We are so excited to share our Ethiopian adoption adventure, and our CRAZY lives with all of you! Our hope is that it will encourage you to step out in faith to do what God has called you to do! There are FIELDS of fatherless children waiting for someone to care for them, to love them, to tell them of JESUS' love for them...will YOU be the one??

Saturday, August 25, 2012

From The Heart

Today I need to talk to you from my heart.... Mainly about what I expected to happen when I set foot in Ethiopia.

You see, I've been praying for some time about WHERE God wants to use our family to help the orphan...OTHER than adoption...cause let's face it...SO MANY will never be adopted....SO MANY need to hear that their lives matter to GOD...that they ARE precious..that they are NOT forgotten...that they have a purpose...

So, I prayed..."Lord, if you want us to BE(live) in Ethiopia and serve the orphans there....make it clear while we're there".  I expected to step off that plane in Addis and hear Him say, "This is it...you're home!"...but I didn't...  I also didn't have the culture shock I expected to have though...it was all very surreal..

And then the ONE day we were supposed to visit the children in the orphanage in Nazret, I was too sick to go....

I was SO sad....I NEEDED to GO!!  I NEEDED to hold them and tell them Jesus loves them...  I NEEDED them to know....!

And then I held the most precious 4 yr. old(ish) little girl at the transition home...she was SO quiet...  She walked up to my husband one day and just touched his leg...she didn't smile or try to talk to him...she just touched him.  I immediately scooped her up and began to sing "Jesus Loves YOU" to her and her face LIT UP!!!  She either recognized the tune, or something...because she didn't stop smiling!!  She melted my heart on the spot!!!  Thank you Jesus!  What a precious moment(a gift to me) to just whisper Truth to her heart, even if she couldn't understand the words...  PURE sweetness!!:) 

God has given me such a hunger to spread the gospel to/care for the orphan...and the uttermost parts of the world, and I don't know where or HOW it's going to happen...and it may still be in Ethiopia...or it may be elsewhere...  But I left there more determined than ever(although a little humbled...cause God's got His own timing/ways ya know;)) to be used!

I DON'T believe you have to move a million miles away and live in a hut to make a difference, because, man, I LOVE ELECTRICITY and clean water...and access to doctors....but I also don't want to hold those things so tightly that I hinder God's work in me...  I LIKE being there...TOUCHING them...HOLDING them...  It's hard for me to come home and feel like I can make a difference from here....although I KNOW many who do!!!!!!!!!!  We have 7 kids for heaven's sake!!  They are our FIRST mission field.... 

So, I keep praying...."Lord, we're here...ready to serve the orphan...ready to GO if necessary...send us!"..  And I guess we'll see where He leads:).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lifesong For Orphans

Please enjoy this video produced by Plan Escalon students featuring graduates in 'Life after Plan Escalon'...

Isn't it beautiful to see former students like Elmer, Marvin, Santos and Doris 'change their nation' by the education and spiritual discipleship they received from Plan Escalon/Lifesong Honduras?  

Honduras has a 30% national employment rate, yet Plan Escalon students have achieved more than twice that reaching 70% employment rate after graduation.
Praise God for finishing what He has started in the lives of these four young men and women and may He continue to work in the hearts of the current students.
To see another 'Life after Plan Escalon' story, click here or to learn more about how you can become involved in helping Plan Escalon's new building project, click here.

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."  Philippians 1:6

Monday, August 20, 2012


What a WHIRLWIND this past week and a half has been!  Sometimes I just have to stop and breathe, and ask myself if it really happened at ALL!;)

We arrived in Addis on Friday night about 8:30..and after about an hour of lines, visas, etc..we were on our way to the West Sands Guest House/Transition Home.  It was cool and rainy and MUDDY...EVERYWHERE...  When we got there, the staff had prepared DINNER for us...really?!  At 10:00pm?  They were SO sweet and kind!

We were so tired and went straight to bed, and can I say I was so glad I brought ear plugs because our room was on the side where the road was, and it was NOISY!

The next morning we met another family who is adopting 16 month old TWINS(boy and a girl), had breakfast, and turned around to see them bringing our daughter in!!!  I didn't even know if she was there yet!!! 

She came to me pretty easily and I got to feed her and rock her until she fell asleep:).  Oh.my.word!!  She is beyond precious and sweet!!  She was very coy and quiet...a little serious...but we got a few smiles out of her.  She was NOT feeling well and had a horrible cough...I felt so sorry for her:(.

We got to keep her with us as much as we wanted, and we could even take her to our room if we chose..but we stayed in the living room area most of the time.  We took her back to the nannies for her naps, so we could rest a little too, but then we got her and kept her till bedtime every day.

The other family left that first day, and after that we were alone....I wish we had had other families there...we were lonely;)!!!  Ben slept pretty much wherever he landed...chair, couch, table, bed...;)...so he was no company!

Saturday night our director, Woudneh, took us to the Abyssinian(?)...it's a beautiful restaurant with Ethiopian dancing.  We enjoyed it VERY much!  We tried most of the local dishes, and I discovered I don't like berbere;).   I'm a cayenne pepper kinda girl;)!  I did like the injera and mild dora wat, as well as a few other things I can't even describe...because they just looked like mush to me, LOL!

Sunday we again stayed at the guest house and played with our daughter...I wanted so much to go out and play with the other kiddos too, but every time I had a moment they were inside doing other things or it was raining..we got to get some pics later though.:)

Monday was our day to go to Nazret to tour the orphanage(Yoseph), but by the time we got there(a good hour and a half drive, in the rain...and potholes...and fumes...and crazy drivers) I was SICK!  We took our director to the West Sands school for a meeting and went on to tour around a new "resort"...Ben fed the baboons...I tried not to puke...  When we left, I decided to not go to the orphanage and head back to the guest house:(...TOTALLY BUMMED!!!!  I slept for a couple of hours and I was fine, then spent the rest of the night with the baby:).

Tuesday was our court date and we were there by 9:00am SHARP!  There were already lots of families there from other agencies...most white people I had seen in ET up until that point;p!  We waited for about an hour for our turn...even though there is a "list", sometimes the judge chooses out of order...and then she called us.

She asked a few questions, like do we know other families with Ethiopian children, are we learning about the culture, taken our adoption classes, how long were we in process, how many kids do we have/are they excited?...etc....  It was just a room with two long tables..very empty..NOT overwhelming at all, but my heart was pounding!!  She then stated that ALL the paperwork was there, she was legally our daughter and nothing could change that!!  HALLELUJAH!!!!:)  It took all of 5 minutes and it was DONE..SHE'S OURS!  AMAZING!!

We spent the rest of the day loving our new baby girl and dreading leaving her behind:(!

Later that night she had a HUGE blowout and my husband had to carry her airplane style back to the nanny, as she dripped all along the way, and he gagged with every step!!  SO STINKIN' FUNNY!!!  And that's how we said goodbye to our sweet baby!

We left early the next morning....eager to see our kiddos back home, but with heavy hearts as well. 

Now we wait for the court decree, birth certificate, and US Embassy dates...we were warned that because she was abandoned, her case will most likely be sent to Nairobi by the USE.....they will try to contact the Sheriff who found her/signed the police report..ask him for info he doesn't always have, and just basically delay my daughter coming home.  I TOTALLY understand investigating suspicious adoptions...but abandonment occurs SO FREQUENTLY, and mothers do NOT come forward later when the police try to search for them, because it's ILLEGAL to abandon your child and they will be thrown in jail!!!!  It's pointless and it just wastes precious time that a child COULD be with their family...  That said, we will wait...and pray she gets through Embassy without being sent to Nairobi!:)

Now, without further delay...intoducing NAOMI BETELHEM!!:)  Isn't she beautiful?!?!?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Minute Inside My Mind

Please read at a somewhat fast pace to get a real "feel" for what it's like inside my head today....here goes...:)

48 hours till we leave.Not enough time!Where is my list?Did I call the day care back?Will they lose Caleb?Do I have batteries for the cameras?Why does my arm hurt?Oh yeah, I got a shot today, duh.Clothes washed.Caleb needs new underwear.Where's my list?I wish I could lose 3 more pounds before we leave.Do I REALLY need malaria meds?No, let's skip those.Donations.I wanted to take donations.Maybe next trip.Why are my kids' feet always black?I wonder if the cat will die while we're gone since he licked the Frontline spot on his back?Great!My house is going to smell like dead cat when we get home!WHY are we in the LAST ROW of the plane on the flight to Frankfurt?And SEPARATED!That has to change.I'll puke for sure.Jesus help me!Hate United!Planes flown by intoxicated 12 year-olds!Why are the seats SO CLOSE TOGETHER?Makes me claustrophobic!Who am I going to sleep on?Or squeeze, as we hit the "turbulence" that the pilot CANNOT explain for some reason?Or talk to about the suspicious guy next to me who has NO luggage other than a small shopping bag that says "Yemen"?Terrorist for sure.Do we have a flashlight?Why are we taking duct tape?Awww, she's SO cute!Focus, Renae!Why didn't I get a haircut?Oh yeah, it's the rainy season in Ethiopia.What's the point.Noah needs a haircut.Too bad.No time for that.School starts in 3 weeks.Still need school supplies.They'll have to wait.48 hours to hug and kiss and stare endlessly at my sweet kiddos.HATE leaving them!HORRIBLE!I think I'm sick.Do I really have to show up at court?Look at those chubby TOES!MUST.KISS.THEM.Yep, I have to go.Where's Ben?Why isn't he home yet?Oh yeah, the dogs are getting shots too.Can we board the cat too?Then he can die there and won't stink my house up.I hope he doesn't die.He's sooo cute.I love him.I need a nap.And an Excedrin.And a diet coke.And CHOCOLATE.How will make it in Africa without chocolate?Where's my LIST?Oh, found it.TOO MUCH TOO REMEMBER!..................................................................

But, in spite of the chaos in my brain(and house), we are EXCITED to meet our newest daughter.  Now if only I could get there another way other than flying!!;)

And if you feel so led, please pray about our seating situation.  I DO get airsick(I'll be taking meds), and the back is the WORST place for me.  I'll be calling United tomorrow:).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

COURT DATE!!! AUGUST 14TH!!!!!!!!!

We have a COURT DATE!!  YIPPPPPEEEEE!  God heard our prayers and POURED His grace on us yet again!  Thank you JESUS!

So, here's how this goes down.  There's a hearing on August 7th, which is when the orphanage, West Sands, and the police department who found our little girl will submit their paperwork, etc.  IF the police report and any efforts made to find the birth mother are NOT there, then OUR court hearing on the 14th(which is the one we WILL attend) will only be to give our consent for the adoption.  It will not be FINAL until that police report is there.  There are times they've had to wait on this, so we're asking for prayers that all paperwork is there and accounted for on the 7th!!  Our in-country director will still be able to continue processing our paperwork etc., but we NEED that paperwork before she is officially ours and we can be submitted to the US Embassy.

PLEASE pray this is all in order....we want nothing but an HONEST adoption of a truly orphaned child, and our agency has an excellent reputation so we trust them implicitly, but this is all scary! 

Now, here at home....ummmm....STRESSSSSS!!;)  I spent FOREVER trying to book tickets online yesterday..and after FOUR attempts to purchase tickets that were apparently "sold out"(UGGGGGHHH!), we hit the jackpot:)!  Okay, they were still $2000 EACH, but the flights are pretty "easy", ONE-STOP flights, so I'm happy with them.  Oh, except that we're flying United for a couple, and after our last experience, I'm pretty sure the planes are manned by a couple of intoxicated, twelve year-olds!!;)  So, needless to say, I'm a little nervous about those:).

We have a place for each of our kids, except our little Caleb:(...BUT, I'm thinking we're going to send him to preschool during the day, and then Grandma can watch him at night.  That will be a new experience for him, but one that will keep him busy and entertained during the day, which he DEFINITELY will need!;)  He can be a "stinker";)  LOVE HIM!  Although, that will add some expense, I think it will be best.  You can pray about that too...that we'll find a good fit for him.

So, we're leaving in 5 DAYS..did I mention that?!  This week will be spent getting malaria meds, purchasing snacks and extras for the trip, washing clothes, packing, getting funds in order, etc., etc., etc.,

So, here's the prayer list:

1.)  That peace would reign in our hearts as we go through this very hectic five days before travel.
2.)  That we find a good place for Caleb.(Cause this Momma's heart can't handle leaving a scared and fearful child!)
3.)  That our kids will not be nervous or afraid, but will be excited and ready when it's time to leave.
4.)  For the court hearing to go PERFECTLY this week!
5.)  For our little Ethiopian love's health and well-being.
6.)  For good health for all of us while we're separated.
7.)  For peace in MY heart, cause I HATE HATE HATE leaving my kiddos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8.)  For the flights...hate to fly...'nuff said.

I'm sure I'll have more updates this week, so THANK YOU for taking the time to pray and love on our family this way!:)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Down To The Wire...

Okay ya'll, I'm hearing all kinds of rumors about when court is closing for the rainy season in Ethiopia!  Some say the 22nd, but I just heard the 15th from someone else...that I trust..

That means to SQUEEZE in before the 15th, we need a MIRACLE! 

This is SO important to me...mainly because I don't want to have to worry/deal with sending all the school supplies for each kid, and worry about who will take and pick up Ava from school every day, etc., etc.

It would just be so much easier to go during summer break...especially for those who will be watching our kids!!  I don't want to be a burden on anyone more than I have to be, ya know?

SO, just asking...if you think of us today, please send a prayer on our behalf!

Hopefully, I'll hear something today or tomorrow either way.