Sunday, October 31, 2010


Trick or Treating last night.

Buckets of candy this morning. "That tastes so good mom!"

Hyper kids.

I sense their teeth are rotting right before my eyes.

They are "selling" each other the candy they don't like for the ones they do. With no money.

They are planning their costumes for next year. This year we had a punk rocker, Rapunzel, Snow White, A tall thin bunny, an escapee from Alcatraz and the cutest little dragon in the world. How can they ever top that?

I have to declare this is more fun for the kids than anything else in life. Amazing what a bucket of candy will do to create great morning attitudes. Breakfast? Who needs breakfast?
And my favorite line: "I am taking candy to church today."

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moving Forward

As of Thursday, October 28, our dossier is in the mail!
The significance of this is not light to our other friends who have adopted internationally. For those of you who have not worked on an international adoption, let me explain.

When we first decided to follow God's plan for adopting internationally, we had not focused on where we would end up. We just knew we were suppose to begin.

We had adopted 7 children from the state foster system, all the while feeling as if our adoption days were not over. We still had a strong desire to make a home for the homeless, be a family to a child who would have no family if we didn't step up to the challenge. It was not a decision we started without a ton of consideration (our ages, our current situation with each of our children and our future). But we felt compelled to move forward and follow God's plan.

Sometimes, following the path God outlines is not the easiest. There have been bumps in the road, issues with the kids in our home, and a failed domestic adoption. I waivered several times in my mission - but my heart cry always came back to the orphans. Mike has been much more focused on the final outcome, and did not get as discouraged on the path as I had. He has steadily encouraged our family to continue to move forward, even when our heart was breaking. So we have.

I read on a blog post somewhere that International Adoption is not for the faint of heart. Oh, so true! The emotional roller coaster of the intense trainings, mounds of paperwork and time frames take it's toll. I would throw my hands up, wondering if God was really in this plan. Was it just my heart wanting to help a poor child, or was it really what we were suppose to do in our family?

It would be so nice to know the mind of God! But since we can not, we commit to follow and open the doors as He brings us to them. This dossier was the last door in our journey. It will not be the last one we open, but up to this point, we are convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are following the path we are suppose to be walking.

Many tears have gone into the preparation of these priceless documents. Life continues to happen around us, but this important phase of our journey is done. It was a relief to send them off to the processing center, and NOW we wait.

We wait for the documents to be translated. We wait for the dossier to make it to the Ethiopian officials who will refer an orphan to us. We wait for court dates and details to be completed. We wait to bring our children home.

There were many times I was "faint of heart" and was tired of the struggle. I was exhausted from the paper chase, and tired of the details that consumed me. That part is finished.

I want to celebrate, to kick up my heels and sigh in relief. Inside my heart is so grateful to have this behind me now.

I have heard that a long paperchase can lead to a short referral process. There is no science behind that, but it sure would be nice to think that is true! Either way, it is in the hands of God, who set us on this course and has never stopped pushing us forward.

Thanks for waiting with us. I will definitely keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It is getting closer. I can tell by the negative comments I get from those around me.

I guess in a perfect world, everyone would be excited to see an orphan connect to a family. Some one to care for them, love them, feed them, give them medical care and an education.

In a perfect world, those who can care for an orphan would, and those who could not, would simply be supportive of the ones who can.

In a perfect world, it wouldn't take many, many months of seemingly endless paperwork to bring an orphan home.

In a perfect world, there would be no orphans.

Our dossier has been to Lansing for state authentication. It was returned and is ready to go to our agency in Portland, OR. to be sent to Ethiopia. 4 pieces of paper had to be returned for the state seal, so that left yesterday. Within 2 weeks it should be returned. Then the complete dossier is ready to travel across the world to begin the referral process that will match us with our Ethiopian children.

We are so excited to be at this step in the process, but we can't help but be saddened by some of the responses around us.

"Oh, more kids? Don't you have enough already?"
"Why would you bring foreign kids here? We have homeless children in the states."
"Don't you know how old you are?"
"You can't save the world, you know."
"I have 2 kids you can raise."
"What if these kids make your own kids sick?"
"You have 7 kids with problems. That will just make them worse."

I can not explain why God put this desire in our hearts. Sometimes I don't understand it myself. And yes, life for us can be hard some days, but what we go through will never be the hardship that the Ethiopians endure day after day.

I don't want to be stuck in the thinking that because I was blessed to be born in America that I can gloat in my achievements while others suffer.

I never go hungry. I never thirst for fresh water. I sleep comfortably at night, and do not have fears of what tomorrow will bring.

I may not have everything and I know we can not save every orphan.
But God put Ethiopia on our hearts, and helped us prepair a plan to alleviate the suffering of at least one orphan.

We are excited, and I hope others will be too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Brittany's Marathon Results

Official results from the Chicago 10-10-10 Marathon.

» Cameron, Brittany (USA)
Ocean View, NJ 40257 20-24 24 03:59:16

I got so busy having the grandsons here that I forgot to post the results of Britt's marathon.

26.2 miles in less than 4 hours!! I am so impressed by her determination and drive!
She placed in the top 8300 runners (which out of over 40,000 is pretty great too).

We had a great time going into the city by train and all the excitement of her run. Chicago is a busy place, and we all came home tired. I told Britt I was not sure how she ever did that race, because I was worn out just getting there to watch her!

She still has this week to raise funds for the fresh water wells in Africa.

I wish I had taken my camera to capture the kids wide eyes on the train. They were so excited to do things we had never done before. Then watching the thousands of people cheering on the runners, the cow bells ringing, and the excitment in the air. For a camera bug, I sure missed the mark on this one.

Then, just before we met up with Scotty and Tyler, my cell phone died!! It had the directions on it! Ugh!!

We made it, celebrated at the World Vision tent with Britt, and the team, then headed back to the train. When we arrived, exhausted, to our RV, one of the back tires was flat. And the spare was so tight we even got a CTA driver to help muscle the bolts off! It was a stressful couple of hours stuck in the city with a flat tire, but we were on our way as soon as Mike and Scotty got the tire changed.

We stopped at a highway overpass restaurant for dinner, and got home to our own beds for a restful sleep full of visions of a marathon for a great cause.

To most of you, this is old news. To me, it will never seem old. It was an amazing day, by an amazing woman. My daughter in love, Britt.

I am so glad we could celebrate this special time with her.

Fear Not

Today is the Pumpkin Patch field trip for my two kindergarten students. Tommy is excited and motivated to get out the door. Mere, not so much.

Mere is my fearful child. She has a great sense of humor, and is quite the joker. But when there is something new coming up, she will fret about it for days and play out every wicked scenario in her little mind. Today, she thinks she is going to get lost in the corn maze.

I try to help her overcome her fears. They often seem irrational, silly, and unwarranted. They make her look weak, when in fact, she is a very strong, sensible little girl. I don't want her to be debilitated by her fears. After all, she has overcome soooo very much in her young life already.

This is how life started for Mere.
Born to a cocaine dependant mother, Mere was the 5th child born and removed from her family of origin. In other words, irresponsible behaviour was not new to her birth mom. But that's another post, another day.

Mere was born 13 weeks early, weighing in at 1# 15 oz. and just 13 inches long. Picture a ruler, with feet and a tiny face and hands. Barely surviving, she was transfered to a larger hospital in the next town over. Before the week was over, she was transfered to an even larger childrens hospital 1 1/2 was hours away. The man, who thought he was father, took the bus to the town where she was resting in the NICU, just to be a part of the decisions being made in her life. Birthmom? Gone, as if nothing happened.

Mere had to undergo a surgery to removed decaying pieces of her small intenstines, but within days of closing her incisions, another life saving surgery was needed. This time, Doctors had to remove a larger part of her small intestine. She had necrotizing enterocolitis. Big word for such a tiny baby. A feeding tube surgically inserted into her stomach would insure she got the nutrients she needed while her little body healed from 2 surgeries close together.

I didn't meet Mere until she was 3 months old. She was still struggling to gain weight, but her scars had healed to a bright red line across her abdomen. She had a TPN line in her leg and the feeding tube sticking out from under her rib cage. She was wrinkled, and still. The nurses called her Dolly.

Once the state took over her guardianship, the "father" was found to be nobody to Mere according to DNA testing. I've often felt sorry for him, since the first few months of Mere's life he cared for her like a father would. He even brought her a tub full of toys, blankets and clothing before he disappeared into that grey fog of "whose baby is she?"

When we stepped in as foster parents, it looked like Mere would come home to us long enough to heal and move on to the family that adopted her next oldest sibling. A little girl just two years older than Mere. Seeing her later made me think of Mere. They look so much alike.

Mere was released in April, three and one half months after her birth. We had learned her care, her feeding machine, her routine. We learned how to bathe her with tubes attached to her body, how to make her formula that cost $50 a can. Golden milk for a sick baby.

We found a car seat for a preemie, one that still swallowed her up when she was placed inside it for the ride home. She was only five pounds, fully dressed. We bought a mesh cover for the top of the car seat so no one would touch her with unwanted germs. We learned to protect her.

Fast forward to a tiny framed little blonde, ready to turn 7 years old much sooner than her dad and I are ready for it. Most of the time I look at her and see a normal, well adjusted, funny and sweet little girl.

But on field trip day, when I sense her fear of being lost, I take a minute to reassure her that all will be fine. I tell her that she is smart, she is fun and she makes friends easily. She will not go through the pumpkin patch alone, her teacher will put her with a group that will make sure she makes it out of the maze just fine.

"But what if I get lost, Mommy?"

So, again, I reassure her she will be just fine. After all, Someone special has been watching her from her very first breath, well before we ever met her. And I am sure He is going to be keeping His eyes on her for a very long time.

Matthew 10:29-31(New International Version)
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Friday, October 15, 2010

A serious post of Faith

Lately, when I wake up to get the day rolling, it is still dark outside my bedroom window. With the grandsons here the past 10 days, we have been burning the proverbial candle at both ends, so on this particular day, hubby let me sleep in until just before the last bus arrived.

I woke up to the picture above. The back window in our room is so high up that there has been no need to curtain it, and on this morning when the sun was shining, I was so glad for the view.

The leaves are turning all around us, but there is something spectacular when a body can wake up to the grand beauty that God provides for us. While the old window is nothing spectacular, the view was stunning to my morning eyes. I grabbed my cell phone to snap this picture, just so I would be aware of the beauty. I said a quick prayer that I would be mindful of who and what God put into my path that day, and jumped into the shower.

It was after I downloaded the pictures that I realized I had captured something more more than I bargained for that morning. The simple word, "Faith."

Since my folks named me after an old author whom my mom loved to read, Faith Baldwin, I have always been asked if my father was a preacher. No, just a kind and loving man who always showered me with way too much attention (but don't tell him that, because I am still loving the attention today!) And for some reason my mom loved the name Faith.

When I was born at just over 6 pounds, I was deemed too tiny to carry the name given me, Faith Ann Elizabeth, so the nurses convinced my mom to drop the Elizabeth and just call me Faith Ann. I hated it throughout my childhood, and always wanted my name to be something fancier, like Katherine, Julia or Angelique. As soon as I got married, I changed my name to just plain FAITH.

That worked while we lived out of town, but as soon as I came home, every one who knew me still called me Faith Ann. They just didn't get it that I was grown up now, so couldn't they honor my grown up name, just plain FAITH?

When I started writing serious stuff for the newspaper, I officially included my first name, maiden name and married name, mostly to honor my father and grandmother,(also a writer) but once again, trying to upgrade the image of my name to one of more importance, or significance. My even newer grown up name.

I have plaques, crosses, pictures. FAITH is a big thing right now, like Angels, LOVE and peace. But to me, it seemed to single me out as an oddball, a religious freak, or just plain weird. Names in my neighborhood were not as unusual as mine. And I felt like it defined me as a person. An odd one. It has taken me so many years to realize how ridiculous all this thinking has been. My heart inside always felt so puny, so non-important, so PLAIN. Just plain FAITH.

Looking at the beauty just outside my morning window, seeing the FAITH brought on a new feeling inside me. Through all the years of my life, God has spoken beauty into a shell of a person. He redeemed me and called me His own. He took a stubborn and weak woman and made me strong. He put a love and worth in my life because He created me to be more than anything or anyone I could be on my own.

And, I know now, as an adult, that God blessed me when He allowed my parents to call me Faith.

What more could I ever ask for than just plain FAITH? In all HE does, in all HE is, and all HE wants to do in me...

Faith, when making hard decisions.
Faith, when all the world seems to crumble around me.
Faith, when times are hard and life seems cruel.
Faith, when loss or disappointment wants to consume me.
Faith, when the ones I love suffer.
Faith, when pain breaks my spirit.
Faith, when those I love are far away.
Faith, when things are good, or bad.

Thanks be to God, who allowed the SON (Jesus) to shine through my window. My heart now is thankful for being just plain Faith. Make my life full of YOU!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Chicago, here we are!

We just can not travel without some sort of mishap.
I was running behind on the packing and all, but managed to have it all together (or mostly!) when Mike got home from work. The camper was already full of foods, except for loading the refridgerator. It has been Scott and Britt home for the past week, so Britt had gotten it ready to go and we were not far off the mark for our est. time of departure!

I rode with Britt and the youngest grandson, following Mike, who had Scott and the other 9 kids. Following Mike through Chicago traffic was horrendous, watching the camper sway and switch lanes in and out. I have never followed behind it before, and I was a bundle of nerves, thinking of the "what if's." Of course, Mike was confident in his driving, and after all, we did make it. I was just a bundle of nerves. Have I ever said I like driving into Chicago???

After we had a delicious dinner half way here, we were in the dark and the traffic. It seemed like we would never get here, and I kept encouraging Britt to stay close to, don't let anyone between you and Mike! So, following so closely, we inadvertently followed him into a "NO CASH" lane at a toll booth. As soon as Mike pulled the big rig through the lane, we realized we were stuck!! You see, Mike has an IPass and Britt does not. We pushed the "help" button, yellow lights start flashing and an angry attendants' voice shouts over the intercom system..."How can I help you?" We could tell by her tone she was not wanting to help anyone! The flashing lights were blinding, and we felt like every flash of the lights were calling out to everyone on the toll road, "Look!! These dummies went in the wrong lane!!"

The attendant tells us to try swiping our debit card. Nope, that was not set up. I volunteered cash and would even step out of the car to hand the cash directly to her! Nope, that was not possible (for me or her?). So, finally she said they would bill me. I gave her my home address, my phone number and my license plate number. When we pulled away, we noticed we were going to be billed for a $1.50 toll fee. I wonder what the paperwork charge will be??

By the time we got to the campsite, they were just locking their gated community. Whew, just in the nick of time!! We pulled in, started to unload while Scott and Britt headed to their cabin. Did I mention that Scott has had a stomach issue for the last few days, with yesterday being the worst by far? When they got to their cabin it was FULL of stink bugs. Keegan (3) would not walk through the door!! Plan B is in motion: all 14 of us would stay in the camper together! We were so tired by this time, I think we could have slept on the ground!

By 8 this morning, yesterday was just a memory, and the rest of the day panned out as planned. No one got hurt, no one is missing, and Scott and Britt have been able to spend the day in Chi town today, just like planned. We have had a wonderful day with all 3 of the grandkids. It's dusk here, Mike is making beds and finishing bathtime. We expect Scott and Britt to roll in about 10 pm, and hopefully, everyone here will be settled and snoring. Britt has to be back in town by 6 am tomorrow, ready to run her first 26.5 mile marathon!!

It's been busy, exciting, stressful, and adventurous. You just couldn't ask for a better weekend camping trip to end our summer of fun. When we are packing up the camper next week, this, too, is another memory to add to the books for 2010.

It's been a great season.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall highlights - so far!

It seems like we cram so many things into each day that I forget how many good (and great) things keep happening around here.

Although this is not going to be listed in order of importance, I wanted to log all the stuff that has been making our days so full.

Our adoption dossier is in Lansing right now, and we expect it to be returned any day. The significance of this is HUGE! It is the final authentication step, so as soon as it hits our mailbox, it will be sent to our agency in Oregon to prepare the paperwork to send to Ethiopia!! It has been a long two years to get to this step, and we are excited as a family to be marking the official "wait" time for our children to come home. Stay tuned for updates!

My dad suffered another stroke last week. Although that was NOT one of the good things in life, it has been a blessing to see little damage from this stroke, and his at-home therapy is progressing well. He and mom need minimal assistance right now, and a friend of ours has been great to do some of their running so I have been free to spend time with my grandsons.

That brings me to the BEST part of this month, so far!! We were able to have a family birthday party with all three of the boys, celebrating Kaid's 5th, Keegy's third birthday and Keano's first! For a gramma with out-of-town grandsons, nothing could be better than seeing them open presents, eat cake and blow out candles!! We asked cousins to join us for a hayride at the pumpkin patch, picked out the perfect pumpkin for everyone, then came home and painted them. We ended the day with chili and got great pictures of the boys full of smiles. Nothing is better in my life (or PaPa's!) than spending time with our grandsons.

We will be heading to Chicago this weekend to celebrate and support our daughter-in-love, Britt, as she runs the marathon on behalf of the children in Africa who need clean water. She has worked hard to train and raise support through World Vision, and we are thrilled to be able to be in the sidelines cheering her on. She has a heart for orphans like we do, and we are proud of her. Go Britt!!

I have been able to spend time with my oldest daughter,Ash, as she works on things around here to help me out. We have recovered (reclaimed!) some old chairs and made them functional again - which I would never have tackled without her help. They turned out great - but the laughs while we did it are worth more than any finished project. She has painted my diningroom a stunning red that makes me happy everytime I walk in there!! She also is working hard to complete her teaching degree, and it's been really fun to watch her world open up even more. She is kind and fun and I am so glad she is making time to be a part of our daily lives. She will make a wonderful teacher, and it's getting closer every day! Way to go, Ash~!

Another great part of our fall was seeing Jenni and Jeremy for a 10 day visit. I miss them so much, and hate having them live so far away, but it sure is nice to have time with them when they can swing it! They love their life in Oregon, so I am happy for them. Jenni is still pursuing her nursing career, while working full time, so who knows where the future will lead them? I am just thankful we were able to spend a bit of their fall with them, and look forward to the next time they can get back to town. I love you, Jenni.

Mike has been able to have a little time to play guitars with Scott and even get in a round of golf. (Is that what it's called??) Last night he brought all the winter clothes bins (massive job) and I spent hours going through clothes to keep, clothes to donate to our thrift shop, and clothes for a young family who needed them. It felt good to clear out the old, and to find clothing for a little girl just under Bella's size who can get some use out of the hand me downs! We have been blessed by donations from others so it feels good to return the favor. Mike has also constructed a new laundry room closet that will help me keep organized better and make less work in the laundry department!

Our camper will be used one more time this weekend, then we'll close it up for the winter. It's been a busy, fun summer of camping nearly every other weekend. We've spent time with family, traveled near and far, while maintaining our "home-away-from-home" security for the little ones. We spent 7 weeks with 3 of our great nieces/nephew, and have the upcoming holidays the focus on (yes, already!).

Life has been good for us...growing and learning through the pain of loss, as well as beautiful memories for the winter months when the sun doesn't shine as often. I think I am happier when I can count my blessings. These were a few.