Thursday, September 30, 2010

Addition Update

Time for another update on the addition.  As I have written before, at times it seems that it is going quickly and yet at other times it seems as though we have been, and will be, in construction mode forever.

It's a very strange feeling having strangers build something attached to my house that I am going to live in and own.  And yet, how do I know that they're not using styrofoam or marshmallows to build this thing?  How do I know that it's not going to just fall over the first time the wind blows on it?  How do I know that I'm not going to sit down for the first time in the finished room and say, "what was I thinking???"  I guess I don't, but it's all still very weird.

Well enough rambling.  Here's some pics of where we are with the addition:

The new HVAC unit was put in this week.  It is supposed to be sized large enough for the existing house and the addition.  The old unit was original with the house (1984 - good long life on it Dennis!) and so we planned to upgrade it. 

Here's Eddie Joe in the new shower in the new basement part of the addition.  Most of the plumbing is done.
Eddie Joe loves being in pictures.  How can you not love Eddie Joe!
All of the sheetrock upstairs was completed today.

Gutters and downspout also went up this week. 

At lastly, this is the basement wall that will likely have a big hole in it tomorrow where it will connect to the new basement.  Although we have been promised this will happen each day this week.  An important lesson - Contractor timelines have nothing to do with the normal reality of time that us normal people live their lives by.  Contractor timelines are based on the movement (or lack of movement) of stars in an alternate universe.  

So, it does seem like a lot has been completed this week.  It's good to see progress.  I've had to "watch" most of it from a distance as I was in Tulsa, OK during the first part of the week.  Bo did a great job keeping track of everything and keeping things going while I was she always does when I'm here too.  What a woman!

Matthew West Video

Have you seen the video Matthew West has where he shares his thoughts behind the song "One Less"?  Check it out here!

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Go Huskers!

                 Yesterday, Mom, Sunshine, T-bird, and I went a Nebraska Huskers football game. Here`s a picture of the "sea of red:"

It was pretty cool.

Of course, T-bird and I had to get "cornheads."

                      The No. 6 Cornhuskers beat the South Dakota State Jackrabbits 17-3. It was quite the victory. The Nebraska band is very good and always fun to hear.


(Sorry for the blurriness)

                     After the game was done, it was late and we were tired. So, instead of driving home, we slept at our grandparent`s house in Fremont. It was very nice. The next morning we headed home to tell of our grand adventures in Lincoln. The Big Fella and Eddie Joe enjoyed putting their stuffed animals in the cornheads to use them as airplanes. They found it very amusing.

                     Well, before I ramble any more I`ll wrap this up. Thanks for reading!! Go Big Red!!!!

                                          --Rye Bread

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beautiful Faces of Ethiopia

Check out this video from Kari at My Crazy Adoption.  She recently went to Ethiopia with Visiting Orphans.  Visiting Orphans is a fantastic organization that has at its core the vision that churches should be at the forefront of orphan care ministries.  One of the cool things is that they emphasize churches going to visit the orphanages - hence the name Visiting Orphans!

Enjoy Kari's video of the Beautiful Faces of Ethiopia!

Beautiful Faces of Ethiopia from Kari Gibson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

House Updates and Family Updates

So, what's been going on in our lives???

I'll start with some updated pics of the addition.  We're definitely seeing some progress here each day.  It's been fun to see the changes and try to imagine what it will be like when it is complete.  We feel like we're constantly dealing with questions like lighting, light switches, windows, siding, closet size, etc, etc, etc.  We hope we've made good decisions.  We'll find out for sure when it's all done and we have to live with our decisions!

So here are the pics of our HOUSE addition.  We look forward to the day when we have pics of our FAMILY addition - aka, Peaches!
We went with canned lights.  Hope we like them.

Here's the old outside wall of our house.  The siding has been removed.  The window on the right will become French Doors.

The windows are in now too.  They are double-hung, Gerkins.  The Gerkin factory is just right up the street from us and we know several people who work there.

We also added a window to the original scope.  We contemplated the number of windows on paper and initially decided we wouldn't need one on the west wall because we new we would have the slider.  But, after it was all enclosed, we decided that we definitely needed another window!

Here are some pics of the basement.  All of the framing is done down there now too.  Our favorite framers the "Full Moon" Brothers did the framing.  There will be two bedrooms and a full bathroom.  Eddie Joe was having a good time!

The upstairs walls were all insulated today in preparation for the sheetrock.  The Big Fella and Eddie Joe had fun doing more jumping pics.

More highlights from the last week included the South Sioux City Football Game last Friday night.  Sunshine is in the Color Guard (for us people from the olden days, well we called it the Flag Team).  It was her first year to do anything like that and she is having a lot of fun with it.  We are very proud of her efforts (up every morning at 5:30 am for practice).  When I asked her if she ever hit the guy in front of her (see pic below) with the flag, she said, "yea, all the time."  But she said that her coach said it's OK to hit band kids because they are supposed to get out of the Color Guard's way.  And Sunshine also said that it's not a big deal, "because he's just a freshman."   She did a great job during the halftime show.  Here are a few of the pics of Sunshine on the Color Guard.

And a picture below of her friend Eva who is one of the Drum Majors

At Awana last week, we had our party for the first Awana night of the year.  As part of the Awana fun night, there was a facepainting booth.  T-bird had some fun at the booth, and then had some fun once he got home with some pics.....

Rye Bread NEVER misses a chance in front of the camera!!!

Needless to say, we are very busy.  This update didn't even include the flag football teams that all four boys are playing in, the worship group that Heather and I led on Sunday - along with Rye Bread and T-bird on guitars, and the Husker football game that Heather and the three older kids are going to on Saturday.  We can't wait to welcome Peaches into the wonderful whirlwind of our lives!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Posting for "Lifesong for Orphans"

We're joining our blog friends the Uchereks (at God Etched Your Name on our Hearts) in posting for the organization "Lifesong for Orphans."  We're passing on the information from Lifesong so that others can be aware of their ministry.  Take the time to read through it and learn more about Lifesong for Orphans!

Let's be the Hands and Feet of Jesus!

This week we are inviting our faithful readers and supporters to step up and help us in a time of need for Lifesong Liberia.
Lifesong has partnered with The Master’s Home of Champions orphanage and is providing a loving and safe home to many destitute and abandoned children, some of whom are deaf.  We seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and are focused on the goal of raising up champions for the good of Liberia and glory of God! 
This summer, another orphanage was in dire need, and thanks to an unexpected donation Lifesong was there.  Praise the Lord we can help more children!  But now, we need help too!  We need your help to make sure these children are fed every day!  We need your help to care for the fatherless!  Will you join us?
70 sponsors in one week is a tall order.  We know this.  We also know that we serve a big God who has told us that caring for the poor and vulnerable is at the very heart of who He is!  We believe we can make this happen! We pray that God will call hearts this week and we trust that you will answer!
Contact us at to commit!
Hear personal stories & follow the progress on our blog all this week!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Too Good to be Unkind

This hymn is taken from the Beaver's blog.  What a great reminder of who God is, both for us and for them, as they await their 3 whom they are adopting from Russia.  (Their blog entitled "Unto Him We Live " can be found by clicking here.)
"God shall alone the refuge be,
     And comfort of my mind;
Too wise to be mistaken, He,
     Too Good to be unkind.

In all his holy, sovereign will,
     He is, I daily find,
Too wise to be mistaken, still
     Too good to be unkind.

When I the tempter's rage endure,
     'Tis God supports my mind;
Too wise to be mistaken, sure,
     Too good to be unkind.

When sore afflictions on me lie,
     He is (though I am blind)
Too wise to be mistaken, yea,
     Too good to be unkind.

Hereafter he will make me know,
     And I shall surely find,
He was too wise to err, and O,
    Too good to be unkind."

(By Samuel Medley, from A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship by William Gadsby) quoted in
Too Wise to Be Mistaken, Too Good to Be Unkind: Christian Parents Contend with Autism by Cathy Steere

Friday, September 17, 2010

So, why the long wait?

Two families received referrals from our agency in the last couple of days.  The Crockett family received a referral for a soon-to-be 4 yr old boy and the Grays received a referral for a 6 week old girl.  Interestingly enough, the Grays are actually #3 on the list so that would mean that two other girl referrals have gone out very recently too.  We don't know any details about the #1 and #2 girl families, but can only assume they received referrals too.  It's very exciting to get some news of some referrals going out even with the courts closed.

We rejoice with these families that the little ones who have been referred no longer have to wonder whether they will have food, shelter, or clothing.  They will no longer wonder where they will sleep at night.  They will no longer wonder if they will ever have a mommy or daddy.  They will soon become part of a family through the miracle of adoption.  God is actively rescuing these kids from the depths of darkness - lovingly placing them within waiting families.  And just as He actively rescued these kids, He will continue to heal their hearts from the hurts they have known through the miracle of becoming part of a family.

So now we continue to wait for our phone call.  Another week has gone by.  Another week of waiting for the sound of a long distance phone ring with Kiersten on the other end.  Another week of thinking about our little girl.  Another week of praying for her referral to come quickly.  Another week of quietly resting at the feet of Jesus, knowing He is patiently working His plan, perfectly executing His purposes.

So why the long wait?  I think of the story where Jesus is asked why a certain man was born blind (see John 9).  The disciples ask him whether the man was born blind because of his sin or his parents' sin.  And Jesus answers them that it wasn't because of the man's sin or the parents' sin, but so that the works of God might be displayed in Him.  In a similar way, our wait is not long because of our lack of prayer or from other people's lack of prayer.  Our wait is not long because God is unable to efficiently or effectively bring us our girl due to hold-ups in a third world country.  Our wait is not long because of the rainy season in Ethiopia.  Our wait is long so that God's glory could be manifested through our lives and through our little girl's life.  He is using our lives and her life to tell His story about His purposes.  We are pleased to be part of the story.  We anticipate each new chapter that He unfolds.  We are grateful to know Him better each day as He draws near.  We are thankful that as our hearts groan for the phone to ring - He is in control, He is holding us near, He is all that we need.

A note of clarification that my conscience requires me to make after thinking about this post over night:

The story of the blind man in John 9 is a miraculous account of one Jesus' famous healings where He is revealing Himself to the Jews.  In the midst of discussing the man being blind, He uses this moment in time to declare Himself to be the light of the world.  Can you imagine standing there and taking all of this in?  Jesus chooses to use this man's life - through no merit on the man's part - to make a public statement of who He is and to reveal His power.  So, in no way do we want to make any inference that our adoption story is any where near the importance of the healing of the blind man in John 9.  Our story is a blip in history that will soon be forgotten.  But, I do believe that in a similar way, God uses people in small circles to reveal His power and His person to those around us. Not through any merit of our own, but merely for His purposes and for our joy.  Our eyes are to be opened and our hearts in awe of the King who reaches down to His people and reveals Himself.

OK, maybe that clarification wasn't necessary, but now I feel better.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Visiting Orphans

Check out these videos from the organization Visiting Orphans.  Visiting Orphans is an organization that lists the following as their Vision:

  • To enlist Church volunteers to visit orphanages so they may meet physical, emotional and spiritual needs of orphans.
  • To develop relationships, provide comfort and to share the Gospel with orphans.
  • To provide financial aid for child sponsorship, medical assistance and construction to improve the living conditions of orphans.
  • To mobilize Christian churches to help orphans experience the blessing of family.
They desire to engage the church in orphan visitation while sponsoring trips to orphanages in a number of different countries.  The countries include:  China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Russia and Costa Rica.

It's exciting to see an organization that desires to infect the church with a vision and a passion for orphan care.

Check out their website and check out the videos prepared to be infected.

(The videos were taken from Kari's My Crazy Adoption blog.  She just returned from a Visiting Orphans trip late in the summer.  The second video is from her trip.)

Visiting Orphans from Amanda Lawrence on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Psalm, a Prayer, and our Number

Our new number is 29.  Included below is the text of Psalm 29 (an amazing Psalm) and our prayer as we apply Psalm 29 to our lives.

1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;

9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Reflecting on the Psalm through prayer:
God, we desire to ascribe glory to Your name through our lives.  You are worthy of our praise, worthy our life’s focus. 
God, Your voice is powerful.  Your voice echoes through our lives - leading us to Your purpose, calming us with Your peace, bending us low as we hear Your thunder.  God, Your powerful voice not only strips the forest bare, but also tenderly makes the deer give birth.  We know that same voice calls to the orphan and says, “I am your Father.”
God, as You sat enthroned over the flood, may we know that You are also sitting enthroned when our world of adoption-unpredictability whirls around seemingly out of control.  May we know that Your plan is in perfect motion, never straying from purpose or finding a piece out of place. 
May You give strength to us, and bless us with Your peace.  Amen.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Addition Update

Just in case adoption isn't enough stress in your life, make sure to do a house addition at the same time.  That will ensure you know where your breaking point you will live your life mostly beyond your breaking point!

By the way, the guys that have been doing the framing this week.....boy I could blog about them for days.  Just picture the stereotypical "plumber" look, you know what I mean, with the full moon and all.  Well, these guys go WAY beyond the full moon and, well, I'll just leave it at that for now.  But let me say that they have no tan line.  Seriously.  And there is no bashfulness whatsoever in the way they carry themselves.  Anyway, they are both a couple of exceptionally nice guys, they just apparently enjoy feeling a little extra breeze during the day.  Just in case you're wondering, there are no pics of the framers!

Enough of those mental pictures.  Here are the latest pics of the addition.  We keep asking ourselves...."did we go too big?????"   As a wise man once told me, "if a little is good, a lot is better."  So I think we're OK.

Have a great day!  If you see a full moon tonight, you can think of us!

Monday, September 6, 2010

LifeLight 2010

We attended the LifeLight Music Festival yesterday in Sioux Falls, SD.  The festival runs Friday through Sunday each labor day weekend.  Each day, approximately 100,000 people attend.  It's humongous!  It's held in the middle of a hay field out in the country.  The large field becomes filled with cars, lawn chairs, people, great music, and amazing worship.  We always enjoy the event each year and enjoy going with several other families.

We left for Sioux Falls at around 1:00 pm.  The concerts lasted until about 11:00 pm.  We hit the road to come home at about 11:45 pm and got home around 1:00 am!  Very late for an old man like me.

The bands we got to see yesterday?  Parachute Band, Downhere, Family Force 5, BarlowGirl, NeedtoBreathe, and Mercy Me.  All in one day, all for free!!! The music is all really, really loud - but also really, really fun.  It's great to hear the message that each band has to share and to hear music centered around worship all day.

The older kids enjoy going down to the "mosh pit" where they can scream their heads off and jump up and down for hours on end with thousands of other youthful types.   Heather and I usually take turns hanging back with Eddie Joe (does NOT enjoy the loudness of the music up close!).

The Big Fella loves to boogie as soon as he hears a good beat.  While hearing Family Force 5 (a crazy, crazy band) he could not keep from layin' it down.  Check out the vid below!  The Big Fella is sporting his Ethiopia Adoption shirt from the Stutzmans.

Some other pics of some of the other happenings.

Heather with her very good friend Roxanne.  They've known each other since the 8th grade.  If you ever want some seriously embarrassing stories about Heather, Roxanne is your source!

The Big Fella enjoying a burger

NeedtoBreathe up on the stage and the Jumbotrons as the sun was beginning to set.  I think we were about a quarter mile from the stage!!!

Eddie Joe ALWAYS has fun with Naomi.  Naomi's friend Lauren was also with us.

Here's a link to photos directly from the LifeLight website:  PHOTOS

MORE pics.  These are from Sunshine's camera.  She had a much better view of the festivities.
 Sunshine and the Big Fella

Old people taking it all in - Heather, Sherri, Russ, and Scott (the men are talking Husker / Gopher Football)

Lead singer from Downhere (I think he looks like Donnie Osmond)

One of the Barlow Girls (3 sisters with the last name Barlow - they really rock it out!)

Sunshine and L Jo

Pics of the Mercy Me part of the concert - They were very good!