Saturday, August 27, 2011

another good option to help with the African food crisis

Hi friends,

This is Shonda from God Will Add.  Chrissy has kindly let me take over her blog to tell you about an awesome Baby Shower like none other.  A couple of my friends have teamed up and we're trying to raise funds for an organization called FOVC.  They help provide aid and hope to the immediate areas where our kiddos are from, an area that has been hit hard by this horrible famine.

Shameless plug:  Will you hop on over to my shower?  I promise I won't make you smell mystery diapers and  no I won't let you wrap toilet paper around my abdomen.

For $13 FOVC can feed one starving child for one month.  So far, this shower has raised $710.  If you're amazing at math like myself, you know that 54 kids who didn't have food today, will have food tomorrow and for the next month because of the generosity of a select few.  Wow!  Can we make it 100 kids?  Will you please help me spread the word? 

Of all the great charities out there, why have I chose to rally behind FOVC?  A few simple reasons:

1) There are a lot of other great charities that are working to fight this famine, and I (despite my cynicism of big organizations) have supported them.  But FOVC is the only NGO working directly in the areas my boys are from, and where their first families still live.  Even if I liked nothing else about FOVC, this one simple fact would make me want to support them.  Thankfully, there are lots of other things I like about them:

2) They are a very small grassroots organization and very conservative with their money.  All their workers are volunteers, and they do all their traveling on their own dime, which means all the money we give goes directly to feeding the kids and helping their community fight poverty with long-term goals in mind.

3) I have a close friend who has done aid work with them in Ethiopia (and is on her way back in a few weeks), knows many personal details about how they operate and spend their money.  She's a Dave Ramsey fiscal conservative like myself, and she fully endorses them.  They have an independent bookkeeper who verifies that over 96% of the funds go directly to Ethiopia.

4) Directly from the president of FOVC:  "We have an amazing team of volunteers! Our board members and officers (if I do say so myself) are doing outstanding work! We spend a lot of time and effort educating ourselves on best practices of economic development (it's what my husband does!) and strive to implement every program using best practices. This means we empower, not enable. Every effort we undertake is aimed at offering long-term sustainability, success...and HOPE

Have I convinced you they're great?

Click here and support them:

And then (this part is optional), click here and tell MB how excited you are about his arrival into our family.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I read a lot of adoption stories.
A lot of them.
It intrigues me what motivates other families to bring children into their homes, what their process looks like, how they meld together once home, the struggles and successes of their journeys and their similarities or differences to ours.

I have been asked quite a few times lately about adoption in general, about getting started, and about what to think about ahead of time.

My biggest warning isn't about birth order, agencies, country programs, fear of social workers, or even attachment.

My biggest warning has been the spiritual attacks that inevitably come.
Honestly, friends... I think the other issues are workable. You can ask friends what agency they used. You can read review websites, discern which country program is best for your family, read tons of books on attachment, and scrub your baseboards before your social worker visits (or, not...).

But there is no amount of preparation or planning that can effectively ready your heart for a spiritual attack.

Know why?
Because the Enemy strikes at your heart.

He knows your fears... he put them there.
("For GOD has not given us a spirit of FEAR, but of power and love and a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7)

He knows your weaknesses and exploits with half-truths.
("Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" Ge 3:1)

He wants you down, depressed, sad and deflated.
(The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. Ps 143:3)

He wants you dead.

(Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1Pet.5:8)

In adoption, there is loss and redemption.
There is pain and there is joy.
I am not discounting the difficulties along the way, or negating the grief that our children deal with. Those things are very real.
What I AM saying is that orphans are close to God's heart.
He cares for them.
He cares for the lost, the lonely, the desolate, the depressed, the unworthy and the unloved.
God has a plan for their lives just like He does for my life and for yours.
You may be part of that plan- or a part of the plan of those who are making them their children.

I have said it before, but when you step out in obedience to God, you engage the Enemy.

He comes to steal, kill and destroy.
He is the father of lies.
He is sly and he is charming.
His lies look like truths that came from your own thoughts.
He steals trust, faith and belief.

Step out in obedience to God in an adoption...
you might as well set off a flare letting him know where you live.

He does NOT want children in Jesus-loving families.
He wants them to feel unloved and to believe that they are unworthy.
He wants them to be angry at God for making promises such as "I will not leave you as orphans... I will come to you".
He wants them to stay waiting in an orphanage somewhere with no hope.

So what does this look like?
How can you begin to prepare?

Be ready and expecting the attack.

Appliances will go out,
cars will suddenly need expensive repairs,
you will get a bill you weren't expecting.
He attacks your finances because it affects your trust that God will provide the needed money to bring your children home.

Be in prayer.

You and your spouse will suddenly be irritated by every little thing the other one does.
The kids will forget all their manners and maybe even get in trouble at school.
Your friends will leave or betray you and your family will seem distant.
He attacks those around you to make you doubt that you can handle the changes coming your way. He wants you down and depressed so you can make big decisions in that frame of mind.

Ask friends and family to pray for you too.
You won't catch every flaming arrow shot your direction. 
Some will be direct hits when you weren't expecting it.
A phone call that brings you to your knees...
Sudden changes or bad news from your agency...
A job crisis or financial hit.

Pray for strength, wisdom and fierce resolve.
In the middle of the storm threatening your family, your marriage, your children...
do not be afraid to get ANGRY.
The Bible is clear that we have the power within us to resist Satan.
("So place yourselves under God's authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you." James 4:7)

Be strong and courageous, identify it for what it is, and be encouraged that if you weren't on the right track, you wouldn't be drawing any attention from those who would thwart those plans.
("Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Josh 1:9)

And make sure you journal your experiences.
Someday you will look back on this and see a very clear picture of God's divine protection and providence in your life!

*Edited to say: 
Here's what we have been facing at the Injera and Chocolate Gravy household, within the past 2 weeks:

  • Blown Air Conditioner Compressor on the big van
  • Power Steering went out on the other van
  • Door to the house from the garage that needs to be taken off and repaired because if "shifted" somehow
  • Shower leaking onto the kitchen table
  • Washing Machine leaking... still trying to figure out that repair
  • Oldest child with a concussion from a skateboard accident
  • #5 to the radiologist for a hurt foot that looked broken
  • Arguing spouses
  • Defiant children
  • Friendships tested
  • Schools not working with us on placement
Therefore, we must be doing something right. 

Blessings to everyone who has shared this post, shared their hearts through email and comments, supported and encouraged others with these thoughts... 
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Eph 3:20: )

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Would you be one of my 5?

guest blogger: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5
photos courtesy of Cate Turton / Dept. for International Development

First, thanks to            for allowing me to post on her blog today! Today, 25 bloggers, including this one, are standing with me to Ask 5 for 5 for Africa. Here's why....

I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn't sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone.

A malnourished child in an MSF treatment tent in Dolo Ado

Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me.

And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can't imagine what it's like, but I have to –I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there any food there, and don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

Malnourished children, weakened by hunger

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!

You’ll receive updates on just how your funding is being used to help save lives affected by famine in East Africa. I'm amazed at how much we've raised already -- over $7,000 in just four days! We blew through our first 3 goals in just 3 days and are well on our way to $10,000 and beyond!

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook to stay updated too!
I'm also looking for 100 bloggers to stand with Ask5for5 to spread the word during Social Media week, September 19th - 23rd. If you're interested, email me,

Extra food for every child under five

Thanks! Please donate and email your friends right now--don't wait for a calmer moment, because if you're like me, other demands inevitably crop up and you won't get to it. A child's life hangs in the balance, but you can help save her!

Friday, August 19, 2011

My first baby.

My first baby.
8lbs, 2 ounces
of adorable perfection.

He was the one that first
called me

and the first to teach me about
really super fun stuff like
cloth diapers,
then not,
footsie pajamas,
how far shattered glass can travel...

And he was wonderful.

Today he turns 15...
which makes me
sad, but proud.

That sweet baby boy is a big kid now.
He started High School this year.
He is reading the Driver's Handbook.
He is taking on more responsibilities,
hoping for a job,
and saving for a car.

But I still see him like this:

Which makes it hard to say things like:
"sure you can go take your driver's permit test."

But he's such a good kid...
all the parents tell me how respectful he is,
how much they just love him,
and how he is welcome in their homes any time.

I'm very proud of who he is becoming,
the values he lives by,
and the choices he makes.

He's still my baby boy...
even at 15.
Did I mention he's a great big brother, too??

I love you, kiddo!!
I hope you have had a wonderful birthday!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1st day jitters

I'm sure you know how it is.
I don't need to describe this in full detail...
but I will anyway.
Because it's my blog and I can write whatever I want.
So, there!

The first day of Kindergarten.
Can't sleep the night before...
tummy all in knots...
disinterested in breakfast...
making sure the hair is just right...
getting all the supplies ready WAY ahead of time...
feeling like you might cry or puke, or both...
Wanting to turn around and go home as soon as you arrive to school...

And I'm sure the girls were nervous too... on some level.
Because THAT was ALL ME.
This morning.
The first day of Kindergarten.

Oh, just punch me in the stomach next time instead, okay? Ugh...
It's painful!

So here is what I would say to my girls:
(if they were all mushy and sappy like me... and if I could complete a grown up thought without being interrupted a hundred times to explain what I mean.)

Sweet precious baby girls,
Oh my goodness I am so proud of you!!
You have been super excited to start school! You are so excited to become "big girls" like your older sisters and incredibly ready to ride the bus to school.

But, babies... I'm just not ready!! As I fixed your hair and helped pick out your clothes, I just kept thinking about how no one had better be mean to my girls. Oh, woe to the bully that calls you a mean name or refuses to play a game with you because they took a look at your gorgeous selves and just decided they didn't want to be around you.

It's just not fair that I've had you for just one short year and now that season has just abruptly come to a stop. I remember those days this time last year when you would wait for the bus to bring your brothers and sisters home and I remember thinking it was so cute how you wanted to go to school too... but now that day is here and I am just so sad that the days go by as fast as they do!

I walked you to your classrooms today, as slowly as I could, and helped you unpack your supplies - but you didn't really need much help. I helped you pick out a seat, next to a girl who looked really nice and friendly... but you didn't need me to lift you into your chair or help you open your crayons. You ARE big girls now and no matter how sad I am today, I am SO proud of you!! You have grown so much this year! You have learned so much more than a whole new language - you have learned to be a part of a family, to be little sisters and to have friends. I know you are ready for school, sweet babies... it's just me that's not ready. Mommies usually get 5 or 6 years to be ready, and I only got one. So if you see some little tears in my eyes while I am smiling and listening to how much you love your class and how nice your teacher is... Mommy is gonna be okay. It's just hard to watch my sweet babies getting big faster than I can keep up.

I love you, girls...
I just know you are going to be AWESOME Kindergarteners!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thirty ONEderful flavors, and three questions.

My Granny tells the story of coming to visit my family and taking my sister and I to get ice cream when we were very small... probably 2 and 4 or so.
It goes something like this...

"We would walk down to the ice cream shop for a treat with both you girls about once a week. We would walk in the doors and Melissa would point and say "bubblegum!" or "pink!" almost immediately. But NOT Chrissy! Oh no sir! Chrissy was having a come apart trying to decide what flavor to get! 'I don't KNOOOOOWWW which one to GET! I can't decideeeeee!!!!"
(In my defense... they have like 15 different types of chocolate.)

The story gets more dramatic depending on who is retelling it... but it almost always ends with me crying and throwing myself on the ground in an apparent fit of utter confusion and indecisiveness.

This is not an uncommon theme in my life.

Paper or plastic? (Kill a tree or choke a dolphin??? How do I choose between those two?? Where are all those reusable bags I have?? I know I have them... oh, wait... that's where I keep the unmatched socks! Grr! I hate matching socks....ughhh.... fine...PLASTIC!)

Naming our children was always a major months-long conversation where as my hubby would have just gone all George Foreman on them and named everyone Paul.

What's for breakfast? What's for lunch? I don't know, what do YOU want?

I tend towards indecisiveness.

So, one day in a rare clouds-parting, angels singing the hallelujah chorus kind of a moment...
I decided that there HAD to be a way to weigh out those important decisions in life.
You know... the ones that actually matter??
Adoption comes to mind... but then, that's me.

One day a few years ago when we were seriously trying to make a decision about a major change I was just about begging God for an email or even an Priority Overnight delivered letter just spelling it out for us!!

That's when the cloud-parting experience took place.

And I believe He gave me a fool-proof check list... just for me... but that I will share with you!

1. Can you back it up with Scripture.
     Now, I'm not saying it's okay to go through the Bible and pull out one little verse and say you have Scripture backing your plans up. That's just wrong on a LOT of levels. But if your decision would mesh with a theme in scripture - say, loving your neighbor, giving to others, caring for people, taking care of your family... then you can check this one off with a YES.

2. When you pray about the situation, do you feel peace with your decision?
    Again, this has to be between you and Him because you KNOW if you are feeling at peace about something and no one else is going to be able to determine this one for you. However, if you are honestly seeking to make the most wise choice for yourself and your family, you will earnestly seek wisdom from the Lord and listen for the peace He gives you in your circumstance.

3.  Would it please Jesus?
     This is the fail-safe in the plan. You know what would please the Lord and what would not. You know in your heart because you feel it and you just know that you know.

Here's the reason why I think these questions work:
It involves each aspect of the Trinity.
God the Father through His Word, The Holy Spirit through prayer and waiting for peace (fruit of the spirit), and Jesus - by seeking to please Him!

It's not a magic trick... but it really helps my hubby and I to decipher Good from BEST in our family and in our decisions.

Try it some time...
you may be surprised! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

525,600 minutes

That's the amount of time since we got home from Ethiopia with our babies!
Well... approximately.
That's one full year.
Can you believe it?
I know it seems like yesterday to me sometimes...

like today.

Meeting their new sister!!

Waltz down memory lane by going up to my Most Popular Posts tab and reading our travel journal,
Or... you can just skip to the photos!

September 2009....

March 2010...

August 2010...

And Summer 2011....
playing dress-up with her sisters!

Then there's #6...
September 2009---

March 2010....

August 2010....
<---ignore super tired Mommy

And Summer 2011....

And then there's the baby boy!

September 2009

March 2010...

August 2010....

<---such a cheese ball!

Summer 2011...

Oh, my babies... 
I am just so happy you are OURS!!
Happy Family Day!!
I love you super big!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ethiopian adoptions

This is one of those rambling posts that's meant for someone out there reading it...
and I don't know who...
so humor me.

Have you heard this?

"There's no way I would adopt from Ethiopia right now. It's too scary." 
Yeah, *I* said it.

And you know what else I said?

"I would not adopt from Ethiopia again because I could never trust my agency, the process, or the ethics surrounding my child's relinquishment."

But here's the problem with these statements.

There are still children there who need families.
There are still good agencies out there who advocate for the children FIRST.
There are still many, many children out there who are truly orphaned, and who truly have no other hope than international adoption.

How can you tell one from the other?

Well, here's where it gets sticky.
I believe with my whole entire heart that if you pray fervently about this decision, you will NOT be led astray. I just believe it.

But then,
I am a Jesus-follower.
     I believe He is who He says He is.
           I believe that He guides our steps and lights our paths if we seek Him.
I also believe it doesn't always look the way we think it will.
I also believe there are plenty of families out there who are also Jesus-followers who have had HORRIBLE experiences in their lives, with their adoptions, with their families, with whatever.
We aren't God's quarterbacks... we get tackled by the world's crap all the time.

Here's what I do know.
If you feel the Lord calling your heart to Africa,
and you know your family qualifies for Ethiopia,
and you would adopt from there "if ____ was different",
and you are letting fear drive your heart...
then you aren't listening to the still small voice within you, guiding you, and gently prodding your heart to just
Let Go.
Have Faith.
Fall back into the arms of safety.

For those of you caught up in the junk right now - closures, transfers, paperwork messes, deception and worse...
I pray that you are able to feel some peace today.
Know that the powers at work over that type of chaos are NOT the powers that control this world.
I've seen it before and I KNOW that I know that I know that anything is possible.
And sometimes you get disappointed.
But He is still very, very good.

So, please... make an informed, educated decision... don't allow fear to control your life.
Be wise, use your God-given intelligence to make a good decision, but sometimes where He points you makes NO sense to the rest of the world.
And that's okay too.