Friday, September 28, 2012

Our 1st Year Together

Somehow I forgot to post this on the blog a few weeks ago as we celebrated Sol's Gotcha Day! Enjoy our 1st year together


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Re-cap of Congo Carnival

I am still getting goose-bumps.  From setting up at 5am to closing down around 3:30pm the Congo Carnival was an incredible, inspiring, blow-me-out-of-the-water- day! In fact, I’ve found myself putting off writing this post because I can’t find the right words to summarize my joy, gratefulness, & admiration surrounding the whole event. Here is my best shot…

Why am I shocked by His goodness & faithfulness? Why am I surprised that he has chosen to stir hundreds of hearts in my community to come together for orphans? He is God. He cares about me, my world, us. He loves humanity. And, He has a heart for orphans. I believe he rained down blessings on this community as our hearts began to match his.

Ironically, if I had known how fast this Heart for Congo group would spread & how big the Congo Carnival would get I would have been too fearful to get started. I think I am not alone in that feeling. We doubt that we can do it- that we can make a difference. Saturday exposed that lie – we did it! And going forward, I may not know what I am doing but WE are doing it!

I’m not sure where to go from here except that I know God wants me to continue fundraising for a year. He has promised me his blessing & his protection for a year. I’m actually starting to believe Him! 

I think what has amazed me the most (besides the fact that we brought in over $11,000!) is that I never once had to beg people or recruit help. YOU ALL OFFERED your gifts & what you were able to do. And each of us was needed to make it happen. If Ry hadn’t suggested the yard sale I wouldn’t have thought of it. If Saedi hadn’t come up with, “I know, let’s have a bean-bag game!” we wouldn’t have considered carnival games & the importance of including family & kids. If people hadn’t donated items there would have been little to sell. If others hadn’t come to help me organize & brainstorm items would have been overlooked. If others hadn’t sent encouraging notes & spoken words of life into me I would have begun doubting & questioning. If the Gades hadn’t offered to set up "Congo Carnival North" we would have missed blessing a huge portion of our community & foregone a huge sum of cash! If others had ignored their heart promptings to send a check or to deposit online we wouldn’t have exceeded our goal. If people hadn’t come early to move boxes we wouldn’t have been set up in time. If the Wood family hadn’t crafted beautiful signs we would have looked like just another large yard sale. If people hadn’t baked we would have missed out on new interactions & a huge chunk of cash. If crafters hadn’t sent their flags, hair clips, ponchos, buttons, onesies, pottery, magnets, etc we wouldn’t have stood out. If there weren’t balloon twisters, face painters, cookie decorators, bounce house guards, people wiling to tie prizes on a fishing pole, bean bag helpers bending all day long, sellers willing to be kind to all, off-site food stands & other sales we couldn’t have done it. If others hadn’t come to clean up we would have been overwhelmed with exhaustion. But WE did it. YOU have inspired me. YOU have made this journey more than about myself & my dreams & passions & calling. You have come alongside me & we are doing this together. We are truly changing lives locally & abroad. These Congolese orphans are getting electricity & we are well on our way to feeding an entire orphanage for a year! Thank you for your passion, hearts, dedication, dreams, hope, & love!

1 Corinthians 13:2
“If I have the gift of prophesy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans & possessed all knowledge, & if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”



"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush & Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious & honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the sound, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
& my daughters from the ends of the earth-
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed & made."

Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.
All the nations gather together
& the peoples assemble.
Which of them foretold this
& proclaimed to us the former things?
Let them bring in their witnesses to
prove they were right,
so that others may hear & say, "It is true."
"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord,
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know & believe me
& understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the Lord,
& apart from me there is no savior.
I have revealed & saved &
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses," declares the Lord,
"that I am God.
Yes, & from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?"

Isaiah 43: 1b-13


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Report from the CFO

Riley, as guest blogger, has the much anticipated financial report for the Congo Carnival:
a quick mid-day count to update our tracking board
As the Chief Financial Officer of the family (guess who's the CEO ?!?!), I have the good fortune of being the first to share the financials from day's Congo Carnival. As many of you know, our stated goal was to raise $5,000 to buy a solar panel by close of business today. I will let Michelle fill you in on the squeeze, but here is the juice:

Pre-sales and early donations - $5,355
Today's Sales (Donated items, baked goods, crafts, games, etc...) - $4,487
Today's Sales from Outstations (Gades and Garcias) - $526
Todays Donations - $1,308
Grand Total - $11,676

Without stealing Michelle's thunder, here are a few quick thoughts and impressions from my point of view. First, we serve a loving and faithful God. Through your generosity, He answered our prayer BEFORE the main event. Sometimes I think God smiles at our smallness in the same way we do our children. Second, I am married to a crazy, wonderfully passionate woman. Married for 10 yrs and still amazed by her. And finally, we live in a community that is unlike any other we have ever experienced. You are the hands and feet of Christ and we will always remember your contributions today.
Counting partners


Friday, September 21, 2012

Say What?

It's the night before our big Congo Carnival event & Ry just counted up all the money we've raised so far--money from cash/check/paypal donations & money from selling donated items on our local online West Point yard sale site. We have already raise $5,355 & the CONGO CARNIVAL IS TOMORROW! Say what?!? Our goal was $5,000 for a solar panel & you all have totally blown me out of the water. I am straight-up amazed at how quickly God has stirred hearts for this cause and ignited a passion for orphans in all of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your encouragement, time, money, advice, prayers, discipline, & compassion for orphans. This is what Heart for Congo is all about. We are buying that solar panel so those orphans can live with electricity.

I was freaking out when this truck pulled up today because our 3 garages were maxxed out!

And...all the extra money will go towards our next project that I guess I can announce NOW! We will be raising $12,000 to feed an orphanage for a year (more on that later)! Say what!
Just this afternoon until friends rescued me by organizing!
 Please pray for our Congo Carnival tomorrow! The 3 garages are organized & packed full. The bounce house is here. The hot dogs, brats, burgers, buns, & oj has been donated from Target & Adams. We're making a late-night trip to Panera to pick-up their leftover bakery items. The prizes are waiting. We're going to have balloon twisting, face painting, cookie decorating, coloring, bean bag toss, & other games. Cookies, cupcakes, & caramel apples are being delivered & baking parties (with cadets) are going on all over West Point right now. And the forecast looks wonderful. God is good. He is faithful. He has provided the money. I pray He would use the Congo Carnival to draw hearts to Himself. I pray this event will ignite even more hearts to bring relief to the orphan crisis.  

Look at these ADORABLE Army ponchos some girls from the homeschooling co-op sewed!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Superhero (or not)

"How do you do it?" I get asked a lot. 

I do not have super-hero powers & those who know me can attest to my deepest, ugliest faults & sins. That's the beauty. The world doesn't need superstars & God doesn't want super-heros. He is close to those with broken hearts. (Psalm 34:18). Calling all mommies, right? He wants us to come to Him & He promises rest for our soul (Matthew 11:28-30). My body may be tired & busy "doing life" (like the upcoming Congo Carnival---shout out, yo!) but my soul is peaceful when I go to Him. He wants to lavish His grace on us and say, "Come to me as you are. I don't love you for what you do for me. I love you because you are mine." (Matthew 11:28"; Ephesians 2:8-9; Isaiah 43:1). Isn't that something to find super-hero rest & strength when we are weakest!

I am not a super-hero. I am outgoing, impatient, mouthy, determined, tired, desperate, fallen, forgiven, restored. I value going to God when I'm heartbroken (when friendships fade), in need of rest (because the kids want to be held, the dog is sick, & 4 days worth of laundry is piled on the couch) but also in times of joy (Psalm 92:1)! Going to God means prayer & listening, & making sure my feelings align with the Bible. I listen because He is the One who formed me inside my mother (brown eyes, long tongue, and that say-it-how-it-is personality). He knows me & He knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11). When I listen I try to tune into: What is He speaking to me about? Why am I feeling this way? Should I? Could I? Really me? You want me to do that? You'll go before me (Deuteronomy 31:8)? You won't leave me? (Deuteronomy 31:6). You'll give me the words to say (Luke 12:12)? Are you sure all I have to do is trust you? (Proverbs 3:5) Okay- let's do this. Now or never. I trust you. We hold hands & jump!... Or I sit. And wait...because sometimes that's exactly what we're supposed to do (Psalm 27:14).

I am not a superstar but I really, really try to trust in the One who knows it all. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Other Side of Crazy

We stand out
The commissary workers know my four children by name (they especially dote on Solomon). They pat their heads, pinch their cheeks, & hand out cookies on the sly. The lab technicians at our hospital also know my children by name & ask when we'll be back.  The childcare workers at Grace Community Church announce, "Here come our boys!" when the see Sol & Isaac running wildly down the hall with backpack in tow. We stand out. Some people admire us. Some people think we're straight-up crazy.

It doesn't bother me when people infer I'm crazy because I feel crazy! It often feels inconvenient taking care of four children & I often think we have no business committing to take care of two more toddler boys - but we will. And I can't wait! That's what crazy is about. Isn't it crazy to believe "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it" (Matthew 16:25).

I was having a texting conversation with my friend L the other day. She is my age with biological kids, special needs adoptive kids, is pregnant & plans on adopting more. She is a military wife who is currently enduring another deployment. We were texting how crazy is "good!" AND how we have both come to believe that it is "crazy" not to do something about the orphan crisis. She said, "In my twisted little mind, we are the normal ones." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wanna join us on the other side of crazy?
Straight-up crazy
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self,
and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” 
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Ever feel like you're in a season of the Lord's favor? Happily, I'm there! 6 months ago I could not say the same. 6 months ago I was spiritually dark & in a self-centered place. Slowly & faithfully, God has brought me out of the pit & restored my joy, life, hope, & dreams. So much life has happened in my heart this past month- the beginning of Heart for Congo, a referral for 2 boys that need to be adopted, and person after person talking to us about wanting to help orphans. I know that these times ebb & flow from low to high & circle again, but I'm doing all I can while my energy is high & I'm in a season of continuos blessing.

This is what made me move.  I was sitting in church listening to a sermon called Fearless holding us back from pursuing our dreams & 5 excuses people make. The 5th excuse was mine- "Someone else will do it". I've told myself that for years & reasurring myself that:  "I'm a busy mom of 4; that we move too much; that it's impossible during deployments & we should maximize family time in seasons of homecoming;  I've already adopted- isn't that enough?" Needless to stay, during that sermon my heart was stirred...a lot! I knew I needed to step out in faith immediately or I would lose courage.

The next day I created a closed FB group called Heart for Congo. From there, Riley and I have committed to a hard-core year of fundraising to help orphans who have little hope. We will choose projects from Our Family in Africa, a non-profit committed to bringing relief & aid to DRC orphans. And it just so happens these are also the people helping us adopt our two boys. Our first project is to raise $5,000 by the end of Sept. to purchase a solar panel that will provide electricity to an orphanage in Kinshasa. The cool part-- the Heart for Congo FB group has caused so many people to step up & help. It's fantastic! For more info on our fundraising projects, click on the Heart for Congo tab on this blog's home page.

All this to say He is good. He is faithful. In seasons of low & seasons of high, Jesus deserves our continues gratitude.

Daniel 4:
vs 35 "His sovereign rule lasts & lasts, his kingdom never declines & falls. Life on earth doesn't add up to much, but God's heavenly army keeps everything going. No one can interrupt his work, no one can call his rule into question..."

vs 37 "Everything he does is right, & he does it the right way. He knows how to turn a proud person into a humble man or woman."