Monday, January 30, 2012


**This is a super long post, but I want to share what's at the end of it, so stick with it if you can (don't cheat) **
It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been on a computer hiatus-trying to be more present with my kids and not spend so much time on email and blogs.

I really value the community that I have online with adoption forums, email and blogs and it has been a great tool for reaching others… but sometimes it’s good to just unplug for a while.

It has been wonderful! I’m really glad to get back though because God has been doing great things that I can’t wait to share.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go away for two nights and spend time with 4 dear friends and adoptive moms Heidi, Emily, Neely and Jeanie at the Created 4 Care Retreat (there's another one in March that still has room--sign up, it's great!) in Georgia. It was such a blessing and I’ve learned so much from our time there. God has opened my eyes in the way I see myself, challenged me to follow his call on my life to care for orphans and nurture and love my children and husband well, and inspired me to press on towards the goal of raising our kids to be world changers for him.

It will probably take me 5 posts to pour out all that was poured into me during this retreat and I’m really excited to start with this post and what God has shown me regarding those orphans that may never feel the love of a family of their own, but deserve to feel the love of their father in heaven and know that they matter.

About a year ago, our small group had just finished reading “Radical” by David Platt and we knew that we were being called to step out in faith to serve orphans. We couldn’t keep doing life as if we didn’t know that each night across the world, thousands and thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children would go to sleep alone, afraid, hungry and without the hope of Jesus.

So, we began searching and praying for what that would look like for our group. Of course, my heart longed for Ethiopia. I would have loved for our group to choose to serve in Africa, but the Lord had other plans. One of our group members had been in Haiti right after the earthquakes and we were all moved by his stories and pictures of this hurting land (he was so moved that he and his wife are now in the process of adopting 4 sweet children from Haiti :-).

One day last January as I was scanning Tom Davis’ blog (author of Red Letters and founder of Children’s Hope Chest), I saw that they were in the early stages of establishing care points in Haiti to minister to and care for needy children and orphans there. Having worked with Children’s Hope Chest in Ethiopia, I knew that they were a solid organization that truly loves the children they serve and I was thrilled by the “coincidence” that God would align our desire to help in Haiti with a need that seemed to fit our groups desire to help orphans there.

So, we contacted them and over the course of last year, God brought us to an orphanage in Haiti called Fond Blanc. It’s in a rural area several hours outside of Port au Prince run by an amazing pastor with a huge heart for orphans (He just happened to be in our area several months ago—coincidence??? I think not. So we had the chance to meet him before our group travelled to Haiti-such a blessing.)
We now have the amazing opportunity of coming along side him with the help of Children’s HopeChest to serve 41 orphaned and vulnerable children.

Like I mentioned before, at first my husband and I were torn with serving in Haiti when our hearts and ties were in Ethiopia. We absolutely love Ethiopia and the people there. I literally feel like I’m going home when I get there and I can’t wait to get back and visit the staff and kids at Trees of Glory—they are my international family. But the Lord began to speak to me-especially over the past few months-as if to say, “It’s ok-you can love orphans all around the world-open your heart to Haiti.” Just like he grows my heart each time we’ve added another child, He has grown my heart with a love for Haiti and these 41 kids that He’s divinely placed in our path. So, we will continue to serve Trees of Glory whole heartily and we will make room for Fond Blanc.

God made this so clear to me over the weekend during my “date with God” session (amazing quite time). During this time, we were asked to pray over a map of the world while worship music played and ask God to place a particular country or region on our hearts. All I could hear was “Haiti” and I just felt the presence of God.

Next, we were to open our bibles and just ask God to speak to us through His word. I began going over some scripture and somehow came to the book of Habakkuk. Now, I think I’ve read from this book maybe once or twice, but it’s definitely not my go to book of the bible.
Here is the verse the Lord gave me:

“Look at the nations and watch-and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habukkuk 1:5

Now here is something you should know-the orphanage in Fond Blanc serves 41 kids (and that’s who we are seeking sponsors for), but there is a school there with over 300 kids and great need. Even before this verse, when I found out about the school, I envisioned all of those kids one day having sponsors and who knows how far the reach will spread once God starts to move his people to serve these kids.

This is also the very first care point that HopeChest has established, so it’s like the tip of the iceberg has been exposed, but the need there is overwhelming, so who knows what his plans hold.
I was just in awe of this verse. That even if we were told, we would not believe the great things that God has in store for Fond Blanc and Haiti.

While there are over 300 needy kids in and around Fond Blanc, you have to start somewhere, so we are starting with ONE. Meet the newest member of our international family:

Beleau, our little first grade boy:
(he looks so sad and I look forward to the day we get to see him smile)

Our kids are sponsoring him. With 6 kids, that’s just $5 per month that they are responsible to earn so that Beleau can eat, go to school, have basic medical care and most importantly be discipled.

One of the things that really stuck with me during the adoption conference this weekend is the statement that “God doesn’t see orphans when he looks at these desperate children, he sees DESCIPLES.” That’s powerful and that changes things. If we start looking at our children and these children as God sees them, then we start to see disciples.

The seven couples in our group have divided our 41 kids living in the orphanage at Fond Blanc up and our family has the honor of presenting these 5 disciples in training who are in need of one person or family to make the decision to believe in them and believe God and His great plans for them.

Meet Elima

He’s a 15 boy in the 5th grade whose parents are unable to care for him.

This is Billy, another 5th grade boy of approximately 13 years. The whereabouts of his parents are unknown and he has been taken in by the Pastor or the orphanage.

**UPDATE-Billy is sponsored! Thanks Rein Family!**

Another sweet boy, meet Franclin. He’s a first grader born in 2000, who has lost his mother.
UPDATE: SPONSORED-(thanks to my parents-now I have a new "brother")

These two sisters have lost their father and are waiting for their sponsor families to invest in them.

Meet Kerline. She’s a sixth grader born in September 1997.

And her sweet little sister Manoucheca, born in February of 2000, currently in the second grade.

If you would like to partner with us and take part in the privilege that we have to pour into these children, please email me at Monthly sponsorship through Children’s HopeChest is just $34. An amount we spend without even a thought is life changing for these kids.

You will have the opportunity to pray for and minister to your child through monthly letters and by sending pictures. You will also have the chance to travel to meet your child on one of our mission trips (or if you happen to be in Haiti) if you so choose (highly recommend it).

Having seen the difference that sponsorship has made for the kids at Trees of Glory, I’m so excited to see what God will do with our new friends at Fond Blanc through the generosity of those that choose to say YES to investing in ONE.

For pictures of our group’s recent trip to Haiti, please visit:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One Last Birthday and an Anniversary

So, today was my birthday. It is birthday central around here and to be honest, I'm pretty birthdayed out-in a good way of course. I spent the day just hanging around here-took a nice long shower (thanks to my parents and Nick for my new hot water heater-I'm a practical girl, so this was actually a really nice birthday present for me).

Then we headed over to my parents' house for dinner. Caleb prayed before we ate and thanked God for mommy's "24th birthday???" Don't know where he got that number, but I'll take it!

I have to say that I have four of the most beautiful girls in the whole world-(courtship and arranged marriages are starting to sound pretty good these days :-).

My mom made a yummy strawberry shortcake!

It was a great day. It was also great because it is the second anniversary of Meron and Hermela joining our family. Two years ago today, Nick and I were in Ethiopia and I received the best birthday present of my life when they ran into our arms.

Here we are in Ethiopia where it all started (look at how little my babies were-and check out that hair--I was still in the learning stages).

Two years later and I can't imagine life without them-we are so thankful.

Here's another look at our journey to our first two Ethiopian daughters:

pause music at bottom of the page

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two More Birthdays!

We are officially in birthday overload. Caleb and Rahel celebrate their birthdays last week 3 days apart--that doesn't even give us enough time to finish one cake before I have to make another :-)

Our big 8 year old requested a Lego cake.

(he build the center piece)

We spent the day at Lego Land. My parents gave us all tickets for Christmas, so we decided to go on Caleb's actual birthday. We decided last year to start a new tradition of doing something special with the birthday child rather than throwing big birthday parties. You spend about the same (or less) and the one on one time is priceless. This year, the whole family got to join in on Caleb's outing since we had these tickets.

Lego Land was super fun!

If you're counting, yes we do have a seventh child with us (just practicing :-). We had an extra child's ticket, so Caleb got to bring a friend.

As we were riding the carousel, I asked Rahel if she'd ever been on one. That sounds like a silly question, but Hermela and Meron had gone to a little carnival type place in Addis when they were in the care center, so I thought that maybe she had also. But, she had not. I realized that this was the very first ride that she had ever been on. So fun. She loved everything there and rode all the roller coasters.

This was in the Kingdom Land. Caroline is jousting on a Lego horse.

Colton braved the roller coasters like a pro as well. The cool thing here is that everyone in our family could ride almost all the rides as they're designed for kids 2-12 years old. This was his first one. After this, he held his hands up on all the other ones.

Here's Lego Mini City-an area full of various landmarks around the world made of legos-unbelievable that amount of work that had to go into this.

This is the Daytona 500 Track

(all the fans in the stadium are Legos too)
These are life sized Lego creations.

Kicking back on a Lego safari.

And then just 3 days later, the big 1-0. Rahel has reached double digits and is now 10. We decided to get 10 balloons and do it up big as it was her very first birthday celebration ever.

She loved that. She also asked for a strawberry princess cake. She had never seen one of these dress cakes, so she was pretty surprised. She said, "Who made this one?" I told her I did and she said, "mommy makes the best cakes." (It's super easy-just takes time, but I'll let her think that if she wants).

Ariel is her favorite princess.

No place to put the candles except for blazing straight out from the front of her dress.

Then it was present time. Rahel's side kick was close by sporting her "little sister shirt."

A new watch from Nick's parents. Now she's telling time all day long-great teaching tool!

And one of my favorite moments of the night is when she opened this. It's called a Wildlife Storyteller

The company that makes these has various animals with solar rechargeable recorded gospel messages in them. They come in over 5000 different languages and either tell the gospel story or a collection of different bible stories. Rahel's is in Tigriniya (her native language) and has 192 bible stories on it and we just sent a couple with our friends from our small group who are currently in Haiti meeting a group of orphans that we plan to help support through Children's HopeChest. I'll definitely be bringing the Amharic version when I go back to Ethiopia as well. Such a great idea!

When she turned it on, she listened for a few seconds and then a beaming smile came across her face. She said, "It's about God!" She listens to it at night in her bed before she goes to sleep.

Now I want to get a few English versions for our other kids.

Happy birthday to my two big kids!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Realistic Look At Our Family


Our neighbor's little boy had a circus themed birthday, so we did a little "clowning" around!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Teeth Twins

Last night, Meron lost her first tooth!! She was so excited!

It had been wiggly for days and Rahel finally helped pull it out just before bed.

Not to be out done by her little sister (Caroline is 12 days older than Meron), Caroline had Rahel pull her wiggly tooth--the same wiggly tooth that Meron lost just hours before--out.

It was a little dramatic, but strong willed Caroline wasn't about to let Meron be the only 5 year old in the house missing a tooth.

Here they are. My little teeth twins.

A Birthday and 10 Years!

December and January are filled to the brim with family events. Between December 5th and January 18th, we celebrate Nick, Colton, Caleb, Rahel, my brother and my birthdays along with Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, our anniversary, New Years Day and Ethiopian Christmas (which is today-Melkam Genna!).....whew that's alot of party going on over here.

So, before another event hits (Caleb's birthday is tomorrow), I thought I better catch up on two biggies.

Our sweet little ball of fire turned four on the 28th! I can't believe he's already four. Four seems so old--definitely not a baby anymore. He's let me know that he is a big boy now and is starting to step up his game in the "big boy world." Of all of the kids, I think Colton was the most excited about our new baby boy. He jumped up and down and hugged Caleb and said, "yeahhhhh, we're getting another boy, we're getting another boy!" He's really excited to be a big brother. The other day, he was having a little melt down and I reminded him that he was a big brother now and he needed to act like a big boy. He said, "our babies not here yet, so I'm still the little brother." I guess he'll be playing both card to his advantage for the time being.

Paw Paw came over to celebrate.

Present time. I got him a new comforter for his bed!!!! He was gracious, but not particularly excited about it. Dad scored big with his present.................
A trip the the monster truck show!

Cake time with FL Gee Gee
Happy birthday to you.....

He went for it--even though he didn't have a spoon yet--just his style!

My sweet boy.

Next, we were off to Nick's parent's house. We dropped the kids off for three fun filled days of grandparent spoiling and Nick and I headed off to celebrate our 10th anniversary! What a treat-pretty awesome any time anyone takes on all 6 of our kids at once--thanks!

We decided that the best way to relax was to jump off of this.

That's me.


...and a self portrait. Taking pictures mid air is pretty tricky.

It was super fun-neither of us had ever gone zip-lining before so it was a great little adventure.

But the best, best part of it all was that zip lining was the only planned activity that we had for the entire 3 days. We stayed in bed past 9:30, didn't get dressed until noon one day, lazed in the hot tub and generally enjoyed being together doing pretty much nothing. It was wonderful and relaxing and exactly what we hoped our little getaway would be. We also learned that the less you do, the less you want to do. Apparently, laziness breads laziness and we soaked it up! It made us realize how busy and active our days usually are. It also made us realize how amazingly blessed we are because after 3 days, we were totally ready to get back to our 6 little buddies that make our life so full.

Here's another self portrait--much like the one we took on our honeymoon in Jamaica 10 year ago.

What a ride we've had! I can honestly say I could look the whole world over and I'd never find anyone that I'd rather be spending my life with. I feel like the luckiest girl around to have been blessed with such an awesome husband.

Here's to the next 10 years!!!

May we fully devote ourselves to the Lord and may he use us in mighty ways for his glory!

Friday, January 6, 2012

$12 for 2012

This will sound funny to some (but not so out there to those of you in the adoption/blog world). I have a friend whom I've never actually met face to face (I actually have many friends like that). It's crazy how connected you can get with people that live all over the country (and even world) just through email, yahoo groups and a few phone calls.

Anyway, I have one such friend who is currently on her way to Ethiopia to meet her two new babies for the first time. We "met" when she called me for a reference regarding our agency and we've corresponded ever since. She has a beautiful heart for the Lord and was bitten by the "I love Africa" bug along her adoption journey, partnering up with Children's Hopechest to help find sponsors for an entire care point there. She'll be visiting those kids as well while she's in Ethiopia for court.

When they started the process, they expected to complete one adoption, but when they were presented with two extremely malnourished babies, they knew God intended them to adopt both of them--so they said YES to one tiny boy and one beautiful baby girl with the cutest smile you've ever seen. But, their obedience created a little hurdle in the form of a $10,000 deficit required to bring their second baby home. A huge hurdle it may seem for them, but not for God. And like he always does, God provided a way for them to meet this hurdle head on through

The motto of Give1Save1:



I absolutely love that and I've seen it to be true time and time again. The way it all works is that you give a little (we're talking 12 bucks-the cost of a pizza or a movie ticket) and then pass it on. As everyone does their little part, it adds up big and we help meet the need of this family. It totally works. Just take it from Jensen family. They nominated the Roepnacks after God provided over $12,000 in just 27 hours for their own adoption of a sibling group of 5 through the same organization!

So click on over to to see a cute video about the Roepnack family and learn how you can make a difference in the lives of two little babies that are orphans no more. You can follow the Roepnack family on their journey here.