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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thinking about Ethiopia in November!!

One of our sponsor families, Becky Burk, is kicking off a HUGE BLOG GIVEAWAY on Friday.  Becky and her sister, Sarah, sponsor 5 kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points, and they are both planning to join me in Ethiopia in November!!

I've seen a lot of people raise funds for their trip in unique and creative ways, and I am really impressed with everything Becky has put together for this fundraiser.  Check it out by clicking on the blog button above.  Becky will be conducting several drawings over the next few months and she is hoping to be able to fund her and Sarah's trip AND be able to raise enough funds to provide a trip to another lucky person.

If you are considering joining me on our next trip to Ethiopia - to work with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points in November, please email me at and I will keep you informed as trip planning gets underway.  Tentative dates for the next trip are November 11 - 21, 2011.  We will be limited to about 20 people, so let me know if you are considering the trip this year.  This trip will fill up quickly, so if you are praying about going, please let me know!

Monday, March 28, 2011

They believe death was knocking at the door ...

Today we got another update from Ethiopia about Webit, the 7 year old little girl who was admitted to the hospital on Friday.  On Thursday, her condition took a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse and her family and the staff at Trees of Glory care-point were concerned for her very life.  They believe that "death was knocking at the door".  Perhaps the infection in her leg had finally overwhelmed her body. 

Hundreds and hundreds of people from across America and Ethiopia have been praying for Webit as she fights for her life in the hospital and for the doctors as they discern how to treat her condition.  Initially, we got word that her original leg deformity was the result of a type of cancer and yet the doctor felt it was treatable if we could just get her admitted to a hospital. 

Children's Hopechest navigated the complex process, getting the appropriate approvals and stamps to admit a child from rural Ethiopia (from a destitute family that could not pay for her medical care) to a hospital in Addis and committing that her care would be fully funded.  We all wondered if it was too late and we prayed that it wasn't!   Click HERE to read the previous blog post about Webit.

Here is the note we received from the team in Ethiopia today: 
On Friday Webit was admitted to the Hospital and had a successful surgery on her right leg. The doctor was able to cut 10 centimeter bone which bended her leg. They have sent the sample of the bone to Pathological center whether to check it has a tendency to grow again.  According to the doctor the process will take about 20 days. Then they will decide the next step. For now, she is doing well and recovering.

The bone section that was removed was growing abnormally, causing significant pain and difficulty walking.  We don't know with certainty yet if this was a type of cancer (as the doctor originally stated) or another type of bone deformity/abnormality.  When she injured her foot a few months ago, the infection was treated by the witch doctor in her village which caused the infection to spread. 

Oftentimes in rural Ethiopia, treatment by a village witch doctor (also called a shaman or traditional healer) is common practice and can have serious detrimental effects.  Her family was open to modern medical care when they saw that the original treatment worsened her pain and made her nearly lame.  The prayers and concern of the staff members at "Trees of Glory" care-point finally persuaded them to be open to medical intervention. 

Getting Webit to the hospital in Addis Ababa and being able to pay for her medical care was beyond her family's capabilities, so the care-point and Hopechest helped to get her admitted at the hospital and made it clear that her care would be fully funded. 

As of today, there is $3,300 in Webit's medical fund and your prayers and concern have made an incredible difference.  Her family is expressing their deep and heart-felt gratitude - they are feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time! 

Please keep Webit and her family in your prayers as she recovers and as the doctors decide the next steps in her treatment.

To donate to Webit's medical fund, go to
Click on GIVE
Under "Choose a Fund", select DESIGNATED GIFT
Enter ET2119000 for the account code
Enter MEDICAL in the notes area.

THANK YOU for your continued prayers and concern for Webit and for your financial gifts that are providing for her immediate medical care and long-term care!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Today, she took a turn for the worse ... (Urgent prayer and funds needed for medical treatment)

Sunday Night Update: 
We just got an update on Webit from the Hopechest staff in Ethiopia.  The details are still sketchy and the email is a bit hard to understand due to the language barrier but this is what we know.

Webit had surgery yesterday and she awoke from anesthesia in the afternoon.  She was talking and her voice sounded strong.  This morning she was able to sip some tea.  Her family is incredbily thankful - the email expresses gratitude to her sponsor family and everyone that is praying for her and helping with the medical fund. 

Over and over they praise God and give thanks.  They felt like "death was knocking at the door" and that this surgery and medical care were just in time.  They are praising God for this intervention and are asking for continued prayers as her little body fights the infection and as she recovers.  As soon as we have more information, I will update here. 

Please keep Webit and her family in your prayers.

UPDATE:  $895 raised so far for Webit's medical care.  Children's Hopechest is in touch with the team in Ethiopia for any updates over the weekend.  If there is any news, I will post an update here.  Please keep Webit (7 years old) in your prayers this weekend as she gets much-needed medical care and doctors determine her treatment and her prognosis.

One of the kids that attend "Trees of Glory" care-point in Ethiopia has been admitted to the hospital today for an urgent situation.  Please read the email that I just sent to all sponsor families at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts in Ethiopia.  Urgent prayers are needed for this precious 7 year-old little girl, as well as funds for her medical treatment and care.  I will post updates as soon as we have any new information.

This is Webit's profile photo.

Dear sponsor families -

I got an urgent email from Children's Hopechest today about a 7 year old little girl at Trees of Glory named Webit. She is sponsored by Laura and Charlie Herwehe, who had the privilege of meeting Webit in January when they travelled to Ethiopia to adopt their son.

When Laura and Charlie first met Webit, their joy quickly turned to concern as they noticed that Webit was limping and was in considerable pain. Even though Webit was excited and happy to meet her sponsor family, she could not hide her pain and she whimpered and cried during their meeting.

The Herwehe's inquired about her situation and found out that Webit has a leg deformity, but she recently had gotten a sore on her foot that had become infected. It was treated by the witch doctor in her village, which had caused even more inflammation and it seemed the infection was spreading up her leg rendering her barely able to walk. Webit's sister had carried her on her back to the care-point that day, so she could meet her sponsor family.

Click HERE to read Laura's blog post about that meeting.

Webit with her sponsor family, Laura and Charlie Herwehe and their daughter, Emma. 

As soon as Laura and Charlie got home, they contacted me and Children's Hopechest. Since then, Hopechest has been navigating the complex process of getting treatment for Webit's injuries and illness. Because her family is too poor to pay for treatment, Hopechest had to show that they could acquire funding for her care. Webit's family then had to get several stamps and approvals and paperwork to refer her for treatment at a clinic in Addis. Once she was seen there, the doctor diagnosed a type of cancer that had caused the original deformity which made her susceptible to infection. Hopechest and the staff in Ethiopia have been working on getting her admitted to the hospital for treatment - and today Webit took a turn for the worse.

Her medical card had just been appoved and she has now been admitted to the Black Lion Medical Hospital in Ethiopia and will be seen by her original doctor tomorrow.

Your urgent, intercessory prayer is needed for healing and comfort for this precious little girl and her family. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for her doctor as he makes decisions for her immediate treatment. I wish we had more details about her condition, her treatment and her prognosis. I will keep you informed as we get information from Ethiopia.

In addition to your prayers, Webit's family is in need of funds to pay for her hospitalization and treatment. We have set up a fund at Children's Hopechest and have asked the hospital to provide for her care and treatment - having faith that the funds would be available when they are needed.

Please go to the Children's HopeChest website at
Click on GIVE
Under "Choose a Fund", specify DESIGNATED GIFT
Enter the 9 digit account code ET2119000
In the notes area, specify MEDICAL

Please spread the word to your friends and family so that we can raise these funds immediately. And please pray for Webit Bekele in Ethiopia.

Thank you for your prayers and your committment to the kids at Trees of Glory and especially for Webit!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Books for "Kind Hearts" Kids in Ethiopia!!!

On Monday and Tuesday this week, the kids at "Kind Hearts" had special visitors from St. Joseph Christian School in St. Joseph, MO.  This is the school that visited Kind Hearts for the first time one year ago and committed to providing a fresh-water well at Kind Hearts.  Funds have been raised and within the next month or so, when the final permits are approved and stamped, drilling will begin and this school (with 102 kids) will have access to fresh, clean water!

While the team was at Kind Hearts, they got to see the site where the well will be drilled, and they presented the school with a commemorative placque!

Because this team includes teachers, students and administrators from a school, they especially understand the value and importance of education and reading.  Each of the team members packed books in their luggage, and raised funds to purchase books in Ethiopia.  They purchased bookshelves and started a library at Kind Hearts - and painted colorful murals on the classroom walls!!

They also delivered letters to the kids from their sponsor families!!  Two of the travel team members also sponsor a child at Kind Hearts and they were able to meet their sponsor kids for the first time!!

On Thursday of this week, the team will spend the day with the kids at Trees of Glory!!

Kind Hearts currently serves 102 orphaned and destitute children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Every child at Kind Hearts is currently sponsored and loves getting letters and photos from their sponsor family!!  The monthly sponsor fee of $34 provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child. 

In the past year since we started the sponsor program at Kind Hearts, we have seen an incredible transformation in these kids.  They now have a safe place with loving care-givers to provide for all of their basic needs.  Through sponsorship they are learning about the love and provision of a family (which demonstrates the love of their heavenly Father)! 

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me at  More children will be enrolling soon and will need a sponsor family.  Also - if you are interested in travelling to Ethiopia with me in November to work with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory, please email me at  I would love to have you join me in Ethiopia as we serve and spend time with these precious kids!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've been given a few gems, and I've shared a few too ...

I love coming away from a conversation knowing something new - especially if it's a little tip that makes everyday life a little easier!

It seems that I've had a few gems given to me lately and I've shared a few of my own too. Each family seems to have a few "tips and tricks" that they take for granted because they've "always done it that way" and they thought that "everyone did it that way." :)

If you have a tip or trick that makes everyday life a little easier, email me at and I'll feature one each week!

Gem #4

The big yellow bus has barely rumbled by our front window when Jayden bursts into the house and in a flurry of dropped mittens, boots, backpack and coat, he pulls open the door to the refrigerator.  Knowing how hungry he is after a long day of learning, we've started keeping a few bunches of bananas on the counter for him.  Bananas not only taste great, but they are full of nutritional calories instead of empty calories ... and they are a super-cheap snack too!

After watching him maim a banana or two when he couldn't pull it open, I showed him a great little trick for opening a banana without mashing it.  Even the littlest kid, Wesley, uses this trick now and can open a banana all by himself.

Open the banana from the "bottom" instead of the "top".  Give the tip (at the bottom) a little squeeze and it will split open.  Then pull it open at the split - with no mashing or maiming. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

These precious years are delicate and fleeting ...

Winter’s last gasp lay frozen on the landscape this morning. A fringe of icy breath laying tissue-thin over stark limbs and evergreens. One last gasp before spring decidedly arrives.

Birds twittered outside my bedroom window this morning … a sure sign that spring is near. A sleepy peek at the clock through tired eyes, and I awoke with a start knowing that Maea needed to get up and get ready for soccer practice … I should have stirred her 20 minutes ago. Before she even opened her eyes, we were already running late. My fault. Waking is a painful process for her, like me. And if the day is to get off to a smooth start, it’s best to let her wake slowly, like me.

I brushed my fingers across her back and said, “Maea, wake up. You need to get ready right now for soccer. You have 5 minutes to get ready.” Silence. I repeated myself until she started to stir and eyes started to open. And then the tiredness that hasn’t been allowed to wake gracefully snapped out a few charged words … “I’m not going. I’m tired. My throat is still sore.” And then rising in volume … “I DON’T WANT TO GET UP!”

These are the words that floated into the hallway like a slap in the face. Jay, who wakes up early to swim laps, was just arriving home to a quiet house that should have been buzzing with the sounds of kids, with one ready to walk out the door.

Angry words flew, slicing the air. Weary of the seemingly endless battle with kids who commit to sports and then whine about going, or can’t find soccer socks and shin guards because they NEVER put them away (they don’t walk off and hide themselves!) Maea stomped into the bathroom to pull her hair up into a ponytail and shot Jay a glare.

By this time, the boys were awake. Wesley was sitting on the couch, with his words already in high gear. “MooooOOOOM! I want yogurt!” he yelled. “I’ll get some for you in just a minute,” I told him as Jay and I turned a closet inside out looking for shin guards. “MOOOOOOOOM, I want yogurt!” he yelled again. “Wesley, you’ll need to get some yourself, otherwise you have to wait until I’m not busy,” I told him again. Without even waiting 2 seconds, he yelled at me again … “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, I want yogurt!” I let my breath out slowly and decided to ignore him.

Just then, Emme walked into the room with the laptop to show us a picture of a loft bedroom set she was admiring. She’s wanting to get a loft bed and be able to put a small couch beneath it to have a place to hang-out with friends. Jay looked at the photo and then explained that the ladder would get in the way of a sofa.

“You don’t need to attach the ladder!” she snapped. “Yes you do or it won’t stay in place. It will fall on someone or fall out from underneath you,” he explained. “You don’t need to attach it, Dad!” she snapped again, and with her eyes and the tone of her voice what went unsaid was this … YOU IDIOT YOU FOOL I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU.

And with a temper already frayed he snapped back at her … and angry words flew again, slicing the air with razor sharpness. And then I threw a few razors of my own “Why do you even get in the ring with her Jay? When she taunts you, don’t get in the ring!” and of course my tone also said YOU IDIOT YOU FOOL I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU. Truth be told, I get in the ring as often as he does.

Why do we use words (and unsaid words) to hurt the ones we love the most?

So we left for soccer practice, with silence hanging heavy and smoldering in the air.  Maea got out of the car, and with one final glare, she slammed the car door.

Jay started to unleash with angry words about lazy kids, uncommitted kids, snotty kids, disrespectful kids and I told him to, “just let it go.” Quiet for a few moments, he started in again … lazy kids, uncommitted kids, always late kids … I cut him off again, “It was my fault she was late. Why can’t you just let it go.”

“I have let it go,” he snapped.

"Yep – it sure sounds like it,” I retorted.


And then with just a whisper of a smile he said, “You can’t see inside me so you don’t know that the raging fire is now just a few glowing embers. You can’t see inside me so you don’t know.” And I started to laugh.

“Keep driving,” I asked, “I want to see the hoarfrost and it never lasts for very long.”

The hoarfrost forms on the trees on especially cold mornings when there is fog and moisture in the air.  It seems to wreath the trees even more near lakes and rivers where there is perhaps a little more moisture in the air. It’s incredibly beautiful, and delicate, and you can’t help but admire and appreciate it. It’s beautiful in the haze and fog and it’s even more beautiful when the sun breaks through and whole forests glisten and sparkle with a sheer veil of white.  Up close, branches and stalks of grass look like lacy fingers.

It's delicate and fleeting. 

With a hint of sun and a whisper of wind, it's gone, sprinkling the air with glistening crystals.

These precious years when the kids are little, still being cradled within the belly of their family ... these are sacred moments and they are delicate and fleeting. 

I want to savor and appreciate these years, moment by moment ...

and not sully them with angry words, said or unsaid. 

It's a lesson that I still learn day after day as I try to instill that lesson in my children. 

Every day, every moment can be made sacred ... if we live it with gratitude and awe, knowing it is delicate and fleeting.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Embraced with words and hugs

Taking flight from the heartland of America, Joey Austin and her team of 16 people leave on Thursday for Ethiopia!  Last year at this time, Joey and her team visited "Kind Hearts" care-point for the first time and their school (St. Joseph Christian School in St. Joseph, MO) committed to raise funds for a fresh-water well at Kind Hearts. 

Almost all of the funds needed have been raised, and the only thing between Kind Hearts and a fresh-water well is the final government permits to drill!  The site for the bore-hole has been identified and while the team is in Ethiopia, they will commemorate the location and the upcoming project!  In addition, they will be bringing books and purchasing bookshelves to begin a library at Kind Hearts!!

Joey offered to personally deliver letters to the kids at Kind Hearts from their sponsor families here in Amercia.  She emailed me a few days ago to say that letters have been pouring in and she has a plastic tote filled with letters!  Sponsors can email or mail letters to their child at any time throughout the year, but they take advantage of every opportunity to have a letter personally delivered - embracing these precious kids with words and with physical hugs!

Last month, families who sponsor children at "Trees of Glory" care-point sent letters with a travel team - and they will have another opportunity in May when that travel family returns to Ethiopia to complete their adoption and spend time with the kids and staff at the care-point.

"Kind Hearts" care-point serves 102 orphaned and destitute children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  "Trees of Glory" care-point serves 99 orphaned and destitute children and is located 2 hours north of Addis Ababa in the beautiful Ethiopian countryside.  

Each child at these care-points has been matched with a sponsor family.  Sponsorship is $34 per month and provides food, clothing, clean water, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for that child.  Through sponsorship, these children have the opportunity to experience the love of a family (which demonstrates the love of their heavenly father) and the safety and mentoring of the care-givers at the care-point.  They also receive a valuable education so that they have the opportunity to become the future leaders of their country! 

Travel teams regularly visit the care-points to spend time with the kids and we get regular updates about the children and projects at the care-points.  I lead a team to Ethiopia each November to spend several days working with the children at each care-point.  If you are interested in joining me on the trip in November - or if you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me at  At present, ALL of the children have been matched with sponsors, but more children will be enrolling soon at the care-points and will need a sponsor family.  Please email me if you are interested in the November trip or sponsorship.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've been given a few gems, and I've shared a few too ...

I love coming away from a conversation knowing something new - especially if it's a little tip that makes everyday life a little easier!

It seems that I've had a few gems given to me lately and I've shared a few of my own too. Each family seems to have a few "tips and tricks" that they take for granted because they've "always done it that way" and they thought that "everyone did it that way." :)

If you have a tip or trick that makes everyday life a little easier, email me at and I'll feature one each week!

Gem #2 & #3:

We adopted Jayden from Ethiopia when he was 7 1/2 years old.  He had never attended school in Ethiopia, nor did he speak any English.  But after we had been home for a few days, and his older sisters (Emme and Maea) went back to school, he pleaded (as best he could in a combination of hand gestures, broken English and Amharic) to go to school too.  So we tossed out our plans about gently easing him into school after a few months ... and he started first grade in the middle of the school year, a week after arriving home. 

Looking back at his first exposure to school - it was very much about socialization (learning to stand in line, wait your turn, type in your PIN number and get a tray for lunch, work the drinking fountains, raise your hand, show and tell, listening to your teacher, being quiet during classtime, etc.) and less about foundational education.  He was barely speaking English, let alone trying to sound out words that he had never heard before.

That was two years ago and he has made so much progress since then.  His English is outstanding, he's extremely social in school (maybe even a little too social :) and he works really, really hard to grasp ever more difficult concepts as he tries to catch up to his classmates. 

As an example of how much catching up he's had to do ... he's learning the difference between shapes - triangle, rectangle, square, circle - at the same time that he's learning about acute, obtuse and isosceles triangles.  Or learning about polygons and parellelograms when he barely knows the words for the basic shapes.  It's A LOT of new information for a little boy to learn in a short period of time.

Teachers have all kinds of learning tips and I appreciated these two gems from my friend Sarah (a 2nd grade teacher) as Jayden was struggling to differentiate between the letters "b" and "d".  By holding both hands in front of you, with forefinger touching thumb, the shape of your hands makes a "b" and "d" like the word "bed".  He knew the sound of each letter - but writing the correct letter was hard to remember, until he learned this little trick!

"b" is the first letter in "bed",
"d" is the last letter in "bed"

It was also hard to differentiate between "left" and "right".  But when you make an "L" shape with your fingers, the left hand makes the correct "L" shape, which makes it easy for a child to identify their left side.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Speculation swirls and debate is more than smoldering ...

Speculation and debate have been swirling since the VOA (Voice of America - international news broadcaster) published a report on Friday, March 4, announcing that Ethiopia was to cut foreign adoptions by up to 90%.  At the end of the report, it stated that U.S. embassy officials would be posting an adoption alert on the State Department's website ( to address the concerns raised by this directive.

To date, VOA is the only news outlet to report on this situation and the State Department has not yet issued an alert.  (Update: As of about 5:00 pm, the State Department website has just issued an alert confirming that the Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia is requesting to substantially reduce the number of recommendation letters they write each day to about a 90% reduction.)  Speculation swirls, the fires of debate are more than smoldering, and heated words are being exchanged on both sides. 

There is no doubt that corruption exists in any program, whether money is involved or not.  It's an imperfect system created by imperfect people to address a crisis in an imperfect world. 

Adoption can be the most incredible gift for a child needing a family - and for a family desiring to open their heart and their lives to a child.  Adoption in that sense - is plain and simply B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.

But on the other side are the situations where a child has been taken from their family and "sold" for adoption, for the financial benefit of a dishonest individual (trafficker) or an unscrupulous adoption agency.  According to VOA, "Investigations have turned up evidence of unscrupulous operators in some cases tricking Ethiopian parents to give up their children, then falsifying documents in order claim a part of the large fees involved in inter country adoptions."  (emphasis mine) 

And when this happens, this beautiful GIFT of adoption becomes an unspeakable tragedy for the children and families involved.  UGLY and EVIL.

There are many adoptive parents who are quick to point out that stopping 90% of adoptions because of a few tragic incidences will affect thousands of children who are legitimate orphans.  Orphans who are in desperate need of a family that could end up languishing in orphanages until they are old enough to leave - without ever having known the genuine love and care of a family. 

We can point to family after family, and child after child, who have been blessed beyond belief with the gift of adoption.  And yet ... if even one child is taken from their family by force or by trick or by payment, can we justify the trajedy of a few for the benefit of many?  No - we cannot!  Should adoption from Ethiopia come to a screeching halt?  No - definitely not!  So the speculation swirls and the debate rages.

As an adoptive parent and an orphan care advocate, to me this really shouldn't be an "either/or" proposition (EITHER adoptions are slowed down dramatically OR children will continue to be trafficked)  Instead - we shouldn't be pointing the finger at either side, we should advocate for both sides.  Advocate FOR adoption and do whatever it takes to put the systems in place to make sure that children are not trafficked in order to feed an unscruplous and evil pipeline.  Advocating for both sides is advocating FOR the children caught in this situation.

A family does not choose to adopt while weighing the odds that the child they adopt may have been stolen or taken from their family.  This is as much a tragedy for the child as it is for the family that has been deceived - the birth family and the adoptive family.

The Bible makes it very clear that God has a special concern for orphans - He is a father to the fatherless and He sets the lonely in families.  True and undefiled religion is defined as taking care of orphans and widows in their distress.  We are called to protect ... and defend ... and care for ... and love the vulnerable, the "least of these".  And the most vulnerable are orphaned children.  Protecting them means adoption and provision as much as it means defending them from those who would exploit them.

Based on the amount of controversy swirling, one would think there are tens of thousands of children being adopted into the United States each year ... when in fact only 2,277 children from Ethiopia were adopted into the United States in the most recently reported year 2009. 

That number has steadily increased from 442 in 2005, to 731 in 2006, to 1,254 in 2007, to 1,724 in 2008 and 2,277 in 2009.  It's a large increase each year but with an estimated 4-5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone, this is just a fraction of a fraction of a percent.  But again - if even a few of those children were taken from their family so that someone could financially gain, it is a tragic evil committed to the child, to the birth family and to the family that unknowingly adopted that child.

The orphan crisis is enormous and it's clear that adoption alone is not the answer.  We need to be PRAYING about the situation in Ethiopia as it is being debated and discussed in the courts and embassies there right now.

I appreciated a blog written today by Tom Davis, President of Children's Hopechest, an organization that works on behalf of orphans all over the world as well as the two care-points I work with in Ethiopia, Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory.  Please click on the link below to read his insight on the situation in Ethiopia and the big picture of orphan care advocacy and how we need to be working for children on all sides of this issue!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've been given a few gems, and I've shared a few too ...

I love coming away from a conversation knowing something new!

It seems that I've had a few gems given to me lately and I've shared a few of my own too.  I've discovered that each family seems to have a few "tips and tricks" that they take for granted because they've "always done it that way" and they thought that "everyone did it that way." :)

If you have a tip or trick that makes everyday life a little easier, email me at  I'll one each week!

Gem #1:

Use a pizza cutter to slice pancakes, waffles and even sandwhiches into bite-sized pieces for little kids.  It cuts fast and doesn't tear the bread or pancake like a knife does.  (Slice before drizzling with syrup.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What's on your nightstand?

If you ask my mom, she'll tell you she instilled a love for reading in me when I was very, very young ... and she's right. She did. And I hope that I am instilling that same love for reading in my children.

During daylight hours, there really is no time for reading, what with a full time job, four kids and a full volunteer schedule (and a full heart for 200 kids in Ethiopia!) as well.

But once the kids are in bed, and the lights are turned off, my bedside lamp gets switched on, and I settle into the pillows within a soft circle of light ... and read. Sometimes for 20 mintues ... and sometimes for a few hours.

So here's what's on my nightstand right now ...

I've actually finished all of these books (so I need to replenish the stack!), but if they are especially good, or if they have several profound nuggets of truth or revelation that need further thought or examination, they'll remain on my nightstand until I can circle back again.  I underline as I go, so finding the nuggets again is made easier. 

"One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp is one that I will be circling back to savor again.  

Gratitude for daily gifts and momentous, life-changing experiences is one thing ... but gratitude in the face of loneliness, despair, boredom, tragedy and poverty???  

It's one thing to read it and get your head around it ... it's another thing to get your heart around it and actually LIVE IT. EVERY. DAY. 

Katie Davis (22 year old mom to 14 orphaned children in Uganda) is striving to wrap her head and heart around this as well and she wrote about it in her Amazima blog on Friday March 4

So, since we're talking books.  I stacked a few of my favorites from this past year in case you are looking for some profound reads to add to your nightstand.

I start to get a bit restless and uneasy when the stack of books on my nightstand starts to dwindle.  It's time to replenish. 

So - what's on your nightstand or on your top 10 "must read" list.  I'd love to know!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Little glimpses of their lives started to emerge on the paper ...

As the kids lined up in the schoolyard for the next activity, we took a group of about 20 kids into one of the classrooms at "Kind Hearts" and they waited expectantly for what was next.  Faces lit with smiles as rainbows of crayons were placed on each table, and Fikre stood at the front of the classroom to explain. 

The little booklets that we were handing out were going to be given to their sponsor family.  There was a page for coloring, and a few pages with questions, and a few blank pages for photos.

At first the room was full of laughter and giggling and chairs screeching on the floor, but it soon got quiet as each child carefully colored a picture they knew would be given to their sponsor family.  I watched as little faces formed furrowed brows and with grave concentration, little hands cupped colorful crayons, trying hard to stay in the lines and pick the most beautiful colors. 

The crew from Children's Hopechest sat down among the kids and asked them the questions from the booklets and meticulously wrote down each child's response.

And little glimpses of these children's lives started to emerge on the paper ...

And always ... the gratitude. 

From the youngest to the oldest, each of them in their own words sincerely expressed their thankfulness for their sponsor family who loves them from afar.

With so many children and so many activities, we didn't get the booklets finished during our visit.  But the kids continued to work on them after we had gone.  The booklets made the trek across the ocean to my mailbox, and I went through the photos from the trip (many of them taken as the kids were working on the booklets) and added them to each booklet.

Each booklet is now in the mail being carried to their final destination ... the mailbox of each Kind Hearts sponsor family!

Sponsor families:  Every one of the kids (60+) that were originally enrolled at Kind Hearts completed a booklet.  The newly enrolled kids were not registered yet in November and so only a handful of the newly enrolled kids were able to complete a booklet.