Tag Archive | "Family Fun"

Wednesday WOW Recipes – Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken [easy]

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Wednesday WOW Recipes – Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken [easy]

Posted on 07 September 2011 by Kari Gibson

Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken was a dinner recipe selection in the Cozi Family Dinner Club, where we share family dinner recipes and then talk about how they went.

“This is the easiest chicken recipe I have! My kids love the chicken tacos we make with this. Leftovers are good heated or cold. I have even frozen half the recipe for use a couple week later.”

Make this delicious Tex-Mex chicken to serve with hard taco shells or tortillas and your favorite toppings like cheese, sour cream, salsa and olives.


  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 packets taco seasoning
  • 1 can (8 oz) green chilies
  • 1 can (15 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) mexicorn or canned corn, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) red beans, rinsed and drained


  1. Layer ingredients in a crock pot in the order given. Empty one packet of taco seasoning directly onto the chicken and add the second packet after all the remaining ingredients have been added.
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
  3. Stir, shredding chicken as you mix ingredients.

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First Snow

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First Snow

Posted on 03 December 2010 by Kari Gibson

We had just sat down to this wonderful Thanksgiving dinner…

That these two amazing parents cooked…

for her first Thanksgiving in our family… we love you Annie!

when we were all interrupted by the first snow of the season…

Snow makes whiteness where it falls,
The bushes look like popcorn balls.
The places where I always play,
Look like somewhere else today.
Author: Mary Louise Allen

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Crazy October Adoption Family – Meet the Stroups!

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Crazy October Adoption Family – Meet the Stroups!

Posted on 09 October 2010 by Kari Gibson

We are Greg and Shari Stroup, a normal family living in a small town, but not with small values or ideals.  Our eyes are on our awesome God and we praise His Name!!  We were quite content with a family of six.  Dad, Mom, and four amazing, beautiful, and talented children… ( Okay I am somewhat partial).  Adoption was not really close to our hearts.  We were content!  Well, God had bigger and better plans for our family.  I started wanting another child, yes just when my husband thought it was safe we were officially finished having children…. I had some friends that had adopted, my dear friends that had trouble getting pregnant and I was so excited for them,  but it was not something that I had thought much about.

Then my friend Shelly started thinking about adoption.  I Clearly decided to walk through the process with her, encourage and support she and her family in THEIR adoption and through it I wanted to start an adoption ministry at our church.  Sounds good.  Well, through the journey God touched my heart to add to our family through adoption.  I am still not sure exactly what happened, learning more about the children, seeing those sweet faces of children needing a family and God wrecking my heart at the same time, but bam there we were, thinking about adopting a child into OUR family.

So God gave us clarity and off we went.  We chose Guatemala and started the mountains of paperwork, wait, numerous trips to the post office, check writing, and did I say wait some more….   In fact, I still remember like it was yesterday after one of the many trips to the post office mailing documents, my 3 year old at the time said:  “Mommy did you get me from the post office too?”  Hilarious!

So you all know the paper chase, the highs and lows, but it all leads to that sweet child that God has chosen for you before the day they were even born. The adoption journey is very spiritual, and as you get closer one day and further away the next, you can see God in all the details and the joy and glory is His!   God blessed us with a baby boy, Joseph Peter.  Life is good, we have this beautiful family with the addition of the cutest tanned skinned Guatemalan.  Then a year later, we are called and receive the news that Joe’s birth mom just had a baby girl and did we want to adopt her?  Wow, I really was not sure that I could do ALL that paperwork again, but how could we not adopt our sons biological sister.  No way we could not invite her joyfully into our family.  No way!  Now the twist is that they were closing adoptions in Guatemala in 30 days.  So there were no guarantees.  We were told up front, we could start the adoption, no guarantees that we would get her before adoptions closed and the money paid would not be refunded..  Does anyone remember how expensive adoptions are in Guatemala?  Literally no guarantees!  All risk, expensive, all consuming!   So we say YES we want her and we are willing to take it all on.

So lets breathe for a minute and reflect.  God adopted us into His family.  He puts the lonely in families.  God takes risks on us.  We are messy, we are expensive, we are time consuming and disobedient.  God takes chances on us everyday.  He gave His one and only son to die for us.  How can we not do the same for another?  For an innocent lonely child.

Through many miracles and blessings we added Gabriela Marie to our family.  We are thankful, joyful and sleep deprived… ha ha.. But soooo worth it!  We thank God each and everyday for breaking our hearts for the children of the world.  The children that need a Mommy and Daddy to tuck them into bed each night, give kisses and hugs, give them siblings and love unconditionally.  Share the love of Jesus and everlasting life!

And, through it all God blessed us with an adoption organization…  Remember that was what I thought this would all turn into, helping Others  adopt.  By following God’s call for adoption came a precious Chinese girl named YaYa to Shelly’s family and handsome Joe from Guatemala to ours and a new adoption organization, Room for One More was born.  Following Joe’s adoption, God blessed us with Ella.  And following Shelly’s adoption of YaYa God blessed them with Elizabeth and now Eric too. We are passionate about helping children find their forever families  and bringing these sweet children home.   I could never have the passion for adoption if I had not experienced it personally.  Is God way too amazing or what!!  Check us out at www.roomforonemorechild.org.  God has blessed Room for One More to also include foster caer and orphan care all over the world.   I am so thandful we made room for one more, or two, or more……  Thank You God!

Okay so lets end this with Ella.  As I am writing this, while she is next to me eating a snack.   She says “Mommy I love you.”  I say, ” Ella, I love you too”.  Then she replies,  ” I love you Most!!!”  Now, that’s Priceless!

Hugs and Kisses from The Stroup Family,

Greg,Shari,Sarah,John,James,Anna Grace,Joe and Ella

Shari Stroup

Room for One More

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Crazy Guest Blogger #5 – Mommy DIY Summer Lanterns

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Crazy Guest Blogger #5 – Mommy DIY Summer Lanterns

Posted on 22 July 2010 by Kari Gibson

Summer Lanterns- Easy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crazy June Adoption Family + Van Druffs

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Crazy June Adoption Family + Van Druffs

Posted on 01 June 2010 by Kari Gibson

I had the crazy honor of meeting this amazing family last year.  They opened their hearts and welcomed adoption into their family.  When I heard about their home being destroyed by a tornado last month, I just had to ask them to share the miracle of adoption and survival!  Please take the time to read their story and leave them encouraging words in the comments this week!


A testimony of God’s faithfulness:
The seeds of adoption were planted in our hearts during the early years of our marriage, but it took nearly 18 years before we would actually pursue what God had planted long before.  In March of 2008 we made the decision to adopt.  One child. An infant.  When we called on a social worker to do our home study, the first question he asked me when he learned we wanted to adopt from Ethiopia was “Have you given any consideration to adopting TWO children?”  I told him that I had given it passing thought, but was sure my husband would never go for it!   I mentioned it to Mark half expecting him to laugh, but instead he came to me just a few days later and said that if that was the plan God had for us, he would be open to it.   When we turned in our dossier we left our request open to adopt one or two children, but asked for an infant and an older girl.  In January 2009, God was working on my heart and He brought me to a place where I was completely open to adopting whatever children He had for us, regardless of age or gender, and I promised to trust Him to guide those who were making referrals.  A few days later we received our referral. A brother and sister (aged 8 and 5) from the Sidama region with the most beautiful smiles one could possibly imagine.  We accepted our referral without hesitation and lived on cloud nine for the next 3 months.  On April Fool’s day 2009, after our third attempt, we passed court and Bereket (Jordan) and Burtu (Kloe) legally became part of the Van Clan. During the whole paper chase, waiting for referral, waiting for court, waiting to pass court phase, our AWAA yahoo group would often hold prayer and praise nights.  ”Our God is Mighty to Save” became a theme song for many as God performed miracle after miracle to bring children home.    Little did I know that one year to the very weekend of bringing Jordan and Kloe home, God would show Himself “Mighty to Save” in a very different way.
Unlike many families our adoption process actually went quite smoothly and we didn’t have much in the way of problems or obstacles along the way.  Our biggest challenges were yet to come.  Three weeks after arriving home, just as we were settling in as a new family of 7, I discovered that I was pregnant. Not only was I a crazy hormonal woman, but I suffered for 3 full months with all day sickness.  So many times I asked God if He was sure He knew what He was doing!  I mean, it just didn’t make sense that at a time when Jordan and Kloe needed a mom the most, I could not be that mom I thought they needed.  As He has done many times before, the Lord reminded me that He rarely “makes sense”.  It didn’t “make sense” to Noah when God told him to build an ark.  It didn’t “make sense” to Abraham when God said to sacrifice his son on an altar.  It didn’t “make sense” to Gideon that God would ask Him to fight an entire army with only 300 men.  Yet these men kept going in faith and walked the road that God asked them to walk!  In January 2010, after a very difficult pregnancy (debilitating nausea, heart palpitations,  kidney stones, getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes) our beautiful promised son, Nathan James was born.

The one year anniversary of bringing Kloe and Jordan home was approaching and we had made plans to go camping in Memphis and make a visit to an Ethiopian restaurant.  It would be the kids’ first taste of injera in over a year!  But once again, the Lord had a different path for us.  On Friday April 30th at around 9:15 PM I was taking an online test when the internet went out.  A moment later my cell phone rang and it was my oldest daughter.  She said “Mom we are watching the news and there is a tornado and it is heading right for our street.”  The younger kids were in bed but I immediately ran to grab Nikki, while Luke got Kloe out of the top bunk and Jordan from his bed.  The guys moved the dining room table to the hallway of and we all got under.  We heard the radio say that it would be in our area in just about two minutes.  You never really think that it will hit YOU, but thank God we took the possibility seriously and got into the hallway.  We heard the tornado approaching and I knew we were in trouble.  Mark yelled “pressure” as our ears popped, and Luke yelled “PRAY” and we all did.  The house began to shake and the sound of breaking glass was everywhere.  I heard a loud explosion which later turned out to be the roof coming off our house.  The house picked up and we were in the air.  At that moment we had no idea if we would live or die.  I held my precious 3 month old in my arms and prayed to God I wouldn’t see my children die.  After only a few seconds we “landed” back on the ground.  There was insulation everywhere.  Dishes from the kitchen were in my lap.  Picture frames were over Jordan and Nikki’s head and Jordan’s shirt was somehow trapped between a wall and the floor.  BUT WE WERE ALL OK!!!  The table that was over our heads was gone but we remained.  Sheltered in the arms of the Almighty.  We walked straight down the hallway through broken glass and climbed out a broken window into the pouring rain.  Kloe kept crying “OUR HOUSE IS BROOOOKEN”.  We could smell gas from the neighbors house and I was so scared that some downed power lines might cause an explosion.  We decided to make our way to our van and get inside.  The windshield was broken and there was glass all over the front seats so we climbed in the back.  Nikki got in her car seat and was furiously trying to buckle herself in.  ”Buckle me!” she kept saying, and so I did.  Luke began to pray with the kids and praise God for the miracle of saving us all.  The kids went from terrified to almost happy.  It was raining so hard and still storming, but every time the fear would come we would just pray.   I had Mark’s cell phone so I texted our status to his facebook “Van Druff house destroyed by tornado, but our AMAZING God has saved each and every one of us!”.  We had gotten text message out to some friends and they were trying to get to us and get us out.  At one point we tried to run to the road but were shouted back by our neighbors because of downed power lines.
In the days and weeks following the tornado we experienced the hands on practical love of Jesus through His children in so many ways.  People sorted through the debris to save what little was left of our belongings.  People offered their home for us to stay in.  People we have never met gave us financial and prayer support.  God has been faithful to provide us with a temporary home to rent, a “new to us” van (that seats 8, so now our whole family can ride together!) and now we are praying and asking the Lord to help us decide what to do as far as rebuilding.  Because we have a desire to go into full time missions in the future, we feel very strongly that we are not to get into something that we cannot manage with ease, financially, and yet our large family requires quite a bit of space in a home.  We also feel strongly not to get another mobile home!  The kids need to feel safe. (Mom needs to feel safe too!)  I loved my home.  It was big enough for us and everything about it was perfect to me, right down to our low mortgage payment!  So we are asking God to show us what He has for us and we would be honored if you would all  pray with us that God would make our path straight, and we would follow His leading, even if it doesn’t “make sense” to our human minds!  Pray for the peace of our children who are now very fearful during storms.  Pray for some sense of normal and routine to be restored to our family.   I know God will answer.  He has proven over and over and over again that “He is Mighty to Save.”
This is the hallway where we rode out the storm


Amazingly enough, their mailbox is still standing. Let’s give generously to bless this amazing and humble family.

“If people would like to give, every gift will put us closer to being able to rebuild without financial hardship, and we are really praying that God will make a way for that.  (Our mobile home was insured at 85K, but to rebuild will cost more like 130K because we don’t feel right getting another mobile home.)  It is so hard when you have a big family as you can’t live comfortably in the typical 3 bedroom 2 bathroom 1400 sq. ft. home that is the norm!! LOL.  I constantly remind myself that this is no surprise to God!  HA.” (mom, Renee)

Our paypal is

and our mailing address is:

Mark and Renee Van Druff
50 Rockefeller Blvd
Ward, AR 72176

What adoption means to me….

Since we adopted I have come to a deeper understanding of how my heavenly Father loves me.  I rejected Him and yet He loved me.  I had nothing to offer Him and yet He loved me.   What a beautiful, perfect, unconditional love.  Our adoption has not only revealed the Father’s love for me, but it has given me ample opportunity to practice giving this kind of love to my children. (adoptive mom, Renee)

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Crazy Norwegian Love

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Crazy Norwegian Love

Posted on 14 May 2010 by Kari Gibson

Dear Ia Williams,

You are officially my #1 crazy adoption fan!!  You have no idea how much fun it’s been for me to meet you in bloggy land and your big crazy adoption family!!  I adore Nina and can’t believe we have not all met in real life, but we certainly have a special connection of the heart!  Thank you for our 5 handmade knit hats- a sprinkle of Norwegian love!  We love them and have been wearing our hats around the house… can’t wait until next winter!  Your passion and heart for adoption has made a huge impact on your family.  I have a little surprise for you… a special “happy” from your daughter Nina sharing why you are so crazy amazing!


“So I’m sitting here racking my brain, to think of a fun story about my mom, and all I can think of is how sweet and sentimental my mom is.  Aside from my dad, she loves her children more than anything in the world.  I have two older brothers, Erik & Rune, and we fought like cats and dogs throughout our entire childhood.  Still DO sometimes!  :)  She was a serious trooper for putting up with us for so long! And now with the added spouses, 5 grandchildren (with three more on the way!)  One for us, and two for my bro, and sis-in-law in Oregon also adopting from Ethiopia, and 3 dogs!!  It’s usually chaos when we are all together (which is about twice a year.)  But my mom loves it.  She loves having us close, and being so far away from all of us is so difficult for her and my dad.  She has been knitting these hats and sweaters since we were babies.  When I was very little, she even knitted my dresses.  In Norway, when my mom was a little girl, all the girls had to learn to knit.  She excelled at it.  Of course, she’s an amazing seamstress too, always making us costumes for school and special occasions.  When we were young, we didn’t realize how special the things she made for us were.  And as a girl, anything different from the norm, was not so cool to wear.  My mom’s sweaters, while beautiful, stood out in junior high, so I wasn’t super gung ho about them.  Now, I can’t wait to get my next one.  All of us siblings argue over who gets the next one because we love them.
The hats and sweaters are only part of the wonderful pieces of Norway that my mother “knit” into our lives.  We spent our summers in Bergen, Norway, with our grandparents (we called them Bestemor & Bestefar.)  During those summers, we played in the streets until late, because the sun only hangs just below the horizon during the summer.  Land of the Midnight Sun!  We hiked up our favorite mountain many times, picking the biggest blueberries you’ve ever seen, on the way up.  At the top, you could see all of Bergen, fjords and shining waters for miles and miles.  We visited the fish market in downtown Bergen often, and ate unfathomably large piles of shrimp that were more delicious than any shrimp I’ve ever eaten in the States.  We have always made fun of my mom and the shrimp she eats, because there seems to be no limit for her when shrimp is involved.  She can seriously scarf down some shrimp!  I remember long walks with my mom and Bestemor, picking flowers along the way, and feeding ducks down by the water.  I remember my mom and Bestefar (grandpa) laughing until tears streamed down their faces, which seemed to happen nearly every day.  Both my mom and I loved the pipe my grandfather would smoke when he was sitting in his chair at home.  I would always get to blow out the match (which I loved to do for some reason), and he would let me tap his cheeks while he blew smoke rings into the air.
So obviously, my parents have given us the world and more.  The experiences they have allowed us to have, and the places they have taken us is more than we could ever have asked for.  I’m so glad my dad chose to sit next to my mom on a 30 hour bus ride through Scandinavia, because otherwise, I may never have come into this world to experience such a wonderful life with such an amazing mom (we call her Mamma, by the way.  Not Mama, mommy, or mom.  Simply Mamma.  Pronounced “Mum-a”.  It’s the Norwegian version of mom.)”  Nina Mullins, adoptive mom-to-be.
Thank you, Ia for making such a difference in the crazy adoption world!!
xoxo Kari
Just for fun:)

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Crazy May Adoption Family + The Tuckers

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Crazy May Adoption Family + The Tuckers

Posted on 11 May 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m thrilled to introduce you to the Tucker Family.  Take a peek at Angie’s amazing blog, Giggles and Curls. Here is their crazy adoption story …

Four years ago this week, I became a mother…in India.  My husband and I boarded a plane to Kolkata, India, knowing that in a matter of hours, the child we had studied in the limited amount of pictures we received would materialize into real-life.  It had been a long road to our daughter.  After 5 years of marriage, we decided that it was time to start a family.  Just like so many other couples out there, it wasn’t as easy as it was supposed to be.  The culprit, in our case, was endometriosis…a nasty & severe case. While recovering from a procedure to relieve some of my pain, I started thinking about all of the children out there who were just waiting for a family…waiting to be loved.

Dustin and I had always been open to adoption.  In fact, at the start of our marriage, he and I talked about how we would like to have a couple of biological children and then adopt. We started researching international adoption, but decided to go ahead and meet with a fertility doctor.  Sitting in the waiting room at the specialist’s office, I looked around at the faces of the couples sitting in the room with us.  Some couples looked hopeful, and some emotionally drained.  I remember thinking to myself, “Why am I here?  I have a child in India waiting for me.” After our consultation with the fertility doctor, he confirmed what we suspected.  There was little to no chance of me getting pregnant without extensive medical intervention.  We could have moved forward with fertility treatments, but something didn’t feel right.  We left his office and the very next day took our first steps in the direction of adoption.

The next 2 ½ years were a whirlwind of emotions…anticipation, worry, fear of the unknown and love, immense love, for a child we had never met. Our adoption agency, Dillon International, was supportive, honest and patient in every way.  Jynger Roberts, our case manager, was an angel (even when my devilish impatience would rear it’s ugly head!)  We received constant affirmations from God, time after time.  Small, subtle nudges let us know that we were on the right path…the path that God had chosen for us.  We eventually accepted the referral of Supritha (su-pree-ta), a stunning baby girl with eyes full of wisdom and a head full of onyx black hair.  Today we call her Mia Supritha.  “Mia” means (literally) “mine”, and Supritha in Bengali means “good love”.  The name we gave her and her Bengali name fused together mean “my good love.”

Our plane touched down 15 minutes before Mia’s first birthday.  At the stroke of midnight, new friends & family – people who had never held her, but had carried her in prayer, serenaded Mia with the Happy Birthday Song in the middle of the airport.  It was a touching scene, and one that we will never forget.  One year after we brought her home, another miracle occurred.  We became pregnant.  Mia’s baby sister was born 3 months early, weighing 1 lb. 8 oz.  Once again, God revealed his love.  Today we have two beautiful, healthy girls.

Four years ago this week, I celebrated Mother’s Day weekend in India, and held Mia for the first time.   And for the first time I felt what it was like to love a child the way a mother loves her child.  And four short years ago, I understood more clearly the Father’s love for us.  It’s a love that is pure.  It’s a love that is true.  It is forever.

Please leave them some crazy love in the comments!!

Tucker “Gotcha Day” Video

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Adoption 101: Making Crazy Memories

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Adoption 101: Making Crazy Memories

Posted on 20 April 2010 by Kari Gibson

Roger and I would like to share with you today on LIVE how to make memories with your adoptive child.  We have 16 years of practice on making memories count with our 3 kiddos and want to pass on some of the craziness to you.  Please share with readers some of the things you do in your family to build lasting memories.

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Posted on 12 April 2010 by Kari Gibson

I love reminding Hannah that she is a walking miracle. At 13, she only rolls her eyes half way around when I hug her tight and whisper how much I love her being my daughter.  We almost lost our beautiful girl when she was born 26 weeks premature.  Now, when I look at her pictures and remember the tiniest baby in the NIC unit sleeping in an incubator fighting for her life… it feels like a dream.

Hannah is a survivor.  She taught me what it means to walk like a miracle.  She lives her motto- never give up.  My tiny preemie reminds me daily that God’s plans are for our best.  It was so difficult for me to wrap my heart around the possibility of not having her in my life, but God taught me through the first year of her life what faith really means.  I had to teach my heart to believe in things that I could not see or understand.  Hannah is smart and loving and kind and strong and keeps us laughing with her crazy sense of humor.  What strikes me to the core, is her perseverance and courage when she faces challenges head on- eyeball to eyeball.  She never gives up when the going gets tough.

Roger gave Hannah the nickname Hannahrella when she was about 3 years old.  She loves being daddy’s princess and they have a very special and close relationship.  A few months ago, Roger was playing with the girls and he called Zoie “Zoierella.”  Hannah looked at her daddy and said flat out, “Noooo way Dad, that’s MY nickname.”  I loved it!!  Zoie is now called Princess Z.

God knew that Hannah would be our ambassador for adoption.  He used her perseverance to melt our hearts to start the adoption journey.  She is very proud knowing God used her beautiful life to grow our family through adoption.

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Bring Your Drama To Your Momma

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Bring Your Drama To Your Momma

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m dedicating this week of blogging to crazy mommyhood.  As I prepare to leave for Haiti on the 11th, I can’t stop thinking about my kids.  Are they going to survive without me for a week?  These are the questions zipping around in my head:  Who will remember to turn the baby monitor on at night? Who will remember to buy milk before it runs out? Will Zoie be OK at the babysitters house (1st time?) Will anyone remember to cook dinner at a reasonable hour?  Yes, that’s right, I’m leaving my kids for a week with their awesome, amazingly fun, easy going daddy and I don’t need to worry about them for a second.  They are in the best hands and hubby will do a great job, even if he does forget to buy the milk.

One of the things I love saying to my 3 kids is, “Bring your drama to your momma.”  I always want them to feel safe to come to me when they have had a crazy day (there’s no such thing as a bad day.)  Teenagers have a lot of drama.  I’m blessed to have 2 teens, so we have double the drama at times.  When my kids bring me their drama, I have 2 choices on how I’m going to respond. 1) I can freeek out pouring fuel on the drama or 2) just play it cool.  Believe me, I have tried both sides of the game.  Not to long ago, my son and I were eating lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant a few hours before dropping him off at golf camp.  Michael had just earned his driver’s permit and wanted to make sure he got in a few practice runs.  We had a great lunch, lots of laughs and plenty of time to make it home before drop off.  My son was in the drivers seat, backing up my van when all of a sudden he made a crazy sharp turn and crashed into something behind us.  My first reaction was to scream yell “SLOW DOWN!!” but it was too late.  We both looked back and knew this was more than a fender bender.  He backed straight into a parked car parallel behind us.  My van has a back up camera, but somehow this large, black car was missed out of sight.  The worst part was the frenzy that happened when 10 people circled us yelling different views of the accident.  This was A+ drama.  I couldn’t believe he forgot to look behind him before jamming the car in reverse, but I made a quick choice.  I reacted calmly to the mob and sweet talked our way out of the driver calling the police.  There were a few new dings and bangs on his very dinged up, banged up car, but overall everything went pretty smooth.

Michael apologized 100 times to me how bad he felt backing out too fast and it was easy for me to say to him, “Live and learn.”  He spent the summer paying us back for the mini collision and he learned to look carefully before backing up the family car.

I instinctively wanted to yell, but I didn’t. (this time)

This is why I love the lessons we can learn from drama.  I make mistakes everyday and I’m grateful I love a God who loves me and forgives me when I back up too fast in life.

Do you let your kids bring their drama to you?  I want to hear…

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Crazy April Adoption Family + The Maas’

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Crazy April Adoption Family + The Maas’

Posted on 05 April 2010 by Kari Gibson

Introducing the Maas Family “Blog.“  I met Rebecca (mom) in adoption bloggy land.  I’m thrilled to feature this beautiful colorful family this April!!  Please take the time to leave the Maas’ a special comment to spread some crazy love!

Four years ago God began impressing upon us the frugality of trying to live the “American Dream”.  We had built a large home and filled it with nice furniture.  We were a two income family with two children and a dog.  While I was pregnant with our second child we began to think about our future and what that would look like.  Honestly, we did not like what we saw.  I never wanted to work full time but I would need to work to pay for our comfortable lifestyle.  So we began to make drastic changes in our lifestyles.  We sold our large home and bought a smaller one that we could afford on one income.  After our son was born I did not return to work but stayed home to raise our family.  A few months after our son was born we began the adoption process in China.

We mailed our dossier to China in February 2006.  At that time, the estimated wait to be matched with a child was between six and nine months.  One day in March 2006 I was standing in the kitchen, I think I was fixing lunch.  I got cold chills and God said, “Your daughter was born today”.  Well, I thought that was really cool and starting counting the days of how old she would be when we got our referral.  As the wait got longer and longer I began to think that day in March was just wishful thinking.  If she was born on that day she would be two or older before we finally got her and we had specifically requested a child younger than nine months of age.  OK, skip forward to September 2007.  We had decided after much prayer that we felt God leading us to apply for a child with a special medical need.  Finally, on October 4, 2007 we got THE CALL from our adoption agency.  We had been matched with Faith.  I just fell to my knees and cried like a baby.  At the time I did not make the connection back to that day in March 2006.  A few days later we were on our way home from church and suddenly it all clicked.  Faith was born on March 20, 2006.  She was the little girl God told me was born in China that day in March 2006.  WOW!!!  In December 2007 we traveled to China to pick up our sweet Faith.

On the plane ride home from China I leaned over and told my husband, “you know you have a son in Africa”.    Two months after being home with our beautiful Faith we began looking for Gabriel.  We knew that we wanted to adopt a child from a waiting child list..  We looked for about 2-3 weeks when we saw Gabriel.  We immediately knew it was him and began the adoption process.

On that same list was a little boy named Jacob.  Jacob was 6 months old and his medical report said that he had Hepatitis B.  I inquired as to what my husband would think about adopting two boys.  His response was that we had just adopted a child that was considered to have special needs and that was enough for us right now.   A month or two passed and I continued to watch the children on the waiting list.  As I was reviewing the list one day I was horrified when I saw a picture of Jacob.   Jacob at nine months old had dwindled away to 10 pounds and looked very weak.  I told my husband that we had to do something or he was going to die.  So I contacted the adoption agency to inquire about Jacob.  Neither of us had any doubt that we would adopt Jacob so we added Jacob to our dossier.

The agency took Jacob in for a medical evaluation to try to figure out why he had gotten so weak.  Our adoption agency would not allow us to officially accept Jacob’s referral until a medical report was received.  It seemed like it was taking forever and our paperwork was just sitting in Ethiopia waiting for Jacob’s papers to be completed.  We begged and pleaded with our agency to please let us go ahead and adopt Jacob.  We did not care about his diagnosis and would adopt him regardless of what his medical needs turned out to be.  Finally, they allowed us to officially accept his referral but not before we signed some extra documents stating that we knew his medical information was unknown and that there was a possibility that he would pass away before the adoption was completed.  A few days later we received a medical report for Jacob.  They mentioned things like a mass on his brain, cerebral palsy, fluid on his brain, and failure to thrive.   It turns out he was not positive for Hepatitis B.

Well, we brought Gabriel and Jacob home on July 31, 2008 on Jacob’s 1st birthday.  Jacob has been diagnosed with Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy.  It is funny to think back to the day we saw a little boy that was positive for Hepatitis and we thought we could not handle another child with a health issue.   We are so glad that God knows what we can handle and what is best for us.  Jacob is such a joy and we cannot imagine not having him as a part of our family.

Our family was growing quickly but our hearts continued to ache for those children left behind.  So in March 2009 we completed our dossier to adopt two more children from Ethiopia.  This adoption was a rollercoaster of a ride and way to long of a story to tell here.  In January 2010 we finally brought home our two new daughters, Grace & Sera.  Both girls were on a waiting list, Grace because of her age and Sera has several birth defects including polydactyl of her hands & feet, and multiple issues with her eyes.

Here we are three months home with our newest family members.  Life is always busy, most of the time crazy, and sometimes scary!  Are we going to adopt again?  YES!!  As long as there is room in our hearts there will ALWAYS be room in our home.  However, we are currently at an impasse as our home study agency will not approve us until we have a larger home.  God’s provisions and timing are perfect!   Please keep our family in your prayers as we look for a home, which fits within our budget, and will fit a growing family of 9 AND that is handicap accessible.

Darren & Rebecca Maas
Miranda,Grace, Ethan, Faith, Gabriel, Jacob, & Sera

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Fun Family Pics – Simply Love Easter

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Fun Family Pics – Simply Love Easter

Posted on 04 April 2010 by Kari Gibson

We had an amazing pre-Easter at our church party with Zoie and then spending time with the kids decorating eggs and stuffing baskets.  I hope you enjoy the fun pics.

Today, I want to thank my Savior for the sacrifice He made for you and me. He has changed my life and shown me with His life what Simply Love is all about… Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13

Happy Easter!!

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Crazy March Adoption Family – The Patterson 7

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Crazy March Adoption Family – The Patterson 7

Posted on 05 March 2010 by Kari Gibson

I’m so honored to introduce you to the Patterson Family!  You will be inspired tremendously from their adoption story and the miracles God has poured abundantly.  You can visit Lorraine’s amazing blog- All Are Precious in His Sight and join together to pray for sweet Chrissie!

Here’s their adoption story:

We are a growing adoptive family:  Matt (39), Lorraine (38), Parker (bio, age 13), Meribeth (Colombia, age 12, adopted at age 11), Mattie (bio, age 12), Sawyer (bio, age 9), and Chrissie (Serbia, age 4, adopted at age 4 with severe congenital heart defects).  We don’t know how many children God plans to share with us, but we have joyfully and wholeheartedly said, “Yes, Lord…” (and there’s not a period at the end of that statement).  It’s open.  We’re open.  Open hearts.  Open minds.  Open home.  Open to whomever God chooses to bless us with, no matter what color, size, age, ability (or disability); if God calls us to rescue a particular child (or children), our instant answer is, “Yes, Lord…”.

We weren’t always this way.  God has done many miracles in our lives.  We didn’t always know we would be an adoptive family.  We weren’t always passionate about adoption…until God called us.  Proverbs 24:12 reminds us, “Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”

God began this journey with us back in 2003, but we didn’t realize exactly what He had in store as He began preparing our hearts for adoption.  At that time, our children were 3, 5, and 7, and God introduced us to an amazing family who lived in our neighborhood who also homeschooled.  The mom, Stephanie, became a dear friend of mine, and her two daughters, Emily and Samantha (ages 9 and 11 at the time) felt like they were a part of our family.  Then their father abandoned them and chose to live with another woman in another state.  Crushed.  Abandoned.  But not forgotten.  Our Father loved this precious family dearly, and He called our family to stand in the gap as their earthly father walked out.  My husband, Matt, stepped up to be their dad.  We took Emily and Samantha on vacations with us, they came to our house daily, and they were included in family celebrations, holidays, etc. as if they were our own children.  Stephanie did as well.  This was God’s way of turning our hearts toward adoption.  Even though we didn’t legally adopt Samantha and Emily (as they have a wonderful, loving mom), God gave us the model of His plan for adoption.  Psalm 68:5-6a assured us to live out this life with joy, regardless of “legal adoption” status, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families…”.

God has a family chosen for every single orphan out there.  He loves each of them dearly.  He promises in John 14:18 to not leave us as orphans.  That means every one of us, regardless of how we became orphaned, regardless of what that might look like to the world, regardless of how much money it might cost, regardless of how challenging it may be.  He loves us that much.  And more.

In November, 2007, God called us to adopt an 11-year-old girl from Colombia who had suffered a traumatic life.  She had lost her mother to cancer, her grandmother to brain damage, her father to prison, plus she had suffered more abuses throughout her eleven  years of life than any of us will endure in our lifetime.  We said yes.  Meribeth became our “legal” forever daughter on November 16, 2008, and her life has been turned from hopeless to rescued.  It’s all God.  He has worked miracles in our daughter’s life, and while the path has been filled with many bumps, bruises, setbacks and challenges, saving the life of one child is worth it.  That’s what Christ does for us.  (Although we haven’t endured anything in comparison to what Christ endured for us.)  It’s all about love.  Unconditional love.  The kind of love that doesn’t require anything in return.  The kind of love we’re not able to give on our own.  It’s all God.  We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  (Philippians 4:13)

In June 2009, God called us to rescue a 4-year-old girl in Serbia who would die in her country of heart failure.  The cardiologists in American said her condition wasn’t compatible with life.  Until God sent us His cardiologist.  Dr. Mary Porisch contacted our family to let us know that she would be willing to help Chrissie if we chose to adopt her.  Another medical missionary cardiologist, “Dr. Kirk”, encouraged us to follow God’s calling, and not allow the world’s warped opinion to deter us from obeying God.  We said yes.  (We actually said yes before we ever talked to a cardiologist about her heart conditions because God asked us to obey His calling, regardless of the outcome.  He used this scripture to speak His desire into our hearts, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is within the power of your hand to do so.”  Proverbs 3:27)  We had the power to rescue Chrissie, regardless of the outcome, and all we had to do was say yes.  We couldn’t let Chrissie perish.  We set out to adopt this sweet little girl, and in October 2009, Chrissie became our “legal” forever daughter.   Even with all of her dire medical conditions, emotional scars, physical scars, abandonment issues, and all that an orphan is forced to deal with,  Chrissie is the most joyful girl you’ll ever meet.  Filled with joy.  Overflowing.  It’s all God.  She is our miracle girl, and we’re so blessed that God chose us as her forever family.

Our entire family, from the tallest to the smallest, has been deeply touched by adoption.  Forever changed in ways that only God can do as He builds our forever family.  We are learning valuable things like selflessness, serving, giving and loving as God teaches us the real meaning of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  (Galatians 5:22-23)  And the greatest of these is love.  If we have not love, we are nothing.  ( 1 Corinthians 13)

We know God has more children chosen for us.  We don’t know who, when, how many or where, but our answer is, “Yes, Lord…”.  The children are worth it.

New Update today on Chrissie from mom:

Chrissie was recently hospitalized for her metapneumovirus, they had to do a chest x-ray, and they discovered that the stent that the cardiologist put into one of Chrissie’s arteries has fractured.  It’s in an area that goes into her lung where she has TINY blood flow to begin with.  (There’s no blood flow from her heart to her lungs, but God created some God-made vessels in her neck that work independently of the heart to get blood to the lungs…an amazing miracle.)  Anyway, the one vessel that goes into one of her lungs was very narrowed with only a TINY passageway for blood to get through, so the cardiologist put a stent in back in November.  It was a grueling procedure for her, as the vessel nearly burst and the stent couldn’t expand to its full capacity b/c the vessel was too hard and constricted and all sorts of issues.  Anyway, that stent is “fractured” now, which means that there are several pieces of it that have broken off.  The cardiologist may need to try to repair that before Chrissie’s open heart surgery, but she needs another CAT scan to be able to determine blood flow rates, etc. through that area.  The CAT scan must be done under anesthesia, which is another hospital stay for our little traumatized darling.  We don’t yet know when they’ll do the CAT scan either b/c her immune system must be strong.  (The cardiologist said that going under anesthesia can cause the body to revert back to lung/pulmonary distress, so they want to wait till Chrissie’s body is fully recovered from this metapneumovirus.)

Please add Patterson’s special “Pray For Chrissie” button on your blog and pray for miracles.


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Wednesday WOW recipe + Pot Pie

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Wednesday WOW recipe + Pot Pie

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Kari Gibson

I love pot pies!  It’s the comfort food I crave the most on a cold day.  What is your comfort food?

Comfort Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts


How to make your Pot Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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