Sunday, January 31, 2010

Consumer or Servant?

My pastor said something really interesting in church today that has had me thinking (it's good to exercise these brain cells!).

He said that many Christians go to church "consumer-minded". You know, like "What can I get out of it? Salvation, forgiveness of sins, good worship..."

At what point do we turn the corner to being "servant-minded"? What can I give? How can I BE the hands and feet of Jesus?

Not pretending to have it figured out or be able to say that I can answer 100% one way or the other, just praying that I at least have a turn signal on, maybe even on my way around the corner....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Where is Me?

Yesterday, Kameryn came home with this picture for us. It was taken late in October at Parents' Night for the football team. We got to be introduced because Kameryn was the student trainer for the team & Kade was a water boy. As I was looking at the picture, Kaya came to sit on my lap & immediately said, "Where is me??" Up until that game, she had been to EVERY football game. The girl loves to be anywhere all of us are. However, that night, Kiki offered to babysit b/c it was rainy, bitter cold, miserable Ohio weather.

So, I tried to explain to her all the reasons she was not included in this picture. She looked at me with very troubled 2-yr-old eyes and said again, "Where is me?" At that point, all my reasons seemed lame & it broke my heart b/c she really felt left out of something she thought she should be a part of.

For some reason, this really stuck with me. Well, you know, outta the mouths of babes...yep, she was my teacher today as I realized why it hit so hard (you know, like a 2 by 4). I began to wonder how many "pictures" of my life God would look at & ask, "Where is me?" Sure, in the "big stuff" I desperately seek to pull Him in, talk to Him about it, ask for His guidance, protection, provision, etc. But how about the details? That's the part I can really stink at. Really.

Lately, I have found myself overwhelmed with worries, impatience, feelings of discouragement, basically uncomfortable with life. Then, I beat myself up for not be focused on the fact that God wants to be in the details, that He has the details taken care of. Ugh...not a good place to be. I think for some reason we think God works in the big stuff, & then the details are left up to us. Wrong.........

So, right now, I pray for God to enter into this picture that He has already created so that someday when we look at the picture together, instead of God saying, "Where is Me?" & me having a bunch of nonsense for excuses why He's not there, He can look at the picture with a smile & say, "There I Am...right in the middle of it all".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Ethiopia?

We get asked a good bit, "How did you end up adopting from Ethiopia?" or "Why Ethiopia?" or "There's kids right here in the U.S. so why didn't you adopt one of them?"

I think I'll start with the last question first. We have adopted from this country through the foster care system. Our daughter is such a blessing & we are so thankful to have worked with such wonderful people along the way, but our hearts couldn't take it again. The goal of foster care is never adoption; reunification with birth parents is the first priority, & it is a very long journey of working case plans, court reviews, trials, etc. Honestly, getting to bring Kaya home from the hospital & ultimately getting to adopt her is not the norm (we didn't know if she would be staying with us 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months???), so for now, we are enjoying not having a revolving door of visits with social workers, having to travel two hours twice a week for visitations and living in constant uncertainty about the future. We do not care to do that again anytime soon.

We never intentionally set out to adopt internationally. Through an amazing chain of events, we found ourselves looking in the eyes of our little boy in a picture. I can't explain it...we just seemed to know. However, as we have educated ourselves (& continue to do so), we have become passionate about the orphan crisis all over this world. I've come to the conclusion that God does not have the borders that we have created in this world. He sees children that need families and families that are open to His leading. That's how we found ourselves adopting from Ethiopia. Here's some information with regard to the orphan crisis in Ethiopia:

Why Ethiopia?

In Ethiopia, approximately 1 in 10 children die in infancy, and nearly double that number die by their 5th birthday, due to infections, tetanus and diarrhea. Ethiopia is considered the 3rd worst place in the world to be born, better only than Burkina Faso and Djibouti. Of the children who survive, many will lose their mother in childbirth and many more will lose one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.

As more and more parents die, the capacity of extended family members to take care of orphans shrinks. Ethiopia has reached the breaking point where orphaned children are now forced into the streets, into difficult working conditions and/or into heading their households.

In 2001, 13.2% of the population, 3.8 million children, was orphaned. In comparison, the 1994 genocide in Rwanda resulted in 500,000 orphans and the 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia resulted in 10,000 orphans. In 2006, American parents adopted only 731 orphans. 3,799,269 orphans remain vulnerable. (courtesy of

I, for one, struggle to wrap my mind around this. I try to prepare mentally for what I might experience when I finally get to go bring my son home, but I think I have conceded that there really is no way to. Everyone says it is life-changing, & I know that will be true, but I really can't know what it will feel like. One thing is for sure, I learn more every day that this life isn't about me, I have been changed, & thank goodness I have the opportunities to continue to be transformed if I choose to walk by faith.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Extravagant Worship

You know, I started this blog for a variety of reasons: to document/share our adoptions & other family moments; to "meet" other people in the midst of their journeys; but mostly to have the opportunity to externally process different things as I continue to evolve & grow in my faith.

Maybe it's that I haven't been out of the house in a few days, maybe it's the fact that small group had to be cancelled tonight due to illness, maybe it's that I've had these thoughts that my 2-yr-old has no interest in wanting to process with me...whatever, the bottom line is I needed to get this out of my system!!!

Here's the thing...we had a really good sermon in church on Sunday about "Extravagant Worship". I think the word "worship" brings to mind singing, raising hands, "churchy" stuff. But the sermon on Sunday was an awesome reminder that it is so much more than that, which got me to doing some reading. I found some really cool stuff, so I thought I'd share it with sure made me do some thinkin' & since we won't be having small group tonight to hash these things out, I'd love to hear any thoughts! (This would be me saying I have a case of ACD--Adult Conversation Deprivation!)

Some Definitions of "Extravagant": Spending much more than necessary or wise; excessively high; exceeding the bounds of reason; going beyond what is deserved or justifiable (my emphasis b/c I was especially struck by those two)

Some Definitions of "Worship":

"Worship is the believer's response of all that they are - mind, emotions, will, body - to what God is and says and does." ~Warren Wiersbe

"Worship of the living & true God is essentially an engagement with Him on the terms that He proposes & in the way that He alone makes possible." ~David Peterson

"Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose--and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable & therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin & the source of all actual sin."
~William Temple's (1881-1944) Readings in St. John's Gospel

I found much encouragement in these definitions. For me, it says that I need to strive to live my life in such a way that I am giving every bit of who I am to Him, beyond what this world deems to be normal or acceptable...


Amen. :o)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: Joe

Anyone that's been reading this blog of mine is getting a sense of who I am. But there's one part of me you haven't really met: my husband, Joe. Yes, he is as much a part of me as my right hand. We were asked once in a couples' small group what we liked about our spouses. The best I could come up with using few words was the purity of his motives. Truly, I have never met someone who really tries to do and say things always with the best of intentions. He has a great heart, this husband of mine.

I HAD to include this next picture. It totally makes me giggle, because he looks like he's ready to be president of something, but in real life, it's really all about blue jeans & a comfy sweatshirt!

Or maybe shorts & flip-flops on the beach...ya, that's totally his speed.

Totally "Daddy" material, and after many years of experience has perfected the art of self-defense (or should it be self-preservation??)

Our children know that Daddy will play, coach, listen, teach, love, comfort & defend them. They also know that he will say "no" when it's appropriate & he is quick to forgive when an apology is given. They also know they can count on him to slip them a Re*se cup every now & again & that his ornery sense of humor is to be expected when they least expect it! Did I mention that the man also knows how to wash a dish?

Joe's profession is in education. It's also his calling. He is passionate about reaching the wounded children in our schools. In a society that has a "throw-away" mentality, even where children are concerned, he has made it a mission to encourage & empower those truly called to educate our children to work with "the least of these". He has a gift to see past behaviors & attitudes to the potential within. He has been asked many times, "What are you trying to achieve? What are you trying to sell?" Can you guess the answer?


You know how the bible says God likes to use people in their weaknesses? I KNOW it's true. Can I just tell you that from the beginning of our relationship, I have rolled my eyes been on Joe's case about his grammar & language stuff in general. Ya, well, I'm pretty sure God has quite the sense of humor, too.

This is Joe's first book. Through a series of amazing events, a publishing company pursued Joe to write a book on the topic he speaks about at conferences. Usually, it's the other way around. The feedback Joe has received has been so affirming. It's been so cool to go to a few conferences with him & see how his book & encouragement has impacted people. We've heard amazing stories, some told through many tears.

"Each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33

I am thankful every day that God placed this guy in my life. He has been my biggest fan, believing in me & loving me right where I am. Yet, he pushes me at the same time to explore the gifts God has given me. I will never forget when I got the phone call about taking Kaya as a foster placement. Of course, I called Joe first. His first response was, "Dardi, I KNOW you. How are you going to handle this? I need to know that no matter what, you will be okay." There is something very special about knowing that someone on this earth KNOWS you & wants to be on a wild walk of faith with you.

Well, if you've made it this far, thanks for letting me share my mushy-gushy love for my hubby! Be sure, we do lots of laughing around's not so intense & serious, but I did want to take a minute to share a glimpse of my husband. And while we're at it, I would like to ask for your prayers. God put the desire in Joe's heart years ago to offer a conference where people could walk away with lots of good information & real, doable things they can use to reach wounded children. The conference is becoming a reality & is scheduled for next month. Would you please join me in praying that the response would be overwhelming? That every seat would be filled? I ask this for a couple of reasons. First, as his wife, I see the heart & soul he has invested in this & want to see him affirmed. Second, he works very hard to provide for our family so that I can remain at home, so we hope this will help out financially, as well, especially since we are in the midst of another adoption. Third, I believe this is such a great opportunity to give people a "boost" in their calling to work with children. If you are interested in taking a peek at the brochure, you can go here. Thank you so much for your prayers!!

Happy Sunday, Friends!!

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Merry Christmas, Again!

It really is Ethiopia! (It looks like it ought to be Christmas here the way it is snowing!!) There is some really interesting information on the IAN Family Blog that you can check out if you're interested. I am so excited to continue learning about our new son's heritage. By the way, our current update on our little man is that all of our paperwork is in Ethiopia with his, so we are waiting to be assigned a court date. For anyone unfamiliar with how this works, we do not appear for court. We have someone that represents us in Ethiopia. Once we pass court (which sometimes doesn't happen the first time around due to incomplete information, power outages, etc.), we will find out about our embassy date, & that's when we'll get to travel. Pretty surreal!!

For now, I'll leave you with a couple of Christmas pictures that are actually for our little boy. We have a special tradition on Christmas Eve where everybody gets new books & jammies. This was my first purchase for our little guy...brand new striped jammies. I can hardly wait until he is home running around in them! As far as I am concerned, there is nothing more precious than my children (even the bigger ones) cozy in their jammies! Kaya, of course, took on the task of opening them.

I was very excited to learn about the traditions surrounding Christmas in Ethiopia. I do believe January 7th will become a special day in our home to enjoy feasting on Ethiopian food (or in my hubby's case, he may feast on take-out from Wendy's) and maybe a variation on the games they play will be a family game night in our home!

So, Merry Christmas, sweet boy! We can't wait to be with you for the next one & every one after that!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: Kade & Kaya

You know, many people have asked along the way how not being the "baby" anymore has affected Kade. Even the judge asked Kade about that when we finalized Kaya's adoption. After all, he had been the baby for almost 8 years when Kaya came into our lives.

I can honestly tell you that I have NEVER, not even once, seen this child exhibit any grumpiness in his new role as big brother (well, except for the occasional time that a certain little Miss Thing decides to turn off the television mid-video game, but even then I think he is a bit tickled by her mischievous side!). As a matter of fact, Kade has embraced the roll of big brother. He was even quite excited the other day when I told him we were going to get Kaya dressed to try out playing in the snow.......

I absolutely love how she is looking at Kade in this picture...How she loves "Mr. Bubby"

So proud of their snowman!!
I may or may not have been seen with a saw headed to see if trees in the back yard were willing to sacrifice a limb or two for the snowman.

I wish this picture also captured the belly laughs that were coming from Her Highness.
I think this big brother/little sister thing is working out just fine. Can't wait to see the boy juggle two "littles"'ll be AWESOME!!

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, January 1, 2010

Way More Fun than Surgery

Hubby was supposed to have minor surgery yesterday, but due to a cold, it was postponed. This was way more fun!!

HAPPY 2010!!!

O - H - I - O