March 31, 2017

Love isn't easy

We as people like quick fixes. We like things wrapped up and tidy like a 30 minute sitcom. 

Loving others isn't a quick fix. It's not tidy. It's not easy. It's not without some sacrifice on our part if done with our whole heart.

But these faces? They are what makes it worth it.

When you sit in front of family and hear how their lives have changed. When you see the man who had no shoes, rags for clothes and a malnourished son and poverty spirit standing before you now with not only shoes and clothes..but a spirit of joy deep within him---that's what motivates you.

When your in-country staff lists off names of children that they tell you surely would have died had it not been for people entering into their distress--that's what fires you up.

It goes beyond material things. It's deeper than the financial help. It's bringing life and hope to others because that's what's been given to us.

We are so thankful for those that have linked arms with Hawassa Hope--some of you since the very beginning and some of you brand new. You encourage us on hard days to stay the course. You help us to see the beauty in ashes. You fan the flames of our hopes and dreams.

"The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience in the same direction - our legs and lungs of endurance; And we need sturdy stores of joy."   Gary Haugen

November 10, 2016

Rethinking Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday

When you hear those two words what comes to mind?

In 2008,  adoption would have been the first word to jump into mine.  This is the year that Ab came into our family.

Then sponsorship.  Greg and I were also part of a ministry in Zambia that consisted of sponsorship for school.

zambia 054DSC00169

Fast forward to 2016.  One more adoption. Several years advocating in various ways for different ministries or organizations.  Now directing Hawassa Hope.

I have learned that “orphan care” is so much more than what I originally thought.  Much more than adopting or school sponsorship —though that’s part of it.

Orphan care, to me, now begins before anyone is brought to an orphanage and before any parent has to go through a heart-wrenching relinquishment process.  The majority of the orphan care we are involved in now is preventing those children from being relinquished.  Advocating and seeking help to keep families together. 

So many families WANT to raise their children—the problem is they see no way to do that. They have no hope.  We have watched Hawassa Hope families provide for their children and be full of life and joy with just a little bit of help.  Help that ultimately we hope will lead to independence. 

Like this brother who stepped up to take care of his 2 sisters and little brother when their parents died.  Why? Because that’s what you do he said. “There is no alternative.”


Orphan care  now is supporting the in country staff who make reunification possible for families by offering them support and help where needed.  Seeing a child being placed back into the arms of his father….

Orphan care consists of supporting those in country who are taking care of children until families are found.


Orphan care now means supporting domestic adoption and foster care. in the states and in Ethiopia where we work.

Like these 14 families in Hawassa, Ethiopia who stepped up to love children. And there has been even more than this. I love it.


Orphan Care means providing clean water to children and families who desperately need it.  This changes lives dramatically. Childrens lives are literally saved.


Orphan Care also consists  of providing businesses for women so that they can financially support themselves and their children.  They want to work and provide on their own. They just need a little boost. Then you get to see the reward in their smiles.


Orphan Care can mean building a home for a mom who had the validated fear of hyenas coming in to get her children at night.  And then you hear the heartbreaking words, “I am now a human again.”


Orphan care can mean supporting adoptive/fostering families during the process and after they have adopted. Sharing in their concerns. Praying for each other. Loving each other. And maybe being quite silly together. ;)


It may be driving almost crazy amounts of time just to be with each life together and loving each other through hard times.


As you can see my definition of “orphan care” has broadened greatly.  I am sure it will broaden even more as I experience more.

I challenge everyone to think outside of the typical box and to support children and families in areas that cause children to become orphans.   HIV education. Malaria training and nets. Medical support. Food support. Pregnancy care. The child we are a sponsor for we chose because it was the same situation as our adopted son. (and she reminded me so much of him!)

I told her mom as I sat in her home…. I don’t want you to have to make the choice my son’s mom did. I want you to be able to raise your daughter.


Orphan care can be so much more than helping after the fact. Let’s jump in help at the beginning of the crisis—not waiting until the end when it feels like there are no options left.

I would love to help you become more involved in orphan care. 

You can learn more about us at or email me at

September 25, 2016

Adoption Testimony: God didn’t call us to “easy”

The beginning: 17 years ago with a momma’s heartcry and a dad’s face to face visit with orphaned children.

The blessing: 2 crazy loved Ethiopian boys who have rocked our world and the HUGE privilege of being able to serve hand in hand with our Ethiopian brother and sisters bringing hope to children and families in Awassa, Ethiopia through Hawassa Hope.

There is so much more to these stories that I think I would have to have a 2 hour video. I am going to sum them up quickly with Things I Have Learned Through Adoption:

1) Don’t put God in a box
My boxes that God busted open:
  •   We put under age 3 because I didn’t want to full with “baggage” (Ab was almost 6 when he came home to us)
  •   I am not traveling with Greg because I can’t handle it (terrified of planes!)    (God said yes, you can )
  •   I don’t want to meet or have any relationship with birth family. It’s too emotionally complex.  (We did and now have a beautiful relationship with them and I can’t imagine not having it! I am sooo glad God busted that one!)
  •   Special needs parameters.  We went from “minor correctable special needs” to wishing we had opened that up more during our adoption to now if we were currently do an adoption would much broader and include HIV. Be sure to keep an open mind and heart for that decision.
2) Remember that God is faithful.
When we accepted our first referral for a little guy who was 7 months old, the whole slow down in Ethiopia happened and I was a mess thinking that the our child might wait a year or more (the thinking at the time) to come home. A friend emailed and told me this “God has told me to tell you that your son will be home by the time he is 9 months old.”  Now you have to know that this friend had never told me things like this before and she is not the person to proclaim things such as this. In fact, she told me she was nervous about saying it but God clearly told her to do it.  I posted her email on my fridge and read it. over and over again.  Then the phone call came that this first little guy’s mother had taken him home to raise. (which was a good thing but my emotions were in a whirlwind!) and I promptly balled that paper up and threw it in the trash in a fit of despair.

Fast forward to receiving Teshale’s referral and bringing him home later that year.

 At exactly 9. months. old.

 Greg reminded me that her email said MY son would come home at 9 months old. God is faithful and true to His word.  Remember that in times of doubt and despair.

3) God did not call us to easy. 
There have been many times when I have wondered about the easier path.The paperwork and governmental hoops can just about do you in sometimes. The emotional complexities of adoption are daunting. Trauma is hard. Blending a family together takes work. Sometimes exhausting and emotionally draining work.  Is it worth it?  As I look into the faces of my kiddos…yes. yes. yes.   Is it easy?  Not at all.

But in the words of my husband  “God didn’t call us to easy”


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