Tag Archive | "adoption blog"

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My Hubby Shares: Compassion. From The Grinch To Mother Theresa

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Kari Gibson

In June 2012, Kari and I started our mission-adventure. Dedicating the next twelve months in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Nicaragua to Simply Love on the mission field. I didn’t set any measurable objectives. I’m not building churches or homes or orphanages. I’m not setting up a sponsorship program or trying to get sponsors for an area. I’m not researching any programs. Kari and I just simply wanted to live Out Loud for Jesus! But, what does that look on the mission field? I imagine Mark 12:30-31 gives us a good snapshot … Love God, Love People!

Honestly, it’s not easy. I mess up a lot. Actually, it’s more like every day and many times throughout the day! Unfortunately, I don’t exactly fall into the Mother Theresa category in compassion. In fact, when Kari and I were first married we took a “marriage test” to find areas of compatibility and areas of potential conflict in our relationship. After we took the test, the counselor met with us and highlighted how extremely compatible we were according to the test. But, he went on by asking me a question, “Roger, when you see a cat in the middle of the road in front of you, do you slam on the brakes or push the pedal to the metal?” At first, I was like uh … uh … uh and then I heard Kari laughing. After she caught her breath, she blurted out to the counselor, “Well, he just ran over a bird on the way over here.” There were a bunch of birds in the middle of the road and I figured, as the car got closer they would fly away, but one didn’t make it. All I saw in my rear-view mirror was a poof of feathers. The counselor laughed and proceeded to say that Kari and I were as opposite as a couple could be in our levels of compassion. Kari scored in the “Mother Teresa” range. Me … “The Grinch.”

After that, I kind of just accepted that was the way God designed me. Yet, I’m called to be a follower of Jesus (Eph. 5:1) and in His ministry here on earth He demonstrated compassion daily. His first miracle, he demonstrated compassion by refilling the wine jars. He didn’t want the wedding party to be embarrassed, so He filled the jars back up with the best wine any lips had ever tasted and He saved the day for the bridegroom from shame (Not to mention that would be a horrible way to start off your honeymoon first night.) Christ demonstrated compassion everywhere He went: weddings, in the city, out in the countryside, and even at His own death.  He took the burden of our sins even though He was without sin and paid the ultimate price. He knew the path that was before Him – PAIN! But, He cared enough to take those punches to the face, being spat upon by many, lashes from a whip, a crown of thorns pressed deep into his scalp, and a gruesome death on a cross. Why? Just because He loves you and I.

It wasn’t until I experience the brokenness in my heart, that I grew in compassion for others. My first experience in Ethiopia was for our adoption of Zoie. Immediately, when I came off the plane in Addis Ababa and smelled the air, I was ready to go get Zoie and get out, but God had different plans. Shortly after we had our “gotcha moment” with Zoie, I learned that we would have to stay longer in Ethiopia because I passed court as “Robert Gibson”, not Roger Gibson. We were told, “If the courts cooperated and all went well, we would be on a plane quickly.” I asked, “How long is quickly?” Three weeks.” If not, we would be there long enough to become fluent in Amharic. (Read our adoption Gotcha Day experience here and here.)

Gibson Family // Adoption Blog

During those three weeks on the ground in Ethiopia, God peeled back the layers of my heart. He uncovered a lot of embarrassing things in my heart: selfishness, pride, comfort level, etc. It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. To have my heart fully exposed; to have all my “junk” rare its ugly head, at a time I should have been compassionate, loving, and protecting the fatherless. You can read the full story here. To love BIG, God will often bring us to a place of brokenness. James 1:2-4 is a popular passage for us to grab onto when we are going through tough times. But, for me the beauty is in verse 4 “ … that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The Greek word for “perfect” is teleios, which translates to being “fully equipped.” I didn’t know it at the time, but God was getting me ready for missions. I needed compassion. I needed to raise my score from the Grinch range to at least Father Murphy range. I may never attain Mother Theresa level, but I know God is always at work in me to grow in maturity for who He wants me to be. Not in knowledge, but in my heart. Just like the Grinch.

Today, as I look back on that “repulsive” moment in my life, I’m grateful because that was the catalyst for Man Up & Go. God uses people just like you and I, but we need our heart to be ready. If not, here is the formula to get your “heart” ready: brokenness + humbleness + loving God + loving people = compassion. Without compassion, it’s really hard to just Simply Love.

Brokenness is the beginning.

How has God re-shaped your heart?

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Guest: Adoption Story – Parents With Special Needs + Adopting Special Needs Children

Posted on 08 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 Brian Snow.

This is Brian’s story …

Consider yourself sucked in. I hope I have grabbed your attention with the headline.  No, it is not an actual headline, but perhaps it should be.  As Melissa and I continue to wait for the call from Ethiopia to visit and meet our three new daughters for the first time, I have been considering and wrestling with adoption in how it relates to the Gospel.

In adoption lingo, saying that a potential adoptive child has “special needs” can have a wide variety of different meanings and insinuations.  It can range from an African American infant in a certain part of the U.S. being “hard to place”, to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome on the other side of the world.  It could be a little boy with down-syndrome, or a three sibling set from Ethiopia who might be split up if a family doesn’t emerge to adopt all three.  The truth is that all adopted children have their own gamut of “special needs.”  The simple fact that they are without a family is a huge “special need”.

A couple of weeks ago a friend (whose family has also adopted) mentioned to me that adoption is “not as much about the children, as it is about the Gospel.”  This caught me off guard and caused me to think about what adoption is and what it isn’t.  When an adoption takes place, the children do not initiate the process.  Very rarely, if ever, does the adopted child have any say in who chooses them.  Similarly, when spiritual adoption takes place, the recipient has very little to do with the transaction.  They are not even able take the spiritual initiative.  How could we?  The Word is very clear about our own “special needs” before we were claimed.  We had a certificate of debt against us (Col 2:14), we were dead in our sins (Eph 2:1), we were children of wrath (Col 2:3), separated and cut off from God (Col 1:21), and completely blinded from the things of God (Romans 1:21-23).  In that state we had no means of initiating a relationship with God.  Moreover, we were hostile towards God (James 4:1-4), slaves to our sin (John 8:34), and lovers of darkness (John 3:19-20).  Genesis 8:21 says we were evil from our youth, which I believe means from our very first breath.

However, there is good news.  God saw our “special needs” and He initiated our adoption.  He saw us unable on our own to leave the confines of where we were.  He saw us as humanly unlovable, and yet He loved us completely.  He rescued us and gave us new life.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:4-10

He brought us into His household (Eph 2:19), and now we have a share in the inheritance of that household (Col 1:12-14).  Understanding the immensity of our spiritual adoption is the only way we can have a proper motivation for adopting others.  We love because we were loved.  We forgive because we are forgiven.  We adopt and support adoption because we were adopted.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us inthe Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10

I will admit, when we first began down the road of adoption my thinking was skewed.  It is very easy these days to romanticize adoption; to think about future family photos, Christmases, and adorable, very grateful adopted children who are so thankful for what their super-parents did for them.  I am guilty of that kind of thinking.  However, I now realize those sentimentalized ideas, while not inherently wrong, will not sustain us in the near future.  Sure, we are going to have great and fun times ahead with our six children, but it is also beginning to sink in that things are getting ready to get very tough.  What can we count on to get us through?  It can only be the Gospel.

I found the following on an adoption blog.  It is an excerpt from a book by Dr. Russell Moore entitled “Adopted for Life”.  I have not read it, but I certainly plan to soon.“Imagine for a moment that you’re adopting a child. As you meet with the social worker in the last stage of the process, you’re told that this 12-year-old has been in and out of psychotherapy since he was three. He persists in burning things, and attempting repeatedly to skin animals alive. He “acts out sexually,” the social worker says, although she doesn’t really fill you in on what that means. She continues with a little family history. This boy’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather all had histories of violence, ranging from spousal abuse to serial murder. Each of them ended their own lives. Think for a minute. Would you want this child? If you did adopt him, wouldn’t you watch nervously as he played with your other children? Would you watch him nervously as he looks at the knife on the kitchen table? Would you leave the room as he watched a movie on TV with your daughter, with the lights out?”

Then Dr. Moore writes:“Well he’s you. And he’s me. That’s what the Gospel is telling us.”The distance between where we were, and where God is, was much greater than an ocean or a disease.  It was sin.  The distance between us and God that sin caused cannot be traveled by plane or by boat.  And the debt that sin costs cannot be paid with $20,000-$80,000.

Let me finish with a cost comparison……adoption is costly.  Earthly adoption can be very, very expensive.  But compared to the cost of my own spiritual adoption, $20,000-$80,000 is…nothing.  My adoption cost the Father His very Son; His firstborn.  If you have children, try to imagine for a moment paying for an earthly adoption with your oldest child.  It is inconceivable to me to do that.  Yet that is what God did for me.  The following is from the same blog I mentioned earlier…..I can’t write it any better.

“It’s important to realize, then, that we adopt not because we are rescuers.  No, we adopt because we are the rescued.  And in this way, the Gospel uniquely portrays, compels, and ultimately sustains adoption.”

Friends and family, when things get hard for The Snow Bunch, please remind me over and over about the Gospel.  It alone is what will hold our family together through the tough times ahead. (Adoptive Daddy, Brian Snow)

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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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Crazy Links I Love

Posted on 28 May 2011 by Kari Gibson

This is YOUR personal shout out for your adoption and missions fundraisers!!  My Crazy Adoption Blog brings the craziness straight to you- sending readers to check out your links!

If you have a special project, fundraiser, or blog post you want to share with my crazy readers, leave a comment with all your information and permalink (example http://tinyurl.com/3t4fxbo: ) to take readers directly to your site.

You can also email me during the week and personally request to share your projects on Crazy Links I Love post content.  Please limit to adoption, missions, or orphan care fundraisers.  I want to help you get the word out there!


1.  Hey Kari! I’m Kelly from VA. Love your blog! Just wanted to direct you to a post I just made. http://growinggirlygirls.blogspot.com/2011/05/headbands-for-orphans-in-africa.html
I am sending 110 headbands to Elisa for your project. I found her when a post was made on a chat board I frequent asking for a cheap place to buy headbands. When I found out why, I knew God had directed me to your project! I have been selling bows and hair accessories for 6 years at craft shows and online. God has placed adoption on the heart of my family. We decided last year to adopt a special needs child from China. We have been met by all sorts of obstacles and are currently in a holding pattern, waiting on God’s hand of provision and perfect timing to move mountains. In the meantime, I fund raise for our family ( www.keystoChina.blogspot.com ) and support other famiies through donations of my products for giveaways. I’m donating 10% of all sales in May to the Sparrow Fund ( www.sparrow-fund.org ) It’s a thrill to send these headbands for your trip. I’ve followed through blogs work being done at several of the places you’ll visit. Maybe one day I’ll be able to serve in person, until then, well, there’s headbands!!


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I Need Some Crazy Guest Bloggers

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Kari Gibson

I would love you to be a guest blogger on My Crazy Adoption Blog during my 12 day mission trip to Uganda! Please email me and submit your post for approval.  Please limit your posts to subjects for moms, adoption, missions, and orphan care.  This is such an exciting blitz for bloggers who love to write and make connections with other crazy readers! I simply love guest bloggers!!

I need topics:

    • Send me your post ready-to-go (that means y’all do the writing, editing, and spell checking)
    • Stick to the top 4 subjects- moms, adoption, missions, orphan care
    • Attach photos of your family or subject clipart
    • Mommy DIY craft
    • Add your blog link to share
    • posts to encourage, support, and make us laugh
    • yummy recipe

      Due date for your blog posts- May 22nd. 

      (don’t forget to include attachment with photo)

      Thank you so much for helping me blog when I’m in Uganda!



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      Crazy Links I Love

      Posted on 18 March 2011 by Kari Gibson

      If you have a special project, fundraiser, or blog post you want to share with my crazy readers, please leave a comment with all your information and permalink (ex: http://agoodkindofcrazy.blogspot.com/2011/03/american-girl-doll-giveaway.html) to take readers directly to your site.  It’s your personal shout out!

      You can also email me during the week and personally request to share your projects on Crazy Links I Love weekly post.  Please limit to adoption, missions, or orphan care fundraisers.  I want to help you get the word out there in blog land!

      Crazy Links:

      1.  As much as we want our little one home, we also wanted to help other couples become parents through adoption. In order to do this, we have co-founded Leaves of Love and we would LOVE for you to check it out. It is a great way for adopting parents to raise money for their adoption and I think it would be an awesome topic for one of your posts since you have so many fundraising mamas who read your blog. Since finances seems to be what scares people the most, we created Leaves of Love to make fundraising fun, stylish, and successful! Would love to chat all about it…really hoping you might be willing to write a post about it to spread the news about it!

      This is the link: http://leavesoflove.blogspot.com/

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      The Unknown

      Posted on 24 February 2011 by Kari Gibson

      Guest Blogger-
      When I was pregnant with each of my children, I would sit and wonder, What’s going on in there? while staring at my bulging tummy.
      Wondering what they looked like, what their personalities they would develop, longing to just know them was a regular part of expecting them.
      The other night I could not sleep. I felt this heavy burden not only for my sweet baby a world away, but for his birthmother. That day someone had asked if I was excited to bring the baby home. I am thrilled, just as I was to bring my other children home. But I can’t help but feel a certain sense that this beautiful homecoming is set against the backdrop of sorrow. I can’t just forget his other mom, and wonder what she is going through or what is to come of her. I pray for her daily. I am beginning to realize that I will forever be tied to her. I can’t forget that this precious child is joining our family because of tragedy.
      At the same time, I am beginning to notice that someone is missing in our family. In the car, there is a spot next to Ellie for a third carseat that isn’t there yet. Each day it looks more like a gaping hole needing to be filled with another wiggly little body. The urgency to see him, know him, and be his mother is mounting. I am beginning to wonder what’s going on in there?
      Except this time my baby is across the globe.
      I can’t feel him moving beneath my ribs or see his heartbeat fluttering on an ultrasound screen.
      Yet, I’m comforted by this-
      “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
      Truly, I have never had to have faith like this before. I have never had so little control over the lives of one of my children. I have never had to pray, Lord, I don’t know where my child is. I don’t know what his birthmother is going through. But I do know who you are. I do know you have good in store for this child and you are with him.
      In the midst of all of the unknowns, I have to focus on the one thing I do know. I do know who He is.

      #55 boy, #76 girl!

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      Do you have a Crazy Christmas Tree?

      Posted on 09 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

      I was inspired to make an African inspired tree in honor of our beloved Ethiopia.  It’s a tree in progress, and I hope we can add new decorations every year.  I hung our wooden beads from Addis Ababa and I thought it made the perfect touch.  I’d love to hear what your favorite crazy tree looks like and why it’s so special.

      You can purchase Ugandan Acadia beads at Visiting Orphans HERE. They have 9ft. and 13ft. garland beads.  You can give life to orphans and widows in Uganda this Christmas!!




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      Mom VS. Princess TNT

      Posted on 23 September 2010 by Kari Gibson

      Zoie turns 29 months old today!  She is almost officially a 2.5 year old.  It’s hard to imagine how tiny she was when we first met her in Ethiopia.  Her spirit radiates spunk and life and joy!  We are so honored to be her family and fall in love with her more each day.  She loves to sing, dance, swim, skip, color, take baths, and cuddle.  She hates naps, vegetables, meat, the word no, and sticky hands.  Hubby and I feel like we’re seasoned parents with 2 teenagers who managed to stay alive during the terrible terrific twos.  At times, we rack our brain trying to remember the tips we received from family and friends as they helped us maneuver through the toddler years.  A few blasts from the past surface, but nothing seems to compare with Princess TNT!!

      Princess TNT (aka Zoie) can throw a temper tantrum like a keg of dynomite with a pink bow.  It can be startling, when the fuse blows and we missed the vital warning signs.  The other day, daddy told her she needed to eat her grapes before she could have her crackers.  The shrilling screams made him duck for cover, but I dragged him out and convinced him he was safe.  The thing that works well with Zoie right now are “Time In’s.”  We learned this technique in one of my adoption books, but it really works.  When the explosion of emotion is at a max, we put her on her chair and stand quietly next to her.  I put my hand on her head or back and just remind her how much I love her even when she is throwing a fit.  I time her 2.5 minutes and then say outloud- “OK, time-in is over.  If she has quieted down and things are back in control… I let her get up and back to playing.

      Parenting is a journey and each child is unique, amazing, and miraculous.  I want to hear your stories and advice-  If you have any tips you want to share or a crazy post about taming a toddler TNT please add in comments for all of us to read.

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      Washington Post Talks Adoption – Michael Gerson

      Posted on 14 September 2010 by Kari Gibson

      Mike Gerson, former chief speechwriter to President Bush, has a tremendous column on international adoption in today’s Washington Post.  Mike has a reputation even among critics as not just a master communicator, but also both an incisive analyst of international issues and a devout Christian.  During work-related travel in Zambia, we visited homes of AIDS victims together, and I saw in him a truly Christlike heart of compassion—one not content with just writing about needs, but yearning to address them as well.

      International adoption: From a broken bond to an instant bond

      By Michael Gerson WASHINGTON POST

      Friday, August 27, 2010

      Scott Simon — the sonorous voice of NPR’s “Weekend Edition” — has written a short, tender book about the two most important people in the world. At least to him. “Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other” recounts the arrival of his two daughters, Elise and Lina, from China, while telling the stories of other families changed by adoption. Simon describes himself as skeptical of transcendence but as taking part in a miracle. “My wife and I,” he says, “knew that Elise and Lina were our babies from the moment we received their postage-stamp portraits. Logically, I know that’s not possible. But I also know that’s how my heart, mind and body . . . reacted to their pictures. . . . I would take the photo out of my wallet in the weeks before we left to get each of our girls and hold it against my lips to whisper, ‘We’re coming, baby.’ ” It is an unexpected form of human affection — meeting an unrelated stranger and, within moments, being willing to care for her, even to die for her. The relationship results from a broken bond but creates ties as strong as genetics, stronger than race or tribe. It is a particularly generous kind of parental love that embraces a life one did not give. International adoption has its critics, who allege a kind of imperialism that robs children of their identity. Simon responds, “We have adopted real, modern little girls, not mere vessels of a culture.” Ethnicity is an abstraction — often an admirable abstraction, but not comparable to the needs of a child living in an orphanage or begging in roving bands. Adopted Chinese girls are refugees from a terrible oppression — a one-child policy that Simon calls “one of the great crimes of history.” Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.

      It is one of the noblest things about America that we care for children of other lands who have been cast aside. Simon recalls his encounter with an immigration officer in Chicago when bringing Elise to America: ” ‘When you cross that line,’ he said, ‘your little girl is a citizen of the United States.’ Then he put one of his huge hands gently under our daughter’s chin and smiled. ‘Welcome home, sweetheart,’ he told her.” This welcome to the world is one of the great achievements of history. After millennia of racial and ethnic conflict across the world, resulting in rivers of blood, America declared that bloodlines don’t matter, that dignity is found beneath every human disguise. There is no greater embrace of this principle than an American family that looks like the world.

      Instead of undermining any culture, international adoption instructs our own. Unlike the thin, quarrelsome multiculturalism of the campus, multiethnic families demonstrate the power of affection over difference. They tend to produce people who may look different from the norm of their community but see themselves as just normal, just human.

      Every adoption involves a strange providence, in which events and choices are random yet decisive. “Those of us who have been adopted,” says Simon, “or have adopted or want to adopt children, must believe in a world in which the tumblers of the universe can click in unfathomable ways that deliver strangers into our lives.”

      When a columnist has a conflict of interest, he should disclose it. My wife, born in South Korea, was adopted by an American family at the age of 6 and welcomed into a Midwestern community. I first saw her when we were both 10, and I have never recovered. Years ago, we visited the orphanage where she lived in Inchon — orderly, cheerful, but still with dirt floors. The director said she remembered my wife. We were skeptical. But the woman went into a storage room and produced a slip of paper — the police record relating how On Soon had been found as a newborn abandoned in the market, a note with her name pinned to her blanket.

      Life is a procession of miracles, but this one stands out to me. A 6-year-old girl walks off a plane in America, speaking no English, loved by a family she had never met, destined to marry, of all people, me. A series of events that began in a Korean market created my family, my sons, my life. And now my Italian, Jewish, English, Korean boys view themselves as normal, unexceptional Americans. Which they are.

      Crazy readers… I want to know what you think.

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      Newbie Heads to Uganda With 29

      Posted on 25 August 2010 by Kari Gibson

      I remember looking at Roger on the way to the airport and saying, “I don’t think I can do this.”  What in the world did I get myself into?  I was leading a team of 29 to Uganda (never been there) and Ethiopia.  I only personally knew 4 of the team members… Randi (my BF) Dee Dee (my childhood BF) Sarah (adoption friend) and Vit (adoptive friend’s brother)  The rest were complete strangers and I was really nervous… OK terrified!  I had dreamed of working in missions and was thrilled with the opportunity to lead a team, but when it all came down to it, I wasn’t going to be able to rely on my charm and good looks to survive in Africa. (ha)

      The months preparing for the trip were busy, fun, and detailed.  I’m not a very detailed person, so I was thrilled I had a co-leader (Ashlie) who took the reins on that department.  She did a fantastic job conducting the conference calls, creating online charts, and answering the emails from the team.  I still don’t have the guts to tell her the one conference call I was in charge of, I missed!  She would kill me.  I literally passed by the note on my refrigerator- DONT FORGET CC TODAY! and drove off to Starbucks for an afternoon snack.  I returned home to multiple calls from the team making sure I was not dead.  I was so embarrassed and realized I had a lot to learn about being a fearless leader.

      I wonder why God picked me to lead the July 2010 team?  At the time, I had no idea that my amazing co-leader was going to have her world interrupted by their adoption miracle and not be able to join us in Uganda.  I think if I would have had the slightest inkling, I would have run for the hills.  But, God had it planned all along and redirected the team to a little craziness… me. newbie. leader.

      I met my team of 29 (Ashlie was already in Ethiopia) at Dulles Airport.  I saw the sea of Simply Love shirts and knew I could not run away.  I had the same T shirt on and was met with a big hug from Randi at the tram.  I tried hard to remember faces and names, but was working really hard to make sure I was breathing.  I met my substitute co-leader, Ernie and instantly loved him.  He raced around the airport for hours making sure tickets were correct and people made it to the gate.  I also sensed something extra special about the team.  As we made our way on the plane, we were all giddy and excited.  I zipped through security, but was instantly stopped by a very grumpy agent.  He literally grabbed my carry-on, tossed it on the scale, and told me I would not be able to board with the overweight bag.  I remembered reading in past emails from Visiting Orphans to stand firm if there were problems with the airlines, even if security was involved.  I basically grabbed my suitcase and ordered him to let me on the flight with my team!!  He grabbed my suitcase back and chewed me out for having such a heavy carry-on.  I was the only one left standing and started to panic.  I’m going to miss the flight and really mess things up for the team. I looked up and saw Randi and Vit standing in the doorway pleading with security to let them take some of the weight off.  We scrambled and repacked my bag.  It worked and I was able to roll on with my heart pounding and sweaty hands.

      Fun Flight Pics:

      (Me & Randi snoozing on 18 hr flight)

      We arrived in Entebbe Uganda at 1:30 A.M. with 26 bags missing.  I paced like a crazed lioness at the luggage counter, but it did not make the bags magically appear.  The group was stellar and my 6 men worked for hours with two sleepy Ethiopian Airlines staff to make separate claims for each missing piece of luggage.  Can you spell N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E?  I was in a lather and decided it was time to take out my bottle of chill pills and start walking the walk.  I told my team for months to be flexible and joyful and relaxed when things got a little crazy.  This was the definition of crazy.

      We stumbled into our hotel in the wee hours of the morning and crashed until lunch.  We met Pastor Samuel and started our adventure to Return Ministries, a special orphanage in the heart of Kampala.  I had no idea that my life would change radically in less than a few hours.

      I can’t wait to share stories with you of our time in Kampala and Jinja, Uganda with the bravest children in the world.  Bloggy Question: I want to know if you would ever consider leading a mission team – why or why not?

      Join me Feb. 2011 to Ethiopia for 10 days ministering with Visiting Orphans. Also, June 2011 to Uganda for 10 days ministering with Visiting Orphans.

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      When People Don’t Agree

      Posted on 07 August 2010 by Kari Gibson

      When people don’t agree.
      (Erica Shubin’s Blog)

      As a fund raising family there are definite up’s and down’s in this process. It’s important to have people in your corner. Really important to have at least one person that is there to walk this journey out with you through those up’s and down’s. You will run into all sorts of people and their comments during this process. People who support you 100%, all of the time both in word and action. People who say how “saint like” you are, people who keep up with you but don’t say a word about your adoption leaving you wondering where exactly they stand on that whole thing anyways. Still others who make comments that make you cringe, and others who love you no matter what and can’t wait to help welcome your child home.

      Adoption is one of the CRAZIEST adventures I’ve ever been on. It’s CRAZY out there to raise $30,000 in a short period of time. But it’s even CRAZIER to do nothing at all!

      Check out a few reasons why WE are CRAZY about adoption and CRAZY about being a fund raising family.

      A few facts about our fund raising and maybe some of this will resonate with you as well.

      1. We are not “requiring” that anyone participate in financially supporting our adoption. We have asked for support which let me tell you is NOT comfortable for us. The Lord has worked on us in that area and it has taken a lot to even get to the place where we are open about our financial need in order to pay the ransom to bring our daughter home. A humbling spot to be for sure.

      2. In our hearts it is an honor and a privilege to help other families who are also raising a ransom to bring their child/children home. We KNOW what the cost is to adopt, because of that we LOVE to help in any way possible to share that burden with other families. With that in mind we don’t want anyone to feel “obligated” to give to our adoption. However we know MANY of you WANT to share this financial burden with us and have shared that you LOVE being apart of our story and for that we are grateful. Let me say again we DO NOT want anyone to feel like they HAVE to participate in this with us. God WILL provide in His perfect timing. This is NOT about us. This is about what God has laid on our hearts, about children that need families, and about a willingness to make an orphan our daughter. That’s it.

      3. If you are questioning if we are contributing to our own adoption PLEASE let me set your mind at ease. YES. ABSOLUTELY 100% YES! We have cut SEVERAL things in order to save money so we can invest in the life of our daughter so that we can help pay her ransom. We will be investing spiritually, emotionally, and financially in the life of our daughter for the rest of our days here on this earth. So please don’t think that just because we are fund raising that it means we’re not sacrificing. We absolutely are. We are honored to do it.

      I want to raise awareness on being a fund raising family and why we feel so blessed that God has not only called us to adopt but called us to RAISE A RANSOM for our daughter. Being a fund raising family is a vulnerable place to be. We have opened ourselves up for criticism by sharing our need, our story, and we’ve gotten it. We’ve invited others to be a part of what God is doing in our family and so many of you have graciously embraced that and shared in this financial burden with us. We are so blessed to be on this journey, so humbled that God has called us to this.

      Just as much grace has been given to us we will return that grace to others and pray that eyes would be opened to the beauty of being a fund raising family. I honestly don’t know if I’d want it any other way. Having the support we have experienced through this process is not something we take for granted. Because of HIS Crazy Love for Us! To God Be The Glory!

      If you are a fundraising family please comment on this blog post with your blog link so I can come visit your blog and encourage you along this crazy adoption road! I’d love to read about what God is doing in your lives through adoption!

      “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”

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      Guest Blogger # – Take Crazy Pics Like A Pro

      Posted on 30 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Costa Rican Landscape.

      Norwegian Pieces.

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

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

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

      Tip #5 – Think Outside of the Box.

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

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

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

      Haitian Sweetheart.

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





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      Crazy Guest Blogger #11 – The Red Thread

      Posted on 28 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

      The Red Thread (adoptive mom, Karen Firstbrook)

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

      Let me explain . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Isn’t God good?

      [read more on Karen's blog]

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

      Posted on 27 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      More hugs…………are there ever enough?

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

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

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

      Field trips and grandparents day lunch at school.

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

      Ain’t God good?



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      Crazy Guest Blogger #8 – Storing Up Treasures

      Posted on 25 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

      Storing Up Treasures
      By Vanessa

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

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

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

      It makes me sad….overwhelmingly sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Yes God, yes.

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

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

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

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

      Chapt 4 is about this scripture found in Revelations:

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

      Chapter Four: Profile of the lukewarm

      Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

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

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

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

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

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

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      Crazy Guest Blogger #7 – My Heart For Justice

      Posted on 24 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

      Abolition Through Adoption: A Journey to End Injustice

      A note from Michelle:

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

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

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

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

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

      [Guest Blogger, Michelle Brock]

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      Crazy Guest Blogger #6 – Yes, We are Crazy

      Posted on 23 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

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


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

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

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

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      Crazy Guest Blogger #2 – Fire Engine Red

      Posted on 19 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

      Fire Engine Red (adoptive mom, Karen Firstbrook)

      *Originally written May 17, 2010.

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

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

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

      Fire Engine 1

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

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

      Fire Engine 2

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

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

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

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

      Fire Engine 3

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

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

      Fire Engine 4

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

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

      Fire Engine 5

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

      Fire Engine 6

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

      [read more on Karen's blog]

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      Adoption 101: Owies in the Heart Part 2

      Posted on 12 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

      Comments (1)

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