Sunday, August 28, 2011

My First Blog Giveaway

I've never done a give away on this blog and I feel like the readers here have been so giving that I wanted to give back.

I got a copy of Tom Davis' book "Red Letters" in the mail earlier this month. It was a "thank you" gift for donating to HopeChest and because I know that the readers of this blog are a HUGE portion of the donating that's been going on lately, I thought it only right to pass it on to a lucky reader. Plus I already own a well read copy of "Red Letters" :-)

I know, I know, you were hoping for Caribbean Cruise Vacation or some other fancy prize, but let me tell you why this is such a great win. For me it was life changing. It actually altered the course of my life. You can read more about it in this post. I believe that God used this book to point our eyes back to Ethiopia and open our hearts up to saying yes to another child. My heart literally ached for Africa after reading it and now we have another precious daughter from this beautiful land that is racked with struggle, and devastation and injustice--we fell so blessed.

Some of you may think, "well I don't want another child, so this book isn't for me." Well, it didn't just prompt us to adopt. It was also the catalyst that connected us to Children's Hopechest and our sponsor child Meseret and our friends at Trees of Glory and fundraising for cows and water and advocating for sponsorship......and I think that's one pretty cool prize. I wouldn't trade my time at TOG for the world and to think that if I never read this book, I probably never would have crossed paths with Simret or Girma or Fikre or........all the amazing people that are hard at work changing the lives of orphans and needy children for the Lord in Ethiopia.

Now I know those cruise ships have a little bit of everything these days, but I've yet to see one advertising God given vision or life altering change.....see now aren't you glad I'm giving away a book and not a cruise???

So here's how it works. I know about 80 people follow this blog, but many more readers follow along in secret (you blog stalkers know who you are :-).

All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post. That's it. Just drop me a quick note with your name and email address and I'll put your name in for the drawing. I'll draw the name of one lucky winner on Thursday September 1st at 8:00 pm and mail you the book. Great way to start of a new month don't you think?

And if any of you blog stalkers want to come out of hiding, feel free to join up and follow via the link on the left side of this page.

I continue to be amazed at how God uses this blog through those who read it. He has magnified my little effort and is using it for his glory through all of your generosity. Praying that God continues to expand this audience so that we can reach and help more people together for him.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finally I Can Post This Great News......

The Trees of Glory well project is now FULLY FUNDED!!!!! I've known for almost two weeks that it was and I've been dying to post to let you all know that drilling will soon be underway. Shortly after I posted that we were only $1500 away from meeting our goal, the same generous family that donated the $1000, decided to go ahead and just finish funding the project by donating the remaining $1500. So awesome!!!!

Karen has been waiting for all of the funds to make it into the Trees of Glory account as different groups have been fundraising, so I had to keep it under wraps until she got official word that all the money was in.

Here's the message she sent out today to all the sponsor families:

YOU DID IT!!! All $25,000 has now been raised for the Trees of Glory well project and drilling can begin. We will be wiring the funds to Ethiopia, and the Hopechest team will immediately be working with the drilling company to start the project ASAP!

As soon as we have a progress report and photos - I will let you know and I will post them on my blog! THANK YOU for your incredible commitment to these kids and for advocating and praying for this project!

I will be leading a team of 25 volunteers to Ethiopia in November and we are looking forward to seeing both well projects (at Kind Hearts AND Trees of Glory!!) fully functioning and delivering life-giving water.

Thank you for your continued commitment to your sponsor child and to this critical project!

blessings - Karen Wistrom
Sponsor coordinator for Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory, Ethiopia

I can't tell you how happy I was to learn that the project was fully funded. It literally made me want to jump on the next plane and go hug Simret and tell her, "you don't have to worry anymore--you're getting your well." I'm so excited for them and can't wait to do back and see those smiling faces again.

Remember to check Karen's blog as well for updates. Also, if you're interested in joining the Trees of Glory family by becoming a sponsor of one or more of the sweet kids at the care point, email Karen at so she can put your name on the waiting list. She's expecting the profiles of 40 more kids soon and will be in need of sponsors.

I love this song-the words are great. Keep changing the world!!!! (pause music at bottom of blog)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Homeschool?

.............because you can do it anywhere

Our first week of school was pretty uneventful. We started our first day with me having a mini meltdown in the bathroom because I was behind schedule before I ever started. I had "planned" for all the kids to get ready and sit down at the breakfast table to eat while I did our bible time. I went out and poor Caleb (just trying to help out) had already made breakfast for himself and his little brother and there they sat eating--totally off schedule and completely disrupting my perfect plan to have bible time first thing!

Can you imagine--me losing my cool over bible time??? Something a little off with that picture don't you think:-)

Yes, I've repented and I've also revised our "schedule" to not be so time (as in must start at 8:00 am) oriented and more big picture oriented. So now, I'm doing our priority subjects (bible, reading, English, math) first and getting to the other stuff after that which makes it a lot more fun for everyone. We finish when we finish and I don't spend the day stressing out over what time it is. Trial and ever people, trial and error.

So after getting back into the swing of things, we headed over to the beach for our second week of school. Friends of ours graciously loaned their condo to us as a welcome home present for Rahel (isn't that awesome?). We were just blown away with how peaceful and relaxing it was there.

Nick's mom joined us for the last part of the week.

And my mom also came over for a day. I wish I had a better picture of her, but here she is hanging with her hair stylist Meron. Meron spent close to an hours "styling" her hair with sand and salt water (why I didn't run and get my camera for that, I don't know). It's not everyday that I get to see my mom on the beach with a mowhawk. She's probably not too disappointed that I didn't capture that memory.

We did PE in the ocean-swimming and riding waves for hours.

Strolled on the beach and played a little frisbee.

Love this one of my little buddies holding hands.

Caught a few more waves.

Practiced our flying at the pool.

Nick and I also had many friendly swimming races--he smoked me every time. I was shocked because I'm totally in better shape than him. After he beat me in a few sprints, I figured I get him on an endurance race, so I challenged him to a 20 lap dual--he still beat me. The only thing I could beat him in was underwater breath holding. I did four laps underwater, he could only do 2--that has to count for something.

Then we had the most amazing science lesson one morning when I stalked the turtle patrol. I had gone for a run when I saw their truck coming down the beach. When they stopped at a nest, I turned around to see if there might be any action. Sure enough, they pulled 9 baby turtles out that had hatched over night. I called Nick to bring the kids down. He hurried them out (in their pjs) and we watched as they released them into the ocean.

One of the coolest things I've ever seen.

We took a field trip to the marine science center.

Got to pet a few stingrays

Not quite so sure what a snake has to do with the ocean, but they had one for the kids to pet. Rahel never got too close and she's the only one who didn't touch it (well, including me and Nick's mom--don't really see the need for that--trying not to impart my fears to our kids:-)

Then we went to the lighthouse and climbed all 203 of these.

To get all the way to here (I will say for the record that I did smoke everyone in the stair climbing department--not that we were competing, just saying--had to redeem myself somehow).

We got to see this view.

Afterwards, we visited the gift shop. You have to go through it on the way in and Caroline found the cutest little pink sting ray as we were buying our tickets. She didn't ask for it, just pointed it out to us. I thought to myself, "If I only had one kid, I'd buy that for her." After we came down from the lighthouse, Nick and I talked and decided to let them each pick something out. We rarely buy extras like that. I can't stand accumulating lots of stuff and when you multiply by 6, it adds up. But we decided to splurge this time and the kids couldn't believe their luck.

I gave them the guideline that they had to pick something that lives in the ocean (sticking with the school theme of the week) and it had to be under $10 (worked a little math in there).

We ended up with 2 dolphins, a shark tooth necklace (Caleb's pick), a sea turtle and 2 "ting ways" as Colton calls them. His is a "pie-wat ting way" to be exact.

We even managed to capture a decent couple shot.

And one of the whole family.

Doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

He Who Controls The Water Controls Life

In church today, our pastor taught from Genesis 21:22-34. It's a passage about Abraham and King Abimelek and the treaty they made at Beersheba. Prior to making the treaty about the land there, Abraham told King Abimelek that his servants had seized the well that Abraham had dug. Without the well, Abraham knew that the land was useless to him. How could he thrive without water? How could he grow crops and feed his cattle and take care of his family without water? Without the well, there would be no life for him in this land.

Then our pastor made the statement, "He who controls the water controls life."

It made me think of all of the people suffering in Africa right now from the drought. The images are haunting and the stories of their struggles heartbreaking.

The problem seems overwhelming--and it really is. The magnitude of the problem is too much for anyone to fix by themselves, but we can all do something.

My friend Heather posted this on her blog:
“We can do no great things, only small things with great love” ~ Mother Theresa

“Don’t fail to do something, because you can’t do everything” ~ Bob Pierce, Founder of World Vision

By providing Trees of Glory with a fresh water well, we are able to help protect this community from the effects of the drought and enable them to help more people.
We've been away for a week, so I hadn't checked my email for a while. I quickly scanned for any donations that had been made. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to only find one donation in my inbox. My disappointment quickly turned to joy and excitement when I opened that email and found that it was a $1000 donation made by some friends of ours who also hold Ethiopia dear to their hearts (you know who you are--THANK YOU SO MUCH)!

I quickly emailed Karen with the news and she wrote me back and said that with that donation, we are now only $1500 away from raising ALL of the money needed to complete the well project!!!!

Just like that, one family made a difference for a whole community.

Thank you again to all who have contributed to this project. Here's how you can help if you still want to help out with the Trees of Glory Well:

My friend Heather has another purse auction going with all proceeds donated to TOG

For just $5 you can enter to win this authentic coach bag. Go to for details.

For just $10, you can purchase an Ethiopian bracelet via this blog (click on the link at the top left side of my blog).

Donate via my donate button.

Or, go to the Hopechest site and give directly to the well fund:

Go to, click on GIVE
Select DESIGNATED GIFT and specify the dollar amount of your donation
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes area, specify TOG WELL


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Well Update

Amazing things have happened over the past couple of weeks and the Trees of Glory well fund and almost $17,000 has been donated to the project!!! That means we're just over $8000 shy of the $25,000 goal.

As the weeks have progressed, so have the drought conditions. With each new report comes an increased urgency to get this project funded.

Karen has posted the details of the well project on her blog. This is MUCH more than a well. It will be a "deep and wide" well that will not only serve the TOG kids, but also the surrounding community----what an impact!! The well will have a generator and the plumbing (unheard of in this area of Ethiopia) from the well to the buildings at TOG will be repaired. So when you donate to this project, you're not just helping the 100 kids at TOG, but countless surrounding families in the community that have the same daily struggle for water.

I think that's awesome!

Karen has set a goal to have the money raised before her trip to TOG in November. But I think it would be WAY cooler if the money was completely raised by the end of this month so the drilling will be in progress (or better yet completed) by the time she visits.

Wouldn't you love to see first hand pictures of clean fresh water flowing from the well at TOG in November (not a promise, just a prayer as things can move pretty slow in Ethiopia)? That would be an awesome Thanksgiving treat!

So with just $8000 left to raise---let's see:
that's just $285/day for the rest of August
or 100 people stepping up to donate $80
or 80 people donating $100....

$100 over the course of a month is just $25/week---less than $4/day

Think how many $4 trips to starbucks or through the drive thru you make a week.

If we gave that up for one month (really we can do anything for that amount of time) and instead saved the money--by the end of the month, you'd have the $100 to donate (plus you'd have all those health benefits that go with giving up coffee stops, treats and fast food :-)

I also have lots of these lovely bracelets for sale:

1 for $10
2 for $20
3 for $30........

so if you're thinking of donating, why not pick up a few bracelets while you're at it (all $10 go directly to the TOG well fund).

Click on the bracelet link at the top left of this blog, or donate any amount via the donate button below it.

The bracelets say "I love you" in Amharic (main Ethiopian language).

To donate directly to Hopechest:

Go to, click on GIVE
Select DESIGNATED GIFT and specify the dollar amount of your donation
In the Reference Number, specify ET2119000
In the Notes area, specify TOG WELL

Please send a quick email to Karen if you donate on the HopeChest site at so she can add it to the live tally on her blog and keep everyone updated (I'll email her if you donate on my blog or buy bracelets).

***************If you've already donated--thanks so much. If you have a blog or use facebook, please pass this on--every little bit helps***********************

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nice Little Christians

Tomorrow we start school.

This will be our fourth year homeschooling--something I never set out to do, but instead what God has called me to do for now.

Each year, we pray and search and consider and pray some more for God's will in regard to our children's education and every year so far, we've known that we are to homeschool another year.

So this year, as we prepare to start school again, I'm choosing to focus on the bigger picture. I could choose to focus on how inadequate I am for this job or how in the world I am going to teach 5 children with my littlest (see my previous post) man on the move. Or, how I'm going to catch up a 4th grader who's just learning English or cover all the subjects or give enough individual attention.........

But then, I'd be missing the "bigger picture" of why we're doing this in the first place.

I read this statement from a very wise blogger at a place called simplicity :

If you raise Godly warriors for Jesus Christ and then they backslide,
they become nice little Christians.
BUT if you raise nice little Christians and they back slide,
what do they become??

So this year, I choose to focus on raising warriors for Christ because at the end of the day, it's just what matters most.

If our children follow Jesus with all their hearts, souls minds and strength and extend God's love to others, then we've done our job.

Praying for another great year of learning..........