Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sledding - Always a good time...

I took a break from our basement declutter project to take the kids sledding.  I think I needed it as much as they did!

Eddie Joe is ALWAYS cool!

Ready to go!

Ready for a race

Rye Bread ready for take off

Resting at the end of the run

Comparing notes on who is the fastest

All four boys at the end of the run.

It's hard to tell here....but Eddie Joe was flying as he went by me!!!

He was probably flying because Rye Bread was giving him a "little" push!

Sledding always brings out the smiles

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pray for her EVERY Day

We had an email conversation with one of our blog friends last July.  We were very down because we had already been on the waitlist for three months and were #1 on the list for a toddler girl for most of that time.  In our frustration, it seemed as though nothing was happening.  We were quickly approaching the Ethiopian rainy season when the courts would be closed for most of the months of August and September.  It was that feeling of wanting things to happen, and wanting to make things happen, but having no ability to bring about a referral.

So we emailed a blog friend whom we knew had just come back from Ethiopia with her little boy.  We asked her how many toddlers were at Hannah's Hope (our Agency's transition home) in Addis Ababa.  We also asked about the Ethiopian orphanage Bethzatha - the place where many of the Hannah's Hope children come from.  She mentioned that there were not many toddlers at Hannah's Hope but that there were many toddlers at Bethzatha.  She mentioned a number of other informational details, but then left us with a far more important urging.

She said the most important thing for you to do right now is to pray EVERY (she used all caps) day for your little girl.  Pray for the circumstance that she is coming from, the plan that God is working in her life, the path that she is being led through to get to you.  Pray for the many details that need to be orchestrated to bring her to you.

Now prayer is one of those complicated, simple things.  God is sovereign over all.  Psalm 115 says, "Our God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases."  So if He is able to do all things apart from us, what's our purpose in prayer?  I don't have a great answer.  Other than, He works through the prayers of His people.  Not because He needs His people's prayers, but because it causes our eyes to turn toward Him and realize our utter hopelessness apart from Him.  It is in prayer that we realize how empty and completely dependent we are upon Him for even the breath that we breathe, for even our very next heartbeat.

So we started praying every day for our little girl.  For the story that God was weaving in her life.  Not knowing who she was, what her situation was, where she was coming from, or when we would get her referral.

As I sat yesterday and prayed for our Peaches, I began to think about that email and wondering what the date of it was.  I looked back and found that the date was 7/18/10.  When we received Peaches' referral paperwork, it included many medical and legal court documents.  So I looked through those documents and specifically looked at the dates.  The very first court document is the legal proceeding when Peaches' mom appeared in court to testify that Peaches' father had died and that she was unable to care for her little girl.  She was relinquishing her rights as a mom and turning her daughter over to the Ethiopian orphanage system.  I can't imagine the pain she must have felt as she testified and gave up her daughter.  The court documents also include the testimony of two witnesses that appeared that day to also testify that Peaches' father had died and that her mother was unable to care for her little girl.

Well, that court hearing happened on 7/19/10.  The day after the email exchange we had with our blog friend.  The day after she urged us to pray for our girl EVERY day.  As we felt uneasy about things, we had emailed a blog friend in Georgia whom we had never met.  At the Spirit's urging she shared with us our daughter's need for prayer.  At that very time, a mother was contemplating a court hearing the next day where she would have to relinquish her little girl.  The email exchange ended on the night of 7/18/10, very late.  With the time change, it would have been around 9:00 am on 7/19/10 in Gambela, Ethiopia.  It is possible that that is when Peaches' mom was appearing in court.  There was a great spiritual battle raging, and God was at work.

God works many miracles.  He does things every day that we will never know or understand.  He weaves the stories of lives together with unimaginable wisdom so that His glory will be displayed for all the world to see.  We are continually blown away by the details that God orchestrates through our adoption.  And not just our adoption, but how He works continually in the many other details of our lives and the lives of those around us.

So through the uneasy feeling that we had on that day, we emailed a friend in Georgia whom we had never met.  She had no idea what our little girl's situation was, but urged us to pray for her EVERY day.  And at that moment, God was beginning our daughter's story to bring her to us.

God was working.  We weren't aware of it at the time, but God was working.  He is always working.  He is working right now.  He is working in our lives.  He is working in your life.  What are you praying for?  How is He using prayer in your life right now?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Look Development

My good friend Layne is flying out to Ethiopia today.  He is going with an organization called Look Development.  Look Development was started by a couple named Matt and Amanda whom Layne and his wife Tanya met in Ethiopia while adopting their two sons.  Matt and Amanda were also adopting and the two couples hit it off.

From what Layne and Tanya have described, Matt and Amanda have giving hearts, the kind that won't stand on the side and talk about needs, the kind that must get involved and meet needs - no matter how great the need is or how far they must go to meet those needs.

Look Development has teamed up with an Ethiopian couple to meet the needs of the poor and the orphans in Ethiopia.  I found this under the "About Us" section on their website:
“Whom shall I send and who will go for Us? Then said I, ‘Here am I, send me’” Is. 6:8

In faithful obedience to her Savior, one woman with few earthly resources said, “Yes, Lord, send me” when she witnessed the plight of the children around her. Not willing to see any child go hungry or homeless, Yemserach Tsegaye, along with her husband, Tesfaye, and her brother, Tesfa, has ministered to the poor and orphaned children of Adama, Ethiopia for 8 years. By earnest prayer, miracle after miracle has occurred to meet the children’s needs. It is now our privilege to join with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in God’s work among the impoverished children of Adama and Shone, Ethiopia. It is our prayer that our obedience will be a life-changing blessing to those we serve.

Ethiopia has changed Layne and his family forever.  Because of God's calling on their lives, Layne will travel halfway across the world to help a school in the bush of Ethiopia, and his wife Tanya will support him by staying home, caring for their six children.  It is a beautiful sight to see the sacrifices they are willing to make for others.  The willingness to take the gospel and the light of the glory of Christ to those who walk in darkness.

The needs are great.  It is truly eye-opening to see families such as Matt and Amanda, and Layne and Tanya, open their hearts and their lives to the needs of the poorest of the poor.  Those that have no means to repay.  Those that are so easily left behind by society - and by the Church.

Please pray for them over the next 10 days as they are in Ethiopia - far away from even the small conveniences found in Addis Ababa - off in the bush of the Shone region.  Pray that they would be lights to those around them.  Pray that God would satisfy them daily - that He would be their Manna.  Pray that God would keep them safe.  Pray for Layne's family at home.  Pray that God would bring glory to Himself through these willing vessels.

Look Development has put together the video below to summarize the focus of their trip.  Take a moment to watch.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Very Pink Sunshine

When we've picked colors for Sunshine's room in the past, we both said we would let her decide.  Of course, when she would pick a color we didn't like, we would just paint it the color we thought was best.  Thinking, she's much too young and the color she picked is way too bold!  So she would end up with a color she wasn't too excited about, but we thought it was the most practical.  That seemed fair.

With the addition to the house came a new bedroom for Sunshine.  With a new bedroom came a new opportunity for another paint color choice.  This time, the decision would be hers and hers alone.  It's hard to believe that she's 17, a junior in high school, and only a year and a half left in the nest.  I figured life is much too short to worry about whether or not her paint choice is practical or not.  It's time to let her express her boldness of paint color and for me to just be quiet and paint.  Or maybe grumble and paint.

Heather and Sunshine went first to buy a bedspread.  I'm told that's where it all has to start.  Apparently you can't just paint the walls blue and buy a blue bedspread and be done.  It is far more complicated than that.  You have to find the right colors, the right mood, make the right statement.  It has to represent who you are.  Now that I was informed about how the process works, I waited for the end product of being handed the paint color card so that I could head to Lowe's and buy the paint.

I found out that that doesn't happen right away.  It apparently takes a substantial amount of time to find the right bedspread so that you can find the right paint color so that you can make the right expression of who you are.  In fact, the amount of time to reach a decision on paint color in a girl's room is equivalent to the amount of time it takes to paint a bedroom for two boys, build lofts for the boys' room, move them into the room, paint a bathroom, build a deck, and move furniture into the new living room.

So with the paint card in hand, I gasped at the boldness of the color (which nearly burned a hole in my retina), and then headed to Lowe's to buy that color.  It was a lot of fun trimming out the searing pink color along all of the white trim in the room.  It took many, many hours of staring at this color and thinking, "Wow!  That's a bold color choice!"

In the end, I love to be able to finally let her have a room that is who she is.  Bright, pink, and a little loud.

(To avoid retinal damage, don't look directly at the picture.  Don't try to adjust your monitor.  Yes, it is that loud.)

And with the bed and the new bedspread (I'm told a white headboard, white nightstand, and white dresser are necessary).....

Sunshine also had a band concert last night.  It was her first band concert and the first time she had ever worn a band uniform.  She joined band this year (as a junior) having never played a band instrument.  The band director offered to let her join and she decided to play the flute.  Why did she want to join the band?  To be in the color guard of course (that's the flag team if you're old like me).  She's done a great job of picking up the flute considering she has only played it for about four months now.  She had a great concert and even got to play the piano on one of the songs.

Here's a pic of Eva (who started band as a sophomore last year) and her after the concert.

We love you Sunshine.  We love your brightness.  We love your pinkness.  We love your loudness.

Monday, December 20, 2010


We got a call from our Agency today and were told that we have been assigned a court date!  The date we were given is February 28th!  The birthmother will appear at 8:30 am.  We will appear at 2:30 pm.  So, we not only have a court date, but we have a specific time that we are scheduled to appear.  Wow!

So we are looking into travel arrangements and finally starting to have a date that we will see our Peaches.  Can't wait!

Peaches - We're coming soon.  Love your smile.  Love your eyes.  Can't wait to hold you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kom Hom Med E

Eddie Joe wrote a message to Peaches on his little writing tablet last night.  He had been in his room for a little bit getting ready for bed and then strolled out with a serious look on his face carrying his writing tablet.  On his tablet he had written,"KOM HOM MeD E."  Now for those of you who don't know, one of Peaches' nicknames is Meddie.  So, in Eddie Joe's own way, he had written "Come Home Meddie."  We were moved!  He also drew in some balloons and some other decorations.  He can't wait to meet her.

We also received a package from our Agency AGCI yesterday.  It included a stuffed animal for Peaches and a "birth announcement" card welcoming her into our lives.  It was fun to open it and think of her entering our lives very soon.  What an amazing Agency they are.  If you have any interest in adoption, please consider using them!

I also had to include a pic of the gingerbread house that L. Jo. made for us when she babysat the other night.  It is very, very rare that we have a babysitting these days since we have three teenagers in the house.  Last Sunday night, Heather, Sunshine, and I went to the Michael W. Smith Christmas concert here in town......yes, he came to Sioux City!  Rye Bread and T-Bird went to the Sanctus Real concert in town on the same night - can you believe it????  Both MWS and Sanctus Real in Sioux City on the same night???  Some kind of wierd scheduling Karma or something??  So anyway, we had the amazing L. Jo. babysit for The Big Fella and Eddie Joe.  When she showed up, she came prepared for a fun night.  She had stopped at Target and bought a gingerbread house building kit.  Our kids have never done that before, because Christmas around here is usually way too crazy to take the time to build a gingerbread house.  Their eyes were wide open with amazement and anticipation as they  looked at the box!

Here are some pics of gingerbread house.  Thanks L. Jo. for taking the time to be so creative with the kids.  I know they had a great time!

Friday, December 17, 2010

1st Chair and 1st Chair

Today Rye Bread and T-bird got a phone call from their band teacher.  He wanted to tell them that they both made the Northeast Nebraska Middle School Honor Band.  Rye Bread plays trombone and T-bird plays trumpet.  The really cool part is that he wanted us to know that they both got 1st Chair!!!

Very impressive.  We are very excited for them.  It was fun too because Grandma and Grandpa were here doing some Christmas shopping for the kids, so they got to hear the news first hand.

Congratulations dudes!  Great job!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Future Meeting with Peaches' Birth Mom

OK.  We're trying to process the future meeting that we will likely have with our little girl's birth mom.  We found out some details on Tuesday during our "Next Steps" phone call with our Agency.  Details that surprised us. 

We knew that we would likely meet Peaches' birth mom on our first trip to Ethiopia following the court hearing.  The court hearing is when Peaches will be officially declared our daughter.  Up until that time, the government has legal custody of her and her birth mom could change her mind at any time and re-gain legal custody. 

So, following the court hearing, we will be meeting Peaches' birth mom.  Peaches' birth mom relinquished her to an orphanage several months ago after her husband died and she was no longer capable of caring for her little girl.  We imagined that the meeting with the birth mom would be somewhat informal, with just us, her, and maybe an interpreter present.  It would be a cozy, ask as many questions as possible, pray with her, cry with her, look into her eyes, find out who she is kind of meeting.  Very intimate, very moving, very memorable.  Funny how we picture things sometimes.

But what we found out is that the meeting will happen at our Agency's transition home.  And that it will happen with some of the Hannah's Hope staff present, social workers present, interpreters present, and.....the real surprise.....our Peaches will be there too.  Yes, right after she is legally declared ours, she will see her birth mom again.  It sort of stunned us and got us thinking a lot about this meeting.  Wondering how will she process that?  How will we process that?  What will that meeting be like?

It seemed to us that Peaches' birth mom relinquished her to an orphanage many months ago through a very tragic turn of events that played out to a horrifying reality for our girl  And with that relinquishment, our little girl is likely still going to bed each night wondering, "Is mom coming to get me tonight?  Why did she leave me?  Maybe tomorrow?  When will she come?"  Though it was a courageous choice by her birth mom, knowing she could no longer provide care, it still resulted in the pain and loss of a child being orphaned.

There certainly must be a huge whole in her heart from missing her mom and also from her dad's death.  Pain that is not meant for a 4 year old.  Pain that she must handle alone, since she no longer has anyone to hold her through her storms. 

Certainly, the confusion of the rapid changes in her life must make it difficult to grab hold of any sense of reality.  How can a 4 year old find any rest as her life turns upside down?

So what will she think as she sees her mom again?  Will she think, "Yes! She's here!  Everything will be alright again.  We will be together just like I've longed for us to be"?  How will her mind and damaged heart think through all of this?  It's difficult for me to even begin to understand how she will understand her mom's presence, the social worker, the interpreter, the two white people who have been playing with her all week, the different languages, the many questions, the tears, the pain.  Will she begin grieving all over again?  Has she stopped grieving? 

Oh Peaches.  We so want to take it all away.  And yet we know that there will be pain, there will be sorrow, there will be grieving, there will be separation.  How can we help to heal your heart?  How can we begin to make your life better, as we take you from your birth mom and your country?  We know you have a place in our lives, in our family, in our hearts.  We know you belong to us.

So for that brief day, when we are all in the room together, we will trust that God will be working.  That He will be using all of it as part of the healing process for Peaches.  That He will be bringing her heart and her soul back to wholeness as only He can do.  There are many confusing twists and turns in adoption.  Many times when we wonder, "why"?  Yet, He guides us, He leads us, and He strengthens us for the difficult turns in the road.  He will supply what we need.  He will meet Peaches' needs, He will meet her birth mom's needs, and He will meet our needs. 

Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Depraved Indifference Video

I post quite a few videos.  I found this one today on Amy's Filled With Praise blog.  It's a little over 7 minutes....which seems like a lot of time....but in reality it's really please take a moment to watch it.

There are two key points from the video.  One is that if it were your 4 year old son sitting on the side of a road hungry and alone, what would you do to bring him home?  What would stop you?  Money?  Busyness?  Nothing would stop you.  The second point from the video is that Jesus Christ is the answer.  He is the answer to poverty, to homelessness, to orphan issues, to social injustice - because He is the answer to our sin.  We find our rest and our hope in Him.  We desire to bring Peaches into our home because we know that Jesus is the only one that can heal the depths of her soul - He alone can make her whole.

Here's the video.  Take a few moments to watch it.  Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Watch this video....

I just posted the "Swagger Wagon" video earlier tonight....but Heather showed me the latest AGCI video.  You must, must watch it - it's done with the Matthew West "One Less" song (then you can scroll down and watch the "Swagger Wagon" video - after getting the Kleenex that you needed for the first video).

So....get the order right....1. Get Kleenex  2.  Watch AGCI Video   3. Get more Kleenex since you didn't get enough the first time  4. Watch "Swagger Wagon" video  5. Laugh out loud.

Faces of Adoption from Videos for AGCI on Vimeo.

News regarding our Referral Paperwork!!!

We got a call today from Kiersten at AGCI and she said that she received all of our referral paperwork and that everything looked great!  Somehow we managed to not mess up a dozen or so notary signatures!

Next step is our "Next Steps" phone call with AGCI on Tuesday!  Another step closer to our little "M".

Swagger Wagon

The Kollars (short "o"!) posted a link to this video and I hadn't seen it in a while.  Yes, I laughed out loud as I watched it again.

The said part is that we've outgrown a Swagger Wagon and have almost outgrown a Suburban!

Thanks to Kollars for posting the vid.  Watch it and enjoy.....and just try to not move and grove to the beat...come still think your young and hip too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

High and Lofty Dreams

The lofts are complete.  Rye Bread and T-bird's beds are done!  They are moving into their new room right now.  The loft beds were a fun addition and I'm hopeful that they won't fall to the ground tonight as they are sleeping!  I'm pretty sure I tightened everything......

Another exciting moment today.  We got to go see Nancy our Notary.  We had all of our referral paperwork that is now complete and needed to be notarized.  It's funny how well you get to know your local notary when you are going through an adoption.  Heather even brought her a little Christmas present today - since she has notarized about a gagillion documents for us and has taken an interest in our little Peaches.  It was fun to show her a pic of our African queen.  Heather heads off to FedEx tomorrow with our completed referral paperwork and it should land at AGCI on Thursday.  Very exciting!

Peaches - We pray that you are adjusting to your new home at Hannah's Hope.  We pray that you are comforted daily by the Great Comforter.  We can't wait to see you running through our house.  Jumping up and down on the new loft beds and doing other things you shouldn't be doing.  You have captured our hearts.  We're coming soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Referral Celebration!!

The referral celebration has continued.  We received our referral paperwork in the mail on Friday - overnighted from AGCI in Oregon.  (I had to blur her picture on the cover to protect her identity.  We can't share her picture or name here on our blog.  Probably due to the massive number of people who read this blog.)  Anyway, how exciting it was to see our daughter's picture on the front of the booklet!!  Wow.  We're really doing this thing!

To continue the celebration, on Friday night, we all went out to the nicest restaurant in town - Kahill's - the kind of restaurant that kids don't normally go to and get looked at a lot.  Usually the look is smiles of people with a thought bubble that says, "that's cool that they brought their kids." 

So all seven of us went to Kahill's and told the kids to order whatever they wanted - normally that means chicken fingers and hamburgers.  To our delight, one of our kids ordered a steak and two others ordered meat from Japan.  In actuality, the meat from Japan was just a fancy hamburger, but it was beyond what they normally eat!

We had a reservation for seven.  But to our delight, they seated us at a table for eight.  So we placed Peaches' picture at the eighth setting and she joined us for our first dinner together.  What a special night.

It's interesting to see how each of the kids have responded to the referral news and having actual pictures of her.  They have all been extremely excited to say the least.  But Eddie Joe's response has been incredible.  The morning after we received our referral, he started going through all of his things and making a pile of what he was going to give to Peaches.  He laid out books, matchbox cars, snow boots, stuffed animals, etc, etc,...everything a child would need (from his perspective).  It was priceless.  The other cool thing about Eddie Joe's response is that whenever he looks at Peaches' picture, he starts to cry - an emotional response that's a combination of sadness for her and happiness for us and just a I-don't-really-know-how-to-handle-all-of-this type of response.  It's really touching. 

We have been blessed by really great kids.  Peaches will be overwhelmed with sibling love.  We can't wait to bring her into our lives.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Referral Party!

It was a Party!!!  Since we had never thrown a referral party, we weren't sure what to do.  So in our excitement, we just called/texted as many people as we could think of and told them to "Come on over tonight, God rescued a little girl today, we're going to celebrate!" 

In all, we counted about 59 people who were there.  Not bad for a few hours notice.  We knew there were others who certainly would have loved to be there but couldn't due to either schedules or distance.  But, as I looked at all of the faces that night, they all had a story to tell of how they have helped us, encouraged us, supported us, loved us through our adoption so far.  They are all special to us and we realized how blessed we are by God for the referral of our Peaches, but also how blessed we are by God for so many dear, dear friends.  Our church is the best.  They love each other - and not just a Sunday morning love each other, but a every day of the week, whether you're have a great day or one of those worst ever days, they are there to be close, to listen, to love, and in this CELEBRATE!!

The night included gathering everyone in our new addition - it was great to break it in as we celebrated "Room for More" in more ways than one!  I put some powerpoint slides together of all 9 of the referral pics of Peaches.  I also included a map of eastern Africa and a map of Ethiopia showing the Gambella region where she is from.  I shared from Psalm 68:1-6.  And then also shared some thoughts on God bringing Peaches to our family - and when I say family, I mean to our extended family, those who have been with us along the way - who were in the room and those who couldn't be there due to schedules or distance.

We then sang a couple of songs of worship.  We sang "Holy is The Lord."  I wanted to capture the line that says "Holy is the Lord, God Almighty, the earth is filled with His glory."  Our house was filled with God's glory, the house where Peaches is staying in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is filled with His glory.  He has no boundaries or limits.  We also sang "Blessed Be The Name."  I wanted to capture the thought of the song based on Job 1 that says "You give and take away, my heart will chose to say, Blessed be Your Name."  Bringing an orphan home brings much joy to our lives - God has given greatly to us.  But there has been and will be a lot of "taking away" in Peaches' life.  She has lost her parents, she will lose her country, culture, language, friends, family, food, familiarity, sights, sounds, smells, heritage, etc.  So there is great loss for her.  And yet, we know that God is going to use our family as a means to heal the great loss in her life.  A life without a mom or a dad is unimaginable.  We get to be that mom and that dad for her.

Of course, after the singing, it was time to eat.  We mentioned to a few families - I don't think we were very clear or consistent with our invitation - to bring some goodies if they had some laying around.  Well, leave it to the Beavers to bring an untold number of Blue Bunny ice cream items.  We had carton after carton of ice cream along with other Blue Bunny novelties.  We also had lots of other food brought by the families there.  I fired up some "Just Love" Ethiopian coffee and the party was in full swing.  It was great to pause and reflect with many of the people there how God had truly been faithful during these many, many months of waiting.  Times when I thought God surely must be slumbering, it was clear that He had been working untold miracles to bring this night to pass.

The last family - of course it was the O's - didn't leave until after midnight.  That is pretty late for this old body.  But wow!  What a fun night!  A night we will never forget.

Here are some pics of the night.
 The Beavers brought some Double Peaches ice cream and some Peach pie filling.  What a great celebration gift!
You probably can't see them in the picture, but Eddie Joe made smiley faces on a bunch of Post-It notes and put them up on the wall because he wanted to show how happy he was!
 The head Beaver here with Giggles.  Also in the pic are the contagiously happy Jaynie and Anna.
 Lots of food.  It was attacked by all of the little ones!
 Sunshine with her "Sistas."  She loves girl time!
 Oksana with Eddie Joe.  He and his favorite new Russian friend were together all night!  Lots of hand holding!
 As you can see, Giggles is a big hit - she's with the Henn clan.  (Click here for their blog.)  Angela has that "I'm holding a baby" smile!  Lissie is also enjoying the cuteness of Giggles.
 Mr. Beaver strategizing with Dave - explaining how we need to get more ice cream in the church.
 Three very happy women - celebrating the referral of Peaches.  Each are very dear to us.  Wendy, Ta, and Mrs. Beaver.
Ed and Carol always have LOTS of warmth for us.  Oh how we are thankful for them.  Buzzard is in the back, probably up to no-good!
 Here we are gathered around, looking at the pics of Peaches. 
 It was great to celebrate our "Room for More" in more ways than one.
 Sharing our moment with our extended family was a great way to celebrate.
To God be the Glory!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


We got our referral call for our Peaches today!!!!  She is a beautiful little 4 year old girl from the far western region of Ethiopia called Gambella.  Our agency sent us an email that included all of our medical and legal information as well as eight pictures.  We are captivated.  And we are overwhelmed by God's glorious work in bringing her to us.  His name be praised. 

There have been times during this process when we have fallen silent on our knees before His throne - those Selah moments of pause and reflection, waiting on Him.  But tonight, we are standing before Him, loudly shouting His praise to all who will hear.  We are having lots of people over tonight on very short notice, with the intention of having a time of worship, reflection, praise, and prayer.  We wish any and all who read this could be here too!

I will write more in the coming days as we process this amazing day.  Thanks to all who have been there with us.  There is still much work to do, but it is a day to pause and echo His praises to the Nations!

Latest Read - "It's Not Okay With Me"

So what's my latest read?  On Monday, I started and finished Janine Maxwell's book, "It's Not Okay With Me."    I've been traveling more frequently with work and I've found the time passes very quickly with a good book in hand.  I've never been a huge reader in the past, just muddled through books here and there.  But recently I've found a number of very good books telling the life stories of people directly involved in adoption, orphan-care, HIV/AIDs, hunger, poverty, etc.  It's been good for the soul to broaden my vision and understanding of issues in the world that affect millions of people everyday.  Issues that I am far removed from in my daily life.

So on Monday, I flew from Sioux City to Rochester, NY (via Minneapolis, as all travelers from Sioux City are routed there, probably including Santa).  I had a three hour layover in Minneapolis which turned into a five hour layover due to problems uncommunicated to us who were seated in the ever-comfortable faux leather chairs at the gate. During the two flights and the extra long layover I was able to mow through the book, "It's Not Okay With Me."

This book is another fascinating book that I would highly recommend.  Janine Maxwell owned a very successful marketing agency in Canada which she built from the ground up.  She was CEO of the company and had been at it for about 16 years.  On 9/11 she was in downtown Manhattan for some business - not in the twin towers, but nearby.  When the events of 9/11 took place, she and her business partners ran for their lives as they had to escape on foot through the chaotic streets, fearing for their lives, not knowing where they were going or when the next plane-strike would take place.  The traumatic events of the next several days resulted in her dropping into a deep depression in the coming months from which she could not escape.

She decided that a trip to Africa was what she needed.  Through this trip, and subsequent other trips, God healed her soul and moved her to close her very successful marketing agency and begin regular trips to Africa.  At this point, she did not know what exactly God had for her, only that He was calling her and she was joyfully obligated to follow His leading.  During her trips, she was involved with Charles Mulli (previous amazing book I read) of MCF ministries where they went through the streets of Kenya and had some miraculous rescues of street children - you have to read them to believe them.  She recounts God's direct pouring out of His grace into the lives of the children living hopelessly alone in trash heaps (the picture on the book cover above is a few of the children and the trash hut they live in, alone, with no parents).  She tells stories of how God not only brings the children in from the street to relieve their physical needs, but also heals their soul through His gospel.

Later, Janine and her husband ultimately founded a ministry called Heart for Africa where they are involved in HOPE - HIV/AIDs, Orphan care, Poverty relief, and Education.  They are actively working in the poverty-stricken country of Swaziland (highest HIV/AIDs rate in the world) in providing HOPE and the gospel.  They also lead large groups (100+ people) of Westerners - primarily from churches - on tours of Africa.  People who have never had any missionary/foreign travel experience, but want to get a taste of 3rd world existence.  The tours are aimed at educating Westerners on the plight of Africa so that God will move in their hearts so that they will get directly involved.

Her main question to the reader is......Is it okay with you that there are 30,000 children dying everyday of starvation in Africa?  Is it okay with you that there are 15 million orphans in Africa?  Is it okay with you that the Western world has turned its back on the crisis of Africa?  She recounts over and over that it is not okay with her and by God's grace she is going to do all she can to be involved.

So, is it okay with you?  It's not okay with me.