Archive | July, 2010

Crazy Guest Blogger #13 – We are Speechless!

Crazy Guest Blogger #13 – We are Speechless!

Posted on 31 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Language transition and adoption.

When we decided to adopt older children we had others question how we would communicate with our children.  Some were just curious and in others fear came shining through as they wondered how we would be able to understand each other, know what they.  Quite frankly we wondered that too.  They were not asking anything we had not already asked ourselves.  To be honest with you we started this journey asking for an infant girl and one of those little reasons we desired an infant in the beginning was because we wouldn’t have to worry about learning a new language among many other things.  But God changed our hearts and those worries we had, while still there melted into the background.  By the time He had moved our hearts toward older children we had seen Him bring in thousands of dollars that we previously did not know where it would be coming from.  If He could help us financially surely He could help us with the day to day life situations like language transition.  Once the decision was made to adopt older children we looked for resources on our children’s native language. We tried to create a list of words that we knew might be comforting to them, help us get them to the bathroom, let them know food was coming or that it would be okay if they were scared.  I would say we were as prepared as we could have been.

Can I just stop and say it was hard!  Let’s admit it.  Put two people in a room who don’t understand each other, make one rely on the other for all their needs, give them a bunch of things to do that they have never done before and there will be resistance.  With that said, the God I serve is BIG and with His help we made it – you can make it too if you are contemplating older children but worry about communicating with them.

Here are a few questions /thoughts for you to think about if you are contemplating older children who will be learning a second language:

  1. Does your school system have an ESL (English as second language) program to assist your child?  By the way – schools are mandated by federal law to assist families and children with special needs and ESL qualifies as a special need.
  2. Do you know others who speak your child’s native language and can help you communicate if need be?  If not, maybe your local college has a program in their foreign language studies with a student who might be available to you?
  3. Find simple resources to help you such as Simple Language for Adoptive Parents by Amy Kendall. It comes in a variety of languages and has a CD included for you to hear how words are pronounced.
  4. Learn about the stages of learning a second language.  You can find out more about these stages by going to my blog A Blissful Heart where I have posted on each individual stage, their characteristics and what you can do to help your child.

From personal experience what I can tell you this… just as you teach a toddler to talk so do you teach an older child to talk.  Read books, describe what you are doing, name objects, etc.  You will be surprised at how quickly they pick it up.   You should also be prepared for temper tantrums and meltdowns at first.  This is very normal.  When children can’t communicate they get frustrated and their actions will show it.  Many families ahead of us told us to just hang on until about 4 or 5 months home and the tantrums would stop.  What I discovered was at almost the exact same time the tantrums stopped our family was able to communicate!

So why would I share our fears regarding the language barrier?  I truly believe others share that same fear.  The transition of language has helped create a bond between us.  We didn’t get the chance to give bottles, change diapers, and snuggle with them as an infant but the journey of learning a new language together has given us some of what parents with small children get to experience.  When our kids mess up a word we get the chance to giggle together and be playful with each other.  When they learn a new word that is exciting to them I get the joy of seeing their face light up and learn something new about who they are.  What was once a scary thing for us has become a sweet reward in our obedience of following what God has for us.

Feel free to leave comments on how you have worked through the language transition with older children or leave your questions and I will work with Kari to try and help answer them!

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Guest Blogger # – Take Crazy Pics Like A Pro

Posted on 30 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

When I was about 8 years old, I received my first camera. It was a little red point-and-shoot canon (and yes, it used film…no digital back then). I LOVED it. I took tons of pictures, and they were all insanely boring to look at. They were pictures of my stuffed animals, pictures of grass, pictures of the wood on our deck outside….you know, the pulitzer prize kind of stuff.

My very first camera. It still sits on a shelf in my office.

My Norwegian grandfather (we called him Bestefar) always said that it wasn’t the equipment that made a good photograph, but the person behind the camera. Now don’t get me wrong. Some good equipment can certainly help make a good picture great, but if the person taking the picture has no idea what makes a good picture, that pricey equipment is not going to matter. I’ve seen plenty of awful pictures taken with $5000 cameras. Yup….some of them are just as bad as those pictures I took of my Cabbage Patch Kids with a $40 camera, when I was 8 years old.

I’m 32 now. My husband and I own a wonderful photography business, and we get to capture some pretty amazing moments with our cameras. The bulk of our business comes from weddings, but we also do family, baby, and senior shoots. Ultimately, though, what we really love to do, is to capture moments that happen outside of our own culture. We long to bring awareness of the world that goes beyond the borders of the United States. Many readers of this blog have some connection to international adoption. So, more often then not, you will see pictures from places like Ethiopia, Haiti, China, and Russia (just to name a few). These pictures capture our hearts. I cry pretty much every time I see pictures from a child’s Gotcha Day. I think most of us are moved by these images. We all know the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” There couldn’t be anything more true. When we see a mother meeting her daughter for the first time, the image of that embrace is burned in our memories. It is meaningful. It is powerful.

So, today I thought I’d share a few basic tips for those of you who may not know much about photography, but would like to be able to capture the beauty of a moment within the confines of a single photograph.

Tip #1 – Don’t be afraid to take a LOT of pictures.
Back in the day, we had to conserve our picture taking, because we had to consider how much film we had left. But with the great digital era of photography, we can often take several hundred shots without ever having to change a card. And even then, we can download them right on to our computer and take several hundred more on that very same card.

Costa Rican Landscape.

Norwegian Pieces.

Tip #2 – Don’t be afraid to go off-center.
For many beginners, it is a natural inclination to make sure their subject is in the center of the picture. This isn’t always bad, but sometimes, the background can tell a greater story about the subject. We went to Haiti back in April, and everywhere we looked we saw piles of rubble. If we had just taken pictures of the people without including the background, you may never have known how devastating this earthquake was to the people and land of Haiti. As you can see, the people and the building in this image go hand in hand. Oddly enough, life seems to carry on as usual, despite the vast destruction that this earthquake caused, as is made evident by the couple walking down the sidewalk.

Tip #3 – Get up close and personal.
Sometimes, just the beauty of someone’s eyes is powerful enough to capture our hearts. Don’t be afraid to get close. Sometimes too much background information can be distracting, or our subject can get lost in it. I look at this little girl’s eyes and I see so much beauty behind them. There were probably 2 feet between her and I. You can see the curiosity in her eyes, and the slight smile that is beginning to form behind that little hand. I love it.

Tip #4 – Lighting. Lighting. Lighting. The sun is NOT your friend.
I can’t tell you how many times a good picture can be ruined by too much sunlight. The best times to take pictures are usually right after sunrise, or an hour or two before sunset. The sun is much less harsh at this time of day, and you avoid raccoon eyes (deep and dark shadows around the eyes that come as a result of midday sun). You may ask, “What if I can’t take the pictures at that time of day?” Well, that’s a good question. If you’re really lucky, you’ll have an overcast sky, and the sun won’t be as big of an issue. You’re best bet, though, is to look for a shady area. Shade and clouds are a photographer’s friends! And if all else fails, and there is no avoiding that harsh sun, take the picture. Better to document a moment in time, than to not document it at all because conditions aren’t perfect.

Tip #5 – Think Outside of the Box.

Sometimes we are in situations where we may have to think outside of the box. This past December I traveled to Costa Rica to work with an organization that ministers to the prostitutes that work on the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We held a big party for them, and just tried to shower them with love. Many of these women who work in prostitution have children of their own. Many of them brought their children to the party we had. And while I captured a few shots of those children’s beautiful faces, this is one of my favorite shots. You may not be able to see their faces, but those little legs speak so much to me in conjunction with the story that is unfolding in this part of the world. These are living and breathing children. They are more than statistics. They have real needs and desires. They exist, and those little legs prove it.

Tip #6 – Awareness vs. Exploitation. Think before you shoot.

This is something I have always struggled with, especially when traveling to third world nations. As a middle-class American, when I travel to a place like Calcutta, India or Port Au Prince, Haiti, the poverty is shocking and a bit overwhelming. I have seen people lying sick on the sides of roads, people begging for food, and malnourished children walking around aimlessly in the streets with no parents in sight. It is tempting at times to take pictures of all these things, because it is so different from what we know. But before you click the shutter, think about why you are taking this picture. Are you taking it because you want to make people more aware of a world in need? Or are you taking it for your own personal gain (perhaps for shock value for the people back home)? There is a very fine line here, and it is important to be full of integrity when taking these pictures. Pray about what you should capture with that camera. If it is obvious that the person you are taking a picture of is uncomfortable with it, than that is probably one of those times you should put the camera away.

Haitian Sweetheart.

So as you walk through life, whether you have the simplest point-and-shoot camera, or the fanciest digital SLR, remember that photography is an amazing tool to bring attention to the world around us. We can tell stories with the click of a button….with one single image. We can freeze moments in time that we will never get back again. So, remember to have fun, and shoot away.


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Crazy Guest Blogger #12 – Dressing a Toddler V. Mom

Crazy Guest Blogger #12 – Dressing a Toddler V. Mom

Posted on 29 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Dressing a Toddler

Round 1

  1. Pick up toddler (all 30lbs) take into their room
  2. Set down toddler (too heavy) to pick out their clothes
  3. Turn around to see toddler running out of the room

Toddler – 1 and Parent – 0

Round 2

    1. Pick up toddler and  discuss that they need to stay in their room
    2. Close door (lesson learned from Round 1)
    3. Put down toddler to gather up the clothes
    4. Grab toddler from a mid-run around the room
    5. Holding sleeves pull shirt over head as toddler twirls around blindly.
    6. Pull pants down as toddler runs off, tripping, because toddler’s feet are still in the legs.
    7. Pajamas off (Parent – 1)
    8. Grab diaper as toddler scrambles away
    9. Watch in horror as naked toddler runs away to squat in the corner for a pee

Toddler – 2 and Parent – 1
Round 3

    1. Put diaper on toddler
    2. Run out of the room to get something to clean the carpet
    3. Return to a toddler somewhere hidden in a pile of clothes (that you don’t remember taking out)
    4. Put toddler in crib (lesson learned again)
    5. Clean up clothes
    6. Clean carpet
    7. Return to dress toddler

Toddler – 3 and Parent – 1
Round 4 (Final round)

    1. Take toddler from bed
    2. Wrestle screaming, wiggling toddler to the floor, sit on them (another lesson learned)
    3. Put pants on kicking toddler legs
    4. Scream in pain, as you take a blow to the eye
    5. Partially blinded, pull toddler to standing. While holding toddler in a bear hug, put shirt over head
    6. Don’t pull arms through until almost finished (avoiding another blow)
    7. Reach hand down the arm of the smallest sleeve in history, pull toddler hand through
    8. Reach down second sleeve, avoiding pinches from the now free hand, to pull other hand
    9. Realizing that you haven’t finished pulling the toddler’s head through, watch as toddler now wanders around the room bumping into things (Parent – 1)
    10. Chase down blindly running toddler to finish the job
    11. Realize that the shirt is on inside-out, pants are on backwards and you can’t find shoes
    12. Tumble to heap on the floor, nursing your black eye
    13. Toddler runs over to snuggle up and fall asleep with you on the floor

Final Score – Toddler – 3 and Parent – 2 (plus 1 for bonus in final round)
Elapsed time 3 hours , 15 minutes – Missed doctor appointment by 2 hours – Parent still in pajamas

By Shannon Henrici, writes for a new online baby clothes boutique.  She is also a mother of a 19 month old little girl.  My Baby Clothes Boutique carries a variety of the highest quality baby headbands, baby hats, and baby clothes for every unique baby.

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Crazy Guest Blogger #11 – The Red Thread

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Crazy Guest Blogger #11 – The Red Thread

Posted on 28 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

The Red Thread (adoptive mom, Karen Firstbrook)

When you begin the adoption process from China, you are immediately immersed in adoption “lingo.” Words and acronyms like DTC, Dossier, red thread, LID and ladybugs are suddenly everywhere. Our family slowly became versed in all of the adoption lingo, and eventually the words took on personal meaning with our own adoption journey. Perhaps many of you are also well versed on those words, but for some the red thread concept might be new to you.

Let me explain . . .

On many China adoption related websites you will see the Chinese proverb:

“An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”

Many families hang on to this thought, finding comfort that they will eventually reach the child “destined” for them. Sure, it’s a nice thought, but we were confident from the start that God knew who our Katie was and He would wisely, providentially and perfectly bring us together as a family. Our family isn’t left to fate or destiny, our family is perfectly put together and sustained by our all-knowing, ever-loving God.

With that being said, we also knew that some day we would be given glimpses by God as to how and when He put our family together. We’ll never know all the details of Katie’s first year without us, but we do know she had to endure an abandonment and a year without a family before God would put us together. Even with all of the unknowns, we always felt confident that God would someday give us His version of the red thread.

Let me tell you about the story of our gracious red thread from the Lord:

We began the adoption process in December of 2004 and finally received our referral of Katie Mei in February of 2006. Finally, after so many months of waiting we had a face and information to go with the enormous love and longing we had. It was wonderful, glorious, and all that we imagined. But then I crashed.

After that first afternoon of staring into those eyes and at that sweet face, I suddenly became depressed. All I could think of were Katie’s birth parents. Did they know how cute she was? Who did she get those chubby cheeks from, her birth mother or birth father? Would she be tall or petite? Did they wonder about her everyday? I ached for them. I couldn’t look at Katie’s picture without becoming totally overwhelmed by grief for them.

Then, just a few days after our initial referral picture we received all of our translated information about Katie. It gave what few specific details there were about her abandonment. And then I became angry. Why there? Why then? Didn’t they love her enough to keep her longer? I knew all those questions were ridiculous. I knew in my mind that China has a horrible system that creates situations where parents have to make horrific choices. And within that system Katie’s birth parents made the most noble and honorable choice they could – they chose to give Katie a chance at life, a better life. There was no abortion. There was no abandonment in a secretive, remote location. They left her to be found with the hope for better. But I just could not see that for a few days. Instead of aching with grief, I was hot with anger. I was a mess.

During that time a sweet friend called to encourage me. She reminded me of the story that God is always weaving a tapestry out of our life. All we see is the underside of that tapestry, with the hanging threads and colors that make no sense, but someday, when the tapestry is finished, we’ll see it from heaven’s side and it will be beautiful and perfect and all make sense. It was the perfect reminder and I began again to trust God with all my emotions regarding Katie and her birth parents.

It was just a week or so later that I remembered we wanted to find out what we were doing on the day that Katie was born. I’m not always the best at keeping a calendar, but I did remember to save the calendar from 2005 and so I pulled it out. What do you know – the particular week that Katie was born was a week I had chosen to document every little detail of our lives for a scrapbook project. Not only did I have a calendar of that week, I had journaled and scrapbooked every day of that week! Isn’t God good?!

I ran to the scrapbook and pulled it out. Katie was born on May 11, 2005, so I went to May 10, 2005 – that would be the day here in the US that Katie was born in China. We didn’t really do anything picture worthy that day, so I had journaled more than usual. The one picture I did take on that day was of our i-pod playing, “I Have a Maker (He Knows my Name)” by Tommy Walker. We played this song over and over while we were waiting, allowing the words to remind us that God knew Katie from the beginning, that He was watching over her and caring for her. That day, May 10th, I was listening to that song, and I wrote:

“Just as I was writing down Scripture that I want to remember, the i-pod plays, “He Knows my Name.” Is today the day that Katie Mei is born, or abandoned? Is she already here, waiting for us? I don’t know, and that not knowing is hard, but God does know. And this brings me peace and comfort. I can rest, confident that He knows her and is caring for her already.”

Do you see that red thread in my tapestry? The very day that Katie Mei’s birth mom was in labor and giving life to our girl, her other mother half way around the world was longing for her and praying for her. God orchestrated that. No doubt about it. Someday, in heaven, as I look at my tapestry, that beautiful red thread in there will be for Katie and for her brave and courageous birth mom.

Isn’t God good?

[read more on Karen's blog]

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Crazy Guest Blogger #10 – A Grandpa’s Love 4 Adoption

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Crazy Guest Blogger #10 – A Grandpa’s Love 4 Adoption

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

“How do you fall in love with a picture?”
That is the question Kari Gibson asked after she had seen an on line photograph of Zoie, who is now a part of Gibsons’ “forever family.”

Our daughter Rebecca Blitch and her husband Vernon could have asked the same question. Their several years quest to find a child ended when they saw pictures of Yonatan and Fetlework on a web site. The children were half a planet away, in Ethiopia. They hadn’t considered two ‘til then.

Excitement, fear, and a thousand what if’s. Can there be too many grandchildren?  Carol and I think not.

Nearly fifty years ago when we were expecting our second child it seemed our hearts were so full. “Could there be room for another?”

God expanded those hearts many times. Two more children and a bunch’a grandchildren later it seemed our heart expansion time had come to an end. God wasn’t finished.

How does one describe the past three and a half years? Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz the memories whirl ‘round, spin out the top and are replaced by others.

Hugs and frowns; walking and looking for wildlife; planting watering and harvesting in the garden; helping Memaw in the kitchen; learning vocabulary; Ethiopian dance by the fire; sliding at ‘Whitewater; swimming in the cold creek; queen waves.

More hugs…………are there ever enough?

Memaw teaching Fetle to sew; Yonatan in a world all his own, dancing his happy Ethiopian shoulder dance. Swinging on the big rope swing.

Soccer and basketball, victories and………….sometimes not.

Cuts and bruises; snuggling on the sofa; hair braiding; special times eating Ethiopian cuisine.

Field trips and grandparents day lunch at school.

Like a balloon that will never burst the expansion continues. Will there be more?……………….

Ain’t God good?


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Like Dandelion Dust – An Adoption Movie

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Like Dandelion Dust – An Adoption Movie

Posted on 25 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

My crazy readers… are you going to watch the adoption movie Like Dandelion Dust?  I want to know what you think?

My encouragement to you:  See it this opening weekend if you can, because every theater seat that’s filled is a vote of support.  And please spread word if you love it.  Pushy, pushy I know, but . . . your chatter matters—particularly because independent films don’t have gazillion-dollar ad budgets that accompany studio blockbusters.  The indy system works like a family business.  Revenue from the first weekend is used to expand the film’s distribution week after week thereafter.  You get the idea, so now . . . go have fun.  Take a friend, your family, a neighbor—and especially some Kleenex. (Rick Christian- President Alive Communications, Inc.)

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Crazy Guest Blogger #8 – Storing Up Treasures

Posted on 25 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Storing Up Treasures
By Vanessa

My husband and I do not presently own a house. We live on one income because we feel God has called me to stay at home in order to invest in and raise our children. Therefore we do not have a ton of money. By American standards, we are not wealthy. However, by the world’s standards, we are filthy, unbelievably rich.

However, this seems to be a hang up when people hear that we are not only adding another child to our family, but adopting. Presently we are waiting at #11 on our agency’s waitlist for a infant boy, and we have a 2 year old biological boy.

Shouldn’t we not have any more children until we own a home? Shouldn’t we not spend the money we have on an adoption until we have a lot of money in savings? Until we have a nice little nest egg? As well as “emergency” funds that are filled to the brim…just in case?

It makes me sad….overwhelmingly sad.

What has happened to the state of the Christian mindset when the possibility of needing an “emergency fund” of money in the bank is more pressing than the life of a child, abandoned and alone? That a lonely and scared child should wait until we store up our treasures in a bank?

As Christians, we have stripped down Christ and what he stood for into some self-help Guru. Your Best Life Now! 10 Steps to Prosperity!

Many quickly turn the page when Christ talks about how hard it is for a rich man to enter heaven, that we are called to live selflessly, to meet the needs of the poor and orphaned, to follow him with all we are and all we have… because isn’t it so much more enjoyable to focus on the parts of scripture where it talks about Christ being our comfort, meeting our needs, and being our helper?

The reality is that like the rest of the country, Christians have become so obsessed with comfort and stability that we are terrified for Christ to stretch us, to refine us, to push us, to make us uncomfortable. To live radically for Him. But this is exactly what we are called to do.

In Matthew 6 Christ calls us to store up treasures in heaven:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Our treasure? Christ and the children he has created. I do not see a greater emergency in this world than a child without a home. A child who most likely will die alone from poverty or Aids. Our money can sit in a bank waiting for some emergency or it can become life in in the form of a laughing, cuddling, child.

Is it even a choice? Really think about that…when everything is stripped away it comes down to Life or Money…how is that even a choice?

Believe me, I am so far from perfect in this area. To be brutally honest, for a very long time I was obsessed with putting money into our savings account. It was just my thing. It brought me pleasure to see the numbers rise. It made me feel comfort. Now, as more and more money goes towards the adoption and other outreach efforts and I see those bank account numbers get lower and lower…fear sets in. My heart races and all the what-ifs start pounding away at my resolve. I have even sat there crying like a big baby because following God’s call is so uncomfortable sometimes. But it is in those moments where I feel a whisper in my heart:

Do you trust Me? Do you trust My call and provision in your life? Do you trust my Word?

Yes God, yes.

Then put it into action. Let your life reflect Me. Faith without deeds is dead.

So I go back to the scripture, back to God’s word, back to the truth…over and over again, and learn to truly rely on and trust in God.

Like a tightrope walker across two high buildings, we have to focus our eyes on Him and his Word. If we look down, if we take our eyes off Him, we are going to fall.

I will leave you with the beginning of Chapt 4 in Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. Be challenged with me today- be uncomfortable.

Chapt 4 is about this scripture found in Revelations:

14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” -Rev 3

Chapter Four: Profile of the lukewarm

Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

“It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.[ii]

“Lukewarm people give money to charity and the church… as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?[i]

“Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for the “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.”

“Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go, or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.”

“Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts and rarely try and give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel ‘called’ to minister to the rich; very few feel ‘called’ to minister to the poor.”

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Crazy Guest Blogger #7 – My Heart For Justice

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Crazy Guest Blogger #7 – My Heart For Justice

Posted on 24 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Abolition Through Adoption: A Journey to End Injustice

A note from Michelle:

Spanish was my minor in University, and I wanted to practice it by going to a Spanish-speaking country.  After almost two years of marriage, my husband and I wanted to simplify our lives and experience new culture. So we quit our jobs, got rid of our apartment in Canada, gave away most of our belongings, put the rest in a backpack, and took of to Central America. It has been an amazing journey. We have house sat for a stranger in the Costa Rican mountains, volunteered at an eco-resort kitchen in the rainforest, learned to milk a goat, hiked a volcano in Guatemala and roasted marshmellows in a river of lava (turns out the volcano, Pacaya, erupted a week after we hiked it, causing deaths, evacuations of towns, and the shut down of the main airport!), explored caves by candle-light, and planted fields of agave in Mexico.  During this time of ‘sabbath’ and adventure God has clarified my vision for anti-trafficking work, and we feel strongly that God has had His hand on the last 4 months.  He is so good!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been obsessed with the idea of motherhood. While my friends sit around and talk about how much they want a baby, a find my mind drifting to political debates, social justice issues, and travelling. I’ve often felt guilty about this – as if I’m breaking the rules of what it means to be a woman. Where do I fit?

Recently however, my passion to fight sex trafficking is changing my attitude toward being a mom. Today there are 163 million orphans around the world, and traffickers are known to target these kids once they turn 16 and leave the orphanage. Often a trafficker will pose as a boyfriend who showers the girl with presents and affection, only to sell her into forced prostitution.

Adoption is a topic that my husband and I keep running into lately. Even just this week I was watching a film about a Russian teenager who is abandoned by her mother and left to her own devices, finding herself lured into the dark world of modern-day slavery. As she was crying out for help, I found myself thinking, “oh honey, I wish I could just adopt you!”

This wish to adopt children is now a dream of ours, and one we are very serious about. As Christians, helping orphans and widows in their distress should be our motto. As I write in my blog, we can become abolitionists through adoption. And here is the neat thing: my heart for justice is creating in me a love for children. Maybe there is hope for me after all!

[Guest Blogger, Michelle Brock]

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Crazy Guest Blogger #6 – Yes, We are Crazy

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Crazy Guest Blogger #6 – Yes, We are Crazy

Posted on 23 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

The Lancaster’s are not your average American family.  With 5 crazy kids (and another on the way) - there is an adventure waiting for them around every corner and life at their house is never dull.  They are currently writing a Family Devotional book and working to bring Lori Faith Lancaster home from China.  Jay, Camille, Madison, Annie, Chloe, Sam, Jax, and Lori hope their story inspires others to help the helpless and are encouraged by so many families who work tirelessly to defend the fatherless.  You can follow their story at


Our story of adoption is a little different.  We began talking about adoption almost 7 years ago and considered it “the right thing to do” – however, we had 5 biological children and struggled with justifying the costs of adoption and the logistics of adding more children to our family.  Like so many I’ve talked to, we really thought it was great – but not for us.  Then, a few years ago, we read a book about a family from the US who felt like God had asked them to leave everything and move to China to help orphans.  Their story was amazing and inspiring – one of those “Wow, I wish I had the courage to do that” stories.  We signed up for their monthly emails and discussed sponsoring one of the children in their care.  The sponsorship package came in the mail right in the middle of a week-long power outage in our community and needless to say, it was not my top priority at the time.  It was placed on a shelf and forgotten about until a year later.  Ugh – I hate admitting that!  This past winter, as I noticed this large envelope looming in the corner of my dining room – I reached for it and little did I know how much our lives were about to change.

Because so much time had passed, I needed to go back to their orphanage’s website and choose a new child to sponsor.  I scanned over the pictures of these adorable children and read their stories.  The sponsorship requires a monthly donation to help meet the needs of these orphans – and they send you pictures and updates on the child you sponsor.  I wanted to choose a child that “made a connection” to our family, so I chose Lori, a precious little girl who was abandoned in a cardboard box probably because she was hearing impaired.   We have a dear family friend named Lori and other friends whose little girl had recently been diagnosed as hearing impaired.  So, we printed off Lori’s picture and committed to being her Prayer Parents through the sponsorship program.  We thought that was the end of it and we “had done our part” in helping orphans.   Think again…. A week or so later, we received an email from the orphanage director telling us Lori was being placed for adoption (not all children living in orphanages have been legally cleared for adoption – some still have family members who have not relinquished their rights) and she very pointedly asked us if we wanted her.  That was the moment our lives changed forever and our adoption story began.  How could we say “no”?  I don’t even remember really discussing it – we just read the email and automatically said “yes, we’ll take her”.  Here is a little girl who needs a family, we already had a connection to her and had committed to praying for her, and now we were being asked to be that family she needed.  We felt like the question had already been answered – Yes, we’ll take her!  The journey since that day has been a beautiful example of God’s faithfulness and His call to take care of the fatherless.  The process of adoption is difficult and there are many hurdles to overcome.  However, each time we have run up against one of these obstacles – God has faithfully and miraculously seen us through.  We stand amazed at His goodness and His provision.  Lori isn’t “home” yet – but each day we get a little closer to completing the adoption – and we are blessed that our lives have been forever changed.  We have often said that we hope our story inspires others to get involved in helping the helpless.  Not every family can adopt – but every one can help with adoption.   Pray about how God can use you to help – can you help a family in your church or community raise funds?  Can you help babysit other children while the parents travel to pick up the newly adopted child?  Can you offer your services as a Notary Public?  Can you donate postage to help with the costs of mailing paperwork?  Can you establish an adoption fund in your church to help families in your church afford adoption?  There are so many ways to help with adoption and it all contributes to finding “forever families” for these sweet children who desperately need your help.  I hope that our story leaves you “forever changed” and that as you read this last sentence – you begin looking for ways to get involved.  There are 143 million orphans in the world today waiting for you….

Mom, Camille Lancaster www.lancasterfamilyfun.blogspot.comKeep up with the Lancaster’s at our blog

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Crazy Guest Blogger #5 – Mommy DIY Summer Lanterns

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Crazy Guest Blogger #5 – Mommy DIY Summer Lanterns

Posted on 22 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Summer Lanterns- Easy

Summer is here and it’s the perfect time to sit outside and enjoy the evening.  But you will need a little light and these fun summer lanterns will do just that, as well as, provide you and your kiddies with a little bit of crafty fun.  My daughter Jenna and I loved making the lanterns so much last year that we had to do it again this year!

Step one:  Save a few cans (wash and dry them).   Any shape or size will do.

Step 2:  Fill with water and freeze.  Leave a little room at the top of the can or as the water expands the bottom of the can will pop off.

Step 3:  Take cans out of the freezer and have your kiddos draw fun shapes, pictures on the can.  We use a permanent marker.  It’s strong enough to mark on the frosty cans and actually comes off pretty easy a little later on in the process.  Although you might keep a close eye on those little ones while they have the marker out.

Step 4:  Adults only!!  You will need a mallet and a screwdriver.  Place the can on it’s side and gently pound small holes along the shapes your kiddos just drew using the mallet and screwdriver.  I like to put a towel under the can to help reduce the noise as well as help keep the can from slipping around.  Make sure to also place a hole on each side at the top of the can to connect your handle.

Step 5:  After you have put all your holes in the can run it under warm water to remove the ice.  This is a good time to rub off any remaining marker.  Dry with a towel.

Step 6:  The handle (my kids favorite part)!  Cut a strip of wire and let the kiddos string beads on it.  Once complete help them wrap the ends of the wire through the two holes you placed at the top of the cans.  We also like to add little strips of ribbon at the edges of the handle.

Step 7:  Place your candle in the lantern. Hang and Enjoy!

Thanks Kim and family… I sure love you and very grateful for your friendship.  Please check out Kim’s blog- A Blissful Heart!

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The Queen of Freeze {Recipes}

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The Queen of Freeze {Recipes}

Posted on 21 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Hi!  I’m Beth, a SAHM (stay at home mom) who enjoys cooking dinner, but not when my toddler is whining to be held, my preschooler is crying over a boo boo and my 6 year old is telling me a stuffed animal is taking an impromptu merry-go-round ride on his ceiling fan.  To remedy this situation, I load my freezer with dinner meals.   So now I have time to cuddle my toddler, comfort my preschooler and rescue the poor dizzy dinosaur at 4:30 p.m. every weekday in our home.

It all began 2 years ago, when we were given a small upright freezer and I knew I had to fill it if it was going to be plugged in and running.  I had to justify that extra electricity somehow!  I didn’t want it just sitting with a loaf of bread and wadded up newspapers, so I googled freezer meals.    I checked out library books titled, Frozen Assets and Don’t Panic Dinner’s in the Freezer.  I read about these CrAzY people that cook one day for an entire month.  I loved what I read but didn’t know if I was that CrAzY.

At that time, I decided I wasn’t CrAzY so I played it safe.  I picked out one recipe and made it.  I packaged it into portions for our dinner meals and froze it.  My husband & I were pleasantly surprised at the taste – when stored, thawed & reheated properly, the food tastes like it was prepped that afternoon!  That one recipe success encouraged me to try more recipes.  Often I would make a casserole in 2 8×8 pans then bake one that night for dinner and package the other one for the freezer and use as a meal a few weeks later.

At the beginning of 2009, when I was 3 months away from my 3rd child’s birth, I certified myself completely CrAzY and decided to make my New Year’s resolution to cook once a month for every month of the year.  You know most resolutions don’t get to the beginning of February, but I am proud to say I did it 10 of the 12 months that year.   Besides my time savings each night of the month, I found the savings in our food budget was amazing.  I could make around 34 dinners for approximately $150.  That made each dinner cost around $4.41, not per person, but per MEAL!

Why did I just share all of that with you?   Well, so you could see I am CrAzY freezer-meal-making SAHM but for good reasons.  Cooking meals ahead of time and storing them in the freezer…saves TIME, saves MONEY & saves my SANITY!  Some days saving my sanity is all that matters!

So are you ready to try a recipe?  If you’ve never dabbled in freezer meals before, now is the perfect time to start.  Try just one this next week.  In fact, make it for your dinner (double it if your family is bigger than mine) so you have dinner for that evening plus one to store in the freezer.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner…


French Toast Casserole

This recipe is one of the simplest to prep for the freezer and works for breakfast, brunch or dinner!  This recipe will make 1 9×13 pan or 2 8×8 pans – our family is small so I make 2 8x8s.  If you are a larger family, double the recipe and make 2 9×13 pans.

1 loaf of French or Italian bread

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted

1 c. brown sugar (Sucanat works well, too!)

1 tsp. cinnamon

6 eggs

1 ¼ c. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Cube the loaf of bread (1”x1” cubes are a good size).

Stir melted butter, sugar & cinnamon together.  Spread on bottom of pan(s).  Throw bread on top.  Mix together eggs, milk & vanilla.  Pour over bread.  Divide carefully if using 2 pans!  J

Cover with plastic wrap and then a layer of foil.  Label & freeze.  To serve: Thaw 24 hours in fridge.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350F or until eggs are set & bread is lightly browned.  The aroma is delicious!!!!

Homemade Granola

This is my favorite granola recipe because you can mix & match various nuts & dry fruits.  It’s so easy for busy mornings – take it right from the freezer and put it in your bowl with milk!  Original recipe from 30 Day Gourmet.  One recipe makes 12 cups of granola.

2 c. whole wheat flour

6 c. rolled oats

1 c. unsweetened coconut

1 c. wheat germ

2 tsp. salt

2 T. sesame seeds

½ c. nuts

½ c. water

1 c. oil

1 c. honey

2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. dried fruit – reserve until after granola is baked & cooled

In a very large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (except the dried fruit).  In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well-combined.  Spread mixture evenly on 2 large baking sheets (2 jelly roll pans are perfect!).  Bake at 250F for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.  Cool, then add dried fruit and store in Ziploc bags in the freezer.

To Serve: Pour granola into bowl – eat dry or add milk!


Black Bean Soup

This recipe is the easiest soup you’ll prep for the freezer!  Goes well with quesadillas – place a few tortillas & bag of cheddar cheese in a Ziploc!

2 16 oz. cans black beans, rinsed & drained

1 ½ c. vegetable broth (can swap with chicken broth)

1 c. chunky medium salsa

1 tsp. ground cumin

Combine ingredients in blender and blend to your desired consistency.  You will have 4 cups of soup.  Pour 2 cups into 2 quart bags or all 4 cups into 1 gallon size Ziploc Freezer bag.  Remove as much air as possible before sealing.  Lay bag(s) flat in freezer to freeze.

To Serve: Thaw overnight in fridge.  Pour soup into saucepan and heat on stovetop.  Top with cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream or other desired toppings.

Deli-Style Sandwiches

Easy to assemble!  I’ve made this recipe without the sauce for easy lunches or dinners to go, adding fresh lettuce, tomatoes and other condiments just prior to eating!  Great for the summer & spontaneous family picnics at the park!

12 hoagie rolls

2 lbs. deli meat (roast beef or turkey)

1 lb. cheese (provolone or muenster works well)


3 T. butter, melted

3 T. Dijon mustard

3 T. Worcestershire sauce

3 tsp. minced onion

Assemble sandwiches together by layering cheese and meat on the bottom half of the bread.   Top with the sauce.  Wrap each sandwich in foil and place in gallon-size Ziploc Freezer bag if you are going to be eating them individually.  If packaging for a meal for a family, place sandwiches directly in Ziploc & seal.

To Serve: No need to thaw.  Remove from Ziploc bag (leave foil on sandwich) and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes.   Or place several unwrapped sandwiches in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake.

To Serve sandwiches without sauce:  Thaw a few hours in the fridge or pack in cooler for a picnic.  Top with desired veggies & condiments.



The easiest lasagna to put together as the noodles require no cooking!  I’ve made it numerous time. You can add thawed chopped (and drained) spinach to the cottage cheese, or browned ground beef or turkey.  One recipe makes 1 9×13 pan (12 servings) or 2 8×8 pans (6 servings each).

12 oz. lasagna noodles, uncooked

5-6 cups spaghetti sauce (jar or make your own)

2 c. cream-style cottage cheese or ricotta

12 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated

½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Make layers in 1 9×13 pan or 2 8×8 pans:  half each noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, spaghetti sauce & sprinkled parmesan.  Repeat.  Be sure dry noodles are covered completely with sauce.

Wrap pans in 1 layer of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil.  Label &freeze.

To Serve: Thaw completely in fridge (24+ hours, especially if it is a 9×13 pan).  Cover casserole with foil (remove plastic wrap) and bake in 350F oven for 45 minutes or until edges are bubbly and center is hot.  Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Garlic Bread

You can’t have an Italian dish without garlic bread.  My kids devour this so be sure to bake plenty with your meal!  It’s from 30 Day Gourmet’s website.

2 sticks unsalted butter (or margarine)

½ c. olive oil

¼ c. garlic powder

¼ c. Italian seasoning

1 c. parmesan cheese, optional

2 loaves Italian bread sliced 1” thick

In medium bowl, mix together the butter, oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese, if desired.  The consistency of the mixture should be something you can spread easily.  If it’s too thick, add more olive oil.  Spread both sides of each slice of bread and place on a cookie sheet or cutting board to freeze.   Once slices are completely frozen, remove from baking sheet and place in gallon-size Ziploc bags.

To Serve: No thawing needed.  Remove desired number of frozen slices directly from Ziploc bag and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes turning slices over halfway through baking time.

Easy How To:

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at a few recipes, you’re ready to try one, right?!  Here are a few more basic tips about freezing meals…

Freezing: Invest in the Ziploc Freezer bags in both the gallon & quart size.  If you remove most of the air and seal the bag completely your food will taste great!  Bags are great for soups, noodle dishes, rice dishes, sandwiches, garlic bread & more!  For storing casseroles in glass or foil pans, wrap with 1 layer of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil.

Labeling: Label & date everything you store.  Sharpie markers work well on the freezer bags and the foil covering a frozen casserole.  I not only include the name of the meal, but also if it requires thawing by writing “thaw” or “no thaw” and the temperature at which it bakes in the oven.  That way I’m not hunting down the recipe the night I plan to serve that meal for dinner.

Thawing: Always thaw foods in the fridge to prevent problems with the ingredients getting too warm prior to baking or reheating.  Some recipes are able to be reheated directly from the frozen state, but most are meant to be thawed at least 24 hours in the fridge prior to reheating.

Reheating: I’ve found the best-tasting food is reheated on the stovetop (sauces) or in the oven (casseroles & sandwiches), not the microwave (with the exception of burritos).

So are you CrAzY enough to try making a freezer meal?!  You are, I know you are!  Enjoy your extra time & savings you’ll have with dinners in your freezer!

For more recipes that are great-tasting & easy to prepare for families, feel free to visit my blog:

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Crazy Guest Blogger #3 – A Dad’s Adoption Story

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Crazy Guest Blogger #3 – A Dad’s Adoption Story

Posted on 20 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m excited to be a part of the “blogger support group” for Kari as she is away. It’s the least I (we) can do for the immense support she gives all of us who are on the journey to adopt. We feel blessed to be involved in her efforts.

Kari has continued to inspire my wife (Katie) and I in this journey of adoption. You see, Katie and I are newbies. We didn’t start off having a heart for adoption, We didn’t go on a mission trip and see the hurt and have a life-changing experience.

We just chose to listen to a still small voice.

It all started a couple of years ago when my wife wanted a fourth child…and I didn’t. Three kids was good for me. It’s a good number. I was done. I remember saying four words that I believed would never come true. I said that “I would rather adopt“, than have more kids. In my head this was a great manipulation technique. There was no way we would adopt. The barriers were far to big to overcome. It costs too much, it takes too long, we already have awesome kids, and the list goes on…

But the barriers were excuses. Excuses for my own selfish desires. You see, I had my life list. You know…the stuff I was going to do in life. For me it looked like this;

  1. Find a job (a decent one w/good pay)
  2. Find a spouse (may be combined with #1)
  3. Get married
  4. Buy a house (a fixer upper will work)
  5. Have children (2 or 3 are good numbers)
  6. Get the promotion (with better pay)
  7. Add a pet (verdict is still out on this one)
  8. Retire
  9. Travel (destination: overseas)

Do you have a list like this? It was my guide. If I got disoriented I looked toward the list. It’s what grounded my actions. But what I’ve learned is that life is not a list to be accomplished. It’s a life to be lived. It’s ultimately for His use not ours. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that the above list is not note-worthy. I’ve been immensely blessed with a great job, awesome wife, and incredible children. But the list was all about me.

So my list is getting reorganized and re-prioritized. As far as I’m concerned, it’s playing out to be more exciting and adventurous than any drama on TV. So what have I learned? Don’t be defined by your list. Do something amazing. So whether you are adopting or not, I’d like to challenge all of us to continue to step out in bold faith and make a statements with our lives that impact others. This is what I’m trying to do with mine.

When you get a minute, stop by our site ( and say hello!

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Crazy Guest Blogger #2 – Fire Engine Red

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Crazy Guest Blogger #2 – Fire Engine Red

Posted on 19 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Fire Engine Red (adoptive mom, Karen Firstbrook)

*Originally written May 17, 2010.

Each time I look down at my hands a grin spreads across my face and a prayer is lifted in my heart. You see, my fingernails are painted a fire engine red and the polish is chipping off in most places. For some, painted nails are the norm, but not for this dishpan hands type of Mom. Just two weeks ago while I was visiting, playing, teaching and working at a Special Needs orphanage in Beijing a sweet 10-year-old asked to do my nails, and how could I refuse her? So fire engine red they became, and now each time my nails catch my eye, my heart just about bursts with gratefulness for all God accomplished in the short week we were able to serve in Beijing.

Our trip to this particular orphanage was really five years in the making. It was five years ago that we began the process of adopting from China through All Gods Children’s International. Five years ago we had no idea the blessings and stretching, the joy and the heartache that God had in store for us . . . but we are so thankful for each step He has directed.

As we began the adoption process in December of 2004 our little family of four also began our education into the world of orphans. We had no idea that outside of our door was over 100 million orphans that all desperately need the love and care of a family. Our then 10-year-old daughter Kelsey was dismayed and overwhelmed as she learned that children her age lived their entire lives in orphanages, never enjoying the love and security of a family, never knowing the joy of simple gifts or treats. Kelsey’s broken heart led her to action and she was moved to find a way to send simple gifts of love to older orphans. We contacted our adoption coordinator at AGCI and asked if there was a way to partner with them to send gifts to an orphanage in China. What was born out of those conversations became known in our community as The Knitting Project. Kelsey coordinated the youth and adults of our church congregation to knit scarves for older orphans, and knit they did! Over 100 scarves were knit, and as they were knit, orphans were prayed for. We packaged up the scarves and with the help of AGCI sent them off to a Special Needs orphanage in Beijing that they support.

Fire Engine 1

We were so thrilled to be a tiny part of God’s love story towards these orphans, but God wasn’t finished with the story yet . . . .

Just a month after we sent the scarves we received an email with pictures of the children receiving the scarves. Our hearts almost exploded with joy! To see these smiling children, enjoying their handmade treats was such a gift from God. How good of Him to allow us to get a glimpse of His story! Those pictures became our computer wallpaper and we prayed for those children daily for over a year as we waited for our referral and future daughter, Katie Mei.

Fire Engine 2

It was in May of 2006 that we finally traveled to China with AGCI to bring home our daughter. We loved telling The Knitting Project story to our travel mates and giving them a glimpse of God’s story for these orphans, but God wasn’t finished with the story yet . . .

One of our travel coordinators was a young gal named Annie who lived and worked at The Knitting Project orphanage! She looked at our pictures and told us the names and stories of the children we had been praying for. Again, we were in awe of God’s goodness towards us and how He so graciously allowed us to “know” these older orphans even more. Another chapter was added to God’s story of these precious orphans.

In the years since our adoption we have been privileged to share our adoption journey and the way God blessed The Knitting Project. We loved to share how God worked out so many details and how He kept giving us more and more details of His story . . . and last fall we realized God still wasn’t finished with the story yet . . .

We received an email from AGCI’s Embrace Missions department announcing a Missions Trip to none other than “our” orphanage in Beijing. It took Kelsey and I all of 5 seconds to recognize that God was going to write another chapter in our lives! Wit blessings from my husband and younger daughters, Kelsey and I boarded a plane this April with fresh scarves in our suitcase, headed for Beijing!

Fire Engine 3

To say that loving on the children at the orphanage was life changing would be an understatement. Never in all my life have I been so dependent on God. Never in all my life have I so clearly seen the Gospel lived out in front of me. Never in all my life have I so fully understood God’s redeeming love for me.

The orphanage is full of children with medical and mental special needs. Children from ages 2 to 18 call this orphanage their home and it is here where they live, sleep, play, and learn about the love of Jesus from their precious caretakers and directors. We were privileged to come alongside and present a Vacation Bible School to these children. We spent our days teaching God’s Word, singing songs of His love, coloring, playing, hugging, kissing and praying for these children. It wasn’t always easy. My heart broke and tears fell more times than I can count, but it was a glimpse into God’s heart that was worth every hard moment and more.

Fire Engine 4

Our first day at the orphanage was a shock to us all. We longed to snuggle and kiss and love on these children, but many having just arrived at the orphanage from other institutions within the last few months did not know how to receive such affection. As we picked up the children, they would hold themselves stiff against us. No little legs came wrapping around our bodies. No little heads lay upon our shoulders. It was a surprise to most of the team . . . but for myself it was a reminder of how our little Katie Mei was when she came to us. She didn’t know how to be held, we had to teach her. She didn’t know how to snuggle, we had to show her. And so it was with these little ones. We had to dig down deep and give love and affection even when it was received with resistance.

Some days it was hard to love on every child at the orphanage. In some cases we were overwhelmed by runny noses and dirty faces. Other times we were unsure how to reach out to the children with mental difficulties and to interact with them in ways we were accustomed to. But then the Lord graciously gave me a picture of myself before He adopted me into His family. My sin was more vile to Him than the runniest nose or the dirtiest face. My sin kept me from stretching out my arms and receiving His love. But He persevered. But He continued to love. And my sin was forgiven, and I was made clean. So we would persevere and we would continue to love. We would continue to wipe noses and kiss dirty faces and stretch out our arms and place them in our laps.

Fire Engine 5

And the change we saw in 5 days with those children both broke and expanded our hearts. By the end of our trip they were crawling into our laps for post-nap snuggles. They looked us in the eye as we said over and over, “Wo ai ni.” They grabbed hands and gave hugs, they laughed and accepted affection. One little guy who began his week by hitting me to get my attention ended the week by crawling into my arms, placing his forehead against mine, lifting my hand to his cheek and motioning me to lovingly stroke and love on him. And so I did just that . . . as I gently rubbed his cheek I prayed for him, asking God to show this little guy His love, to grow this little guy into a man of God, to provide this little guy with a forever family and to use this little guy to reach people for Christ.

Fire Engine 6

I know someday soon my red nails will fade and the physical reminder of all God accomplished both in and through our team will not be as easily seen. But my heart will never recover. I will never be the same. I will never stop telling the story of how God used one little girl to knit scarves for older orphans to write an ongoing story of His love and redemption and His heart for orphans. Our family is already praying and asking God that there be many more chapters to this story . . . may God be gracious and allow us many more years of love and service towards these precious children.

[read more on Karen's blog]

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We Live In Haiti {Real Craziness}

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We Live In Haiti {Real Craziness}

Posted on 18 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

My husband and I live in Pignon, Haiti, and run an orphanage, Haiti Home of Hope. We have a biological son who just graduated high school. We have two Haitian daughters who we are in the process of adopting. And we have 22 boys and 23 girls in the orphanage. We also direct a feeding center for children suffering from malnutrition.

10 years ago, my husband and I were just your average American couple. Bill was working, I was a stay at home mom homeschooling our son. We as a family that year had committed to ministering wherever God led us. We had no clue that God was going to call us to Haiti, and in a short time we would be there serving orphan children. We had not been to Bible school, and were not looking or desiring to be on the mission field.

We arrived in Haiti January 21, 2003. We proceeded to get the building and property ready to start accepting children. Our plan was to open an all boys orphanage, with no babies. In May we had a 4 pound, 4 day old baby girl, brought to us. Our very first orphan! She was sick with typhoid, the doctors here said not to even try and save her, that she probably wouldn’t make it. I worked with her anyway. We fed her around the clock with an eyedropper, she could only take a couple of drops at a time. And we prayed so much, that God would save her.  God was gracious and saved her life. She is now 7 years old and the picture of health. She tells me that she wants to grow up and help sick babies, just like her mommy!! She has such a sensitive heart, we thank God everyday for her We now have 47 children here, and life gets crazy sometimes.

I would like to share some of my everyday craziness with you. I like to get out into the countryside and visit children that are on our feeding program. I just never know what I am going to find when I go out. The physical and spiritual needs are so great. Last Saturday I had gone to visit a really poor family. There are 5 children, all suffering malnutrition. When I arrived at the hut, there were no adults around. The door was hanging open, and the 1 year old twins were laying on the floor. They are only 8 pounds each, and can’t sit up or crawl around. They were both covered in dried feces and crying pitifully. I found an old rag to wipe them off with, and a couple of blankets, and wrapped them up. We gave them what little water we had, and some cream cheese in my bag, that I let them suck off of my finger. When I asked the older kids, they said they had not eaten in 2 days. I passed out all of our crackers and cheese, and water. We were anxiously awaiting the mom’s return, but after an hour when no one came, we had no choice but to lay the babies down and walk away. I felt so defeated, I was in tears that there was nothing more I could do. There was no food for them to cook in the house. I prayed that I could come back soon and bring some food.

It was Monday before I had another another opportunity to go out that way. When we got within a mile, the road was impassable, because of deep mud. So we made the decision to walk in. Just as we arrived at the hut, we were hit with a huge thunderstorm. The mom was gone again, door left open, babies on the dirt floor, and the other 3 kids running around naked. We gave them all cheese and crackers, and water, again. The mom finally showed up, so we were able to leave rice packets, specially formulated for malnourished children.

Mission accomplished, we then started the walk back in the thunderstorm. The water in the road was rushing, about a foot deep. In some places, the mud was a foot deep. I fell twice, and was covered in mud, head to toe when I got home. But I was so happy, because I knew those kids would have a meal that day. But more important than that, I hope and pray that the mom saw the love of Christ thru us, as we ministered to her and her babies.  I pray that she will see the harm that voodoo does to her children. I pray that  one day she will come to accept Christ in her heart.

Please pray for these families that are so caught up in voodoo, that they don’t see the damage being done to their children. Pray for the poor children of Haiti. The only hope for them is Jesus. Pray that we will continue to have love and compassion, so that they will see Jesus shining thru us.

{wife, mom to 48- Jennifer Campbell}

A note from Kari:  I met Jennifer on my 2nd trip to Haiti.  She is my hero (even though she would hate me saying that!)  She and her hubby serve God with all their hearts and are making a huge difference with the families in the village of Pignon.  She explained to me that when a family is practicing voodoo, their children are born with red tipped hair.  It is NOT hair dye… she has witnessed a family that after accepting Jesus in their lives, shaved their children’s hair, despite the witch doctor’s evil warnings of death.  When their hair grew back, it was black.  God healed this family from the inside out.  Roger will travel to Pignon, Haiti to work with the Campbells in August.

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