Friday, December 26, 2008


My heart is full of joy watching my children this Christmas morning. This year due to the next adoption, we "cut back" actually way back- our children however, had such JOY- they are very happy with what they received. I am praying each day that the Lord helps Juan and I teach our kids the joy of living, being content with what you have. Joy is not the next "gift" "thing" "toy" that we want. Joy is inside- and Once we accept Christ as our Savior, JOY is a choice.

My heart is breaking over the facts of this world. You know we all can do something. Maybe it is not for you to adopt, maybe you are past the stage in your life that that is what you can do. However you would be surprised how the older you are- the more calm, you are, with the kids- But it is true, not everyone can or should adopt. There are however so many other things that each one of us can pitch in and do. Just off the top of my head- I know of several orphanages that need supplies, babies are dying. There is a project in Haiti digging wells to bring clean drinking water to towns. There is a project that helps widows to be trained in a "job" so that they can support their children. (This is the project that I plan to work very hard on this next year- I so believe in helping others help themselves.) While I was in Ethiopia 2 years ago, I went and visited this project and plan to go again with our next trip. Hopefully SOON!!

IF anyone wants more information on any of the projects that I have just mentioned- or want to talk about other projects, please just email me. I can get addresses and more information to you, so that maybe you can start your "grass roots" project. EVERY single person that helps, even a little bit- Helps! It only takes one person to start the chain of events that can help the world. I CAN HELP.

My heart is breaking over the following facts.

What is the need?

Over 143 million children have lost one or both parents. 1
At least 16.2 million children worldwide have lost both parents. 2
Every 14 seconds a child loses a parent due to AIDS. 3
Conflict has orphaned or separated 1 million children from their families in the 1990s. 4

Where are they?

43.4 million orphans live in sub-Saharan Africa, 87.6 million orphans live in Asia, and 12.4 million orphans live in Latin America and the Caribbean. 5
1.5 million children live in public care in Central and Eastern Europe alone. 6
At any given point there are over 500,000 children in the U.S. Foster Care system. 7
In some countries, children are abandoned at alarming rates, due to poverty, restrictive population control policies, disabilities or perceived disabilities, and cultural traditions that value boys more than girls. 8

What about AIDS?

More than 14 million children under the age of 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. 9
By 2010, the number of children orphaned by AIDS globally is expected to exceed 25 million. 10
AIDS is more likely than other cause of death to result in children losing both parents. 11
As the infection spreads, the number of children who have lost parents to AIDS is beginning to grow in other regions as well, including Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. 12

What happens to the children?

Children are profoundly affected as their parents fall sick and die, setting them on a long trail of painful experiences often characterized by: economic hardship, lack of love, attention and affection, withdrawal from school, psychological distress, loss of inheritance, increased physical and sexual abuse and risk of HIV infection, malnutrition and illness, stigma, discrimination, exploitation, trafficking, and isolation. 13
Orphaned children are much more likely than non-orphans to be working in commercial agriculture, as street vendors, in domestic service and in the sex trade. 14
Unaccompanied boys are at high risk of forced or 'voluntary' participation in violence and armed conflict. 15
Orphanages, children's villages, or other group residential facilities generally fail to meet young people's emotional and psychological needs. 16

What about foster care?

On average, children stay in foster care for 30 months, or 2.5 years. 17
118,000 children were waiting to be adopted on September 30, 2004. 18
On average, those children waiting for adoption have been in foster care for 43.8 months, almost 4 years. 19
Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Of those who aged out of foster care: 20 Outcome 21 Earned a high school diploma: 54% Obtained a Bachelor's degree or higher: 2% Were unemployed: 51% Had no health insurance: 30% Had been homeless: 25% 22 Were receiving public assistance: 30%

Is there any hope?

Yes. There is One who infinitely loves each orphan and calls His people to join Him in caring for the fatherless. Each one of us can Show Hope to an orphan.

If only 7% of the 2 billion Christians in the world would show hope to a single orphan, looking after the child in their distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. We can each do something.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I need Africa more than Africa needs me

Merry & Blessed Christmas!

It's the day we recall/memorialize/celebrate the birth of our Christ, Jesus. We all do it in so many different ways. As long as we are alive we have reason to celebrate, but as humans we like to set aside particular days to celebrate and remember. Even in the Old Testament, the LORD God set aside particular days for us to remember and celebrate different events. So I take His example and follow along with the tradition of "observing" Christmas.

Yes, we do exchange gifts in our family and we buy gifts for friends, and we donate to causes for some. Yet, we never lose sight of why this particular day was set remember that our salvation came to this earth as a man child. He was born helpless but He was the only source of hope for all mankind. We also realize that it is man's idea to celebrate the memory of His birth, and it is Jesus' command to celebrate/memorialize the event of his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection for our sakes.

This morning we watched our children's eyes as they opened their various gifts. We bathed in the glow of their adoration (as long as it lasts). We made our traditional call to Grandma & Grandpa. We'll eat our traditional Christmas feast. We will pray for our sisters and brothers around the world who can not celebrate openly because they are being persecuted for Christ's sake. We will pray for those who have no earthly treasures to open this morning; while at the same time they have more to celebrate because their faith tends to be more real than mine.

Celebrate & Pray - Remember and never forget...Jesus is the only reason!
God Bless each of you with Love, Joy, Peace, and Prosperity.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We Finally Got It!

Yesterday, Pam called me at work to tell me that we finally got our INS approval letter. FINALLY! We're going to fax it, e-mail it and mail a hard copy to CWA - no excuses for losing it. :o) . Of course with every ray of sunshine seems to come a little cloud (one doesn't want too much sunshine at at once, we couldn't take it). The case worker at CWA told Pam that what would normally take about 3-4 weeks to get a court date will take about 8-9 weeks. So we're looking at the end of February for the court date and then who knows how long before we get a travel date. This is pushing us uncomfortably close to the "busy season" at both of our jobs. We both work in accounting in the tourist industry and it will be extremely difficult to get away, especially if it falls during month end time.

But hey, we got this step and I shouldn't complain. Please pray for good timing on all the rest of this journey. Thank you to all who are our prayer partners throughout all of this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Monthly update

Our adoption agency, CWA has started something new; they will be sending out monthly updates of the children. This is a fantastic idea, even if they miss a month here or there, it is reassuring to get them. On the update is a picture of the child (separate from siblings), age and measurements. Of course the reliability of the measurements is very questionable. The one we received the other day has the two youngest growing an inch or two and the oldest losing almost two inches since that last update we received.

They also have each of them losing two years in age. Pam and I are hoping this was just a clerical error because that would put the youngest one in kindergarten - Pam has had enough of kindergarten, let me tell ya. We had each of our boys repeat kindergarten in order to gain both academically and maturity. This would be five years of kindergarten Mommy - not something she's looking forward to.

Then the shock of all shocks...they shaved our baby girl's head. I'm sure it done in order to help treat some type of fungal infection, but it was shocking none-the-less. She has about a quarter to half inch of hair on her little head. I was almost in tears imagining how she must have cried so hard when they did that to her. She's still the cutest little peanut with a precious smile.

The middle one, we expected to see a cast on his arm because his medical report said he had a healing fracture of the elbow. No cast. Shrug. Either the medical report was wrong, or they didn't put a cast on it for long. We'll have to remember to have an x-ray of both of his arm's when they finally get home.

We are STILL waiting for our I-171 form from the INS!! We've written twice and our social worker has written once, to no avail.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tough times for everyone

Every week we are praying for another family who's lost an income or who's had their hours cut back or who owns a small business shop that is struggling to keep the lights on or who is a contractor/sales person waiting and waiting for their next contract or sale.

Because we live in a tourist destination area, we don't have "trickle down" effect, we have "Flood down". When people lose jobs, they don't have the money to take vacations it's simple math. If they don't take vacations, they don't need hotel rooms or beach houses to rent. If they don't stay at our hotels or beach houses, they don't eat at our restaurants, they don't shop at our gift shops, they don't buy our gas or our groceries. Then the supporting businesses suffer in kind. We don't need to clean the rooms or houses or pools, fix broken things, deliver anything, and on and on. If the beach houses can't be rented, the owner can't make his mortgage, she/he has to sell the house or lose it. We're seeing both in increasing numbers. I haven't seen it to recognize it yet, but our public services will start suffering more because if there are less rentals, then there's less sales and occupancy taxes being paid. Less taxes leads to less public services, which leads to layoffs there too.

All these actions lead to people losing their jobs with no local prospects. This means people will have to move out of the area, which means people will stop renting their houses, and apartments. Or they have to try to sell their houses (or lose them), we're seeing both in increasing numbers. People moving out of the area will mean more "flood down" effect for those of us remaining.

Now imagine this for hundreds of tourist destination areas around the country. This goes for all of the beach front regions (oceans and lakes), all of the ski resort regions, even your gambling towns. Thousands and thousands of families being effected. Then you throw them in with the auto industry, financial services, and home building/sales. Multiply that out and you see where our country is right now.

But in all this I bless the Name of the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever! Bless His Holy Name! He is merciful. He is mighty. He is loving and kind. Even in our darkest of hours we can stand on His promises like a rock. His word says, "I will never leave you as orphans." I KNOW that it true.

Pray for your brothers and sisters here and around the world. Give where you can help. Share what you have. Hold a hand, cry with the crying and rejoice with the one who rejoices. DO something.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Whoa! It's December already?

I'm getting wind burned by how fast this year whipped by. It's funny how when you stop to look at things; if you look forward to something, time creeps by and when you look at the year as a whole, the time just flashes by. Fortunately or unfortunately - depending on how you look at it, Pam and I are at the age where time normally just whips by. Most of life is fairly routine with taking care of the kids, working our "9-to-5" and participating in things at church.

Right after Thanksgiving, Pam and the girls pulled out our Christmas tree and the decorations. And let me tell you, they did up the tree so beautifully that it almost brought tears to my eyes. It is absolutely gorgeous. Simple, balanced and non-thematic. I actually love passing it and just gazing at it. And that's saying something because I'm not much of a Christmas person, (a left over neurosis from a previous marriage) but I'm working on changing it.

This year we plan on making Christmas small, but memorable. As time goes by we're getting to understand the wastefulness of the commercial Christmas and the lack of true giving. Of course I've always hated the part of spending gobs of time, money and effort trying to buy gifts for people when you haven't the slightest clue what they really want or need. That part irks me the most. But that's me.

There is a growing trend that our family and I hope yours will join - instead of spending gobs of time, money and effort on buying those mindless gifts that people don't need (and probably don't want), spend it on charitable causes. There are food banks, health care providers, orphans, shelters (for either people or animals), heck even "tree hugging, earth loving" organizations that could use your money. Send it to them. Send it in the name of a gift recipient. Give to someone who can't give back and truly enjoy the spirit of giving, rather than the spirit of exchanging. Give hope.