Friday, January 30, 2009


We all have crosses to bear, although a burden to endure, they are also the heart and soul of growth in Christ. When I was 7 years old, I am certain the only cross I had to bear was whether my room was clean or my words were kind to my siblings.
At 7 years old, Muaz was asked to carry a burden I am unable to imagine...
Our meeting in Ethiopia with mama Medina & Mimi (Muaz's older sister in Ethiopia) was a precious experience. Mama was kind and gentle and had a smile as beautiful as Muaz's. He chatted with Mimi, showed her a picture album of his new family and excitedly looked through the Amharic bible we brought for them to keep. The meeting is somewhat of a blur in my mind...Bereket cried through most of it (he was hungry) and I remember feeling a burden for mama that he cried as she held him for the last time. My memory of this brief and precious meeting is a blur of emotion. I recall mama and Mimi smiling a lot during the meeting and speaking with the orphanage director in Amharic. At the end of the meeting, I remember feeling gripped with sadness for the good bye that was taking place. In what felt like a second in time, there was embracing and crying and then they were gone... And there stood our Muaz...alone...staring at the gate to Hannah's Hope and quickly wiping tears from his eyes... I stood frozen for a brief second, trying to absorb the enormity of the moment. We cautiously approached our new son, and as his little body leaned in (giving us permission), we embraced him.
In recalling this special time with Muaz, I later learned what mama said to him during our brief time together. She said, "Bereket doesn't even know I am his mama." Amidst his crying, she was mourning the reality of her ultimate sacrifice for him. And she said to Muaz, "Go find your sister..." At 7 years old, he was asked to bear the burden of finding his siter whom had been relinquished before him and was already in America with her new family. This mother knew she could not keep her children and she had such a strong desire for them to be together again. I wonder what he was thinking when he saw his sister for the first time here in America. The picture above is worth a thousand words...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Favorite Foto Friday...

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Matthew 19:14

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Life Day Muaz...

Click to play Muaz's 8th Birthday
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"Happy Life Day"...a birthday greeting my dad has lovingly shared with me since I was a small child. Three endearing words he used to celebrate the day in which God breathed life into my lungs. Since the day I was born, my parents have celebrated the day of my birth with well wishes, parties & gifts.
We had the awesome priviledge of celebrating Muaz's 8th birthday with him on January 18. Although it was his 8th birthday - it was the first birthday in his entire life he has celebrated. I believe that for the past 8 years, on January 18, the Lord himself rejoiced in His creation of Muaz and celebrated the life He created in Him, but Muaz had never experienced a joyous celebration of his life by others. The effects of cultural difference and extreme poverty make it difficult to comprehend why a child's life would not be celebrated on their birthday. We thank God for the gift of Muaz and for the 8 years of his life that God protected & blessed before He led us to him. I believe that 8 years ago, when God gifted him with life, he had us in mind...'daddy had a plan' for our Muaz to celebrate his 8th birthday with us in America. Muaz had the joy of celebrating with us & his biological sister as well. She stood at his side while we sang happy birthday to him and my mind drifted to Ethiopia as the Lord prompted me to pray for mama Medina and be thankful for the gift she has given us in Muaz.

This family shares our passion for both Guatemala and Ethiopia - they also have children from both countries. Muaz was at Hannah's Hope Ethiopia with Abby's older sister, Sami. Please join us in prayer for them as Abby fights for her life against Leukemia. This family has a contageous faith in Jesus Christ & an incredible fighting spirit.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Here is Aiden in his handsome new specs, holding baby brother Joey - one of his favorite things to do!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


These words continue to linger in my heart and burden my soul...
As our Muaz becomes more comfortable with us, he often shares about his mama Medina and life in Ethiopia. I count this as a precious blessing for us - for him to remember & for me to learn of the life he was gifted with in Ethiopia.
I once asked him what 'mama' liked to do and he quickly responded "she worked - she liked to work". When I tried to dig deeper to find something else, I was burdened by the reality that all she was able to do was work (all the time) just to be able to feed her children (sometimes). She had no luxury of free time or 'hobbies' - she worked. So, in his 7 year old mind, 'she liked to work'. From what he has shared, she worked until it was dark outside and came home in time to cook dinner (when there was food to cook) and then they went to bed.
He recently shared a story that was by no means profound in its content, but revealed something beautiful in its meaning. 'Mama' would sometimes come home from work for lunch and Muaz would go home for lunch (from school) each day in hopes that mama would be there. This was a very special treat because she worked so much, he did not get to see her much. Often he would wait for her and "she did not get to come home, so I couldn't see her." When I asked him how that made him feel, he said "sad, I miss her". So I asked him if he told her that he missed her and he said yes. When I asked what 'mama's' response was, he said, "She just kissed me & hug me".
I have had the priviledge of meeting mama Medina, but have not known her except from piecing together her character from the recollection of the son we share. From what I can guess, she was often quiet, of few words and thoughtful...she was affectionate and taught him to love well from loving him well...worked very hard for her children & yet it was never hard enough...
I can picture very clearly the look on her face as she heard his words and felt them pierce her soul - I imagine she longed for time to love her children. So, instead of saying a single word...she kissed him...what a beautiful picture of her love for him.
I do not know the burden of devastating cupboards are full, my children are healthy, we drink clean water, we live in a home with locks on the doors and a roof that does not leak over our heads. I have the great priviledge of waking every morning and spending every minute of every day with my children. I feed them (until they are full, every time they ask for food), I play with them, I hold them in my lap & sit next to them on the couch, I educate them, I am the last person they see before they go down for a nap and the first one they see when they wake up, I dry their tears and laugh with them until our bellies ache. I have always counted this a priviledge, but have become keenly aware of this precious, precious gift since learning of life in Ethiopia and the joys/sorrows of mama Medina. She may never know that she is molding my character - she is teaching me to appreciate the 'togetherness' that at times can be overwhelming. I have often stepped back in a moment of chaos and felt the cry of her heart (to have so much togetherness that it becomes a challenge would never have been a priviledge of hers) & humbled myself before the Lord in thanksgiving for the life He has gifted me with.
One last thought - when he shared that story with me, I immediately thought of Mary in Luke 2:19, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." I wonder how long mama Medina pondered the fate of her children in her heart before making the ultimate sacrifice for them...?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads."
Deuteronomy 6: 6-8
There are many occasions, as the shepherd of my children, I have the privilege of being humbled by one of my lamb's pure hearts and desire to seek hard after the heart of God. A few nights ago, during our bedtime routine of bible reading to the kids, I decided to go back to Genesis 1 and read that familiar passage to them.
Our 7 year old, Ethan, stops me several times before I get 1/2 way through Genesis 1 with great comments and questions. Then he says, "so.....if God made the world perfect & it was all good until Eve and Adam ate the apple in the garden, then there wasn't a hell before then? So, I, in all my righteousness (and it is past bedtime....) say, "yes, honey that is true..." and he says, "then how did Satan get in the garden to tempt them to eat the apple?" And I look up from my bible, ready to be righteous again and tell him exactly what the answer is....and I say, "um....honey, (humbled) I don't know, but that is a great question and now mommy needs to let you go to bed so that I can go study and try to find an answer to your question."
I was privileged to witness the faith of my son stretching and searching for absolute truth - pursuing the heart of God.
The next day he says to me, "mom-can we study the persecuted (not quite so well pronounced - too precious) church at school? And I said, "what? (pleasantly surprised again) "yeah, mom we are learning about it a little in sunday school, can we learn about it at home, too?" Needless to say, thanks to the faith of my son, I, too, have been pursuing the heart of God this week. For all you homeschooling mom's out there, I found a great website for kids through 'Voice of the Martyrs' called 'Kids of Courage' that is a great resource for the persecuted church - our new unit study for school!

Monday, January 5, 2009


Please pray for Joe's mom, Theresa, tomorrow (Tuesday, January 6) as she undergoes surgery for her cancer & in the upcoming weeks as she heals. She has taken each step of her cancer journey (this is her 3rd occurence) with courage, a fighting spirit & a strong faith in the Lord. She is an encouragement to so many and a dear mother and grandma Theresa to us - we love you mom!

Friday, January 2, 2009


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, [a] Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

We enjoyed the irony of this verse as we celebrated our Savior's birth this Christmas season. 'For to us one child was born (Joey), to us (2 more) sons were given (Muaz & Bereket). We had much to celebrate and praise our Savior for this year ... as we do every year. I love this verse and the powerful names of Jesus that I am reminded to lift in praise and embrace with my heart.

We had several wonderful Christmas celebrations & enjoyed having Joe home for nearly 2 weeks! Our family time & daddy time were the perfect gift.

Enjoy our Christmas slide show!