Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Great Friends! Fabulous Hair!

So today my friend Yemi volunteered to put extensions in my girls hair. Just to give perspective this takes hours. We dropped Jared, Matea, Grace and Ella off at our friend Yemi and Ban's house after school. Yemi not only fixed their hair but cooked for them. Matea (who is Guatemalan) said to Yemi "I want injera. Where is shintabet (means bathroom)?" Yemi said "does Matea speak Amharic?" These pictures are funny to me because if you look in the background on a few you can see Yemi hiding and Jared sleeping...Thanks a million YEMI...I love you guys....(by the way the little girl with the giant hair in orange is Yemi and Ban's daughter Abigail).

Sunday, April 27, 2008


What a great weekend we have had! I know some of you know the story of how we came to adopt our children but as a reminder I will give a summary again. Two years ago Mark and I performed at a concert to raise money for ZOE (Zimbabwe Orphan Endeavor). In the concert the minister mentioned there were 40 million orphans in Africa alone. I questioned the number and when I found out that it was accurate I couldn't stop feeling a huge burden for Africa. God also told me not to discuss my heavy burden to adopt with my husband. In late 2006 I laid my head down one day and spent a significant amount of time in heavy prayer pleading with God to either take the burden from me or make me someones angel. I asked Him to please allow my family to answer the prayers of the dying mothers in Africa and to let us do something. If it wasn't to adopt then to help in some way. The prayer coinciding almost exactly to the day that my children were placed in their orphanage. Many other coincidences happened immediately following that prayer. Then one day I was at my son's basketball game. I started a conversation with a woman who just sat down next to me. I told her about the burden for orphans in Africa. She said "Really, my husband is the mission director at KPIC ( and we are buying a house for the African Children's choir , a group of 25 Ugandan orphans. Would you like to see the house and be a part of our welcoming committee?" Huh? I was in awe at God's immediate response to prayer. This was in Feb 07. On March 17, 2007 (my daughter Matea's 2nd birthday) we greeted the orphans at Mirembe House. I watched as my husband stood and was embraced by 25 Ugandan orphans. I watched as he put up a trampoline on the property and befriended the staff. My burden to adopt was heavy. Still in prayer God said..."Don't tell him?" One day while watching African Children's Choir on American Idol Gives Back 2007, I literally felt the need to go to my husband and shout at him ordering him to adopt. I ate about 3 bowls of chocolate ice cream instead. About 1 month later my husband asked if we were adopting again...I said "I think we are." Then we moved full steam ahead. Our papers were started in May. On July 18th we accepted our referral. On Christmas day the adoption was complete. They were home on Feb 1st.

This weekend we said goodbye to that choir at Mirembe House. An entirely new choir will come in May. We cried and yet were filled with joy on Saturday as we watched our Ethiopian children playing with their 25 Ugandan friends. They jumped on the trampoline together, ate cookies together, did crafts and played with their dolls. On the way home I turned to Mark and said..."Man,,,God has really set this adoption up to every detail. i cannot believe our life." We are considered auntie and uncle to the ACC and will most likely be the same to the new choir. Our children will form more friendships this time with a choir that is exactly in their age range 6-9. At church today I watched as Grace befriended another African girl who just happens to go to our church. My friends Yemi and Ban are literally like a sister and brother to us and will be braiding the kids hair this week and cooking for them. They will also carry on all of their conversations in Amharic with our children. I cannot believe how blessed we are . I never ever even knew any one recently from Africa prior to considering adoption. I cannot believe how alive God is. I cannot believe the details that are handled by Him. I wonder why I worry so much at times. His presence and magnificence in the sweetest most minuscule things are too fantastic for words....

If any of you are in a place now where I was with a longing for adoption/orphan ministry. Or if you feel any calling from God but don't know how to start or how to make it happen. I highly recommend going to Him in prayer. Call to Him! Cry to Him! Give the burden to Him and volunteer to serve Him in His plans and watch the miracle unfold....
Praise HIM....Attaching these pictures to share.

Friday, April 25, 2008

God sends us a real life PRINCE!

Sometimes God has an obvious sense of humor. I had really been praying about our mortgage and God providing enough work for us to pay our salaries etc. One month ago I booked this gig at the Plaza for its reopening with this gigantic party. I booked it through an event planner. So, they wanted 9 beautiful female violinists and 3 beautiful female harpists. They also wanted them to be fitted for haute couture dresses and have body paint and hair and make up. They also asked me to get 9 white violins (which I did). The rehearsals/fittings were all sched. Last week I told them that until I received at least 75% of the payment I couldn't have the girls go to anything (fittings etc). They were anxious and sent in a credit card payment. Peter Cincotti, Boyz2men, Paul Anka and a surprise alist celebrity like Mariah Carey or something were also scheduled to perform. This week they canceled the gig. I told them no refunds and billed them for the balance. Last night I learned that the client was actually an ARAB PRINCE that had to cancel because of a death in the family. They told me they would rebook the date and call me again. I reminded them that we are not crediting this payment for the future date but they would get an entirely new contract. They said "Oh, we understand"...So now God used an Arab Prince this month to help pay for our salaries and groceries. And I get to stay home on May 10th. The musician's are all getting paid as well.....and I think the entire party with everything probably was going to cost 2million (my take was miniscule compared to the total). The prince sort of just nonchalantly canceled the party and I will be in NC having BBQ and a nice mother's day weekend.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit!

So, I am going to go to the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit on May1-3 in Ft. Lauderdale. It isn't costing us alot either because of airline points and Marriot points. I just really felt led and made the decision to go by myself. And then I decided to ask a couple of friends if they were going and I found out my friends Eileen and Jerry are coming too. AND I noticed that a pastor from Hope Community Church in Cary (Mike Lee) is going to be speaking. I have never met him. On sunday I had a potluck with my friends. We all go to different churches now. My friends Scott and Malinda are now going to Hope Community. I was speaking to Scott about the conference and mentioned that his new pastor Mike Lee is speaking at the conference. Two minutes later I hear Scott say "Deanna, Mike Lee is across the street." I said "No Way!" He said "there he is". I had only said hello to our neighbor across the street once because we have only been here a few weeks and just haven't had the time to chat. SO, Mike was going into the neighbors house with a gift or something. I run over there barge into the neighbors house. It would appear that Mike's sister lives across the street . And his brother in law is our senior pastor Ron Lewis' insurance agent. So, I now know Mike Lee and will reintroduce myself to him as his sister's neighbor when I see him in Florida. It was just too weird because it was literally two minutes after we said the man's name.

In the meantime, I have spent the past few days refereeing (is that a word) between Matea 3 and Jared 5. Jared is always in his superman outfit. Matea is constantly stealing his cape. I will be in the kitchen cleaning and I hear a blood curdling scream from Jared and it is because Matea has stolen the cape again. We have explained to him that when he goes to kindergarten he will have to wear regular clothing. On sunday, Grace spoke with Melkem who is a friend of hers from Ethiopia who just came home along with her sister Martha from Layla house to Washington state. When we started the adoption Martha and Melkem had no parents and would plea with us to pray for them to get a family. I am thrilled and Grace was elated to talk to them. It is so humbling how amazing GOd's love is.

We saw the movie EXPELLED and loved it. Ben Stein is a brilliant and funny man. We signed up for FReECYCLE (check it out in your local communities) and have given away free stuff including moving boxes and recieved some things (like fake plants). We still haven't sold the house but just brought the price down. My realtor wants me to go now to all of the secondary rooms and paint a neutral. SO, we are going to try to do it (if I ever find a minute). There is an open house this weekend. THe neighbor now has his house on the market too and he has the best landscaping in the world and the same house. And he is having an open house on the same day. Pray that we both sell our house this weekend...(not sure why I am asking to pray for the neighbors house too but why not. God's love and generosity is unlimied)

I am going to try to find a way to keep the superman cape on. And just sending love to all those contemplating adopting older children and saying that they will be greatly blessed. Our lives are guided by the hands of God and it is so clear. I am so happy!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

The women in their lives!

I had such a delightful time cooking dinner tonight. Grace went on and on and on telling me about her mother, grandmother, great grandmother. The thing that triggered the conversation was "corn on the cob" which coincidentally being a girl from Illinois was a vegetable that connected me to my grandparents as well. So, she told me her mother loved corn on the cob but would cook it in the husk right over the flame. Then she told me how her mother also liked coffee and would cook it in a really small pot (sounds like espresso) also over one flame. They would have people over to eat injera and have coffee. Then she told me her mom also loved popcorn but would put sugar on it. Then she reminisced about her great grandmothers house and how she had two dogs (one would bark and growl at her when she went toward her puppies). That home had 3 bedrooms and bathrooms with holes in the ground but was nice. There was a cow, roosters and a goat there too. Great grandmother loved flowers and would cook bananas and make berbere and shiro. Food would come in these giant white bags like pillowcases (Grace then literally pulled out a pillowcase to illustrate).

She also described her mother as tall and having beautiful long wavy hair. She would braid Grace's hair into two braids. Grace had friends and lived with her mother two brothers and father. THey were so happy. Her father left when her mother became pregnant with Ella. Then he died. Grace hated the men that came around after that. Her mom got sick. Very very sick....Ella and Jared lived with her mom. She lived with Grandmother. The neighbor lady took care of her mother and the two youngest when they were really young and mom was very sick. Grace was called to be with her mom before her death. When she showed up again to say goodbye ...she was already dead. Grandmother took them all in. The lady in the village helped them make the decision to put them up for adoption together.

I think about the people in their early lives. I think and pray about Bayoush their mother and Atalay their grandmother (who is still alive) and I see so many similarities. Our conversations with Grace brings simultaneous joy and sorrow as we speak. WHY did they not have the privilege to see how beautiful these children are as they grow.?I am reminded of the loss for the children especially Grace who really remember, in the simple things like watching the way her mother would chop onions or make popcorn with oil and sugar. I don't think I can ever recapture the flavor of her mother's SHIRO or Popcorn. I don't know if she will ever taste popcorn like that again. Those women who stood strong as a sister/daughter died amongst them and took the hands of these children and led them into the gates of Layla and then eventually into my arms. I am so grateful for all of the women and men still in Ethiopia who adopt the hundreds of children into their families with no paperwork but just an extended hand to the neighbors child whose parent just died.

I pray that my children, especially my girls can grow to be very old women and extend their hands to those in need. I pray they are spared any more anguish in their lives but that their lives are filled with constant joy and happiness. I pray they will get married and be surrounded by friends and girlfriends they dress up in hopefully some decent bridesmaids dresses. I hope they will teach their daughters how to make popcorn that has the salt from the recipe I learned from my sisters and mother and the sweet sugar recipe that that she remembers from her mom in Ethiopia (no doubt a recipe she learned from some other amazing woman).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Easter pics..

you can probably tell that we have finalized some of our pics. Here are a few more from Easter. I just returned from an out of town gig. Prom was a success. The picture with Jared in the suit (on the prom pic post) is from when he came down the steps wearing a jacket and new pants...very sweet. Grandma gave him the superman suit that he wears with blue boots and OH a tie he found at the GoodWill. I totally forget he is dressed like that until people start laughing when I am out at Target or something. We still don't have a new FAMILY picture but are working on are some Easter pics and one with Naty..(Jared's friend from his orphanage in Ethiopia).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Prom Pics!

Prom Pics....

Our kids are not even back yet but wanted to post these pre-prom pics.
First one is number one daughter Sam and number 4 daughter Matea....

Number ONE daughter! And the CLEANING GENE!

Okay...I was conflicted on how to title this post because a couple of interesting things have happened this week.

First off, (for those of you who do not know this)I am privileged to the be the youngest of 4 girls. This week two of my oldest sisters came to visit to help with the kids, cook, clean my garage, hang up pictures and towel racks etc. (the last part actually was handled by my sweet brother in law Tim). So, this is the first time that my new kids have met two of my 3 sisters. One night at dinner Grace starts a conversation with Debbie (my oldest and admittedly 'bossier' sister). Grace says "you number one?" Debbie says "Yes I am number one." (sorry DEBBIE but I have to say that it had to be obvious just due to the fact that i very happily stepped aside to give Debbie her space in the kitchen)... and HAPPY is an understatement. I LOVE HAVING HER IN MY HOUSE and KITCHEN. I LOVE having Donna there as well. Donna also thinks she is bossy...but I would like to humbly submit that I believe the bossiness diminishes dramatically with each number. So daughter number 4 (which is me) could not possibly be as bossy as daughter number 1. So, even though Grace is not technically number one daughter in her new family , she very much has all the traits of number one daughter. This is due to the fact that she is the number one daughter to her African siblings. So, she continues on in the conversation with taking great pride in the fact that she too is number one. "I am number one too". Then she wants to know which sister is next. Donna is number 2. Denise number 3. And that would make me number 4...BINGO !THE LEAST BOSSY DAUGHTER.

This brings me to my favorite trait of my new number one daughter (although technically she is now number two and Sam is number one). It would appear that contrary to the fact that I didn't specifically pray for this blessing ,God has filled a need in my life. Both of my genetically connected children appear to have the cleaning gene myself. But Grace thrives on cleaning and is somewhat iron fisted about cleaning with her younger sister Ella (or daughter number 2 or 3 depending how you look at it). Ella may also have the cleaning gene missing but is forced to enjoy it and grab a cloth or broom or suffer the wrath of Grace. It would appear that Grace has a preponderance of cleaning DNA in her genes. This morning (SATURDAY) she woke me up early ecstatic in realizing she would get to stay home from school and clean...I actually had to encourage her to go back to sleep...but she would not have any of that. She attempted to clean my car with windex (not the windows the body of the car) only to realize it wasn't working. She did clean the mud room and the rest of the house....she actually squeals with delight while accomplishing the task of cleaning. So, I say THANK YOU GOD. Each day she makes her bed and if the other girls don't make their beds she gives them a really hard time. She will clean Jared's bed and sometimes Andrews. She also sometimes won't even sleep in her bed but will place a blanket on top so she can just keep it clean. She is not OCD as her drawers are very mixmatched....but just wanted to share the blessings of the new and other number one daughter.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I cannot believe that my oldest is going to junior prom this weekend. AND I WILL BE GONE! My husband, two sisters and brother in law will be here to take pictures and host an after-party for 16 kids. I had so much fun with Samantha tonight picking out shoes at the mall. It was just the two of us and we had a blast. I love her so much. She is going to prom with a "FRIEND". He is very cute but Sam is totally not interested (thank you JESUS). They are coming to our house for pictures (we will have appetizers for other parents and the kids), then they go to one of the kids houses for dinner (an amazing mother is making dinner for 16 kids), and then to prom and back here for snacks and alot of supervision. I am grateful that my sister Donna from Minnesota will be here. She works at a high school and has hosted many proms with my neice and nephew. ANd my sister Debbie from Asheville used to be a school teacher so will make sure that the boys and girls are separated (LOL!). At least to the best of her ability. So there will be 30 people here overnight on the weekend and I am sure Mark is really looking forward to it in my absence. I leave Sat night and work on sunday.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What Princess' do do!

Silly conversation with my 3 year old. I am trying to get Matea back on track with being totally accident free with her potty training. She just turned 3 two weeks ago. Her training has regressed since moving and having 3 new siblings. So we have had to withhold allowing her to wear her princess dresses when there are accidents. Today we had a good day. She was in her dresses almost all day. In the middle of the day I told her how proud I was of her. SO she headed to the potty and as she was sitting i said ..."Wow Matea you are like a real princess when you stay dry all day and get to wear your dresses. " she said "Yes mommy...but sometimes princesses have to go to the potty." I said "Yes they do" She was still sitting. I was still just standing there leaning against the wall folding a towel...then she said "Mommy?" i said "yes" ...Matea said "And sometimes Princesses have to sweep the floor." This made me laugh because I knew she was thinking of Cinderella. How true..there I am make up free all day cleaning....not looking as good as when she sees me dressed up and this is what comes out of her mouth...GOTTA LOVE OUR KIDS!!!!!