Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Oh my goodness, how on earth has it been so long since I last blogged?!  Ack!
I guess we've been busy: repainting some rooms in our home, finishing up the school year, and then I took a very quick, last-minute trip to California to surprise my dad at a retirement party some former students and staff of his set up.

But now I'm back, ready to hit the blogging ground running (or something) again. 

So much to get you caught up on--my sons' Kindergarten graduation, my wonderful time in California, and our adoption that is (perpetually) stalled and going nowhere again. 

Today I think we're going to try to make it to the park to meet up with some friends, and then I should probably get to the grocery store.

Because we need groceries.

Anytime I go out of town I feel completely out of touch.  It's nice in a lot of ways to essentially be "unplugged".  But then I come back and enter panic mode because I'm so disconnected.  Weird.

At any rate I hope you're having a great week.  Let's catch up soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

And the winner of the DVD is...


Who shared:

I have recently become much more pro-life and instead of giving something up for Lent this year, I chose to pray every day for pro-life causes, specifically the unborn, but also for a general culture of life. It was an awesome adventure.

Love that.  Love Katey's passion for a culture of life, and her commitment to pray for the unborn during Lent.  Katey please email me so I can get your address and send you your DVD!  Congratulations!  (The winner was chosen using a random number generator at random.org.)

The truth is, I wish I could give each of you a copy.

Sadly, I can't. 

But you want to hear something super duper awesome?  Right now, you can get the book Unplanned AND the DVD documentary for only $25--and $10 of your purchase goes toward three pregnancy care organizations (CareNet, Heartbeat International and NIFLA).  Wow!

I think it would be great to host a viewing party and discussion.  Or a book group.  I think this book and DVD should be in every church library.  Like I've said before, it's a story worth telling.

Thanks so much again for sharing your thoughts--I have so enjoyed reading them!  (And I'm still plugging away on my follow-up post that was lost to the void.  You know, amidst finishing up our homeschool year and catching up on laundry and painting.  Okay, I haven't started on the painting yet.  But I intend to.) 

And the Unite for LIFE webcast with Abby Johnson is TONIGHT, at 8 pm (all local times.)  I hope you'll consider checking it out! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In which blogging makes me lose my mind

Please allow me a moment to whine, friends.

Over something ultimately kind of dumb in the grand scheme of things.

I'd written a post, over the span of a couple of days, that I intended to put up last night.

Piggybacking on this.  Answering some of your questions.

I put the finishing touches on it, took a deep breath (kind of a sensitive topic you know), and hit "publish..."

Only to have it give me an error message.  And when I clicked back, my post was gone.

All of it.

And because of the Blogger outage (which clearly I did not fully understand), it hadn't been saving my progress as I'd chugged along.

It reminded me of losing an entire assignment I'd completed in AP US History my junior year of high school, because of a disk that got corrupted.  (Remember those disks???)  Then I was up until all hours of the night redoing it.  Good times.

Anyway, it's not that my words were anything special, but I'd invested a bit of time and heart into it, and the thought of having to reconstruct it is, well, daunting. 


One of life's little annoyances, to be sure.

At any rate, moving on to bigger and better things, this is the last day to enter the giveaway to win a copy of the DVD Unplanned, all about Abby Johnson.  I hope you consider leaving a comment to put yourself in the running!

And, I'm loving all of your comments, and I hear your questions, and I WILL get that post rewritten.  It just may take a little time! 

We attended a birthday party with sweet friends this morning, and have been lazy around the house for the remainder of the day.  Lazy for us amounted to playing games, doing chores, and discussing theology.  Oh, and trying to stay warm--it's COLD!  Sushi take-out date with Kevin after the kids go to bed tonight  (aka we eat Costco sushi whilst watching something random on the laptop) , and then tomorrow afternoon we get to go and spend time with more sweet friends.  Not a bad weekend, I'd say--even in spite of losing that darn blogpost!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Unplanned + giveaway!!!

Have you heard of Abby Johnson?

I recently had the opportunity to review an advanced copy of her new documentary, Unplanned.

Oh my goodness, it was wonderful.

If you don't know, Abby Johnson served for years as the director of Planned Parenthood in College Station, TX.  She sincerely believed she was helping women.

Then she witnessed an ultrasound-guided abortion.

And suddenly Abby began having second-thoughts about her career, and about abortion.

Eventually she walked away from Planned Parenthood.  For good.

Her story is positively fascinating.

One of pain, redemption, and TRUTH.

And everyone should see this documentary.

Because it is a story that needs to be told.

It is tragic, but not a downer.

There is sadness, but there is hope.


AND, guess what?  Tyndale House Publishers has said that I can give a copy of the Unplanned DVD to one of my lucky readers!

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment sharing how you've been touched by the Pro-life movement, and/or why you are interested in seeing the documentary.  Doesn't have to be long or exciting, and I will choose a winner using a random number generator at midnight on Sunday, May 15th.

Also, be sure to check out the Unite for LIFE webcast on May 17th at 8 pm (all local times), featuring Abby Johnson.  This webcast will serve to raise money for crisis pregnancy centers such as CareNet and Heartbeat International.  You can sign up to participate here.  And, be assured that if Abby Johnson is involved, it will be eye-opening, honest and powerful.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Donate to win!

Today is the LAST DAY to donate and sign up to win one of these great prizes!

People ask me all.the.time. how they can help orphans if they're not adopting.

This, friends, is how.

And, I know, sometimes giving money and making an online donation doesn't feel super glamorous or fun.


This is how families are preserved.

This is how mothers are able to keep their babies.

This is the key to alleviating Ethiopia's orphan crisis.

So, won't you consider heading over to Network for Good and making a donation to Lola Children's Home?  Maybe you'll even win a prize!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Quilt raffle for Lola

Taking a break from sharing about our time in Ethiopia to tell you about an amazing organization and an amazing raffle.

Lola Children's Home is an orphanage in Mekele, Ethiopia for HIV-affected children.

And they have just recently celebrated their one-year anniversary.
Lola has started three support programs this past year: resident, day care, and family sponsorship. If we all chip in and do our part, Lola can grow and serve even more children and families, and also provide outreach and support to mothers and birth families.
And that is huge.  Family preservation.  Providing resources so that families can remain intact is incredibly, unbelievably important. 
In celebration of Lola's first year, From HIV to Home (the wonderful organization that I am on staff with) is giving away this amazing quilt, as well as these other prizes:
(2) Starbucks Jonathan Adler limited edition (Red) travel mugs
a Starbucks (Red) gift card
our very last "embrace" necklace.
Which means that for every entry, you have five chances to win!  Woohoo!
To participate in the giveaway, simply visit the From HIV to Home donation page at Network for Good to make a donation to the Lola fund. 100% of donations to this fund go directly to the work of Lola Children's Home.  $5 is worth one entry (so $50 is ten entries!). Please be sure to note "Lola" in the designation box of your giving form and include your email address so they can contact you if you are a winner.
Because Lola is a new organization, they depend largely on word of mouth. If you share this info on your blog or website, together with a link to From HIV to Home's donor page, email Jennifer with the web address of your post--she will give you a free raffle entry!

The drawing will be held on May 7 - World AIDS Orphans Day.  And to learn more about Lola Children's Home, please visit their website at http://www.lolachildrensfund.org/.

Happy raffling!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Friends in Ethiopia

We had the amazing blessing of staying with some dear, wonderful friends during our time in Ethiopia.  Jonathan and Bekah, and sweet little Eva and Miles, are living there for the year doing some amazing humanitarian/missions work.  And they invited us to spend our week with them!  How lucky are we??!!

Let's just say that they showed us an amazing time, fed us fabulous food (including the best mangoes I have ever had or ever WILL have, sniff sniff), photo-documented and video-d us meeting our new daughters, introduced us to great people and great macchiatos...basically they made our trip what it was: unforgettable, relaxed, and productive.  (We also played us some cards.  And did some trash-talking.)

Travelling in a foreign country with a baby, where you don't know anyone, or how to get anywhere, can be daunting.  Our 2006 Ethiopia trip was hard for that very reason: we felt isolated, lost, and any time we ventured out we felt like fish out of water.  From the time our plane touched down this trip, however, we felt like we were returning to a wonderfully familiar place--and the main reasons for that were the wonderfully familiar faces greeting us there. 

Thank you to Jon and Bekah for your amazing hearts, hospitality, and generosity.  Words cannot express our gratitude.  The past year has been quite the roller-coaster, and your friendship from afar has meant so very much to us.  Our trip could not have been any better, and we are so blessed to call you friends!  And we can't wait until you're back in Denver!

***Note that we originally met these good friends three years ago through blogging.  Yes, blogging!  I'm telling ya, blogging is where it's at!  :)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Meeting a birthmother

Kevin, Mary and I--with a dog--just moments before meeting our girls.  Our sons are from this orphanage/transition home too. 

{There is so very much to share about our trip, and so I think I'll do a little at a time.  Probably in chronological order.  And while I can't share photos of our girls yet due to the fact that we have yet to actually pass court, nor can I in good conscience share photos of their birthmoms in this space, I'm including some photos of our time there in this post.  'Cause no one likes a post without photos!}

I mentioned before that we met the respective birthmothers of M. and T, the same day we met the girls.


I was so incredibly nervous.  Honestly, I just wasn't sure what to expect.  The girls had been relinquished long ago.  These women travelled all the way to Addis to meet with us.  What on earth would we say?

Mary was a celebrity.  Seriously.  Here she is, with me, getting lots of attention from the toddler class at Layla House.

And like I mentioned before, yes, most orphans included in the statistics we read about have at least one living birthparent/relative.  It sounds strange, but it's the truth.  I suppose it's similar to the US in that respect: we have so very many children in foster care, some adoptable and some not, and most of them have at least one living biological parent.  For some reason we don't call these children in our own country orphans, yet their situation is remarkably similar.

This phenomenon makes for all sorts of complex ethical questions when it comes to international adoption.  It's why a growing number of people and organizations are becoming concerned about how international adoption is changing the face of Ethiopia.  I've been pondering these things myself for years.  It's just really messy.  Because you can look at things from many different perspectives, and come up with many different answers.  And at the end of the day I do believe children belong in families, so if a child is living out their days in an orphanage, I think adoption is a valid solution for that child.  Especially if their country has no safety net or future for someone who grew up as an orphan.  Especially if they have a medical need or condition or situation that makes them particularly vulnerable.

Laundry drying in the Layla House courtyard.

So we met two women that day, each with a unique story but also with some similarities too.  Both women are widows.  Both are struggling to survive.  One seemed strong and capable in the midst of her brokenness.  The other seemed sad and ashamed.  Both felt utterly unable to parent, and yet each seemed to care for their child.  Interestingly, neither child was relinquished because of Down syndrome per se, although it definitely played a role in that these women were very concerned for the child's future and were desperate for their child to receive medical care and an education.  Remember that there is no place in most societies for children born with an extra chromosome, or for children who are visibly different.  There is shame, exclusion, even abuse.  Here in our country, it is manifested in a 92% abortion rate of Down syndrome pregnancies.  So like most things, it is hidden in the US beneath a veneer of progress and technology and (false) civility.  But in other places, these children are born and oftentimes shunned from their family and from society.

It was a precious time meeting the women who gave M. and T. life, but it was confusing and painful too.  Because children should be with their parents.  I believe this with everything that is in me.  Part of me wanted to cry out, "You could have kept your dear child...you seem to love them...they won't necessarily need a ton of interventions or extra medical care...they should be with you."  But then part of me also wanted to say, "How could you have given your child away?  How could you hand them over to government officials and walk away without knowing their future?  How could you possibly think that a life in an orphanage, or even with other people, is better than the life a mother can offer?  Why didn't you love this child enough to keep them?"

Like I said, confusing.  And painful.

Mary getting some more love.

I'm obviously still thinking through these things.  And to be honest, I will probably be processing this for a long, long time.  These questions are easy to ignore when there is no face, no name, no voice to go with the first parents of an adopted child.  We can conveniently pretend that this parent was too sick, or too desperate, to parent.  But when you look into someone's eyes, when you hear their story and see them hugging their little one goodbye, you have to face these questions head-on.

M. and T. were legally relinquished through a government office (that has nothing to do with our adoption agency) a long time ago, and by the time we met them, they were two little girls with no family, no future, no hope.  Both girls born with Down syndrome.  Sweet M. also bearing the label of Cerebral Palsy.  In a country with literally no resources or place for them.  I am not even certain that their birthmothers knew they'd have a chance to be adopted.  The women seemed exTREMEly grateful that the girls have found a family (relieved, even) and it was more than clear that this was their hope for their daughters.  Still, it was an incredibly emotional experience that has further cemented some questions in my mind about international adoption.  It's not comfortable, but then adoption should never be totally comfortable because it necessarily involves so much brokenness and loss and un-ideal-ness. 

As difficult as it all was, as hard as it was to watch both women break down in tears when speaking about their lives, it was also a true honor it was to meet the two mothers of the two sweet girls we are adopting.  This is a profound gift that we will forever treasure, and one that I am so grateful to be able to give to our two new daughters.  It is their story, and we hope to steward it well.


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