Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pizza Fusion

I LOVE this place!!!

They offer a gluten-free crust, soy cheese, whatever your little allergy sensitive heart requires. Plus, it is absolutely delicious. Plus, on Thursdays, there is no upcharge for GF crust and half-off GF beer. Plus, it is very eco-friendly.


Plus, they have a location in Saudi Arabia, so that just says it all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is the professionally made video that we made during our trip to Liberia.

Getting Involved in Liberia from SP Video on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Compassion Part II

So I was feeling like maybe I came off a bit too strong in my previous post where I emphatically suggested that every Christian family should be sponsoring a child. That very day I got a letter from our Compassion child in the mail. To hear in her words how grateful she is for our sponsorship just totally confirmed my feelings. She was able to buy school supplies, a school bag, hair oil, soap and go to the doctor last month because of our sponsorship. How great is that? Show hope to a child in need.

God has a sense of humor

To check my pride in check, I had to get up with Carter (sick) and/or Sitota (bad dreams) approximately 12 times last night. Ha, ha, ha.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So I was asked an interesting question at church yesterday- "Erika, do you do drugs?".

Ahh, nope. (this was especially ironic to me since just the day before I saw a man pull out his crack pipe in the middle of McDonald's). Apparently this man (church man, not crack man) had noticed that I always seem perky and happy and well-rested (which I am obviously not all the time). He was trying to find out my secret to being well-rested despite the fact that Carter has rarely (and I mean like five times), slept through the night in his 5+ years.

Okay, here is the secret:

I used to get so angry with God in the night for not making Carter sleep. I mean, He COULD do it. Didn't God see my exhaustion and misery? I KNOW He did. Trust me- I was telling Him about it all night long. One night, it came to me. Give it up. Give up the anger. If God is choosing to allow Carter to wake up 5 times a night, I will trust Him to supply my rest and energy. And guess what? He did it.

Now I'm not saying I never get tired and I definitely enjoy my morning coffee, but God is doing a miracle in my life everyday by providing daily energy for me.

I gave up the anger and He supplied my need.

There it is.


I've really been thinking lately that every Christian family should be sponsoring a child through World Vision or Compassion International. I can't think of any excuse to not do this. It is an amazing way to transform the life of a child who is in desperate need as well as the lives of that child's whole family. What a great way to teach your own children about compassion and to help then be grateful for their life here in America. If you can think of an excuse not to do this, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Small Victories and More Waiting

Looks like we should get our DCFS approval today or tomorrow- yay! Things are moving on the adoption front. Seems like with adoption you are always waiting for something- next we wait for approval of our I800a. Heard it is not too long of a wait these days. Gotta bring our girl home!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day

This is my first World AIDS Day since I returned from Liberia and saw AIDS with my own eyes.

I can't sit back. I can't sit still. 33 million people are living and dying with HIV right now. My heart breaks for the mother who knows her time on earth is short. Who will take care of her children?

I called my senator's offices today and asked them to please support an appropriations bill that will support AIDS programs to the tune of 7.2 billion dollars (sounds like a lot, but it is a puny fraction of the 2010 budget).

What if it were you, lying on a dirt floor, too weak to sit up, too weak to swallow, your children with that look in their eyes? What would you want me to do for you? Am I doing it?

Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Heart project

I am so excited! Today I learned that Samaritan's Purse has an amazing giving opportunity through their Children's Heart Project. You can buy an airline ticket to save a child's life by bringing him to the United States to have surgery that is unavailable in his native country. Of course you don't have to buy the whole cost of the ticket, but you can share that cost with others. The whole ticket is $2,200 and the shared cost is $220.

This has obviously struck a major chord with Casey and me. We are so blessed to have a son who has benefited so much from our country's excellent medical care. I thank God continually that He allowed Carter to be born in a country where he could receive such care. Soon, we will be blessed again to adopt a sweet girl into our family who is in desperate need of heart surgery.

I know the heart of a mother who has a child she cannot help. What a privilege we have to be able to provide a miracle for a desperate family!

Casey and I are giving each other the gift of a shared airline ticket through Samaritan's Purse this Christmas. I cannot think of a single gift that could make me happier.

Please watch the video below and consider joining us. We only need nine more families to join us and we can save a child's life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Ordinary Radical's Life

My Bible study group is reading a hugely challenging book by Francis Chan called "Crazy Love". I think all of us in the group are feeling challenged by the question "what does God require of us?". Should we all give away all of our possessions? Should all of us pick up and move to a third world country? Live on the streets and minister to street people? What?

The truth is that some of us are called to that kind of living. God may be calling us to that kind of life and we should start today. Others will be doing those things in 5 years or 10 years.

But for today, this very day, we need to ask God how we can love, serve and obey Him now. It is our actions, lived out daily, that transform us into the women that God intends us to be. Sometimes the most radical thing you can do is not move out of the country, but choose to love that difficult person in your life. Pray instead of watch tv. Give away that one thing you want to keep.

It is in these small actions that God will reveal the amazing plan He has for your life. Some days we are called to step out in faith and do a huge scary thing for God that requires all of our courage, but most days, it is the small acts of love that are our contribution to the kingdom God.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Word about Parent Teacher Conferences

This week is one of those highly emotional weeks for me- right up there with birthday weeks, first day of school, Mother's Day, ya know, the biggies. Yup, it's Parent Teacher Conferences.

During the conference itself, I am in basically in one of two states- holding back tears, or full out crying. It doesn't matter if the child is doing great with one two areas for improvement (you know the teacher must come up with something, even for that perfect child to work on), or if the child is failing to meet basic standards. I'm a wreck.

There is nothing like the conference to make you feel downright vulnerable (only thing worse- the dreaded IEP meeting!). There, on paper, is this cold, unfeeling, objective look at your child. As you look at her successes and failures, I want to tell the teacher- sure this child is a little behind in this area- but do you know how far she has come?! Just a few seconds ago, she was a little baby, unable to even sit up on her own and now here she is, reading a novel! Or, just yesterday this child flew on an airplane to meet her mother for the first time and never even held a crayon, much less count backwards from 10 in a foreign language! Do you know we didn't know if this boy would live or die just two and half years ago? So what if he still has a pacifier!

Should the teacher complement my child on some academic or social achievement, well, here comes the waterworks! This proud mama is bursting with pride. Yes, yes, I taught her that! It seems just yesterday I had to spank her because she insisted on running into the street while laughing in rebellion- now look- she is Student of the Month!

Oh my. This week I will be reflecting on all I have managed to teach my children, and all I have yet to teach. I have one conference down, two to go. I will come in with a list of things to discuss, and leave with maybe addressing just one, because that is really all I can take. I will second guess myself, and congratulate myself.

Sweet Teacher, go easy on me. These are my babies, my precious children. I have poured every fiber of myself into them. When you are tough on them, you are tough on me. When you express understanding, it is my heart that melts. Thank you for all you do. And please pass the Kleenex.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Book to Get Excited About...

He Is Just That Into You from Julie Salzmann on Vimeo.

Did I mention this is one of my very best friends?!

A Big, Big Love

Just the other day Sitota said to me, "Mommy, you are my best, best friend and I love you so so much, even bigger than God!". Wow. How completely theologically incorrect, but how completely sweet and wonderful to hear. And to think I would have missed this if we ignored God's call to adopt. To think that Sitota would have no mother to love and no mother to love her, if we didn't obey.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I LOVE Sara Groves

So, so excited about this from my favorite artist.

If you are a woman following God who sometimes falls and then gets back up again, you will love this.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Feelin' Fine

Well, friends, it has been a LONG 10 days, but the Solgos clan is finally feeling better. It feels so good to be healthy again!

Don't you love that time after you are sick and you see the blessings in your life so much clearer? I find myself thanking God for everything- thank you God for my lavender scented dish soap, thank you that we have a water to bathe our children, thank you for our warm home.

I hope my attitude lasts once we return to the normal pace of life around here. I'm glad we are entering the season of Thanksgiving- I have so much to thanksgiving to do!

PS- Carter got his hearing aids and looks cute as a button. He is doing well with them as long as we don't make it a big deal out of it. Hopefully I can get a picture of him on here soon so you can see how cute he is!!! I am also giving thanks that Carter can hear so much better now!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sick Day(s)

Carter has been down for the count with a flu since Tuesday. Sitota has it now, too. Mommy and Daddy seem to have a mild form coupled with exhaustion from much nighttime duty. So far, Evelea is okay. She is busy making bookmarks with her new spiro-graph kit (she is taking orders by the way).

Thought I had the energy to write about what a privilege it is to take care of my sick kids. Living in America with access to doctors, cozy beds, cough drops, tvs, etc., but I'm too tired. More later. Gotta nap.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Frightens Me

I love the Fall, not so much Halloween though. Seeing images of skeletons, fake blood and ghosts everywhere just goes against my "choose life" attitude. Yes, I let my kids dress-up for Halloween, but we just don't do blood and gore.

Never has my dislike of Halloween been so strong since I have developed relationships with refugee people. Imagine me trying to explain to very recent African refugees why Americans put fake cobwebs in their bushes and dangle fake skeletons and dead bodies from their trees. Imagine my horror as a refugee grandfather told me he didn't like to see that, since he has seen real dead bodies and skeletons hanging from trees in his home town.

He has experienced genocide and experiences trauma when we Americans choose to glorify death by decorating our homes with these scenes.

I don't remember Halloween being such a big deal when I was growing up. The day itself was filled with trick or treating and a Halloween party at school. Adults might attend a costume party. But I don't remember so many homes being decorated (a full month or more before Halloween!). I think I heard somewhere that Americans spend more money on Halloween than any other holiday other than Christmas. What??? It frightens me that we choose a holiday that glorifies death more than we celebrate Easter which is all about LIFE.

"I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life..." Deuteronomy 30:19b-20

Monday, October 5, 2009

Crazy Love, Crazy Me

I am reading a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan (could someone please tell me how to underline? I know book titles should be underlined, but I still can't find the underline function.)

Anyway- LOVE THIS BOOK. I would like to shout the entire contents of Chapter 4 from the roof of our church and straight into the hearts of most American Christians. Get this:

"Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for "extreme" Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all His followers." (Chan)
That is the kind of faith to which we are called. Radical. That is what I love about the Christian life. So many seem to think that if they become a Christ follower, their life will be boring. All the fun sucked out of life. Well, who gave the world that impression? Certainly not Jesus. If we are following hard after Christ, we will look radically different than the world.

So, what is Jesus calling you to do? Is He impressing something on your heart that seems too hard, too far out in left field? You should probably start doing that thing. Afraid you are not spiritual enough for the task? You probably aren't- but that is okay! God will supply your every need. He will not call you to do something that He will not equip you to do.

To be honest, I was scared to begin the adoption process the first time. Carter was still in the hospital when we began filling out the application for our adoption agency! I felt a bit like Noah building that ark when it had never even rained before- but when God calls you to do something, you do it, shaking knees and all.

Now, we are adopting again. I can't give too many details here, but here are a few. This will be an adoption of an older child with a special medical need from Burkina Faso (West Africa). We will be one of the first families in America to adopt from this country. We certainly didn't set out to be pioneers, but this is the path God has shown us. I'll tell the story of how Casey and I decided to adopt again in another post, because it is a cool story.

Am I scared? YES. But I trust that God is deeper and wider than all my fears.

Come, Lord Jesus. Show us the way.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What are you waiting for?

I have something that I need to do and I don't want to do it. It involves taking an emotional risk with someone that is not entirely safe. I know that once I finally do it, I will be relieved. I even kind of know that this part- the waiting and dragging it out and dreading it- is probably worse than actually dealing with the thing. I read this today:
Jeremiah 1:17-19 Get up and get dressed. Go out, and tell them whatever I tell you to say. Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. For see, today I have made you immune to their attacks. You are strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or bronze wall. None of the kings, officials, priests or people of Judah will be able to stand against you. They will try, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken.

I love the get up and get dressed part. In my head I hear "Erika, put your big girl panties and DO the thing!". (I think I got that from Beth Moore.)

Jeremiah's task was much bigger than my own- so what am I waiting for?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Favorite Household Product

Today is a BIG cleaning day for me, and I'd like to take a minute to introduce you to the most amazing cleaning product ever. Really, if you haven't tried it, you must.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Big Boy

I am so proud of Carter today! He had impressions made for his hearing aids and did such a good job. Imagine having frosting stuffed in your ears- that is what it looked and felt like. Carter didn't even flinch. I know Jesus was there because sometimes Carter gags just looking at frosting!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Refugee Tuesday

Last year I was a part of a wonderful ministry opportunity that we call the Refugee Bible Club. This is an after school club for children who are brand new to the United States. Last year we had children from Iraq, Congo, Togo, Myanmar, Thailand, as well as other countries. We met every Tuesday afternoon to share the love of Jesus with these precious children by providing a healthy snack, game time, craft time and Bible stories. At least nine of these children gave their lives for Christ last year.

There are many ways you could be involved. We need drivers, snack providers, Bible teachers, greeters and about anything else you might have to offer. One great thing is that if you are a mom, you can bring your kids. Plus, what a great way to teach your children compassion for children in their own communities who have suffered much.

On Tuesdays, I will try to keep my blog updated with refugee information as well as updates from our Bible Club.

"He gives justice to orphans and widows. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. You, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt." Deuteronomy 10:18-19.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Follow ME

I have accomplished a goal I set for myself a few months ago- I can now run two miles (on a good day). For some of you, this is the puniest goal ever. For me, this is HUGE. I used to say "the only time I run is when someone is chasing me". Now, I own Saucony running shoes!

You know, when I first ran one mile, I was ecstatic. When I finally reached two miles, I was quite pleased with myself- until an ugly thought cropped up. A voice inside of me said "two miles is nothing, think of all the women you know who can run a marathon". I began wishing I could run a marathon and got down right discouraged when I thought "it is still so hard, after all these months of running, for me to run two miles, I will never be able to run a marathon". I felt like giving up. The joy of running I had felt was gone.

Then, I felt the Lord say to me, "Erika, did I ask you to run a marathon? Where did you get this idea that YOU should be running a marathon?". Oh. I guess I was comparing myself to my friends. The Lord impressed on me that I needed to keep my eyes on Him, not my friends. Oh, that is right! The Lord has given me tons of important work to do and that does not include training for a marathon at this time.

So, I have started just running for fun. No keeping track of miles. Just running for the exercise and sunshine.

Eyes on ME, Erika. Okay, Lord, eyes on YOU.

Friday, September 11, 2009

If You Need a Good Laugh-

(Before my home schooling friends think I'm mean, Tim Hawkins home schools his kids, so he can get away with this.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vegetarian for a Day

I've been hearing of a concept lately that involves going vegetarian for one day a week. I like this idea a lot. Sometimes I think about becoming vegetarian again (I did this once and the whole thing fell apart when I became pregnant with Evelea and craved hamburgers like nobody's business). I know I will never actually become vegetarian again because I already don't eat wheat or dairy, and Carter is severely allergic to nuts, and anymore restrictions would make meal planning total nightmare. Plus, I like meat too much. Things I like about about going vegetarian for a day a week:
  • health benefits
  • saves money
  • saves the planet
  • I get to use my delicious vegetarian recipes
Here is my Vegetarian Chili recipe to get you started:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can 28oz diced tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
2 15 oz cans of black beans
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup canned corn
2 teaspoons of minced canned chipolte chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in pan, add onion, red & green pepper, garlic- cook until tender. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, chilies,oregano, cumin and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to how, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stir occasionally. Stir in corn, cook another five minutes. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It Just Doesn't Get Easier

... but I do get wiser, mostly.

Yesterday, I took Carter to Lutheran General for a follow-up appointment from his tonsillectomy. We also met with the cardiologist briefly. There were times yesterday that I felt quite the expert "mother of a special needs child" and other times I had the helpless, I-just-got-kicked-in-the-gut-again, feelings.

Expert Mother said, "No, I am not going to allow Carter to have that particular blood test at this time. This isn't something he needs urgently and he has had too much trauma lately to put him through anything else right now."

Expert Mother said, "I would like to get a second opinion before he is fitted for hearing aids."

Fraidy Cat Mother left the cardiologist still confused about the course for restarting the medication. I knew what I thought was right, but chickened out on confronting the doctor and thought "I'll just call back later and figure this out."

At the end of our three and a half hours at LGH, I felt exhausted and exhilarated. I had stood up for Carter when it counted. I felt beat down with the knowledge that he probably does need hearing aids, but proud of myself for seeking another opinion (and a closer to home opinion).

Having a child with special needs can be very difficult. There is so much responsibility, so much research to do, so many appointments to keep. I need to find ways to encourage my son. Hearing aids are cute on a four year old, but require a certain finesse for the fourteen year old to feel good about himself while wearing them.

One thing the Lord keeps telling me is that I need to go to Him to refuel. He has given me this difficult life, and He has the power to make it beautiful. I want to be a woman at rest in the Lord. He is Carter's Heavenly Father. That is all I need to know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who Built Your House?

Last night we were reading Little House on the Praire before bed. We were reading about Pa building the Ingalls' family log cabin. Sitota asked me if Daddy built our house. When I said no, she said, "oh yeah, Jesus built our house, right?".

Well, kind of...

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything."
Hebrews 3:4

Monday, August 24, 2009

How Erika Got Her Groove Back

Lately I've been feeling run down. Just out of energy. Achy, sore, exhausted. I know I've been feeling some anger towards God. I was back to my old theological issue- I know God doesn't cause bad things to happen, but is allowing something bad to happen any better? I mean, if my best friend saw someone punch me, and could have stopped the person from hitting me in the first place, but chose not to intervene- I'd be hurt.

That's how I've been feeling towards God. I was feeling let down by God, mad that He wasn't protecting me and family like I think He should. But today I remembered something!!!

God doesn't allow anything to happen that He won't redeem! If He lets it happen, He is going to use the thing. Okay, now I am getting excited. Here is where my energy comes back. God is the expert Redeemer! He has done it so many times in my life and He'll keep doing it until Jesus returns or I go home to Heaven.

Yup, I can do this. I'm working it out.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Overheard in the Basement...

I just caught Sitota singing, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" with these unique verses:

"He's got Jesus and Africa, in His Hands"

"He's got MommyDaddyCarterEveleaMimiPapaGrandmaCarterMeEveleaCarterMommy, in His Hands"

Sing it, Baby!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Kindergartener and Third Grader

Back to School

Today Sitota and Evelea went back to school (Carter starts on Monday). We really could have used two more weeks of summer break!

This year's back- to- school preparation was cut short by an unexpected trip to the hospital for Carter. I am still processing all of that because it was truly the most frightening experience we've had with Carter to date (and that is saying a lot!!!). I'll just say it involved 2 ambulances (would have been a helicopter had the weather permitted) and lots of blood. I am praising God that Carter is alive, yet feeling a bit let down and angry with God for letting Carter suffer so much. A place I don't like to be, but trying to use it to go ever deeper with my heavenly Father.

I'll post my back to school pictures as soon as I finish downloading them from my camera (apparently I haven't downloaded any in awhile!).

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Shame

So, I have to admit something to you, and I'm not proud of this at all.

I like Red Bull. There, I said it.

I need to explain. A year ago, I took my first tentative sips of a Red Bull. Teenagers wearing jet packs were handing it out for free at Millennium Park. I only took like 3 baby sips because I was afraid of what the effect of that much caffeine would have on my body. And guess what? I liked it.

I typically scorn beverages such as Mountain Dew (yuck!), would never consider sipping Jolt, or the like. So what was I going to do with my new found hankering for Red Bull?

My first step was to consider how much caffeine was actually in a Red Bull. To my great delight, not nearly as much as I previously thought. RB contains a mere 80 milligrams. Compare that to brewed coffee which has 80- 135 milligrams. I wouldn't think twice about drinking a cup of coffee! This was getting exciting. And what other glorious results did my Google search turn up? A Starbucks tall coffee (that's the smallest size, folks) is a whopping 240 milligrams!

With the caffeine confusion cleared up, I felt much freer to enjoy my new beverage. Or was I? Soon guilt trip #2 kicked in. You know how much a Red Bull costs? Too much for me to justify! One little can costs like $2.49. 2 bucks can provide clean water for a year for two whole children. Isn't that a slightly better way to spend my 2+ dollars?!

For now, Red Bull will have to remain a very occasional drink choice for me. To read more about how you can provide clean water for people who are truly thirsty, Blood:Water Mission.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thanks for the Prayers

We are home and Carter is doing really well! We are thrilled that everything has gone so well and we are back together under one roof.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Deep Breaths

The countdown is on until Carter's big day. We have been taking Carter twice a week for EKG's to make sure is heart is functioning well while he is off the Coumadin- so far, so good. We'll continue this for one month after surgery as well.

We had his pre-surgical lab work done yesterday- that was torture. Poor boy was screaming "don't touch me, doctor!". So unlike our mild-mannered boy. It's so much harder now that he is so aware for this surgery.

We so appreciate your prayers for our sweet boy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Timber Creek Farms

One of my favorite things is the produce delivery I get every other week from Timber Creek Farms. Delivered to my home each week is a huge box of organic fruits and vegetables, organic milk, and eggs. I recently became of member of their "Pantry Club" where you can order anything you desire from Tree of Life, a health food wholesaler. If you don't think you can use a whole case of something, you can post a message to the Pantry Club and see if anybody would split it with you. This Pantry Club is fantastic for those of us living the gluten-free lifestyle! We also order our soy milk this way.

There is a huge selection of produce boxes available, but the one one I get (fruit and vegetable +more fruit), you cannot pick what kind of produce goes in the box. This way, they can put more of what is in season in your box for a better price. I love not only the economy of this, but also, I love the adventure. It has made me a more creative cook! Oh, today I have eggplant- what could I do with this?! And viola!- we have eggplant parmigiana for dinner. Love it.

Timber Creek delivers all over IL and parts of WI and IN, too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pray for Carter!

Carter is getting his tonsils removed on August 7th- everyone, please pray!  We are excited for him to get this surgery because he has been struggling for about 18 months now with strep throat, infected, painful tonsils, difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing.  Carter has been on a blood thinning medication called Coumadin for almost three years now.  Tonight, we have to stop giving him this medication because he can't be on it so close to the big surgery date.  Please pray that he will be safe while he isn't taking the medication, there is a slight risk of stroke which is, of course, scary.  

Sunday, July 19, 2009


CompassionArt | Home

Shared via AddThis

This is an awesome project!  It is not only inspiring music, but all of the proceeds go to help fund some incredible projects all over the world.

All Worked Up

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed at all there is to do in the world.  My heart has been broken in a thousand different ways.  Lately I have been trying to find some focus- this verse from The Message helped me today.

"Take your everyday, ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life- and place it before God as an offering... readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it."                                                                                                                                                                                  Romans 12-1-2

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You Can Do It, Too!

A friend shared with me recently that I seemed so confident throughout our adoption process. This comment really surprised me! There were many nights during our adoption process that I was scared, thought about giving up, felt completely overwhelmed and even regretted our decision to adopt.

But here is what kept me going... I was completely committed to obey God no matter what. It really didn't matter how scared I felt. Did I believe God was with me on this, or not? I fully believe God loves adoption and created adoption from the beginning of time. He certainly has a heart for the widow and orphan! I wanted to join God in this special work, this "visible gospel" as John Piper calls adoption.

Did God see our family as a perfect family who could handle an international adoption? Was this a task our family was uniquely suited for? Nope. This was one of those experiences in life that I found myself needing to rely on God's mercy, wisdom and strength to complete.

I share this because some of you might feel that adoption is somehow out of your league. It is not! If you have God, He is all you need. You just need to follow Him.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fair Trade Coffee, It's not Trendy, It's Biblical!

I am totally convinced that I need to buy ONLY fair trade coffee. I've had this thought for awhile, but being the bargain shopper that I am, it was hard to swallow paying those few dollars more per pound. Well, those days are over!

I mean, how can I call myself a Christian and still buy coffee that I know is being made on the backs of the poor? That is the trouble with having your eyes opened. Once you are made aware of the problem, you have to change!

Here is the scripture that made me say goodbye to unfairly traded coffee forever:

Isaiah 10:1-4
1 Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, 2 to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. New International Version

There is a great coffee shop in Batavia, IL that only sells fairly traded coffee. If you are in the area, check it out!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Great Physician

Yesterday I was playing doctor with Carter- he was the doctor of course. As he came at me with a pretend shot, I feigned great fear and trembling. Sweet, sweet boy that he is, he put his hand over my leg and administered the shot through his hand. He looked right in my eyes and said "no owie, Mommy, I do MY hand for you".

During the countless medical procedures I've gone through with Carter, I've had that feeling that I could in some way identify with God, in that He allowed His Son to suffer, so that a greater good could be achieved. I hold Carter still so that an IV can be placed- I don't like it. I want to take him in my arms and RUN- go out for ice cream instead. But I know he needs the IV, so I hold him down, whisper comforting words, and pray until it is over.

My precious son gets it. He took the pain for ME. What a privilege to have a son who is willing to hurt so I don't have to. What a picture of what Christ does for us!

Friday, June 26, 2009

View from the Church Window

How Beautiful are the Feet that bring Good News

While in Liberia, we had the opportunity to host a Bible camp for children. The children had never seen anything like this before. We did all the simple things that children here in America would not find particularly special. We sang songs, did simple crafts, shared Jesus with them, and played games. I cannot tell you how much the children loved this time we had together. Over a hundred children lined up outside the church singing, and waiting eagerly to get inside. As they came in, I lined up their shoes against the wall. I count it a highlight of my trip that I got to pray over each of those sweet shoes that hold the feet of those precious children.

On the last day of the camp, the village chief honored us by giving us a chicken (a traditional way of expressing thanks). But this was not just any chicken- it was a white rooster. You see, they heard us share the story of salvation through the wordless book and took the meaning of those colors to heart. They searched high and low for a white rooster to symbolize the purity we have after being washed in Jesus, blood. How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Africa in my Heart

Before I went on this trip to Liberia, I knew that I would learn a lot while I was there and I would surely be changed as a result of seeing God at work amongst the poor. I wasn't sure however, that our team could do much good while we were there. I mean what could we really accomplish in the face of such poverty in one week?

Well friends, I can tell you that God took what little we had to offer and magnified it times 1000. Our trip was incredible and I will be telling you some of the stories of what we did in Liberia in my upcoming posts.

Thanks for your prayers- we felt every one!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Only for You, Lord.

Only for you, Father, would I leave my sweet children and go to Africa.

Today we made friendship bracelets that we will keep on until I return. Tonight, my heart is breaking with the knowledge that in the morning, I will be leaving for Africa. Any mother knows that being physically separated from your children can be physically painful. And yet, I am willing. The temporary pain I will feel as I kiss my children goodbye for the week is nothing compared to the mother who kisses her child goodbye for the last time. And those are the mothers that I will be privileged to serve this week. And those children, those who are dying and those who will be orphaned too soon- those are the ones I will humbly serve with a grateful heart.
God bless you, sweet children! Mommy will be home soon.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Little Abolitionist

My sweet daughter was lying in bed last night crying. Why was she crying? Because the little girl she helped in 1st and 2nd grade is being transferred to a different school next year and Evelea is afraid she will have no one to help her there. The little girl Evelea helps would be considered an outcast to most students. She lives in the projects. She doesn't obey classroom rules. She still has trouble reading and doing basic school work. She can be loud and annoying. But she has become precious to Evelea.

We took awhile and prayed together. We came up with the idea to write pre-addressed stamped envelopes so Evelea's friend could stay in touch or write if she has a problem. Then, we released her sweet friend into the care of her heavenly Father. The One who loves her more than we ever could.

Psalm 82:3
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy: deliver them from the hand of the wicked."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Heart of Gold

A dear friend of mine held her son as he slipped into the arms of Jesus just a few months ago. He was only 2 1/2 years old. This sweet boy born was born with a rare heart condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. He had made it through two tough surgeries with one more to go. He was a typical 2 year old, thriving at home surrounded by the love of his mom, dad, aunties and grandparents.

No parent should have to purchase a coffin that tiny.

This is family who did not let their son's illness get them down. In fact, before Braden was one year old, they started the Heart of Gold Charity. This charity provides scholarships for students entering the medical field. It also provides gift baskets for anxious families awaiting treatment at the Herma Heart Center in Milwaukee. They hold a yearly golf/dinner event to raise funds for this great cause. By starting the Heart of Gold Charity, Stephanie and Rich Petska have done more than raise money for a good cause, they help to raise the spirits of so many struggling with the complexities of having a critically ill child. Stephanie and Rich are the kind of people that just being around them, makes you feel less afraid.

Just a few days ago, Stephanie and Rich were blessed with a precious baby boy. This young man is symbol of hope for all of us still grieving for his brother. I cannot imagine how my friends can embrace this precious gift they have been given in the face of such grief, but I know they will. That is the kind of people they are.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why am I so tired?

Sleep. Siesta. Slumber. I remember those days...

I counted it up today. In the past 4.5 years, I have slept through the night about 20 times. Since my precious son was born, sleep is a rare commodity. Our sweet boy still gets up about 1-5 times a night that require one or more parents to get him back to sleep.

Precious are those nights I get to sleep all night. Those weekends away with a girlfriend, the night I spent at my mom's just so I could sleep all night, the extremely rare night Carter did happen by some miracle to sleep through the night- too wonderful!!!

I did not include in my count the nights I slept at home while Casey stayed with Carter in the hospital. Those nights would add an additional 45 nights. I decided those nights didn't count because the night before those nights, meant that I was on night duty with Carter at the hospital. On those nights, I maybe would sleep for three total hours. So, I think it is only fair NOT to count those nights.


I think I'm going to take a nap with the little ones today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So, yesterday, Carter wanted a banana which he calls "mamas". I pointed out that they were still green and shouldn't be eaten yet. Carter replied, "oh, they only for grown-ups?".

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lately, I've been challenged by the book Too Small to Ignore by Wess Stafford. On page 256, Stafford states:

"Every human being needs a cause in life, a passion. If you don't have something in your life that can make your heart pound, that can move you either to tears of joy or tears of sorrow in about thirty seconds, then my friend, you are not fully alive. Life is too precious to go on in such a half-awake condition. You can do better. You deserve better."
So how about you? Have you discovered what it is like to live a life fueled by passion? What cause makes you feel like shouting to the world "Open your eyes and see this!"?

For me, it is abused, neglected or orphaned children. Those that are starving- physically and spiritually. Those who are in need of kindness, mercy and compassion.

For information about children in need, or to sponsor a child, please go to

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is there a shot for that?

One month from today I will be traveling to Liberia in West Africa. There is a group of six women from my church who are going to join up with Samaritans Purse to visit people with HIV, do some light construction, and lead a camp for about 100 kids.

Part of preparing for this trip meant getting caught up on many immunizations. Some boosters and some to avoid disease like typhoid fever, yellow fever, etc. My oldest daughter was very interested in hearing about what injections I had received. Suddenly a look of concern came over her sweet face and she said, "oh, you got the one for AIDS right?".

You see, we have been actively praying for the 15 million orphans of the disease for months now. She knows its serious business. It horrified her to find out there is not a vaccine. She can't understand yet the reasons why her mommy can't get this disease, when so many other mommies get it.

This conversation broke my heart. From my daughter's innocence- to the aching of mothers who must leave their children behind...

Would you take a minute and pray for people living with HIV and for those whose lives are forever changed because they lost someone to this disease?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mommy Bird

I am fiercely protective of the mommy robin who decided most unwisely to build her nest in our tree house. What was she thinking? My kids are outside playing everyday and despite repeated warnings not to touch that nest, well...

I watch her as she flies around the backyard waiting for my kids to go back inside so she can safely sit on her nest again. I can feel her anxiety as she darts about, trying, but unable to fully protect and nurture her little ones.

As mothers, we try our best to protect our children. But there are many dangers out there. So much is out of our control.

But we do have a heavenly Father watching over our children. Do we choose to trust Him, or do we flit about anxiously wondering, "but what if?".

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Make A Wish Disney Trip

Over a year ago Carter was chosen by the Make A Wish Foundation after being nominated by his cardiologists. While it is never good news to qualify for Make A Wish, we were thrilled at the prospect of being able to take our children on the trip of a lifetime!

We spent a week being completely spoiled by the volunteers at the Give Kids the World resort and being treated like royalty at the Magic Kingdom. We were able to go to the front of the line of all the rides which was amazing.

Carter's wish was to meet Buzz Lightyear. Buzz did not disappoint!

Thanks, Make A Wish, for an unforgettable trip!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I thought it fitting to begin my blog on Mother's Day weekend. A weekend that is celebratory and reflective.

Being a mother is a HUGE part of who I am. It is an honor and privilege, a joy and a challenge.
I have three children. My eight year old is full of love, intellect and deep spiritual understanding. My middle child is a hard worker. She is happiest helping me around the house or doing gymnastics. My youngest is a true superhero with a heart of gold.

I am asking God to help me raise them in a way that brings glory to Him. I want them to be bright lights in this dark world. They certainly have brought thousands of rays of sunshine into my heart and home already.