Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Frustration

I am feeling a great amount of frustration when talking to people in general and The Church more specifically about adoption.  There is a great divorce between what adoption is and what orphan care means.  Now, orphan care is huge, I am just talking about the "adoption" facet of orphan care here. 

When someone says "adoption", the only need anyone thinks is being met is the parent's desire for a family, and that means infant.  Someone wants a baby.  Needs a baby.  Is adopting a baby.  That family couldn't "have their own" (I cringe as I write that- I have 5 of "my own" children and one more waiting for me.  God intrusted me with them and I have the paperwork to prove it!) and so they are adopting one. 

Where is the ORPHAN here? 

The ORPHAN is missing!!!!!

Adoption has been so sanitized that the baby being adopted didn't exist until the parents' need did.  This is why the need is so great.  This is why no one feels obligated to help.  This is why it is not the responsibility of The Church.  If you choose to encrease your family, that is really on you.  Why should anyone feel moved that you have a void that you feel needs to be filled by babies?  Family size is personal and is not anyone else's responsibility that you need more kids.

DO YOU SEE WHAT HAS HAPPENED????!!!!

ORPHANS  DON'T EXIST OR HAVE NEEDS. 

ONLY BARREN MOTHERS HAVE NEEDS AND THAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, SORRY.

You know what?  I didn't need any more kids.  At one point, for a very long time, I didn't want any more kids.  Mel, Biruk, Hanna and Bianca are not filling any deep seated desire in me for more children. 

GASP!!!!!  WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, TRACI!!!!  HOW DARE YOU? HOW DARE YOU ADOPT CHILDREN WHEN YOU AREN'T MEETING YOUR DEEPEST NEED TO PARENT A BABY!!!

The only need of mine that I met was my need to OBEY my Father.  He said I was to meet the needs of orphans. He even took me to Ethiopia and showed me the need.  I didn't need any more kids, but I did need to obey.  The need we met in adopting was the need of ORPHANS. 

MY ADOPTIONS WERE DONE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ORPHANS. 

ORPHANS!

ORPHANS! 

I'LL SAY IT ONE MORE TIME.  ORPHANS!

THERE ARE 147 MILLION ORPHANS IN THIS WORLD.  THEY EXIST AND WE ARE IGNORING THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ORPHANS THAT GOD HAS COMMISSIONED US, HIS CHURCH, TO TAKE CARE OF. 

James 1:26-27 (New International Reader's Version)
 Suppose you think your beliefs are right because of how you live. But you don't control what you say. Then you are fooling yourselves. Your beliefs are not worth anything at all.
 Here are the kinds of beliefs that God our Father accepts as pure and without fault. When widows and children who have no parents are in trouble, take care of them. And keep yourselves from being polluted by the world.

You know what I don't read here?  It doesn't say " When a couple experiences infertility and have exhausted all options for having a child naturally, God will provide an infant for them to adopt to fill their void and meet their need.  That is how God shows us he loves us."

This is what I believe.  I believe we live in a fallen world.  A world that is no longer perfect.  I do not believe that "everything happens for a reason", that all bad things happen so God can do something good.   I believe bad things happen because we live in a sinful world.  Period.  However, bad things happen and God does DO something good through them, but it's conditional. 
What happens is Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.


Guess what?  If you don't love God and aren't called according to his purpose,  you just have a sack full of fallen world bad things happen because the rain falls on the just and the unjust circumstance, the same as everyone else.  But if you do love him, He can work that infertillity together for the good of you who love him.  Through my infertillity, God worked Svetlana and Andy together for our good. They were ORPHANS WITH A NEED, and I was a childless parent.  Through this, He worked their circumstance and mine to our good.  He gave us a heart for the ORPHAN, and allowed us to see His direction, and he caused Biruk, Hanna, and Mel's ORPHAN STATUS to work together for good to them and to us, and we are a family because  our obedience meets their needs. 

Bottom line:

ADOPTION IS NOT ABOUT ME. 

IT IS ABOUT ORPHANS!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Biruki wisdom

Biruk has a very centered view of life.  Here are just 2 of his gems of wisdom:

I asked him if he was ever sad about events in his past and if he is ever missing Ethiopia and his former life. 
He said, "Why I be sad?  Your life is your life.  You live it.  Why I be sad about it?  I can't change it.  It's just my life."

This is what I heard him tell Hanna today when she said she couldn't do something because it was too hard. 
"Everything is hard when you don't know how to do it. You just have to keep doing it until it is not hard anymore.  That is why things are easy for me."

This is from a 13 year old boy who lost his father when he was very young, was physically abused by subsequent men his mother was involved with, was shuffled between the homes of other family members, watched as his younger brother was sent to America while caring for his mother who was dying of AIDS.  He had the choice to stay in Ethiopia but chose to go to America with Hanna and become my son because if he didn't, his older sister could not take a job as a servant in Dubai. He has told me that until his mother died, he loved his life.  I could go on, but I think you get the point. 

I can't help but recall my own paltry list of "trials" in comparison to his.  Shame on me for being so insulated that I can't see how my heavenly Father has abundantly blessed me. 
Who expected my son to be so much like Paul.  Would that I were more like them both.

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Psalm for Thanksgiving

Psalm 100
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thaks to Him, bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Retort to the Reluctant

THE DEFINITION OF EVIL IS WHEN GOOD PEOPLE SEE INJUSTICE AND DO NOTHING.


It is no secret that I am an orphan advocate. While I don't believe that everyone can or even should adopt a child, I do know without a doubt that every Christian has a roll to play in their care. Just like every Christian has a roll to play in helping the homeless and the imprisoned. I, as an individual, cannot possibly meet all of these needs. It is physically impossible to do. I am however part of a larger body, the body of Christ, and together we enable the group as a whole to fulfill all the needs set before us. If our church is not even attempting to meet these needs, well, that's another post, I am just setting the stage for what should be happening and how it gets done.

Back to orphan care specifically. I have heard it argued recently that perhaps it is not the Christian's responsibility to feed, clothe, help the poor and suffering (to include orphans). That really our responsibility is only to Christ's brothers and sisters (Christians). That since salvation is only for the called, then our responsibility is only to them. I believe that this argument takes you down the road of "there is no need to evangelize because the called are called and will come to Christ", but again, that is another post for another time. I will do what I can to keep on task. I will touch on it a bit, because it is an integral counter-point to the argument against helping all.

Are we really supposed to meet the needs of everyone? Lets see what Jesus did.

In Matthew 15:32-39, Jesus had been addressing a crowd of over 4,000. Verse 32 says, "I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way. "

Jesus preaches indiscriminately, and He feeds indiscriminately. He never says, "Here's a list of those who have become My brother. Feed them and send the others on their way." No. He gave His message to all and He fed them all.

Ezekiel 18:5,9b
If a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness... but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing... "he is righteous and will surely live," declares the Lord God.

Mark 16:15-16
And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."

The parable of the soils in Mark 4 likens us to sowers sowing seed on all kinds of soil. He doesn't tell us to only sow on the good soil. We sow the seed everywhere. It is for God to know His gift to the Son. We are the workers.

I could go on, I just wished to establish that we are not told to be discriminate in who we give help to. In Romans 12:20 we are even told explicitly to feed and quench the thirst of our enemies. We are to overcome evil with good.

God's heart for the orphan is clear. In 36 different places in the Bible orphans are mentioned and in all instances, we are either being exhorted to help and protect, someone is being condemned for not caring for the orphan, or God Himself is protecting them.

I am never going to write that YOU MUST ADOPT ORPHANS. What I will say is that you had best be doing something, and if the Holy Spirit is prompting you to act and you are fighting Him, woe to you. What are you thinking? Don't you trust Him? Don't you believe that He knows what's best for you? Are you really going to tell Him that what He has planned for you is just not right?

James 4:17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Orphan Sunday

Every 15 seconds another child becomes an orphan in Africa.
Every day 5,760 more children become orphans.
Every year 2,102,400 more children become orphans in Africa alone.
In Ukraine and Russia 10-15% of children who age out of the system commit suicide before age 18.
60% of the girls are lured into prostitution.
70% of the boys become hardened criminals.
Many of these children accept job offers that result in their being sold as slaves.

IT IS TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!!

Proverbs 24:12
Once our eyes have been opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tesfe Means Hope

When Mel came home, we made a movie chronicling his arrival. I finally completed one for Biruk and Hanna.
video

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I love a rediculous story

Read this story and felt like sharing. Enjoy a good laugh or take this as a warning, which ever applies.

Drinking and driving his recliner don't mix
Duluth, Minn.- A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to driving his motorized La-Z-Boy chair while drunk.
A criminal complaint says Dennis Le Roy Anderson, 62, told police he left a bar on his chair after drinking eight or nine beers.
Prosecutors say Anderson's blood alcohol was 0.29, more than triple the legal limit, when he crashed into a parked vehicle in 2008. Police said the chair was powered by a converted lawn mower and had a stereo and cup holders. Anderson, who was not seriously injured, was ordered this week to serve two years' probation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

True love

Let me state for the record that it is an honor and a privilege to be my kids' mom. They already had a mom and a dad, but because we live in a fallen world, they all needed a new one. God commissioned us to be their parents. I rejoice daily that he picked us and gave us the will to say yes.

Last week I was definitely feeling the pressure of a down week. I would be lying if I never admitted to wanting to "stab myself in the eye". (For some reason this is my relief valve of choice. Apparently all the pressure is behind my eye.) Sometimes it is very hard to have the patience required to meet their needs. The reason it is so hard is that alone I CANNOT DO IT. I can only do it when He does it through me. It gets hard when I think I am doing it myself. I rip the steering wheel from God's hands and yell "I got it" as I tear the wrong way down a one-way street. Then God stops the car, tosses me back into the rear seat where I belong and we continue on our journey. Guess who thought she was driving last week? Guess who ALWAYS thinks she is driving?

Yep, its me.

Through my struggle to meet Hanna's heart needs and find connection with her, God is revealing to me just how conditional my love is and how unconditional His love is. As God's child, I am stubborn, self centered, rude, inconsiderate, impatient... the list goes on. In spite of it, God loves me so much that He sent His perfect Son to take the wrath for all of that so I could go to heaven.

The definition for love is as follows:

Love is giving of myself to meet others' needs whether they deserve it or not and expecting nothing in return.

As a parent, I expect obedience. In fact, I require it. Do I get it all of the time? Ha! Do I love my kids in spite of it? You bet.

As Heavenly Father, God requires things too.
John 15:12-13a
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this...

How do we accomplish this?

John 15:13b
that one lay down his life for his friends.

I must lay down my life for my children. In order to obey God, I need to love them and set aside my own selfish desires in order to meet their needs.

They need a mother.

That mother is me.

Thank you God.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What makes a bad day

I have noticed something related to Hanna's behavior. It took a couple of times for me to see the pattern, but it is definitely happening. After she talks on the phone with a friend from the orphanage, one she hasn't seen during the last 8 months, her attitude regresses back to when she was first home and she fought submitting to me. Within minutes of hanging up the phone, she doesn't get along with her siblings and she gives me that squinty $#%&* look if I ask her to do anything. (I don't know how to describe that look that we all know without using words as ugly as the look. You know the one.)
I felt like I was pushing a boulder up a hill during class today. I am pleased that I knew what was happening and didn't loose my cool, but I was silently praying the whole time that God would keep me from blowing it.
I can't decide if it's that talking to people from "before" just dredges up memories that make her sad, or if it is the content of the conversations themselves that are riling her up. I have begun requiring her to sit near me while on the phone, but she is speaking in Amharic, so it's not like I know what she is saying. The conversation yesterday afternoon was only 10 minutes long, but it has effected the last 30 hours. It happens with a couple of the girls she talks to, but mostly with the girls I know are themselves struggling with their adjustment. I hate to consider it, but I may have to cut off phone contact for every one's peace. I want to help her keep connections for her benefit as well as her friends', but not at the expense of her own contentedness as well as our family's peace.
Does anyone else recognize this behavior? Any insight?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just do it already!

I just got back from the Together for Adoption conference and as you might suspect, I am ON FIRE!!! I know that I have backed off about doing what God wants you to to for the last few posts, but it is on so buckle up.

I met so many fantastic people doing fantastic things. Most of them up and quit lucrative jobs or sold everything and completely switched gears. I got to talk to someone on the phone who just became a christian 2 years ago. He had been a 5th Avenue music producer. He says he's gone from 4 stars to no stars and he couldn't be happier. He is eager to see what life holds for him now that he has Jesus.

We all need a giant shot of that enthusiasm!

I met a great woman named Eileen. She is an adoptive homeschooling mom who has children ranging from either side of 20 to 2. She also has a "son" she was unable to officially adopt who lives in Ethiopia. He just graduated from school and has to leave Kolfe boys home. She is distressed that she has not been able to bring him home to live with her, but God clearly has other plans. She has been able to find a family who will open their home to him and help him launch into his new life. I have shamelessly copied a portion of her blog in which she described the difference her presence in his life has made for him. I hope it encourages you to do something, anything. Start making a difference.


Jerry posted about Solomon winning the Valedictorian award at his graduation. An important fact that was left out was that Solomon was failing all of his classes until almost two years ago. He shared with us that he was very depressed and hopeless. He had no ambition to study...or anything. He was having one of his very worst days the day I first stepped foot at the Kolfe orphanage when he heard the boys talking about a lady that was outside visiting. He got up off of his bed to go see what was happening and that day changed his life forever! He shared that until he got HIS FAMILY...HE HAD NO HOPE...NO REASON TO PURSUE ANYTHING. HE WAS SHOCKED THAT HE WON THIS AWARD... HE received two honors..top student of the Marketing Division which was his major and then the highest GPA for the entire school of more than 400 students. He was almost kicked out of this school a few months ago because they reneged on his scholarship due to lack of funds. We sent him some money just in time to pay his tuition. Then he began to study really hard and apply himself. He also missed the last exam due to food poisoning that put him in the hospital. All the other students took that exam except him. So, with all of this said...HE STILL WON THE VALEDICTORIAN AWARD FOR HIGHEST GPA OF THE SCHOOL!! Even the director of Kolfe and the other boys who know Solomon for almost 10 years were absolutely shocked that he won!! They all asked how he did it?? He responded: "I just started to study really hard because I wanted MOM to be proud of me!!!"

According to Solomon, if not for having a family, a mom and dad that were rooting for him and supporting him, his life would have taken a major turn for the worst. Through this experience the LORD is revealing to me and you just how important it is to be there for these orphans even if we can't adopt them physically in our homes. IF we had not stepped out in faith and become a part of SOLOMON's life, what would his story be today??? According to him, HE WOULD HAVE NEVER FINISHED SCHOOL NEVER MIND WITH HONORS!!! I pray this inspires you to SEEK GOD'S WILL FOR YOUR ROLE IN CARING FOR THE ORPHANS IN OUR WORLD. I have a list of boys from Kolfe that have personally asked me to get them a family that will love them and be a part of their lives like Solomon has. I will be posting more...but please pray now to see how the LORD wants you to respond. I have been given another new mission... to be a MOM TO ALL THE BOYS AT KOLFE and to find them all a family!! I have much work to do...I will never be the same again!!! Please stay tuned...the best is yet to come!!There are many of them who can be adopted and I will be happy to talk with you about it. Just email me: emestas@nc.rr.com!! TO GOD BE ALL GLORY HONOR AND PRAISE!!


I could not possibly say it better than that so I won't try. Please people. Search your hearts. Don't tell me that you are not called to adopt. I am fine with that. Just follow that statement up with what you are called to do...

AND JUST DO IT ALREADY!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the docket

Just going over a mental list of things to teach, or forward, do or ignore:

Avoid committing haricari while teaching the new kids how to write a proper sentence. Poking one's eyes out, pulling out one's hair, and screaming incessantly are also ill advised.

Put finishing touches on the adoption Q & A session Scott and I are holding for church. If you are interested and in the area, it is being held Thursday Oct. 8, 7-9 pm at Harvest Bible Chapel ministry center. 9850 W 190th St Mokena, IL.

Pack for and attend the Together for Adoption conference in Tennessee. Project Hopeful will be hosting a booth.

I need to have some Project Hopeful shirts embroidered. Before Thursday night. Right.

We need to camp 7 more nights before October 31.

Status of dossier: only documents needed are physicals, state background check and Home study. I am responsible for the first 2. The other one is on my social worker's list. When home study is done, we will await the I171h. Fingerprinting for that will be on Oct. 17th in Michigan City, IN. There is a site in Naperville, but we have to go to another state. Go figure.

Those are the immediate things. Hey, aren't the holidays just around the corner?

Yikes!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Imagine making a difference

This is a letter a friend of mine was given. She is in Ethiopia right now working hard to bring her 5 year old daughter home. It is from a little girl who's only wish is for a family. It could have been written by any one of my children, not to mention any of the MILLIONS of other orphans who are waiting right now.

Dear Amanda,
Hello! How are you? I am fine. How is everything. I am _________. I am 10 years old. I am in grade 6th. I don't have any broher and sister. I live in Kidane Mehret Children home 5 years ago. but I don't have any chance for go to America. so please try to find family for me. I want go to America. Please find family for me. I don't have family for me. I want to be family and Amanda please please try to find family ok. I like your I still waiting your answer.
Bye, bye,
__________________


Dear friends, you really could be that family. I can't tell you how many times I have been told "OH, I could never do that." Guess what? Yes you could. You can. Really. It is not easy or comfortable or inexpensive. In fact, it costs a lot. And I'm not talking money. It costs you your life. What better way to spend it?

1John 3:16We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Precious delights

We are three weeks into school and things are going well. It is my 2nd year teaching at home, and there are a number of things that thrill and inspire me.

1. I love the Classical Conversations group. It is great to have support and direction with the added bonus of good friends who are also involved.
2. We can take a day off to take advantage of special events. We went to Great America for homeschool day on Thursday. The park crowd was at a minimum. We got to stay on rides for multiple turns whenever there was nobody in line. Also, one of the ride attendants told us that this was his best work day ever- not just because there was no crowd, but more so because everyone was so polite and kind. (I imagine it was because of all of the un-socialized homeschoolers)
3. Hanna has a better grasp on the English language and is more empowered to retain and participate.
4. It is evident that Biruk was receiving a quality education in Ethiopia and that he has an excellent memory.
5. Both Svetlana and Andy are excelling outside of a large classroom setting. I feel our decision to remove them from traditional school is validated.
6. Mel is a delight to teach. His eagerness and zeal for learning is almost difficult to keep up with. Additionally, after two years home, he is now emotionally available to ask for and receive affection. If my lap is available, he demands to sit in it. Not that he verbally asks, he is just adamant about climbing on. I get to teach him to read with him sitting on my lap. It thrills my heart to finally hold him so much.

I hope that whatever difficult decision you've struggled with in the past is rewarding to you today. I encourage you to step outside of what is known and comfortable and take a chance. Teach Sunday School, take a volunteer position, home-school, adopt a child, start a blog, try a new recipe, just do something.
You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Am I the only one?

In a departure from anything adoption related or spiritual, I am going to share the conversation I was party to on the way home from school today. I am sharing because I can't be the only one, and also, I must admit I was amused. I hope you will still hold me in some regard after you read this.

Brace yourselves.

The conversation began when Biruk told Hanna that it is rude for girls to fart. (you can guess what started this)
I said it was rude for anyone to fart.
Biruk wanted to know why everyone farts if it is so rude. (It has been pointed out that everyone does it sometimes. Yes, this is not our first conversation on the topic.)
We then discussed what is rude and what is not. In the bathroom is always fine, in some one's face is unacceptable, the accidental is unfortunately unavoidable, and therefore excusable.
This rapidly segued into why do they stink so bad and what color are they? Which lead to a spirited conversation about different colors and what a riot that would be.

Yes, I allowed the conversation and even participated when necessary. Believe it or not, they exhibited some good linear thinking and scientific observation. (Mostly I allowed it because I was laughing so hard. My girlfriend's husband says she and I are really 12 year old boys. I fear he may be right.)
Anyway, this is what rides home are like for me.
Please tell me I am not alone.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1st day of School


It is finally the first day of school. I know, the kids are home schooled and therefore don't leave
me, but the start of school has been a needed thing. Summer has dragged on, and the kids have exhausted their need for free time.
Yes, those are uniforms that we are wearing. This year is a little different than last year. We have joined a school community called Classical Conversations. www.classicalconversations.com One day a week, we meet from 9am until 3pm. My four older children are in a class together, and Mel is in a younger class. There are tutors who introduce new material each week, and it is my responsibility to ensure that the children learn and understand. There is usually an assignment for them to turn in the next week. It is a nice balance for us. There is some extra guidance and accountability for me as well as the kids.
We all feel the first day was a success.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

blessings

Well,

My friend moved me to tears with the last post. Biruk is getting a little fed up with all my crying. He says, "Why you cry when you happy? Give me a break!" Apparently he though I was stronger than that.
I did not expect her to write anything. I just wanted her to add the button with Bianca's picture and remove the picture of the quilt. She did so much more. Thank you Melinda!

It felt weird to have a link where I was essentially asking people to give me money. Give Me money. I have absolutely no problem asking people for money 'for Someone else'. But this is actually to benefit me. Well, Bianca and subsequently, me. Am I asking for money really? I think it is more like allowing the opportunity. Because really, most of you who read this blog are in the same boat as me. Stepping out in faith and waiting for God to provide the way. I assure you, He will ALWAYS provide the way. I have never had a personal "GIVE" button before, but I have ALWAYS had the funds when I needed them. (not always when I wanted them...)



Ok, enough of that.



How are things going for you? Are you encouraged today, or is your heart discouraged? I pray for you all, my dear friends:



Precious Lord,

Thank you for your mercy and love. Thank you for hope. Thank you that we can know in our hearts that you love us. That if You are for us, no one can be against us.

Please Lord, strengthen our hearts today. Give us courage to look forward- past all obstacles. Help us Lord to find our joy in your strength.

No may God Himself, the God of Peace, make you pure, belonging only to him. May your whole self: spirit, soul, and body be kept safe and without fault when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. You can trust the One who calls you to do that for you.- I Thessalonians 5:23

Amen



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Help change the life of a child.

This is Traci's friend Melinda writing this post. She gave me her password so I could add the picture of Bianca for her and a link so I decided to write this little post as well. :)
Traci and Scott have decided to step out in faith once again to adopt a precious little girl that needs a mommy and daddy. Even though they have only been home for 6 months with Hanna and Biruk, even though their plates are already full, they have decided to be obedient to the calling God has placed in their lives. This is one of the verse's that Traci has found so meaningful during this time, it comes from Isaiah 54:1-2 "Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor;because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,"says the LORD. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
The Heim's have adopted all 5 of their children. They have never done any type of fundraising for any of the other adoptions. This time is different. They were not expecting to adopt this soon. They thought they would wait at least a year before they would add another child to their family, but as God often does, He laughed and told them He had other plans for their family.
I am asking on their behalf for you to be a part of this miracle called adoption. Not everyone will adopt a child, but we are all called to be a part of orphan care. What better way to do that then to financially support a family that is changing the life of a child. On the side of the blog their is a picture of one super adorable little girl that goes by the name Bianca. If you click on her picture it will direct you to a site that allows the Heim's to fund raise for her adoption. The donations go straight into an account specifically for Bianca. All donations are tax deductible and will be there only for Bianca.
I am so thankful to God for bringing this family in my life. I love these guys and want to see how God completely amazes them with his blessing's for this adoption.
Would you consider being a part of changing a life?

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!' and to the south, `Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-- --- Isaiah 43: 5-6

I'm only one. But still, I am one.I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something.And because I cannot do everything,I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.-- Edward Everett Hale

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Anouncement

Drum Roll Please.....
The Heim Family has officially begun the process to adopt a four year old girl named Bianca (not her real name), from Ukraine. I will go further to say that she is one of the precious angels that Project Hopeful has been advocating for. http://www.reecesrainbow.com/newsite/angelhiv.html hit this link and scroll to the end of this page and you will see her.
The site proclaims, "My family found me!"

We sure did.

My prayer is that more of these children will be found by their families, and soon.

The kids are excited and have no qualms about sharing the fact that she is coming home, as well as her HIV status. We realized right away that God is calling us to bring HIV into the light and dispel the fear it brings. It is a lot to put on a little girl, but God has a plan for my little Sunny, as I like to call her, and we will obey his will.
As you can imagine, along with this news are the usual comments, only they have stepped up a notch.

"You're going to heaven for sure"

This was said with utmost kindness, and the person meant well. The thing is, I am going to heaven for sure. Not because I adopted some children, but because my Heavenly Father adopted me.

Ephesians 1:5
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will...

I don't adopt the children so I'll go to heaven, I adopt them because I am going to heaven.

James 2:14-18
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Dear friends, God is asking each of us to do something. To evidence our faith through our deeds.

He asks me to mother his children.

What does he ask you to do?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Successful Fundraiser

Just wanted to share with you that we have raised enough money to pay for the fence around the Covenant Village property. The quilt featured to the right has been won, and our Tattoo fundraiser raised $1010!!! Rich was so busy that there was never time to do one for me. I guess I dodged the needle this time. The other Project Hopeful ladies and I are considering a design so a tattoo is still probably in my future. Thanks again to Rich and Bridget Kocis at Peace of Art Tattoos. http://www.peaceofarttatoo.com/
While this specific fundraiser is now over, we are constantly in need of funds to cover our office expenses, so feel free to continue to donate generously.

Exciting news also here at the Heim house. I will share soon, but please keep us in your prayers.

TTFN

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Blanket

I have a couple of friends who have come home with older children recently, and they are struggling with the adjustment- both the children and the parents.
Nobody can quite understand why it is so hard and so they call me. I do my best to explain what is going on but until now, I have been only marginally successful. I woke up with this story in my head and I think I can explain it now.

THE BLANKET

When every baby is born they are given a blanket. This blanket is supposed to be warm and soft and protective. It usually has beautiful colors and satin edging. It is wrapped around the baby and the baby is at peace.

Sometimes, the blanket is old. It hasn't been washed and it is made of burlap, but it is wrapped around the baby, and even though it is a little smelly and scratchy, the baby is at peace.

The blanket for this baby has big problems. There are big holes in it. It looks like it had satin edging once, but that has been torn away. It may have had soft pastel colors, but it is now a dull and dirty brownish grey. It is wrapped as best it can be around the baby, and the baby clings to it for peace. But the baby is cold and can't get comfortable. Now, both the baby and the blanket are dirty and smelly, but it is the baby's blanket, and baby holds on to what little comfort it knows, and tries to have peace.

Suddenly, the blanket is ripped away. Baby cries and reaches for the blanket, but it is gone. Baby knows it wasn't a good blanket, a warm and soft blanket, but it was baby's, and with it, baby knew the only peace that baby has ever known. Someone has wrapped a new blanket around baby. It has pretty satin edging and soft fleece. It smells fresh and inviting, but baby throws it off. That is NOT Baby's blanket. Where is baby's blanket? Baby cries and cries as the new blanket is wrapped back around baby's body. Baby notices warmth that baby has never felt before. This is a trick. Yes is is warm, but IT IS NOT MINE!!!!! Baby had better not get used to this. Baby doesn't have a warm, soft blanket. Baby only knows the scratchy, dirty and cold blanket. Baby kicks it away.
Baby is cold and lonely and misses the old blanket.
Baby toys with the edge of the new blanket. Baby feels that it is soft and inviting. Baby can tell it is warm. Maybe baby will just hold the edge of this blanket for a while. It is not baby's blanket, but it is here, and baby is sad and needs comfort.
Someone keeps trying to wrap the whole blanket around baby, but baby still throws it off. Baby will only hold the edge. Why won't baby take the blanket? Can't baby see how much better this blanket is? It is warm, it is soft. Come on, it is polar fleece!! What is baby's problem? It is such a great blanket!!
Baby continues to reject the entire blanket, but is still holding on to the edge. Eventually, baby can cover one arm and rub baby's face with more of the blanket, but baby stops short of wrapping up in it. The new blanket providers have stopped trying to force baby to wrap up in the blanket, and have accepted that baby can't or won't use the whole thing, and have settled on waiting on baby. Sometimes baby brings the blanket to them and asks them to drape it over baby's arm in just the right way so that the satin edge touches baby's face the way baby likes it. This continues for a time and baby realizes that even though baby misses the old blanket, baby has a peace that baby has not known before. Baby thinks it might be this new blanket. Baby is torn. Baby misses old blanket, but old blanket didn't protect baby like new blanket does. New blanket is warm. New blanket smells good and is so very soft.
Old blanket is gone.
One day, baby needs help with the new blanket. Baby takes it to the ones who gave it to baby and they wrap it gently around baby's shoulders. Baby holds on tight to the blanket and baby is at peace.

*************************************************************

I know I talk about a baby in this story. I do it so you consider just how long your baby has had that old blanket.

Friday, July 31, 2009

You learn something new everyday

It is so much fun to be a mom to these wonderful children of mine. As you know, I am still getting acquainted with 2 of them, and I frequently learn something new.
Today was no different.
Today I learned a little something about Hanna's pain threshold. I would prefer the children not experience pain, but it still comes in handy to know how they handle it.
I was reading at the table when Svetlana runs in. "Hanna's Hurt!"
I run to the family room.
Hanna's face is a mask of horror. Her eyes are wild and her mouth is a perfect "O" shaped silent scream. Tears are streaming and she is holding her side.
What happened?
Did you fall?
Are you hurting inside?
Which side is the appendix on? I really need to figure that out.
She begins gasping and OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
"the boat, zzzz zzzz zzzz and bam."

She has been stung by a bee.

As she calmed down, I tried to determine if she was experiencing any breathing problems or if her lips were swelling. She was too distracted by her brother's game of Lego-starwars on Gamecube to give me a good answer.
She over-reacts but her recovery is quick.
Short attention span helps too.

She's going to make it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More begging with a date change

Hi friends.
You will notice on the right side of my blog is a picture of a beautiful hand made quilt. For $5 dollars a chance, you can purchase a raffle ticket for the quilt, with proceeds going toward paying for our fence.
If quilts aren't your thing, you might be interested in a tattoo. On August 17, 2009, Rich and Bridget Kocis, owners of Peace of Art Tattoo 133 Joe Orr Rd. Chicago Heights, are donating all proceeds from that day toward our fence. Hours are 10am to 10pm. So, if you have kicked around the idea of a tattoo, now is the time!!!
I am strongly considering having the verse Psalm 113:9 He gives children to the woman who has none and makes her a happy mother. Praise the Lord! along with my children's names written in their language. If I don't chicken out, I will post pictures.
Like I said before, COME ON PEOPLE, PAY FOR A PICKET!!!!!

***************Date was changed from August 10th to August 17th. ***************

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paying for Pickets

Hi friends.
As you know, I am in charge of events and fundraising for Project Hopeful. Gear up for our first event. It is happening right now.
Here goes...

I am on my knees begging you to help us with my new promotion "Paying for pickets".

"Paying for pickets" involves you going to http://www.projecthopeful.org/ and donating money using the DONATE button and specifying "village". or going to the site and buying something from our store and specifying "village". The bottom line is, we need $4,400 to pay for a fence to go around the acreage we have been given for Covenant Village. We must establish ownership of this property now, and the best way to do this is to put a fence around it. it will cost $4,400. I think that is quite a bargain for a fence. We have all paid a lot more to fence a lot less here in the states.

Here is Project Hopeful's vision for the property:

COVENANT VILLAGE/ALMOST HOMESLegadadi, Ethiopia
A VISION to care of Orphans and widows/woman infected with HIV. Holistic care including; Specialized medical clinic, psychosocial care, education, spiritual needs and housing in a self-sustaining atmosphere. Focusing on the needs of the community, integrating the Covenant Village purpose into the community through sponsorships and relief efforts, with the first goal to maintain families and eliminate the need for woman to relinquish their children for reasons that can be alleviated.

ALMOST HOMES• Family like settings (cottages) for 5-8 children consistently with 2 caregivers. Unlike typical orphanage setting, children will be raised in small family units. Providing for a nurturing atmosphere, with emotional development and care being paramount.• The goal ultimately to place the children in forever adoptive families, after the possibility to keep them with family in country is exhausted.• We will utilize HIV+ widows and HIV+ young women, to care for the children, giving them housing, education and medical care. • Every child shall be paired with Christian family/person in U.S. to advocate and pray and ACT until the child is placed in FOREVER family. (Families In the Gap, FIGS…)

FAITH MONTESSORI SCHOOLING• Hands on learning, crosses language barriers. Originated for underprivileged children. • Encourages self-learning and teaching . • Train women to be certified Montessori teachers and contribute to the village and community.• Excellent and easy to replicate materials and manipulatives. Sturdy and easy to clean and maintain.• Stimulating and fresh atmosphere full of HOPE and KNOWLEDGE.

SELF-SUSTAINING VILLAGE• 6 fresh springs• Clean river• Acres for agriculture, chickens, cows and sheep• Bee keeping • Potential for income and industry Career and skill training• Building materials, for bricks etc. on site. Adequate soil compounds. MEDICAL CLINIC• Specialized clinic within the compound to treat and monitor HIV and related infections.• Available to community to sustain first goal of maintaining original family units.• Consistent health care in a community that otherwise has none.• Aid to prevent passing HIV to unborn by infected mothers, providing means necessary with medication and baby formula to reduce the chance of transmission.

NEW HOPE CHURCH and RELATIONSHIP CENTER• Community outreach respectful and loving to the culture…. living JESUS through love and care of the most vulnerable people in the world today.• FOCUS on THE PURE AND FAULTLESS RELIGION in all facets and seeing it through from beginning to end. Teaching relationship with the LIVING GOD that SEES them KNOWS them and LOVES them. THE TRUE GRACE MESSAGE…. No…really…THE TRUTH OF THE GRACE MESSAGE.• Reducing stigma through the actions of the church, through caring for HIV + orphans and widows without ceasing.• Church building and worship center, community center.• Feeding program• Sponsorship disbursement• Integration and HIV education• Skill and career training• HEALING….HEALING….HEALING and a little more HEALING. Through recognizing the VALUE of ONE at a time.EDUCATING, ENCOURAGING and ENABLING families adopting children with HIV/AIDS. EXPANDING: Creating villages to fulfill His intentions for the orphans and widows, the lonely and the desolate."A FATHER to the FATHERLESS and protector of widows is God in His holy dwelling.God places the lonely IN FAMILIES and gives the desolate A HOME in which to dwell;" Ps 68:5-6


COME ON PEOPLE. IT ALL STARTS WITH A FENCE!!!

WON'T YOU PAY FOR A PICKET?

There.

It's done.

Our first event.

Me begging and you giving.

Our events will be much more elaborate in the future, but for our first one, I thought I would go with simplicity.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More challenge

I like the verse I posted earlier. It's my theme verse.

Ephesians 4:1
...I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you.

Don't you feel the challenge? LIVE UP TO THE LIFE TO WHICH GOD CALLED YOU.

It stands as a challenge to God's people to get busy living the life He wants you to.

I've been reading Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, by Gary Haugen. I guess that's me- a restless Christian.
Gary Haugen writes:
"Accordingly, I can take my gifts and passions and training and strengths beyond the places of safety and control, and into the sphere of the kingdom where I actually need God...

Do you and I have work that we can't imagine doing for thirty minutes without prayer? If not, perhaps we need a new life's work. Or perhaps we need to do an old life's work in a new way...
...our rescue is not the ultimate destination, it is the indispensable means by which God works out his plan to rescue the world.

..."You are the light of the world."
according to Jesus, we are it. You are it. The world is a dark and hurting place, and the Creator of the universe has one pan to bring light to it-and through Christ, we are that plan...

God calls us to make the transition from being those who have been rescued from the world, to those through whom God is literally rescuing the world."

I could continue quoting the book until I typed the whole thing out on my blog. It all boils down to that verse.
Live up to the life to which God called you.
If we all started living like God intended, we would be seeing miracles every day. We would be the vehicle through which those miracles would happen.

Slaves would be set free
the hungry would be fed
the sick would be healed
the orphan would have a home
the widow would be cared for
the homeless would have a resting place

If we would just LIVE UP TO THE LIFE TO WHICH GOD CALLED US TO.

Don't you hear him calling?

I do.

Monday, July 13, 2009

This morning's issue

Hanna and I had a small clash this morning. I think I handled it ok, you tell me.

Hanna and Svetlana have been signed up for a week long song and dance class. 9am to 3pm Monday through Friday with a show at 6:30pm on Friday night.
The girls are so excited and anticipation for the class to start has drawn them even closer. I overheard Hanna express concern about understanding everything the teacher said, and Svetlana assured her that she would stick by Hanna and help her out.
They spent the afternoon on Sunday choosing what they would wear and Hanna did Svetlana's hair. When they came downstairs this morning, they had big smiles and were ready to go!
Hanna had chosen to wear Svetlana's blue and gold gym uniform.
She also had on 2 mismatched terry cloth wrist bands.

Just below her knees.

I have told her in the past not to wear the wrist bands there and I told her to take them off.
No problem.

The director asked that all the children wear gym shoes and I reminded the girls to put them on.
At the back door there was a problem. Hanna's shoes are too small. She would rather not wear gym shoes and so has not worn them in almost 2 months. It was true. The shoes were too small.
OK Hanna, you still have to wear gym shoes, so you need to wear the black gym shoes that don't fit your brother. I will have new shoes for you this afternoon.
Big tears! I'm not going! I can't wear those shoes! Wah Wah Wah.

You can't wear the shoes?!!?!?!?! In your whole ensemble, THESE SHOES are the problem?

I don't say that. Deep breath.
I tell her that I understand that she doesn't want to wear her brother's shoes, but I assure her that nobody is going to notice her shoes.
Over breakfast, she continued to shoot me very nasty looks. Finally I asked her why she was looking at me that way. (like I don't know)

I no like these shoes- through her teeth.

At this point, (anther very deep breath first) I gently suggest to her that she choose a better attitude. That she should focus on the great day she was poised to have rather than make her focus something as inconsequential as shoes. I told her I couldn't make her change her attitude, but that I hoped she would.
By the end of breakfast, she was again smiling and discussing the day with her sister, and by the time we arrived at class, I could tell she had forgotten about the shoes.

I think this is good advice for all of us. We need to quit focusing on tiny disappointments and start marveling at the awesome blessings we have been given.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The least I can do

I have been struck. It has hit me hard. I pray this hits you too, and I hope it hits you in a place you can't ignore.

Clearly it is on my mind and heart what we should be doing as Christ's hands and feet, and while I don't think that adopting a child is the ultimate thing a person can do for orphans, I realize I have been writing about it that way. Like if you aren't "called" to adopt a child, you could pray for the orphans, or financially support someone who is adopting, or offer your time babysitting for someone who has. While those things are true and accurate supportive rolls that someone could and should fill in order to help take care of orphans, adoption is not the ultimate in meeting this need. There are still millions of orphans who need care across this country and around the world. Orphanages need funds and food and workers even after the one orphan is placed in a home. IT NEVER ENDS!
I have written A LOT about bringing it down to one, and that needs to be done in order to begin meeting needs, but it has finally occurred to me, IT'S THE LEAST WE CAN DO!!!


So in all of these posts, it turns out that I have been asking you to find out what is the least you can do and urged you to begin doing it.
That is only step one.
Because you know what? it doesn't stop there.
One step is not enough.
It will never be enough.
Once you have done the least, it is no longer a stretch for you and is now inside your comfort zone. You must go further to get outside your comfort zone in order to define the least you can do.
In this way, "the least you can do" becomes greater and greater, and beyond anything you ever asked or imagined.
What once seemed extraordinary will become commonplace.

Adopting children doesn't seem like any giant sacrifice. I don't feel like I have done anything special. In fact, it is amazing to me that the job I do for Christ means I get to be some one's mom. Inside this job is something I get.

Adoption has become the least I can do.

I can't wait to find out what I get to do next.

Ephesians 4:1
...I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you.

What seemingly amazing thing will become the least you can do?

Don't you want to find out?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

If you hear God's voice, you are not alone

My dear friends, it is happening. Here is another example of someone stepping out in faith, in complete abandon to God's will.
http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2009/07/new-adventures.html
Will it be easy?
No.
Can they do it on their own?
Definitely not.
Will our God provide for all of their needs?
Without a doubt.

Please do your part for this family.
Give your time in prayer.
Give your money in support.
Give your life for God.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Same message

Every time I think I might move off of this topic, I continue to be slapped in the face with the same message, so brace yourselves. These next verses describe Jesus on the cross. They also describe "one of these" from the verses in the past posts. The very ones who we are supposed to be DOING for.

Psalm 22:14-18 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

Am I being melodramatic? Am I exaggerating? I wish I were. I wish it were not as grave as I say. but more and more it is. If I were to describe it as it really is, in all probability some of you would not read any further. We don't want to hear it. We don't want to know it. The stark reality of our sin is too sickening, too unpleasant. We want to shut our eyes, stop our ears, and bury our heads. Ignorance is bliss.
We live in our own world- undisturbed, uninformed, and untroubled by realities that could demand our concern and attention as God's ambassadors of reconciliation. It is a delight to be an ambassador when you enjoy the notoriety, the privileges, and the niceties of life. But bring on the demands of resolving issues and problems, of confronting the unpleasant and the unjust, and we say, "you can forget my ambassadorship."
We want to be healed ourselves. But we do not want to be involved in others' healing. We don't want our hands soiled. Let us send our money; let us give from afar. Let us hear only enough to motivate us to compassion, not enough to haunt our memories.
If we are to be God's representatives on earth, manifesting to the world the character of God, if we are to minister rather than be ministered unto, we must search out those who need a physician and become actively involved in healing the wounds of His people. There is no question about it, Beloved, because the name of our God is Jehovah-rapha, the Lord who heals!
from Lord, I want to Know you, by Kay Arthur

Daily I am more and more convinced that this life is NOT ABOUT ME! It is not important if my kids get to play soccer or go to Disney World, or have their own room. It is about us, God's church, doing His work, to His glory. If we get to do those other things, great, but we really should be realizing that WE GET TO BE HIS HANDS AND FEET. WE GET TO SERVE OUR CREATOR BY:
ADOPTING A CHILD
SERVING THE POOR
SACRIFICING OUR PERSONAL COMFORT
LIVING ENTIRELY DEPENDANT UPON HIS PROVISION WITH NO FINANCIAL SAFETY NET. WE DON'T NEED A NET, WE HAVE JEHOVAH-JIREH THE LORD WHO PROVIDES.

Do we believe it? Do we really believe that God is the Lord who provides? Guess what? He is the Lord who provides, and most often He provides US to meet the needs of others.
Are we doing our job?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The things we learn

With these somewhat more relaxed days of summer, we have had more time to chill a bit with the kids. This week, Hanna and Biruk both separately opened up a little more about their lives while in Ethiopia.
Friday we had a 40 minute car ride home from a friend's house. Hanna took that time to share:
She told of her mother's house made of plastic and sticks. A large storm came and blew it away. As her mother became weaker with illness, they had less and less food. Sometimes there was no food. Sometimes she had a lunch to bring to school, but someone would steal it. The story went on like that until we got home.
At the same time, Scott took Andy and Biruk camping with Grandpa. Biruk told them stories along the same vein. He told Scott that as his mother grew weaker, she would sleep with a stick because people would come into the house to steal their food. She would hit them with her stick and their older brother would beat them up and strip them of their clothes to shame them as he pushed them out of their home. He also told of less and less food.

How easily we forget and insulate ourselves from the lives our children have lived. How easily we become irritated with any kinks in their transition. Could I do as well? I don't think so. I like to think I am strong, but it is easy to be strong when you are safe and well fed and protected. Would I really be the same strong person without those things?

So I didn't just learn facts about my children's lives, I learned more about what should continue to be done. I have been on both sides of this conversation, and I am sure at some time so have you. It goes like this:
1st person:Yadda, yadda, yadda, adoption, help the homeless, visit elderly...
2nd person: that is so amazing, I could never do that...

STOP RIGHT THERE.

This is our problem.
We are always so quick to focus on what we can't do. Stop wasting my time and your breath on what you can't do. What you can't do doesn't matter.
Find out what it is that you can do, and get started on doing it.
Every little thing you can do makes a world of difference to the one you are doing it for.

Do you know the story of the hummingbird?
It goes like this:

One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest - a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging
wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the
edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and
powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought
there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.
This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked
up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the
stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals
watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, "Don't bother,
it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you
can't put out this fire."
And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless
and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a
mocking voice, "What do you think you are doing?" And the hummingbird, without wasting time or
losing a beat, looked back and said, "I am doing what I can."


Are you doing what you can?
Don't you hear Mary: What ever he tells you to do, do it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are you up to it?

There has been a lot of talk recently about what we should be doing for Jesus. What is He asking us to do? Please visit my friend's blog. After reading it, see if there isn't something you might be inclined to try after seeing what Missy and her family have done.
http://www.servinginnigeria.com/
All I am asking you to do is start doing something, any seemingly small thing, to help care for orphans.
Come on, I dare you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

but wait, there's more

Ok, I am going waaaaay beyond the simple Lemon-Aid stand. I have a speech for you to use when approaching your church about an orphan ministry. If you are nervous about public speaking and live within a 150 mile radius, I will come and give it for you. I am working on visual aids and everything.
In the mean time, here's the speech:

I come to you today representing Project Hopeful with a proposal for our church to start an orphan ministry.
Perhaps you haven't thought of an orphan ministry before. That's okay, you can start thinking about it today, right now, and here's why.
Adoption is our Heavenly Father's heart. It is how we became a part of His family.
Ephesians 1:4-5
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to ADOPTION AS SONS through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Romans 8:15-16
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of ADOPTION AS SONS by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ...

I know personally families who have approached their churches for assistance with their adoptions and were told no because adoption was a personal choice that had nothing to do with the church.

Adoption is not a choice. It is a mandate!

It is all over the bible.
John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.
Psalm 68:6
God sets the lonely in families...

My personal favorite:
Psalm 113:9
He gives children to the woman who has none and makes her a happy mother. Praise the Lord.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Where would we be if God our Father did not adopt us? We would be dead. Dead in our sin. But no, God adopted us as sons and daughters. Heirs with Christ.

Mathew 25:40
the king will reply, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Just who are the least of these? I propose to you that the least of these brothers are orphans, and the VERY LEAST OF THESE are orphans with HIV/AIDS.

So what can we as a church do? There are so many orphans. When we look at the "big picture" it seems hopeless, but it's not.
Stop looking at the wrong "big picture". It is so much more simple than we think.
Bring it down to ONE.
Change the big picture for one child at a time.
Become a "church family in the gap"
Advocate for one child at a time.
Champion for just one.
Pray for just one.
As a church family, pool your resources and create a grant for just one.

The fees to adopt an HIV/AIDS child are around $25,000.
for an individual family, those initial costs can be difficult to meet.
For a church family, not so difficult.
Here are just a few ideas:
1.Each family could forgo one meal out and donate the cost of dinner to your child's adoption fund.
2. Have a Lemon-Aid stand
3. Have a garage sale
4. Have a car wash
5. Stage a fund raiser
6. Give up your special cup of coffee out and make it at home
Do these things until your goal is met.
In no time you will have the funds to bring that one child home, all the while praying for the family that God is calling for that child to step up and say yes.

Project Hopeful provides the education, encouragement and proper waiver process to assist each adoptive family. We as a church can provide the prayer and financial support.

When that one child is home, you start all over.


It all comes down to ONE.
ONE GOD
ONE CHILD
ONE WORD
HOPE

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's the start of something new...

Ok, sorry, I have pre-teen girls. I couldn't resist tossing in a little HSM. Please keep reading.
If you are in the adoption world, I am sure you have heard of Project Hopeful. www.Projecthopeful.org . If you have not yet been acquainted with this organization, please visit their website and feel free to be very generous. In any case, PH was founded by another friend, Carolyn Twietmeyer. It actively advocates for orphans with HIV. PH is set to explode and could use help in every avenue: financially, prayerfully, volunteers, the list goes on.
I am so very excited to share with you what I will be doing. My dear friend Melinda and I are co-chairs of fundraising and events. That's right, I will shamelessly be begging for your time, prayers and funds.
On the horizon are: a family event, fundraising dinner with raffles, silent auctions and entertainment, and fundraising opportunities for children. My most recent brainstorm was to ask kids to have a "Lemon-Aid" stand to aid orphans through Project Hopeful. My kids are always begging to have one, and how great to have one to help orphans! My kids will be holding one soon and I will post pictures. In the mean time, feel free to make some lemonade and cookies for your children to sell. I will send them a very big thank you!
Please pray that as Project Hopeful grows, we will be blessed with people to help us make it happen.
I know what my job is. I am to parent and advocate for orphans. God has a job for all of us. We all have different talents. I challenge you to find out what you are supposed to be doing, and I encourage you to DO it.

James 2:15-16
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

James 4:17
Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Older child adjustment

I have been thinking about Hanna a lot lately. Mulling over her adjustments, trials and triumphs, and my own frustrations. Through much thought and prayer, I have had a revelation about her situation.

At the gangliest, most awkward and uncertain period of any girl's life, she is being asked to navigate a bigger life change than most people will ever encounter. The most secure, content and well loved birth child rarely does this with grace and yet Hanna is expected to do this with a support system made up of her older brother and 5 foreigners who claim to love her, in a country she doesn't know, using a language she barely understands, and a diet that is entirely different. That is her task.

My task is to fall in love and bond with this gangly, scared, frustrated, goofy, hormonal pre-adolescent who wants to love and be loved by me while navigating all of these changes.

It is difficult to realize that even though you have loved someone since before you knew them, you have to learn how to love them in an entirely different way when they are actually with you.

I think that is the part that adoptive parents aren't aware of. When they are actually in it they think, what is wrong with me? I love my child. Why is this so hard?

It is hard because it is supposed to be hard. How could it not be hard? Imagine if we had to marry our spouse the first day we met them. Most of us have a year or 2 of getting to know them while we fall in love. As adoptive parents, we fall in love with an idea and have to live out the loving and becoming a family in real time.

When we are feeling stressed out and over taxed and illequipped, and we don't really like these children we love so much, we need to remember to give ourselves and our children a break.

Change is hard even when it is good change, and baby, this is a big good change.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I am down

Hi.
I'm down.
I know what the problem is too. I just keep holding on to things that aren't good for me. Like ice cream. Not really ice cream. I have moved away from the ice cream. There was nothing to lick there.
It is intangible things that are weighing me down. Mostly things I can do nothing about.

Hanna and I are forging our relationship and that is exhausting. It is very good, but heavy sometimes.
I have a relationship that is in disarray. I have done what I could and should, but it wasn't enough and so it is crumbling.
Special people in my life are moving away swiftly and abruptly. It makes me sad.
I am estranged from someone I care about, but there is no remedy, and so it is.
I agonize about how my actions and reactions effect others, even when what I am doing is right. I still hate that it causes problems that aren't my fault.
I could go on, but I imagine you all know the list. You have a similar one of your own.

Today it's just getting to me and I thought I'd write about it. Then I need to change what I am dwelling on. The surest cure is:

Philippians 4:8
Finally brethren, whatever it true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Another Birthday party


It finally happened. After watching everyone but dad have cake and a party, it was Hanna's turn!!

We celebrated Hanna's 11th birthday on Thursday, the 21st.

It was a great day. She had lots of friends and family over and got many of the things on her birthday list. She is starting to grasp the fact that we cannot get her an mp3, a camera, a personal dvd, cell phone... all at the same time. She also realized that the cell phone will always be a dream.
She is a beautiful girl who is settling into our family steady by jerks, but she is settling in.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The official word

We just got back from Biruk's follow up visit at Children's Memorial. It is good news although still a little vague. There is definitely no cancer and so far, all of the bacteria cultures are negative so it is pretty safe to say there is no infection. So what is it, you ask? Good question. He doesn't know, but he likens it to a hemangeomia inside his bone. You know, one of those enlarged, raised red marks on a child's head, or face, or other appendage. (I don't mean to be callous about hemangeomia, I just don't know how else to describe them and you might not know what I am referring to.)
The big question is, will it grow? As we have no history, only time will tell. It is rather large now, but it is not so big that it is harming the structure of the bone itself. As he grows, we will wait to see if his pain increases and then we will look at it again. However, until it grows and is removed or somehow decides to go away, it will be a pain that he has to live with.
Not the very best prognosis, but better than imminent surgery. The best news to Biruk is that I get to sign him up for soccer this Saturday.
Thank you so much for you prayers and concern. I will post again as it effects us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stupid old shoes


So Hanna and I were fighting about shoes. She insisted that the shoes she was wearing were Sveta's and that Sveta had on hers.


She was wearing the right shoes.


This went on and off for an hour. I made both girls take off their shoes and I double checked the sizes. Hanna wears a 4 and Sveta wears a 3. I showed her the numbers. I made her try on the size 3. She practically had to fold her foot in half to get it into the shoe. In reality, she needs a bigger shoe than a 4, but I haven't had the heart to take the "High School Musical" shoes away yet.


Even after all of that, and in spite of the overwhelming truth, she still insisted that the 3's were hers.


I decided to take a stand on this arguement and I insisted that she stop saying they were her shoes. I explained to her that I don't want her to wear shoes that would harm her feet, and more importantly, I love her too much to allow her to be disrespectful to me. I made her appologize.




I know.


It sounds harsh, why didn't I let it go?




Because it is not about the shoes. It is about Hanna adjusting into the family. It is about her making the transition from tollerating me as a loving caregiver to accepting me as her mother.




We were at a baseball game. She put her head down on a picnic table and cried. Then she sobbed. Then she nearly hyperventilated. I sat next to her and rubbed her back. After 10 minutes, I lifted her head off the table and held her. She didn't hold on to me, she leaned her face into my chest and sobbed and sobbed. She leaned and I held and rocked her. I kissed her head and and whispered that I loved her.


This went on for at least 40 minutes. She quieted down and continued to be supported by me. Then she began to watch the game. She laughed at Andy's outfielding and kissed me.


Her red eyes and tearstained face had a new look of relief.


We have turned a corner.




When we adopted these older children, we committed to being their parents. Our job is to love them and guide them and nurture them, always knowing that our commitment could never be dependant upon their reciprocity.




I wasn't asking Hanna to admit she was wrong and say I was right. I was really asking her to accept me as her mother and submit to my authority. Until she can do that, even though to me she will always be my daughter, to her I won't be her mom.




She didn't cry about the shoes. She cried because she was scared. Scared of what it would mean if she handed that control over to me. If she trusted me to take care of her. She cried because she could see the relief letting me do that would bring her. She cried because she already lost the person who was supposed to do that and the person upon whom that duty was then thrust, gave that duty up. Now she is in a new country where everything is upside down and difficult to understand, and she wants someone to take care of her, but will it last? She cried and cried and cried. And I held her. And it didn't feel so bad to her. And I didn't go away. And I didn't back down from fighting to hold her accountable and I still loved her. And she began to let go of the fear and the control.


She is mulling over the idea of not wearing the boss shoes and letting me do it. She is getting used to the feel of freedom that a child who is not in charge has, and she likes it.




She has her eye on a new pair of shoes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day musings

Mother's Day is always a very heavy day for me. I get to be the mom to 5 beautiful children because 4 other moms could no longer do it. It is hard to wrap my mind around it. In our collective situations, those of my children's first mothers as well as mine, I see God's hand at work meeting our needs. For the mother who died, he provided her children a new mother. For the mother who's child was sick, he provided a mom who could provide the needed health care. For the mother who suffered from extreme poverty, he provided a mom who could offer loving shelter. For the mother so desperate in her situation that she felt she had no where to turn, God provided another set of loving arms to hold her precious baby. For this yearning woman, He fulfilled her deepest desire to be someone's mom. We are a team united by love for our children.

God's word has comforted me and challenged me.

the comfort:
Psalm 113:9
He gives children to the woman who has none and makes her a happy mother. Praise the Lord.

The challenge:
Isiah 54:1-3a
...You are like a woman who never gave birth to children. Start singing and shout for joy. You never felt the pain of giving birth, but you will have more children than the woman who has a husband.
Make your tent bigger; stretch it out and make it wider. DO NOT HOLD BACK. Make the ropes longer and its stakes stronger, because you will spread out to the right and to the left.

I have no idea how many children we will parent before we are through. I WILL NOT HOLD BACK. Scott is already looking for number 6. We'll just have to wait and see.

I challenge you dear friends, DO NOT HOLD BACK.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Natural



Mel is a natural. Seriously. Whatever sport he tries, he excels in. This is his very first year playing baseball. We had a feeling that he was going to be something last year when the coaches would watch him play catch during Andy's practice and we would hear them try to figure out how to coach his team next year. As we are not very sporty people, this is all very new to us.
Since I am clearly bragging on my son, allow me to continue.
Tuesday was his very first game. When Mel got up to bat the first time, the man behind us said, "Watch this kid. He's good. I've seen him at practice. He can hit!" He went on to say that Mel needs to be the clean-up batter. It really makes your heart swell when you overhear others talking up your kids.
Besides batting, he has quite an arm. he can throw from 3rd base all the way to 1st base, and if the 1st baseman could catch, the runner would be out every time.
I realize this is 4 & 5 year old baseball, but still, he's good.
(This bragging moment brought to you by "My kid's better than your kid at baseball" Moms Anonymous)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We have a Teen in the House!

Today, the Heim family makes Heim history.
Biruk is 13! Our first Teenager.
Yikes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still somewhat in the dark

Hi all. Biruk's surgery went well today. From the looks of things, not official yet, but it appears it is not cancer or infection. Waiting for test verification but looking good. Which leaves us with the obvious question: What is it??? Loosely, it is bone fibrosis, and we are still in the dark about what to do about it. The Doctor will call me Friday or Monday, after the cultures have time to cook, and then he will discuss with me his thoughts.
Overall I am happy with today, but still rather frustrated.
I'll share more as info trickles in.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tomorrow

Wednesday morning bright and early, Biruk and I will be at Children's Memorial for his biopsy. I will post as soon as I can. He is chipper and kind of excited to see what will happen with this mysterious procedure: "surgery". He didn't know what surgery was. It took some time, but we finally figured out he knew "operation."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Did I make it?

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was so close. Scott had to call for backup and get a ride to church. I really almost made it. I have driven downtown many many many times, but not to Northwestern and I chose to follow the directions rather than my instincts. Rand McNally listed the wrong exit and I ended up on 55 south in stand still traffic for 25 minutes until I could turn around. The good news is I got the xrays where they needed to be and the assistant ran down to meet me and I didn't have to park!
Naturally the day didn't end there. While I was making my way down Michigan ave (do you know how many people are walking downtown on Friday at 3:30? It's madness!) the bank called. They forgot to have me sign one of the forms. Could you get back here before 6:00? Sure- as we know, I am not bound by the confines of time or space. I picked up Scott and the boys at the church at 4:30 and got to hug the girls before they left. Made Sveta sad that we couldn't wait until the bus left- had to go to the bank, and drove away as she stood at the end of the sidewalk with a forlorn look on her face and her arms stretched out toward me. More on that in a minute.
Picked up drive-thru for the boys on the way to the bank, signed the paper, stopped home to get baseball gear, and went on to practice. Before I left for practice, Scott had the audacity to tell me that "he was beat". Really? You're tired? How can I make it better? Yeah, he's beat.
Picked up 2 movies at Redbox on the way home, put the boys to bed and finally I started to relax. 10 minutes into The Changeling, the phone rings. It's Sveta. She just got there and she is homesick and hurt by the other girls who are making an imaginary line in the room and dictating who can cross it. She just really misses us.
Who's phone are you on?
My councilor's.
Let me talk to her.
She is standing next to Sveta while she is talking to me and lets me know that she thought everyone was having a good time, this was the first she had heard of the "boundaries".
Why don't you look into that.
At this point, Sveta is back on the phone and I hand it to Scott. I have nothing left. I knew from the look on her face when I drove away that Sveta would be manufacturing some drama tonight. She is suffering right now as she navigates her adoption story and creates different ways to get fulfillment from us. It is difficult for me, because nothing is going to fill this void for her. She has to embrace her story before she can move on. I know it will take a while and there isn't much I can do to help. I believe she is a strong girl deep down, but this pre-adolescent to adolescent stage takes it's toll on even the strongest who don't have the additional weight of adoption baggage. We all know women who have never recovered from it and are trapped there. I pray constantly that Sveta will make it through and I fret over her choices.
Take the imaginary line situation from above:
Here's the problem- nice girls like Sveta and her friends don't know how to handle people who are mean. They respond most of the time by being pleasers. They think if "I do what they want, they will be my friend and everything will be ok." But it's not. The mean girls are still mean, and she is restricted to half of the room. She doesn't understand that if the girls wanted to be her friend, she would already be on the other side of the line. (of course I wouldn't want her on that side...) I have talked to Sveta since kindergarten about the fact that nobody has power over you unless you give it to them. She struggles with it because she can't understand the meany's motivation.
How do you teach your child to have backbone? Because she has bought the bill of goods that says that girls are supposed to be "nice", she hasn't yet figured out how to be nice without being a doormat.
This is how strong I want Sveta to be. When this situation happens, I want her to be able to say, "You know, that's not nice. I won't be playing this game. If you girls wish to limit yourselves to that half of the room, feel free, but I will be going where I like." And walk on.
Here's the problem. Because she is seeking to fill that void inside, she is choosing to be victimized for validation from us. I worry that she will get stuck here. Someone I love very much is trapped at the age of 12 because she couldn't/wouldn't accept her story and move on. I am sure Sveta will get through this, but what if she doesn't? I am a fixer and I can't fix this.
Needless to say, I didn't sleep last night.
I tend to lean on my own understanding here and forget to rely on my Heavenly Father for His strength. Please pray for me and pray for Sveta and Biruk and Andy and Mel and Hanna... most of all, pray for Scott, because after all, he's beat.

(OK, that last part was snarky. I just thought is was funny. Please pray for him too. He is distressed as well, it just doesn't wrap the post up with a smile when he's not the butt of things.)