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”


February 26, 2016

After the Red X Day

I love seeing all the red X’s from the End It Movement!  Raising awareness and education is a huge part of stopping trafficking and slavery.

However…..for change to happen…..we HAVE to take it beyond that.  Creating awareness is the beginning. 

Action should and needs follow.

Micah 6:8
As Micah 6:8 says we are to “act justly”

After our local Nefarious event I received a lot of questions.  Many people were confronted with the depth of trafficking for the very first time and realized what a wide scale problem it is and also how close it hits to home.  People wanted to know what they could DO. How they could help from their little corner of the world. 

To answer that question,  below are some ACTION points for fighting trafficking.

1) Educate others on trafficking.  This is a crucial element in the fight against trafficking because there are so many people who do not know about it at all or the depth of the problem.  Once people know, a response is required. One response is to do nothing or react with apathy. Another response is to learn all you can about this injustice  and to begin to share with others the hard facts of human trafficking and then acting upon that knowledge.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
― William Wilberforce

2) Support organizations that fight trafficking or provide aftercare for those rescued.

3) Support and volunteer at local women’s shelters and rescue homes.

I am so very excited about True Mission coming to Virginia!  I have met with Steve and Tracy Singleton (Founders and Executive Directors) and with Jimmy and Cindy Thompson (Virginia Directors) and love their hearts, knowledge and passion for these girls! The vision is to provide gospel centered restorative care in a long-term residential program. I encourage my local friends to jump on board with us!  We still need 10 acres of land in our area to build this house on!

4) Become an advocate for vulnerable children in you area. Become a foster parent, provide respite, support other foster parents, train to be a CASA volunteer or a mentor.
These children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

5) Support organizations that fight poverty and empower men and women so that they do not end up a statistic or being taken advantage of in their desperation.
There are many are great organizations out there that fight poverty. Do your research..…of course you know I am partial to Project HOPEFUL Awassa!

6) Stand against injustice. Whether it’s inappropriate joking in the workplace against others, racist attitudes or bullying….. choose to make a stand. If something seems off…look at closer. Report if need be.

7) Fight against pornography. So many times this is thought to be just “entertainment”.  It is not. It fuels trafficking.
Great blog posts on that:
from a friend whose job is to investigate sexual internet crimes:

“Great article. Just more evidence and reiteration of what I see in my profession. Please keep sharing this. It is so much a reality for our youth. The socialization and sexualization of our children is at every corner.
The proliferation and availability of electronic devices and the ever changing apps of social media has created a catastrophic cocktail that is destroying the souls and lives of our children. Unfortunately, parents are allowing these devices to babysit their children and are leaving a dark, ugly and evil world at their fingertips.
Whether out of negligence, inattention or ignorance it is being allowed in the home, the responsibility is being left up to the children and not being controlled by the the parent(s).
As I have said and will continue to say... We need to stay in our children's business, any and all of it.
With the proliferation of internet availability, social media and etc, the pornography industry and the demand for it has gone through the roof.
Most have no concept nor want to believe that this behavior and activity is the engine behind human trafficking along with money, drugs and etc.
And churches have become a flock of ostriches by burying our heads in the sand refusing to do anything and get involved.”

8) Educate your children.  Teach them about the pitfalls of pornography and how it invades your soul.  Teach them to safeguard themselves.  Give them rules for the internet and phone. Then enforce those rules! Check out their Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat and other accounts.Demand access and passwords.  Not to snoop or pry—but to safeguard. They are CHILDREN. They need protection and we as parents are responsible for their welfare and protection.

9) Shop with purpose. There are so many great places to shop from that are fair trade and that support men and women around the globe who work very hard for very little and that ensure that fair prices are paid for their hard work.

Trades of Hope  is one of my favorites and who I work with and love.

Another friend-- Lauren over at Mercyink--- posts about fair trade items often and this post explains why fair trade matters.

10) Use your voice politically. Let your representatives and political leaders know that this issue is something you care deeply about.  Call them, email them, write letters, and even visit them in person.  They do hear you when you reach out.  A great site to help you to do this is:

11) Put the trafficking hotline in your phone. Call 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls and texts from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

12) Pray. Sign up on your favorite organization’s email lists and pray for their needs as they work.   I have seen first hand how prayer make a difference in huge ways .

I know there is much much more to add to this list. Please feel free to comment with your favorite organizations and other ideas and actions you think should be on this list!

Powerful video on this:

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