Family Picture

Family Picture

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Story of Jesus-Matt and Vicki Style

*****Disclaimer:  This is our PERSONAL story.  I am not casting out judgement on other's lives.  Just using our experience to tell OUR story.******

This should have been the very first post I ever wrote on my blog.  I felt like it was time to share our personal journey.  Matt and I started dating in highschool.  We have been together 17 years and we are only 33 years old.  We always joke about this.  Being together over half of our lives.  It is a sweet thing!  We had lots of fun in high school.  There were many drunken parties and well nothing else, just lots of drinking and partying.  It was fun, I ain't gonna lie to ya.  Then I went to college and Matt and I hung out on the weekends.  The partying continued as we would go to bars with our older friend who bought beer for us.  Again, good times and sweet memories.  Matt and I got married in 2002 and we lived life to the fullest.  We bought new cars, hung out with friends, had a nice house, went shopping, went to parties, lived the American dream.  We went to Catholic Church every once in a while.  While we were doing this my sister had moved to Des Moines and had started going to church and falling in love with Jesus.  Whenever she would come home she would tell us about books she was reading, activities she was involved with.  We could tell her life had changed.  But we didn't want none of it.  Blah, blah blah.  Jesus stuff, whatever.  But she continued on.  And slowly I started reading some of the books she mentioned.  But still, hardcore for Jesus, no way.  In fact I was very bitter about her constant joyfullness and her no worries attitude.  I didn't get it.  I didn't understand passages like this:
"For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkeness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry."  1Peter Ch 4 vs 3

We were living for ourselves, solving our own problems, making our own way.  And we were doing well.  We had a good business, nice stuff, why did we need Jesus.  I remember one day I was on my way to a doctor appointment and I was praying.  I clearly remember my prayer being one of asking God why I was so blessed and what was I supposed to do about it.  I remember fervently praying because I felt an emptiness inside.  Like I had so much goodness but yet I wasn't fulfilled.  His answer was very clear, you see I was on my way to a doctor appointment because I was 16 weeks pregnant.  I had been pregnant right before this and miscarried.  So this was a hopeful thankful wonderful pregnancy.  I got to the doctor and found out the baby had died.  His answer to my prayer, DEPEND ON ME!!  YOU NEED ME TO FILL YOU!!  Not stuff, not parties, not your husband, not your job, just ME.  This happened in November, this holy spirit conviction stuff and then in February we stepped foot in our church.  And guess what 2 months later I was pregnant with my Mayzie.  God is alive, God is real, God is working!!  We started going to church and experiencing Jesus in new ways.  We started living differently.  Our lives were wrecked for Jesus.   He had gotten into our hearts!  We got very involved with everything in the church.  We were soaking up all we could. We got baptized in July and gave our lives to the one who gave his life for us.   And well, the rest is history.  It is the transforming work of the spirit.  We started to read the bible, pray, and attend church regularly.  We started to understand how Jesus gave his life for us, how he died on the cross for us to take away our sins and how this was far more important than just praying a prayer but that it required us to be ALL IN for Jesus.  And we were done, wrecked for Jesus!!  And so that led to plans for adoption and eventually 3 new kiddos in our home!  I have to say that our whole journey was in part decisions we made but mostly it was God's spirit working in us.  He works in all of us even when we don't know it.  He was working in Matt and I and we had no clue.  He is always working.  Always.  And we are SO glad that Jesus wrecked our life.  We are amazingly blessed.  We have passion, joy, faith and hope that fills us up in ways nothing else can.  We love Jesus-Matt and Vicki Style!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Do you call yourself a Christian???

This is my heart the last four months since we have arrived home from Africa.  I can hardly stand to live here in the US in such abundance. I can barely breathe because I know the needs of the poor and the orphans, I have seen it, I live it daily with my boys, yet the selfishness of this country and of the " church" makes it hard to breathe. How can we say we love Jesus if we let a child die every 30 seconds of malaria, an easily preventable disease? How can we let there be millions of orphans?  My heart says that going to church every Sunday, praying a prayer to be saved, getting baptized and reading your bible every so often is not enough. I think Jesus describes that as being lukewarm.
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You 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. I 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." Revelation 3 15-18. My favorite part is the salve on the eyes. When you can see your life changes!!! When you see you cannot close your eyes to the poor, the orphan, the widow. I pray that more eyes would be opened, that more people would live their lives in reckless abandon to Jesus. So if being a Christian is all about getting dressed up to go to Church, driving my fancy car their, giving tons of money so my Church can have bigger and better music, bible studies, and buildings then I don't want to be a Christian. I want to be a FOLLOWER of JESUS. I truly believe in my heart that Jesus calls us to give it all for him. To give it all serving the poor, the widow, the orphan and preaching his name boldly. We are called to make disciples and love the least of these not to live selfishly in our pretty "churches." It is hard to breathe when 20% kids in the DRC do not make it to their 5th birthday. It is hard to breathe when most of the world struggles to stay alive and we are so worried about getting everything perfectly perfect that we fail to get out of ourselves and see the bigger picture. I want to be a follower of Christ who serves him with ALL of myself. I do not want to be lukewarm. I want to be ALL in. And I pray everyday that more and more people would adopt, sacrifice for the poor and go to the ends of the earth to make disciples. That they would make the radical decision to live sacrificially for our God. Because I look at the faces of three sweet boys every day and I see Jesus and I have to keep fighting!!! I don't want to be swept up in the cares of this world but to be swept up in serving Jesus with ALL I have. I want to breathe easy because people's bellies are full, there are no more orphans and everyone has heard the name of Jesus. Until that day I will keep fighting with everything I have!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Give Your Life Away

When we started our adoption journey we had some family members who thought we were crazy, we had friends who said good for you and I'm sure talked behind our backs like we were psychos.  Now that we are home we get the stare down when we go out and about.  Mostly we get good feedback but I have been places several times where people act like I don't even have three sons.  I am on Facebook all the time because that is the only place where I can connect with other families who are as crazy as we are!!  Most people just don't get it.  I am told all the time how busy I am.  And this, all of this, is all good.  And we are busy and our life is crazy but we wouldn't have it any other way.  Because Jesus wants ALL of us!  "Still another man said, I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.  Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."  
Luke 9 61-62

And then today happened.  My kids woke up at 6:30 and they were crabby and loud.  And I needed more time away from them before they woke up.  They were calling each other names and screaming and I had to fold the laundry and do the dishes and pick up the house and it was just plain annoying and overwhelming.  And I love each of them to pieces but some days I wake up and I don't feel like being around them right away, I don't feel like hugging them, I just want to send them outside, away from me.  And then Kiki, my two year old comes into the bathroom where I am trying to beautify the unbeautifiable and she throws my perfume bottle on the floor and it breaks.  And I lose it and tell her to get out and that I hate her.  Awesome mom, I know!!  Because how dare my sweet innocent 2 year old break my perfume and get glass everywhere and make me be stinky for the next week and a half because I cannot drive the hour to get more perfume cuz I have six stinkin kids!!  So I lost it.  And there was a puddle of tears and perfume on the floor as I cried out to God and told him I can't do it, he's got the wrong lady, I don't have enough love, enough patience.  And then I said it, I yelled at him and said I hate my life!!!!  I hate my life!!  How dare I scream this to our God of wonders!!  So then I was reading the book Radical for 10 minutes while I made sure Little Bill was going to sleep and I came across this verse:  "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."  Luke 14:26-27 
And it hit me, I think I am supposed to hate my own life.  I have always known I am in God's will, even though most days it is messy and definitely not prim and proper. But this really hit me because I realized that I AM following him, I AM his disciple, even though it is not perfect.  And this really hit me because it was such a God moment.  I don't think it was coincidence that 2 hrs after I screamed those words, I read them in that book.  No, not coincidence, but God.  I love this picture, this picture of radical obedience, carrying our cross every day.  This is why we chose to do what we did, so that we would be COMPLETELY dependent on our God every single day.  So that we would in essence hate our life and carry our cross daily!!  And I am so so grateful that God showed me this.  And I am so so thankful to be living this crazy, radical, messy life.  We will probably be making more radical choices as we live in obedience to the most amazing God EVER and we will most likely get told it's not a good idea.  People will not approve.  But I think it is clear that this is what Jesus wants from us, ALL of us, our WHOLE life.  And we love it and we will live no other way than in RADICAL obedience to our Heavenly Father!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


This is a blog post I have not wanted to write.  Because so many other amazing adoptive mamas have written something similar and have done it so much better than I ever could.  Because sometimes it is easier to leave well enough alone.  But today I decided I will not be at peace until I ask for help, until I advocate for all of the orphans who NEED YOU!!!!  I have the privilege to view waiting children, children in the DRC, children in China, children in Eastern Europe.  I have the most amazing blessing of caring for three incredible boys who were once on a waiting child page.  And there are far more "waiting children" than there seem to be willing parents.  And this is a tragedy.  Adoption is hard, adoption is messy.  You have to be knowledgeable to fight the good fight against corruption and to heal the brokenness of these children.  But just because it is hard and just because there is corruption does not mean that it is ok for us to stop fighting for these children.  There are countless number of children in DRC who have lost parents to disease or war who desperately need a family.  There are countless number of children in China who have a minor medical need who desperately need a family.  There are countless number of children in Eastern Europe who WAIT endlessly for a forever family.  We HAVE to fight for these children.  God asks us to fight for these children.  He doesn't say when it is convenient for you, when your children are the perfect ages, when you have your finances completely under control, when you have the big house, when your life is perfectly perfect, then take care of the orphan.  He simply asks us to care for the widow and the orphan in their distress.  And in the same verse he asks us to keep oneself polluted from the world.  I can testify that it is much easier to keep yourself free from worldly things when you are taking care of the orphan and the widow.  Your focus completely changes when you hold that orphan in your arms.  I believe it is true that not all of us are called to adopt.  Matt and I couldn't do this journey without the amazing people who have walked beside us helping us financially, with clothing, making meals and watching our kids.  We all need the supporters who are loving the orphan as they walk beside us on our journey.  So while we are not ALL called to adopt my heart says that NOT ENOUGH of us are answering the call.  There are too many children with solemn faces on those waiting children pages and they need families.  As my boys tell me in their broken English that they were saying Mommy come on, Daddy come on, my heart breaks.  They were waiting in the orphanage for a family, they wanted a family SO badly.  I think more than food, more than toys, more than their own bed, they just wanted a family.  SO WILL YOU, CAN YOU, PLEASE BE A FAMILY FOR A CHILD WHO NEEDS YOU?  I can personally guarantee you that the exhaustion, the challenges, the craziness will be more than worth it.  It is truly the most amazing blessing EVER. 

Friday, May 24, 2013


So my posts the last couple of months have been a little depressing, dark, maybe a bit scary!! Ha!  It is just the messiness of adoption and life.  We are ALL GOOD!!  But today I wanted to share blessings.  So many blessings on this journey.  We are blessed to walk this journey of obedience with our Heavenly Father and watch him shape and change our family.  We are blessed to fight for these boys, to work through ALL of the facets of adoption and to learn and grow in HUGE ways.  Please read the most amazing post about international adoption and fighting for the orphan by my dear adoptive mama friend (May 23 post)

We are blessed as we work through the boys' pasts and come to understand what life is like in another country.  We are blessed as we realize we cannot take for granted all that we have.  We are blessed as we realize we have a GREAT responsibility to do more in this life.  To do more for the orphan, for the widow, for the poor in this world.  We have SO SO much and the best thing we can do is to give our life away, give it away to help the least of these, the ones God loves.  We are blessed as we learn that our sweet boys have been through more in their short little lives than we can even fathom.  We are blessed because it helps us focus on what really matters in this life.  We ask God to heal hurts, to help us process, to help us understand.  I read a quote somewhere that said that you do not really care about the orphan when you just see a picture or some facts, but when you hold that orphan in your arms EVERYTHING CHANGES!!  Yes!  We are so so blessed to hold these children in our arms everyday.  

We are blessed because our hearts are broken for the things that break God's heart.  For our boys and for all the children in the DRC.

I found a ministry that does amazing work in the DRC.  Read the stories of these children here:

Let your heart be broken for what breaks God's heart.  Read these stories. These kids need sponsors, they need food and an education.  Please consider sponsorship.

Our life is a blessing, every moment, every day.  God walks beside us every second.  Our relationship with him is deep.  Our praises to him are huge.  We are blessed because I cannot imagine for a single second not having these boys in our life.  I cannot imagine for a single second not having my SIX beautiful babies in my life.  Adoption may be messy and a bit scary at times, but it is the biggest BLESSING we have ever received.  Thank you Jesus for blessing us!!!

    Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good    things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

     The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
      He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord, all his works 
    everywhere in his dominion.
    Praise the Lord, my soul.
         Psalm 103

Friday, May 10, 2013

Two Months Home

Yesterday marked two months since our gotcha day on March 9th.  Hard to believe two months has gone by.  We have been super busy meeting family, spending time with friends and making memories.  Our new normal is here and we are settling in nicely.  Nicely, but not necessarily easily.  This has been a crazy messy and hard two months.  At the same time it has been THE BEST two months of my life.  Nothing draws you closer to God than when you enter into something that requires total dependence on him.  And that is what this adoption journey is, total dependence on the one who is merciful, loving and compassionate.  This is not a 2 week long mission trip where you are dependent on God for 2 weeks for everything and then you go home and enter back into your comfortable life.  This is an everyday leaning and pushing into a God who molds you, guides you, disciplines you and ultimately shows you the way.  It is the most amazing incredible gift to be intimately connected to my Lord and savior this way.  Adjustment has taken time but I feel like we are starting to get over the hump.  And for me, for me I have needed much discipline, pruning, wisdom and guidance that only a Heavenly Father can give on a journey such as this.  And he is working in great ways as I start to to learn, to learn how to love, to learn how to parent a hurting child.  And he is working in great ways as I pray for my boys' hearts to be healed and my girls' hearts to be open to loving those who are hurt and sad.  I know more about psychology and the brain and attachment than I thought I ever would.  I am learning things I never thought I would.  And it is AMAZING!!!  Our boys are loving, sweet, kind, helpful and they are also fearful and hurt.  But God has blessed us with the wisdom each day to heal the hurts and to love well.  I am excited to continue to watch these beautiful boys grow physically and emotionally.  They will be world changers!!!  My constant prayer has been that my children would come to know Jesus, that they would love him with all their heart, that they would serve with all their heart and that they would live out the fullness of life that he has called them to.  This is the only thing that matters!!  When all of your comforts are stripped away, you realize the only thing that matters is Jesus.  I don't care how well my kids do in school, I don't care if they have a nice house and three kids and a dog someday, in fact I pray that their hearts would be broken for the things that break God's heart and that their life would be a challenge lived for Christ alone!!  God is doing great things in our life these days and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us and our world changing kids!!  

 This is our prayer these days:

I will pray for you now, for you have been my faithful friends
While the road we walk is difficult indeed
I couldn't not ask for more than what you've already been
Only that you would say these prayers for me
May your heart break enough that compassion enters in
May your strength all be spent upon the weak
All the castles and crowns you build and place upon your head
May they all fall, come crashing down around your feet
May you find every step to be harder than the last
So your character grows greater every stride
May your company be of humble insignificance
May your weakness be your only source of pride 

From the song Pray by Kendall Payne

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Rest of the Days in the DRC

After an exciting and crazy gotcha day, we moved on to Sunday.  Sunday we went swimming with our new friends, the Brown's.  We traveled to the guest house where the other adoptive families were staying.  It was a great time to bond with the boys.  They loved the pool!!  When we got back to our hotel it was supper time so we went downstairs to eat in the hotel restaurant.  And then.....commence the puking!!!!  Yah.....where is the manual that says I know you love your kids and want to bond with them through food but they have tiny stomachs and haven't eaten much each day so don't shove so much food down their throat you stupid idiot!!!!  That was us, the stupid idiots!!  HA!!  After peanuts and fruit snacks and cheese and crackers and M&M's all day long that was all their sweet little stomachs could take.  And then commence the angry housekeeper who has to clean up puke all night long and wants to know why we are making these kids puke.  Just dumb, dumb Americans ma'am!!  So if you are an adoptive parent and you are reading this, DO NOT give your kids a ton of processed food to bond because they have tiny tummies and it needs to be a gradual thing!  Who knew?!!  On to the next day, they boys were feeling great, we were taking it easy on the food and all was well!!  Because Matt and I did not know French we had little confidence to go anywhere in  the DRC unless we were with others, so we spent much of the week in the hotel room just bonding with the boys.  Monday and Tuesday we spent in the room.  Wednesday we got to go to the market with a local missionary.  This was a great experience!!  So thankful for the sweet missionary who really is Jesus in disguise to adoptive parents who SO need an outing!!  The market was awesome!  We picked up some art, jewelry, toys and dolls.  The bargaining was right up Matt's alley and I dare say he had a blast bargaining with the merchants.  There were so many bright and beautiful crafts to choose from.  It was a bit overwhelming as you had every merchant yelling Mama, Mama come buy this, come buy that.  But who can blame them.....this is how they make their living.  Some days I wish for a do over and I would just buy a little bit from each vendor.  We have SO much and they have SO little in the DRC.  It was an amazing experience to get out and see the city.  We ate schwarma's (spelling?) at a Lebanese restaurant and then had to head back to the hotel because Matt was sick.  He was then sick for the rest of the trip.  :(     
Thursday we did not do much either, just stayed in the hotel room praying for our exit letter so we could leave.  Spending many days in the hotel with three boys is difficult.  But man the boys were truly angels and adapted SO well!!  They truly are super well behaved (for the most part) :) 
We watched all of our friends leave on Thursday as they had received their exit letters.  This was tough because we were really ready to go home.  But God wasn't done yet!  We were told for sure we would have our exit letter on Friday and hopefully by noon.  But this is the DRC people, a very different, much slower paced culture, where timelines do not matter much.  Somedays it would be nice to have that here in the U.S.  My boys are teaching me much about slowing down and enjoying the moments!!  So no surprise that at noon we still did not have an exit letter.  But we had booked our plane tickets to leave that night so we had to get it! God is amazing people and he showed up in SO many ways on our trip.  Especially at the end here.  It was the eleventh hour but God showed up and our exit letter was ready at 4:30!  There was much rejoicing from Matt and I and much praising God!!  We got ready and we were in the lobby of the hotel waiting to leave when Matt tells me he doesn't think we can leave because he doesn't feel good.  I said YOU ARE GETTING ON THAT PLANE!!!  Thankfully, the hotel owner gave him some good advice as to how to perk up and it worked.  We were picked up and taken to the airport.  Our airport experience was crazy!  Our in country staff walked us through every crazy step and we go to our lounge and we were waiting for the plane.  After an hour and a half of waiting it seemed that the plane was delayed.  Yup, delayed because of weather.  For 5 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!  And we were SO close to it being cancelled and SO scared because we couldn't speak French and couldn't call anyone for help because it was 2am.  But our God is amazing and he shows up!!!!  Pretty sure we met the owner of the Lebanese restaurant we went to in Kinshasa 2 days prior.  He spoke English and helped us understand what was happening with the plane and why we were waiting for Sooooooooo long.  And then of course our great God answered our prayers and our plane showed up.  What a great feeling it was to be on that plane and going home!!  Our time in the DRC was incredible, we got to pick up our kids and experience a culture unlike anything we had EVER experienced!!  God is continually pressing on my heart to never forget.  I am super excited to watch our lives unfold as we hold our arms wide open and say God whatever you want from us, we will do, wherever you want us to go, however you want us to serve, we are ALL IN!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Don't Want to Forget

So this post should be Day 3 of our time in the DRC.  I hope to get to that soon but I need to interrupt because I feel God pressing on my heart to share about the things that I don't want to forget, the things that I saw that changed my life. 

And I also wanted to say that I have posted on here and on our Facebook page some raw emotions and some realities of the journey we are going through.  I just want to make it clear that we are good, that we are enjoying the journey, but Matt and I have agreed that we will not sugar coat it.  Because how will that help anyone and reality is reality. But we are in God's will, right now, we are living out God's will for our lives and there is absolutely no better place to be.  We are loving it!!  He is faithful and amazing! And it is a joy to serve him no matter how challenging it may be.  Man how boring would it be to not say YES to what he asks of us.  I love the adventure!!  So please know that if you ask us how we are doing, we may be having a bad day, we may want to throw the children outside and lock the door, but inside ALL IS WELL WITH OUR SOUL!!!! 

Things I do not want to forget-and again remember this is our first trip overseas, our first encounter with poverty, so our reactions and emotions may be different than those who have seen it all before, but one thing I do think, is how can your life not be changed by the things you see in a 3rd world country.....I know ours is forever changed.....

** I do not want to forget the soccer field, a dirt bottom with garbage everywhere and tons of adults and kids playing soccer on it.  It looked like a garbage dump seriously. 
**I do not want to forget the conditions the people lived in, the dirt floors of their shops, the garbage everywhere, the unsanitary water they washed their hands in.
**I do not want to forget the people sleeping on the street and making their beds on the side of a car.
** I do not want to forget the kindness of the Congolese people, they were so accomodating and helpful, we seriously could not have made it through our week without their help.  Really and truly we were dumb white people in an African culture knowing nothing of their customs or how they care for their children.  It was so humbling to be in a foreign land and to not speak the language and to feel helpless.
** I do not want to forget the canal where the garbage was being burned and then less than a foot away stood the people just hanging out.
** I do not want to forget the man who told us he makes $5 a day working a 12 hour shift at the hotel we paid  $400 a night. $5 a day when here in the USA we legally have to pay $7 an HOUR!
** I do not want to forget the police presence that is so huge in the DRC.  I do not want to forget saluting the guards and how my boys are so influenced by anything related to police.
** I do not want to forget how well the Congolese people did community.  They were always all together, helping each other, hanging out.  We don't hang out together enough here in the USA, I feel like we are always so segregated to our own families.  Which isn't bad but the sense of community and constant help to each other in the DRC was so great to see.  The people there will just come up to you and take care of your kids for you; which shows how much they help each other out and work together.  If we did that in the USA we would probably get sued.  Seriously people!!!  Craziness.  We need to be open to allowing others into our lives, whomever they may be.
** I do not want to forget the raw talent of the Congolese people.  The fabric and the dresses the women wore were amazingly beautiful.  The jewelry they create, the nativities they make, the paintings, everything is beautiful and so carefully made.
** I do not want to forget the doorman who came to the door of the car as we left the hotel and gave a big thumbs up and did airplane motions to the boys because he was so excited the boys were going to the USA.  I do not want to forget the guard at the hotel who waved and smiled and was so excited the boys were going to the USA.
** And I write all these memories down because I especially do not want to forget my selfishness and abundance.  My life is forever changed by those who have so little when we have so much.  God has been pressing on my heart these past couple weeks to keep fighting, to keep serving HIM however he asks, and to do more for these people.  To not get sucked into the American culture of abundance, but to lean into HIM and give it away to those who have need.
** And I NEVER want to forget that this is all about Jesus.  He died on the cross for me when I was yet a sinner.  Did I deserve this?  Absolutely not.  Do I deserve his amazing forgiveness every day when I have messed up? NO!!  So whether or not someone deserves what I give them, no matter what they do with it, I truly feel like we are to give freely of our abundance.  Because that is what Jesus did for us!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 2-GOTCHA DAY!!!!!!!

Our gotcha day happened on Saturday.  We got up, ate breakfast, got our gifts ready for the nannies and workers at the orphanage and then we WAITED!!  Our in country guy, let's call him D, well he was super busy on Saturday.  There were a lot of adoptive families in country that day, so he had a full plate.  D was going to bring the kids to us.  After a long day of waiting at 3:30 D pulled up with the boys.  We ran out to meet them in the parking lot.  Patrick ran up to me and gave me a big hug, Constantin ran up to Matt and John shyly came up to us.  We held them and loved on them.  I turned to ask D about their schedules and their needs and he said, well we have a problem.  The hotel had contacted D and asked us to leave as they did not accept international programs.  Luckily D was able to get us a room at the first hotel that had said no.  So it was a two minute gotcha moment followed by running up to our rooms, packing our bags and moving on to the next hotel.  We came to find out that there are not many places that accept adoptive families primarily because they are worried about child trafficking.  And rightly so!  These are their country's children and although they maybe cannot care for them, I admire and respect the way they protect them.  Not everyone adopts ethically and some adopt and then do not take proper care of the children.  They are right to be concerned.  So we got to our next hotel, got our bags to our room and settled in.  It was now time for supper so we went downstairs to the restaurant and found the best thing ever!!!  Another adoptive family!!  Yay!!!!  It was such a blessing to spend the week with the most awesome family ever!!  So the boys got to play with their friends, we ate some supper and then called it a night.  We were all exhausted and ready for a good night's sleep!  The one thing I remember during all the chaos was thinking that the boys were so small.  And they are so tiny.  It was a joy just hugging them and loving on them.  And my adrenaline was pumping as I ran to meet them.  Such a sweet, sweet moment that I will never forget.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:6

Because of all the chaos we only have the one gotcha day picture, but it is a precious moment of a dad with his boys!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DRC-Day 1

**Disclaimer:  These posts regarding our time in the DRC are honest posts about our specific experience.  What we experienced will be very different than others who have traveled outside of the US before and are familiar with international travel.  Being we are hillbillies and this is our first international trip, it was a little different for us.  And these are just our opinions and thoughts.**

We left early on a Thursday morning to get to Minneapolis airport heading to Kinsasha.  The thing we were most scared about on the whole trip was the airplane flights.  But those ended up being the easiest, least scary part of the whole trip.  Our flights to Kinsasha were easy and uneventful.  Long and boring, but easy.  We arrived in Kinsasha at 6:40 on Friday night.  We were lucky to have another adoptive family on the same flight as us, so when we got to the airport we could stick together with them.  The Kinsasha airport is definitely not like any other airport, it is unique and all it's own.  But you know, it's Africa and the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, so what do you expect!!  Navigating the airport was fairly easy.  Our agency had things set up very well and our airport person met us right away and helped us get our luggage.  We were glad to have him upon exiting the airport as there were a lot of guards staring at us, speaking quite loudly.  We then loaded our luggage into a Jeep, except that there were 2 families and we had a LOT of luggage.  Maybe pack light next time????  So we had to put suitcases under our feet and on our laps.  And our friends had to sit on each other's laps in order to fit in the Jeep.  Safety first baby!!  The car ride to our hotels was crazy.  And I came to find out that this was light traffic.  Lots of cars going everywhere, honking the horn contantly, no stoplights, people walking in front of the cars.  Because it was dark we didn't get to see much of the city; Matt and I's only memories of what we saw is that a lot of people were out partying.  The sides of the highway were lined with people, fires are going and they are just hanging out and enjoying each other's company.  They do life together so well in Africa.  A lesson that we in the US need to learn from.  We need to do life together better here instead of being so isolated.  On a side note, we were the first family to adopt three kids with our agency, so we had a few hiccups.  The first issue was the hotel.  We had a hard time securing a hotel because the hotel our agency recommended did not want five people in one room.  They told us no repeatedly and our in country staff no repeatedly.  So our in country guy had lined up another hotel for us to stay at.  Perfect!  So we were informed of this on our way to our hotel.  We arrived, looked it over, looked good, checked in.  Went to sleep, ready for our gotcha day!!!

These are pictures taken from our hotel.  It was like a tropical oasis.  At this point we felt like we were on a tropical vacation.  There was a restaurant next door to our hotel and we would hear the wonderful noises of women having a party.  So vibrant and wonderful in Africa.  So day one is a bit boring.  Please stay tuned for Day 2- Gotcha Day.  I guarantee it gets better and more interesting!! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reflections-1 Week Home

We arrived home from the DRC on Sunday morning at 2am on March 17th so we have been home exactly ten days.  And what a ten days it has been!!  This adoption thing has rocked our world!  And we are stronger and better because of it.  So many thoughts have went through my head about what these past couple of weeks entailed.  First and foremost I realized as soon as we got home that I definitely romanticized adoption.  The idea of adoption and these sweet kids is so much different than the reality.  Not for everyone, but for ME.  I thought that we would just run over to the DRC, pick up three sweet boys, see a bit of Africa, come home, our girls and boys would love on each other instantly, the boys would love us, they would be so thankful for us, and our love would overflow for them.  Ah, and then reality hits me on the head.  Our boys are broken and they need to be redeemed!!!  Just as we were broken and our sweet Jesus redeemed us by dying on the cross for us.  So these past couple of weeks have been wonderful in a bittersweet way.  We have learned so much, prayed so much, pressed into Jesus harder than we ever knew we could.  We have relearned how to be parents.  We have relearned how to really give love.  As I process through our journey I think of how we as Christians often romanticize the gospel.  Jesus died on the cross for us and we say yep that's great, let's pray our prayer, give my 10%, go to church, pray a little, read the Word every once and a while and call it good.  We are saved, it's all good.  And we ARE saved by a Jesus who loves us, but I think he calls us to much more.  He CHOSE Paul to preach the gospel and Paul suffered for it.  He didn't choose Paul and say here you go, here's the easy life.  He called Paul to do great things for him and he was always with him, but it wasn't an easy life for Paul.  Paul is my go to guy whenever I think about our adoption process.  We are Paul.  We are chosen and God is with us and for us even though it is not always easy.  And my favorite part about all of this is that I praise GOD for it!!!  Matt and I feel SO blessed that we were called, we obeyed, and we get to know our GOD in greater ways.  It is humbling and amazing. 

And yet we are weak, we lack wisdom, we mess up daily.  And so we rely on a God whose grace is sufficient for us.  We are totally dependent on God to get us through each day because we really don't have it.  We don't have enough wisdom, enough love, enough patience.  But God does and he gives us everything we need to make it through.

"But he said to me,
"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may
rest on me.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses,
in insults,
in hardships,
in persecutions,
in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 9-10

Monday, February 11, 2013


I have decided to write again.  I used to spend a lot of time at my Grandma Wendl's writing stories.  It is something I love.  I also learned a lot about cleaning from my Grandma Wendl.  And if you know me you know I like to clean. Ha!  I cherish those memories of my sweet Grandma.  So an update on our adoption process.  We had our successful embassy appointment on February 4th.  And now we wait.  The US Embassy in the Congo is going through some changes, good changes, but changes that may push back our timeline by a couple of weeks.  And the DGM office is taking longer to issue exit letters so our timeline gets pushed back by another week because of that.  3-4 weeks, not a big deal in the overall realm of adoption, but a HUGE deal to a waiting mama!  These last weeks have by far been the most difficult.  As I learn that we have to wait longer I just want to scream!  I am so tired of this process and so ready for my boys to be home.  And so I yell at God and I get mad and I ask him why is this taking so long when this is his will for us.  And I cry, A LOT.  And I am mean mommy and an awful wife.  Sometimes I can't pray because I am so sad.  I am so thankful that my wonderful husband prays when I just can't.  I am so thankful that we have so many friends who pray for us and lift us up even when I can't.  I have learned to pray through the tears and ask God for strength that I do not have.  To ask him to show me why this is happening, what is he doing?  And so in the last week when I found out we would for sure be delayed another week and I would most likely miss John's 6th birthday on February 25th, I asked our mighty God to show me why he would do this.  I asked him to shine his light in this awful broken world and to get us to our sweet boys so soon.  And his peace overwhelmed me.  It overwhelmed me in a way I could not understand.
"  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phillipians 4:7

I didn't really understand it at first and I wanted to push back against it.  I was mad and I wanted to stay mad.  But I heard him whispering that he was preparing me for what was to come.  Because apparently six kids will be a lot of work!!  And he was continuing to mold me and teach me to be completely dependent on him.  To read his word and know it so that it would be my armor when I was struggling.  I have a new passion and desire to fill myself up with him so that I am ready when I am facing the craziness and the struggles that are sure to come.  So we will wait and we will pray for quick visa issuance, we will pray that we get to bring our boys home so soon, but we will wait in peace, knowing that he is preparing us and that he is more than enough.  Thanks to a fellow DRC adoptive mama for this verse.  It has renewed and encouraged me.

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodus 14:14

We would so value prayers over the next weeks, prayers for a quick visa issuance and prayers to prepare our hearts, our girls hearts and our boys hearts for the amazing transition that will soon be happening.