Sunday, April 29, 2007


Read a crazy book awhile back (Shelley recommends some great books!) This book was extremely challenging, convicting and inspiring for me. Shane Claiborne (the author, who founded The Simple Way) is living his life for God by loving those around him in the inner-city of Philadelphia. (The Simple Way is part of the New Monasticism movement).

This book, my trip to Africa, and some other stuff I've read/watched over the last year or so have resulted in a shift in my thinking. No one's reinventing the wheel or anything (there's nothing new under the sun, right?), but I have been forced to rethink some of my own values and attitudes. My concepts of Jesus, Christianity, church, and my life's purpose have been challenged. It's funny how we grow up with a certain idea about how something is, but then later the Lord shows us that we weren't as right as we thought we were. It's been sweet for us to talk through this stuff with Darin and Lara.

In thinking through the idea of consumerism, for example, I always end up with more questions than answers. What should an American Christian's life look like in this regard? What's an extravagance, and what's not? Is there a standard we should adhere to or does it not matter? If we have a finite amount of money coming in, how do we decide how much to give away and how much to spend? Do we buy all our clothes used, for example, and give the savings away to those in need?

I realize maybe some of this seems extreme in our culture and I guess that's yet another question, should it? Ever since seeing Ethiopia I think about some of this. About why I've been blessed with so much, while they have so little, and what that should mean for me. (So far I don't buy my clothes used, but I still feel compelled to at least think about it.) I can't save the world obviously, but I so want to "love God and love others". So I thought I'd do a few blog posts about it. I'm interested to hear peoples' thoughts on this.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gimme a break

Okay this shirt over at Urban Outfitters is ridiculous. I cannot imagine what the person was thinking who came up with this--obviously, they weren't. I guess they're trying to be funny (the other one available reads "Rehab Is the New Black". Lovely, adopting an orphan and rehab).

Personally I find the shirt utterly offensive and if I see someone wearing it I might have to let them know. How might this make adoptees feel? As if they don't have enough to process already. I guess one reason this ticks me off is, for someone to imply that my sons' adoption is trendy and cool, well obviously they don't know my kids' story. I can assure you there's nothing trendy about your mother having HIV and not being able to take care of you. There's nothing trendy about spending the first six months of your life in an orphanage overflowing with AIDS patients. Nothing cool about your first adoptive family deciding they can't care for you either.

I think a lot about how my sons will process their past, how I will share with them and when the time will be right to share the harder stuff--truth be told I'm scared about it. None of us wants our kids to feel pain, or sadness, or have to deal with difficult stuff. But for adoptive parents this just comes with the territory. So yes I do take offense when it is implied, whether tongue-in-cheek or not, that this is just a fad I'm into like neon colors in the 80's. These are my KIDS for goodness sake!

I'm emailing Urban Outfitters today to let them know what I think about their dorky shirt. I'd encourage anyone else with strong feelings about this to do the same! (Also, check out Mary's post on this topic--that's where I learned about the shirt, thanks for the heads up Mary!) Oh and apparently they're not selling any more online, but it's still in the stores.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

World Vision

I love this organization. I got an email from them today with links to some different articles, and wanted to share two of them.

This one talks about some of the Iraqi child refugees. Extremely sad. Whatever anyone thinks about our involvement in Iraq, as Christians we are compelled to care for those in need and this is truly a huge one, the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East in 50 years. One negative effect that war has is, the "us vs. them" mentality, the idea that Iraqi's are "bad" and we are "good". I'm grateful World Vision is stepping up to help and that they're spreading the word about it.

This article is by an HIV-positive Cambodian orphan. What strikes me about this story is that this type of thing is just "a day in the life" for millions of children around the world. And also that World Vision is making a positive impact and changing lives!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

All smiles and on the mend

Well today the doctor was extremely pleased with how Kaitlyn's foot is looking, and he says it's healing very well (though it'll take awhile to look "pretty" again). Hooray! She'll still need to finish her oral antibiotics (which occasionally make her throw up everything in her stomach, poor thing) and also will continue with the foot soaks and topical cream. Thanks to all for your encouraging comments!

AND, Friday evening, KAITLYN SMILED FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME! Who was her first smile for? Daddy, of course! Here's a goofy picture of her sweet smile on Saturday night.
(The other picture is of me and (three of) the kids watching "The Cosby Show" on Sunday night. We love that show!)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Long week

Monday night Kaitlyn was completely out of sorts, screaming and crying and kicking her legs, it was horrible. We took turns all evening walking her around, trying to console her. I got no sleep at all because she would only calm down if I was up walking her around. This was just not like little Katie; I assumed I must have eaten something that was causing her distress.

Well Tuesday afternoon she pooped all over her clothes (bummer!) and some of it got on her little slippers. As I took her left shoe off I nearly passed out--her middle two toes and the top of her foot were COMPLETELY swollen, red, blistered, the grossest thing I have ever seen! Oh my goodness! No wonder she had been so upset the night before! I called the doctor, spoke to the nurse who suggested letting it air out and soaking it and if it wasn't improving by the next day to bring her in. (I think she was just putting me off because that medical practice is completely overcrowded but that is another blog post! Frustrating!)

I felt HORRIBLE, absolutely HORRIBLE, that all night Monday night I was completely oblivious as to why my precious baby girl was so upset. Tuesday we went to the doctor (obviously it wasn't improving) and apparently her foot must've made contact with some nasty bacteria (how I have no clue) and got infected! She's now on oral antibiotics and a topical antibiotic and is getting two foot soaks a day (I told her fancy ladies pay lots of money to get their feet soaked). We went back to the doctor's today and he cut the skin on the blisters (yuck). We have to return to the doc's on Tuesday so he can check the foot again. Whew!

I'm so grateful she hasn't been in any pain since Monday night, poor thing. I feel like such a helpless mommy--sometimes it's all too easy to believe that I know what I'm doing, but this week I'm acutely aware that I am truly dependent on God. I find myself grateful for my family, doctors, medicine, and health in general tonight. Also grateful that God is watching over Kaitlyn (and the rest of my gaggle of children). Dealing with this and of course reflecting on the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, I am so glad that we can bring our cares and concerns to Jesus, and that even in trying times God is in control.

(A few things to rejoice in this week: the birth of my second niece, a great email from Lara, enjoying a good book, a fun evening spent with Troy and Becky.)

My new niece!

Ainsley Grace Heldt arrived today! Rachel and Mike (Kevin's brother) just had their second girl. Congrats to them and to big sis Aubrey!

(Can't wait to tell Anna, Yosef, Biniam and Kaitlyn that they have a new cousin!)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Started a new book

Just started reading Phillip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?", and trying to get into a good routine of time spent with God. I'm really undisciplined and not so good with randomly opening up the Bible each day, I do better with some sort of additional reading material to help guide me, but am not generally into "devotionals" as such where you fill in the blanks and stuff. I love, however, reading thought provoking books by authors I enjoy so I thought I'd pair a book with some Bible reading. So far I'm loving this book (read it years ago but wasn't too into it at the time, what was I thinking?)

What kind of things do you enjoy reading about God? Any good books/movies/music lately that really inspired, challenged or encouraged you?

Can I be discontent AND joyful?

Kind of a weird blog title but this is something Kevin and I have been thinking about lately. This can be a hard balance (for us) to strike sometimes. So many things are sad, broken, less-than-ideal in the world, everything from big stuff like forced child labor in Cambodia, to small stuff, like the way a child disobeys or an unideal life circumstance. As Christians we know life is going to be like this and we also know God wants us to help the suffering, etc.

At the same time we are to be filled with the hope and joy of the Lord! Does anyone else ever occasionally have a hard time trying to figure out how you (practically-speaking) maintain both? I'm not a melancholy or pessimistic person AT ALL, but I DO feel discontent over certain things. While I think we're SUPPOSED to be troubled by troubling things, I want to always be rejoicing in and trusting the Lord as well.

For example, some things I personally am not content with include: the many injustices throughout the world, much of the way Christendom (now that's a big word) operates, some of our own life circumstances right now (Kevin commuting, our lack of involvement in our own community). I've read some books (the Bible!, "The Good News About Injustice", "Reclaiming God's Original Intent for the Church", "The Shaping of Things to Come", "The Irresistible Revolution") that offer a different way of doing things, much of what I think is right-on. I always want to transform what I read and think into actions that are truly pleasing to the Lord; basically I don't want to stop at just being angst-filled over stuff.

So I suppose maybe it's about figuring out HOW to transform our thoughts, feelings, and ultimately convictions into action for Christ. I think we will always feel a tension on this earth because it's broken. So we put our faith and trust in God daily, praying that He will give us the courage to love others in a purposeful way. We also pray that He'll give us a spirit of contentedness--not with the way our broken world is, but contentedness in His love and grace and soveriegnty and the hope that is in Jesus. Because those are amazing things to rejoice in!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Some friends who are adopting

So we know three couples right now (in real life no less!) in the process of adopting. Mike and Kristen are adopting a baby girl from Guatemala, Troy and Becky are waiting on the referral of a little girl from Vietnam, and Josh and Stephanie have recently begun the process to adopt a little boy from Vietnam!

I'm always inspired by people who pursue God's call and who take a leap of faith. Kristen and I talked/emailed recently about how it's hard having unknowns, about trusting the Lord to work out all the details, stuff I think every adoptive parent processes through. The little girl she and Mike are adopting has Down Syndrome. They have two (adorable!) little boys already. I think their hearts are beautiful and I know they will be so blessed by their new daughter!

Hoping and praying God will always give me the courage to follow after His call on my life, no matter the cost! Thanks for inspiring me, friends!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Trying to "show up"--volunteerism and Pacific Pride

The last few years of my life have been spent learning that God wants me to "show up." I want our family to do God's work and to love with actions, not just words.

You don't have to look too hard to find the brokenness in your own community. I dropped off some papers at the courthouse several weeks ago and in my fifteen minutes there I encountered a guy in his early 20's: unemployed and had to pay child support for his little girl, an attorney picking up paperwork for three clients getting divorces, and a mentally insane woman walking down the sidewalk repeating the same few sentences over and over, complete with several four letter words.

I believe God wants us to help those around us, in our community, in addition to the needy all over the world. I think it's pretty sad that we don't do ANYTHING in Santa Maria, the town God has us living in--Kevin doesn't work here, we don't go to church here, we don't know anyone here (save the Gibsons, but I don't think they need our help. :) )

For awhile now I've been wanting to help AIDS patients. Obviously my capacity to help is limited by having four kids but I AM home all day; I figure I could make a meal or drop some groceries by--just a little something to help, that my kids could help with too. Interestingly, there is apparently only one organization (that I could find) offering assistance to those suffering with AIDS in our community, Pacific Pride. (For those who don't know, Pacific Pride is a gay/lesbian organization. The homosexual community is extremely active in the fight against AIDS.)

First off, I think it's shameful that the Christian community as a whole has not reached out more to help those afflicted with this disease. Second, I was unsure about volunteering with Pacific Pride. But I thought about it and decided that this organization's work with AIDS patients (operating a food pantry and delivering groceries to them, for example) is GOD'S work. SO I called Pacific Pride and left a dorky message on some guy's voice mail about what I wanted to do.

Well they never called back! You know you must be a real loser when you get rejected from volunteering! :) I did find an organization (not homosexual, but secular) in SLO County that takes volunteers, and I'll request to just help in Nipomo/Five Cities, but I'm bummed it's not Santa Maria, and I haven't contacted them yet. Truth be told I think it can be a blessing to volunteer with a non-religious organization. (Which is probably my only option anyhow since this is not a cause typically championed by Christians.) I think we should be willing to work side by side with people of other religions, ideologies, sexual orientations, whatever, to do the work of Jesus. A good picture of being "salt and light." I don't want to run from things that get into gray areas or that aren't all neat and tidy.

Anyhow I'm hoping something works out with this SLO County place. I am a TERRIBLE flake and procrastinator (and really need to get on the ball with this) but I want to be purposeful in how I live my life and how our family loves others. I'll post something more about this once something materializes!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A 3 year old's wisdom (and a morning in jail)

(Overheard this morning:)

Biniam: "Daddyyyyy! Daddyyyy!"

Anna: "Daddy's at work, boys!"

Biniam: "Why?"

Anna: "Because he needs to feed us!"

(Later, the kids are playing some sort of pretend game about going to jail, orchestrated by Anna of course.)

Anna: "Yos, let's go get in jail."

Mommy: (after a few minutes) "Are you guys in jail? How come?"

Anna: "Yes. Because we need to get money!"

How does she know what jail even is? Why are they wanting to be criminals? Kids are the funniest!

(Just moments earlier, no doubt in honor of the recent holiday...)

Anna: "Let's go rise from the grave! Come on guys!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Girl time and blogging

This is Jeannett and me last Thursday night about to leave for a friend's house to celebrate someone's birthday (with Kaitlyn in tow.) Jeannett is my lone friend in Santa Maria--everyone else I know lives farther north. But she's a great friend so it's okay if she's the only one around!

Anyway it's always fun to get together with just the girls. I always look forward to baby showers and get togethers like this!

For a long time the only blogs I visited were of people I didn't know "in real life". But within the last month or so several of my girlfriends have started blogs! Anyway that Thursday night we were talking about our blogs and how we're all so addicted to reading them--this cracks me up! I remember when I didn't know what a blog even was, and when I thought people who had websites were dorks. Now I get so bummed if a friend hasn't updated her blog in awhile! I guess I'm totally hooked on this blogging thing!
I am TOTALLY excited 'cause Lara, one of my best friends who is currently living in Florida and who I wish would move back :), has a blog now! Woohoo!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter

Went to church, came home and had a yummy meal of homemade lasagna with my mom and dad (that my mom prepared). The kids got Easter baskets from Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma brought all the stuff to dye Easter eggs and the kids (and I!) had a blast!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Off to Marian (Labor story finally continued!)

So I have my babies at the Catholic hospital here in Santa Maria, Marian Medical Center. Jeannett and I have a running joke about this and about how I don't give birth at French Hospital up in SLO (apparently the most desirable hospital in the area, although incidentally the same company that owns Marian, Catholic Healthcare West, bought French a year or two ago!)

We arrived at the hospital, I checked in and we all headed up to Labor and Delivery, which was completely crowded (ladies in Santa Maria have lots of babies, so we fit right in!) Kevin was pushing the boys in the double stroller and I had Anna in the single stroller. After I returned from the bathroom, urine sample in hand, Anna asked what it was. "It's peepee," I told her, to which she replied, "Don't drink it." What would I do without my three year old daughter advising me during labor?!

They checked me (is this not the worst thing ever?) and I was dilated to 3 cm and having contractions every 4 minutes or so. My doctor had made a note on my chart that regardless what time it was or whether he was on call or not, that he'd be willing to come in to deliver my baby if I wanted. Huh? Not sure why he was wanting to do this, as normally after hours his associate delivers. The nurses asked me if I wanted them to call my doctor in and I said yes. (Dr. McGhie just cracks me up and he delivered Anna, so I wanted him to deliver this time too.) Turns out he was eating out at a restaurant but promised to come as soon as he was done.

Meanwhile my parents showed up and took the kids, to bring back to our house. For some reason it was really sad saying goodbye to Anna, Yosef and Biniam, and I missed them like crazy during my entire labor--must be the mommy hormones or something. Kevin and I hung out in the room, watched TV, and played cards. Okay well I really wasn't watching the TV because I was in pain, and the card game was ridiculously slow-going because I kept having to stop during contractions, but Kevin enjoyed the TV and the card game, probably because he won.

Dr. McGhie arrived, broke the rest of my water (apparently my water was leaking, but hadn't fully broken), and said he'd be back in awhile.

The contractions got more intense after my water was broken, and that show Everybody Loves Raymond happened to be on. I was having a HORRIBLE contraction, and all of a sudden I heard Kevin break into this HUGE LAUGH at some line on the show! "Could you NOT laugh when I'm in horrible pain?" I said angrily, through gritted teeth. (Not to worry, that was the only time I got mad at him during the ordeal!)

Yet again, to be continued...but first some pictures.

Here is the HORRIBLE chair provided for Kevin to sit in!
Look at those puppies, they really hurt!

Me and Kev

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dads rock

I love the relationship that Kevin has with each of our kids. I know dads typically have the reputation for not being available to their children or whatever, but I love how Kevin comes home with such a fresh perspective each and every day. (Especially since by 6 pm my nerves are about shot!)

He loves reading to them, planning fun movie nights for them, and coming up with funny things like "peanut time" (initially he started this as a ruse to push back Anna wanting a snack right after a meal. He'll set the timer and when it goes off, that means it's "peanut time", and the kids can have some peanuts.) They LOVE this!

It's also pretty great because he's always up for going it alone with the kids if there's something I'm wanting to go do. Tonight I'm going up to SLO to celebrate a girlfriend's birthday (and I didn't RSVP, oops--sorry Lindsey!). It's never an issue and it never feels like I'm having to "line up a babysitter." He's just Daddy and I know the kids have a blast doing stuff with him that they don't do when Mommy's home (like blaring music for example!)

Anyway, I think dads are awesome and have so much to bring to the table. I'm especially grateful that Kevin's such a great daddy!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Daddy's fault

So if you hear sweet little Anna singing Aerosmith songs at the top of her lungs, that would be Kevin's influence. He really likes Aerosmith and apparently now, so does Anna. She likes to sing some song called "The Other Side" or something like that(?)

(Incidentally I got out of the shower the other day to discover Kevin and the kids blasting an Aerosmith CD, dancing and singing. Like any (neurotic) mom I insisted the music was too loud and how would Kevin be able to hear the baby if she was crying. To which Kevin replied, "Well when else am I going to blast my music?" Also, note that Anna is wearing lipstick on her cheek. Sometimes when Mommy puts on makeup, Anna sneaks some for herself. So apparently our three year old is listening to Aerosmith AND wearing makeup...)

My boys

I'll be honest and say I never envisioned myself being the mother of boys! Before having kids (and even after Anna was born) I always pictured my children as little girls, and even now I can't picture myself with an itty bitty newborn boy.

And as you know, I am the mother of not one but TWO boys! They are sure a lot different from girls--they're less emotional, they love to roughhouse and yell, they love playing in the dirt. (Of course they also enjoy wearing Anna's purses and dress-up shoes...go figure.)

Monday I took the kids (yes, all four!) to the park. It was lunchtime at the neighboring jr. high school and the basketball courts were crazy with activity; every single hoop was in use and it occurred to me that someday MY two boys are going to be teenagers shooting hoops with their friends. This really made me nervous!

I want my sons to grow into courageous, compassionate, responsible, respectful men. How do I impart these values to Yosef and Biniam? Maybe the father plays the primary role in this, and if so, what is there for me, the mother, to leave with my sons? I guess I'll figure this out as I go!

In the meantime, I can't wait for the day when I'm cheering at their football or little league games, or for the day when they listen to really loud, annoying music and try to be "cool."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Little things

About a month ago I discovered that one of Anna's top front teeth had turned gray! I completely freaked out and fortunately my close friend Becky is a dental hygienist so I was able to ask her about it the very evening we first noticed it, at a mutual friend's birthday dinner. Becky assured me it was very common and that most likely Anna had fallen, bumped her tooth, and so the nerves in there were damaged. She said it shouldn't require any treatment.
Even though I was grateful it wasn't something worse, I felt so sad that my little girl would have to live the next three or so years with a gray front tooth! (I am one of those people that would far sooner pay for braces/tooth care for my kid than college or other important things. I think people should be able to feel confident in their smile!) SO, I started praying that God would somehow heal the tooth and make the gray go away.
Well, the gray fully faded and the tooth regenerated itself! I know all of this seems silly, but I think all too often I forget to be thankful for the little things. My dear friend Lisa's blog is called "it's the little things" and I love that!

Monday, April 02, 2007

My inspiration

As you can see I have settled on a new name for my blog and also changed up the template/colors. I figured it was more than time for a change and I wanted a title that reflected something about my life (the fact that it's about the Heldt family is really a given!)
When Kevin and I were first married we lived in Santa Barbara and attended a great church. One Sunday there was a special guest speaker giving the sermon, Gary Haugen (that's a picture of him.) We'd never heard of this guy before but he is the head/founder of International Justice Mission (IJM.) His talk profoundly touched and changed our lives. (Before founding IJM this guy was the attorney that led the United States' investigation of the Rwandan genocide. Insane.)
For probably the first time ever we began to care about and grieve over what was happening to young girls in Cambodia and to the millions of hungry people in Africa. For the first time our eyes were opened to the fact that God calls US (as in you and me) to seek justice, help the oppressed, care for the widows and orphans.

One of Gary's main points was, God wants us to "show up." He'll work the miracles, He'll provide a way, we need to just allow Him to use us to do it. This really stuck with us. Crazy to think that as the result of this guy speaking at our church our lives are different today.

We just recently watched this DVD (thanks Troy and Becky!) that followed Sara Groves' trips to Rwanda and also to the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Incidentally she has a song called "Just Showed Up" that really resonates with me. I'll post more about that another time.

THUS the new title of my blog. I don't want to sit idly by, I want my life to reflect the love and beauty of Jesus. I want our family to have the faith, conviction and courage to show up.

So uncool

Okay so I am completely "out of the loop" on a lot of popular things. (My dad is a 6th grade teacher and will ask if I've heard of such-and-such band or some rapper his students like and I will never have heard of them. This makes me feel old!)

WELL, yesterday afternoon after getting home from church, eating lunch and putting the kids down for naps I went out to Target and Kohls. Kohls was having a big shoe sale and there were all these shoes with skulls on them! I've seen these skulls on clothes before and I'm wondering, why skulls? Does anyone know what the deal is? Are these "in" right now or something?

Hopefully someone can put this mystery to rest for me!

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