Archive | Mommyhood

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Guest: Mommyhood Story – A Mom’s HIV Healing

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Kari Gibson

My Life Is Crazy Too is a series of reader submissions. Your life is a story … this is your opportunity to share your stories about life, love, and mommyhood to provide understanding, hope, and compassion in the unique situations each of us face every day. “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the STORY of your love.” Ps 89:1 If you would like to submit a story to this series, Today’s crazy guest is Shanna Lehr.

This is Shanna’s story …

It was April of 2005 and I was a newly pregnant woman as well as a nurse. I could not have been more excited to be having our first child. God had called my husband and I to start a church in Raleigh, North Carolina, so we would be moving in a few months -16to begin our preparation. I went in for my first “routine” prenatal exam at my Obstetrician’s office. At the end of the appointment, where I had blood drawn and a sonogram to look for our baby’s heart beat, my Doctor said that he would see me in about four weeks, as long as all of my tests came back ok. As soon as he said that, I suddenly had a pit in my stomach, but chalked it up to “new mom jitters”. I walked out of the doctor’s office that day excited to have just seen a tiny heart beating and amazed by the miracle of life.

Several days later, my Doctor called. He began the phone conversation with things like “I’m so sorry…. I don’t know how to tell you this, (long pause) but…. your lab results say that you are HIV positive.” I was stunned. I sat there on the other side of the phone. I knew what he had said, but did he really just say THAT?!  All I could muster was a breathless, “What?!” I couldn’t breathe.

I was driving in busy Dallas traffic when I received this phone call. It was all I could do to get home. I knew my husband would be waiting for me there and I had no idea how I would tell him this news. I cried the whole way home and begged God not to let it be true. But, my doctor had just told me that the anti-body test had been repeated several times and then, the Western Blot confirmed that I indeed was HIV positive.

In the first hour after finding this out and having to break this terrible news to my husband, I said to him, “How can we start a church? We need to move to an island where no one knows us.” Yes. I said that. It’s amazing how irrational we can be in moments of crisis. I also said, “I’m so sorry for this baby. How could we do this to a child? Why did we get pregnant?” There were so many unknowns and the more I thought, the worse my view of our future became.

This was life altering, as you can imagine. It stopped us in our tracks and forced us to make a decision. In those days, between redrawing my blood to retest it, we fell before the Lord on our faces in tears, buckets of tears. We told God we believed He could heal. We told Him there was no other place we would turn. We knew He had the words to eternal life and we knew that we would follow Him with our lives no matter what He allowed. There were many conversations during those days. Many big prayers prayed in the quiet of my heart as well as with my husband and many scriptures were read that were foundational to us believing the truth, instead of the lies the Enemy would have loved for us to believe.

Later that night, after crying loads of tears and calling my parents to tell them what was happening, we began to search the scripture. It was just all we could do to ask the Lord for a word. My husband began reading in James 4:2…”we have not because we ask not”. “Shanna” he said, “We are not going to have HIV, because we didn’t ask God to take it away.” I loved that he was saying “we”. I knew I wasn’t alone in this. We prayed. We begged God for a miracle.  Then, we asked our dear friend Marc, who is a pastor to come over. He laid his hands on me and prayed that God would fill my body with new blood. I remember that prayer like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget thinking, “Wow! I wouldn’t have thought to ask for new blood!” If you have never been through something so life altering you may not understand. If you have, then friend, you know exactly how much I anticipated new blood running through my veins!

“We have not, because we ask not.” So we asked.

We understood that God didn’t have to heal. In fact, at the time, being only in our late twenties, we had already experienced enough life to realize that sometimes God chooses the very difficult things to bring glory to Himself. I think this is a terribly difficult concept though. It’s easily said, but not easily lived. Because, when you are the one whose life is about to drastically change, your real concern is not often “God’s glory”, but rather, for your comfort. I understand this and I wrestle with it still.

The Lord used one passage of scripture very powerfully for me. It is found in Mark 9 where a father brings his demon possessed son to Jesus. He must be at the end of his rope, after-all he has a son who literally couldn’t be taken out in public and when he was, it was dangerous. I think I have it bad when my children grab grape juice off the aisle at the grocery store and it falls down in slow motion and breaks. This man had a son that was throwing himself into fire and getting burned and then into water and almost drowning! I imagine this man felt a little like we did. He was shocked, tired and probably a little mad about his situation…but he had hope. He brought the little hope that he had and placed it before Jesus. Their conversation went something like this…

“Jesus, my son is demon possessed. Look at all he is doing! If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”
Jesus: “If I can? Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the father responded, “I believe! I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!”

I was there. I believed that God could heal me, but would He? It was all too big for me. I was a young woman who was pregnant for the first time. I was already in love with a little baby that had just begun growing inside of me. I feared for her future. I feared for mine. But I had hope, because I knew God. I laid the hope I had before the Lord and begged Him for healing. I had determined that no matter what the outcome, God would get the glory.

God did choose to heal me!  After further testing, the new vials of blood came back negative for HIV. The lab was so confused by all of this that they went back to my old vials of blood and they too came back negative!  I have been retested several times since then, because this is standard protocol in pregnancy.  With each of our other 3 children, I have been reminded of the great big miracle God performed in my life. Each of their lives screams of His amazing grace. Praise Him!

Looking back almost 8 years later, I see God’s hand all over my life. I see how much more I love Him. I see how hard church ministry really can be and how much we needed to know the strength of the Lord in such an intimate way. We needed to know that nothing is impossible for the Mighty Healer. I thank God continually for His grace in my life and will certainly never get over this miracle. I also see that Christians have a great responsibility to love those with this disease. There are HIV+ orphans who need to be adopted into a loving family and there are many others who simply need to receive life-saving medications and some who need to hear the hope that is still offered to them through Jesus. The church can make a difference here! We need to be a safe place for those whose life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. Jesus didn’t shy away from the sick, in fact, he touched them and shared the hope he came to give. So, how will you respond?

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Our life verses:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

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Am I A Good Mom On The Field?

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Kari Gibson

I love being a mom! I can’t believe the adventures being a mom has brought to my life. I’ve had the honor of mommyhood for 19 years and grateful for the hours and days and years I’ve spent with my three beautiful children! The ups and downs and challenging mom days have prepared me in so many ways to have the courage to face the new dreams in my life. I’ve made so many mistakes through the years, I lost count after the first year of my son, Michael’s life. Every day is an opportunity to grow in love, wisdom, forgiveness, prayer, perseverance, and faith. I often tell my friends, I wake up every morning grateful for another day my kids are making good choices, and committed to living a Christ filled life. We all know life is hard, and parenting never gets any easier, no matter where you live in the world.

I think the greatest challenge this year has been mentally, asking myself countless times, am I a good mom on the mission field? It was the scariest decision to bring our two daughters, five year old, Zoie and sixteen year old, Hannah with us on our mission-adventure. Making the choice to home-school was easy, but actually homeschooling scared me to death. The fear rippled through me for months, can I really do this?Will I ruin Hannah’s education? Can I do a good job? The fear kept me up at nights, and even though the theme I rewind over and over … do it afraid played in my mind, like a broken record, I really had no idea if this was going to work out. It’s amazing the people God put in my path to encourage me as a mom on the field. Mom’s came out of every corner helping me pick the best programs and reassuring me, I could do it!! Even though, I doubted, I moved forward with baby steps and a whole lot of prayer. I’m happy to report, homeschooling my girls has been such a joy and privilege this year. They have both had great attitudes (which really helps) and have handed me the gift of grace. The last thing Zoie’s preschool teacher (my best friend) told me before we headed to Haiti was, “make every day count and don’t mess this up!”

Michael and Hannah and Zoie have made big sacrifices going with Roger and I on our 12-month mission adventure. Believe me, I’m reminded every single day sleeping on bunkbeds, and taking cold showers … battling killer mosquitoes and critters when we go outside our little cement house. I’m constantly worried about one of us getting malaria or worse, dengue from the day mosqs. At night, when the voodoo drums are pounding, I wonder really how safe we are in the village of Pignon. This much I can say, Jesus has never failed us. He has been faithful and caring and patient with our family. It’s so hard for me to understand WHY He asked our family to give our stuff up and go. He could never have picked a bigger wimp than me. Seriously, I’ve lived life as safe as I can … just ask my family and friends. They will testify that I am a big chicken, that I like being comfortable, that I have been at times, selfish with my time and money. I’ve lived many years thinking only about me and my needs. It breaks my heart to think of all the time I’ve wasted in my life. I feel embarrassed knowing how many people I’ve hurt in my past, due to un-forgiveness and selfishness. I’m the last person in the world that would have thought God would ask to serve as a missionary. Writing this, I have tears streaming down my face, because I know how many chances God has given me as His adopted daughter. He never gave up on me, and continues to hold my hand as I learn to live in His will. I will be forever humbled and grateful that God gave me grace grace in every area of my life, and decided to take a chance with me serving and loving big on the field. I’ve lived an out-of the box life and I know what a privilege it’s been to have the family I grew up with and the unique opportunities being Gary Smalley’s daughter gave me the past 46 years. I try to call or text my parents often to thank them for being the best parents and believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in me. I’m working on forgiving myself most of all … asking the Lord to allow me for the rest of my life to share the gospel and serve Him through Simply Love ministry anywhere in the world where He needs me the most. Am I willing to go? Yes, I’m willing to continue to be stripped, and used, and molded to do the purpose God called me to do. Am I scared? Oh yeah!! But, I don’t want to waste another second of my life not doing what He has called me to do. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

So, am I a good mom on the mission field? I pray that God works through all my crazy mistakes and failures as a mom, and … I want my three children to have the courage to take risks, try new things, obey God at ALL costs, and never be afraid to live a God-adventure. I hope I have in some crazy way, modeled for my kids to serve big and love big … no matter what you have to give up in life, no matter where you live in this world. God can use us if we are willing to simply love.

What are you willing to give up to live a new God-adventure?

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Our Super Nanny

Posted on 30 July 2012 by Kari Gibson

I have been a mom for 18 years and I’ve never had the rare opportunity to have a nanny. In my world, we hire a babysitter for a few hours when we want a night out without our 3 kids. Mary Poppins exists only in fairy tales, but my dream came true when we asked our dear friend, Dovie White (18) to come with us to Africa to take care of Zoie on the mission field. From the start, we planned on having our girls join us with ministry and serving and loving the community of Korah. We needed the extra set of arms and eyes to watch out for our energetic 4 year old. I’m sure many of you, after hearing we were bringing our daughters to Ethiopia, wondered how in the world we would handle missions and parenting. Super-nanny, Dovie made that possible. She melted away my stress as a mom, knowing her passion for my daughters and strong temperament, a lioness, would handle the job like a pro. I needed someone to love and also keep control during the craziness. It was awkward at first to remind myself to ask her to do my mommy jobs, like make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches daily for Zoie. That was always my job at home, but super nanny jumped in with her heart wide open. There are some days when life in Korah is just too chaotic for Zoie to handle, so they enjoy a day at home playing and doing crafts.

Hannah’s favorite things about having Dovie here with her in Africa is her endless doses of encouragement, motivation, friendship, and having someone close to her own age. Dovie is Hannah’s small group leader at home, so she looks up to Dovie as a big sister and mentor. Super-nanny has adjusted like a seasoned veteran with new surroundings, changing guest houses (2x) and falling in LOVE with Korah… inside and out.

What does a super-nanny pack in her bag? Dovie thought of everything I forgot. She packed crafts, stickers, scissors, tape, books, and kid-friendly snacks, too. She helped Roger pack Zoie’s suitcase and went last second shopping at Walmart for items for Zoie from head to toes. She also packed compassion, endurance, flexibility too, in a special carry on bag … just for our family!

What does it take to be a super-nanny? Dovie’s strength and spunk and drive help her face the new challenges every day on the mission field. She wakes up in the morning and it never looks the same. Some days are sunny and some days are muddy. The loves she pours on my daughters makes me love her even more. She supports and encourages us in the big and small ways – every day. But the best of all, she has an incredible laugh and wicked sense of humor … just what I need to make it through my day!! It’s not easy being a super nanny, especially the days when Zoie is grumpy or tired. I’m thankful for her ability to re-direct and super size her patience. She has embraced everything Roger and I have thrown at her as newbie missionaries with grace and more grace. I’ve watched her grow in her love for Jesus and sharing the gospel to the unreached people groups. Yesterday, she told me she can’t wait to share the gospel at Missouri State University in the fall, taking what she has learned here in Africa back to her own community!

The best decision we ever made was bringing a super-nanny with us who has touched all of our lives in such a special way, but will take a BIG hunk of our hearts when she returns to the USA (with Mercy) on Aug. 10th. Thank you, Dovie for loving our family through the challenges, joys, fun, and craziness on our 1st mission adventure in Ethiopia!! We love you SUPER NANNY!!!!

Poem: Salom (by Dovie White aka: Super-Nanny)

I love Ethiopia for the people
dark and slim
for the smells of coffee and injera
for the joy that is within
I love Ethiopia for the walkers
hand in hand
for the animals that share the street
for the mountains and green land
I love Ethiopia for the rain
daily at three
for the language and the dancing
and the avocado tree
I love Ethiopia for the streets
horns blaring
driving fast
I love it for the way Korah
takes me to the past
I love Ethiopia
for their love of children true
for the bright smiles
and the buildings painted
Korah blue
I love Ethiopia
for the tea
and barbwire fence
for the courtyards and the guards
the way no one feels tense
I love Ethiopia for the friends that I have here
for the family that adopted me
for each lesson and each tear
I’m so thankful that I came
and so sad that I have to leave
but anxious beyond measure
to see what Ethiopia has done to me.


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Sleeping In Zoie’s Room

Posted on 17 July 2012 by Kari Gibson

We had to move guest homes a few days ago and in my heart, it wasn’t easy. We knew we had to move only one time this summer, but when the time came, I realized we all felt like home. (that’s good news) I made a nest for my family and we had to shake it up. We bought 4 new shelves for our home and unpacked our life on a few tiny shelves. Of course, the day we moved Zoie woke up with a fever and Roger left for Uganda. Moving days are always crazy, but the staff was here to help us every step of the way. (Thanks Sammy The Man!!) I always tell my teams they need to be flexible … take a flex pill when we are redirected on a new path. I had to pop a big flex pill!!!! I wanted to move and not grumble in front of my family, I needed to live what I preach! We moved and much to my surprise, I’m sleeping in Zoie’s room.

The last time our daughter Zoie Senait was in Ethiopia was four years ago. We met the tiniest, baldest, most beautiful baby girl at the orphanage and fell in love. Our adoption, radically changed our lives forever. Our family grew to five and we pray we always open our hearts for the kind of hospitality only God can create through adoption. Watching Zoie learn Amharic this summer has touched my heart in such a strange way. One of the most difficult part (for me) was removing our daughter from her homeland, her traditions, her culture, her everything… to a new world with our family. She bonded ferociously with her new family and she proudly shares … “I’m Ethiopian American” to her new friends here in Addis. She has learned so many Amharic words and phrases … picks it up so easy. Hearing her count to 10 in Amharic almost brings me to tears. I hoped and prayed she would embrace the country of her birth … we are watching her hug everything around her, except the food!! She is still our french fry loving girl, but we keep tempting her to try a little injera.

I’m sleeping in a small bed, but over it hangs a huge photo of Zoie Senait. I think she was a little shocked when she saw the wall art. “Mommy, why is my picture on the wall?” she asked me puzzled. I told her that she was kinda famous around these parts. I think she liked my answer. We are grateful for the McIlrath family and Ethiopia Guest Home and the extraordinary staff for embracing our family mission adventure. The staff are real life super-stars and we can’t imagine living anywhere else in Addis Ababa!!! So, if I have to move a few more times during our stay here, I think with a few flex pills and my Zoie wall art … this mommy will do just fine!

Thank you for praying for our family. I wanted to ask for specific prayer in these areas this week:

  1. Opportunities and boldness to share the gospel to the unreached people groups.. kids and adults. We have asked 15 street boys living near our guest home to go to Beza church on with us on Sunday. I have no idea what the laws are here on how many kids you can stuff in a van, but we’ll give it our best shot!
  2. Strength in body and spirit.
  3. Mercy’s health and travel plans to the USA
  4. Opportunities to offer support, care, and encouragement where it’s most needed with the Man Up Visiting Orphans team arriving to Ethiopia on Friday … make a major impact in Addis and Korah!!!


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A Letter to My Beautiful Daughter, Hannah

Posted on 02 July 2012 by Kari Gibson

Dear Hannah,

I was watching you today and couldn’t help wondering what special plan God has for your life. You were holding a precious little girl in your arms and I could picture so many things in your future. Your compassion, gentleness, and spunk have been unique gifts of yours since you were a baby. You started off life only weighing 2 pounds. Your spunk and determination not only saved your life, but it’s now giving the children you love big the same hope to never give up. This little girl probably doesn’t feel she has a future. We visited her home and it was only the size of your walk in closet. It’s hard to wrap our brains around the needs we see. Your gentleness made her feel safe and she fell asleep in your arms. The mission team even gave you the nickname- baby whisperer.

Dad and I know our family mission adventure to Ethiopia has been challenging for you. I’m sure you have a list a mile long of all the things you miss every day. You love alone time to just chill out and that luxury is pretty much non-existent in a 2 room guest house with 5 people living inside. You exchanged your huge closet for 1 shelf. I hope you know we could never do this journey without you … your joy, humor and silly creativity makes us laugh and relieve the stress of the day. I’ve watched your sister, Zoie cling to your confidence and joy as she ventures out trying new things. I heard her tell you today, “I want to do everything my big sister does!”

I’m also watching you with my “mommy” heart … hoping and praying you are growing, learning, stretching, and challenging your walk with the Lord to find contentment in any situation God puts in front of you. The greatest of all … sharing the gospel with the bright light inside of you to the people you meet every day.

Thank you for trusting us, your parents and jumping in with both feet to join us in loving and serving in a radical way here in Ethiopia. You will watch our achievements and failures… please give us big grace. I can only hope that our decisions and actions will make an impact in your heart that you will carry with you for the rest of your life… so you can better know Him. As you abide in Christ, listen to His heart. It beats for lost people.

I’m thankful you are my daughter and look forward every single day watching you grow into the woman God designed you to be.

I love you, Hannah


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My Daughter’s Beautiful Heart

Posted on 10 May 2012 by Kari Gibson

I was having a really tough day about a week after sharing the “adventure” with our kids. This was so big, so new, so scary, so different … moving to Haiti and Ethiopia for a year! We promised Hannah and Michael the freedom to feel exactly what they were feeling … no matter what! Our biggest prayer was not closing their spirits, but encouraging them to trust us and trust what Jesus has asked us to do as a family. That was a big request!

Hannah was watching me like a hawk after we met the new family adopting our dog, Tate. This was actually harder to tell the kids about their dog, than the actual mission adventure. Tate has been a part of our family for five years, but it’s not an option to take him along with us. We are living in a 1,200 sq ft. condo for 6 months during our transition time until November 20th! Tate’s new family is thrilled, but our family … not so thrilled. I went up to her room and laid down on her bed. She looked at me and I started boo hoo’ing … it breakes my heart we have to let our crazy dog go. I think it struck her heart to tenderness, seeing me so sad. I told her I needed a frappuccino and would she drive with me to happy hour at Starbucks.

“Mom, you need a good crying song and a coffee.” Oh my daughter knows me so well!

We jumped in the car and she picked the perfect song for me. Britt Nicole’s “walk on the water” … the song brought me to tears and we started laughing and crying together how crazy her mom really was. I cried all the way to Starbucks, but felt so good and connected to my daughter. I told her when the song finished …

“Hannah, this is THE HARDEST thing we have ever done in our life … but I couldn’t do this without you.”

“I know mom.” Smile.

The next day, I asked her her what was one word that described how she was feeling and one song she was feeling. My daughter expresses her feelings through her music. Her word- relaxed. Her song- What makes you beautiful (One Direction)

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Soccer Games Are For Hugging

Posted on 16 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

Zoie and her new soccer team, the Black Mambas had their very first game on Saturday. I forgot just how adorable 10 little four years old kicking the ball, picking up the ball, hitting the ball out of bounds, and running the opposite way on the field. Zoie ran over to the side lines about 8 times to give us a hug. She melted the four of us and we can’t wait for the next game!!

Are you a cheerleader or coach personality with your kids?

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God Sold Our Home!!!!!!

Posted on 11 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

I waited over 5 years to share this …. God just sold our home!!!!!!!!! The eve before Easter, we got THE crazy call that we have been praying and circling for years!!

He answers every prayer and keeps every promise. If you have the faith to dream big, pray hard, and think long …. there is NOTHING God loves more than proving His faithfulness. (The Circle Maker)

Do you remember this post in 2009 when I blogged about why we were selling our home? You, my blog friends, never wavered encouraging me here and here. We really believed God wanted us to give up our home and downsize to a smaller place to afford our upcoming adoption. It was very confusing and hopeless and discouraging when, year after year, it didn’t sell. Have you ever prayed for a miracle that had no answer? “Some of the hardest moments in life are when you prayed hard, but the answer is no and you don’t know why.” There were so many times it felt like God was actually getting in the way. And He was. And I’m glad He was. I think half the time, we were going in the wrong way. It was what we needed to keep moving forward. We built our dream home 10 years ago, but God changed our dreams. We want to give God ALL the glory for this miracle. I can’t wait to share with you the story from start to sell. It will blow you away! I’m still processing what He’s done for our family.

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My Top 3 Things … Coming Up

Posted on 05 April 2012 by Kari Gibson

I can’t believe what YOU did!! You helped us sell 676 tee shirts for the mission trip giveaway AND support the Haiti and Moldova projects with Children’s HopeChest. You made a big difference in the life of countless children and communities that will benefit from your donations! The winner of the mission trip will be announced on April 2nd on Facebook (look to the right side of my blog and click on Like!)

This sweet family in Pignon, Haiti thanks you, too …

Don’t forget, CHC requests your patience on waiting for your new Simply Love and Man Up tees (did they do an amazing job or what!) They are ordering all 676 tees in bulk to save every penny for the mission projects. As soon as they get the tees printed … they will mail out to you! Again, THANK YOU for your cheers, prayers, support, and shout outs for the past two weeks!

What’s next in my crazy life? Here are my top three big events coming up …. Continue Reading

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What Will You Gain When You Lose?

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Kari Gibson

I have a confession. Do you remember this post? The past three years, I have gained a total 25 pounds simply eating really unhealthy foods and not exercising. It was this recipe that really did me in. I’ve heard the rumors that when you hit 40 you can start gaining weight and really tough to get it off. I hated feeling like I was going to roll down the hill on my last mission trip to Haiti. We had to hike a mile up a steep hill to visit baby Julie and I was really struggling with burning in my chest and thighs (ugh) and breathing like I was running a marathon in high heels. Well, I came home and made a decision to self-care and get back in shape. I’ve been on a special eating plan the past 9 weeks. I stopped eating white sugar and white four …. I’ve lost 11 pounds, but now hit that dreaded plateau. If I’m going to lose the last 14 pounds, I’m going to have to up my game and start sweating and moving faster. There are so many “changes” in my life right now, that have challenged me to up my game spiritually. If you’ve been following my blog the past few months, you know we are selling our home. It’s been on the market for 5 years and we (as of this week) have our first potential buyer. They love our home and have come back 2x to walk through it! They left a note on the kitchen counter “we are praying through our decision.” I’m continuing through Mark Batterson’s book – and circling my dreams and praying fervently for His promises. When Roger and I decided to let go of our home, we knew we would gain so much more.

There is nothing God loves more than keeping His promises. He is actively watching and waiting for us to simply take Him at His word. He is watching over Matt. 18:18. He is watching over Is 59:21. He is watching over Luke 7:23. He is watching over each and every promise, and if that doesn’t fill you with holy confidence, nothing will. Praying hard is standing on the promises of God. And when we stand ON His word, God stands BY His word. His word is His bond. #The Circle Maker

I’m processing this idea of being a “risk taker.” Honestly, I wasn’t always willing to take a risk in my life … this is a new adventure. I typically handled risk like the Israelites- complaining or begging for a way out. Too often we let how get in the way of what God wants us to do. We can’t figure out how to do what God has called us to do, so we don’t do it at all. Mark Batterson calls this kind of risk “this is crazy” moments. Continue Reading

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I’ve Had The Time Of My Life

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Kari Gibson

Roger and I met in high school when I was 16 years old (he was 14) and life was never the same. For those of you who knew us in those good old days at Scottsdale Christian Academy, I’m sure you wondered often why… a) I was rocking the cradle b) young love never lasts c) what did I see in the school rebel? I guess all those years ago, I fell in love with the guy of my dreams, but never dreamed we would have the grandest adventure for 20 years! I’ve had the time of my life! What I love most of all, being married to a younger man (he’s still soooo cute) and our love DID last, and he’s still a rebel … for God! We are so excited to see what God has planned this year for our family. We are praying for big, crazy dreams! We are both reading The Circle Maker and circling and praying and dreaming! Together, we want make the year 2012 one to remember!

Today is my 20th anniversary!!!!!! I thought it would be fun to show off some crazy photos from our beginning through the years- just the “two of us” pics. It’s kinda a big deal to celebrate 20 years of marriage, so I wanted to brag just a little in this fun video titled LOVE LIKE CRAZY! Continue Reading

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Tornado Craziness In My Hometown Branson, Missouri

Posted on 03 March 2012 by Kari Gibson

I’ve been MIA this week from my blog due to the tornado that ripped though my city of Branson, MO. I had the privilege of working with 6 families that lived about 2 miles from my home, salvage and pack up their belongings that survived the storm. It was heartbreaking to watch families and business in my hometown lose everything, but not their spirits. We have all come together as neighbors and friends. The crazy miracle, no one lost their lives- only minor injuries. When you look at the photos I took on my clean up project, you won’t believe their survival stories.

Please pray for my community as they heal and rebuild the city we love! The show will go on!




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40 Crazy Things To Do On A Snowy Day

Posted on 14 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

Welcome to My Crazy Adoption Blog!!  The blog reads just like a magazine.  I blog daily for moms and advocating for adoption and orphan care in a crazy way!  I’d love for you to check out posts, videos, and articles from top to bottom- it’s my passion to blog with a purpose and have fun making new bloggy friends along the adventure.  The best way for me to meet you is by becoming a regular commenter.  I read every comment and respond to as many of you as I can.  You can also email me if you want to chat privately.  Thank you for stopping by and joining the craziness!

I leave for Haiti in a few days, so stop by and read all the new posts from incredible guest bloggers.

Moms, I found this super cool blogger Frugal Upstate that had a great article on snowy day activities to do when school is closed and your kids are starring at you to be fun!  I came up with snow ice cream, but Jenn came up with 40+ things to do outside & inside.

40 Things to do on a School Snow Day- click here for list!


“When I was a kid having a school snow day was like an unexpected gift-suddenly, for no reason you get a WHOLE DAY, right smack in the middle of the week.  No school!! The thrill! The joy!

Every time there was so much as a flake in the sky we’d scramble for the radio and listen anxiously hoping against hope that in the regular mix of morning show banter and songs we’d get that magical list of schools that were closed.  And oh the anxiety if we caught the list half way through. . . we’d have to wait another 10 minutes until they ran through it again!

As an adult with 2 primary school aged children to entertain I have to admit that snow days don’t fill me with quite the same joy they once did.  I work on letting go of my anxiety about all the things I’m “supposed” to be getting done and use it as a special day to connect with my kids.  With a little thought and inspiration you can use snow days to build special memories with your kids-even teens!”

To get you started on your own snow day fun, here are 40 fun things to do on a school snow day.


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10 Favorite Photos That Make Me Smile

Posted on 12 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

The past month has been a whirlwind of family fun. I thought it would be fun to show off my top 10 photos of my adorable family and friends.

#1 – Thank you Ijames Family for the amazing Christmas cookout and hayride- it was the wildest ride of my life (aka Jack Bauer!)

#2 – This was my mom’s 15th annual Christmas Cookie Party. You throw the best parties, mom!

#3 – Christmas Night. Santa visited our home before we left for our 14 day road trip (thanks Santa!!)

#4 – Road trip craziness!! Headed to CO and AZ with 1 van + 3 kids + fun!

#5 – Gibson girls enjoying the snow and sun!

#6 – I love my big, crazy family!!

#7 – Sisters-of-the-heart

#8 – Zoie wonders if that tongue could really be real?

#9 – We had the best day at the Phx. zoo! We have our own “Bear” in the family (way to go Michael)

#10 – Hannah wearing Nanny Gibson’s wedding dress.


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Do You Want To Be A Crazy Guest?

Posted on 10 January 2012 by Kari Gibson

I’m traveling to Haiti with 16 mission-hearted people to simply LOVE big for 7 days this month with Visiting Orphans. Do you want to be a guest here on my blog? I’d really like to collect your crazy stories about mommyhood, adoption, and missions. I want to continue to use your stories to inspire readers to make a difference. There IS a place for short term missions with a purpose to go and share Him to all who are lost. I want to hear about your God-Adventure. Moms and Dads, you are making a difference every day in the life of your children. I want to hear the heartbeat of your daily craziness. If you have adopted or are in the process of adopting domestically or internationally, I want to know your adoption story at a deeper level – how did you open your heart to allow God to expand your family in a radical way. I’d also love your family crafts or favorite recipes to share.

It’s easy to be a guest blogger:

  1. Email me your story ready to post- you are the writer & editor.
  2. Share 1-3 photos of your family or subject clip art.
  3. Include your blog link to share with readers (if you want)

Please send me your guest posts before Jan. 20th. Thank you so much!!!

Happy 4th Birthday Zoie!!!! We thank God every day for you!!


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Mommy DIY Craft – Make Your Own Nativity

Posted on 16 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

Guest blogger Pam Cavitt and her husband Wade brought daughter Abby home from Ethiopia four years ago. Homeschooling two high school sons and a preschooler keeps Pam busy, along with a little crafting on the side. Pam and Wade will soon be adopting again through their state’s waiting child program.

Personally, I am a big fan of art projects that allow children to be completely creative rather than “color in the lines” or follow a pattern.  But in spite of this, my daughter loves to color as well as draw and do every kind of art.

I recently ran across this adorable nativity scene printable and knew Abby would love making and admiring it throughout the Christmas season.  She did!  And as you can tell, she was plenty creative with color choices!
This is a great project for your whole family to do together, and  you probably have all the supplies already on hand: crayons, paper, glue sticks or tape, and…..maybe….cardboard tubes (toilet paper, paper towel, gift wrap).

In this photo you’ll notice we made only shepherds and sheep visiting baby Jesus’ family at the manger.  The artist who created these printables makes wise men and camels available on her site also.  Maybe one of these days I’ll draw a little house scene and toddler Jesus for the wise men figures to visit.  Or we could make some wise men and and camels and put them on the other side of the living room to demonstrate they have a long, long journey ahead.

If you don’t have cardboard tubes on hand, this project will work great if you print the pages on paper or cardstock and simply roll each piece and tape its seams together in the back.  If I do this project again, that’s how I’ll do it.
printables available at:

OK, blogger friends- what’s your favorite craft for the holiday season? If you have a craft to share or want to link up your post here … we’d love your ideas.


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A Crazy Kinda Love – Inner Beauty Series

Posted on 15 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

A Crazy Kinda Love!
by Kit Hoeck

I am a part of a wild and crazy family who love big, talk loud, and who individually wrestles with God’s role in our lives.  Early in October I had the privilege of spending a month in Washington helping care for my 92-year-old Grandmother and it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  During that time, I witnessed beauty and passionate love in a profound, unforgettable way as I watched my mother, brothers, and sister-in-laws tenderly love and care for Grandma and as I witnessed my Grandma face death with dignity and grace.  She was a darling woman who had cared unselfishly for her family for countless years.  After our Grandfather passed away, she lived alone for more than 30 years in her home until the day she went into the hospital.  She rarely complained, loved relentlessly, and laughed easily.  Her home was a safe haven for all who entered and the mixture of Tide laundry detergent, Downey fabric softener, and baking … created an enticing aroma I have tried to replicate in my home to this day! She rarely verbally professed her faith and for most of her life seemed to wrestle with her spiritual connection to a loving Savior.

Though her mind remained sharp, her body began to deteriorate and we struggled to keep her comfortable.  In a short period of time she went from being able to care for herself to hardly managing simple hygiene or walking from room to room. Once in the hospital, however, she remained compassionate and patient with doctors and nurses and her sense of humor kept us laughing throughout the day.  The amazing thing about her attitude was that she was in excruciating pain that became increasingly difficult to manage.  As the doctors experimented with combinations of medications in an attempt to keep her comfortable, Grandma began to experience hallucinations and confusion. A member of our family was able to spend nights with her in the hospital and one evening when her mind was extremely troubled, I decided to read scripture out loud to her.  When I came to Psalm 23, she began reciting it along with me as I read.  It was obvious she had hidden this Psalm in her heart as a young girl.  On several occasions she would ask my brothers and me, “What day is it?”  She would then say, “Well, honey … you pray for me when you go to church.”  I absolutely loved holding Grandma’s soft hand praying with her.  One evening when my youngest brother stayed with her, he said she recited Psalm 23 over and over throughout the night.  In the end, Grandma was at peace with her loving Savior and understood God’s abounding love for her.

I learned some very valuable lessons from this experience and have come to love my crazy loud family even more.  I saw beauty, compassion, patience, love, and understanding in them in ways I have not recognized before.  JJ Heller is my “new” favorite singer/songwriter and in her song “What Love Really Means,” she captures the essence of unconditional love … “dear God won’t you please send someone here who will love me for me … not for what I have done or what I will become.”  I love that!  And I want to be the kind of daughter, wife, sister, mother, and friend who will love like that … here on earth.  Because I believe that ultimately God wants us to share His kind of love … a kind of love that shouts, “… I will love you for you, not for what you have done or what you will become, I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew.”

I confess I have let petty differences and misunderstandings stand in the way of loving my family BIG at times.  Loving them simply for who they are without expectations of what I think they should become.  Through the pain of watching someone I loved dearly walk into the arms of a loving Savior … I have learned a valuable lesson in loving others … with God’s crazy kinda love!

You can personally email Kit. I hope you will leave her a special comment today- it’s a gift to all bloggers.

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Wednesday WOW Recipes – Mile High Lasagna

Posted on 14 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

I made my family Rachel Ray’s incredible lasagna recipe last night, but used turkey meat and turkey stock… every bite was delicious! Don’t forget to let me know your favorite recipes + link so I can add them to my Wednesday WOW series.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 3 to 4 basil leaves, torn
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • A few grates fresh nutmeg
  • 2 boxes oven-ready lasagna noodles (use 1 box per loaf pan)
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese, grated
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
Serves 6-8


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Place a large skillet over medium-low heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Cook the onion and the garlic, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high and add the beef to the pan. Cook it through, stirring frequently and breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the beef stock, tomatoes and basil to the pot and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mash the tomatoes up with the potato masher or wooden spoon, bring the sauce up to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

While the red sauce is simmering, place a medium-size pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook the mixture for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk slowly into the butter-flour mixture and cook until thickened. Season the white sauce with salt, freshly ground pepper and the nutmeg.

Cover two loaf pans with a layer of foil for easy removal from the pan. Ladle about 1 cup of the red sauce into the bottom of the first lined loaf pan. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles, then top them with about a cup of white sauce and a handful of Parmigiano Reggiano (about 1/4 cup). Continue building the lasagna, alternating layers of noodle, red sauce, noodle, white sauce and cheese, until all the noodles are covered. End the lasagna on a layer of red sauce and top it off with the grated provolone and some Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat this process with the other loaf pan and the remaining sauce.

Cover the pans with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the noodles are tender and the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes to let the lasagna set. Pull the lasagna out of the pans by the edges of the foil, pull the foil down from around the lasagna and cut with a serrated knife. Garnish each slice with fresh parsley.

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Wednesday WOW Recipes – Kris Kringle Krunch

Posted on 07 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

If you don’t bake anything else, but this delicious treat for your family for Christmas- you’ll be on Santa’s good list. My kids beg for this recipe and have received so many requests from YOU for my Kris Kringle Krunch- here you go, no more begging!

You need:

1 bag of chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

2 sticks butter

30+ club crackers (I also use saltine)

Now, start singing your favorite Christmas carol and mix it all together.

Preheat oven at 400.  Cover a jellyroll pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Layer the crackers side by side on the bottom of pan.  Melt the butter and 1 cup of sugar until boiling.  Pour the melted butter over the crackers.  Bake in the oven for 12 minuets or until golden brown.  Pour the bag of chocolate chips over the cracker mix & bake again for 10 SECONDS ONLY!  Spread the melted chips over the top evenly.  Refrigerate or freeze until hard. Before serving- peel off the edge of foil and start breaking into pieces.  Santa’s Warning: you will eat yourself sick with Kringle Krunch and you will NOT have any leftovers.  I want to know what your crazy kids say when you make this special treat!

What’s your favorite treat to make for Christmas- leave your recipe link in the comments.

Layer those yummy crackers.
Pour the melted butter over crackers.
Bake & pour chocolates over- 10 seconds only!
Break or cut into squares!
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3 Tips To Help Your House Smell Good

Posted on 06 December 2011 by Kari Gibson

We have had our home on the market for 5 years (gasp, I know) waiting for the big day we hang SOLD on the dusty sign- my daily reminder that God is in control. Even though house showings have been few and far throughout the years, I haven’t lost hope that someone will fall in love with our home! Will you join us praying that God will sell our home (in his timing) even in this crazy economy! Even if you home isn’t up for sale- these tips will help your home sell great for Christmas!

No, this is not our home, but we all want to have a house that smells really good all year long!


Here are a few tips I found when selling your home, you must have everything looking good — and smelling good. Every house has a “smell,” whether it be good or bad, and you definitely want your home’s smell to be good. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of notice to show your home, so a few quick fixes to get your home smelling nice might prove useful.


Things You’ll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves
  • Refrigerated cookie dough
  • Raisin bread
  • Microwave popcorn

#1 Tip: Stock up on baking soda, which naturally absorbs odors. It is safe to use, economical and versatile. Sprinkle it in shoes in the foyer and mud room, and on all carpets before vacuuming. Shake a little bit into the bottom of all garbage cans and the kitty litter box. In the kitchen, use it in the garbage disposal. An open box in the refrigerator will keep food odors at bay, just in case a prospective buyer opens it. Keep an open box of baking soda in all closets and in the laundry room.

#2 Tip: Simmer one cinnamon stick with four to six cloves in water, in a pot on your stove daily. If you have a lemon or an orange, add rind to the pot for a fresh citrus scent. By doing this daily, you keep that nice, natural aromatic smell in your home. And because it’s natural, it doesn’t have the overpowering smell of a scented spray.

#3 Tip: Keep some of these items on hand to quickly make your home smell good.

  • Refrigerated cookie dough. Quickly bake cookies and place them on a plate for your guests.
  • Raisin bread. Make raisin toast. You probably don’t want to serve this to your guests, but the aroma will linger long enough to make your guests happy.
  • Microwave popcorn. As a last resort, pop popcorn. Most people love the smell of popcorn and you can also have this in a nice big bowl.

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