Archive | December, 2010

Guest Blogger – Let the Little Children Come!


Guest Blogger – Let the Little Children Come!

Posted on 30 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

Let the Little Children Come! (Just Don’t Put ’em on the Front Row)

According to the Bible, there was an episode in which the disciples tried to prevent a group of little children from reaching Jesus. The scriptures say that Jesus rebuked the disciples, telling them to “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.”

Yesterday, as I sat in church with my wife and kids, it occurred to me why Jesus wasn’t afraid to let the little children approach him. It’s because Jesus had the power to cast out demons and banish them to the abyss.  I, unfortunately, do not. Thus, unlike the Lord, I find it rather challenging to maintain a spiritual focus, resist sin, and stay close to God while being climbed on, clinged to, cried to, and screamed at by “unhindered” little folk who, based on every biblical description I’ve ever read, show all the signs of being possessed by spirits bent on destroying a father’s righteousness.

How else do you explain the fact that I can read my Bible, pray, and feel enthusiastic about trying to live as a disciple of Christ first thing in the morning, only to find myself mumbling curse words and losing my patience before the clock even strikes noon. Jesus maintained his sinlessness after forty days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. I can’t even make it through one morning during my kids’ Christmas break.

Church, itself, is always an interesting adventure. Take, for instance, yesterday’s worship. We got to church shortly after the service had started. By the time we arrived, the only seats left were on the front row. Just a heads up to anyone who serves as an usher at their church. If you’re looking for a way to totally disrupt your church service and mess with whoever is speaking from the pulpit, make sure you reserve the front row for couples with four kids under the age of seven. Few things “encourage” a public speaker more than the sight of a four-year-old picking his nose or the sound of a tiny voice screaming, “My toy! My toy! My toy!” as one tries to welcome the congregation or help people commune with God in prayer.

Then, there’s always the fun the song leader has as he attempts to lead the singing of “Blessed Assurance” while cheerios fly from the front seats. If you look closely you can see the beads of sweat forming on the poor, insecure soul’s forehead as he mistakes the flying cereal of a toddler for the cruel heckling of some dissatisfied parishioner.

Perhaps the most fun was yesterday’s Communion. As the young man doing the Communion message stepped to the mic to share thoughts intended to focus our hearts and minds on the sacrifice of our Lord, I tried to separate and scold arguing siblings as subtly as possible. While a more spiritual man than I was reminding the church of Christ’s grace and forgiveness, I was preaching Old Testament to my kids, assuring them of the wrath and judgment to come if they didn’t quit arguing, complaining, and pulling on one another’s hair.

To my children’s credit, they pulled it together–at least as much as kids that age can. After all, let’s face it, while Communion is important and very meaningful to an adult Christian, it’s basically a confusing snack time to small children. As a parent, I do my best to explain that Communion is when we symbolically partake of the body and blood of Jesus. But kids often don’t get it. Once, when my son, William, saw how small the crackers and servings of juice were, he looked at me disappointed and said, “Jesus must have been really small.”

Eventually, the length and the structure of the Communion service was too much for my three youngest. Despite their best efforts, the “demons” began to return, so I exited with them as unnoticed as I could into the foyer before the “bread and wine” were actually served.

Once out of the room, my boys and their little sister began running crazy, my calls of “Calm down!” going unheeded as rambunctious little gremlins zigged and zagged in and out of tables set with food for the post-service potluck lunch . Envisioning the lasagnas and chocolate cakes that would soon be on the floor if I didn’t do something, I chased down my little ones while four-letter words that weren’t “Amen” raced through my sinful mind. (Hey, I’m just being honest.) Then, finally cornering my kids at one end of the room, I maneuvered back and forth like a soccer goalie at the World Cup, preventing anyone under four feet tall from scooting past me until Communion was over and it was finally time for Sunday School.

In short, Church is not a relaxing, meditative, or reflective time when you have small kids. In fact, at times, you’re tempted to wonder if it’s counter-productive. The effort and stress of getting four small kids fed, teeth-brushed, dressed, and out the door, combined with the energy and anxiety involved in trying to keep them in check during the actual service, often means that, by the time the sermon starts and my kids are in class, my heart and mind are actually filled with ten times more sin than when I woke up that morning. At the very least, it’s enough to make me wish we served real wine during the Lord’s Supper.

Still, I think church is worth it. It allows my wife and I to fellowship with friends and other parents like ourselves. It provides a place where we can get much appreciated help raising our children to know about and love God. Most of all, it’s a family–God’s family. We don’t go and participate because it’s easy or convenient (it’s not). We also don’t participate because of what the church can do for us or our family (although we do benefit, we occasionally get hurt too). No, we go because it’s a place where God wants us to give.
Just like I desire my kids to want to be around one another and show kindness and love to each other, God wants his children to do the same. The purpose of church is to go and serve others, encourage others, and be available to others. In a crazy way, even our struggles as parents help serve the church. For all I know, some other young couple with kids witnessed the madness we were dealing with yesterday and thought, “You know what, if they can do it, then we can too.”

So we’ll keep going to church. I’ll keep trying to be more spiritual. We’ll do our best to hold it together during Communion. And–God willing–the ushers won’t put us on the front row.

Kindred Howard
KB Howard Freelance Writing Services (Blog)

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Guest Blogger – Both Ends Burning {Korah}

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Guest Blogger – Both Ends Burning {Korah}

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

You can see Keith’s work at
his film production company
and his non-profit film company

In March, 2010, Sam Nuttmann and I traveled to Ethiopia to do work for Ethiopia Reads. Ethiopia Reads ( is a non-profit that builds libraries in schools throughout Ethiopia, they also set up donkey mobile libraries to bring books to kids in more rural villages, and they publish books in local languages. While we were there, we stayed at Ethiopia Guest Homes (, a group of homes set up for adopting parents to say at while they are in Ethiopia during the adoption process. The homes were set up as an alternative to staying at a hotel, which can feel very intimidating to both the parents and especially the children. The guest homes provide transportation, a translator, a cook, a nanny, and many other services (including massages) to make the adoption process more comfortable.

While at the Guest Home, we met Sammy, who works with the Guest Home. Sammy spent the majority of his childhood struggling to get the food he and his family needed from the garbage dump in Korah. When he was 12 years old, he and some of his friends decided to go and join the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea – simply because the army provided meals. They were sick and tired of always fighting for the leftovers that could sometimes be found in the garbage dump. On the way to register for the army, they crossed the compound where Young Life started the ministry. They saw a lot of the U.S. Young Life Leaders hanging out with the kids from the Korah community. He ended up joining them and decided not to join the army. Since then, Sammy has dedicated his life to helping those in Korah.

One of they days where we were not filming for Ethiopia Reads, Sammy offered to take us to Korah and the garbage dump next to Korah, where many residents search for food. We grabbed our gear and happily piled into the van, not knowing what to expect. On my travels I have visited garbage dump cities in Egypt, and been to slum villages in India – but I was very unprepared for the eyeopening, humbling, and heartwarming experience about to follow.

We arrived at the dump and the second we were out of the van we were greeted by 5 grinning boys. They all said hello and gave us the customary greeting in Ethiopia of a handshake with a shoulder bump. They then led us to the main part of the dump. Here, the garbage trucks arrive and dump their load of trash. The people there, ranging from infants to the elderly, then sort through all the trash using their hands, or medal hooks. Some of the garbage is saved for recycling or to resell, but a majority is eaten on the spot. It was really difficult watching kids suck the last bit of salad dressing out of an opened packet or drinking the last few drops of water left in a water bottle. There is very little regulation out here, and we were told stories of medical waste showing up at the dump as well as other highly dangerous items. Throughout our time there, however, we were received with open arms. Although, at times shy, everyone was all smiles – and held on to a firm belief that things will get better.

And I am happy to say, that I found out a few weeks ago, that through organizations like Project 61 (, and with the help of our film – 250 of the kids who live in the dump and Korah, were given scholarships to a school that provides room, 3 meals, clothes and schooling.

After visiting the garbage dump, we drove into the Village of Korah. The village of Korah is a small village just outside Addis Ababa, the capitol city of Ethiopia. The village was founded over seventy five years ago by people inflicted with leprosy, seeking treatment in Addis. Three generations later, over 100,000 people live in Korah, most of whom have leprosy, HIV/AIDS, are widows or orphans. Their extreme poverty has forced many of the villagers to forage through the local trash dump to find enough food to survive each day.

When Sam Nuttmann and I arrived in Ethiopia we had never heard of Korah. And as we talked to people while we were in Ethiopia, a lot of them had never heard of it – even though they lived only a few miles away. So, we were amazed to see such a huge village. The people in the village live in very small, mostly mud and wood huts/houses. A huge problem Korah faces is that when it rains, there is no way to keep the water out of the houses. And while we were there it started pouring. To see the water freely flow in and through people homes, was very hard to see. But… everywhere we went, we were very warmly greeted. Even with so little, everyone proudly invited us in and showed us their home. One of the women we met (I feature her photo on my web site, and the image recently won 3rd place in a photo competition), had a very common story from Korah – She has 3 children and after her neighbor also passed away a few months ago because of HIV, she now takes care of her 2 children and makes a living by spending time finding food and things she can sell at the nearby garbage dump.

We felt so honored to be invited to both Korah and the garbage dump. The images and faces I saw there will forever be ingrained in my mind. I am returning to Ethiopia in January 2011 to work on a feature length film about adoption and Korah. The new project is called Both Ends Burning.

For more information about Korah, visit:

To our guide Samuel Liben and all the people of Korah who opened their homes and hearts to us, trusting our intentions with the footage and stories we collected there. They will not be forgotten and our work for them has only just begun.To Patrick Watson and Secret City Records for granting permission to use the track “Man Like You” in this video.

MUSICPatrick Watson”Man Like You” from the album Wooden

Producer / Director / Cinematography: Sam Nuttmann and Keith Bolling
Editor / Sound Design / Motion Graphics: Sam Nuttmann


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Guest Blogger – The Orphan is an Idol


Guest Blogger – The Orphan is an Idol

Posted on 28 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

Jesus Is the Prize or the Orphan Is an Idol

My family and I are in the thick middle of our third international adoption in six years time. Our first adoption was from China. Libby was nine months at the time and is currently five. Our second journey was to Ethiopia. Gracie was four and one half months and only ten pounds at the time. She is now almost two and very chubby!

Presently, a beautiful, seven year old girl in Haiti awaits the news that she, too, can come home to us. This journey, being our first adoption of an older child, I find to be the most difficult. Knowing that we have already missed Keemberlie’s first seven years and not knowing how much longer it will be before she is home can bring tears to my eyes at the most unexpected moments. The weight of the journey is just under the surface ready to move me to deep emotions even in the middle of laundry.

I spent most of the fall focused on the precious face of Keemberlie in various pictures around my home; little reminders to pray for her to come home quickly. And that’s where I went wrong…. Wait. What? I was focused on an orphan and her quick arrival to my home. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that the heart of God? Not quite. The next sentence may find you uncomfortably irritated with me, but don’t throw a pillow to the computer screen just yet.

Idolatry is defined as blind or excessive devotion to something…an image, an idea, a person. Is it possible to be excessively devoted to a cause? Even a good one? The answer is, yes. If God, as Romans 8 tells us, works all things for the good of those who love him then we can assume that Satan it trying to work all things for evil or against the good works of God. And Satan is brilliantly subtle.

Where I went wrong this fall was in setting the eyes of my heart, my devotion, on the face of an orphan rather than on Jesus. And because I was focused on Keemberlie all I could pray for was a quick adoption process. When God did not answer my prayer in that way, all I could feel was frustration and disappointment.

Recently I was listening to the interview of a man who lost one of his eyes to cancer. He was sharing how difficult the loss of his right eye has been for him. While he can see out of one eye, he has no peripheral vision from his nose to the right side. He is often surprised by people or things coming his direction from the right. Sometimes he even sees things that aren’t there because he has a sort of “phantom vision”.

So it is in an adoption journey or in orphan care. When we do not have both eyes set on Jesus we lose our way. In our efforts to follow the heart of God where orphan care/adoption are concerned, subtle shifts in our focus can turn this God-centered journey into a destructive, disappointing, burdensome walk. The adoption journey is difficult enough on its own without our losing proper perspective.

The dangers of setting the orphan in the place of our devotion are many. When we focus on the orphan rather than on Jesus we:

  • begin to take the burden on ourselves rather than giving it to Jesus
  • begin to experience frustration, anger, depression in great measures
  • begin to let worry take over
  • begin to see fear take hold
  • begin to think we know better than God what is best for the orphan
  • start making our own plans
  • meet up with burnout and desires to quit
  • find ourselves taking others down with us as we forget about the people with us now – our children, spouse, friends – and their needs
  • family at home begins to suffer the consequences as we lose sight of everything but the child we want to bring home/care for
  • we forget or do not hear how to pray and we stop hearing the Spirit’s wisdom and leading – and this is perhaps the most devastating consequence of all.

All of these dangers can be debilitating spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically – which is why our focus cannot be the orphan.

The adoption journey can look much like this hand of cards. When playing a board game with eyes set on winning or finishing the game quickly, a hand of cards dealt like this one can be frustrating. But if the focus during game play is on the love of relationship with whom we play then the hand dealt doesn’t tip our mood so much and joy, even in the midst of a bad hand, is possible.

Adoption and orphan care is no game, of course, but you see the point. If our focus is on Jesus, the manner in which the adoption plays out stays in the right perspective and however the journey ends up, we’re still with Jesus and hopefully even more deeply connected to him.

Focusing on Jesus has its benefits. It is good to be reminded of them.

  • God is the Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). His love for the orphans we pursue/care for is far greater than our own.
  • God’s business is to set the lonely in families, meaning HE does the work. He alone is Redeemer (Ps. 68:6)
  • God’s desire is to carry our burdens for us. We feel the weight of the journey because he created the desire in us to care for the orphan, so our hearts will certainly break along the way. But God does not intend for us to be crushed by it. He rather desires the weight remind us constantly to look to him rather than the difficult circumstances at hand. His yolk is easy. His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
  • Nothing is too difficult for God. Focusing on Jesus reminds us to believe in His power to move mountains. Belief leads to fervent prayers. Fervent prayers by the godly are heard and are effective! (Jeremiah 32:17)
  • Focus on Jesus firmly plants us in truth. When we are firmly planted in the truth of God’s Word and his character we find our adoption journey/orphan ministry is not swayed or broken under the challenges of the journey. (Ps. 1:3)
  • Focus on Jesus aligns us with his heart and his plan. (John 15:1-8) We abide in him, He abides in us.
  • Focus on Jesus gives us a testimony that strengthens those around us rather than bring discouragement to them. Our children at home will find joy and strength in the journey by this focus, and even peace in the face of great change. (Revelation 12:11)
  • Focus on Jesus casts out fear. He reminds us that He does not give us more than we can handle in Him. He reminds us that He will do it! He reminds us that He is able. He reminds us to depend on him rather than ourselves. (I John 4:18)
  • Focus on Jesus reminds us to pray for more than a quick process. Jesus wants us to pray for the heart of the orphan, for the hope of the nation of his/her birth, for the redemption of the governments involved, for the process of other people’s journeys, for our children at home as they face the changes to come, for our spouse to stay focused on Jesus. He wants us to pray against the principalities at war against our children’s homecoming, against sickness and starvation, and against darkness. There is so much prayer to be done on this journey, but focusing on the orphan will not produce such prayer. Focusing on the orphan narrows our vision and causes us to pray for what’s on our left rather than what is coming our way on the right. (Romans 8:26-27)
  • Focus on Jesus makes us ready for the surprises along the way because looking to Jesus gives us full peripheral vision and more! By focusing on Jesus we hear him and can trust his leading even if we can’t see what’s ahead. (Romans 8:38)
  • Focus on Jesus keeps us from setting our own expectations, romanticizing the journey. He keeps us balanced and grounded – able to live in both the present life at home and still mindful of the child that is not yet home. (II Corinthians 10:5)

And lastly,

  • Focus on Jesus draws us closer to the one who set us on this journey – a journey for more than the orphan in view.

Our adoption journeys/orphan ministries are walks to which Jesus invites us for the growing of our own once-orphaned-hearts; a journey to give us a better bond and healthier attachment to our Savior, our Redeemer, our adoptive Father and Friend. You see, when Paul said, “run the race as to win the prize” he wasn’t talking about an orphan. He was talking about Jesus. Jesus is the prize. Run the race with both eyes set on him. Follow him and you will run the race well.

Thank you for reading what God has been teaching me. It is an honor to share and I pray you find Jesus and encouragement in it. If you desire to follow our adoption of Keemberlie from Haiti you can visit my blog at:

Thank you, Kari, for allowing me to participate in your incredible ministry to orphans and adoptive families.

Blessings and peace in Jesus,

Cindy Foote

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Guest Blogger – Band Geeks

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Guest Blogger – Band Geeks

Posted on 27 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

When Keith and I returned from Uganda with our two newest blessings some things had changed.

Change #1… Our eldest Briley and I stood eye to eye for the first time. Yes, it happened. I now have a child that is about the same height as me. By the end of the year I will be looking up to my oldest son. And he loves it!

Change #2… Someone in the band department at Briley’s school thought that it would be really funny to change his instrument to the tuba while we were gone. You see, they have a hard time getting moms to agree to their child playing tuba. With Keith and me out of the country, and nobody to tell them no, they saw the opportunity and made the switch. Let me say this, I have a mini van which seats 6 in the back. I have 6 children. Where would one fit a tuba knowing that once in the carpool line you must be ready to jump out with everything in your lap? Because if your child does not exit the car swiftly the honking WILL begin. So, the day arrived when the blessed tuba was to start coming home and going back to school each day. The coming home part went just fine. I got to the school early, parked and we hoisted the case carrying the tuba into the back of the van. Briley happily played, and played, and played the afternoon and evening away. KaiaRose thought there was an elephant in the basement. The next morning I had a plan of attack. We would hoist the tuba into the front seat. Once stopped in the carpool line, Briley would hop out of the back seat, open the front door, grab the ginormous tuba, slam the door and be on his way. But ya know how sometimes even a good, well thought out plan doesn’t always play out as you had predicted?

It went something like this. Kendric, KaiaRose and Clark hopped in the back. Elena, Grant and Briley sat in the middle. I hoisted the tuba in the front passenger seat, closed the door and walked around to sit in the driver seat. I sat down, shut my door, put the key in the ignition and started the car. I went to put the car in reverse… but the tuba case was shoved up against the shift and I couldn’t get my finger on the button that needed to be pushed in to put the car into reverse. So some smarty pants in the back suggested opening the door, pulling the tuba out enough to let me get the car into reverse, putting the tuba back in and driving up the driveway…. which is precisely what we did. Then once up the driveway, we opened the door, pulled the tuba out slightly and I was able to shift into drive. Tuba back snuggled against me, we drove to school.

Let me just tell you it was all I could do to not drag all six children into the school once we arrived with the tuba and walk up to the band director and say, ‘Seriously?… Are you kidding me? This isn’t funny band geek.’ But I had to get the other kids to school. Briley successfully removed the tuba, which weighs more than he does, and hauled it into school swiftly without producing honking from cars behind us. Determination at work.

After school Briley had a tuba lesson. You see All County Band auditions were right around the corner and Briley desperately wanted to be sitting in one of those four tuba seats. My mind was made up. Boys who weigh less than the tuba and have five siblings just shouldn’t play the tuba. He could fight for one of the all county trombone chairs. I saw my chance. With the five little ones in tow, I was going to break up with the tuba and reunite our love affair with the trombone.

We walk towards the band room. I am sure. No more tuba. I don’t care if he cries, begs me to change my mind, or throws a raging fit. No more tuba. No more tuba. No more tuba. Then I open the band room door and hear the elephant noises and I see the back of Briley’s head. He is finishing up his lesson. When he plays his last note, all five kiddos start clapping wildly… like they were at their first rock concert wild, like Briley was a superstar wild.

The band director turned and saw our cute family adoring their big brother. He asked if he may have a word with me alone. Perfect. I can now end this tuba foolishness. We stepped a few steps away, just far enough away from the kids that if we talked quietly nobody could hear us. He started, ‘Mrs. Penner. I have taught band for possibly longer than you have been living. And in all those years I have never seen someone grasp the tuba like your son has. It is amazing. In three weeks he has gone farther than some kids who are on their second year of playing have gone. I want to keep working with him after school (for free) to give him some more practice.’

I couldn’t get a word in. The man was so excited he wasn’t even taking a breath… just spouting out his words. ‘I realize with the size of your family, transporting a tuba back and forth might be near impossible. And I am just assuming, but knowing you just adopted two children, I can see that purchasing a tuba to keep at home could be out of the question. So how about we loan Briley two tubas (for free, not renting). We will keep one here and you can take this tuba home and keep it through the end of middle school. If Briley keeps up his practicing, he has a very good chance of getting a college scholarship playing the tuba.’

Last night we sat at the All County Band Concert. Briley sat in the fourth tuba chair. He was one happy little tuba player. And I was one happy little tuba mom.

Wonder if they make ‘Tuba Mom’ bumper stickers?

Jena Penner

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Guest Blogger – Young Adoption Story


Guest Blogger – Young Adoption Story

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

My husband and I have been on a journey to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia since January 2010. While some people might think about such a journey and consider the paperwork, the funds, the waiting – we have tried to focus on the journey the Lord has for us in this. We are fortunate not to be turning to adoption as a last resort due to fertility or related troubles, so perhaps that is part of what helps us try to put this different perspective on it for us. We are adopting because we feel God has called us to give a father to the fatherless and a mother to the motherless. In keeping with this perspective we have been able to see some beautiful pictures of the Lord and how he feels about adoption.

When we started looking into adoption I knew that God was calling us to adopt. I knew of James 1:27. I know the concept of God’s adoption of us into his family. The one thing I didn’t know was what a big part of God’s word and actions have been about adoption. From Moses to Esther to Samuel, we are able to see these huge characters that were not only a part of God’s plan but were also adopted. Of course, God often shows us what is relevant to us while reading the scriptures, and that is what makes it a living book. However, I can’t help but notice how so much of God’s word talks directly of the orphan.

Here are some examples:

In you the orphan finds mercy. – Hosea 14:3

Never take advantage of any widow or orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I will hear their cry. – Exodus 22:22-23

You are the helper of the fatherless. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more. – Psalms 10:14,17-18

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families. – Psalms 68:5-6

When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do. – Deuteronomy 24:19

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. – Isaiah 1:17

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. – Proverbs 31:8-9

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. – Matthew 18:5

I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me! – Matthew 25:40

if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. – Isaiah 58:10

I believe that the scriptures hold it to be true that we are all called to the orphan. If you don’t feel like adoption is possible for you – you may be wrong. Don’t let finances hold you back. God will provide. There are opportunities for grants, refundable tax credits, interest free loans, fundraisers, and subsidies. If you are certain God is not calling you to adopt at this time, you may want to find ways to support orphans in another way. Perhaps a missions trip, a fundraiser for an orphanage, and sometimes just writing a check is where God is leading you. However, the need is great and those willing to step up are few. I am certain God is calling more than are willing to admit it. I am certain that if we all moved when God called us there would probably not be near as much poverty, orphanages, hungry and suffering. 147 million orphans in the world today tells me that there are probably about 147 million Christians who have not asked God what He would have them do for the orphan. Lets step up to the plate. Lets start emptying orphanages in masses. Lets follow Christ!

If you would like to read my other ramblings – check out my family’s blog at

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Guest Blogger – Alaska Adoption Family


Guest Blogger – Alaska Adoption Family

Posted on 21 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

Mach Family Adopts from Ethiopia!!

Geez, where to even start, you know? I’m sure you do! I’m sure your readers do too … becoming “paper pregnant” and choosing adoption is much like have biological kids, I think … people say “well how did you know?” “what told you, you were ready?” “what made you think, now” … I don’t know that any of us can answer that, no matter how our children come to us, but we do know one thing: we have another baby that is out there, waiting to join our family.

Adoption has always been on our minds … and our hearts even more so. It’s been years in the making, slowing growing our family and then, this past winter (Dec ’09) it was a full-blown moment of looking at each other with a nod and at first, a silent agreement … you know the look. When you know what the other person is thinking; what they are feeling. We rang in the New Year knowing we were ready to add to our family and without hesitation, began our journey toward adoption.

We’ve “officially” been in paper-chase mode since February of 2010 and as of September 2010 went on the wait list with our agency. Yes, we’ve hit the three month mark and feel ever-so eager & excited to bring our little one home.

We feel so blessed & amazed by the love & support we’ve received in our community, in our circle of family & friends, and from those across the country (and even in other countries worldwide). Since November 12th, we’ve been running an online auction that pretty much allows anyone, anywhere to join in! Between a summer garage sale, flat donations to build our puzzle and the auction donations & fundraising, we are slowly but surely chipping away at travel expenses (all the way from Alaska! yes, part of the huge reason we are fundraising – we have a looooong journey ahead of us!). It’s open season on the items that are left – just in time to put a few more gifts under the Christmas tree for anyone who still has some shopping to do!

We also have a teacher-friend who has opened up her ENTIRE Discovery Toys store to us! You can browse & buy directly from this link here:
Or go to our blog ( to read a little more … it even caught the attention of the Discovery Toys Twitter team – how fun is that!

Sometimes I often wish that I could ‘quickly sum up’ our adoption journey … but the truth is, many, many great things can’t be ‘summed up’ in just a few simple words. They are guided by the people we’ve ‘met along the way’, that we didn’t even know were a part of our journey (i.e., like an old neighbor’s son, who was adopted from, you guessed it Ethiopia and shares my birth-date) but looking back now, clearly are. It’s life’s simple reminder: that we are all a part of this together … our lives are all inter-woven, weaving webs & stories that connect us, sometimes in ways that we’ll never know.

We are excited to weave the next chapter in our story … and watch it unfold, even better than we could have imagined.

Here’s our blog:

{Our home away from home on the web}

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Guest Blogger – Best Interest Of Our Kids


Guest Blogger – Best Interest Of Our Kids

Posted on 20 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

In The Best Interest of Our Kids

Sometimes life is very unfair. It hurts when it happens to me. It’s extra painful when it happens to my kids.

The Mama Bear in me wants to fight. For there are so many injustices that I feel I’ve already let go. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just had enough and I’m ready to raise my claws and fight for what’s right.

Have you ever felt that way?  If you’re a mom, I’d almost guarantee it.

The thing is – in retrospect; sometimes I wonder if I was really fighting for what I felt was right or if I was simply pouting.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes pouting is justified. For a brief period. Life can dish out some raw deals. It can be very lopsided at times and it hurts. But what if I pout so much so that I miss what it is that God is trying to show me through the unfairness? What if my child misses what He’s trying to show them because of my interference?

It’s excruciating to let your child go through heartache in order for them to be better people. Sometimes they need to be humbled, embarrassed, or even need to feel lonely in order to get a message from God. In order to become less proud, kinder, or more empathetic to others.

I want my children to become all that they can be for the Lord. Of course I’d prefer it if they could be all they could be WITHOUT all the tough lessons involved. But it doesn’t work that way. I wish it did.

My job is to let God do His job. And sometimes I can just get in the way. I hold my kids so tightly in my heart and in my arms. It’s hard to see clearly at times. It’s hard to understand how something so clearly wrong could be for their benefit. But it can. If I’ve placed Him as the authority in their lives – it truly can.

There are some things of course, that we need to step up and take on on behalf of our kids. Some things physically, spiritually, or emotionally could harm them. These things are where God calls us into battle and we should be ready to get our armor on. But those other things – those things where we tend to snivel a bit and pout because it just wasn’t “fair”…those are the tough things that we have to get on our knees and ask God to help us let go and let Him take over.

In the best interest of our kids.

Dionna Sanchez is Founder of the Emphasis On Moms Ministry at She also blogs over at

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Guest Blogger – DIY Christmas Crafts

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Guest Blogger – DIY Christmas Crafts

Posted on 17 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

This year Christmas decorating consisted of looking at what I had and trying to make something fresh and new from it. I am not very crafty, but being on an adopting family budget meant that purchasing new decor was just not feasible, so I had to get creative fast.
After much experimenting, I came up with a few ideas that are easy and affordable.
Warning: any Martha Stewart crafters may want to stop reading now….
The first little decorating tip I came up with is so simple and versatile. It’s also a perfect way for little ones to help out.
1.) You know those vases the florist brings that are buried in your kitchen cupboards? Find them. If you have a few extra bucks, visit a discount store like Marshall’s and invest in a variety of sizes of hurricanes or apothecary jars. I have a hodge podge of florist vases and hurricanes that I use.
2.) Look through your Christmas decor and find any surplus Christmas balls, pine cones, bells, or seasonal silk flowers.
3.) Stuff those vases to your heart’s content! Give one to your children for them to arrange, too. I went a little overboard with the Christmas balls this year, but I say it’s okay to go a little glitzy for Christmas!

This fall I filled my hurricanes with pine cones and fall foliage. For Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking of filling them with conversation hearts or Hershey’s Kisses. Miniature Easter eggs in the Spring and citrus in the Summer and you’ve got year round decorations!
Another idea I had was born of my love for Christmas cards. The only problem I had was that the card holder we own only holds 10 cards or so. I’ve shopped around, but haven’t found any that held more cards. Then I found this lone bulletin board in the garage.

Add some burlap, a little garland and an accent flower, and  you’ve got a perfect way to display all of those cards! Simply use a hot glue gun to wrap the bulletin board with burlap and add garland or flowers.

Who doesn’t love those adorable personalized kids’ shirts? I wanted something special for my preschooler to wear for his Christmas program, but most personalized shirts cost about $20. I found a plain red shirt in his closet and got to work creating my own. I used scraps of fabric and Heat and Bond to jazz up this shirt. The letters and Christmas tree shape were just things I printed off of my computer and used as templates to cut out. The package of Heat and Bond gives great directions, so all you’ve got to do is iron, cut, iron. Finish it off with a zigzag stitch (what I like to call faux embroidery) and you’re all done!

For a great gift idea, try embellishing simple tea towels with cute Christmasy shapes using Heat and Bond.

#55 boy, #76 girl!

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1st Bloggy Christmas Cookie Exchange

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1st Bloggy Christmas Cookie Exchange

Posted on 15 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m hosting my 1st annual Bloggy Christmas Cookie Exchange.  I need your help and contribution of a cookie recipe to make this happen in bloggy land.  You can participate in two ways- leave your yummy cookie recipe and your blog link in the comments or add your cookie recipe link (on your blog) with Linky Tools.

Here is my cookie recipe to share… I made these last year for my mom’s cookie exchange party.

Kris Kringle Cookies

Make your favorite sugar cookie dough.

Cut out sugar cookie dough using a heart-shaped cookie cutter and bake according to the package or recipe directions.  Once they have cooled, turn each heart upside down and frost the two rounded parts with white icing. Then top with shredded coconut to create Santa’s beard and sideburns. Use red decorating gel to turn the point of the heart into Santa’s hat and add more coconut for the trim. Add mini chocolate chip eyes and a red gel nose, and you’ve got yourself one jolly old elf.

DIY Kids and Moms Cookie Exchange

Kids love to play with dough so why not bake cookies – ones that kids can star in – ones that need patting, pressing and rolling in balls. Of course sprinkles and frosting are finger lickin’ fun as well. Bake with your child. Take one kind of cookies and exchange with other moms and kids and come home with a bunch of cookies you can gift or be proud to serve to family and friends.

Blogger, Tip Junkie has some great ideas on how to host your own cookie exchange.

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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Ethiopian Orphans


Ethiopian Orphans

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

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Mommy DIY + Snow Ice Cream

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Mommy DIY + Snow Ice Cream

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

This was my very first Mommy DIY post last winter.  A blast from the past- watch the video and start making snow memories today!  I realize many of you already knew I was a crazy mom, but this video proves my craziness.  I thought it would be fun to make this activity out in the elements- it was freezzzing!  My adorable son, Michael helped make it so fun!

What is your favorite snow memory?  Share with me in the comments.

If you don’t live near snow, you can still make snow ice cream- find a way to make or buy shaved ice- we have a snow cone maker that spits out the best fake snow!  Be creative & have fun!

Snow Ice Cream:

  • 1/2 cups half & half or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups of clean snow or shaved ice

Blend the milk, sugar and vanilla together until the sugar dissolves.  Mix 4 cups of snow & stir until you get the same consistency of ice cream.  Add toppings or chocolate syrup to make a Snowy Sundae!

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Mommy DIY + 48 Hr. Simply Love Sale!!

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Mommy DIY + 48 Hr. Simply Love Sale!!

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

You asked and I delivered!!  Thanks for all your emails begging for Simply Love tees for Christmas presents.  I have new tees in stock and want to offer them to you for the next 48 hours!!  I’m re-opening up my crazy store just for YOU!!!!!!  Click on the Store button located top right side column and gooooo shopping!!!  I will mail all the tees on Thursday 12/16 just in time for Santa.  Merry Christmas bloggy friends!!


Are you gearing up for another snowy week in your neck of the woods? My daughter, Hannah loves making custom T shirts- and this one caught her eye.  Mommy DIY tip:  this is a craft that needs minimal help, but its a fun way to sit and watch munching on cookies and hot cocoa together.  If you have a fun wintry craft, please share your idea or link in the comments.

Making this one-of-a-kind tee involves some waiting time, so it’s a perfect craft for sleepovers or winter break.

  • Permanent marker
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • White cotton shirt
  • Tacky glue
  • Sponge brush (or a new kitchen sponge)
  • Fabric paint
Total Time Needed: Weekend Projects
  1. Let-It-Snow T-shirt - Step 2Use a permanent marker to draw a thick-lined snowflake template on the paper, or download ours here.
  2. Place the template over the cardboard and slip both inside the shirt, centering them behind the upper front of the garment. You should be able to see the template through the shirt.
  3. Using a thin line of tacky glue (about 1/4-inch wide), trace the snowflake design onto the shirt. Let it dry for 10 minutes, then fill in any gaps with additional glue. Let the glue dry completely, until it is transparent (approximately 3 hours).
  4. Dip the sponge brush in the paint and dab around the snowflake, completely covering the surrounding area. Use less paint toward the outer edge of the design. Let the paint dry overnight.
  5. Soak the tee in warm water for about 10 minutes or until the glue softens. Peel off the glue and let the shirt dry, then follow the package instructions to set the fabric paint.

Family Fun Crafts & Photos.

Click button everyday 2 Vote- that’s it to help make My Crazy Adoption #1 mommy blog.
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Crazy Links I Love

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Crazy Links I Love

Posted on 11 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

  • This is the perfect Christmas gift for adoptive families-  an album of adoption songs, well-reviewed by Adoptive Families Magazine (which says, among other nice things, “For kids who don’t like to talk about adoption, this CD may help get those crucial conversations started naturally.”) Chuck Kent is currently partnering with World Vision to donate all his proceeds during November and December to their work with children, especially orphans and vulnerable children worldwide (feeling we adoptive families need to also be supportive of children who may never be adopted).  He generously sent our family a CD and we love it!!  The website is
  • Introducing the 1st “Simply Love Ukraine” tee shirt!!  The Scharosch Family had the privilege of naming it… Logan, in honor of their new son!!  All families that use the Ukraine shirt for fundraising in the future will be blessed with his name!  A Heart For One More Blog here.
  • The Allee Family are adopting from Ethiopia and they need our help. “We just accepted a sibling set off the wait list and have to have $14,700 dollars to keep them as our children. We are soo soo in love and they are already a part of our family, just not on paper. We currently have several fund raisers going on at our blog and could use as many people coming over to our blog to check it out as possible. We are doing a Scentsy fundraiser, a Barefoot Book fundraiser, A Junk Posse fundraiser and we are selling hand made ornaments, PR project shirts and aprons”- you can help here.
  • Simply Love Adoption + Youth Tees!!!  “We are the first couple to offer simply love infant sized tee shirts!!”  Our blog is Adam and Amanda Brown
  • Do a little Christmas shopping, and you will be helping to purchase Christian resources for our friends in Mexico at Iglesia Bautista Dicipulos De Cristo (Disciples of Christ Baptist Church), and their Mission Churches. From now until the end of December my income from your purchase of Inspirational Jewelry, from my Compelling Creations website, will be used to pay for a Youth Bible Study in Spanish. Thanks for helping! Shop here
  • Acadia Garland Christmas Beads- you can purchase 9 ft. and 13 ft. garland for your Christmas tree!! Giving life to widows and orphans in Uganda.
  • “Hello All! Just wanted to let you know that we are GIVING AWAY an iPod Touch!  We are raising money for another mission trip and though someone would LOVE to win one either for themselves or to giveaway as a Christmas gift.
    Check out the details on my blog!”

If YOU have a favorite link or a project to share… leave your name, project and URL in the comments today!!

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The Girl Effect: The Sequel


The Girl Effect: The Sequel

Posted on 10 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

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