah, Mom... these would be great instead!
I can still run and play in these... and they look like good shoes!
Thank you for finding them!"

Oh my heart.

This kid.
I tell ya...
he can drive you up a wall batty one moment,
but he has the SWEETEST heart of any child I've ever known.

And so I bought him both pairs.

Because I wanted to bless my child,
and give him a sweet gift.
Not that he deserves it,
but because it makes me happy to 
do something he's not expecting,
that makes him smile.

And he thanked me profusely while we finished our errands.

Oh sweet precious boy,
I'm so thankful for YOU today!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13

Day 13: Thankful for a great turnout yesterday at the Holiday Market where I had a booth!

We were fundraising for the adoption travel and sold babycakes 
along with jars of homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup 
(for coffee or tea, or drizzling over whatever you like!) 
and fresh, hot cups of Pumpkin Spice Cafe au Lait that I made, 
with double chocolate chip biscotti... 
AND we had some Advent devotionals for sale too! 

I met some really great people, got to share about our adoption story, 
and sold a TON of stuff!! 
After expenses, I think we have about enough for one of the plane tickets!! 

I got the sweetest card from a wonderful woman who I met a couple of years ago. 
She knew I would be there and she had written the sweetest note 
and gave us a very generous donation towards our adoption! 
I mean, how blessed are we?!?  
So many people look at us like we were crazy, 
but the ones that truly "get it", they just bless my heart so much. 
This wonderful woman REALLY gets it, and so does her family! 
I am so thankful for you all. Thank you for loving our kiddos home! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 12

I'm thankful for my appliances.
I know, 
that's weird.

But last night I went to bed with my dishwasher cleaning up the
remains of the 6x batch of biscotti I made for the craft fair,
the washing machine cleaning towels,
the dryer getting things all dry and fluffy and smelling pretty.

I didn't have to heat the water for my shower over a fire,
I didn't have to boil it to drink it either.

I can bake cookies at a nice, even 350* without
once wondering if my power is going to stay on,
or if I need to add wood to the fire.

I plugged in the vacuum to get the carpets

I flip a switch and more food goes
down my garbage disposal than
a child living in many places in the world
was able to get to eat today.

I have machines doing my work for me,
making my life easier,
making my life prettier,
and making my life more fun...

and I'm thankful for that!

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 11

I'm thankful for my
friends and family
who support my
tell their friends how much they love it,
give babycakes as a gift,
and beg for particular scents to return!
It makes my heart happy when someone
emails me telling me how their
child's skin has healed,
their hair isn't breaking anymore,
or how nothing else has ever helped their
eczema like babycakes has!
I giggle when I get an order for 20 lip butters,
because I have 7 or 8 tubes all over my house too!
I love when a new friend says 
"your new honey butter makes me look like 
I know what I'm doing with my daughter's braids!"

And I love having all 4 burners on my stove filled up with
pots of babycakes products, counters full of waiting jars,
and orders to fill stuck to my fridge!

Thank you, babycakes friends, for blessing me
with your love for my products!!
Order your own babycakes HERE!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 10

Day 10
I'm thankful for my husband's job.

Yeah, he travels quite a bit,
and his crackberry is practically part of his hand,
but we pay our bills (mostly) on time,
we have food in the fridge,
and in the pantry,
and on the counter,
and in the couch cushions for that matter.

The lights are on,
I slept with my electric throw 
keeping me toasty last night,
my kids took showers this morning,
we have a nice home that keeps us safe and dry,
and two paid-for cars to drive around, 
one of which has seats waiting for our newest 5!
With gas in the tanks, too!

We live within our means,
don't need to rely on credit cards 
(which is good since we don't have any!!)
and have many things that we want, not just NEED.

His job has him doing what he loves to do,
working with some really great people,
and they really love him too!

We are thankful that he has this job, 
especially when so many people 
aren't doing what they love
or working in their field.

I love you, honey!