Monday, March 22, 2010

Great Adoption Video! God's Heart

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ORPHANS crying out for HOMES

“a house is not a home
When there's no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight”

I have 4 children who were once orphaned. My youngest Matea is now five but born in Guatemala. My other three “orphaned” children are from Ethiopia and have been here since 2008.

Last night I went out for a meeting with our church small group. My baby sitter was my friend Elsa Mugyenzi. She is Ugandan and also an orphan. She is now an adult and was one of the original members of the African Children’s Choir. So, Elsa was in my house with the ‘for sale’ sign outside with my 4 adopted ‘orphans’ along with my other kids, inside.

My husband and I love old classic music. One song we love is “A House is Not A Home”…it is a lush beautiful song with a great lyric that talks about a house not being a home when the person (or people) you love are not there. I have been thinking so much about this lately when pondering the possibility of our moving to another house and having to sell this one ( a house built specifically with my ‘orphaned’ children in mind). On the one hand I have noticed a certain entitlement attitude within myself that is not really all that attractive. I seem to think that God would want my kids to be in a mansion because of all of the strife they have experienced. I feel as if they have earned this and we have earned it in stepping out to parent them. On the other hand I have been made aware through friends like Elsa and from my own personal travels that in places like Africa that two dozen orphans can live in a 300 sf shack with one single ‘mother’ who has adopted all of them. Orphans live quite frequently in this world without a house and quite frankly ‘without a home.” 147 million orphans have lost at least one parent. Approx 20 million have lost both. Others have parents but are abandoned by them with no house and certainly without a ‘home.’ God loves the orphans but the world leaves them HOMELESS (even in America). God calls to His people to practice pure religion and take care of orphans and widows. Still, most are living like paupers.

In my neighborhood and most neighborhoods in my town there are many houses of 2000, 3000, 4000 sf with just two people living in them. There are houses with women and men ‘longing’ to be parents but grieving their inability to conceive. I respect their grief and remember longing to conceive prior to birthing the two I have birthed. But there are also children sleeping on the street crying and praying for parents, shelter, a blanket, running water or a bite to eat. There are many rooms in my town that could be filled with these street orphans or the orphans like my kids orphanage friends still praying for parents to come to give them a “HOME”. So, what is my point?

When I think of the journey my kids have taken in their short lives it boggles my mind. Matea is 5. She has been with us since she was 8 months. She was birthed in a hut in Peten, 9 days old she took a trek on some mode of transport with her teenage birth mom to Guatemala City (several hours away) to be relinquished to a foster mom in a small house in Guatemala City…six weeks later that foster mother had been found to be unfit and Matea was put into the arms of an amazing foster mother named Elena for the next 7 months. She lived in a 2 room house with 4 kids ranging from the ages of 5 to 15 and two foster parents. Then one day at 8 months embarked onto a plane to America with us where we lived together in a 3600 sf home with 2 other kids and 2 parents. Then in 2008 we moved to the 6700 sf home we are in now….

Jared, Grace, and Ella lived in several houses prior to entering their first orphanage. They were born in Asela, Ethiopia in houses with mud floors. They bounced between their grandmother, great grandfather’s and mother’s house. They lived in Addis Ababa later with their mother near death. They then moved back to Asela…They talk about the time of sleeping in hay bails in the barn or by the chickens. Then after their mom died they were separated from eachother lived in grandma’s and great grandfather’s home. Eventually, they were put into an orphanage together and then another…and eventually they were brought to our house in America after we traveled to Ethiopia to get them ….to live in quite frankly …a mansion…(mcmansion).

What is a home? A house is not a home…this we really believe. My kids don’t mourn the loss of the orphanage, their grandfather’s hut, or even their mother’s house. But they grieve the loss of family or the HOME that they lost when their mother and father died.

Elsa Mugyenzi and I talked about our house. Elsa has a room in our house that she calls her own when she baby sits. We feel very homey in my house. Elsa mentioned that God wants to house all the orphans in homes and they deserve big houses. But most don’t live like royalty. Some will only know the street until they too pass away from diseases or sicknesses…Some of the sicknesses will be chronic ear infections, diarrhea or the flu…diseases/sicknesses that are treatable by simple meds. Even HIV can be controlled offering a long life for kids without a house..if given a HOME…..

What do orphans need? They don’t need big houses. They can live in apartments. They can live in rooms that they share with other kids. They can even live with grandparents. My kids sleep on floors when we travel to friends or relatives and don’t complain. They dream and are content. Orphans don’t need houses they need homes. They need people who have square footage and empty rooms to be willing to be bold enough to step into the desolate huts and sheds that house the orphans who cry out for Mama and never hear “I’m coming!” They need people willing to travel into their dangerous world in order to offer hope and a future that they pray for everyday. They need bold people willing to sacrifice their houses and worldy stuff to create a home for a wanting and needing child. People in America constantly talk to me about wanting to adopt but not having enough money, or a big enough house …but the truth is that those of us who have walked this walk have witnessed numerous times how God has provided the funds for adoption. Yes, many of us struggle at times through loss of jobs etc…but it is all relative. Our downsizing or our troubles in America often dwarf the extent of stress our kids have seen by the time they reach age 5 if they are lucky enough to have survived.

The word of God tells us to go and take care of orphans and underprivileged. In Matthew 25 Jesus equates taking care to those who lack as being the equivalent as welcoming Him. He also shuns and turns away those who did not take care of them saying:

Matthew 25: 41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

These are really bold and scary words. But Jesus takes the business of taking care of those in need seriously. We may not all be called to adopt, but we are called to take care of the least of these.

Please remember the children like Kidist who wrote to me to help her find a family telling me she prays every day for a family. There are children who are beautiful and still in orphanages simply because no one has been bold enough to adopt an ‘older child.’ Children in Ethiopia and in America like Kidist eventually ‘age out’ and are put out on the streets after never having a mother a father or any parenting that will prepare them to take care of themselves. Please consider sharing a room in your house or encouraging a friend called to adopt to take the leap!!!!!

“Now and then I call your name
And suddenly your face appears
But it's just a crazy game
When it ends, it ends in tears”

A house is not a home when there’s no one there to kiss goodnight!!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Family Trip to St. Pete's Beach with Falchook's

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Matea's Birthday Dinner of Green Eggs and Ham

Matea talks about a BRACHIOSAURUS

Family Chaos in a Photo

We had a great time at a photo shoot today at Green Acres Farm .  Our friend Chris Florio is taking photos everyday of the year...we were day 261 it was really fun. To see more of Chris' pics go to his website here FLORIO PICS.  This is the only pic we have currently and Sam is not in it. We will somehow photoshop her into the clouds...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kids say the Darndest Things: What is the Meaning of LIfe? My 5 Year Old Answers

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sandra Bullock-Hollywood and ADOPTION

Aren’t we frustrated at times by the lack of attention that the orphan crisis is getting? When you think
 of the fact that there are 147 million orphans globally and more than ½ a million children in the foster care system in the US alone, well it is mind boggling to think of the ‘void’ in mothering, fathering, parenting that exists in the world. Those of us who have adopted internationally sometimes get frustrated when people come up to us and say “Are you trying to be like Brad and Angie?” I get asked that a lot with my 3 Ethiopian kids, one from Guatemala and two by birth. I have been known to take an attitude sometimes regarding Hollywood that is negative perceiving most Hollywood stars as superficial with their plastic surgeries and complaints over how many millions they are making. We are saddened about the premature deaths due to drug addiction or anorexia of young starlets like Britney Murphy. The Hollywood elite are dysfunctional, no doubt. But I have yet to meet a group that doesn’t have a ‘dysfunctional’ component.

This year the movie “Blindside” was released bringing excitement and pleasure to so many of us who have advocated for the kids in foster care, adoption of older kids and adoption in general. Last night I was so pleased to hear Sandra Bullock’s acceptance speech for her lead role in the movie:

“Here’s to the moms that take care of the children and babies-no matter where they come from.”

When we think of Hollywood and international adoption we automatically think only of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt or Madonna. Imagine what a powerful impact Hollywood could make if more movies were made like BLINDSIDE or if more power couples would venture to places like Ethiopia or Thailand to adopt. I like to imagine what impact a movie on HIV adoption would make or a film or of families with down syndrome babies? I am excited to watch now to see what happens when producers, directors, actors, film companies start using their gifts to advocate for the cause of the orphan. I really really look forward to the day when Angelina and Brad are no longer an exception b the rule. I look forward to the day when people don’t stop me on the street fascinated by the rarity of seeing a family like mine with 3 African children, one Hispanic child and two born via C-section. “Here’s to the moms!” I pray that the mothers who just happen to be in the public eye will opt to adopt in spite of the fact the critics will call it a trend. I personally wouldn’t mind if the latest trend would be saving children from living without parents. Oh..if only it were a trend…but when only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the number of orphans are adopted, it is hardly a trend. But I have a feeling we are going to start seeing the media used to promote this so called ‘trend’ big time..I really really hope so…….

Yay Sandra…thanks for remembering to spend a little bit of your 30 second speech on what matters, reminding people of the power of Mothering the World..Awesome!!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Laughter Through the Storm-Mother's Day Concert

So, I have been wallowing a little. Stressed about having to put my house on the market etc. Last night we had a meeting with our realtor. I was really bummed. DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO SELL MY HOUSE...MY DREAM HOUSE! Anyhow, after he left. I was sad. Sat down at the computer and decided I would FACEBOOK my friend Jennifer Gilmore. Jennifer was one of our first friends to help us schedule concerts at churches when we first moved here. I sat down and decided i would contact a few people about setting up Mother's Day concerts and talks/luncheons etc. Then I saw her profile post:

"attended a touching funeral today. It is never good when a 40-year-old wife and mother passes away, but boy did she leave a legacy behind that will see them through...beautiful thoughts on life that her husband, friends and family can share with the children as they make their way through life. I'm sure that when the r...ain comes, they will dance! We all need to dance. :)"

I then thought that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to talk to her about a Mother's Day concert right after a young mother lost her life to a mysterious illness. I thought I would give her a day or two. Then out of curiosity I went to the blog of this woman who had just passed. Her name was "Caroline Ellavsky". Her blog is called LAUGHTER THROUGH THE STORM . I read her blog and was brought back to reality. She talked about keeping perspective and remaining positive. She was inspiring. She wrote. Had plans to pursue her dreams in writing and writing screenplays. She also had a heart for orphans. One of her children is adopted from Russia. In reading her posts, I really really related to her desire to write, her love for orphans. In a nutshell, I felt I had discovered a woman who should have been my best friend. Then it reminded me of how lucky I am to have written a book that made it to the number one spot on Amazon and how blessed I am to be LAUGHING IN THE STORM. Mark and I are writing a book called "Do I Have Obsessive Communion Disorder? A Confused Christian's Guide to Church." It has been such a blessing to us because we have had moments of laughing sooooooo much in the midst of our job issues/loss of income/decrease in gigs/downsizing our house. And Carolyn just blessed me in being such an example of grace under pressure. Joy in the midst of pain....SO, I have decided to turn my frown upside down and if possible Jennifer and I are arranging a concert at First United Methodist Church of Cary around Mother's Day in honor of Caroline and Mothers in general. We will take a love offering for her family and remind other Mothers to pursue their dreams...laugh during the storm and live each day with a gusto...and we will definately talk about adoption and orphans...

Pray for the Ellavsky family and that they still can remember Caroline laughing through the storm and that they too can feel such joy in remembering the Mother and woman she was....PICS OF CAROLINE HERE