December 31, 2010

Ringing in the New Year, Tanzanian Style.

Well, Brian is in Arusha! 
I just got an e-mail update from him about all he's doing and experiencing, and it sounds like the trip is going really well.
He's there with the founder of Samaritan Village, the president of the American board, and a few other people who also joined them on the trip.  It took a while for him to e-mail me because they are trying to get a new computer that was just donated to the Village hooked up with internet access.

Brian says:
It's almost 5pm here, and all of the people here are working hard preparing for a new year's party.  They are cooking a goat.  Yes, a goat.  That was alive this morning.   They are expecting over 400 people.  I wish I could just type and type and type, because I want to share with you how everything is going, but I don't really have time, so here is a chronological summary.
I took a ton of pictures on the way back, it took us about 1:15 to get back to the Village from the airport at Kilimanjaro.  The first thing I got to see when we arrived was the dorm, where we are staying.   It is huge!  It's built like a condo or apartment complex, with two floors, two units on each floor (left and right) with stairs to the second floor balcony in between the sides.  Each unit has three bedrooms, three baths, and a 250 sq ft living/dining/kitchen area.  The rooms are a decent size too.  The bathrooms aren't all the way finished yet, the shower is just a shower head sticking out of the wall, no pan or curtain.  Only the first floor is finished, and even then the kitchen area only has a sink right now.
I got to walk around and meet everyone shortly after that.  The kids are beautiful, and so happy and smily all the time.  I will have a lot of pictures, but I'm really really really wishing I had remember to bring our video camera!! 
From the front porch of the main building you can see Mt. Meru (MAY-roo, I got that wrong), and it is stunning. It is so beautiful here, the weather today was a little cool when I first went outside (maybe 65-70 degrees) and it warmed up to 80 this afternoon, with a cool breeze under partly cloudy skies.
Last night we went (along with some of the kids) to a Bridal send off party. (For the fiance of the father of the orphanage)  The best way to describe it is a combination of a wedding reception/rehearsal dinner/bridal shower.  It was at a banquet hall (the large back room of a place called "The Police Officers Mess Hall".   There were about 150 people there, and the party lasted from 6:30 until 11:30.  I will tell you more about it when I get back and show you the pictures, but it was really neat to get a glimpse of their culture.
We got home at midnight, and slept soundly...until 5:30am when the Swahili praise music started blaring from the chapel, and I heard Josephat preaching loudly for the morning service.  So sleeping in wasn't an option.
This morning I had pancakes (pan fried corn-flour sweet thick tortillas) and a banana fresh from the market for breakfast, then I spent some time journaling, walking around taking pictures of the place, and helping out a little with cleaning up the grounds.
This afternoon we went in to Arusha to do a little shopping; we went to a handmade craft market and I bought small gifts for you and sylvie.
Oh honey, there's so much here that I want to tell you about, so much that I can't even fit it all in this email.  But there are two things that I haven't mentioned yet that you need to know.  1) I haven't seen a single mosquito, even last night as darkness fell and I was standing in the parking lot of the police officer's mess hall.  and 2) the well water here is safe to drink!  I have been drinking it for 24 hours now and I still feel fine!
I'm feeling well, though a little tired.  I am glad to be here in this beautiful place, and I really need to learn swahili.  That phrasebook and Tanzania book were very helpful to me, as I already had the basic conversation pieces (hello, goodbye, how are you, good, fine, yes, no, please, thank you) down before I got here!
I love you, I miss you, and I have already taken 350 pictures. kiss and hugs to you and my beautiful daughter!

I can't tell you what a blessing it is to get these e-mail updates!  It is also such a blessing for him to get to go there to see Arusha, the orphanage, and to meet the people before we actually move there.  God has given me so much peace about all of this, even just through this one short e-mail.

Anyway, just wanted to share the update!  Hopefully there will be more soon, and of course lots of pictures when he gets back.  You're prayers are so appreciated!

December 17, 2010

I’ll try to make sense.

I’ve been hesitant to post much about my thoughts and experiences thus far about going to Tanzania.  Mostly because there has just been so much going through my mind and heart that it is hard to sit down and put any of it into much of a discernable post.  But, while part of my motivation to blog is to have memories to look back on, I also don’t want to blog in vain – so a lot of my motivation is in hopes God would use it to be helpful or encouraging, or even a warning of what not to do!  That’s been my motivation blogging through our fostering experience, and it’s my motivation now.  Looking at blogging through fostering, I think it’s been the most helpful or encouraging when I’ve been completely honest.  So I’ll try.
And God will use it if he wants.  And if not, well, that’s His prerogative.

Brian is leaving in just ten days to go to Arusha, Tanzania.  Possibly the place we will call home in just a few months.  Maybe not home.  Not right away.  Home is here, and we will be there, and for quite some time after we arrive, we would just be travelers.

My feelings about it continue to fluctuate between excitement, nervousness, and full blown fear.
The excitement and passion is from God.
The fear is from my flesh.

But Lord, what about my children?  There are so many risks there, so many diseases that I don’t know.  So many unknowns.  Lord, this love you’ve given me for them, it’s unrelenting.  Even for this one in my belly that I’ve never met.  It is a savage, intense, raw love.  I just need to know that I can protect them.  What if, what if, what if.  How do I let go of this?  I know you won’t take us anywhere that is not best for us, and for your glory, but, BUT…
I hear it in my heart – what I’m really saying.  What I’m really saying is that I need

But there is a quiet whisper back, ‘Maggie, are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside of my care.   Even the very hairs of their heads are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; they are worth much more to me than many sparrows.  I love them more than you can understand, with a love much more fierce than your own.  Remember, they are my daughters too.
You  can  trust  me.
You have placed your trust in other things.  You have placed your trust in yourself.  You have placed your trust in your insurance card.  You have placed your trust in Brian’s job.  These securities are only an illusion.  They are all from my hand.
I am their protector.  I am their provider.  I am their shelter, health, and breath.
And I love them even more than you do.
And, I am God.
You  can  trust  me.

He has been consistent to calm my fears and to remind me that what the world may see as crazy, He sees as obedience. 
The reasons we would go are pretty well summarized in this book and also in this one. (Both very good.)
Also here:

  I guess lastly, to finish up this completely indiscernible post (I warned you.) I just want to say that I really, sincerely hope that nothing I post about Tanzania (or about fostering in the past) comes off sounding self righteous.  If anything, I want to post to show that God uses people who are otherwise useless.  People who do “radical” things for Christ are not to be held up.  If any of this has taught me anything it is just more about how incapable I am without Him.
I am scared.
I am untrusting.
I am cold.
I am selfish.
And anything good is His work.
Just wanted to put that out there.

December 13, 2010

I suck at Project 365.

And I did so well for so long.  But, I’ve completely fallen off the wagon, so I figured I’d just post some pictures to appease the Aunties out there.  Maybe even a video.



Sylvie has started mimicking everything we do.  (I almost typed ‘mocking’, which will probably be appropriate in a few short years.)



While we were babysitting for some friends, we figured out that we should just buy her a box.  So much better than any toy.  And if I didn’t put a door – it would be a great babysitter. 


I could even put Brian in there with her and then the house would stay really clean.

(I’m kidding.  I would put a door at least big enough for Sylvia to get out of.)



Oh the drama.  This kid’s got that market cornered.

But she’s still pretty cute, even when she is being dramatic.



Sylvia giving kisses to our friend’s 5 week old baby.  So sweet.

We’re prepping for #2, so far, so good.



We were trying to catch Sylvia’s ‘excited face’ on camera.  It’s hilarious.  She gets so excited that her whole body starts quivering.



And these ridiculously rich, wonderful, chocolaty pieces of goodness are the peanut butter balls and chocolate dipped oreos that my husband made.  And then left in the fridge.  While I’m at home all day.  By myself.

And then he got upset when I ate some of them. (or half of them…)

Could someone remind him that I’m pregnant?

December 7, 2010

Decorating and Celebrating.

We put our tree up last weekend, which was really fun (and really challenging) since Sylvia is old enough now to ‘help’.  Last year she pretty much just sat there and looked cute:

 2009-12 195

I don’t remember X-man being quite so much ‘help’ last year – but Sylvia is a decidedly active child, so she added her personal touch everywhere she could.



All bundled up and ready to pick out a tree!




The perfect one!  (or the one that most quickly seemed to fit the bill in the freezing cold.)  We figure we’ll start a tradition of actually going to the tree farm once Sylvia is old enough to know the difference.



It basically went like this:

Mommy puts an ornament on the tree.

Sylvia takes an ornament off the tree.

Mommy puts an ornament on the tree.

Sylvia takes an ornament off the tree.

If she weren’t so darn cute, it would have been frustrating.  But we just compromised, and therefore don’t have any ornaments on the bottom three feet of the tree.



Of course, she had to pause to make the occasional phone call.  This one was particularly serious.  She said she was calling Nana.





Of course, we couldn’t leave Popp Secret #2 out of the decorating festivities! 


I mean at 20 weeks along she’s practically here!

And she is officially a she!

We were actually told at an ultrasound at 15 weeks that it was probably a girl, but a 20 week ultrasound confirmed it!  Sylvia will be a big sister (just not very big) to a little sister!  We are so excited and cannot wait to meet our second baby girl.  Of course, at the rate this pregnancy is flying by, it will seem like she’s here tomorrow! (Which I’m ok with.)

She looks to be perfectly healthy.  10 finger, 10 toes and all that.  She was just as active as her sister in the ultrasound, so we could have our hands full in a few months.  She was also a little shy, so we didn’t really get any great pictures of her profile or anything, but I hope to post the pics we do have soon!

December 2, 2010

How we got here.

Errrrr, how did we get here?
Well, let's see, I guess we should go back to somewhere around one year ago right now.

Coincidence 1:
Brian was joining me in my hometown via train.  When he got in, his ride was running a little bit late, as was the ride of the woman waiting next to him.  In completely typical Brian fashion, he easily struck up a conversation, and after some small talk, come to find out, Mrs. M (I don't have permission to share her name on the blog.) is the president of the board of directors for a small not for profit.  As you could guess, the not for profit was named Samaritan Village, responsible for an orphanage in Tanzania, Africa. 
Before leaving the station, Brian asked what needs Samaritan Village had, to see if there was any way he could help.  At the time they needed help developing a website (which Brian thoroughly enjoys doing), and so he got her contact information just in case he was able to help.  After we discussed it, we decided that we didn't really have the resources to help in that way at the time.  So, we never called Mrs. M, and never really thought about Samaritan Village again.

Fast forward to just a couple of months ago.

Coincidence 2:
  It was becoming clear to Brian and I that God was getting us ready for a transition.  Brian's job is going to be coming to a natural end point sometime early to mid 2011.  We also had not received any calls for foster placements that we could take in 3 months+.  (For the other foster parents that read, you know how crazy that is.  A house licensed for four kids, sitting open for months at a time?  Doesn't happen.)  We had been planning, since moving here, to eventually move back toward my hometown.  
  So, we took advantage of the upcoming transition opportunity, and started planning for moving to my hometown.  (Started getting the house ready to sell, looking at houses there, planning for birth of baby #2 both here and there, etc.)

Coincidence 3:
  Simultaneously, God was planting a burden in my heart that I could not shake.  Through many, many avenues including, but not limited to:
-This blog - a family that up and moved to Haiti, blogging their experience.  It is incredible.  Seriously.  Read  it.
-This blog - a girl not much older than myself who moved to Africa at age 19, and has 13 children that she takes care of while also running an incredible ministry.  Incredible.  Incredible.
-More recently this sermon series has been wrecking us.  I seriously recommend listening.  But you've been warned.  I mean it is wrecking us.
-This post

...I think you get the idea.  Everywhere I looked I was bombarded.  And it hasn't stopped.  It got to the point that I was praying, 'God, I get it, I get this burden you're giving me.  But what do I do with it??  If there is nothing I can do, please take it away.'  But he didn't.
This was about the time of this post and this one.

Because of all this burden, about three weeks before we found out about the overseas opportunity, I actually asked Brian over lunch one day, "Bri, have you ever thought about if God asked us to move overseas?"  To which he promptly replied, "No."  To be honest, I was relieved, there was my answer - U.S.A. home sweet home!
But then he kept bringing it up.

Coincidence 4:
  While we were preparing to move to my hometown, we had several conversations that were all pretty similar.  We wanted to make sure that we were not so focused on moving where we wanted to move, that if God had something different for us, we ignored it.
  But, every convo ended the same way.  If God has something else for us, he'll show us, the end.

Coincidence 5:  (When we realized they weren't coincidences at all.)
  Do you remember Mrs. M?  Well several weeks ago, Brian could not get her off his heart.  He couldn't even remember her name, but God had placed her on his heart, and she was there to stay.  After a couple of days Brian looked at me and said, "Maggie, I have to call her.  We really need to call her."  He describes it as - as sure as he was that the sun would be up tomorrow, he was sure he needed to call her.  We got home, and he got out his journal and looked up her contact info, and I was all, "Oh, you mean you're going to call her right now?"
So he called her.
The conversation was exactly what you would expect.  'We just wanted to call to see how things are going with Samaritan Village and what the organization is doing.'  Mrs. M filled Brian in on how they are fundraising to drill a well so that they can really begin work on the second orphanage and how they are adding on to the first orphanage to make room for more babies.  All the while, running through my mind is 'phew.  This doesn't sound so much like something God is calling us to - this must not be what he's been preparing me for.'  Toward the end of the conversation Brian asked what service opportunities there are and how we might help Samaritan Village.

That's when God began to chuckle.

Mrs. M said, "You know, we've been praying that God would send us someone to go to Tanzania who has some administrative experience and who knows a little about the construction industry...."  She continued to describe the skills that they had been praying for, it was as if she were describing Brian himself.  (I'm in the background shaking my head thinking, "Oh no, God, oh no - I knew this was coming!")

 Moral of the story? (If anyone is even still reading at this point! Ha!)  There is no such thing as a coincidence.

So we've been praying about it, talking with people much smarter than ourselves, and trying to map out what this would mean for us.  And we haven't felt anything but confirmation that we should go (amid rampant bouts of fear and doubt). 
Not that we haven't talked to a few people who think we're totally insane - we have.  But God isn't backing off on this one, it seems - and we feel so blessed to be in this place, with this opportunity, with God giving such blatant purpose to our burden.

  Brian is going to Arusha, Tanzania in December to check it all out. 
When he gets back, unless God points us in another direction, we will begin raising support and trying to make a plan out of all of this craziness!

God is good.  All the time.

December 1, 2010

The Pearl.

Well, I realize that I’ve not been around here much lately.  God’s been busy around the Popp house creating some waves that are beginning to look a little more like a tsunami.  To us anyway.  To God it probably looks like we’re splashing in puddles.


Do you remember this post?  I talked about how I knew in my heart that God was preparing us for something, but that I had no idea what it was.  I knew the wind was picking up, but I had no idea where this tsunami was going to come from.


Well, God was faithful in revealing the pearl he has for us.  As if I should be surprised.  Looking back on that post, it is still a mystery to me how God works.  How he put a desire, a longing, a burden on my heart to prepare me for what he would ask of us.  (This post leaves me in awe of His planning as well.  And this one just seems a little ironic at this point.)


God has presented Brian and I with an opportunity to take our family to Tanzania.  To live.  There.  In Tanzania.  As in,


africa map

We would be serving as administrators for an orphanage there called Samaritan Village in Arusha.  We’d also be working as communication between the board of directors here, and the board of directors there.  (This requires learning Swahili.  No big deal, right?)  There is such a huge need for this there.  The orphan crisis is doing nothing but growing, and if these babies don’t have somewhere to go, then quite simply, they just die.

The organization is also working on building a second orphanage about an hour away that we would help with as well.  All of the other people who work at the orphanage are locals, but there are a few other Americans in Arusha serving as missionaries in different ways. 


So yeah.  It’s looking really, very possible that we will be moving to Africa.  We’d likely go sometime in late summer of next year.  Between now and then we would have to sell our house, sell our cars, have a baby, raise financial support for our time there, put all our stuff in storage, and move.


This isn’t something that we pursued, which is one of the reasons it is so evident to us that God is orchestrating all of this.  We were surprised.  He is not.

I’m going to try to put into words how this all came about – but it will take some time, so all  that for another post.  I’ll also try to share more about the orphan crisis and the need there, and about why in the world we would move our family to the other side of the world. 

So far this has been one of the most blessed, scary, awe inspiring, humbling, and challenging experiences we have faced – and it’s certain to not get any less so in the coming months!


So there you have it.  When God is preparing you for something, hold on, cause he might just send you to Africa.

November 22, 2010

The Making of a Family.

  On Saturday Brian and I were so, so blessed to get to attend the final adoption hearing of Mena, Cassandra, Alondra, and Jose – children so precious to us. 

  When we got there the kids were so excited that we had come – and could not wait to say that they were part of a forever family.  Mena and Cassandra came to live with us over two years ago, and it was such a blessing to get to be a part of this day.

  Saturday was National Adoption Day, so we got to be a part of a celebratory balloon release with all the other families that were there to complete adoptions.  There were seven families there that day, adopting a total of 13 children.









IMG_9053   Sylvia loves being with the kids and was happy and squealing all day.  Her big brother (I guess we’ll call him a cousin now!) Jose carried her all over the whole time we were at the courthouse. 





IMG_9058 I think that because it was the final adoption hearing, Cassandra was under the impression that she may not see us anymore.  We reassured her that we will see her again very soon, and that we will always be a part of her family!





IMG_9069 After the hearing, their mom and dad had a large group of family, us, and a couple of the caseworkers from their case over for a fiesta!  We ate (really, very good) food, played with the kids, and celebrated their new family.  There was even another couple there that spoke fluent English, which was very exciting, and made things a little easier.


  We are so happy for their family.  We are so thankful for their mom and dad who we know will be a wonderful family for the kids.  Praise God for happy endings like this one!  There is nothing much more beautiful than to watch a family in the making, and to see the gospel lived out through adoption.

November 10, 2010

Linear Thinking.

Oh, child of mine.  You are going to give me a run for my money, I can just tell.  Not in a bad way.  In more of a “Mommy, someday I am going to change the world when I learn to channel my stubbornness into passion and my hard headedness into hard work.” kind of way.  I know honey.  You will.  But the sooner we start channeling, is the more wits Mommy is going to have left to cheer you on while you are changing the world.  Let’s keep this in mind.

I’m not sure where you got that stubbornness anyway.  Or the hard headedness.  Or the passion.  Seriously, where did that creep in from?

You come by it naturally, you say?  Genetic?  Oh.  Errrrr….possibly, I guess.


I love seeing your personality shine through.


Like yesterday, when you were playing with all the jumbled tupperware in the kitchen, and I walked in and found this:



Do you see it?

You went in, pulled some groceries out of the bags, pulled a bunch of scattered containers out of the cabinet,

  and you organized and stacked them according to what kind of container it was.

Now I’ll own the stubbornness and the passion.  But this?  This has got your Daddy written all over it.  An organized man, he is not.  But the linear thinking?  Oh yes.  All him.


I just wanted to document all of this so that when you are 16 and you are working to save all of the orphans in Africa while simultaneously making an organized excel sheet of all of the donations you are collecting and organizing it in different ways to see what the most effective use of resources is – we can look back and see that it is exactly who you’ve been since you came out of the womb.  And we’ll have to own up to it.

In all seriousness, I love seeing glimpses of the woman that God created you to be.  The person that he knit together for a purpose greater than her existence.  Getting the blessing of wondering just what he has in store for your heart and your gifts.  It’s incredible.  I love being your Mama.

And while we’re going to get started right quick on channeling that stubbornness – this obvious gift of organization is something that I could definitely put to use….hmmmm….

November 9, 2010

Politics. Adoption.

I hate politics.  Used to really like it.

Now, basically, I loathe it.  Probably makes my top ten of things I really wish could just not exist.

Hate, hate, hate.


Anyway.  So I don’t particularly like politics, but I do lllooovvveee adoption and fostering.


Presidential Proclamation–National Adoption Month

Giving a child a strong foundation — a home, a family to love, and a safe place to grow — is one of life’s greatest and most generous gifts.  Through adoption, both domestic and international, Americans from across our country have provided secure environments for children who need them, and these families have benefited from the joy an adopted child can bring.  Thanks to their nurturing and care, more young people have been able to realize their potential and lead full, happy lives.  This year, we celebrate National Adoption Month to recognize adoption as a positive and powerful force in countless American lives, and to encourage the adoption of children from foster care.

Currently, thousands of children await adoption or are in foster care, looking forward to permanent homes.  These children can thrive, reach their full potential, and spread their wings when given the loving and firm foundation of family.  Adoptive families come in many forms, and choose to adopt for different reasons:  a desire to grow their family when conceiving a child is not possible, an expression of compassion for a child who would otherwise not have a permanent family, or simply because adoption has personally touched their lives.  For many Americans, adoption has brought boundless purpose and joy to their lives.  We must do all we can to break down barriers to ensure that all qualified caregivers have the ability to serve as adoptive families.

This year, on November 20, families, adoption advocates, policymakers, judges, and volunteers will celebrate the 11th annual National Adoption Day in communities large and small.  National Adoption Day is a day of hope and happiness when courthouses finalize the adoptions of children out of foster care.  Last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was honored to preside over a ceremony celebrating two foster care adoptions as part of my Administration’s support for this important day.

Adoptive families are shining examples of the care and concern that define our great Nation.  To support adoption in our communities, my Administration is working with States to support families eager to provide for children in need of a place to call home.  The landmark Affordable Care Act increases and improves the Adoption Tax Credit, enabling adoption to be more affordable and accessible.  As part of the Adoption

Incentives program, States can also receive awards for increasing adoptions and the number of children adopted from foster care.  AdoptUsKids, a project of the Department of Health and Human Services, offers technical support to States, territories, and tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families; provides information and assistance to families considering adoption; and supports parents already on that journey.  I encourage all Americans to visit or for information and resources on adoption, including adoption from foster care.

As we observe National Adoption Month, we honor the loving embrace of adoptive families and the affirming role of adoption in the lives of American families and our country.  Let us all commit to supporting our children in any way that we are able — whether opening our hearts and homes through adoption, becoming foster parents to provide quality temporary care to children in crisis, supporting foster and adoptive families in our communities and places of worship, mentoring young people in need of guidance, or donating time to helping children in need.  Working together, we can shape a future of hope and promise for all of our Nation’s children.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2010 as National Adoption Month.  I call upon all Americans to observe this month by answering the call to find homes for every child in America in need of a permanent and caring family, as well as to support the families who care for them.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.



(can I get an ‘amen!’)

November 7, 2010

Project 365 – Week 35/36

IMG_8990 Halloween!  Sylvia went as Super Sylvie.  Here she is saving the world from Desmond the bat.








IMG_9008   Halloween parade!  Brian still thinks it’s weird that my hometown has a Halloween parade.  I say he’s the Halloween scrooge.



My Mom and I went to the Women of Faith Conference this weekend, and I completely failed to take any pictures.  Ugh.  But, she did send this yummy pack of goodness home with me, and Sylvia thought it was very exciting.



So exciting she thought she’d just eat the package.

(The girl has never even had an Oreo!  She’s was obviously just born with good taste. Ha!)



As foster parents, we have clothes for almost every shape and size floating around.  (I mean, come on, who doesn’t have size four boys underwear randomly sitting around the house?)  Anyway, Sylvia found these and thought they’d make a good hat.



November 3, 2010

Something up His sleeve.

  Have you ever been bombarded by a billion (or five or ten) different places or people all speaking to you of the same need?  Or there is something on your heart that you just cannot dismiss that keeps being affirmed by random occurrences?  It seems to happen to us a lot.

  I liken it to God putting a piece of sand in the middle of my heart.  Which does not sound comfortable at all.  Which is why I liken this feeling to it.  God puts it there and lets it bother me for a while, and the longer it’s there, the more it bothers me.  And eventually, when I feel like saying, “Ok, God, enough with the sand already.  What’s your point??”  then he reaches in an pulls out the pearl he has for us that’s been baking.

  Except generally these pearls are not the ooh and ahh kind.  Usually they are the challenging, get off your rear, make you uncomfortable, “Really God?  You want me to do THAT?” kind of pearls.

  Like when God told us we needed to foster.  When we finally picked up on what he was preparing us for, we were uncomfortable and scared, and we, along with most people we told, thought we were insane.



All this to say, there is a piece of sand that has all but rubbed my heart raw.

I’m not sure what He is preparing us for, but I know that in His typical fashion (which always is much better than my own) it will probably be hard.  He’s given me a few hints, but nothing conclusive.  But we’ll see.

Will it include fostering?  I don’t know, but I hope so.  Will it make us uncomfortable?  You can be sure.  Will it grow us in the end?  Undoubtedly.

I do know I have a refreshed longing to do whatever it is that He has for us.  And I pray that He always uses us in ways that we cannot take the credit for.

For now I’ll just do some prinking.

October 25, 2010

Project 365 – Week 34


Sylvie decided she’d just sink her teeth into an apple she found in the grocery bag.  mmmm.




IMG_8889 Helping Daddy work on the bedroom.



Sylvia the bathroom warrior.

She snuck up to the bathroom and came out wearing underwear, toilet paper, and bearing the shield of the bathtub.



We had a respite placement this week.  (Girl, 5, Boy, 8)  We had a lot of fun, and Sylvia LOVES having the older kids around.



A little card making for their mama.




IMG_8920 One of my favorite things about our house is the ginkgo tree out front that goes from bright green to bright yellow in the fall.  So pretty.






What’s that you say?  I look like I must be 20 weeks along?

Just fourteen actually.  My belly has definitely ‘popped’ in the last couple weeks!

Maybe even slightly bigger than last time …. which is a little disturbing considering just how big I got last time…

October 22, 2010

Why Foster?

Reason #49:

Because yesterday we were called with a 6 month old baby who was purposely injured so badly that he is non-responsive, eating through a feeding tube, aware enough to feel pain, cannot move, is not tracking with his eyes, and has to wear a neck brace, hand splints, and boots.

We went to the hospital and I stood by his crib and watched him for an hour and a half.  We went knowing that we were naively hoping we could be a placement for him.  They cannot find anyone else.  After talking with the hospital social worker, the nurses, and his pediatric neurosurgeon, it was clear that with a one year old and a baby on the way it would be neither responsible or wise for us to take on his care.

And then I had to walk away, and leave him laying there, with only a prayer that they will eventually find a home for that sweet little boy.

But maybe you wouldn’t have to.  Walk away that is.

Maybe all of your kids are grown and gone.  Or,

Maybe you don’t have any kids. Or,

Maybe you or someone else in your home is a nurse or doctor who would know something about his care.  Or,

Maybe all your kids are old enough that they don’t pull on cords, or nurse, and are at school all day.


We had to say no.  But maybe you wouldn’t have toand you could be all the difference.


The night before that we got a phone call for a little boy who is three and his sister who is five.  They don’t even have any reported behaviors.  It was an emergency, and they needed placement right then, and they were sitting in the office with the intake worker on the line.

We would have scooped up those babies in a heartbeat, but we have a respite placement right now through the end of the weekend, and we don’t have enough beds.  Let me tell you, we were racking our brains on how we could get another one in.

We just don’t have enough room right now.  But maybe you do.

Maybe you have a couple bedrooms that you use for when family is in town.  Or,

Maybe you have a room that you just use for all your extra stuff.  Or,

Maybe it would be better if all your kids didn’t have their own rooms.


We had to say no.  But maybe you wouldn’t have toand you could be all the difference.



And that is ‘Why Foster?’.

October 18, 2010


In one of my classes in college we did an exercise on the people of Nacirema.  Of course, what I’m going to tell you, that they didn’t tell us until the very end, is that Nacirema is American spelled backward.  In the exercise they discussed all of these “strange” practices that the Nacirema routinely practiced (for instance rubbing their teeth with horsehair attached to a stick in an effort of vanity and cleanliness) – and by the end of the essay we were all thinking how backward and strange these people seemed.


But I’ve been thinking a lot about these Nacireman’s lately – and all I can think is – if I am to be an American, I want to be a completely backward one.


Knowing I will probably get a lot of backlash for this statement… I think that in some ways, it is very difficult to truly be a follower of Christ in America.  Not due to persecution or lack of freedom, and certainly not due to lack of churches.  No, we don’t lack any of the things that make it easy to be a Christian.  But that is just the issue.

Living in (most parts) of America, it is just so easy.  Easy to be comfortable.  Easy to avoid challenge or true difficulty.  Easy to be completely and utterly ignorant.

Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to this. (that’s right.  Right here in good ole Nacirema.)  Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to the people we pass on the corner with signs.  Ignorant to the woman in our church who is full of pain.  Ignorant to the hurt and the need and what most of the world experiences as reality.


But we live in America.

So we will read these stories, and we will cry, and we will feel so sorry.

And then we will get distracted by the next update to our house, how to make our Halloween decorations look really great, how much we can budget for our next vacation, the fact that I’m not sure I have a pair of shoes to go with this outfit, birthday parties,  our children, our children, our children, and helping to decide what kind of lighting and sound effects we should use in church on Sunday to make people want to come back.


And I hate it.  I hate that it is so easy to do.  I hate that Jesus watches me be ignorant every day and then every night I tell Him how I love Him.


And all I can think is Lord, please don’t let me be ignorant.  Please.  Please don’t let me allow myself to be ignorant.

I’m not sure if Jesus is more heartbroken over all of the change we could be making that we aren’t, or if it hurts him even more to see us trying to find our joy and purpose in all of these things that the world tells us are so great.


Jesus calls us to a radical life.  Lives that no one would live if they didn’t personally know the creator of the universe.  Lives that demand an explanation.  What if everyone in your church did something radical, something way outside their comfort zone to serve God.  What would that look like?  Even just one church living that way?


If I am to be an American, I want to be a completely backward one.  I want to live in such a way that I cannot take credit – that it can only be God who is worthy. 

Because some day I will meet Jesus.  And the last thing that I want to do is stand in front of Him and tell him that I didn’t listen to the burden because I was just too busy getting a good start on my family, that I was going to do it once I got to retirement,  that we just weren’t sure, or that even though I read it in that book He gave me, that the world said it was crazy – so I decided to sit it out.

Lord, please don’t let me be ignorant.

October 17, 2010

A song almost heard.

I had to repost this.  It is beautiful and so painfully true.

Reading this brings me hope and refreshment in this journey that God has us on.  I love where she points out that we asked for this (!) and that it is the most beautiful gift we could be given.


This was written by a blogger named Tonia.  You won’t regret going to her blog.  It is her thoughts on her adoption experience – but oh so applicable to the fostering experience as well.  In reality, applicable to anyone living their life in hopes of being counted worthy of true suffering for The Gospel.


It’d been a few years since we’d seen each other and we laughed and smiled over the changes, exclaimed over the now-tall young men and women we’d once held as babes in each others’ arms. I lamented the rushing years and the grey in my hair. She told of the new business, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a son in college. “And how’s Bryan doing?” I asked, looking around for the boy I’d seen only in Christmas pictures, his blond hair and impish smile making him an uncanny fit with his adoptive family. My own adopted son, born with the same drug and alcohol-affects as Bryan, stood tall in the background, hands shoved deep in his pockets, grinning quietly at the flow of memories and old jokes that was running between the gathered kids. My friend’s eyes grew pained and her face changed. “He’s not…here…anymore,” she whispered.

Sadness crept through my body as I waited for her explanation. “People don’t know,” she said. “They don’t know what it’s like.” I nodded quietly and listened as her story unfolded, a familiar tragedy of behavioral issues, fear, and anguish that led to a desperate decision to salvage the family by sending Bryan to live elsewhere. “We failed,” she said, a plea for understanding lying naked in the words.

I understood too well. As young couples we’d shared our dreams about living the gospel through adoption. These friends had rejoiced when we’d brought our son home and stood with us when the first shockwaves of reality hit. Eventually they’d moved away, begun their own adoption, and our family had continued the wild careen down the road called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders. I knew what my friend was talking about. The landscape of our family history is littered with shattered expectations, lies, abuses, humiliations, therapists, hospitals, social workers, and painful acceptance. When my husband and I took our measure against the happy, easy families around us we too felt like failures.

I went home that day aching with the reality of undeserved pain. I used to think that suffering came to other people – fiery preachers in strange lands, broken old sinners with ancient debts to pay - not to people who opened their hearts to the orphan. The stories swirled in my mind of families who’d dared to love the least of these and been worn down by the ceaseless, thankless reality of disability and brokenness. It was tempting to be angry at the unfairness - and yet I’d learned through my own trials that there was another way to understand the suffering.

You see, each of us had wanted to live the gospel…and God had answered our prayers.

The gospel life is an invitation to come and die. It is first of all a story of brokenness. Before the beautiful redemption there is misunderstanding, rejection, loneliness, disappointment, frustration, and betrayal leading to a painful, bloody death. There is sorrow, burial and mourning.

Yet somehow, though we prayed to be like Christ, we were surprised when the pain came to us. We were surprised when the gospel story was repeated in our homes, in our hearts, in the children we thought to rescue.

When we look at scripture we see that even the apostles had to learn this truth. Beaten, arrested, thrown in prison, their dreams of greatness crushed, their reputations tarnished, their missions disrupted, they opened their mouths and sang in praise. Eventually they understood that of all people they were blessed…for they had been counted worthy to suffer with Christ.

What my friend needed to know is that her troubles are not the marks of failure, but of Christ-following. Christ’s love leads us into places that no one else wants to go, where the stench and the mess and the heartache push out the well-dressed and the well-behaved. She and her family have been invited into the mysterious blessing: to suffer with the reality of sin just as Christ suffered. To those on the outside it carries the taint of scandal - because this kind of love suffers alongside the liar, the abuser, the thief on the cross. It brings the foul-mouthed, rule-breaking, rage-riddled, impulse-driven, broken-hearted, least of these, right into our homes. This love works and tries and believes when everyone else has given up and slipped back into something more comfortable. It aches and bleeds, it is misunderstood and rejected and lonely.

And if we will surrender to it, this love teaches us to sing and to rejoice as the blessed of God.

A few days after the talk with my friend I stood silently in our living room as my husband shook hands with a policeman. “Thanks for coming,” he said as he quietly showed the officer out. Our teenage son, sprawled in a chair in the living room, managed a disinterested look which only made me feel more tense. He wasn’t in trouble this time, only a witness, but his wrong place, wrong time, wrong friends choices were an embarrassment to me anyway. Once the patrol car was safely down the driveway I felt the exhaustion come like a wave.

I fought the temptation to tell my son how I felt about his choices, to punish him with my anger and frustration, but I was silent. In a rare moment of clarity I felt my gaze go beyond the moment, beyond the disappointment of right now to a wider view. There in front of me sat a boy who carried his birth mother’s sins in his brain and body. I could see the future stretching out before us and all the labels he would likely wear: throwaway kid, failure, loser, screw-up. It pierced me through. And while I was looking at that future I could see another reality, higher and truer. There, I could see that the boy in front of me unknowingly bore the gospel of a suffering Savior into our home, daily allowing us to become acquainted with His grief. For just a moment I could see God’s purpose shaping us, His compassion inviting us to come learn to love like the crucified God. It was only a moment, enough vision to lend grace as I bent down and kissed my son’s head, told him to go on up to bed, but it lingers as blessing, snatches of a song almost heard and understood, drifting in front of me and pulling me onward.

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Phil. 1:27-29

October 15, 2010

365 Days Later.

Instead of being couch bound and hobbling around like an old lady recovering from the less than perfect end to our birthing story like I was last year at this time….


We thought we’d throw a party!


We had a bunch of family and friends over to celebrate Sylvia’s first year.  We are so blessed to have such a loving and supportive community to raise her in.  No celebration would be complete without food of course – so we bbq’d  (and as Brian guessed, I bought way too much – but left overs are good, right?).  There were no fewer than 9 kids there ages 3 and under, because at our church we like to have babies in hoards.  It was so much fun to get to hang out with our friends and celebrate the birth of our baby girl!


IMG_8816 Lots of candy of course.  I’m sure all the parents there loved me for this.






As you can see, we have really great party games.  Like: how many 1 year olds can you fit on the stairs at once?  Very fun.  Very safe.


Sylvia being serenaded.


Sylvia’s reaction to said serenade.  Apparently none of us should quit our day jobs.




Another one?  Don’t mind if I do.


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