And Other Real Life Happenings

Our life loving others, serving God and selling all we own to move to Africa.

Friday, December 31, 2010

...Greater Than The Universe

Drew and I have received the question a lot, especially at the beginning of the adoption process. "Why are you adopting?" A huge reason for me is I have ALWAYS wanted to just seems like a natural thing to me. Why wouldn't you want to give a child who had no home or family a home? I remember when I was about 10 begging my parents to adopt another brother or sister! But, another reason for Drew and I since we are believers is that we realize it is part of God's design. I know every family is not called to adopt...but I believe that if you follow Christ you are called to do something! Here are just SOME ideas...
Call your local Department of Child and Family Services and see how you can help. Most child protective service branches are overwhelmed with the amount of children in the system. Some counties have an “adopt-a-social-worker” program where individuals act as “finders” to help with family preservation. For example, if a social worker is trying to keep a child in a home where there is inadequate provisions (i.e. a crib, diapers, formula), the “finder” would assist with finding donations that match the family’s need so that the child is not removed. Become a CASA worker - Court Appointed Special Advocates are community volunteers who act as a voice in court for abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers get to know the child and speak to everyone involved in the child’s life, including their family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers, and others. The reality is that social workers do not often have the time to do this, so judges rely heavily on the information they gather. CASA volunteers commit to a child until the case is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home. Become a respite care provider - Respite care is the short-term care of a child which enables foster parents to take a break. Some children's needs require round-the-clock intensive care and parents need some time away to recharge. Sometimes respite is provided so that foster parents can take a vacation (most foster children are wards of the court and cannot leave their state). Foster parents cannot simply leave their children in the care of a babysitter or relative – the caregiver needs to be licensed with the county. Becoming licensed to give respite care offers a huge relief to those in the trenches and allows foster parents to do what they do without burning out. When we had children in foster care living with us, at times this was invaluable! Consider adopting a teen who is aging out – There is something profoundly heartbreaking in reading the photolistings of children who have turned 18 and who, despite being old enough to live independently, place themselves on national photolistings because they desperately want a family. Many of these teenagers have college plans or career aspirations and are really looking for the moral support of a family as they enter adulthoood. Everyone deserves to have a consistent place to land for the holidays, rituals, and celebrations in life. Maybe you have that to give. If you visit and sort by age, you will find many young adults searching for a family to call their own.
Annette and Norma, “18-year-old twin sisters with dreams of having a family of their own and a sense of belonging. Both girls want to attend college and talk of being a lawyer or a doctor down the line. While they have each other, the one thing that is lacking in their lives is a permanent place to call home.” - The Los Angeles Heart Gallery. Get involved with Orphan Sunday at your church. Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan. It is a great opportunity to recruit help and raise awareness for the various relief organizations listed below. Volunteer for a local group home – Group homes are difficult places. There are so many needs that can be filled. You could help raise money for clothes, shoes, backpacks, and other supplies. You could mentor a teen who is aging into adulthood. You could tutor students who are struggling in school, or make regular visits to play with children who are in the difficult season of temporary care. Lend a hand to families who have adopted – Do you know someone who has adopted a child? Chances are, they are exhausted, both mentally and physically. Maybe even barely hanging on. Think about lending them a hand with whatever tasks are overwhelming for them, so that they can get a little break. Sometimes babysitting, folding clothes, bringing over dinner and things like this can mean more than you know! Start a mentoring group for moms with kids in the system – This is one of the most unique ministries I’ve seen: a group of moms (many of them foster moms) started a bible study with the biological mothers of local foster children. They mentored them, prayer for them, and encouraged them in their reunification efforts.


It is the best of our humanity when we acknowledge the suffering of another, and we make the changes necessary to do something about it. But in order to bring about societal change, we need to talk about the realities of poverty. We need to educate others, and motivate those holding the privilege to step up and help those who have nothing.
I know there are many, many more ways that people are mobilizing to care for orphans. If you know of some ideas or organizations, leave them in the comments. I would love to think that our current generation will sacrifice and work together to ensure that every orphan receives his or her basic human rights: food, shelter, clean water, and the love of a family.
Annnnd to answer the questions I've been asked a million times,
“Why do people have to adopt kids from other countries? Why can’t they take care of the kids here in the US?”
This is a question the Howertons answer best...honestly, I could not have said it better!
"This question both angers and amuses me. Amusing because it is so completely petty and almost always posed by people who are doing absolutely nothing about the “kids here in the US” that they are so indignant about. And angering because it is so ridiculous to assume that children born in other countries have less of a right to be adopted into a loving home than those born in the states.

I typically don’t feel defensive by this question (obviously, since we DID adopt a child from the US), but it does irritate me. My friend
Alida commented back and I really appreciate what she said. She is a former foster child herself, an African American/biracial mom of five, and she is in the process of getting her foster care license. So I think she knows a little something something about all that.

“One thing to consider, at least here in the US we have foster care. The government sets aside money for each child to have the basics, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, developmental services, therapy, etc. In Haiti, Africa, places in S. America, Asia, there is NOTHING! You are a FORTUNATE orphan if you have access to the few poor overcrowded orphanages available. Even still you are probably malnourished. Those not in orphanages are often forced into child traffic, slave labor, criminal activity, abuse, begging, uneducated sick, and expose to the elements. Having been in foster care myself, it wasn't pleasant but my basic needs were met. I have lived in group homes here and they were nice. It wasn't perfect but I never went to bed hungry. There are well over 153,000,000 worldwide and as many as 163,000 right here in the good ole US of A in need of adoption, 500,000 here needing foster homes. If you are concerned with US orphans, I'd encourage you, to sign up today. There is also a special need for domestic adoption of black or biracial infants not in foster care. I hope that the many folks that so quickly ask the "why adopt from there when there are children here " are the same ones I see in my foster/adoption classes. Have you ever tried to adopt from the foster care system? It is difficult, time consuming and a VERY intrusive process. I should read you some of the homestudy questions! You'd blush! There are SO MANY REQUIREMENTS. You may or may not meet the requirements based on your family size, home size, views on birth control, parenting style etc. You could have a child or children in your home for YEARS and never be able to adopt that child and call them your own. You may have a child or sibling set that you have tenderly loved and cared for and have to return them (yes even years later) to the SAME drug addicted people that abused or neglected that child in the first place! We are trying to adopt a sibling set from foster care and the hoops I have to jump through to do it make international adoption look oh so appealing. It works for many and I hope we are successful. I pray each US child finds a forever family, but I can easily see why others chose international.”"
And, if you are wondering about adopting from a theological standpoint listen to John Piper on adoption and why it IS biblical.
*Special thanks to

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

What a day...not because anything spectacular happened.  But this is the first Christmas I have ever spent at home without my mom, dad, sister and her family, grandmas, grandpa and uncles.  Today has been peaceful, exciting sad and happy all at the same time.  The kids and I baked and cooked all day long.  We prepared the house to celebrate the birth of our savior!  It wasn't until dinner when Drew read the Christmas story that I started crying because I wish I was with my family...and just thinking about my great grandma, who is very sick.  I spent last Christmas with her and it was SO SWEET!  For the first time ever in Drew's and my life we will open presents on Christmas Day!  We both grew up opening presents on Christmas Eve seeing as it was a Swedish and German tradition (he is from German decent and my fam is Swedish)  Drew and I wanted to start some of our own traditions so we will open presents tomorrow like the majority of America.  I suppose growing up I always felt left out on Christmas day knowing that everyone was just experiencing the excitement of presents Christmas morn....and we "didn't do anything" (in my kids mind).  Since growing up, Christmas day with my extended family is a time for us to craft and just be together.  But, as a kid I didn't "get" that.  I am very thankful that we are close to Drew's side of the family so we WILL get to have a yummy lunch with them tomorrow that I am preparing.
Drew had to work today and when he came home he had a FREE tree from Earth Fare in his car!  I totally wasn't expecting that so it was a fun surprise to swap out the little fake tree I had (adoption budget people, adoption budget!)  :)  for a real beautiful one.  Then, against my scrooge like ways, Drew took the kids to Lowes and bought $12 worth of junk beauty!  They came home and were soooo excited to replace my color coordinated ornaments with tensile, huge colored lights and plastic....stuff.  Mmmmm, I was NOT excited at first, but the joy on all THREE of their faces and the treasures they found made me say WHO CARES about my beautiful tree.  This sweet phase of the kids life will not last forever.  Put all the ornaments down low and clumped together...if it makes you happy.  :)  The tree looks....well, different from other years.  It looks LOVED.  And isn't that what this season is all about?  LOVE?
Well, I'm going to sound like a dork, but I need to go so I can watch the annual mass at St. Peters in Rome. I'm not Catholic, but I used to spend hours roaming Rome-off to reminisce.  
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Lord of Strangers

So this is one of those posts I have been thinking about for a long time.  Not that there is a whole lot of content to it...but I just wonder what others think about a topic I think is pretty important.
 A word I like to put action to.  I love to have people over, let people use my stuff and make people feel comfortable and welcome.  I've been the recipient of others who have been hospitable towards me the past few months and every time it gets me thinking about hospitality.  I think hospitality is important.  Why though?  It got me thinking...WHY is it important?  And, everyone has different ideas of what being hospitable is.  What is yours?  I really want to know...that's not a rhetorical question.  :)
Wikipedia says this about hospitality.  "The word hospitality derives from the Latin hospes, which is formed from hostis, which originally meant to have power. The meaning of "host" can be literally read as "lord of strangers." hostire means equalize or compensate."  

My mother in law is writing a book on hospitality.  I won't tell you the name because it is not out yet...and it's clever, I'd hate someone in the Internet world take it.  ;)  BUT, I can't wait to read it.  What do YOU think about hospitality?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Begging for Myrrh

Two posts in two days!  Don't get too excited.  I don't know if I can keep this up!  :)  I did want to stop by to tell you about the awesome tradition our family has started this year.  I know this is only in time for those last minute shoppers, but maybe it can become a tradition of yours next year.

Don't mind Fuggy, Asa's baby (yes, I said ASA'S baby...that's what happens when you have an older sister) he is standing in for baby Jesus...with real hay from our rabbit!  :)
There are several different versions of this gift giving idea-but this is my favorite.  This year our family is giving three gifts per person.  Each present is either wrapped in gold, natural colored paper or white paper for a reason.  To read more about the symbolism go HERE.  I am excited about doing this for two reasons...reason #1 is I am so tired of the rate of American consumerism.  On the other hand, I find it hard like every parent to resist getting something for my child when I can just picture their excitement beforehand.  So, this year we bought with a purpose, modeled after the three gifts the three wise men brought to Jesus.  Gifts are fun to give and receive, just as long as we don't miss the reason behind why we give.
And just to top it all off, these are my favorite wise men.  I don't have very many Christmas decorations that I've had since we got married-but I remember buying these sparkly men after Drew's and my first married Christmas.  They just make me happy when I look at them.  :)
Even if you are not interested in doing the three Christmas gifts idea...check out the article above!  There is some really interested history about the reasons the wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Absent Blogger

...that would be me.  At one time in my life I was good at blogging, and now I think I like the idea-but am really not good at it.  It is very low on my priority list.  However I love reading blogs and I especially love the unity among the adopting group blogs.  I however am not your star blogger.  :)  I have been enjoying staying sort of un-busy this season (well, compared to previous Christmas seasons) and I have been just trying to slow down and ENJOY the snow and cold (trying to change my attitude) and just appreciate every mess I have to clean, errands I have to run and how blessed I am to be a part of something bigger than myself....which right now is adoption and Sole Hope and raising two precious children.  This is the first year since Quinn was two (she is 5 now) that we have not had children in foster care living with us.  It feels...different.  Not good or bad, just different.

I'll go all the way back to Thanksgiving!  I cannot believe I did not write about what an amazing time I had.  Despite the horribly cold and grey weather, the company was perfect-just what I needed.  Seeing some friends (I never get to see everyone I'd like!) and spending time with my sister, brother in law and nephew and my brother in laws family was just more wonderfulness than I had expected for Thanksgiving.  :)  My sister married into an AWESOME (and HUGE) family and their Thanksgivings just warm my heart.  Family and God are at the center of everything and I was so happy I could be a part of their family that day!  I spent last Thanksgiving with them also and every time they are just SO welcoming, warm hearted and loving!
(Josiah and Asa eating Allie's Thanksgiving breakfast and watching the Macy's Day Parade)

Another bonus was getting to see my nephew who I only get to see a couple times a year.  He was super shy at first and wanted to have nothing to do with me.  Ugh, I HATED that he wouldn't let me play with him or hold him so I was thrilled when my sister asked me to babysit one day while they went to look at homes.  (Oh yeah, and they were trying to buy a home while we were there)  When Josiah (my nephew) got up from nap he was a little hesitant to let me get him out of his crib but once he saw there was no one else there but good ol' ME he attached to me like a leach.  My time from then until I went home was precious with him.  The only draw back is now I miss my Indy family like CRAZY!
Josiah and I did THIS for about 45 minutes!!!

The day after we came home from Indiana, (just the kids and I) the whole family took a trip to Charlotte to get fingerprinted for the adoption!  Drew prayed on the way there that we would have all the paperwork we needed and that it would be "easy".  I'd say our prayer was answered as we walked in and NO ONE except the people working were there.  We found out on the way to Charlotte we were not supposed to bring children because of limited room in the waiting room and so we were nervous about having them with us.  BUT, since there was not one person there we got in and out WITH our kids in about 15 minutes!  We got a letter in the mail saying our fingerprints were APPROVED and they will expire in 2012....boy I hope we have a child before 2012!!!  Since we had some extra time we stopped by Ikea to get some basics for the school room and on our way out I just had to take a picture of the flags that were flying in the parking lot.  Tribute to my roots and my home.  :)  North Carolina, Sweden and America.

A couple weeks after we got back from Charlotte we drove to Boone, NC for the "Collie Christmas".  I was so sad it was cut short because of the impending snow storm.  My in laws live on top of a mountain and icy/snow mix + driving = DANGER so the family only got to stay together for one day.  Needless to say, we had a great time together and had so much fun!  The kids were happy to see their cousins and the food and company was awesome!  We took Quinn and Asa out sledding in the yard on the left over snow from the previous snow storm.  They LOVED it!!
Asa got a DVD from his CC that sings his name during the songs.  He LOVES watching it!  :)

Quinn and her Uncle Steve (Drew's middle brother) and her only girl cousin, Sydney!

Aunt Netta got Quinn lip gloss-here she is putting her gloss on by the Collie collie.

The view from my in laws back porch.  Beautiful!

Quinn and Asa's first time sledding.  They are now waiting patiently for our next big snow!

Asa won't keep his gloves on!!  Any suggestions!?!

And this picture just makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.  Our dog Jake came running down the hill as fast as his short little legs would carry him until he started doing a snow plow with his face!  If it wasn't already flat it would be now!  ;)
CC hand made this sock monkey for Asa!  How sweet and CUTE!!

The first year he "gets" opening presents.  He was so fun to watch.

Lastly, I am so excited I get to be part of an AMAZING adoptive mom's retreat in February!  I am really looking forward to this experience and I feel like I need this now, so I really will need it in February!  It is emotionally exhausting waiting for your child, the unexpected, the paperwork.  Would you like to buy one of the super sweet shirts that will support this venture that is completely volunteer run!?  If so, go HERE.

I've run out of time-I was going to tell you about the neat Christmas tradition our family started this year that I am so excited about!  I will save it for next time-and hopefully next time isn't in a month.  Kidding...maybe tomorrow??  We will see... for now I think you should go buy a shirt to support adoptive moms all around the country and I need to get back to being MOM! (I already bought my shirt!) :)