Monday, August 29, 2011

What now? What you can do.

SO, we've had our referral of sweet little "Z" for 19 days now not that I'm counting or anything.   Many have asked when will he come home and what is next so I thought I'd give you the run down as I know it.  Anything can happen the enemy hates adoption and hates that orphans are being loved and cared for and brought into forever homes.  PRAY!  

Right now we await the Ethiopian Courts to open back up after being closed for the rainy season.  That is scheduled for the first week of October or so, but who really knows, it's Africa and we are only on a need to know basis and well frankly, it's really a vacation because um, Ethiopia is like in a 60 year drought so we really shouldn't call it the "Rainy Season".  

Our Family Coordinator said that they may still issue court dates before it opens but that since our referral just arrived, she doesn't expect us to hear anything for our case until after Court opens.  You are welcome to pray that we do in fact hear something because it sure would aid in planning.  

Once we receive a court date, we will arrange our travels and go to Ethiopia.  Trip #1.  We will be bringing our two oldest kids because we are somewhat on the crazy side because we have decided that to truly understand why we do what we do in the world of adoption/orphan care, we need to show them and let them experience it.  This will cost loads of extra money come as a sacrifice, however, we feel it will be so worth it!

During trip #1, we will meet little "Z" and spend time with him.  We will also go before the judge and let him know that indeed, we want him to join our family of course we do, when you see his precious face you'll be wishing you were the one standing in front of that judge.  Darn he is CUTE!  We pray and so can you, that we pass court the first time (50% do not).  If we don't, that will be another delay as we wait for subsequent court dates and for our agency to gather any information that MOWCYA (the ministry of woman's, children's and youth affairs) is missing.  We will not return for those court dates should they be needed.  We will come home without "Z" you can start praying now, I'm not sure how they will physically get me on that plane when I'm fighting to stay with him.  

Once we pass court, which we pray is the moment we stand before the judge, we then come home and wait for our agency to submit all our paperwork to the US Embassy for clearance/Visa etc.  This usually takes 4-6 weeks though recently, we are seeing this take longer.  You can also start praying they'd pick up that pace, can you imagine waiting even a day with your child being on the other side of the world?  Once we are cleared, we go to Ethiopia again and this time we return with our precious boy!!  Go ahead and cheer, you know you want to!  Yes, we do welcome large airport welcome home parties ... but we will address in a future post some rules about how we will go about transitioning our little guy.  In other wards, don't come and pick him up ... you are a white person, he will be in a foreign land, he will have left everything he knows, you will speak a weird language, smell weird and be all together frightening to him.  IE; you can smile and cheer and welcome, but as I tell my little girl, only with your eyes, not with your hands for a while.  

So what do we do now?  We wait, we pray for our little guy, we pray for these details even now and we trust.  And well, because I am a planner and I need something to do because, hello, I'm only 19 days into this wait and I feel like a crazy woman, we also begin gathering donations that we will bring.  You can help too.  There are many things needed in the transitional home and orphanages.   Let me know if you can gather some of these things.  I can come and pick them up and together, we can bless the socks off of some precious children!

We will be bringing lots of extra bags and very little clothing on our trips so we can bring these things that right now are needed in our two transitional homes.   This is what we have been notified as of now is really needed.

There are several items that the transition home is in need of for the older children• Musical instruments
• Athletic clothing and shoes for soccer
• Christian videos or DVDs
• Swimsuits for boys and girls -this one interests me, I've been to Ethiopia, where in the world are they swimming and please tell me they are also asking for life jackets.  ;-)

Orphanage and Transitional Home General Donation Needs: o Puzzles for young children
o Toy cars and trucks appropriate for toddler aged children
o Diaper rash ointment (A+D preferred)
o Children’s clothing (new or slightly used); Boys and Girls; sizes 0-8 years. Clothing needs include day clothes (especially pants), pajamas, underwear, and shoes.
o Diapers for up to 30 pounds
o Toys to stimulate babies such as colorful objects, rattles, etc. that are appropriate for babies up to 2 years
o Unscented baby wipes
o Powder formula with DHA/RHA
o A + D Original Ointment, Diaper Rash and All-Purpose Skincare Formula
o Hand Sanitizer
o Candles
o Enfamil or Similar Lactose free formula (*the following Generic Brands with identical nutritional value to Enfamil & Similac are also acceptable: Parents Choice formula from Wal-Mart, Target’s generic Formula, Kirkland formula from Costco)
Medications/Medical Donation Needs** o Multivitamins
o Chewable multi-vitamin (2 years to 9 years)
o Adult multivitamin (9 years plus)
o Infant’s and Children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen)
o Plastic and Latex disposable gloves
o Baby nose saline spray
o Neosporin
o Mouth and nose masks
o Benadryl liquid/elixir
o Permetherin for scabies
o Lice kits
o Toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to school Celebration Dinner

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year.  My kids headed off this morning for their "First days".  Canyon is in 5th, Dakota in 4th and my baby in Kinder.  No way!  Where has time gone?

As we prepared for another school year, we did so with a kick off Celebration Dinner.

On the menu; Swiss Cheese Wine Chicken, Mandarin Orange Salad, Caesar Salad, Hershey Pie and Sparkling Grape Juice.

We spent time talking about our scripture for the year; "Be Completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love".  Ephesians 4:2.  We chose this verse for our year for many reasons.  First, this is the example we hope our children will be as they interact in school and with their peers.  Secondly, we are working on these attributes in our own home.  Yes, we'll admit, on many days and on many moments, we lack some of these things with each other; humility, patience and speaking in love.  Gasp, I know ... but it is true.  Lastly, knowing that we will soon add a brother to our home, we also know that we will be working to exercise these things even more so as he transitions into being one of the family.

Next, we focused on praying for our teachers.  Between my 3 kids; they will have 10 teachers this year (not counting the GT teacher, and specials).  That's a lot of influence which brings a lot of reasons to pray.
"As for me, far be it from me, that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you ..." 1 Samuel: 12:23.  Indeed, we are committed to pray for our teachers each and every day by name.

The kids also thought through and wrote out some goals for this year.  I loved this part and I loved seeing some of the things that they had in mind and saw as important.  What a window into their hearts.  Boy, I like what I saw.

Lastly, our table would not have been complete without our 6th place setting.  Indeed, this year we included a place for Levi "Z".  We are ready to see him fill that seat and so thankful for the Lord for showing us just who it is we have been praying for this entire past year.  We are already in love and excited that this will be the year He will complete our family.
Thank you to a friend, Jennifer Conant, for inspiring me to take the time out to enjoy such a special night.  We have added this one to our "Traditions" list ... it was a HIT!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Extravagant Love

"Perfectly perfect! Sweet tempered, smiley, absolutely adorable, healthy and solid".  These are the blessed words that came through on a text to me today about my SON!   My sweet friend, Jennifer Verme, who by God's design was in Rwanda and heading into Ethiopia with a team from Visiting Orphans  when we got our referral, graciously went out of her way to contact me, work out all the details to get my photo release and then spent time with our little boy in his transitional home.  Today, my heart is full!  As I read her words, I wept.  How do you ever put into words to someone how much it means to know they loved and held your child when your arms physically couldn't be there to do it yourself?  How do you re-pay that?  You don't (well, actually you pray like the wind that this same family gets THEIR referral of their little girl so you can do the same on one of your trips!)

As I sat processing her text and my joy, it hit me and I began to sob!  It's why he calls us in James 1:27 to "Visit" the orphans.  It's why I went to Ethiopia myself, serve on the Visiting Orphans Board of Directors and with passion try to get others to do the same ... Because he loved us first and they are HIS children that he longs for someone to love!  How can you say no?  

As a believer, I am often struck with the reality that the God I serve sent his One and Only son to this earth and then because of my sin, sent him to die on a cross for me!  Processing the reality of that gift is on many days far past the reality of what my human mind can fathom.   In my flesh, I work to try and figure out how I can "pay that back", only the Lord doesn't want anything in return ... but one thing, our hearts!  He wants us to love him and love him extravagantly!  Today I got it!

When I read the words from my friend, my heart was overwhelmed that my child was loved!  How much more so, then, must the Lord feel when he sees us doing the same for his children!  The love we have for Levi is nothing in comparison to the Lord's love for him and 163 million just like him, his fatherless.  What must he feel when he sees us loving his children?  What must he feel when he sees us caring for them?

I have thought for so long that we care for the orphan and the least of these because first, He tells us to do so (obedience) - "Pure Religion is this; care (visit) the orphans and the widows in their distress and keep oneself polluted from the world" James 1:27.  Living a life to please the Lord is also living in obedience.  It is doing what he says and well, frankly, he says to care for the orphans.  Period.

But, after going on a Visiting Orphans trip myself, I soon saw a whole new side why the Lord might call us to go.  When we do, it is us that are changed.  We see what he sees and frankly, we cannot walk away and remain blind anymore to the realities of this world.  When we visit the orphans, he wrecks our hearts and we are prompted to do more.  What a great salesman he is, huh?  He knows by getting us there, the rest is history.  Go and visit he says ... because then I can fully get your attention and your heart!

But today, I felt something totally different.  As I sat reading those words I realized that Jennifer was loving my son for me!  My heart was full and I felt so completely and extravagantly loved by her gift of doing so.  Extravagantly!!!  Is this exactly how I want my Lord to feel?
All the Lord wants from me is my heart and all I want to do for him in return for all he has done for me is to love him extravagantly.   I can do this!  We can do this!!  When we go and visit his children and are his hands to them, we lavish our love on Him by loving them!   When we hold his children, sponsor his children and adopt his children, his heart is FULL and he feels completely and extravagantly loved!

I don't know about you, but that is exactly how I want to love the Lord who blesses me!

If thats you too, then let me help you get started with just 3 of the many ways you can do it!

1.)  Sponsor a child!  For $34/month, you can give a child in Awassa, Ethiopia the Hope of 2 meals a day, an education, medical/dental care and discipleship.  I have 80, yes, 80 reasons why you should consider this.  Please contact me if you are interested (  I can get you set up and hey ... don't worry, we will also be taking in teams to love our children there so you can fulfill that "GO"
portion too!  The children in this CarePoint are counting on the Hope that you will think they are worth it.

2.)  GO GO GO!  I love Visiting Orphans and you will too!  Check out all their trips and find one that is calling you.  Go and love extravagantly his children and in return, love him!  Have any questions about trips or the ministry,  I'm happy to answer those as well.  Want to consider a spring trip ... see above.  The trip to the CarePoint in Awassa will be sponsored/organize through Visiting Orphans.  Details coming soon ... but my adorable hubby will be one of your team leaders.

3.) Adopt!  I'd love to chat with you about adoption too!  If you are called on this journey, the Lord will make straight your paths.  Don't let fear of the unknown stand in the way ... see that remark on "obedience".  If he calls, obey him.  You will be BLESSED!   I serve on the Board for our adoption agency and we are on our 2cnd adoption through them.  With that said, I can speak to how amazing America World is.  Go check them out!

O.K. what are you waiting on!  Go love Him extravagantly!

Friday, August 12, 2011


"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath way"

August 11, 2011
Breathless (pun intended)

ACT 1 

Sitting on the table in the middle of the doctor's office, I chatted with the overly gabby doctor about everything from my awful bronchitis infection, the fact that I felt completely breathless,  to Ethiopia, adoption and injera.  To be honest, I was completely exhausted and wiped out from 3 days in "China" (camp that is) and just wanted to get on with it but Mr. friendly must have been working on his gregarious bedside manners that afternoon.  As he gabbed away a cell phone rings.  Looking down at my purse sitting next to me, I notice that my phone is in just enough visible sight to see 3 important numbers:  703!!

It's a darn good thing in that moment that Mr. Friendly had already taken my pulse, heart rate and listened to my chest because I am certain that within about 2 seconds it shot off the charts from "normal" to completely breathless!!  OH MY GOSH, was this what I thought it was?  My head began to race, my heart began to pound and every other word out of Mr. Friendly's mouth became mud.  

Trying to remain calm, I waited until he left the room and then grabbed my phone.  Yep, a voicemail.  Trying to compose myself, I reminded myself that 3 times in the past few months I had received calls from the infamous "703", only to discover that it wasn't "programming staff" (my Family Coordinator) and my long awaited "Call", but Corporate Staff (I am on the Board of Directors and do Associate work) with conversations that had nothing to do with our journey.  Maybe this was just another one of those calls.
(scene - take 2) pulling up voicemail, I listen:

"Hi Cristie, this is Jennifer Allen at AWAA, please give me a call when you get this.  I will be stepping into a programming meeting in a few minutes so if you don't get me, I will get in touch with you before the end of today"

My heart began to race wildly and I texted Doug and my bestie to ask them to pray ... "703" had called, I had a voicemail ... this could be it!


Racing to my car I think to myself "stepping into a meeting in a few minutes, oh my gosh ... I cannot wait, I cannot miss her".  Dialing back 703 my stomach does flip flops and I cross my fingers (and toes!).  

Jennifer answers and within moments tells me that she is calling because she indeed has a REFERRAL ... today is our day!!  I am certain I stopped breathing!   She asks if I want to try and conference Doug in so we can be on the line together to hear our news.  I agree and gulp back my tears and embrace for the news we had anxiously be waiting to hear ... 


"O.K, we're all 3 on the line.  Are you guys ready".    I hear Doug giggle and say "yes", but before she talks I squeeze in ... through my tears and shaking voice ... "Doug, this is it ... this is our day!" Jennifer Giggles and THEN begins to tell us of the little boy, OUR SON, that we had been longing to know all about.  

I franticly take notes (on the back of my prescription ... good grief!) while my mind raced and time seem to stand still.  I remember her telling us that she was e-mailing us right then all his information and pictures.  I remember faintly some instructions of what we needed to do to accept or reject his referral ... but honestly, all the rest is mud.  Something about no oxygen to the brain seems to cause a feeling of euphoria and shock.  My mind was swimming and all I could think was ... LOAD e-mail LOAD!!  Through the grace of God, I had my iPad IN THE CAR that afternoon because that very morning I had used it to teach a portion of my lesson at China Camp.  I was armed ... and ready ... to see his face!!

(scene setting:  the driveway of my parents home - hiding out in my car and on the phone with my bestie!)
FINALLY, I see his face!
 I am breathless

He is ADORABLE!  His eyes are beautiful!  His smile is radiant!  He is so so healthy looking.  His skin and complexion just silky smooth.  He looks happy, content and frankly, like he's totally ready to jump on his Daddy and brother to wrestle in the yard or play a game of football.  He just FITS!  (Oh and for those curious .. He is 3.5 years and I came closest to "the bet")  


After 3 hours of keeping my news a secret from my kids and 3 hours of trying to track everyone down (who was, of course, in 4 different places), we had the joy of sharing our great news with 2 adoring big sisters and one excited brother at 5:30 last night.  It was a fun moment and yet, very much a surreal moment too.  It still is sinking in that we have a son.  I have spent the day running his medical information to our pediatricians, staring at his face, reading through all our documents, staring at his face, reading all sorts of awesome congratulation wishes on FB, staring at his face, and learning his story and oh yeah,  staring at his face!

So what now, what's next?  Well, first off, we will send back his acceptance on Monday and the clock will then begin for a court date.  Of course, courts are officially CLOSED right now so we have no clue what that means for our timeframe.  They open again in the first week of October or so.  Hopefully, we'll get in on the line for one of those first appointments they give after they open for business and start setting those dates.  Maybe October/early November???  Only the Lord knows!  But I trust him!

I can tell you, as I read his story that the Lord has completely and divinely paved a way through his timing (Levi's) and ours to be together.  I am AWED by some key dates in his life and how they intersect with ours.  With all that knowledge, I am armed and confident that the Lord knows just how he'll finish 


PS I can't share publicly his picture, his name or his birth date until he is "officially" ours.  I know, I know, that totally stinks!  You'll just have to trust me on this one; he is worth the wait!
But, hmmm, maybe a sneak peak will buy you some time?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another one bites the dust ...

That's right ... another one down, and another one down and another ones bites the dust (sing it with me!)
So, it's been 8 months since our paperwork arrived in Ethiopia AND it's been a year (since July 29th) since our journey began.  The question is, will the 8 ball be the lucky ball?  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Until further notice ...

It's that time of year ... the Ethiopian Courts have officially CLOSED!  As of Monday, there will be no one there ... no court cases, no court decrees .. Nada!  No Movement!!
I am told this is for the "rainy season".  Sounds like good reason enough.  I've been to Ethiopia and I can imagine that getting around Africa in the rainy season could be a difficult task.  But, then again, I think Ethiopia is in the worst drought in over 60 years.  ?????  Is this irony???

During this time, our agency said that they will still issue referrals if they are ready.  Of course, because families won't be passing court and getting embassy clearances, it also means that the transitional home won't be having many "transitions".  Less transitions = less possibility of new children transitioning in = less chance we'll get that call.  *sigh*
STILL ... It *could* happen, BUT ... if it does, we'll WAIT again ... because the COURT IS CLOSED!

The court is estimated to be closed until early October.  I know, I know, 2 entire months of nothingness. BLAH!  This is like water torture.  

I did hear that MOWCYA (the Ministry of Woman's, Children's and Youth Affairs) is still open during court closures so hopefully they will take this time to play catch up on approval letters for the poor families who had gone to court but never passed before the closure because of that missing letter.  Oh man, pray for those families.  That. is. hard.  I pray on day one of opening, their is a flood of good news several of my friends who are now STUCK. WITHOUT. THEIR. KIDS!!

So, I guess until October, the offices of the court are out.  I wonder what they are doing?  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The weight of the world on my shoulders

I knew there would be a day where all the things I read in the adoption books on loss and grief would come in handy.  As I closed out the chapter I was reading on Friday night on those very subjects, I prepared my heart and prayed "Dear Jesus, whatever it is that my little boy will have gone through before he is in my arms, allow him the ability to trust us enough to truly and openly grieve his loss". 

Little did I know how quickly I would draw from those chapters.  Little did I know just who the Lord would use that prayer for.

Saturday morning was a busy one.  Doug and the big kids were off early to work a Ground to Cup event and Maliah and I began to busy ourselves with getting ready to run a few Saturday errands.  Shooing Maliah off to go put on her clothes, I came in to find her sitting, half dressed and not at all ready for our day, on her bedroom floor.  She was wearing something, however, that did catch my attention.  She was wearing a sadness I had never before seen.

"Maliah what's wrong baby, is something wrong?"

Looking up from where she sat, her eyes could have told a story of their own.  Through her tears, she spoke;

"I miss my birf Mommy, but I don't even know who she is"

GULP!  Did I hear her just right.  I mean, we've had lots of conversations about her "birth Mommy" and that God grew her in another Mommy's tummy.  But this, this wasn't quite the conversation I was prepared for ... or at least one I thought at 5.5 years old we'd be having.  Was she really expressing such a loss?  Such a grief?  

Sitting down on the floor, I looked Maliah right into her big, tear filled eyes.

Oh, sweet Maliah, I am so sorry you feel so sad.  I am so so sorry that you miss your birth Mommy"

Maliah, crying uncontrollably by this point , "I'm sad because I miss her.  I want my birf Mommy.  I want to know her.  Why don't I know her?"

Choking back my own tears and swallowing deep the lump that begins to fill my throat, I muddle through a answer ...

"Baby, I don't know who your birf Mommy is, but Jesus does and we can pray for her.  I wish I knew her.  And Maliah, thank you for sharing with me your sadness for her.  Mommy wishes I could take it away for you.  Do you want to pray together for her?"

Maliah sits in my arms and sobs.  Not a cry that is attention seeking (as she can do at times).  Not a cry that says "I'm tired".  No, this time it's a cry from the deepest part of her being.  This time she sobs like I have never seen.  Tears filled my shirt as my little girl curled up on my lap and wept.  I believe in that moment.  He wept too.  

This was it.  All these days and nights I had been preparing my heart and my head full of the knowledge I needed of what to do for my little boy as he experienced (es) "loss and grief" upon his arrival home.  But all the while, the Lord was preparing me too for this moment.  For the moment that he knew would be right around the corner.  The moment he knew, that I didn't know, would come so soon. The moment that would stop my morning and everything I had planned to do ... to do one thing ... validate my little GIRL'S broken heart!

I didn't realize this day would come so soon.  I don't think I had fathomed that my little girl at such a young age would have the ability to describe with words a great sadness that would overtake her.  I am actually not sure how common that is ... to be able to link those concepts together at such a young age.  I do believe, that part of the reason Maliah could do so was because for as long as she's been home we have not only celebrated her adoption, but shared little by little the truth of her story with her.  It's not a secret we keep from her.  It's her story.  She knows she has a "birf" Mommy and she knows that she didn't grow in my belly like her big brother and big sister did.  She talks of China, coming home on a plane and of how Jesus made her and gave her to us.   She knows these things with joy .. the joy of her redemption!   

But on Saturday, July  30th, my little girl began to feel the weight of that story.  On Saturday, July 30th, my little girl showed me the true weight of her story.  And in those moments allowed me to hold her, love her and validate those feelings as she wept.  In those moments she allowed me to carry her weight ... for even just a while ... on my shoulders.  It. was. heavy.

I am humbled.  I am honored.

*The next day, I would learn that a massive storm was heading towards an area of China called "Hainan" on the very day my little girl felt such a great sadness and intensity to pray.  This area just happens to be directly next to (virtually attached) to Maliah's birth city, Xuwen.  On the very Saturday that my girl felt prompted to pray for her "Birf" Mommy,  75,000 people were being evacuated from the area as their lives were in danger.  
Perhaps the Chinese Proverb "The Red Thread" isn't so far off after all ... 

"An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break."  

Monday, August 1, 2011

A reason to "Pamper" Yourself!!

Hey friends

Today we get to kick off a fun and awesome fundraiser through a sweet friend of mine, Carmen Druckmiller.  Carmen is a fellow adopting Mommy with America World who brought home to precious boys from Ethiopia just months ago.  She knows and understands the need for fundraising and graciously provides a fun way to do a little of that through her Pampered Chef business.  THANK YOU, CARMEN!!

SO ... starting today, August 1 - September 4th, she is helping me host a online "Pampered Chef" show.
You can click right  here  and get to the online catalogue to shop.  Make sure you put "Cristie" in the hostess section and at the end, Carmen will be giving back a percentage of her sales to US!  So awesome and so easy, right!!

So shop away.  Think about all those Christmas presents you have to buy in just a few short months and starting marking them off your list now.  Need some new and fun ways to make your nightly cooking easier ... browse away ... Pampered Chef has it!!  We'll be so blessed by your sale as will you when you use your new products!

What are you waiting for?  Go on and get your shopping on!

*PS - we will using the funds we raise here to help purchase flights/in country travel for TWO trips to Ethiopia to bring home our Levi.*

© Lead us to Levi

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