Friday, December 28, 2012

The Face of God

The starkly contrasting events that happened in my life in the days before Christmas have left me a bit breathless.

Just a few days before Christmas, the 2- year old daughter of one of my sorority sisters passed away unexpectedly.  This sweet mama lived across the hall from me for a few years and was roommates with a beautiful friend of mine who lost her 2- year old son a few years earlier.  I am deeply sad for my friend and trying to shake off the fear about my own son's worsening heart condition.  

On December 23rd, the young teen who I have been home schooling this fall gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who she lovingly placed for adoption.  To think of the joy of these waiting, adoptive parents at Christmastime!  To sit beside this young mother, as she heard the cries of other newborn babies, and held her own for a few days, before handing him other to another to raise has changed me.

I have been reminded of how short and precious this life is.  How foolish we are to grip it too tightly.  I want to spend my life and my love every minute I can while I am here on this earth.  With the words from Les Miserables reverberating in my heart and soul, I know this: "To love another person is to see the face of God".

Monday, October 22, 2012


This little sweetie is Arnaud, born on February 9, 2009.  He was abandoned when he was about 7 months old.  At that time, he was placed in an orphanage, and he is now available for adoption.

Since arriving at the orphanage, Arnaud has been diagnosed with Sickle Cell anemia (SS type).  He is receiving treatment, but he does have a serious strain of this disease.  Otherwise, he is in good health.  He is pleasant, agreeable and loves to play with the other children in the orphanage. 

His adoption would be facilitated by Adoption Advocates International, Burkina Faso program.  Burkina Faso generally requires a small family size.  If you have room in your heart and home for this little one, I'd be happy to help you get more information.

These Girls are Going to Change the World

I love this picture!

Last weekend we reunited with friends who we met when they had only been in America for a few days.  
Each girl is pointing to her home country- Ethiopia, Burundi, and Burkina Faso.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I never wanted to home school.  But God laid it on my heart that this would be the best educational and emotional choice for one of my children.

After much sighing, praying it away, and a few tears, I submitted.

And God ran with it.

Today I find myself not only home schooling one of my daughters, but also a pregnant 15 year old.  She came to me via the Safe Families program.

And it is hard.  And it is good.  And I have little time to blog anymore, but more time to marvel at God and how He works and how He invites us to join Him in his plan.

And sometimes I think, why am I doing all of this? Does it even matter?  Is it worth the cost?  And then I get a text.  A text from the mother of our heart baby we took care of last fall and winter.  Many texts and pictures with an update and that little pumpkin is thriving! And my heart is full.  So happy to have played a part.  To be a small part of an absolute miracle!

And I stand in awe of the One who sent me on that mission.  And continues to send ME, scared and weary me,to do his work.  To be his hands and feet.  And I am grateful.  And I am honored.  And I am changed.

I am not amazing, I am SENT.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Book Report

Today, Therese and I finished reading a biography of George Washington Carver.  I'm sure I had read his story as a child, but as with many things in life, as an adult I now have a much deeper appreciation for this extraordinary man and his contribution to the world.

George Washington Carver changed the world as he taught poor black farmers how to grow better crops, and made it possible for many young black people to be educated at time that wasn't possible.  He added beauty to the world through his art and his kindness to plants and people.

One thing that just struck me about his story, was it's traumatic beginning.  Infant George and his mother, Mary, were captured by slave hunters.  Their owners tried to everything they could to find Mary because they loved her and desired to set her free.  She was not found, but baby George was!  The Carver family raised George as their own son.  George moved throughout his life in pursuit of his education, and along the way kept finding other families who loved him and nurtured him along his path to greatness.

Today, throughout Africa, many children are abandoned, left to die in a field because of the circumstances of their birth.  Few of these children will be found, and placed in orphanages.  Most will die alone.

What if the Carver's hadn't persisted to find Mary and her baby?  What if they had decided it was too inconvenient?  What if they didn't spend the money to pay the rider?

There are George Washington Carvers dying out there in the bush.  There are George Washington Carvers languishing in orphanages around the world.  They are in a America, stuck in a system that cripples them for life.

We need to go.  We need to run after them.

Little Ones Needing a Family

Today I want to share with you the photos of two sweeties who live in an orphanage in Burkina Faso.  Two little ones who will break your heart with their vulnerability.  They severely lack the medical attention they need.  They lack mothers to hold them and rub lotion on their fragile bodies and sing them to sleep.

But this does not need to be!

To think what these children can become if adopted into a home!  The difference it would make to have a sister or a brother to show them how to be a regular kid!  How physical therapy could bring this child mobility!  A mother's prayers, a father's protection, and a community's care could bring these children in to the light!

If you are interested in bringing one of these little ones into your home, or would like to sponsor the child's care, I'd love to help you do so.  Consider sharing this post on facebook so the word can get out.

 Sweet Christina
born in January 2012

Darling Karim
born in August 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012


Making Burmassa!  

Today Therese made a Burkinabe dish.  It's basically fried bread dough.  You can make a bunch of variations on this dish such as adding a filling of onions in the middle, or making it sweet by adding sugar.  

I was a little nervous about how this might turn out since we of course don't have a recipe, but Therese LOVED it, so I guess we guessed right!  African style all the way.  

With this post, I have to give a plug for older child adoption!  While their are challenges to be sure with raising the older adopted child, there are incredible moments that can be shared because they can share their life experience with you.  

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Surprising Myself

I have never, never wanted to home school.

I like my public school.  I like my personal time.  I like my sanity.

But God.

Last spring, I started to feel that the best option for Therese might just be home school.  She was about to enter middle school, but was academically way behind her classmates (understandably).  She also displayed a love of learning and work ethic that was way above those students she was being grouped with academically.  I began to see how I could keep her home and get her caught up.  I began to see how this would provide us with the time we need to grow as mother and daughter.

I started researching my options and boy was I overwhelmed!  I didn't even want to tell anybody I was thinking about doing this, because I was afraid of the deluge of information that would befall me.  After wading through the sea of options, I found a fit!  And I began to get a little excited.  Some of my fear was melting away.  We'd concentrate on reading and math and the rest would be icing on the cake.  She also has the opportunity to take a class at the middle school and play on the school soccer team.  Truly the best of both worlds.

Today, we are eight school days into this experience.  And you know what?  It's going great.  I have never seen a happier Therese.  She is thriving because all her work is at her academic level.  She is soaking in all the one-on-one time.  She has space to try new things, ask the questions she never could, and has the time to heal from her past and soak in my love.

As for me, God is faithful.  I don't hate it!  Yes, I could do with a few more hours of alone time.  But this just feels so right.  There is so much relief and pleasure in obedience. I am so grateful that God showed me the most excellent way for my daughter, and that He provides the strength for me to walk in it.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I skipped one of my kid's curriculum nights.

I didn't sign-up to receive text messages about my child's homework assignments.

I said no to yet another Safe Family placement.

I didn't sign anyone up for AWANA.

No more "extra" physical therapy for my boy.

What the heck is going on with me?


Room to breathe.


I need to make room for these things in my life, or they won't happen.

I remember a few years ago hearing Jill Savage talk about creating space in your life- she called it having a "margin".  Having that margin means if one thing goes wrong in your day, you will have enough energy, time, and patience to get through it.

Days where I have no margin completely stress me out.  Next Tuesday is one of those days.  I'm double booked in the afternoon and triple booked in the evening.  I need to do something about this.

I don't love having nothing to do, in fact a little positive stress keeps me going.  I like going to bed tired.  But too much, and I am too easily irritated with my kids.  Too much and I can't find time to meet with that friend who needs me.  Too much, and I'm not laughing anymore.  My joy is gone.

But no one can lighten that load, but me.  It means saying no and cutting things out.  Even good stuff.

I'm still finding my rhythm this school year, but I am determined to make space to experience joy for myself and offer grace to my family and friends.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You Can't Fight City Hall

...nor did we try to, however:

We live on a fairly busy street kiddie (kitty? kiddy?)-corner from a large public high school (my alma mater).  So clearly we didn't move into our house thinking we had secured a house with maximum privacy.  But yesterday, our little world became a little more public.

In ONE day, the city removed three huge trees that we see from our yard and installed a stoplight at the corner.  Apparently a few kids have gotten hit by cars, or almost hit by cars in the last few years.  Not to sound like a curmudgeon or anything, but somehow kids have managed to make it across this street for decades without incident, and now it is a problem?  I'm gonna wager it has something to do with kids and their i-pods. or that darn texting.

End of the curmudgeon report.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Happy Home

Just wanted to share one of my favorite sights in our house.  
It's just happy proof that you don't need a lot of square footage to have a love-filled home.

PS-  Therese insisted that she and I be the same color and next to each other.  Even our toothbrushes are working on attachment!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


On Saturday, a group of young people from Therese's former orphanage, Sheltering Wings, were involved in a serious car accident.  One of the injured was an aide worker from France; she was fortunate to be able to fly back to France to receive medical care.  Eduoard is a young Burkinabe man who has achieved excellent grades and is a kind and compassionate.  He needs our help to continue receiving the medical care he needs.  He has suffered a traumatic brain injury and is in a great deal of pain.  Conditions in the hospital where he is staying are described as deplorable, however; it is still the best place for him to be right now.

If you are interested in making a donation to help with his medical care, you can donate through Pay Pal here.

Thank you for remembering Eduoard in your prayers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Love in a Dry Season

So last night, Casey and I had a rare hour of complaining about our financial woes.  We kinda hit a limit on things breaking and falling apart.  The romanticism of Casey biking to work while we save for a new car was wearing thin.  We had had it with the broken cell phone, worn-out mattress, and slower than slow computer.    Why suffer a with a broken sofa-bed couch another day?  How do we call ourselves adults when don't have one comfortable chair in the house?

We began fantasizing about throwing our usual financial conservatism to the wind and instead charging up a storm.  It was either gonna be that, or sell everything and head out on the mission field where going without is admirable.

And even though we didn't feel like it, we prayed, lifting all our first-world burdens to the Lord.

And low and behold if I didn't wake up with a much improved perspective!  Friends are letting us borrow their super cute Mini-Cooper.  I was able to sub at the food co-op I used to be a part of and brought home a ton of food for a very generous price.  Got the mail only to find a bunch of checks that will enable my husband to go on a trip to Colorado to help with the fire damage.  And most perspective rocking, was talking to a friend in deep financial and relational trouble.  Had a serious count your blessings moment.

And so, I am thankful.  Deeply, deeply grateful.  Grateful for friends who care.  Grateful for a Heavenly Father who is a magnificent provider.  I have a husband who is deeply committed to his family and to his God.  I have children who delight me.  I truly have all I need.

And I am grateful that we are not rich.  If we were rich, we wouldn't need to depend on God.  And being dependent on God is where I function best.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ONE Moms

Today I discovered a new way to connect to other women involved in the fight against HIV and poverty.  It is called ONE Moms and this is their mission:

ONE Moms is a movement of moms everywhere using their extraordinary power to spread awareness for the against extreme poverty and preventable disease.

"Like" the ONE Moms facebook page today and you'll be informed of new opportunities for you to break the cycle of poverty for someone in need- today!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gee Whiz, Kids, Be Careful!

I had NO idea I was exposing my kids to such harm when I took them to the park the other evening!

And we call ourselves a Safe Family!

And from the looks of it, our habitual lack of helmet wearing was actually in our favor this time!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Good-bye, T!

Today we brought our Safe Families toddler back to his mother.

We had him for five weeks and saw him go from frequent tantrums and biting episodes with little ability to play, to a much calmer, happier child.  We managed to fall in love with our Afro-sporting, bow-legged friend.

Along the way, I had some interesting conversations with friends.  The darker tones of those conversations revolved around the "is it worth it?" question.  I mean, we keep this child for five weeks while mom accomplishes, let's say, not as much as you might like to see.  Meanwhile, we interfere with the child's attachment with his mother and break our backs cleaning up messes, waiting out tantrums, and waking up in the middle of night to console the distraught child.


The good news is a conversation like that really makes you think.  Really examine WHY we are doing this.  We are not interested in enabling.  After all, we've read, When Helping Hurts (which I highly recommend, even though I don't entirely agree with it's message).

Here is my conclusion:

No, it might not be worth it.  In earthly terms, the results are probably not there.  But I believe something is happening in the heavenlies.  This child is PRAYED over and will be for life.  That child is protected and covered.  That child knows someone loved him well.

Who loves children more than the Lord?  Don't you think he is pleased, when he sees one of his children scoop up a more vulnerable child?

"when you count the cost and it all seems lost, LOVE IS STILL A WORTHY CAUSE"
(Sara Groves)

Over and over I hear from friends who are not fostering or hosting Safe Family children say, "oh, I could never do that because it would hurt too much to send them back".  Yep.  Guess what?  We don't do this for US, we do it for the kids.  It is a sacrifice.  I personally do not possess a gene that protects me from worrying about this child as he goes back to his rough life.  It is not especially easy for me to see them go.  But we do it for the kids.  We do it for the joy of giving our lives away.

"when you're pressing on though your strength is gone, LOVE IS STILL WORTHY CAUSE"
(Sara Groves)

But what about our kids?  The permanent ones?  This has been a sticking point for me!  I hate to see them hurt!  Yes, my kids were bitten.  Yes, they had to step up and help by playing with our little one, changing diapers, and cleaning bottles.  And remarkably, they end up grieving when the little guy leaves!  They treated this little guy like a brother, even though they knew he was not going to stay.

Evelea wrote a book called The Departure, which details her feelings about our time with the little guy.  I hope I get to show it to you someday because the illustrations are amazing!  But I'll leave you with her words:

Once upon a time there was a girl.  Her name was Evelea.  That girl was me.  Once a upon a time there was a boy.  His name was T___.  That boy was you.  Our worlds were so different.

Then you came to me, to your Safe home.  I held your hand and you held mine.  I didn't want to let go.

I soon learned that you weren't perfect...

But you were worth it.

We played Patty-Cake.

We played outside on the slide and the swing that I set up just for you.  If I held one end of a jump rope, you would hold the other and I could lead you around!

I calmed you down by "boop-ing" your nose.  You would go from sobbing to cracking up!

I knew someday you would have to go.  I tried not to think about it.

But that day was so much sooner than I expected. Friday.  My world was suddenly black and white.

And now, dear boy, you must depart from me.  I will never forget you, for you stole part of my heart.  I can't go with you but my God can.  I am sending him after you, and one day, if you let him, he'll be your God too.  I will miss you, my sweet T___.  I will always be your Eea, and you will always be my T___.

The joy is worth the pain in the end.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Africa in our Backyard

Do you think this hole in our driveway looks quite a bit like Africa, or is it just me?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free to Love

One of my favorite things is watching my children who were adopted serving others.  The world had a plan for these girls, but God's plan for their lives won out.  Now they are free.  Free from poverty and hopelessness.  Free to love and serve.

Here are a few pictures of Sitota sharing her love with our Little Man T.

Sitota is a wonderful helper and does an amazing job keeping up with Little T!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You've Got a Friend

How I felt this morning before I met up with my friends:

How I feel now, after sharing my heart with my friends:

(Side note:  I bought my husband red Converse for Valentine's Day.  Is there a better way to express your love?  I think not.)

I had been feeling more than a little beaten down, suffering the after-effects of a cold, and emotionally tapped out from caring for our frenetically-attached Safe Family toddler.  I don't think you'll find "frenetically- attached" in any official literature, but it works here, trust me.  I had let the words of another make me doubt everything I was doing and totally forgot for Whom I was doing it.  

Enter my friends.  They reminded me that it does matter.  They gave me the One Day at A Time speech- that never gets old and is always true.  They affirmed how hard it really is.  They would have given me grace if I threw in the towel, but they saw I still had a spark and they flamed it.  

I walked away thinking, "it is wearying to absorb someone's trauma, but isn't that exactly what Christ did for me? And with Him inside of me, why couldn't I do this?".

Are you weary and overwhelmed?  Reach out to a friend!  Like a real life conversation.  Let the kids play in the backyard and bear your soul!  You will feel so much better.  I know I do.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Adoption Fundraiser

Check out these great shirts!

A friend of mine is working hard to raise money to bring their little one home from Ethiopia.  The shirts are only $12, so you could buy a bunch!  Only $10 for kid's sizes!

The 4 million they are referencing is the number of orphans currently living in Ethiopia.  Friends, we can do something to bring that number down!

Contact Dawn at to order your shirt.

Urban Ministry in the Burbs

One thing I know about myself is that I could feel sorry for just about anything and anyone.

I feel sorry for convicted criminals, telemarketers, and the curling iron I never use that sits all lonely in the drawer.  Really anything. I guess that is the gift of compassion I have that my grandpa warned by mom about when I was just a tike.  He said my mom better "toughen me up" so I wouldn't get by heart broken so much.

My heart is drawn to so many things, that sometimes I wish I could just pick one thing to focus my compassion on.  I wish I could be utterly sold out to helping Africans secure clean water, or serving the homeless in Chicago.  But at this point in my life, my heart is bleeding all over the map!

One thing I know, I am committed to serving the Lord right where I am today, and that is in the suburbs.

One incredible way we are able to do some urban ministry in the suburbs is through the Safe Families program.  We are practicing Biblical hospitality by hosting an 18- month old in our home for the next several months.  His mom needs some time to take some steps to provide a better environment for her children.  We are going to give her that time to get healthy, and build into her little one for as long as we have him.

The Safe Families program is in 25 states.  You do not need to be a licensed foster parent to participate.  You not actually have to host a little one in your home to participate.  Maybe you would like to host a pregnant teen?  Maybe you can supply a package of diapers to a host family?  Maybe you would babysit for a host family?  Would you pray for hearts of the little ones living away from mom?

I encourage you to check out their website to see if this is something God has for you.

I cannot say enough good things about this ministry.  We have hosted four children so far and it is one of the most rewarding and stretching experiences I have ever had.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mommy Meltdown

As part of my 7 , An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, we are giving away seven items from our home every day this month.  My girls have jumped into this project with their whole hearts.  They have stunned me with their generosity giving away clothes they still liked, but didn't need.  Toys that they still like, but don't love like they used to, as long as someone else would love to have them.

But THIS, my heart could not bear!  Are my girls really ready to give away their fairy wings?

I know two of them will be middle-schoolers in a few months and I guess I can't actually remember the last time they dressed up like that, but STILL.

I suppose I can accept they may be too old to dress up with fairy wings on their backs, but... I will make it my mission to ensure they never lose the fairy wings in their hearts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Therese's Hero

One of the highlights of our trip to visit the First Baptist Church in California, MO was the incredible privilege of getting to meet Therese's sponsor, Howard.

Howard met Therese days after she arrived at the orphanage.  A doctor warned him not to fall in love with the girl, because she maybe had a year to live.  But it was too late!  Howard agreed to sponsor Therese, even paying double the sponsorship fee to provide life-saving medications.  He tried to bring Therese to the States on a medical visa, but was she was denied.  It looked like she might need a heart transplant, and non-citizens are not allowed on transplant waiting lists.

Through the years, Howard prayed faithfully for Therese, supporting her any way he could.

Do you know how humbling it is to think that our family was part of the answer to his prayer for Therese's life?  Can you imagine the debt of gratitude we feel to the man who kept our daughter alive?

The woman in this picture is Ruth Cox, affectionately known as Mama Ruth, the director of the Therese's former orphanage and school.  Another hero in this story of God's saving power.

Child sponsorship saves lives.

Prayer changes everything.

God uses his people as his hands in feet in the world.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child from Therese's former village, click here.  Save a life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The End of Clothes Month

Yesterday was the glorious end of our Clothes Month.  Yes, we ended a day short of our four-week period, but Easter Sunday was the perfect day to burst out of our self-imposed clothing rut, and into our Easter finery.

As you may know, a group of friends and I are conducting an "experimental mutiny against excess" as inspired by Jen Hatmaker, author of 7.  For the past month, I only wore 7 different articles of clothing.  My wardrobe consisted of 3 t-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, a denim pencil skirt and a cardigan.

For the most part- I LOVED this month.  I loved the greatly reduced amount of laundry.  I LOVED the simplicity.  No thinking about what I would wear each day, just put on the clothes.  Before this month's experiment, I wouldn't have considered myself to have a ton of clothes.  Now, however, I realize how much I really do have.  I have already given away piles.  I simply don't have the mental space to keep clothes that don't fit, or don't fit well.  I am loving my paired down closet.

On the other hand, I did miss being able to express my mood through color and outfit choice.  I love color and I picked all neutral colors for the month in an effort to not get annoyed at any of the clothes I had to wear.

I have also been thinking more about the responsibility of choosing clothes that are manufactured responsibly when I do purchase clothes.  This is something I want to understand better.

I leave you today with a picture of our family squinting in light of the Son sun after Resurrection Sunday service.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

This One Goes in the Baby Book

Oh. My. Word.

So Carter woke up with a bloody nose this morning.  Whilst I am tending to him, Casey goes upstairs to inspect the damage.  Upon removing Carter's pillow from the bed, THIS is what he finds under his pillow:

That's right.  
A LIGHTER, a POKER CHIP and a piece of mulch.  

While Casey questioned the child about where he got the goods, I had to leave the room I was laughing so hard.  Apparently, these were all items he found while scavenging at the self-service car wash while Casey washed the car before we left for Spring Break.  Awesome.  

In his defense, I don't think Carter knows what a lighter does.  He is always on the lookout for robot parts, and I have a feeling he thought this would be perfect.  

In Casey's defense, he knew Carter had found the poker chip, was totally grossed out, and assumed Carter had thrown it away when Casey asked him to.  Apparently we need to "adjust" Carter's hearing aids a bit.  

So there you have it.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Have You Actually Prayed About It?

"Should I go to Haiti this summer?"

"Should I commit to sponsoring the DAILY before school prayer club at school?"

These are a couple of questions that Casey and I have asked each other over the last week.  They are not life-changers, but they were questions we struggling with.  In discussing the pros and cons of each situation, we discovered that while we were struggling to find the answer, we hadn't actually taken the time to pray about it.

It is easy sometimes, for me to think I HAVE prayed about something, but really I've done nothing more than think it over, maybe with Christian music in the background in the car.  I mean God already knows my thoughts, right?

There is a difference though, between thinking things through, and truly getting alone and quiet before God, seeking His heart and will.

"If anyone of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  
                                                                                                                                               James 1: 5

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break Adventures

Over Spring Break last week we got to do some pretty amazing things.

Like visit with Casey's sister, Christy, and brother-in-law Jeremy, who are about to bring home my two newest nieces from Ethiopia!  My girls are very excited to meet their "new brown cousins".

We also visited Casey's other sister, Carrie, and brother-in-law, Charlie.  They do an amazing job pastoring at Grace Church in Cleveland.  We are inspired by their love for their neighborhood and faithfulness in serving.

And we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Casey's parents who hosted our crazy crew and even seemed to enjoy it!  They even gave us the gift of letting us get away for TWO WHOLE NIGHTS kid-free.  We ate some amazing Pad Thai at Johnny Mango's , finally saw the Hunger Games, and invested in our marriage by watching a great marriage DVD series called The Art of Marriage.

Casey and I were super impressed with this series.  With most things Christian, there is a lot of cheese factor you must get over in order to get to the good stuff.  Honestly, there was very little cheese factor here and loads of good material.  We highly recommend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Apple a Day

You can take the girl out of Africa, but you can't take Africa out of the girl!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Month 2

I'm done with Food Month!

Some of you may remember that I am conducting  "an experimental mutiny against excess" inspired by Jen Hatmaker (and Jesus).

The first month involved eating only 7 kinds of food.  My original list was: sweet potatoes, beans, apples, bananas, rice, eggs and tomatoes.  Well, that didn't last as long as I thought it would, and I ended up adding all fruits and vegetables.  Call me a big fat cheater, but this was the right decision for me.  As I run walk away from this month I learned the following:

1.  Absolute gratitude for the food I have in front of me.
2.  The practice of remembering of those who don't have enough to eat.
3.  Just because I can eat it, doesn't mean I should.

I ate a vegetarian diet this month (minus the eggs) and that suited me.  Tacos from Jalisco's also suit me, so I will aim towards a mostly vegetarian diet.  I just feel more peaceful with fewer animals in my diet.

Enter Month 2- Clothes

This month I will be wearing just 7 articles of clothing.  To be fair, my earrings won't count, but I'll wear the same pair all month.  I will also give myself the freedom of wearing one accessory- it will be something that was handmade in another country and I will use that item to remind me to pray for the hands that made it, and for the country in was made in.

In Jen's book (we're on a first name basis now!), she says the following in the chapter about clothes:

"I hope one day clothes and appearance and everyone else's assessment doesn't even occur to me.  I would like to be so focused on the valuable that what I'm wearing doesn't even warrant mental space."

Full disclosure:  I have an appointment to get my hair cut and colored this week.  That doesn't exactly fit into my schema of asceticism in the area of appearance.  Reader, I have a lot to learn.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Adam Needs a Mommy

Burkina Faso

Adam was born on Feb 10, 2010.  His mother died shortly after he was born.  His mother was HIV+.  Adam's father is up in years and he also is very sick.

Adam was very sickly as an infant.  At about one year of age, his father abandoned him because the father was sick and he could not pay for Adam's medical care.  With good care, Adam has stabilized and at the time of this writing, he is doing very well.  Adam is HIV+.

Adam is a quiet and reserved child.  He interacts some with the other children but prefers to play by himself.  At the time of this writing, he can pull up and stand but he has not yet taken his first steps.  His birth certificate says that he is 2 years old but it is thought that he is somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3 years of age. 

Did you know that when properly treated, children who have tested positive for HIV can have their viral load so low, it is undetectable in their blood?  

Did you know that there has never been a case of transmission of the virus in a normal family setting?  

If you would like more information about HIV or about adopting a child with HIV, I strongly urge you to check out Project Hopeful.  This website is full of helpful resources, family stories and facts about living with HIV.  This disease is SO manageable, there is just no reason to be afraid to adopt a child with HIV. 

If you would like more information about an adoption from Burkina Faso, or adopting Adam, you can email me at and I'd be happy to connect you to right person! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Need

I spent last weekend in Chicago learning from people who are serving the Lord in the city.  While it was painful to be surrounded with so much brokenness and need, it was also exhilarating to see so many faithful people giving their lives to serve "the least of these".

I came home ignited with passion to serve hurting people living right here in my community.

Confession:  It has always been easy for me to see the needs around the world that are so obvious- the starving, the orphan, the materially poor.  Not as obvious to me are the seriously wounded people living right here in my community- the addict, the fatherless, the spiritually poor.

Last Monday I walked around Aurora asking God to open my eyes to the needs right in front of me.  And did He!  I met two homeless people.  I got a call from Safe Families asking if we could host some children from Aurora who are homeless.  I saw a huge line of people waiting for the food bank to open.  I got a call asking me if I would open my home to some refugee women who want to learn about making home livable and safe for their children.

Lord, what do I do with all this need?

One thing I learned last weekend that has been echoing in my brain ever since is that "the need is not the call".

My spiritual gifting is mercy.  It is easy for me to see a need and to have my heart moved by it.  And yet practically speaking, there is only so much I can do to meet those needs.

Now begins the work of getting quiet with the Lord and asking Him to show me what it is He is actually asking me to do.

 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself".  Matthew 22:37-40

Monday, February 27, 2012


The other day I took one of the children to the pediatrician for a check-up.  The nurse is doing her thing- blood pressure, height, weight; and then she asks me, "has she been exposed to a nursing home, homeless shelter, or anyone living in a correctional facility?".

The presumed and hoped for answer here, is "NO!".  Any good mother knows that these types of settings are at best unhealthy environments, and at worst, downright dangerous.

But aren't these the very places Jesus calls us to go?

Jesus tells us that when we host a dinner party, to run out to the streets and alleys; invite the poor, crippled, blind and lame (Luke 14:21).  Jesus came to release prisoners from darkness (Isaiah 61:1).  Jesus invites us to care for the widow countless times throughout the scriptures.

Jesus scandalized his contemporaries by hanging out with prostitutes and the demon-possessed.

When questioned by the Pharisees why He ate with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus replied, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."

Jesus' compassion extends to the despised and neglected.  We are his hands and feet in the world today.
Do you think Jesus cringed before he took the hand of the homeless beggar?  Did He keep hand sanitizer in his cloak pocket? Or, could He look past the grime, the lice, and the tattoos, seeing right to the heart?

If we let germs and bad smells keep us away from the people Jesus loves, we can't do His work.

Friday, February 17, 2012

LAPS of Love Update

So excited to partner with the Sheltering Wings school in Yako, Burkina Faso!  We don't have the grand total yet and more donations are coming in, but it looks like we have raised over $3000!

Such a great learning experience for our children here to learn what it is like to go to school in Africa.  Evelea and Therese gave speeches to kick-off the event.  Therese gave a first hand account of her previous school experience and how it compares to school in America.  Evelea spoke about Burkina Faso.  So proud of my girls.  They both want to be missionaries and this is great practice.  Actually, it is not practice, they are already doing it!

The kids did fun laps like a disco lap, marching to Patriotic songs, and my favorite, the butt scoot.

Can't wait for the love of these kids to reach these kids...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thanks a lot, Francis Chan!

Yesterday, I had the sweet experience of taking my Safe Families child to visit her newborn brother in the hospital.  It was fun watching her two-year old self interacting with her new brother for the first time and seeing her reunite with her mother for a precious visit.

I wondered if she would have a very difficult time coming back home with me after seeing her mom today, but everything went really well.  I could just really feel God's presence.  Except not so much when I got lost driving out of the city...

Ended up having a REALLY long night with the little one though.  She spiked a fever in the night and refused Tylenol- even when I resorted to telling her it was Cinderella candy!

Last night I was supposed go to see Francis Chan at Moody Bible Institute.  When I realized I wouldn't be able to leave all the kiddos with a sitter (Casey had to work), I was really disappointed to have to cancel my plans.  I LOVE Francis Chan!  Plus we celebrating this amazing friend's birthday.  Plus, we were "pre-kicking off" our 7 adventure.

My disappointment was quelled when I heard God whisper, "but Erika, you are living Crazy Love tonight".  Then I KNEW I was right where I was supposed to be.

If you haven't read either of the books I mentioned, and you are ready to have your safe, tidy, Christian world ROCKED, check them out.

Crazy Love, by Francis Chan
7, by Jen Hatmaker

Thursday, February 2, 2012

L.A.P.S. of Love

Some of you may remember last Valentine's Day when Therese and Evelea's fourth grade class raised money for Therese's former school.

This year we are very excited because it will be the fourth and fifth graders working together.  LAPS stands for "Let's All Provide Supplies".  The students get sponsors to support them as they walk laps around the school gym on Valentine's Day.

Here is the breakdown of how much various supplies would cost in Burkina:

School Uniforms:  $7.50 per child
School Supplies:  $8 per child
Textbooks:  $28 per student
School desk: $75
Equip and run a classroom for one year, including teacher salary and lunch for the children:  $5000

Did you know that the literacy rate in Burkina Faso is approximately 12%?  or that only 10% of girls can be found in the secondary education (6th-8th grade) programs?

If you'd like to see a video that depicts life in Burkina, and specifically at Therese's school, watch this:

If you are interested in helping the Sheltering Wings orphanage school, in Yako, Burkina Faso, please email me at

So excited to see what our kids can do!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amazing Grace

Ugh, I've never liked that song.  I know this statement just made some of you doubt my salvation, but it's true.  But let me explain...

When I was little, a lot of my relatives died.  I attended quite a few funerals.  Three of my grandparents died before I was ten.  A common thread to these funerals?  That's right, Amazing Grace.  So I grew up associating Amazing Grace with death and funeral homes.

I did change my tune about this song when I learned of its origin and the great William Wilberforce and the incredible conversion of John Newton, a former slave trader.

But this blog post was never intended to be about the song.

It's about a book.

I can't tell you how my heart broke when Sitota came home from school today.  She told me that kids were telling her that she "won't get picked to be Rapunzel (in the 2nd grade musical) because she is black and that would be too ugly".

Yuck.  I could barely type those words.

I immediately called to mind a great book we've checked out from the library quite a few times, though not recently.  It's called Amazing Grace, by Mary Hoffman.

It tells the story of a girl named Grace, who wants to play Peter Pan in the school play, and is told she can't, by her classmates.  Praise God for her strong grandmother who takes her to see a ballet featuring a African-American woman and, of course, encourages her to go for the role.

You better believe Casey brought it home from the library tonight!   And rest assured, it is already checked out of my Amazon cart!

I want Sitota to know that skin color DOES NOT preclude her from doing ANYTHING.  Now if the rest of society would just cooperate...

And between you and me, I think we all know the real amazing grace here, is that I haven't beat up those kids up yet.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Failure is not an option, but what is failure?

Friday was Evelea's birthday.

On  Friday morning, I picked up our newest Safe Families child, and on Friday evening, I drove him back the case worker.

Epic Fail, right?

After whole-heartily agreeing to host this precious boy with special needs, I quickly realized this little one's behaviors were far beyond the scope of my ability to handle.  Not an easy thing for me to admit.  I had a lot of tears over this little one's desperate situation and my inability to help him.

Oh, Satan got on that one good.  He whispered lies to me like "how could you put your own children at risk like that?" and "so you actually thought you were good at this kind of thing?".  And "you messed up your own daughter's birthday!"  "Think of all the people you let down".  Yuck.

But when I received this poem from Evelea, how could I possibly have thought for a moment that I had failed?

I promise you it will be okay,
but I know you wanted Andreas to stay.
God will bring another little child
into our love-filled home,
one to temporarily be
our family's very own.

I know this really can't replace
that adorable little boy, Andreas.
But he was just too much for us to handle,
we couldn't even light a candle!

But as terrible as this may seem,
think of it as a sort of dream.
In Heaven,
this won't have to be,
No Safe Families, or special needs.

Until then, God will pull us through,
just keep on going with all the good work you do.

No birthdays were ruined!  No one failed!

In fact, my honesty about this little one's needs made it possible for him to get the kind of care he actually requires.  We all learned lessons about telling the truth, seeking help, and loving everyone- even if its for just a few hours.  And I learned to show some grace to myself.

I am learning how to show grace to myself.

Thank you, Evelea Grace.  And Happy 11th Birthday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

7- Are You In?

 I am almost done reading a book that is rocking my world. It is 7 by Jen Hatmaker. The book focuses on fasting in seven areas of excess in our lives. Media, food, possessions, clothes, stress, waste and shopping. We reduce in these areas, so that we can have more of God in our lives.

 I am not one for gimmicks or formulas, so the premise of this book was off-putting to me at first. But then I started reading it at the recommendation of a friend and I haven't been the same since. I have never read a book that has caused me to laugh so much or want to throw up so much. Ms. Hatmaker is hilarious and hard-hitting. She puts into words so much of what I have felt these past few years and her candor has given me the push I need to act on what I know is true.

 I am accepting the challenge to battle this excess in my life, and I'd love for you to join me. If you live locally, contact me, because we're going to be having a party to kick-off the challenge of these next seven months!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hooping it Up, Solgos Style!

You are never going to believe this, but Therese hula hooped for FIVE HOURS straight yesterday.

Yes, you read that right.

Previously, she had hula hooped for over an hour at a time, so when I left the house yesterday to pick up our babysitter and she was an hour into hula hooping, I was amazed but not totally shocked.  When I returned from picking up the sitter and she was still going, I was mighty impressed.

However, when we got back from dinner and she was STILL GOING, I couldn't believe it!  She ate pizza, played the Wii, and brushed her teeth, all while hooping it up.  Who knows how long she would have gone if we had not made her try and put her jammies on while hula hooping!

Evelea looked up how you get in the Guinness Book of World Records and apparently you have to be fourteen years old to enter- what a rip off!

Therese really wants her friends in Yako, Burkina Faso to get some hula hoops, so if any one is making a trip there soon, we'll be contacting you!

Martin Mick, Jr.

Ahhh, Carter, my son.

How you made me laugh when you asked me, "Mommy, I just don't get why Abraham Lincoln shotted Martin Mick, Jr.!"

After a brief review of the history of civil rights in our country (a shockingly dismal and embarrassing history), I realized a few things.  My son cannot grasp how a GOOD man could get shot.  In his world of superheroes, the bad guys always lose and the good guys always win.

How can a good man get shot to death?

I don't understand either.

I am really grateful that we observe the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  This weekend our house has been filled with amazing discussions about civil rights, we read the Rosa Parks story, and even Evelea's school for her dolls included lesson plans revolving around the good work of Dr. King.

Casey and I even drank I Have a Bean coffee from this organization that provides employment for ex-cons on the path to a new life!

I'd like to leave you with the words to a song that I find to be especially powerful in the light of the freedom that Martin Luther King, Jr. died so that we could enjoy.  This song can be found on the Odes Project cd collection.  They are collections of songs written by the early Christian church put to modern music.

Rise Up! (Ode 8)

©Schreiner/The Odes Project

You who sometimes were brought so low, Rise up, RISE UP
You who were in silence: now raise your voice , Rise up, RISE UP
You that were despised be lifted up, Rise up, RISE UP
For the right hand of the Lord is with you right now Rise up, RISE UP
Open your hearts, All you who are saved, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
Through all generations, abiding in His love, IN THE NAME OF THE SON
Now and forever, Let your love abound, IN THE NAME OF THE SPIRIT
For the right hand of the Lord is with you right now Rise up, RISE UP

Christ in us, this wondrous mystery
Christ in us, from age to age
Christ in us, the hope of glory
For You have sealed us in your name

You who sometimes were brought so low, stand tall, RISE UP
You who were in silence: may you shout for joy, RISE UP
You who were despised may you be lifted up, RISE UP
For the right hand of the Lord is with you right now Rise up, RISE UP

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's a New Year

As you may remember, I am not a New Year's resolution type gal.  Goals freak me out.  Resolutions make me want to rebel.  But the thought of being left out of the New Year, Fresh Start world leaves me feeling a little lonely and hum-drum.

A couple years ago, I started picking one word to focus on for the new year.  In 2010, it was HOPE.  In 2011, I chose PEACE.  Through the year, I looked up every verse in the Bible pertaining to these words.  I used them in my decision-making process.  In deciding between Plan A or Plan B, which would bring me more HOPE?  or more PEACE?

So this year, my word is GENEROSITY.  This will come as no surprise to my church family as we are about to embark on a four-week, church-wide study on this topic.  I am captivated by the idea that generosity has relatively little to do with the amount of money one gives.  It is more about humbling yourself to give like Christ gave- his whole life.

It is Jesus washing the disciple's feet.

Gordon MacDonald teaches:

"As God sacrificed His Son, so we follow and give even those things that are most precious to us in our personal worlds: our time, our convenience, our creature comforts."

Do you have a word of the year?  If you do, I'd love to hear it!