Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Change for Change

We told our kids that Meseret and the kids at Trees of Glory needed a teacher and we wanted to help. Our family eats pizza a couple of times a month and we told them that if we would eat pizza just one less time per month, then we could help sponsor the salary for the teachers. They got very excited and wanted to bring me the change from their piggy banks, so we decided to empty all of the change out and use it to help hire teachers for Trees of Glory.

I was amazed at how much change we had just sitting in piggy banks and jars around the house. All together, we counted up a little over $70! That was enough for almost three months of the amount that we had committed to send for the teacher fund. I was very proud of their generous spirits and told them what a difference our little sacrifice of pizza and piggy bank money would make for Meseret and her friends. I'm just loving watching the wheels turn in their heads as they think of other ways to help. After we talked, Meron ran and got a pair of shoes that she had outgrown and wanted to send them to the the kids. I pray that they will grow up with servant hearts and a great love for others.

So the need for teacher salaries is nearly met. Of the $250 per month that was needed to hire a teacher and an assistant, all but $50 has been committed. With the school year quickly approaching in September, I'm hoping that one, two, or even five families will be burdened to provide the remaining $50/month to ensure an education for these kids who, without the help they are receiving from Trees of Glory, would have very little hope of a future.

I challenge you to count up your spare change and help be the change for the kids at Trees of Glory.

To contribute to this fund, please contact Karen Wistrom at

Colton the 2 Year Old Tornado

Colton is always keeping us on our toes-getting into everything, afraid of nothing and generally a lot of fun. When we travelled to visit Nick's parents, he slept in a pack-n-play and climbed out of it every day that we were there. Up until now, he's been sleeping (and staying) in his crib. He's two and a half and he's stayed in the crib longer than any of the other kids (we were always making room for the next baby, so the others moved to big kid beds earlier). I wasn't going to mess with it because he is such a good sleeper-no need to rock the boat. Well, as I expected, he immediately climbed right out of his crib the first time we put him in it after returning home. So he is now in his big boy bed.

It's the end of an era as we've had the crib continuously in use for almost seven years. It is the first time we've moved a baby out without another baby moving in. My husband had a moment of celebration as I had my moment of nostalgia. I told him to store it away-you never know what God will do and we might need that crib one day. He thinks I'm a little crazy, but agreed to store it. I keep telling him we have one more seat in our car and one more seat at the table-again, he thinks I may have lost a few marbles in Ethiopia. For now, we are a happy family of seven with all of our little ones growing up before our eyes (a little too quickly I might add).

Getting the new bed set up.

Colton looking quite pleased with the new sleeping arrangement.

Pretending to sleep. He got up too many times to count during the first week in the new bed.

We found him like this one night-fast asleep on the floor (we put pillow next to his bed after that).

He came out of his room on the second or third night like this-covered in lotion (we thought he was sleeping already).

This is the contraband he had stashed in his bed when I went to put him back to sleep-some of the girls' hair products, lotion and rubber bands. I guess he was giving himself a spa treatment.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I've learned a little more about how you can make a difference for Korah and the many children that are literally living in trash. Below is the information regarding sponsorship there and general donations. I hope to be able to travel back to Ethiopia next year and serve in this community as well as with our sponsor child Meseret at Trees of Glory.

Thank you for your interest in sponsoring a child from Korah! These kids, many of whom are orphans, currently spend most of their days and nights in the local trash dump trying to find food to survive. By sponsoring them to go to boarding school, their life circumstances are completely changed, and they are able to focus on having a better future. At the school, they will also learn about Christ, who is our Only Hope for the future!

Once we have a firm commitment that someone is willing to sponsor a child at $700 per year (payment information attached), we will assign a child to them. By sponsoring them, you pay for their tuition to go to boarding school, 3 meals a day, dorm room, books, uniforms, bedding, hygiene items, school supplies, and fees. We would like for our sponsors to commit to the child until they are finished with school. This can be done individually, as a group, or as raised support. Once you are assigned a child, we encourage you to exchange letters and pictures with him or her to establish a supportive relationship.

There are also young adults that would like to attend technical school to learn a trade. These sponsorships are $600, paid one time. We also encourage these sponsors to exchange letters and pictures with them to encourage them along the way. Learning a trade can totally change these young adults' lives, as they can look for a job to support themselves and their families.

Project 61, the ministry established to meet the needs of orphans in the community of Korah, would also welcome any general donations.

Checks may be made out to Project 61 and mailed to:
Project 61 Ministries
P.O. Box 126
Thompson's Station, TN 37179

For additional information, contact Erin Allen at

Be the change for one!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Does Adopting One Make A Difference?

Friends of ours who we met through our agency adopted two children shortly after we did. They actually started the process before we saw our girls and because they live in China, they travelled to Ethiopia prior to their adoption to make the immigration process smoother. They took some of the first pictures that we saw of our girls during that trip. I've enjoyed watching their transition home and their mom and I have swapped stories of the challenges (and successes) of adopting two little ones at once. They adopted a two and three year old and they already had a one and four year old at home.

I checked in on her blog tonight and saw this post comparing her little girl now, to her referral picture one year ago. The difference is amazing.

Does adopting one child really make a difference?

It does for that one!!!

A Child of God

Tonight after a fun game of memory match, we read our bedtime story and devotion (which was about Noah obeying God) with the kids. We then got talking about how Noah obeyed God without whining or complaining or arguing with Him (and related that to how they should obey us and God in the same manner). Somehow we got onto the subject of salvation and Hermela said, "I want to be a Christian and I want to be baptized." So, she prayed the sweetest prayer, "Lord, I want to follow you all my life, forever and ever. I believe in you. I trust God." We told her that the angels were rejoicing in heaven and that she was a part of God's family now. She was very excited and wanted to be baptized right away. Our church does beach baptisms twice a year, so we told her she could do it next time they do it.

At bedtime, she wanted me to lay with her. She said, "Mom, you lay with me. We talk about Etopia long time." So I laid and she talked about one day seeing her birth mom in heaven and telling her and her brother that she was a Christian and how happy they would be. She said my mom and brother are Christians-they told me. I have been talking to the kids about the Korah dump and all of the kids and people that live there and she said, "Mom, when I get big, I'm going to go out and change the whole world and tell them about Jesus. I'm going to get 100 (the standard number she uses to convey "a lot", pronounced one hundrrrred) kids from the dump and bring them to my home."

She is such a sweet and compassionate girl and I can just see the understanding look in her eyes when we talk about the kids in Ethiopia that need food/homes/families. I know that she knows exactly what it is like to be one of those kids. It is such a blessing to watch her heart grow for the Lord and to see her passion for helping others. I can't wait to see what God will do in her life and the lives of our other children and what they will do for Him.

Here is clip from the author of "Radical" giving an overview of the book. Our small group is going to read through it together starting in August. I can't wait to see how God uses this book to change our perspective and start impacting lives for HIM!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

First the good:

I just received this update regarding the Trees of Glory shoe fundraiser:

I have great news! The shoe fund for the kids at Trees of Glory is already done! See my blog for an update at

I expected this to take a few months, because I did not anticipate the immediate and dedicated response from our own sponsors. Within 24 hours, the fund was kicked off by 2 sponsor families - and then finished by a third sponsor!!!! I know that a few others gave online as well - and so we now have $1560 (we needed $1,512) in the fund. A phone call will be made on Monday morning to Ethiopia with the good news!!!

When I spoke with the staff at Children's Hopechest about setting up the shoe fund, they said, "When Simret(the director of Trees of Glory) hears about this, she will cry!" Neither of us expected to be able to tell her the good news so soon!

Our next priority is to be able to hire teachers so that the kids can start attending school at the care-point in September. The two teachers' monthly salaries will total $250. ($140 per month for the head teacher, and $110 for the assistant teacher - and yes, that is their entire monthly salary!)

If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in "sponsoring" a teacher so that we can provide for their monthly salary, please contact me at Establishing the school so that the kids can get an EDUCATION is of utmost importance. We could even split the monthly "sponsorship" between several families at $50 or $25 per month. Please let me know of anyone who may be interested! (We have 2 families that sponsor and write letters to the teachers at Kind Hearts care-point, and we hope to do the same for Trees of Glory.).

Isn't that awesome!! I had told the kids about the shoe project and we were planning on counting up all of their piggy bank money to buy a pair of shoes for a child. Since the need was met so fast, we'll have to donate to the next project instead.

Ok, now for the Bad and the Ugly:

The link that I'm going to direct you to is that of an adoptive mother who is in Ethiopia right now with Ordinary Heros doing mission work. She posted the most heart wrenching description of her experience yesterday in the Korah Dump-a mountain of trash that is the dump in Addis Ababa and is home (yes-HOME) to an estimated 130,000 people.

I was reading the post to Nick and couldn't finish it without crying. It is just unimaginable that PEOPLE call this place of filth and disease "home." Children are being raised and orphaned in this deplorable place. IT JUST ISN'T RIGHT.

Read about it here and pray about what you can do to help.

(the post is long, but worth your time)

Proverbs 24:12

Once our eyes are opened, we can not pretend that we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and hold us responsible to ACT.

Summer Vacation

We spent 11 days with Nick's family this summer-the longest we've ever been able to visit at one time. It allowed us lots of time for visiting friends and family. His parents went way out of their way for our visit-even buying the kids color coordinating towels and wash clothes (each child is assigned a color cup/towel/toothbrush help keep things organized at home). The kids had all kinds of fun experiences including three days of visiting the lake and boating, tubing, jet ski riding. We also did lots of swimming and the kids enjoyed playing on swings and fort that grandad built them. We played baseball, visited the downtown children's garden, rode tractors and horses and ate lots and lots of yummy treats. We had so much fun that I had to institute a week long boot camp (no playroom, tv, toys, sweets, or outside fun) to bring the kids back to reality. They had maxed out on fun and as a result we ended up with five little ones that thought the world revolved around them (no idea where they may have gotten that idea). It was great to get away and spend so much time with each other.

The girls' first 4th of July (and fireworks)

Boating with friends.

Tractor Riding

Horse Riding ADVENTURE: One of Nick's childhood friends now has horses (in addition to the tractors above). We were all have a great time taking turns riding the horse. I got on at the end and rode with a few of the kids. On the infamous "last time" with Meron, the horse got spooked and bucked us right off after what seemed like forever (Nick said we didn't even make to 8 seconds-ha ha). Luckily, we only had minor bumps and bruises, although I was super sore for several days after the fall. I figured that would be the end of horses for Meron. Ironically, she was the one who liked riding the most. However, she didn't rule out horses altogether. She said, "Me no big horse, just little horse." So I guess she'll try it again someday. I'm not really seeing any horse riding in the near future though.

The aftermath of our rodeo ride.

Advocating Update #3

So I mentioned on a previous post that God has been moving in BIG ways, so here is the update: all three of the older children that I've been praying and advocating for have been placed with a family.

Here is where an even bigger update comes in. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine passed our blog address on to one of her friends. Her friend had been thinking a lot about adoption. When she read my post about the three older waiting children, she showed it to her husband and he said, "I think we should adopt them." They then had us over for dinner that weekend to discuss adoption, the process, what to expect, concerns...

You can read about how the family was feeling as they set out on their adoption journey here

Now here is where the story takes a little twist. As I saw it, God had worked an amazing plan out and answered a huge prayer of our family for these kids to have a home. Not only did He answer, but the kids would be coming to our very same area-we would see them again.

But God's plan is always so much bigger than what we can think up and when Jenny called to specifically request information and go ahead with the adoption of these three children, she was told that they had all three been recently placed with families (praise God!). The first time I spoke with her about adoption, she said, "We're just going to let God open and close the doors with this process." God had closed the door on those three kids being in their family, but during the weeks prior to that, their hearts had been opened to Ethiopian adoption-an option they had never considered before seeing those three children's stories.

Because they were pursuing the waiting children initially and knowing that these kids had already been waiting over a year, they proceeded with their home study and dossier process right away and have completed a good deal of paperwork in a very short time period. They feel, as I do, that God used M, M, and K to lead them to Ethiopia. Their children are waiting there-they just don't know who they are yet. It is so exciting to know that more children will be matched with a family now that the Wagners have been obedient to answer God's command to care for "the least of these."

So God not only answered our family's prayer to find homes for three children that we briefly met and felt led to pray for, but He has multiplied that answer to include a home for more children that we don't even know yet, but whom we will have the opportunity to see grow up in their new family.

To God be the glory!

1 John 5:14-15
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Can You Spare a Pair?

How many pairs of shoes do you have in your closet? I'm not a shoe girl-I've never had that fascination. Regardless, with 7 people in our house, the shoes add up. I counted 10 pairs in my closet and at least 30 pairs of kid shoes in our laundry room. Our shoe "needs" have definitely been met.

As I've mentioned before, we have a sponsor child, Meseret, who is not so lucky. She, along with most of this children at Trees of Glory are counted fortunate if they have one pair of shoes at all. They certainly are not fashionable and if they have them, they are most likely in disrepair.

Now that all of the kids at her care point are sponsored, we get to start working together as a team with all of the other sponsorship families to raise money for capital projects to improve the kids' living conditions. The first project is to buy shoes for each of the 84 children who are served at Trees of Glory. Below are the details on how you can make a very real difference in the life of a child by providing something that we all take for granted-SHOES:

Tender Little Feet Need Shoes!!

All 84 kids at "Trees of Glory" care-point are sponsored and are now getting nutritious meals every day! But there is still much to be done.

Two of our sponsor families contacted me asking about shoes for the kids. Knowing that most of the kids are barefoot every day - and if they do have shoes, they are falling apart on their feet - prompted these 2 families (Davidson and Primeaux families) to start making things happen so that the kids can get shoes!!

As soon as we have raised enough funds for ALL of the kids to have shoes, each child will be measured and fitted for a sturdy pair of leather, lace-up shoes with rugged soles that will withstand the rugged terrain in Ethiopia. Each pair of shoes will cost $18.

Can you provide a pair of shoes (or two or three or more) for a child who has none?

Please contact me for details ( on how to donate - or simply go to, click on "GIVE" and then complete the form for a one-time gift in increments of $18. Please be sure to specify "ET2119-SHOES" in the notes area so the funds are allocated for shoes at Trees of Glory! Please Email me if you donate so I can track our progress!!

So far - we have $425 toward our goal of $1,512 for shoes!!

James 2:14-16
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food (or shoes:). 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Three Absolutely Essential Books

So I've been on a reading frenzy this summer. So far, I've read "When You Rise Up", "Adopted for Life", "Red Letters", "Fields of the Fatherless", "One Million Arrows", and most recently, "Radical." Ever since returning home from Ethiopia, I've been on an all out search for my purpose regarding adoption, orphans, widows, hunger, extreme poverty, mission work....I didn't know what to do with all of the emotions that I had about our time in Ethiopia and the knowledge that our adoption didn't even put a dent in the global orphan crisis. The more I read, the more overwhelming the statistics became. That, coupled with an overwhelming realization that Nick and I have been gifted five of God's precious children and we are now commissioned to raise them up in the admonition of the Lord and it was enough to send me on an emotional roller coaster.

Well, that roller coaster has turned into an amazing awareness of God's presence in my life and an eye opening understanding of His heart for the "least of these."

Nick and I struggled with our decision of what to do about school for our children. This past year, we home schooled Caleb for kindergarten and it was a great experience. However, when the girls came home in January and we started kindergarten with Hermela, things got a little crazy. It's challenging enough keeping little ones occupied during school time. Add in a language barrier, two needy three year olds and Colton (aka "the green monster") and we didn't know if we could handle it again for first grade.

Thankfully, I read "When You Rise Up", by R. C. Sproul. It just put everything into perspective for us. The last page of the book is what really hit home for me. The author challenged us by asking, "Why would you send your child to an institution where the name of the Lord is not ALLOWED to be spoken." I just thought, "wow, why would I." From that moment on, it was clear that home schooling is what God has for our family. It is just the best way that we can consistently and effectively raise them up for the Lord and build their character in such a way the they will be "world changers" and not be changed by the world. Our goal is to raise mighty "arrows" to go out and bring the love of Jesus to those around them and to the ends of the earth.

The author of "One Million Arrows", Julie Ferwerda writes:
Will the world change your children . . . or will your children change the world?

Time is short and lives are at stake. Right now, God is inviting your family to become part of a bigger story a vision that will engage your hearts to make a radical difference. One Million Arrows is an inspirational call to raise your kids to impact their culture, community, and world for Christ. If you want your kids to discover their purpose, if you want them to live with a passion for the Kingdom, if you want your family to go down in His-Story, accept the mission . . . and leave a mark for eternity.

So we are striving to instill in our children a longing to meet the needs of the orphans and the widows across the world.

The last book that I read, "Radical", is perhaps the best and it was so cool that I read all of these books in the order that I did. The first book I read clarified our schooling direction-which I think will help facilitate living our lives out in the context of the other books' calls to action. The next few book highligthed the AIDS epidemic in Africa particularly, as well as the orphan crisis and the need for orphan care. I already new that was where my passion was, but these books just made it clear that the need is HUGE and the need requires action NOW.

"Radical" is sort of the culmination of all of this information and really challenges us to all live according to God's plan, instead of in pursuit of the "American Dream." Here is brief overview:


It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...


In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment --a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.

So, we're going to be doing "Radical" as a study with our small group and I'm really excited to start the "Radical" experiment. Part of the challenge is to read the whole bible over the next year.

So after reading over 1200 pages of man written words, I think its more than time to commit to reading God's written word.

I can't wait to see where God will lead us over this next year. He has been moving in AMAZING ways lately (more to come in a future posts) and answering big prayers.

Defending the Fatherless


Our Friends's Adoption Journey

Here is the adoption story of our local friends who brought their precious baby boy home in April. He is such a gift and we are so thankful to have friends who have shared our adoption experience with us and embrace our family. We were privileged to be able to visit Jonas in Ethiopia when we went to pick up our girls. It is amazing to see him in the arms of his parents now.