Saturday, September 25, 2010

Room For One More Part 5 (final chapter)

So how did we decide in just 5 short days that we were absolutely positive that God wanted us to adopt this other child?

He bombarded us with affirmation through songs, through scripture, through passages in “Radical” and through the message taught at our church just 5 days after we first saw her.

It was Wednesday night that Nick first saw her. We went to bed kind of pondering the idea of adopting her. We knew it was crazy from a financial standpoint. But then we started to think about it. Nick would be receiving a large bonus in December and we expected a large tax return in February because of our adoption tax credit. We of course had already planned to use this money to pay off some bills and put a nice chunk of “security” into “our” savings account. We had been holding our breath throughout the year praying for no major expenses to occur and God had faithfully provided for all of our needs. We had even felt convicted earlier this year to extend “our” budget further to sponsor a child (see post). God had been faithful. Throughout our marriage, it has seemed that we’ve had to take the first step of faith blindly and then God sends affirmation. This happened countless times with the girls’ adoption (see post).

Then Thursday, we got her report and a few more pictures. Our agency director would be leaving the following day for Ethiopia and would actually be seeing her. We felt more and more like she should be in our family, so Nick asked me to write him and ask him what it would take for us to put her on hold.

A day past and on Saturday morning, I finally heard a response back from the agency. This is what it said: I’m glad you’ve decided to proceed with the adoption of “R.” I’ll have the staff send you a second-timers packet. I’ll take pictures and give her a hug for you when I visit Mekele.” We looked at each other. At that point, the agency assumed that we were proceeding. We couldn’t come up with any reason why we wouldn’t adopt her except for that we didn’t have the funds to do it. That didn’t really seem like a good reason as we had seen God provide once already and in countless other adoptions that we knew of. We had even “preached” to other couples that were hesitant to adopt because of finances that we knew God would provide and that they should trust Him. In addition, we had encouraged others to adopt older children as they are so often the ones forgotten and left waiting for so long. It seemed to us that God was now challenging us to take our own advice and trust Him.

I had to take the girls’ to an appointment Saturday morning, so I had some free time in the waiting room to read. I was preparing for our group study. As I opened my book, I turned to the page that my pen was in. It wasn’t the chapter I was going to read, just the place I had left my pen. These were the first words that I read, “What can we spare? And “What will it take?” “These are two entirely different questions.” “What would happen if we stopped asking how much we could spare and started asking how much it was going to take?”

I just stopped there. That was the exact question Nick had asked me to find the answer to. “How much would it take to bring “R” home?” Technically, we couldn’t “spare” the cost of another adoption. But then we starting to think. God would be providing almost exactly the amount that we would need to proceed with this adoption over the next several months. We had planned to use it for our own comfort and security. We began again to ask, “Why wouldn’t we adopt her?” Again, the only obstacle was money. We thought about how it would feel if one day when we get to heaven, God looks at us and says, “I presented you with this child. I provided you with the money. I told you to trust me, but you chose to play it safe.” That night, we fell asleep thinking about a little girl across the world. We didn’t know how it was going to work out, but we knew that we were going to trust God on this one.

The next morning, after a somewhat sleepless night filled with waking and praying, my alarm went off and this is the song that was playing:

**pause music at top of page**

On the way to church in the car, this song came on:

The first song that we sang in church was this song:

And then the guest preacher proceeded to preach a message about how pivotal occurrences define our identity. We were certain we were at a pivot. That God may call us to a task that we feel ill prepared for. We surely felt ill prepared. And that our callings will always be bigger than us because the one who sends us is bigger and our trust should be in Him. Ok, ok God we get the message loud and clear.

We left there knowing our daughter was waiting for us. I immediately responded to the email confirming that we wanted to proceed with “R”’s adoption and that we’d be working towards bringing her home. I had a sense of urgency in that email, hoping that no one else had seen her sweet face a scooped her up. I received an email reassuring us that she had indeed been assigned to our family. It was sort of surreal. Less than a week ago, we knew nothing of this child and now, we were picturing her in our family and rejoicing with our other kids in anticipation of her arrival. Below is a picture of them celebrating after we told them we were going to adopt "R".

We feel more than blessed that God has chosen us again to parent one of His children. We pray that “R” will be safe and healthy and know that she has the love of a family that waits across the world. We also pray for the enormous loss she has and will suffer and for her transition into our family. Most of all, as with all of our children, we pray that God will use her in a mighty ways for His kingdom and that she will do amazing things in His name.

To God be the glory!!

The End (actually just the beginning I guess)

Room For One More Part 4

Like I said, in the last post, I began to believe that maybe God’s plan was for us to serve orphans through a different avenue, not just adoption and maybe that was why I had such a strong pull towards them.

I did continue to pray for God’s will for us to adopt again. I also eagerly answered other’s questions regarding adoption, advocated for other orphans that were waiting to come home and of course wrote to and prayed for our sponsor child and the others at her care point. We talked to our kids about life in Ethiopia and all of the needs there. They donated their piggy bank money to help provide a teacher for the school at Trees of Glory (where our sponsor child is).

Yet, I could not shake the feeling that someone was missing. Our empty chair at our table and empty seat in our car were a constant reminder to me that we had room for one more. As I would scrape food down the garbage disposal after a meal, I would think, “We could definitely feed one more.” As I tucked our kids into bed, I would imagine how we could fit another bed in the boy’s room (my vision was to add another boy and even things out-3 boys, 3 girls).

Our house is not huge, less than 1800 square feet. We have three bedrooms, one for the girls and one for the boys (and one for us of course). And some might question how we could possible add another person to the mix. We will one day have 6 teenagers sharing a bathroom (four of those will be girls). But, the more and more I got away from society’s ideals, the more I realized that we had everything that we needed and more and that God had provided more than enough to raise another child.

I tucked the desire to adopt again away and settled into what I thought would surely be a long prayer journey. I figured it would take a while for God to move in my husband’s heart on this topic, if at all. Mind you, my husband had said that even if we had all the money in the world, he didn’t feel like we would adopt again and we certainly don’t have all the money in the world.

About two and a half weeks ago, I requested to see the waiting child list from our agency. I looked at waiting children all the time. We know several people who want to adopt or are waiting for referrals and I was just curious. I thought it would be fun to see if there were any little boys waiting, you know, just to see what that might look like if we ever did decide to adopt. Well, there was a super cute little 3 year old boy waiting on the list. I didn’t have any magically feelings about him. I just thought he was cute. So, later that night I said to Nick, “Hey, do you want to see this little boy on the waiting child list?” He was working on his computer and without looking up he said, “No.” I said, “Just come look at him.” So he did. Only he didn’t say anything about the little boy. He just looked at the girl pictured right above him and said, “Wow, she’s beautiful. What’s her story?” I of course only knew her name and age (well at least somebody’s best guess of her age-you know how that goes). So he said, “Why don’t you request her information” (remember I had prayed for our future adoption to be prompted by him, not me). So I did.

As the days went on and we gathered information about her, it was Nick that kept asking, “Did you hear from the agency?” It was him that said, “Well, I think we should pray about adopting her.” I knew without a doubt that this was coming straight from God as he had so recently told me he didn’t “feel” like we’d ever adopt again. I literally stayed out of it as much as possible and watched as God moved through my husband. He kept asking me, “What do you think we should do?” I kept deferring back to him as I only wanted to move forward if it was God’s will and if Nick was on board.

This wasn’t at all what I had pictured. I had pictured a young boy around 2. I had pictured waiting a year or two. I had pictured saving up all of the money that we would need to complete another adoption before ever starting the process again. After all, we had just completed the process with the girls. While God and provided every penny for their adoption, it was nerve racking at times to blindly trust (although amazing to watch God provide time after time). I am a planner and this was not matching up at all with my plan. Yet, I had an unexplainable sense of peace with each step forward that we took. I knew this could only be from God.

Next, I'll share how we knew for sure that God had chosen another precious child for our family...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Room For One More Part 3

I mentioned that I started an all out search for answers, but my husband was not necessarily on the same journey. I say this not to put him down in any way. He is an amazing father, excellent husband and hard worker and he loves the Lord. I couldn’t ask for any more. I’m mentioning all of this because it is an integral part of our story.

I was on this journey, but my husband was living in the land of reality. It was a good place to be mind you. We had just returned home with two new daughters, bringing us up to 5 children, all under the age of 6. We had just literally DRAINED our savings account, along with receiving several generous donations of funds, having a garage sale and a coffee fundraiser and selling my husband’s prized 4-wheeler to pay for the expenses involved with bringing them home. And here I was suggesting we should adopt again (initially, I actually suggested we sell everything and just move to Ethiopia so we could care for orphans full time-he really thought I might have lost part of my mind in Africa). To most, either suggestion would warrant an evaluation of my sanity. Especially, when measured against societal norms. But, when I started measuring them against biblical standards, I felt less and less crazy and more and more convicted.

I asked him to start reading with me. He made and effort. I then began reading to him. I really wanted to be on the same page, and he agreed to listen, so I went with it. At one point, just a few months ago, I looked at him and asked him if he would adopt again if we had all the money in the world. He looked right at me and said, “No. I just don’t have the feeling like we’re going to adopt again.” My heart sank, but I resolved right then and there to stop pushing the issue. I had read on another blog that I follow, that pushing is really the worst thing to do. As my husband, he is the leader and my job is to respectfully follow. He did at least say that he would pray about it and be open to hearing what God said about it. I had complete peace with that answer. So long as we are following God, we can’t go wrong. I resolved to be content with never adopting again if that was God’s will and also content to wait for my husband if we were to adopt again.

I began praying and fasting specifically for contentment and for any future adoptions to be prompted solely from Nick’s leading and not my desires to adopt again. I also began praying for God’s will for us to do work in Ethiopia. Again, I specifically prayed for Him to show us a way to work with Ethiopian orphans on an ongoing basis and to be invested in a community there as that was where my heart was.

This is where the story gets really good and God moves mountains (well, at least hills). We started studying the book “Radical” with our small group at the beginning of August. I knew the life changing implications that the book taught and I was hoping that the message would sink in for us and our group members and that we would start living out the bible’s plan for our lives, instead of the worlds.

I began to feel as though caring for orphans not adopting again would be my outlet,  little did I know, God intended for us to do both.

Almost done…..

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Room For One More Part 2

The morning we were to get the girls, our agency’s in-country director was able to provide us with a little more information about them. The one thing that stuck out was that our girls’ mom was actually from Mekele and that our oldest daughter spoke both Amharic (the main language in Addis Ababa) and Tigriniya (the main language in Mekele). I thought it was crazy that we had just unknowingly visited the birth place of our daughters’ birth mom. Had we not gone to meet Jonas in Mekele, we never would have had a reason to go there, so I knew that God had orchestrated our trip there. There is a distinct difference between that region and the city of Addis and I was really glad that we had the chance to connect with a little of the girls’ history and experience the people there.

Little did we know that we would one day have a daughter from that region that had touched us so much.

So back to how we’ve landed back on the road of adoption. Once we got home, Ethiopia was almost all I could think of. I missed it for so many reasons. I’ve never felt so alive as I did there. I’ve never seen such despair as I did there. I’ve never been exposed to so much culture as I was there or as much community or joy, even in desperate circumstances. It was an amazing experience and I longed to go back and to be among the people and to make a difference in the lives of those we left behind.

My eyes had been opened to a world that I guess I subconsciously knew existed, but that I had never really given a second thought to. Suddenly, it became very difficult for me to continue living out the “American Dream” as so many literally starved to death every day. How could I so nonchalantly throw food down the garbage disposal while children existed on next to nothing? How could I so wastefully allow the water to pour down the drain as I leisurely washed dishes or showered when millions have to drink dirty, disease ridden water across the world? How could I justify buying one more outfit or pair of shoes when my drawers were overflowing and others go naked? It just didn’t add up.

And so began my summer reading fest-an all out search for answers. As I’ve written before, I started with “Red Letters”, by Tom Davis, then “Fields of the Fatherless”, “Adopted for Life”, “One Million Arrows and finally “Radical”, by David Platt. While all were building up to the same conclusion, it was “Radical” that really wrapped it up for me. The senselessness of how I was living my life out as a “Christian” was overwhelming. What had I been doing all these years? I had become content with securing my place in heaven, going to church like a “good” Christian, tithing and basically living my life in a manner that met society’s definition of a “Christian.” But based on the bible, was my life really reflecting that? Was I actually living like a Christ follower? The short answer is NO.

But we had already adopted two kids. We were involved with our church, we had church friends, we talked about the bible with our children and we weren’t committing any of the “major” sins. At least we didn’t think so. We had lived our lives out the way we had been raised to. We went to school, got married, got good jobs, bought a house, had a couple of kids and started planning for retirement. We were on the fast track to the “American Dream.” The only problem was that millions of people around the world were paying a high cost for that dream-our apathy and self-centered aspirations would cost them everything if we didn’t wake up and make a change. I began to realize that although my little contributions to the world could never eliminate poverty and orphans and sickness and despair, that this was no excuse to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Yes, the problems are too big and they will always be too big because our world is not as it should be. I knew this, but I also knew that I must act because the bible says, “Anyone that knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t, sins” (James 4:17). Now I knew and my eyes were wide open, and the bible says, “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” (Proverbs 24:12). So now I was responsible.

More to come...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Room For One More Part 1

So, as I’ve written many, many times on this blog, Ethiopia has changed me. The first two days that we spent there was in an area called Mekele. Our sole purpose of that trip was to go meet our friends Heidi and Scott’s sweet baby Jonas who had just been referred to them before our trip. We actually rearranged our flights to leave 2 days earlier so we could make the trip to see him before meeting our girls.

Mekele was our first real taste of Ethiopia as we flew directly there after landing in Addis, never leaving the airport. Stepping off that plane (onto the runway mind you-little plane, really little airport) it was like stepping into another world. It was beautiful, with mountains surrounding us and literally nothing else. The two-story airport was the only building around and in the distance we could see men hauling huge loads on their backs. We would later see a convoy of camels walking the same path carrying salt from the border.

We were met by one of our agency’s staff members (a delightful guy) and taken immediately to the care center. We drove (I should say bumped) down unpaved, rocky, narrow roads, past donkeys and cows and swarms of children yelling, “forenyeah, forenyeah” (foreigner). Once we got out of the van, the street children gathered around us and hugged us and said, “I love you,” using one of the few English phrases they knew. We were overwhelmed by all the little faces, covered in dirt, running shoeless around us. They asked for a soccer ball which we gladly brought them the next day.

I remember that day and the next as two of the best days of my life. I felt pure joy being around these children. It was as if my heart was finally home (and I didn’t even know that it had gone). We then met all of the orphan children in the care center and of course baby Jonas. He was the cutest, happiest baby in the whole room (no offense to anyone reading whose baby was there-I’m a little partial). I couldn’t believe that we were holding the baby we had just been looking at pictures of days before and that he would soon be back in America hanging out with us.

It was the older children though who truly captured me. Their eyes told their story of struggle and longing. To see so many needy children is just indescribable. The bright side was that most of them had families and we were actually there to deliver care packages from them. It was so great to see their faces light up as they looked at the pictures of their new families and the things they had sent them. It was like hope had been renewed.

The night we returned to Addis, I was able to talk to Heidi through email and instant messenger to tell her all about her precious boy. I told her that night, “Get ready to start fundraising with me because you’re going to want to do this adoption thing again.” We hadn’t even seen our girls yet and I just knew that we would be back one day to adopt again.

To be continued……….

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can You Guess What's Missing???

I'll give you a hint:

We're adopting again!!!!

Through a series of events (that I'll write about very soon) we have confidence that God has called us to adopt a beautiful 8 (could be 9 :-) year old girl waiting in Ethiopia. We could not be more excited as we begin this process again trusting fully in God's provision as we know that this is His will for our family.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

Isaiah 43:5

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy New Year

Saturday was Ethiopian New Year. Happy 2003! They have a different calendar then we do so they're 7 years behind our calendar. Our friend Ethiopia (love that name) invited us to go eat at the Ethiopian restaraunte. So, we got all dressed up and had a delicious Ethiopian meal complete with popcorn and a special bread they only eat on holidays (can't remember the name).

We went at lunch time, so we ended up being the only ones left in the restaraunte once the lunch crowd left. The owner is so kind to us and loves having the kids there. She let them take turns beating the drum while they sang Ethiopian songs.

Colton was getting tired by this time, so he skipped the drumming. He and Meron crashed on the way home.

It was a great day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Older Child Adoption

This is the testimony of a Liberian orphan adopted at the age of 14 years old. He's a little difficult to understand, but listen closely to what he says was the best part of coming to America (I'll give you the answer: he said it was having 3 meals a day). He also mentions the hopelessness he felt as he prayed over and over again for a family to pick him and the joy he had when he learned he finally had a family.

Lightning Ahlers - My Adoption Story from The Ahlers Family on Vimeo.

Be the hope for one!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Supplies for Needy Kids

Nick will be traveling soon to meet our kids in Awasa and visit several other orphanages and care points in Ethiopia. While they are there, they'll be working on building projects and painting and facility improvement projects. They will also be spending as much time as possible loving and playing with these needy children.

We've had several people ask if they can donate anything for the trip. The group he's going with has planned two craft activities and we have just received a list of items that would be helpful for these activities as well as other supplies that would be good to have for the kids.

Below is a list of items. Anyone that wishes to contribute items for the trip can contact me at We will need the items by next Friday the 17th to allow time for packing. We will also gladly accept monetary donations as supplies can also be purchased while in the country.

Strong string (leather or hemp)
Colored pony beads (esp. black, red, clear/white, blue, gold, green)

Crayons/Markers, construction paper, kid scissors, banquet sized paper plates, and glue sticks.

In addition to this, other recommended items to bring for the kids:

Soccer balls (deflated – with pumps to inflate and leave at locations)
Some kind of sweet treat/candy
Pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.
Balloons (regular and for balloon animals…)
Nail polish
Jump ropes
Foam shapes, etc.
Any kind of sport ball
Any kinds of outdoor games
Any kind of basic first aid supplies (bandaids, etc.)
New or very gently used T shirts

We appreciate any donations and will be sure to post pictures of the kids receiving and enjoying these items!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tonsils The Size Of Golf Balls

Our sweet little Colton had to have his tonsils removed on Monday. The doctor said they were the size of golf balls. No wonder he couldn't breath or swallow. He's had a rough week, but I think we're past the worst of it. We're so glad to have this done. He's sleeping so peacefully now that I've been checking to make sure he's still breathing now that I can't hear him snoring anymore.

This was before the nurse put the oxygen saturation monitor on Colton's big toe. He hated that so much and got really agitated by it.

This was after the surgery once he finally settled down. We were told it would be about an hour before we could go back and see him, but less than 30 minutes later they were calling us back. We realized why when we heard him screaming. He nearly scaled the side of the bed to get to me. He had a really tough time coming out of anesthesia (madder than a hornet).

Recovering with his big truck.

This was him right after we got home. He was so happy to be rid of all the tubes and wires and to be back at his own home.