Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hummus Habesha style

In Ethiopia, Habesha is their word for true Ethiopian.    I, however, am a ferenque.   And I'm cool with that.   As long as I can insert little moments of Ethiopian love into my life, I'm good.

Backstory: My dear sister Jerry loves me.  And brought me a Mac-Daddy bag of berbere when she came to visit a few months back.   And I'm not even going to tell you how excited I was to get the powder to make shiro.   Seriously, I was ecstatic.

Hence I am on a mission to find uses for that huuuuge container of berbere.   Add it to chicken salad?  Of course!   Dust baked chicken?  Sure.   Sprinkle it on plain popcorn?  Yes, please!!!!

And now, I present my new favorite - 


  Black Bean Berbere Hummus

Can I get an Amen to the sheer genius of this marriage? I actually had pinned a recipe for Black Bean Hummus on a Chef-in-Training site.    So if you aren't lucky enough to have berbere (I was having to order it from an Ethiopian spice company.   Seriously, go order some now.), you can use her combination of spices as well.   But for those of you who stashed berbere away on your trip back from Ethiopia, here ya go:

(I doubled her recipe to make enough for our small group.  So thankful I did!  Leftovers for lunch!)

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
4 T olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 T white wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
2-3 T Berbere, depending on how much heat you like.   I used 2 T.
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

*combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Serve with veggies, tortilla chips, or homemade chips.

* I originally had made homemade corn tortilla chips with berbere as well.   Cut them in 6 pieces, place on baking sheet and spray with a good bit of cooking spray, and sprinkle with berbere and kosher salt.   Bake at 350 for around 10 min. until brown and crunchy.   Umm, they went quickly.   (I burned my second batch so didn't get a picture... figures).

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Idiots Guide to: being a Church Family to an Adoptive Family

Now, with my battle armor off.... I can look around and see those still fighting and can say unequivocally, the Church needs to step up.    So often I am hearing, "during/after our adoption - we were so disappointed in our church".   

What we mean to say... what we need to say... is that we need our family.   And so often what I have been hearing is that their church families are letting them down.  Yes- there are some rock star churches out there being the hands and feet of Jesus.   But so often, I think the church is kind of in a place of wanting to help, but not understanding what to do, or how to do it.    And we need to get better.   Adoption doesn't look like a 9 month pregnancy, so what should the church be doing?    So... I'm not calling anyone an idiot, just saying that sometimes a little guidebook is necessary... 
Being a Church Family to an Adoptive Family

- The Church family should bless.
Imagine having a six year old plopped in your lap to care for.  What would you need?   A new wardrobe, shoes, pajamas, socks, underwear, child sized eating utensils, toys, books, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, a bed, a room, bedding.... the list can get pretty long.    And now imagine you just spent every single dollar you had on $1000s in flights to bring that kid into your home.    The crickets in your wallet are chirping and the Ramen Noodles are sounding pretty good.

Yes, we know.  'Well, you shouldn't bring a child into your home if you can't provide for it.'   And we will.   But the initial investment to set up a home for a new child is usually pretty remarkable.   Church families provide showers for new mothers to celebrate the birth of a new baby.   Should not the church family celebrate the status of an orphan-no-longer even more?   A battle over that little one was won my friends!   Everything in the world today is making adoption harder and harder.   Legal hoops, financial commitments, foreign governments.  

Celebrate that child who now has a family!!!    Go to the airport to hoop and holler, scare the beejebees out of that baby, but show them you are excited for them.    That moment is only one moment, but for that child to be able to look back years later and see the photos of the welcome signs, the balloons, the tears - they will know that they were wanted, and celebrated, and loved by a community who cared about them.   Show it.

- The Church family should feed.
Adopted children of any age are scared, unsure, and have special needs.   Imagine being taken out of your current surroundings- placed in a new room, a new bed, with new people all around you (who may speak another language).    Sleep will not come easily (for anyone in the house!).   The food is weird.    It plainly, is the making for emotional breakdowns, temper tantrums, and stress (and that's just the mom!!)   

When trying to bond with a new child, and make them feel comfortable in their surroundings, that doesn't allow for meal planning, trips to the grocery, and cooked meals.    Parents may instead be spending hours huddled on the floor hugging a thrashing and screaming 9 year old, trying to speak love over them.   But other kids still need to be fed... and the budget (remember those Ramen noodles?) also doesn't allow for frequent trips for fast food or home cooked restaurants.  

But, adopting parents are so confusing!!!  One minute we are telling you that our new child needs to bond so, 'Please, let us learn to be a family and leave us alone for a bit..'.   And on the other hand we are asking, 'Please, let us learn to be a family, but please Lord, please don't make me do this alone!'

Just as the church family comforts a grieving family with food at funeral time... they should also pitch in when a new child is introduced to a family.  That child, even newborns, are usually grieving.   Grieving for their lost friends, a favorite nanny, just the comfort of familiarity.   Even if the situation wasn't a positive one.  Those parents need to invest their valuable time in helping that child to heal.    No, we may not be able to invite you in for extended visits - but a gift card in the mail, a lovingly prepared meal delivered to the front steps, a meal tree organized.   Just those 5 minutes on the front porch chatting over a pan of lasagna can be the most valuable gift you could ever give in that moment. 

- The Church family should pray.
This one really needs no explanation.   Pray church.  Pray.  The enemy is not happy with a little one being rescued out of his grasp.   These children, no matter the age, are part of a battle waged.   They are unsure, they are hurting, and they are often fighting the love that the Father is wanting to lavish on them.   Many come from backgrounds where they were never loved or valued.   And our job, as their new parents, is to convince them that we do love them.  Our job sometime is to MAKE ourselves love a child who is desperately fighting that love, even when we don't feel it.   So pray.

And let us know you are praying.   A card in the mail.  A quick email.   Let us know that in our moments of desperation and thinking, 'Why, oh why, did I do this to myself?  To my other kids?'   Let us know then, that you are holding our arms up, praying for the Lord to heal our hearts and the hearts of our children.   We may not tell you we need help, but we do.   Very rarely does an adoptive placement happen easily and smoothly.    Even if parents are smiling and saying how happy they are to have their child home (and they are happy!), they are more often than not, having a hard time adjusting in their new roles as well.

-The Church family should give.
Now here is the sticky one.  Again back to the, 'You shouldn't get a kid if you can't afford it'.   Over and over, and over in scripture does it say to take care of the least fortunate.   To take care of the fatherless.   To feed the hungry.   To love the unloved.   And if God has called a family to adopt, HE has promised them that HE will provide.   And he could choose any fashion to do this.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills for goodness sake!   But as the Church family, it is your responsibility as family members to support your own.   I have heard of people getting offended when they receive support letters asking for help.    Really?  Seriously?   This is a HUGE undertaking and the decision to include you in this job is not an easy decision.   But get to it.   Show you are serious about loving the Man who came to adopt YOU, and help others show that love to a little one without a family.  

Does this mean selling your car and donating thousands of dollars?  Maybe.  But not likely.   It could mean $5.  It could mean $50.   God does this amazing trick where he multiplies little things like fish and $5 bills.  They miraculously become thousands.   Just give.  Show that you love.   Buy a silly trinket the family may be selling.   A cupcake or two from their stand.   Just show them you care.

These families are investing their hearts into loving a child they have never met.   Invest with them.   Feed them.  Pray for them.  Bless them.  And I promise--- there is a blessing you will receive for helping to bring a child home - every time you hear that child say 'I love you, Mommy'.   Or run to their new Daddy for a hug?  You can puff your chest out and say, "I helped build that."   Be the Church.  Be his hands and feet.   Just be the family He has called you to be.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dear Compassion sponsor we'll never know:

Dear Compassion sponsor that we'll never know:

Perhaps you were handed his packet at a concert, that little boy in Ethiopia.
Perhaps you picked him off the table.
Perhaps you felt led to choose his face off the website.
Of this we'll never know.

But what you will never know is how life changing you picking that little boy in Ethiopia was.
You will never know how indebted my family is to your family, for choosing that little boy as your own.

Because what you will never know is how because you sponsored that little boy...
Perhaps your decision is what led to the decision for that little boy's family to save the life of MY little girl.

Perhaps it was the gospel which you shared in your letters which led that family to share love...
Perhaps it was the gospel the project shared with the family that led that family to share love...
Because when someone poured compassion into this family, compassion they then gave to MY little girl.
Of this we'll never know.

Perhaps it was the economic burden lifted of sending that one child to school, that allowed them to feel they could take in another child with five little mouths to feed already ...
Perhaps it was the little store that Compassion may have helped them start, that allowed them to feel they could take in another child, with five
little mouths to feed already ....
What made them say yes to her that day?
Of this we'll never know.

But what I do know is that MY little girl's life was saved, and she was loved  - and only because this family chose to help her, as you had helped them.   Without ever knowing.

They could have walked on by her little face.... but they didn't.
You could have walked on by his little face... but you didn't.
And how the two intertwine and depend on each other, we will never know.

But God knows.  And His writing of her story is far more beautiful than you will ever know.

** Dearest Sponsor: Olivia Selam has been with her adoptive family for one and a  half years.  She is happy, and thriving, and healthy.   A milk allergy was the cause of the family's need to place her for adoption.   They unselfishly gave her away to ensure her health.  Her easy transition to our family is primarily due to that love that your Compassion family invested in her for those months.   Because you chose to invest in them.  And for that we are eternally grateful. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Food Stamps Greater than Lives of Two Babies??

"Shaking my head...reprehensible.... makes me sick..... heartless"   The video making it's rounds on Facebook makes me want to throw up.  How someone, much less a family member, can laugh as they say that they care more about whether or not their food stamp card and purse survived a fire, than the lives of 2 toddlers - it IS sickening.    How we would all love to be judge and jury in this case..

What is our society coming to that someone can value a purse or grocery money more than a child?

What is our society coming to when a mother can leave her babies at home alone so she can take some dude home who cut her yard?

But as my mouse hovered over 'Share' with angry comments boiling over ...the Holy Spirit spoke and said, "she's no different than you and most you know..."

What is our society coming to that someone can value grocery money over the life of a child???
**** How often do WE have expensive meat with our meals, or eat out, or drink Starbucks coffee - while 16,000 children die of hunger every DAY.   
**** Do you know how many wealthy Christians have turned me down with child sponsorships - $34 a month to help feed/educate/give Christ to a child?   Too expensive? 
**** How many of those same Christians who can't afford to help a child they don't know personally, take expensive vacations, or buy new cars, or have their kids in expensive sports or gymnastics (like we do)...
**** Do you know how many people I have watched buy T-shirts and $20 Cd's at concerts, but pass right by sponsorship tables without even a glance?   

What is our society coming to that someone can value their own pleasures vs. taking care of a child's health (i.e. - taking some dude home while their toddlers hang out at home alone to start a fatal fire)??
**** How often have we passed along funny videos, articles, status updates - but how often have we even taken a sec to read or pray for children all over the world begging for someone to help who are orphaned, sick, sold, prostituted...
**** Funny posts - around 55+  'likes'.
**** Post about 33 orphaned children who died from diarrhea in two days in the Congo - ONE like.
**** Post about the need for the church to rise up and take care of the orphan - NO likes.

I know it is hard to stomach.   It is easier not to even go there...

I know it is hard to hear another sad story about poor orphan children overseas.  Or sick kids.  Or child slavery.    It is easier to keep our eyes closed....

But you know what?  I bet it was hard for those neighbors to watch those kid's lifeless bodies brought out of that home after they waited too long to respond to their cries. 

And that is what most of us do every.single.day as we choose our own pleasures over sounding the warning alarm that it is OUR job to band together to save these children, before it is too late for them. 

As one person, we may think we are too small for an impact.  But one person could have busted that door down and saved those crying little boys.   And only 1 person, with 15,999 others, could abolish all the children dying of hunger today around the world.   In 2010, almost 14,500 children were in our state's foster care system.   1,700 of those children were waiting for a family.

1 person deciding that they are that one person to break down society's norms for the sake of 1 child??

THAT would have me shaking my head, but in a good way.

Need ideas on ways to help???  Research yourself, or ask - I'm sure I could recommend about 50 safe and impactful ways to help!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Passion for Baked Oatmeal

I have died and gone to Heaven, this stuff is SO good - and besides the amounts of brown sugar, isn't too bad for you!   You can do a search for them under Weight Watchers baked oatmeal and they usually come up as 8 servings for 6 WW points.   Not QUITE as healthy if you eat 3 servings...

I actually have become an addict of Lynn's Kitchen's baked oatmeal variations.   We have made the Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal many, many times and seriously, still am in love.   The canned pumpkin just gives it this perfect sweetness that makes me smile.

Until I met her Coconut Oatmeal, and I debated breaking up with Pumpkin.  But hey, a girl can have two besties.

UNTIL..... I saw her recipe for Peach/Blueberry and decided to jump right in with our glorious bounty of fresh fruits and fashion a love after my own heart...   I am usually a cook from recipe girl but decided to go at it on my own with a few tweeks and man, was it good!

The ingredients:
(pardon the olive oil hanging out in back, should have moved that)
Blueberry/Peach Oatmeal

3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup almond milk (or regular if you can tolerate it!  Liv and me, not so much)
1/2 cup yogurt (vanilla or plain would work)
2 T melted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp coconut flavoring (I am a cocoNUT.   You could use vanilla)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 fresh peaches, cut in chunks (or 1 can drained, if not in season)
3/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
* more brown sugar to sprinkle on top; around 1/4 cup

**Melt the butter and mix in all ingredients and spread in greased 9X13 pan.   I don't grease my pan because I am in love with Pampered Chef products and their perfect baking results.
** Top oatmeal with the extra brown sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

It is the bomb, I tell you.  My 9X13 pan is already 3/4 empty and it has only been myself and two hungry Littles digging into it.   Olivia usually has about 3 bowls full of my baked oatmeal when I make it!    I usually have one bowl.   And maybe one (or two) later.... it really warms up great, even the next day.    Just ask my sitter who likes to 'make sure Olivia's tastes ok' when I send it with her lunch the next day, if it lasts that long!!!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just a sip of water...

Her little face has haunted me.   Maybe 8 years old?  Maybe 12?   Her image has now been replaced with the image of so many of the little girls I have now seen.   Dressed in clothing hand washed too many times.   Mended as best as possible.   Hair matted.   Combed as best as possible in anticipation of our visit.

But her face haunts me.   As it was one of the most shameful moments in my life that haunts me.   
Her hollow eyes looked to my sports cup sitting at my feet, and back to my eyes, begging.  Pointing at my water, then signing the universal sign “drink?”  “water?”   Back to the cup, and back to my eyes, begging.   

And then I did what I have done so many times before – I turned my head and ignored.    And I will forever feel the shame from that moment.

In my defense, it was only a few hours off the plane from our comfortable country that I had stepped foot on this dirty soil.    I had never traveled before but had been told – ‘drink as much water as possible or you will get sick.  And you don’t want to get sick.’    This was our first visit, our first project, my first real encounter with the third world.    If I handed her my only cup, full of clean water, would I get any more today?   Would she give my cup back?  What if she had a disease?   What if she gave me that disease?   All those thoughts went through my head in the span of those precious minutes when I choose myself over a thirsty little one.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:42.

CHRIST’S words.   And I lost my reward that day.    I chose self over sacrifice.   

How often does that experience play over and over today?   In all of our lives?   No – you may not be faced face to face with a third world child begging for a sip of your water…

But are we choosing our own comfort (bigger house, newer car, nice vacation) over a child begging you for only a sip of what you could offer?

Are we choosing to protect our bodies from harm by not reaching out to the little one asking for help?   What about the orphans with diseases asking to be adopted?   Are we scared of the harm they may do to our families?  Are we scared of what the world might say if we bring a child of another color into our family?   Are we scared of the emotional problems a foster child might bring upon our family if we were to reach out?

Are we choosing to protect ourselves, as we don’t know when we will get resources again – from this here and now loss of what we see as valuable?   Do we not give to the child in need because what if we commit to sponsor, but then loose our job?  Or need that money for other things later?
Do we choose not to help because of the distrust?   What if I don’t get back something from that which I have given?   What if others are just trying to take what is mine?

So you see – you have your moments where you deny those searching eyes as well.   We all do.   I still do.   But I know that God gave me that experience so that the next time those eyes come looking to me for aid – I hope I will not turn my eyes downward and ignore.   Lesson learned.

Everything I have has been given to me by my Father in Heaven.    All they are asking for is just a sip of that bounty I have been given.    So who am I to refuse to share?  Don’t we tell our kids they have to share?  Doesn’t God tell us the same?    

Are you obeying?  Or ignoring?   What is God asking you to share that you instead are grasping tightly to?  

Recent research has statistically shown the dramatic effect Compassion International and their sponsorship program has made on the lives of these children as they have grown up. 
Christianity Today news on Compassion

Right now some little ones have been waiting close to a year for that little bit of help you can offer - can you at least research these children and see if God is calling you to give them a sip from the huge pitcher he has given you??
Compassion International

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meetcha Day Revisited

We've been a bit busy with wrestling and ball schedules, SOOO back to the story - I figure if I write one blog post every few months, I will have our 10 day trip journaled in what - a few years or so?? )

After landing in Addis Ababa, early Monday morning, we went back to the guest house to unpack and rest a bit before going to lunch and then to meet Olivia, for the FIRST time ever.  

Why not go straight there you say?   Because this mama was not in charge of the schedule, obviously...

This would also be the time to mention how hilarious it must have looked to have the 6 of us, and all 18 of our bags, loaded up on trolleys to tie to the roof of our van.    Even funnier, our guide was no longer allowed to come and meet us inside the airport so we were standing around - all 6 of us, and our 18 bags, in a foreign country - really looking like fools.  Kind of like Eddie Murphy on 'Coming to America'.   How much luggage do these Americans need???  Seriously?   (A reminder that 85% of that luggage was donations for the orphanages but the Ethiopians didn't know that!  And we were able to call our guide and found out that he was outside in the parking lot waiting for us.)

Once at our gorgeous guest house, a few of our crew fell asleep, a few showered or changed after our 2 days traveling.    After 2 days, I felt like stank with a capital S.  

After a quick (1.5 hr) meal at Island Breeze, (my least favorite of the restaurants we visited), we finally boarded back up to go and meet Livvie.   And FYI, liking tuna and liking pizza - together does not a harmony make.    We then started our habit of boxing up our left-overs to give to the street kids.  I think they got a whole Tuna Pizza minus one bite.   I'll just chalk my menu choice up to exhaustion.

After loading up we made our way to the big blue AWAA sign outside the gates of the America World transition home.   It is the pentacle moment of your Meetcha Day as it announces that you.have.arrived.

From there you wait at the bottom of the steps while they go to get your child ready.    In our case, our friend Mindy snuck in to try to find her while we waited outside.   She was able to snap some now-dear-to-my-heart photos of the nannies preparing our little one like a bride on her wedding day.  Minus the white dress and plus some mismatched clothing.   You can see the little cow outfit beside them that I had sent 3 months prior.    A size 3 mos outfit for my (then unknown) 9 mos baby girl.   The nanny must have taken one look at that outfit and then said, "yeah, that ain't gonna happen."

As we waited, our hearts going a million miles an hour, Mindy comes running out the door saying, "here she comes!" and there she is.   In the flesh, scared to death.

And thus Livvie fulfills her Daddy's prophecy of months earlier saying, "you know we will get the screaming baby, right??"   We later did find out that a screaming baby is actually a GOOD sign.   As it means the baby is able to attach to her caretakers (the nannies) so will have an easier time transferring that attachment to her new caretakers (us).  

Many have asked me if I cried when I saw her.  No.   She was my baby.  And she was scared, and upset, and I just had to comfort her and let her know it would be alright.   Crying wasn't on my schedule for that day.  (now the day we left, that is another story). 

Within a couple of minutes, she had stopped screaming and was only giving us little sniffles.   She would stick her little bottom lip out when she was feeling anxious and it was a good thermometer to know to back (the kids) off of her.
We emptied out her baby bag - trying puffs, rattles, squeaky toys.   She would look at each one but really had no interest in playing with anything at all.

I was able to get a few quick little half smiles.   Progress for only an hour in.   And she easily fell asleep on Daddy after he fed her some kind of gruel they brought her.    Their food usually looked like some kind of porridge, or smashed pasta bits with carrots, tomatoes, and onions.   And usually didn't smell so hot...   SO tired (him, not her).

The necklace I am wearing, I wore everyday.   She would hold onto the beads as she drifted off to sleep and smell the perfume I had brought to wear everyday.   I brought both back in May for her Gotcha Day, hoping she would remember them somehow and remember how much I had loved her, and how even though only 10 days later, I had left her (just like everyone else had), that I had come back. 

Hopefully my next post will be quicker than 6 months.   As her transformation over the next several days was amazing...  from orphan to daughter almost over-night.   Adoption is amazing, and painful, and tiring.   But so, so beautiful. 

Original meetcha day post posted on March 5th, 2012.