Reunions & Introductions

I cannot put into words the joy that was brought to our hearts on February 25th.

Fikirte and Konjit had not seen their brother Belete since August of 2010. As Karson shared during the process, “I don’t know what it would be like to not be able to see Kaden every day.”

Adoption is beautiful my friends, but there is loss before there gain. In our family’s case, our girls endured the loss of their parents, their brother, their friends,  their language, their culture, the place they had always known as home, and more. They are happy, healthy and loved, but their past is also a part of their story. Loss before gain.

It has been such a blessing to be a part of making sure that Fikirte, Konjit and Belete can see one another every day.

Ryan and I were able to visit with Belete in November of 2013, and we watched as he shed tears over longing to be reunited with his sisters. We were honored at that point to share that we were working to bring him into our family in the states. He has always been a part of our family, but we wanted to make it official through his adoption. Through a few more tears and some smiles that day, we were able to find out more about the family and the beautiful history they have here in Ethiopia. I look forward to sharing more about that with all of you in the days to come.

Kaden and Karson have been praying with our family for this day–praying for a brother they had yet to meet. Prayers that were raised almost daily since 2010. Karson often having insight that we hadn’t thought about as parents. Kaden thinking that it was about time he had a brother in a home overrun with girls.

February 25th marked a new beginning. We pray that this begins a time of gain for this young man who is now our son.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.                                               Ephesians 3:14-21


It’s a BOY!

We are so excited to finally introduce you to our newest son!



Ryan and I were named the official parents of Belete Merritt Mott today in the country of Ethiopia. He is 5’7″, 121 pounds, and 17 years old. And we couldn’t be more proud!

This journey first began on paper in June of 2014 but truly started in our hearts in August of 2010 when we were first made aware that he had been separated from our daughters, Fikirte and Konjit, due to his age. Over the next few weeks, we look forward to sharing more about our journey and the lessons we have learned along the way.

Until then, please celebrate with our family of 7!


Uncomfortable with comfortable

I turned 40 this month.

I’m relatively sure that I was 20 just a few days ago. And even though time seems to move too quickly, I wouldn’t go back. At each turning of the age clock, I have celebrated and moved forward. I really do not wish for days gone by–moments maybe–but not entire days.

Celebrating 40 years has caused me to reflect and recognize a few things about my life and me.

I’m comfortable.

And life is good.

Ryan and I are able to provide for our family, and we are comfortable. We don’t have everything, but we have more than enough to be satisfied.

We have a house that we call home. Our children are healthy and have access to a good education. We both work at jobs we enjoy. Our pantry and freezer could feed us for an extended amount of time. As cold as the past winter was, we were always warm and secure.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to other countries and meet people who live in very different circumstances from my own. Many of these men, women and children were missing out on one or all of the above.

We have been working to bring B home and into our family since 2012. And we are finally seeing progress that makes us believe he will be home within the next year.

My time of reflection of my life has caused me to reflect on B’s life. I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of this almost 16 year-old boy who will soon be joining us.

It is easy to think of all the things he will gain–his siblings, more siblings, a mom and dad, a large extended family, new friends, access to food at any time, appropriate medications, a furthered education, and the list goes on. But he will also have to let go of many things in order to move forward. He will leave the only country he has ever known. He will leave his grandmother, his aunt, his cousins, his friends, his home, his language, his culture. He is going to be uncomfortable. Daily. Hourly. Perhaps even minute to minute in the beginning.

And I’ve come to realize that even though I’m grateful to be comfortable, I may benefit from being uncomfortable.

This need brings me to a commitment I have made. I’m running. That’s right.


Those of you that know me well know that this is not a normal activity. You may even think this is a joke, but it’s not.

I first gave running a go last summer. I worked my way through the couch to 5K plan and when I ran a mile it felt like a huge accomplishment, because in all my years I had never run an entire mile.

I completed the plan and walked/ran in two 5Ks. I didn’t really enjoy it. I loved crossing the finish line, but the training was hard and I was mostly out of my comfort zone trying to complete the plan.

So this year I’ve decided to continue on the path of stretching—literally and figuratively.

I’ve committed to running a 5K and a half marathon in September.

This makes me uncomfortable.

I am not a runner. It is not something that comes easily to me. Some people have this on their bucket list of things to try or to accomplish. I am not one of those people.

And I’m doing something uncomfortable to better understand the term. To remind myself that people push through discomfort every day and choose to see joy. They choose determination, effort, and to simply do the work that needs to be done. 

B will need to push through uncomfortable to be at home here.

The 5K will be run for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I have walked this 5K the past five years with my family in memory of my cousin Josh who battled CF his entire life.

The half marathon will be run for Project Hopeful. They are a non-profit organization that educates, encourages, and enables families and individuals to advocate for and adopt children with HIV/AIDS and other special needs. 

I would love it if you joined me. Yes. You.

Please considering running or walking or running and walking with me. I’m happy to share more information with you.

I’ve also committed to raising $400 for each of these life-changing and in some instances life-giving organizations.

If you feel led to support my run you may donate to CF here or to Project Hopeful here.

I promise to update along my uncomfortable way.

Thankful and hopeful

We spent over an hour with B yesterday.

There were many tears, but there was also laughter.

He desperately wants to be reunited with his sisters and be a part of our family. We want the same.

“Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”          Psalm 68: 4-6

A guest post

Today was our team’s first full day in Ethiopia. I am still processing my thoughts but was blown away by the words of our friend Micah tonight.

The following words are his words.

I’m not sure, but this may be my only post from Ethiopia? I enjoyed sharing all of the pics from Uganda but today was just different. Before today these were just my good old comfy work boots, these boots have walked miles in three countries, been covered in the dirt of an Illinois cornfield, soaked in blood after a successful deer hunt, covered in red Ugandan clay from a day of serving & dancing with beautiful children, covered in silt & sewage after spreading the Word through the village of Lunega, Uganda & finally today, Today they changed my life forever!

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Today the stepped onto a street in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, today they were treated like the finest shoes a man could own. Today a young man about 7 or 8 years old, scrubbed, cleaned, buffed & brushed this old pair of boots like his life depended on it & it does! He would not accept a handout, he didn’t want charity, he wanted to earn my business & earn that 10 Birr (less than 1$)

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I honestly can’t explain the humbling & sickening feeling of standing there letting a child scrub my filthy boots all because he refuses to take charity but knows the value of work & providing for himself & his family. We live in a world of “mine”, “me first” & a “give me something for nothing” society, & this young man scrubbed, brushed & smiled when I told him “good job”! His persistence was incredible, his work ethic was unquestionable & his will to survive was inspirational! I don’t know what this will mean to anybody else & i’m mainly writing to sort my thoughts & gain perspective but i will never see these boots or my world the same again! One child at a time we can all slowly begin to change our world. I will strive everyday to see this happen, whatever it takes to change my world & my family, to everyday see an opportunity to improve the life of one child! What if that had been my Son?

A little bit of home

If you get a chance, please head over to Ashley’s blog and check out her introduction of our team. God weaved together quite a group.

Today was our first full day in Uganda.

Our first opportunity to see what Return Ministries is doing in this community.

And it reminded me of home.

In our home church, we have a program called Big Wednesday. It’s a night for the youth to learn about God and have a little fun at the same time.

Prior to every Big Wednesday we offer a Family Connection dinner. On average we feed 150 people.

I believe we fed the same amount of children today.

A few differences…

At home we have large stovetops and ovens that can easily accommodate large pots and pans. Here they make due with much simpler means.


At home the kids have quite a few options for dinner which change every week. Here it was rice and beans. It is almost always rice and beans.


At home the kids are first come-first served . Here the youngest are fed first and the oldest are last.


At home we clean up in industrial sized sinks with dish clothes and dish soap. Here multiple containers are used to wash and rinse with water that is brought in one bucket at a time. A piece of rice sack and a bar of soap do the cleaning.


With all of these differences you may wonder what made me think of home.

In Mt. Pulaski and here in Uganda, they want the children to know about the love of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14 NIV



A Day in Dubai

Our adventure began with a somewhat uneventful 14 hour flight to Dubai. And yes, that is a really long time to be in an airplane.

This evening we had a chance to tour the city.

This mosque was our first stop.


I wanted to test the waters of the somewhat cool Persian Gulf.


Every place we visit Ryan and I try to do two things.

#1  We purchase a Christmas ornament. Ryan and I began this tradition on our honeymoon in 1996. We now have an entire tree filled with ornaments from places like the Royal Gorge, the Statue of Liberty, and Edinburgh Scotland. Now we have one from Dubai.

#2  Ryan gets a photo with local law enforcement. Tonight the officer was on duty, working a crash, so Ryan didn’t want to bother him. We just borrowed his SUV for a quick shot.


Couldn’t believe this view with the moon right in the landscape.


And we closed out our evening with a visit to the Spice Souk. It was as beautiful as it smelled.


They may have also had some candy that we thought four special people back home might enjoy.


We leave for Uganda first thing in the morning.

Cannot wait to Go. Be. Love. on behalf of Visiting OrphansMt. Pulaski Christian Church and all of you!