Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hannah is going to Ethiopia, Africa on a mission trip

Hannah is my almost 18 year old daughter.  She loves Jesus, children, music, pjotography and helping others.  
At this time she is unsure of what she wants to do with her life.  She has a huge heart and is
 excited to embark on what she believes will be a life changing endeavor.  Please read about this 
mission opportunity.

Dear Family and Friends,                                                                                                             

I’m writing to tell you about an incredible opportunity I have with my Aunt Marybeth to go to Ethiopia, Africa. My Aunt first traveled to Africa for a mission trip when she was the same age I am now.  She was forever changed by this experience.  I’ve heard her say she “left her heart in Africa”. 

My Aunt and her husband Randy are partnering with their church, Hosanna, in Apple Valley, MN to start a ministry in Hosanna, Ethiopia.  This is something they have desired and prayed about for a very long time.  They traveled to Ethiopia in April to walk the area of Hosanna to see what God was doing there and what he was calling them to do.  Many doors have opened to them since then.  They are building relationships with 26 churches and their leaders.  They are leaving next week to bring all of the churches together to further establish relationships, build them up and lay a foundation for further work with the orphans, widows and bringing hope to the town of Hosanna.   There are many problems in this third world country.   Their goal is to work with the many prostitutes and multitudes of orphans that are in the region.  Their main objective is to bring the love of Jesus to those in need.  They want to help the churches to be better equipped in assisting these underserved people.  This will be done through job training and life skills mentoring.

On our trip, it will just be my Aunt and me as she is going to court for their adoption of my cousin Senait age 6.  While we are there and due to her many contacts and relationships already in place we will be:
            *Spending two days in the orphanage with Senait and the other orphans.  The orphanage is very poor with no running water.  The get their water from a river and bring it back in buckets carried by a donkey.  I’m very excited to love on all of these children!

            *We will be staying a night in Addis where we will be able to visit families in their homes.  We will buy and distribute to each family $8 worth of food, which will last them several months.
            *We will visit the local garbage dump where many people live and survive off  what others have discarded.
            *We will visit with church and government leaders to continue to build
I am so excited to have this opportunity.  I love children and hope that God will use me to spread His love to them.  I’m also excited to use my photography skills to be able to take photos to share and help others gain awareness of the plight of Ethiopians.    

I first and foremost am requesting prayerful support in this venture and as there are costs associated, any financial support would also be appreciated. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Hannah Lind

_____     I can financially give ____________ at this time.
_______I will pray for Hannah and Marybeth as they serve in Ethiopia.

If you would like to donate by using Paypal or a secure Credit card payment scroll to the upper left corner of this blog.  We thank you for your prayers and support!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part II

At 33 weeks Kat started having contractions as a result of a urinary track infection and dehydration.  She was hospitalized briefly.  Before she went home, I asked if we could tour the NICU in case the babies would need to be there.  The babies there were so tiny and so sick.  Kat was determined not to deliver early.  At the same time she was physically miserable.  Her doctor scheduled her for an induction on March 13, 2008.  The evening before Kat was to be induced we took Kat and Kristen out for dinner.  It was a nice evening.

We picked Kat up early the next morning.  She was induced but labor didn’t start until early afternoon.  Both Kevin and I were with Kat through the day. Kevin struggled with what his place was.  He came in and out of the room awkwardly.  Kat also had her mom and sister and best friend there as well.  When it was time to deliver the babies, she was moved to the C section room in case one became necessary, which we were told was standard procedure with twins.  Kevin and I got to put on scrubs and Kat’s sister came as well.   I have had the privilege of being in the delivery room with many of the women I worked with.  I have given birth four times.  It was a totally different experience when it was our babies I was watching be born.  Kat was so strong but when the time came closer to deliver I could clearly see the pain on her face anticipating the grief she would soon feel.  Kat's sister and I coached Kat through delivery.  When it came time for Kat to deliver, it hit me that my babies were about to be born.  This whole experience has been surreal.  I was a jumbled mess of emotion at that moment(and many other times as well).  Rya was born first.  I can’t explain the emotions I felt at that moment.  I was excited, nervous, happy, sad for Kat and very hopeful that things would work out.  I was overwhelmed by what was occurring.  I never imagined that making a choice to reach out to someone would result in this day.  Kevin was able to cut her umbilical cord and went with Rya to the warmer.  Of course the first thing he did was take pictures of her feet(because he's a foot and ankle doctor)!  Kat’s contractions stopped so they had to re-start the pitoccin.  When it was time to push Roman out, his placenta was coming before him.  The doctor very calmly asked if his friend Bob was around.  I later realized he was looking for anesthesia to be nearby in case of an emergency c section. I so appreciated his calm demeanor that did not alert us to his concern.   He was able to hold the placenta and push it up so Roman could come first.  Roman was born 21 minutes after Rya.  This time I was able to cut the cord.  How awesome!

Kat’s mom and grandma and Kristen were there shortly after the babies were born.  I will never forget that Kat’s mom looked at me and said "Congratulations".  I was struck by how incredibly hard and very selfless that word was.  Here was grandma telling me, a virtual stranger congratulations on the birth of her grandbabies!  Wow!  There was so much emotion in that room.  That and a whole lot of love.

It would be 48 hours before Kat could sign the adoption papers.  We knew she could still change her mind but I chose to fully fall in love with them and then deal with the consequences later should she not sign. 

It is policy that in an adoption the hospital will provide a room for the adoptive parents to care for the babies if that is the wish of the mom.  There were so many babies born that day that there were no rooms available for us.  Kat offered for us to stay in her room with her.  This is definitely not common in an adoption!  There were so many things about this adoption that were unusual.  Because of this, Kevin went home at night and I stayed.  Kat let me do all of the baby care although she spent a great deal of time holding and loving them.   I remember those first two nights I was SO tired and I was doing all of the care by myself.  I was a little afraid of what I’d gotten myself into.  Two babies are definitely harder than one baby, plus I was 10 years older than the last time I’d cared for a newborn! 

The other children came to the hospital to meet the babies.  I didn't know what to expect.  The moment they saw the babies they all burst into happy tears!  They said "these are our babies!"  They held them and smothered them with kisses.  It is still such a joyful family memory!
The family and Chantel (who's like family)meeting the babies 
Sterling doing double duty
Spencer bonding with Rya
Sweet Linnea
Teary-eyed happy Hannah

During the time we had together in the hospital,  Kat and I talked a lot.  We’d both cry and honestly, it was emotionally exhausting.  When it came time for her to sign the papers, Kevin and I were in the waiting room.  The social worker came out and said that Kat had requested that I be there with her when she signed the papers.  This is not something that happens ever in an adoption.  It was gut wrenching to watch her sobbing as she signed her legal right to be Rya and Roman’s mom away.  I ached for her.

The whole thing drained me emotionally. Kevin could not possibly understand what it was like for me.  I got angry at him for leaving me at the hospital alone to care for both Kat and the babies.  I needed a place to release all of the emotions of the past 3 days and he ended up being my target.  I later had to apologize to him because we were all doing the best we could during this time. He didn't have the experience I had with adoption and he just didn't know his place and this was so out of his realm of comfort.  I had expected things of him without communicating.  Poor guy, he was struggling too with all that was happening.

 I was grieving for Kat.  I was happy for us. I felt guilty for being happy when she was so sad.  

After the papers were signed, Kat had requested a few hours alone with the babies.  Again, this was unusual.  Typically after the papers are signed, the adoptive parents take the baby and she may not see them again while in the hospital.  There are no hard and fast rules to follow, just what is "typical".  I was so ready to have time alone with Kevin and the babies.  I had promised to always respect Kat as their mom and to do whatever I could to lessen her grief.  So we left the hospital and went out for lunch.  I don’t think we really talked.  It was just so much to process. We held hands and held each other but sat in silence.  There are some moments when there are no words necessary.

We had several hours in the hospital alone with Rya and Roman after Kat left.  When we went home, the kids were waiting with signs welcoming the babies.  That night was so wonderful.  I looked around at my 6 kids and was very happy and fulfilled.  The kids have been so fabulous with the babies.  Spencer and Hannah are like 2nd parents.  There is nothing they won’t do for them.  I was surprised to see Spencer so willing to feed and change diapers.  Hannah often kept the babies in her room overnight so we could sleep.  Sterling will do anything from change dirty diapers to lay with them at nap time.  Linnea is sometimes the one they cry for when they are hurt or in trouble.  They are very blessed to have such awesome siblings and I am proud of them.  They have had to deal with many changes in our life resulting from the adoption.  Linnea was no longer the baby, we couldn't just leave for the day and go to the movies, shopping and our to eat like we used to, there's more noise, stress and busyness in our home.  It hasn't been easy, it kind of rock all of our worlds for a while!   Having so much help from the kids has been a blessing to the parents who had aged quite a bit since Linnea was born! 

We committed to have an open adoption.  Many people have asked us how or why we are willing to do that.  I can’t imagine not having an open adoption.  Kat has given us an incredible gift.  I want her to know the babies and for them to know her.  One of the things we talked about before the babies were born was how difficult it may be to live in the same small town where we could potentially run into each other just about anywhere.  Most of our visits are planned and in our home, but we often see each other at church or at the elementary school.  We leave it up to her to chose to acknowledge us or not.  Sometimes she says hi and keeps walking, other times she will stop and talk and hold the babies.  We try to respect her needs.  We have a bond that will last forever.  She gave birth to the babies.  They look like her.  Rya’s personality reminds me of Kat.  We are entrusted to raise them.  She’s the person I want to call when they do something new because I know she gets as excited about it as I do!  

Ty is the babies’ birthfather.  I had only met him once a very long time ago.  I know he loves the babies.  He and Kat have had an on and off relationship for many years.  On May 1, 2009 when the babies were 13 months old, we were able to meet Ty and his sister Chisty.  I introduced myself to him and said “This is Rya and she looks just like you”.  She really does!  He reached out to hold her and she turned away.  Rya has a hard time warming to new people.  I pointed to Roman and said that he’d let him hold him.  He scooped up Roman and said “Hi little guy, I have pictures of you on my wall.”  He is a big guy and has a rough exterior and lifestyle.  He was not at all what I had imagined he would be.  He was tender with the babies and nice to both Kevin and I.  He took pictures of the babies and seemed to enjoy meeting them.  We were so glad he agreed to meet with us.  We have met with him several times since and he is amazing with them.  He talks to them, nurtures them and always thanks us for letting him see them.  When we do visits we always invite Hallie who was Kat's first child she placed for adoption. Kat's sister and her husband and 3 children are usually there along with grandma and sometimes great grandma  Kristy, Hope, Rya and Roman are all full siblings.  They all look so much alike.  I often show their pictures to Rya/Roman and say there's Hallie, she looks like you.  

Kristen loves the babies.  She has been through a lot in her short life.  She runs to the babies when she sees us and takes them and shows them to people exclaiming, “This is my baby brother and sister!”  We feel it’s our job to help her in any way we can through her grief. 

Over two years have passed since we adopted the babies.  I am so overwhelmed with many emotions.  Here’s what I know.  God loves me!  I am so blessed!  Life doesn’t always go the way we plan for it to go, but God’s way is best!  There is so much joy in our family.  Even during difficult times we stick together.  Our focus is on doing our best with God's help and the help of the people in our "village" to raise our 6 children to know and love Him.  Someone recently asked my son Sterling “what if you hadn’t adopted the babies?”  He was quick to respond “Then we wouldn’t be the Linds!” 

We had lived in Indiana for 13 years.  We felt very clearly when we moved here that it was where God wanted us. Over the years we didn’t know why.  We feel maybe were there because of Rya and Roman.  Recently we were given the opportunity to move back home to Minnesota where our families live.  We don’t think it is a coincidence.  We moved to Minnesota in July 2009.  We try to get back to Indiana as often as we can to continue our relationship with what we now consider to be our extended family.  

I am forever changed by this experience. 
Roman today
Rya today

***Kat had another baby Ellie Rene on April 16, 2009 whom she is parenting.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our adoption story Part I

Sometimes in life, we think we’re heading in one direction but God has other plans.  That’s exactly what happened to us in late 2007.

We had four children ages 9 and up.  We were in a different season of parenting and enjoying it.

I worked with a young woman named Kat over 4 years ago as a social worker for an adoption agency when she placed her newborn daughter Hallie for adoption.  Hallie was born on Easter Sunday of 2004.  Kat was 19 years old at the time.  I was with her in the delivery room as her support person.  I continued to work with her in the years that followed.  I consciously chose to befriend her as well as to mentor her.  She also has a daughter Kirsten who was 8 in 2007.  Kirsten is a year younger than my daughter Linnea.  We live in the same small town and our girls go to the same school.  Kat and I would meet for a Bible study or just to have coffee.  She called me regularly to discuss parenting issues or to just share what was on her mind.  I have always admired her for her strength and courage.  She’s had a hard life and is doing the best she can. 

Kat went on to get married and then in the spring of 2007 she separated and then got divorced.  She moved in with Ty, who is the father of both Kirsten and Hallie.  I lost track of her for a little while until one day I ran into her sister Sophie at the grocery store.  Sophie told me she was living with Ty.  I usually knew when things weren’t going well for Kat because she would stop calling me.  This is what happened early that summer.  We re-connected and Kat told me that she had moved out of Ty's house and back in with her grandma.  She later told me that she was pregnant.  She had every intention of parenting.  One day when she was barely pregnant, she told me she thought she was having twins.  I didn’t say anything but thought there’s no way she could know that and dismissed it.  Sure enough, she found out through an ultrasound that she was in fact having twins!  Amazing!  To this day, she says she “just knew”.

One day Kat came to see me and told me that she had thought about it and realized that she was unable to give 2 babies what they needed and was going to place them for adoption.  Her voice was shaking as she told me.  I sat down and cried.  She asked me why I was crying.  I told her that when I first met her she was a stranger, now she was a friend and that I wouldn’t wish that upon someone once, let alone twice.  I also told her I didn’t want to see her go through such pain but that I would support her and be there for her of course.  She made a remark about wishing we could adopt her babies.  I laughed and said it’s my job to help her find a family.  I gave her profiles of couples waiting to adopt.  I am always excited to show profiles because so many of our couples are so awesome and they become special to me.  Kat asked what would happen if she couldn’t find a couple.  I told her not to worry because I could call other agencies to share their profiles as well.  Several weeks later she asked to meet and interview one couple.  I went with her.  I thought it went well and asked her in the car on the way home, what she was feeling.  She said, “I was thinking all day that I just wish you could adopt my babies”.  Once again I laughed never thinking she was serious.  A few days later she wrote this couple a letter telling them they were wonderful people and she liked them a lot and hoped they would soon have a baby but that she did not feel they were the parents for her babies. 

Thanksgiving Day 2007 arrived and I had invited Kat and her daughter to stop over for dessert if she wanted. This is where our story begins.  We had family visiting from out of town and were enjoying our full stomachs when the phone rang.  It was Kat.  She was calling to say she wouldn't be able make it for dessert.  She went on to tell me that she had told her family that she was going to place her unborn twins for adoption.  She said they were not happy, as she had previously placed a baby as well.  She told them she was considering Kevin and I to raise them.  She went on to clarify and say that she had been praying about it and felt that God was leading her to place the babies with us.  She asked if we would very seriously consider it in prayer. I hung up the phone and immediately told Kevin and his brother and sister in law.  I was literally in shock.  I know Kevin was as well.  I very clearly remember where I was sitting, what I was wearing and how I felt my world spinning with this unexpected request.
Thanksgiving Day 2007 

My first concern was for the agency I worked for.  I contacted my attorney, another adoption agency and the state licensing board to see if there was a conflict of interest.  I was told that she could place her babies with whomever she wanted.  

I loved my job.  I did it because I wanted to help other people.  When we are serving God and serving others, we don't look for anything in return.  I was so shocked that my loving her had resulted in her desiring to give us such a gift.  

One day over a year previous to this I had been driving down the street thinking about this quiet yearning I had for a baby.  I wondered if it was normal and if we as women never lose that instinctive need to nurture.  Kevin and I had very informally talked about adopting internationally, nothing serious.  I had never really spoken of it to anyone.  I prayed that if it be God's will for us to adopt that something would literally "fall into our laps" and if it was not his will that He would take away the desire I had.  That was it.  I remember I let it go at that point.  Funny though, I can still remember the exact street I was driving on and the exact spot where I said the prayer.  

After Kat called us, Kevin agreed to pray about it.  I would have immediately said yes, but then again I am impulsive and thankful to have a husband who keeps me balanced.  I committed to Kevin to let him make this decision by seeking the Lord without trying to sway him(or manipulate him)  We asked those who were close to us to pray for us as well that we would hear God’s will.  We talked about it and then we didn’t talk about it.  We involved the older children in our decision making process.  They were all very excited and said they were up for the challenge of having little ones around the house to help take care of. We prayed and we looked at our finances.  Our financial advisor advised us against it.  Our hearts however did not agree. I’ll let Kevin tell you in his own words what he went through during that time. 

My perspective – On Thanksgiving Day, we were lounging in the living room after a glorious consumption of homemade ravioli.  The phone rang and it was Kat.  Gina talked with her for a short time and when she completed her call she had a very unique expression on her face.  It was one of disbelief, awe, and confusion.  She looked at Jeremy, Karen and I and stated, “She wants US to raise her babies!” 
Two years prior, we had considered adoption but did not actively pursue the process.  We prayed that if God wanted us to adopt we would be patient and wait, jokingly saying that we would adopt if God dropped a baby in our lap.  Well…. He did.  As this was a major decision, regardless of the ultimate outcome, I committed myself to a 4-week period of focused prayer and the seeking of wise counsel.  I even practiced the discipline of fasting at times.  Ultimately, the choice that gave me the greatest sense of peace was to accept the gift of the two babies and proceed with the adoption.  The children were part of the decision-making process and everyone was given time to state their feelings and concerns. 
When I called Kat to tell her that we were elated to accept her sacrificial and loving gift, she was not surprised by my answer.  She stated that she knew all along that this is what God wanted and she had just been waiting for me to figure it out.     

I remember one day during the decision process Kevin called Kat to ask her why she wanted us for her babies.  Her answer was that she had witnessed our parenting, she had witnessed our marriage and she felt we would always respect her.  This statement still plays in my head and I have felt so honored as well as a huge sense of responsibility to live up to these things!  I also remember the day that Kevin came home from work and said “Gina, this is a ministry opportunity and I feel it is what we are suppose to do”.   So the decision was made and I was both excited and nervous.  We started telling people and began preparing our hearts and our home for the new babies.  It was interesting to be on the other side of  adoption going through the home study process.  We chose another good agency to work with us and take care of Kat.

During this time it was hard to really believe this was going to happen.  Kat began asking me to attend her doctor’s appointments.  She had many ultrasounds because of carrying twins and was considered high risk.  She already knew there was one boy but I was in the room when the ultrasound showed that the second baby was a girl.  I cried as I began to imagine having boy/girl twins.  It was beginning to feel more and more real.  I imagined, but could not truely know the joy they would bring to us.   It was fun to see them growing inside her.  She was put on bed rest in December.  My prayer all along was that the babies wouldn’t need to spend any time in the NICU.  I didn’t know how I would be able to manage caring for premature babies 45 minutes away and running back home to care for the four older children.

Kat wrote us letters sharing her feelings. I was so touched to know she was going to entrust us with her babies that she very obviously loved.  It was an extremely emotional time for me.  I can only imagine what she was going through.  She came to our house one day and asked the kids if they wanted to feel the babies and let them place their hands on her stomach to feel them moving.  I think this made it feel real to the kids.  They were so honored that she included them. 

We purchased a crib and put it up in our room right next to our bed.  That night I could sense the crib as I lay there in the dark, and I envisioned the babies there next to me.  I didn’t ever go into a deep sleep that night.  I prayed  and prayed for the babies.  I can't explain it but that was the night I fell in love with them, totally and completely.

It was strange to be thinking of names again.  Hannah and I made lists.  Kevin and I made lists.  It didn’t take long to decide on the names Rya and Roman.  There is a family I know who lived near us that befriended a teenage mom with a newborn.  They would baby-sit for her.  After a few months the gal asked this family if they would adopt her.  I didn’t know the family at the time but when I heard their story I told my friends “someday that’s going to happen to me”. This was over 10 years ago, before I ever even worked in the field of adoption.  Perhaps that's when God began preparing my heart?  The daughter they adopted was named Rya(pronounced 'Rye-ah').  I have always liked that name and it seemed obvious to us that was the name for our baby girl.  We chose the name Roman because we thought it was a strong name.  When it came time to choose middle names, we looked up names that meant ‘gift from God’.  We chose Grace and Matthew because that is what they are, beautiful, precious gifts from God. 

Look for Part II in the coming days

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Just Any Saturday

This morning my husband and I were planning to go to a corn maze and a pumpkin patch with the children and enjoy a family day.  Our son Spencer would be the only one unable to go with us as he was heading to do some work for a friend.
I received a phone call around 10 a.m. stating that Spencer had been in a car accident and had rolled his SUV and landed upside down in a ditch.  It turns out the car rolled twice.  He was suspended by his seat belt.    We immediately headed for the hospital.
Years ago I worked as a social worker in a Trauma Center and my job involved calling families whose loved ones had been in an accident and then meeting them upon arrival to the ER serve as an intermediary between the medical staff and family.  I've seen car accident victims and my mind began to flashback to many situations I'd witnessed.  I knew to expect anything.
 Spencer was able to call us right after the accident and the Sheriff explained the damage to the vehicle and that he looked ok but was being taken to the hospital by EMS.  That was reassuring but then again I've seen people who were awake and alert following an accident who suddenly lost consciousness due to a head injury.
I was relatively calm.  Spencer was on a backboard and wearing a cervical collar when we saw him.  He had a tiny scratch on both knees and one on his hand. He was cracking jokes.  All medical tests came back clear.  Praise the Lord!
We headed to where the car had been towed to see the car and retrieve some items.  The vehicle is totaled.  This is the point when I fell apart.  When I saw the damage to the car, it hit me just how bad the accident was.
At that moment I re-lived the pain of sending him to drug treatment back in June and how we've "got Spencer back" only recently.  He is beginning to thrive at his new school, with new friends and an increased confidence in himself and in life.  I'm loving the time we spend together and how he likes to tell me about what's going on in his life!  I don't worry about him all the time like I used to.
Ok, so now maybe I'm going to worry a little more about his safety but I'm a mom, who can blame me?
Many years ago a brick dropped from a shelf in our garage and hit my son Sterling, who was 3 at the time in the head resulting in a lot of blood, a trip to the ER and some stitches.  I was pretty shaken up.  Later in the day we stopped at a gas station and Sterling looked at the cashier and said "Today my parents almost lost me".
On our way home with Spencer today, we stopped at Panera for some food.  I had this overwhelming urge to tell the cashier that 'today we almost lost Spencer'.
I am sitting in my living room next to Spencer feeling so incredibly thankful!  Two year old Roman just laid down next to Spencer on the couch and said "Spencer cuddle me".   I'm still a bit weak in the knees but at the same time I am giddy with joy.  All of my children are here and safe, my sweet husband too!

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; 
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guest Posting at We Are Grafted In

I'm honored to be guest posting over at We Are Grafted In

Friday, October 15, 2010

What to Expect When Adopting from "hard' Places

More of What to Expect the First Year- A re-post from

I'm posting this fabulous information that I wish I had when I was doing International Adoption Home Studies and Post Placement Supervision.  This is valuable information. Gina
As a follow up to my last post, I am re-posting what my dear friend, Shawna, added in the comments (in case you don't read the comments). She is 100% accurate on this.

What newly adoptive parents need the first year from their friends and church family:

1. The first year for parents who adopt children from "hard places" is totally consuming. Regardless of how old the children are, expect that the parents will be as consumed as parents of a newborn baby...with colic. If they are adopting more than one, it will be like having multiples....with colic...and probably food allergies too...just to give some perspective.

2. A wonderful "gift" for adoptive families is to free them up to parent. Intentionally parenting in a way that leads to healing for their children will be absolutely requires 110%, and no one else can do it. But, someone else can: cook, clean, organize clothing, shop, drive, take the dog to the vet, mow the lawn, etc.

3. Another great "gift" that a church can give is to completly release adoptive parents from any and all obligations they have to serve at church. They may think that they can continue to serve, but they can't. (And for that matter, release mom from any obligation to do anything for at least one year....including answer the phone!)

4. Also, during that first year, don't expect that adoptive parents will be able to get away without the kids much. As with a newborn baby, the children will benefit from mom and dad's constant presence in the short term. However, a trusted person who is willing to provide short-term child care, like while mom and dad grab some dessert after bedtime,or so mom can take a walk during naptime, can be helpful.

5. And finally, remember that for the first year, and beyond, these parents will be working so hard to gain their children's trust and win their hearts. As support people, believe it or not, some of what we intend for good can actually be detrimental to this process. Indulging the children with "stuff" or experiences, for example, can compete with the bonding process.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Questions Answered: Showers of Blessing

Q: We have a family in our church with four children who will soon be welcoming a sibling group of foster children into their home. We would like to have a "shower" for them, but we know they may not need more stuff (or maybe they do?). What would you recommend we, as a church, do to help them?

A: We have been INCREDIBLY blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ as they have come around us this past year to shower us with blessings of help, resources, and encouragement. The Church can be an extremely huge blessing to a family entering the journey of fostering or adopting a large sibling group (or even a small sibling group!). In fact, I would say that the church is ESSENTIAL for the family to be able to make it through the hard first year.

Here are some things that I know would be very helpful:

MEALS - Deliver dinner every night. For a long time. Months, probably. Think of it as if they just birthed sextuplets! 

If it is DHS, they'll probably be getting money for the new child(ren)'s needs
(like diapers and clothes), 


try to think of gifts for the whole family. . . things they probably wouldn't purchase themselves.

-a "Summer Fun" gift box with new beach towels and a family pass to the zoo

-a "Winter Fun" gift box with sleds, hot cocoa, and matching mugs.

A shower to celebrate could be fun, but make sure the guests know that gift cards to Target or money would probably be appreciated more than a whole bunch of toys and gifts for the kids.
AND, keep the shower as low key as possible or have it before the new children arrive. There are a thousand reasons for this (I would be happy to expand on this if anyone wants - just leave a comment).

These are my thoughts, but another family might think something totally different,
so I think I would approach the family and say:
"Hey, we really want to celebrate with you and we were thinking that__________might be a fun way to do that. Would that be helpful to you, or would something else better meet your needs?"

Those are my thoughts based on what we have needed this past year. In retrospect, I had NO IDEA how much support and help we would need and I am so thankful for it. I am especially thankful for the help and support that was given before we had to ask. Most of the time I was so busy and overwhelmed, I didn't even know to ask or who to ask. It was nice that it just came! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heroes-Re post

I posted this back in October but want to post it again in honor of an upcoming visit with my twins birth mom. She has never left the state she lives in, but is going to do so in April to come see us! She is my hero along with the many incredible birth moms I know personally. You know who you are! Love you!

I have many real-life heros.

The most dear to my heart are the women who chose to pursue the selfless road of adoption for their beloved children.  I have been witness to the simultanous opposites of very deep pain intermixed with unspeakable joy that is the process of a mother giving the greatest gift.  The gift of life and unselfish love.

In my eight plus years as an Adoption Specialist, I have watched as women chose adoption for their child not because they didn't want the child.  It was the exact opposite.  They wanted more for their child.  It is never a decision that is easily made. There is a very negative (and very wrong) stereotype of women who chose to make an adoption plan.  Some of these include assumptions that they don't have a maternal instinct, don't want to be inconvenienced by a child, etc..  A young woman choses life in the midst of her circumstances because of her great love.  Some of these women make this decision knowing the love and sacrifice of our saviour the Father.  Others however make the same wonderful choice without any understanding of this love and sacrifice but through their actions are manifesting this example of sacrificial love for others.  This is the innate need to offer a chance at something she can't give.

I have stood beside women as they bore the physical pain of childbirth.  Nothing in comparison to the pain of loving and losing of ones own choosing.  It's not a passing pain.  Time changes the pain but does not erase it.

I distinctly remember each birth where I was able to serve as support person/labor coach, but one in particular I will share with you.  I remember holding her hand as she delivered her child, love embodied in a little person.  The moment the baby was born she cried, a cry not of relief from the pain but of agony of what was ahead.  I looked up and saw the joyful tears of the adoptive parents who had been witness to 2 previous deliveries of baby angels already in heaven.  The vibrant cry of the child causing a distinctly different reaction on both sides of the adoption experience.  It was more than my heart could bear.  Love so great. I turned away looking out the window to catch my breath and whispered to my Lord, "Help me be your servant, don't let this be about my emotions right now".

In most cases, legal papers can't be signed for 48 hours and most women chose to care for their child for those brief hours.  A time that passes much too quickly for the mom, each moment breathed in and captured for an eternity.  The smells, the similiar characteristics shared, hugs and kisses to last a lifetime.  Some people worry that the mom will bond with her baby during that time.  I'm a believer that we bond with our babies while they are in our womb as well as after they are born.  I encourage a woman to do whatever is necessary during that time in order to have 'no regrets'.  I've never heard of anyone regreting they held their baby while I have heard them regret NOT holding them.

All too quickly it's time to sign papers which will separate mother and child by law but not by love.  Nothing could ever remove the love that swells in the heart of a mother.  A lifetime of hopes and dreams wrapped up and placed lovingly into the arms of another.  Trusting God and man to take the precious gift through the next many years and watch over protect love and guide.

I have grown in my faith and been forever changed through my experiences in adoption.  Many of the women I've walked this road with are still near and dear to me today.

It has been my greatest honor and privelege to love and care for expectant and birth moms.  They through their actions exemplify the love of God in the truest sense.  Giving all and asking very little in return.

Stay Tuned for Part II where I share our adoption story.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Need for Discipline

If you know me well, you know that I like a clean house and some order in my life.  That's hard to do when you have six children, but I strive to do both because they are important to me.  I have been feeling really convicted about being more disciplined in all areas of my life.  I guess I've been feeling this way for a long time because I've made several New Year's resolutions in recent years to be more disciplined.  I'm not a sloth by any means, but I realize that to whom much is given, much is expected.  I feel like more is expected of me than what I am currently giving.  Can you ever sense the Lord prompting you towards something?  That's what I'm feeling.

I have also come to realize that it will take more than a resolution to change me.  It's going to take God working in me.

There are three things in my life that I want very much.  I'm going to share them openly with you because I need accountability.  I want more patience, I want to be free from depression and I want to be more disciplined.  God has been working with me on having patience for many years now (I am a slow learner but I do feel as though I am getting there).  I'm doing all I know to do to beat the depression and I can tell you, it's not easy.  Many days I take two steps forward and three steps backward.  If I am more disciplined in caring for myself that will help with my depression.

I want to be more disciplined with my eating, exercise, Bible reading, money management, cooking and parenting.  Whew! Just reading that kind of scares me.  Do you know why?  Because I know it's what God wants for me too, and I know it's not going to be easy getting there.  Not to mention that I just documented it on public record for all to see. I'm in trouble now!

Hebrew 12:11 reminds us that “No discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.“(NIV)

As a parent, I spend much of my day teaching my children through discipline.  The little ones get time outs and much re-direction.  The older ones are expected to complete homework, do chores, keep their room clean, etc.  I can talk about discipline to my children, but to really teach it to them I need to model it regularly through my daily actions and behaviors.

I've tried to pinpoint those things that I allow to act as blockades in keeping me from actively pursuing a more disciplined way of living.  I made a list (because I love lists);

1) My depression seems to keep me from having a lot of energy.
2) I am rebellious by nature.
3) I don't have great self-esteem, and therefore I don't take as good care of myself as I should.
4) It takes time to be disciplined and I have difficulty in allocating the time to focus on this (which is also impacted by the inherent decreased energy level).
5) I'm tired.  Both physically and emotionally.
6) I like things that come easy..............and this does not.  (Shoot!!   Does that mean that I'm lazy?)

Jesus, I am ready to endure the pain of discipline so that I may produce the harvest of righteousness and peace that you promise.  I ask that you would mold me into the person you would have me to be.  I ask for your strength to sustain me. I want to be more like you and I want to be an example to my children.

As a means of self-accountability, I have vowed to pray this prayer daily (many times throughout the day if needed).  I know that I will need to do this more at first because as I begin to work on those areas that need the most attention, I will desperately need to cling to God to keep me encouraged.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guest Post Kevin Lind-The Cracked Pot and the Purpose Driven Life

This is a re-post of a blog entry my husband wrote back in April of 2008 on our family blog.  I hadn't read this in a long time.  It's part of the reason why I chose to call my blog the Cracked Pot.

April 2008

It is 5:00 a.m. and I have just fed, burped, and changed Rya and Roman. They have acknowledged my meeting of their needs with healthy belches (devoid of recently consumed prepared formula - always a plus!), non-focused half-smiles, and the requisite post-feed cuddle with optional buttock protrusion (you know, where they stretch and arch their backs while contracting their legs and extending their necks. This always causes the booty to sick out and is undoubtedly one of my faves!!).

My simple actions done out of love, and with little thought or effort on my part have resulted in quiet splendor and rest for these newest of God's creations. All they want is to be held, and to feel safe and secure in my arms. This desire does not change for any of us as we grow older. We ALL want to be held and to feel safe and secure in the arms of our heavenly father.

At this particular time, in this particular place, my purpose is to meet their basic needs. This concept of purpose is something I continually struggle with. Much of the time I do not see, or feel as though my life is fulfilling what I was created for. The massive list of "why's" is always simmering on my back burner. Why do I live 12 hours from my family? Why do I live in Bluffton, Indiana (of all places!!)? Why on earth am I a foot doctor? How do these things, as well as the other aspects of my daily life fit into God's plan for me, and am I doing what I am supposed to be doing with this life He has given me? There are many other "why's", but I will refrain from going on and on.

I am a cracked pot. I take great comfort in knowing that I am a cracked pot and before anyone taking the time to read my ramblings begins to question my sanity, and think I am a crackpot, I will explain what I mean. In Brennan Mannings book "Ruthless Trust", he tells the following story, which has helped me to feel more secure at times when the "why's" become too numerous.

"A water-bearer in India had two large pots. Each hung on opposite ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other was perfect. The perfect pot always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house. The cracked pot arrived only half-full. Every day for a full two years, the water-bearer only delivered one and a half pots of water. The perfect pot was proud of it's accomplishments, because it fulfilled magnificently the purpose for which it had been made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After the second year of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, the unhappy pot spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream and told him that he was ashamed of himself and wanted to apologize. The bearer responded by asking the pot what he was ashamed of? The pot told him that over the last 2 years he has only been able to deliver half his load because of the crack in his side allows water to leak out all the way back to the master's house and because of this flaw the bearer does not get full value from his efforts. The water-bearer felt very sorry for the cracked pot and in his compassion he related to the pot that on their next trip from the stream that he should pay close attention to the edge of the path on his side and compare it to the edge of the path on the side of the perfect pot. He told the pot to notice the beautiful flowers along his side, and that there were no flowers on the other side. Indeed, as they made their way along the path on their daily journey there were the most beautiful flowers along his side of the path and the sight of this did cheer him up a bit. However, at the end of the trail he still felt bad that he had leaked out half of his load and again apologized to the bearer for this failure. The bearer then told the pot that he had always known about the flaw and had taken advantage of it. He planted flower seeds on his side of the path, and every day, as they made their way from the stream to the master's house the cracked pot had been unknowingly watering them. As a result of this the bearer was able to pick the beautiful flowers to decorate the master's table. Without the cracked pot being just the way he was, the bearer would not have been able to add this beauty to the house."
The water-bearer stunned the cracked pot by revealing the greater purpose he was serving. The pot had assumed that the sole purpose of it's existence was to haul water from the stream to the house. Unable to see the forest for the trees and stuck in his own self-determination, the pot had not suspected God's grand purpose for it: to give life to the dormant flower seeds along the path.

I love this story because it reminds me that I cannot and will not ever see the "big picture" from God's perspective, and that much of the time I feel like the ashamed cracked pot. Unable to see the impact of my seemingly inert actions and interactions with others. In my office I have small ceramic pot with a crack painted on the side that I made as a small reminder that even though I do not always see the grand scheme that God is fully in control of, I can take comfort that as long as I try my best to be Christ to those around me and serve the needs, be they big or small, that I am helping to water the flowers that will grace my masters table in heaven.

My purpose driven life then is powered not by a great understanding of the final masterpiece being created, but in the comfort and knowledge that at any particular time or particular place I will add a small spot of color to the picture by serving those around me. So, what is my grand purpose for living far away from family, having 6 children and fixing bunions and flat feet? I don't know. But I also do not need to know. What I need to do is not worry about the grand scheme, because God is in charge. What I need to do is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind and soul and lean not on my own understanding! On occasion, He does pull me aside and show me a flower or two, where despite my imperfections, he has used me to further His purpose.

The most recent of these glimpses into His purpose for me just woke again to be fed, burped, changed and held so they may feel safe and secure. Two other flowers that I am close to all day are beginning to bloom as well. The beauty of a flower is wonderful to behold, and it is even more spectacular and satisfying to watch the flower bloom.

May you take comfort in your individual imperfections, and cling to the knowledge that God will use these in His time and for His purpose.

In Christ, Kevin (aka - The baldy-headed Cracked Pot)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Francine Rivers Book GIVEAWAY WINNER!

Congratulations to FAITH for winning the 2 book series by Francine Rivers.  I hope you enjoy them and yes, thank you for turning me on to her books all those years ago!  This is like a pay it forward moment!  Send me your address privately please. Check out Faith's blog Blue's News at

Monday, October 4, 2010

15 Minutes

I was early to pick my son up from school for an appointment by 15 whole minutes.  That never happens!  The twins were with Grandma and Grandpa so I was in the car alone.  I was listening to Christian radio and I rolled the windows down and put my seat back a bit.

I closed my eyes.  It was as if I were instantly transported, no longer in my car but someplace else.  The sun was shining brightly and made me feel warm and relaxed.  I imagined I was sitting on my favorite beach in North Carolina.  I used the time to soak in the sun and the words of the music, both of which soothed my soul.  I could feel myself being nurtured by the Father, resting in Him.  I prayed and thanked Him for loving me and for the little moments like these.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Francine Rivers GIVEAWAY!

I love to read any book written by Francine Rivers.  My favorite read of the summer was Her Mother's Hope.  I am ready to delve into the newly released Her Daughter's Dream.  I would like to share both books with you.  You can enter  by following me, leaving a message here or on facebook or adding a link to my blog on your blog, or all of the above.  Deadline is Wednesday Nov 6.

The first part of unforgettable epic family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter and the very nature of unconditional love. On the eve of the First World War, fiery Marta Schneider leaves Switzerland and her difficult childhood behind, determined to find a new life on her own terms. Barely out of her teens, Marta is haunted by a devastating loss that fuels her ambition to one day own a hotel. From the cramped quarters of a French housekeeping school to the portrait-lined halls of a stately English manner, Marta becomes a hard working domestic who has little time to dwell on what might have been.  Instead, she draws her strength from what could be. Then, Marta meets Niclas Waltert, a man just as determined as she to forge a better life in a new place. Niclas captures her heart and together they endure the harshness of life as tenant farmers on the vast prairies of Winnipeg, Canada, before following the promise of the American dream and migrating to the agriculturally rich Central Valley of California.  Marriage and motherhood bring both joy and heartbreak, as Marta must surrender her long-held ambitions for the sake of her husband and children, including her daughter, Hildemara, upon whose shoulders her own hopes now squarely rest. Only the strong survive and Marta is determined to raise a daughter as strong as she.  But as Hildie reaches young womanhood and another war is fast approaching, those hopes become too heavy a burden for Hildie to bear. Born with a heart to serve others, Hildie pursues her calling as a nurse, something Marta can’t understand. Marta’s years of hardnosed parenting have left Hildie still hungry for her mother’s love…and now for her mother’s respect. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter, Carolyn, never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow and the only person who can come to her aid is the person she remains so desperate to please: Marta, her mother. With hallmark touches of brilliant prose and gripping characterizations, Her Mother’s Hope is a rich, moving epic about faith and dreams, heartache and disappointment, and ultimately the resilience and tenacity of love.

In the dramatic conclusion to the New York Timesbest seller Her Mother’s Hope, comes this rich and deeply moving story about the silent sorrows that can tear a family apart and the grace and forgiveness that can heal even the deepest wounds.  Growing up isn’t easy for little Carolyn Arundel. With her mother, Hildemara, quarantined to her room with tuberculosis, Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma Marta, who moves in to care for the household. But as tensions between Hildie and Marta escalate, Carolyn believes she is to blame. When Hildie returns to work and Marta leaves, Carolyn and her brother grow up as latchkey kids in a world gripped by the fear of the Cold War.  College offers Carolyn the chance to find herself, but a family tragedy shatters her newfound independence. Rather than return home, she cuts all ties and disappears into the heady counterculture of San Francisco. When she reemerges two years later, more lost than ever, she reluctantly turns to her family to help rebuild a life for her and her own daughter, May Flower Dawn.  Just like Carolyn, May Flower Dawn develops a closer bond with her grandmother, Hildie, than with her mother, causing yet another rift between generations. But as Dawn struggles to avoid the mistakes of those who went before her, she vows that somehow she will be a bridge between the women in her family rather than the wall that separates them forever.  Spanning from the 1950s to present day, Her Daughter’s Dream is the emotional final chapter of an unforgettable family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter—and the very nature of unconditional love.
Info and photos were taken from Francine Rivers web page,