Facing the giants (not just a movie)

Ryan and I leave for Africa on a missions trip to love on orphans in only 2 weeks.

14 days until we have the opportunity to


in Uganda and Ethiopia.

We recently received permission from Visiting Orphans, our mission trip sending organization, and America World, our adoption agency, to visit with B while we are in Ethiopia. It was cause for great celebration in our house! The kids are working on the letters they want to send with us and choosing the photos they would like us to share with B.

In our home church we are currently working our way through “The Story.” It’s a book that uses the NIV Bible–the stories, poems, and teachings–and reads like a novel. Sunday we looked at the experiences of Joshua as he led the Israelites through multiple battles. In each situation, God’s people overcame the giant they were opposing.

Our family is currently facing 2 giants.

The first is MOWCYA. We are still awaiting an appointment with the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs. We wrote in a previous post about the power MOWCYA has to allow or not allow B to be adopted into our family. Our appointment was originally scheduled and cancelled two months ago. We continue to feel incomplete without B in our home. This opportunity to visit him will be like balm to our souls. What a joy it will be to see him, to hug him, to hear his voice. 

We ask that you join us in praying that MOWCYA will schedule the appointment with our adoption agency, and that the meeting will take place before we land in Ethiopia. If the meeting takes place before we arrive in Ethiopia and they agree to pronounce B adoptable, we will be able to discuss the adoption and our plans with B. If the meeting has not taken place, we will still be able to see B but won’t be able to talk about our hopes to bring him home.

Our second giant is in regards to our mission trip. And yes, we consider this a mini-giant in comparison to our adoption giant, but it is a giant none-the-less.

We are two weeks away from leaving for Uganda and Ethiopia but we are not fully funded financially. Through our own contributions and fundraising we have paid just over 80% of our total. As of today, Ryan and I still owe a total of $968.86. We humbly ask that you would pray for our upcoming trip and if you feel led–support us with a financial gift.

We’ve already overcome 1 giant this morning.

Writing this post.

It is difficult for us to ask for financial help, as we are still so grateful for the support we received three years ago bringing our girls home.

The other difficult part is B’s possible adoption just around the corner. With that will come 10s of thousands of dollars in fees. We have already paid a little over $10,000 to get to the point we are now, and much of that came from purchased necklaces, scarves, rulers, raffle tickets, or envelopes of cash. And yet the upcoming numbers are still overwhelming–a giant indeed for our family of 6.

We transparently admit to you that we have spent the past 24 hours praying about whether Ryan should stay home and put his finances toward myself and a few others on the team who are still lacking in funds. We discussed putting the rest on a credit card and not sharing the need. And no that decision was not taken lightly by our “Dave Ramsey family.”

But we have instead decided to post our struggle.

The truth is that we can’t do this on our own, and I’m not sure that anyone benefits from us acting like we can.

Your prayers have helped us put one foot in front of the other every day that we have been in wait. We believe that those prayers will bring B home and allow us to visit him in two weeks.

You likely woke up this morning with an impending run-in with a giant. Rest assured that God is bigger. And in His timing and in His way, He will overcome.

We have two beautiful daughters who remind us of that truth every day.

Now on to my fourth giant of the morning–hitting the publish button.

Keepin’ it real

If you have any form of social media , you can’t help but notice that it’s back to school time.

Some of you may not have been able to get your children to pose for the photo that every other family appears to take on this monumental occasion. Do not despair. I too have experienced that lackluster want from my children to stand still for the seconds it would take to achieve such a photograph.

My mind always goes back to 2011 when the best we could achieve was this gem.


Can anyone relate? I sure hope so.

This year didn’t go much better.

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Just kidding.

They were a bit more optimistic about the thought of school this year.

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Fikirte is entering 8th grade and will be 14 next month. Kaden is taking on the Jr. High and 6th grade. Konjit is ready for 5th grade, but we wonder if it’s ready for her. Karson, be still my heart, is a 4th grader.

There have been years when I’ve been sentimental and emotional on the first day of school. There have been years when I worried my way through that first day.

I remember moving to Mt. Pulaski during Kaden’s Kindergarten year, requiring him to transition mid-year. And I worried.

I remember taking Karson to Kindergarten when she was barely 5, hoping that it wasn’t too soon. And I worried.

I remember walking Konjit into her 2nd grade class when she had only been in the US for two months. And I worried.

I remember Fikirte following closely behind with only three months in the US and taking on the 5th grade. And I worried.

And EVERY time EVERYthing was okay.

So today we huddled in our backyard praying for the new school year and spent some time focusing on the gift of school and an education. What a blessing. We prayed to make the most of this school year opportunity.

I promised to keep it real, so I am sharing my first day photo.

I’m saying, “Yes!” because school is back in session. It was time. And everything is going to be okay.

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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.      ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) 

service…with a smile

I am in the process of cleaning some files from my computer and ran across a little paragraph I had written approximately two years ago. 

At the time, a student had written a post on a social networking site, and I felt the need to respond.  She posed a question.  She wanted to know how her professors (of which I had been), at her Christian college, smiled through the everyday and was concerned that the “Christian bubble” had taken us captive.  She believed her institution was disconnected from the real world.  What else, other than disconnection, could explain the ability to smile and serve on a daily basis?  Were we aware of those outside of our institution’s walls, the hardships, the atrocities, the tragedies?  She suspected that if we were aware, our response would not be as such.  Did we live a life of oblivion? 

I wanted to respond in many directions…

…that I was fully aware that life wasn’t always rosy even inside the bubble.  That Christ followers are people, and people deal with anger, sadness, happiness, and fear…sometimes, on a daily basis.  One’s location doesn’t affect that. 

…that I don’t smile everyday.  There are days that my heart cries out in sadness, and my smile is replaced by tears.  Life is hard, but God is good.  He is faithful to a damaged heart.  Some days I am quick to anger, but God continues to remind me that it should not be directed at those I love.  Anger should be reserved for injustice, oppression, and exploitation.

But, I did my best to boil it down.  This was my response:

I, like every faculty member I come in daily contact with, am active in my community.  But I do not serve under the title of professor, but as Deanne, follower of Christ.  My smile is not from a bubble world or oblivion.  I experience the world every day, as every wife, parent, adult does.  My smile comes from a love that I cannot for the life of me comprehend; a love that I do not deserve but has been given to me unconditionally.  That is why I serve and that is why I smile.

Today, I would like to add this:

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another withour grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.”

I Peter 4:8-11

she chose God

Last night I was listening to a conversation Konjit (8) and Karson (6) were having on our way home from small group. 

The girls were chosing their favorite thing from two options.  So, I would hear, “chocolate or vanilla?”  “Chocolate!”  “Pizza or macaroni and cheese?”  “Macaroni and cheese!” 

The choices eventually switched to family.  Karson was given the option of mommy or daddy.  She responded with, “both!”  I, of course, smiled. 

Then Karson asked Konjit, “God or mommy and daddy.”  Konjit didn’t miss a beat and answered, “God…because He gave me mommy and daddy.”

She chose God, and this mommy is more than okay with that.


Some Sundays I have the opportunity to share the communion meditation with my church family; today was such a day.

Our sermon at MPCC was based on Titus 2:3-8.  While I was reading in preparation, there was one word that kept running through my mind: example.

Webster’s Dictionary states that an example is one of a number of things, or a part of something, taken to show the character of the whole.  Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary shares that an example is one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not imitated. 

We are reminded throughout the scriptures that being a follower of Christ means exemplifying Christ-like behavior.

In I Timothy 4:12, young believers are reminded:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”         

I have worked at a Christian institution for the past 11 years and have witnessed young people take these verses to heart.  You are never too young to exemplify Christ, and you are never too old to learn from someone else’s example.

In John 13:15 we read the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples:

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” 

He had just washed the feet of His disciples; men who were following Him, serving Him, and He washed their feet.

The ulimate of examples and we have to look no further than here:

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”                             

                                                                                                                                     I Peter 2: 21-24


my morning.

the hustle and bustle of getting four children ready for school and out the door on time. 

a husband off of work so that he can drive them into town. 

i pause. 

i grab a small individually wrapped piece of dove chocolate for my opener to breakfast. 

i’m an adult.  i made a choice.

the inside of the wrapper says, “enjoy this moment.”

oh, i will dove chocolate.  

i will.


“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”     Proverbs 3:5-6

I’m pondering how much time I spend writing other things on my heart and how much space I use up while I’m doing it.  Not purposefully, mind you, but it is done none the less. 

And maybe that’s the point.  Being purposeful.  Taking the time every day to bind love and faithfulness around my neck, to write them on my heart until it becomes a habit.


It is the second day of the new year. 

All of my Christmas decorations are up.  There are dirty dishes in the sink.  A rather large pile of dirty laundry is waiting.  It has been quiet for half an hour, but the rustling of children is beginning.

It is the first Sunday of the new year.  I can’t wait!   A new year in which to worship, to study, to commune, to pray.

I am thanking the Lord for this day.

a rock on which to stand

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God….”                  

Psalm 40:1-4

Our family is in the process of adopting two girls from Ethiopia, Fikirte (fa KEER ta) and Konjit (kone JEET).  I met them last year while working with Visiting Orphans at Kid’s Care Orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and I fell in love with them.  Now our whole family is in love with them, and we are eagerly awaiting the time they will join us here.  During this process, I have often felt as if I am in the muck and the mire, weighted down by the paperwork, the red tape, the wait.  I have cried out, wanting the process to conclude and our girls to be home.

But, this is not my first time in the slimy pit.  I can equivocate multiple occurences in my life to that place.  The instance that first comes to mind, is the night I learned that my mom had collapsed and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  I remember hanging up the phone and taking two steps forward.  Directly in front of me was my Bible.  I clutched it to my chest and fell to my knees.  I’m not really sure that I verbally said anything, but I know that my heart was crying out.

The mud and the mire on that day was the mourning of my heart at the thought of losing my mom.  But what I felt as I kneeled before my God was His voice slowly pulling me to my feet and allowing me to stand.  I was reminded that my mom was a follower of Christ, that this story could not have a bad ending.

The new song He gave me to sing was that through it all, His name would be praised.  The possibilities were that she was going to heal and continue to do Kingdom work in His name or she was going to pass from this earthly life, receive her eternal reward and through that, His name would be praised.

My mom experienced a cardiac arrest that day, over 12 years ago.  She spent a week in the Cardiac ICU and is now the proud owner of a pacemaker.  Her story has God’s fingerprints all over it, and there are multiple miracles that happened leading up to that day, on that day, and in the days following that I love to share.  But, I’ll save that for another time.  

I know that not every person who cries out to God receives the answer they had hoped for, but I am not sure I was looking for an answer that day.  Perhaps I was simply looking for a rock on which to stand.