Linking You Up

Ethiopia 1

Deciding to Adopt
@Just Showing Up
Some people are just curious, and others can't fathom why a couple with three biological children would choose to raise and love a child (or four) not born to them.  The fact is of course that most of us have multiple reasons for embarking on such a journey--and it's not as simple as an in-the-middle-of-the-produce-aisle-of-the-grocery-store answer might afford.  Especially when your two-year-old is attempting to sneakily put assorted bags of candy into your cart while pulling your four-year-old's hair.

Are Short Term Mission Trips Wasteful?
@My Crazy Adoption
I think the conversation about short-term mission trips vs. long-term holistic solutions should be started in scripture.

Realistic Expectations – The First Year Home
@EMK Press
For adoptive families as they put away their travel suitcases, preconceived notions and get down to the job of parenting.
This is a link we send to all of our adopting families as they prepare to bring their children home.  There are lots of excellent articles in this free download!

Joshua Project
Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ. Accurate, regularly updated ethnic people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission. While no one knows the date or time of His return, we do know that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the nations first. Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-10 show that there will be some from every tribe, tongue, nation and people before the Throne.

This is a great website that identifies the ethnic people groups of the world and which are still unreached for Christ.  You can click on any country in the world and find find fascinating statistics on languages, people groups, religion and population numbers.  There is also a persecution ranking of the top 50 countries where individuals experience religious persecution for practicing their faith.

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A little about me and a little about my blog...

As you can tell this blog doesn't look fancy or very 'first gradery'...YET. I'm planning on changing the look and blogging more as time goes on. I just couldn't wait for all the formatting and whatnot to be done so I decided to choose a blogger template and just start writing. I went through a few names for my blogs and finally landed on "You Might Be a First Grader...". If you get the reference--double cool points for you! As a teacher the kids say all of these things or do all of these things and in your head you just thing "Only a first grader." You know what I'm talking about. The stories that only your other teacher friends get but your non-teacher friends look at you funny, lol. At least that's how I feel sometimes. :)

Hmm, now about little about me. My name is Brenda. I graduated from Purdue University with my BA in Elementary Education. I'm licensed K-6 with a reading endorsement. It took me a year longer than I thought to actually get a teaching job. It was pretty hard to find a job (and that was 6 years ago). I did some subbing and short-term leaves. I met someone that knew someone and here I am today. I've taught first and second grade. I always wanted to teach the older kids but for now I couldn't imagine leaving the little ones. I'm not married and don't have any kids...unless of course you count the 23 in my room. I do have two dogs. I'm sure you'll see more about them.

Like I mentioned, I'm new at this. I do have a TpT store that you can find here. I am still adding to it. You don't realize how much time it takes to make these units and pages look 'just right'. So a big kudos to all the bloggers I follow and purchase units from. Definitely time consuming.  That said if you'd like to be my FIRST EVER commenter please leave a comment and choose something from my TpT store and I'll email it to you for FREE! (haha, in my head I went all Oprah...You get a unit! And you get a unit!)

Spring Break

Oh wow, Thursday already! I'm on spring break and I really needed a break and so did the kiddos. I was starting to feel like I had senioritis. A little R&R, family time, friend time, and Netflix time is what I needed. How are you spending your break?

Caring for Adoptive Moms

Created for Care 2012
Jennifer Armbruster, Jennifer Johns, Sara Streitmatter, Chris Butler and Tara Dunn

Five of YWAM’s adoptive moms had the wonderful opportunity to meet up at the recent Created for Care March 2012 Retreat at the Lake Lanier Legacy Lodge and Conference Center in Buford, Georgia.  These retreats are designed to provide encouragement, resources and a spiritual recharge for moms.  I’ve asked these ladies to share what the weekend meant to them…

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Created for Care was better than I ever expected!  It was great being with women who are PASSIONATE about Jesus and have a LOVE for the orphans.  I loved being able to meet up with other YWAM moms whom I have emailed with before but never talked to.  It was great being able to talk to them and totally understand where we had all been at one time.  I loved praying and encouraging each other throughout the weekend.  I have made new friends who I will continue to stay in contact with.  They really are the best! : ) The speakers and breakout sessions were good, the worship was great but my date with God was awesome.  Forty-five minutes of uninterrupted quiet time with God.  No kids needing me, no phones ringing, no distractions.  It was exactly what I needed that weekend.  I have not felt that close to Him in a long time.  I could hear Him speaking to me.  It was an amazing experience that I needed.  I am so thankful for the weekend away at Created for Care.  I pray that next year I can do it again and maybe more YWAM moms could come too.   
Sara

Of course, getting to meet other YWAM moms in person after having talked via phone, blogs and Facebook was incredible, as well as meeting so many other adoptive moms.  I went on the retreat for rest and community, but I also was longing for the Lord to give me a new vision to enable me to walk in the call He has placed on my life to be an advocate for orphans.  Now that Jace is home, I find myself asking the Lord, "How do I walk this out now?  What should it look like?"  During the retreat, they offer what is called a "Date with God" where you are given an hour of uninterrupted time to meet with Jesus.  I expected the Lord to download a very specific vision to me of how He wants me to walk out this calling in this season.  Instead, He revealed to me that He is giving me a precious gift of rest.  Not necessarily in the physical sense since I now have an almost-2-year-old in my home:), but in so many other ways.  I've always been a type-A, achiever to the max, but God is teaching me to slow down, and surprise surprise, that can't be rushed.  My eyes were opened to see that this is a season for me to crawl into His lap, learn from Him and to cherish this time of watching Him bring restoration and healing to my son.  And I know that this season of rest and learning is so crucial for what He has for me next in this calling.  I came back home refreshed and with a clearer vision for what God has for my family, and for that, I am extremely grateful.  I will definitely be going back next year and hope many other YWAM moms will be there too!
~ Tara

One of my favorite parts of the Created for Care weekend was the opportunity to meet up with other YWAM moms.  Three of them I had never met in person, so to finally be able to give them a big hug and get to know them face to face was awesome.  There is a special bond among adoptive mamas and the fact that we could have uninterrupted conversations about everything from hair products to potty training to theology was priceless.  We laughed and cried together during those three days.  Relationship is such an important part of who we are as women and to find kindred spirits with whom I could share my heart was such a gift to me.  There was excellent worship, a variety of breakout sessions to choose from, and the keynote speakers shared from their experience as adoptive mothers.  Over and over through the weekend, we were reminded of just how much we are loved by God and how special we are to Him.  It is easy to lose sight of that in the hustle and bustle of life as we are caring for our families.  I also came away from the weekend with a renewed sense of purpose as I endeavor to be the wife and mother that God created me to be.  I look forward to attending the retreat again next year and I hope to meet more YWAM mamas then.  You won't want to miss it!  
~ Jennifer J 

I am certain I acted like a school girl squealing with delight, finally meeting my friends in real life!  Each session we attended had something to offer this mamas heart.  Every worship song lifted me up.  I cannot write about C4C without mentioning "Date with God".  It was a vital part of the weekend.  Honestly, I thought it sounded a little strange when I first heard of it.  But it wasn't strange at all.  God met me there!  He spoke directly to my heart.  He encouraged me.  I was blessed; every minute of this retreat was just what I needed and I didn't even know it.
~ Jennifer A



Created for Care was an amazing weekend to put it mildly.  To be with other moms that understand our joys, struggles, and our deepest hearts' desires was a true blessing.  To be with 450 other moms who have had their hearts broken for the fatherless, and are walking through different phases of the journey.  One of the things that I loved the most was shared during one of the last general sessions.... that when we are called to something we need to make sure to follow the ONE who has called us, and not the calling itself.  This weekend truly focused and kept us all pointed to the Father!  The best part of the weekend is how its purpose wasn't to glorify adoption, but to worship the ONE who adopted us all.  It was such a blessing to get to meet many friends, a lot of whom are YWAM mommies, who before this weekend I only knew through Facebook.  I do encourage anyone who possibly can to start planning now for next year.  You will be very blessed!
~ Chris


The daily super stimulus to prevent diabetes, or maybe not?

The daily super stimulus to prevent diabetes, or maybe not?
Today a newly released case report in the British Medical Journal caught my attention: "Towards creating a superstimulus to normalise glucose metabolism in the prediabetic: a case-study in the feast-famine and activity-rest cycle". Normalizing glucose metabolism in the prediabetic person means nothing less than preventing diabetes in those at high risk. Naturally I sought enlightenment. 
According to the report, a healthy subject was fasted for close to 2 days (water consumption was allowed). During that period he performed 3 aerobic sessions of neuromuscular electrical stimulation exercise (NMES). And surprise, surprise, the energy used by the muscle came almost entirely from fat. The subject also went into a hypoglycemic state, which is doctor-speak for low blood sugar. The authors concluded that this may indicate the depletion of carbohydrate stores. And they go on to suspect that this could be the equivalent of "a metabolic super stimulus mimicking the famine-activity periods of our ancestors". A stimulus which they correctly find to be absent from our modern environment. And which might be considered a contributor to the diabetes epidemic, which we are facing in our environment.
Now first what is NMES? It is what it sounds like: the application of an electrical stimulus to muscles. If a muscle gets stimulated in this way it contracts. Once the stimulus is switched off, it relaxes. Do this with a certain frequency and your muscle does almost the same as when you voluntarily move it, by exercising for example. I say "almost" and I will get back to that point in a short while. Now when your muscle contracts it burns energy, typically in the form of carbohydrate or fat. It doesn't matter whether your muscle does its contraction thing because your brain tells him to or whether a NMES device sends its juice through the nerves which otherwise carry the brain's commands to that muscle. if it moves, it burns. That's why NMES is typically applied for muscle rehabilitation, or to prevent muscle wastage when you can't move a limb, or when your personal trainer gets the idea of strengthening it beyond what you already achieved in the gym (not necessarily an effective idea). It's certainly not a substitute for doing exercise. Otherwise we could simply have ourselves full-body-wired to some NMES, flick the switch and start bopping around on the sofa while watching TV, feeding our face, and not getting fat at the same time because the NMES makes our muscles BURN all that fat. 
Come to think about it, why don't you try it and let me know the result? But please don't tell anybody that I asked you to. Specifically not your doctor and also not my ethics board.
But anyway, back to serious thoughts. Why are the results of this case study so underwhelming? First of all, we know, that human carbohydrate stores are so limited, in fact approximately the equivalent of 1600 calories, that your body will go into carb preservation mode much earlier than after 44 hours of fasting. 
We have made in our laboratory tests on people after a simple overnight fast. Their resting resting energy expenditure came almost exclusively from fat. And when we put them on a bicycle to exercise at the intensity which the study authors applied to their NMES guy (50% of VO2max), they also burned fat almost exclusively. The reason is simple: your brain needs glucose, the building block of carbs, to function. So your body starts to burn fat preferentially, once glucose supplies dwindle. When we gave our subjects a banana to eat or some buns or muesli, their bodies switched  to burn carbs almost exclusively within a matter of 15 to 20 minutes. At rest and while exercising.
The message is clear: if you want to burn away your fat reserves, you MUST NOT eat or drink carbs before you exercise. Don't let any gym rat or self-styled guru tell you otherwise. The human body is biased to preserve its fat stores. That was Mother Nature's survival policy for our ancestors for millions of years. Only when glucose levels dwindle will that preference be put on the backburner, so to speak.
So what has this study added to our body of knowledge about the prevention of diabetes? You judge for yourself. But my take is, even if that "super-stimulus" was worth something, who will go through the fun of staying without food for 2 days? And what comes after the 2 days, when you start eating again?
But one message clearly is being reinforced here, a message which I always like to give, specifically to those who are overweight and in need of losing a few pounds of fat: ideally do your aerobic exercise in the morning, every morning, after an overnight fast and before breakfast. And don't you dare take that bottle of energy drink with you on your run. In this way you can create your personal feast famine cycle within the 24 hours of your day, ideally every day. Initially it may be tough. I know because I do it myself. But I also know, after a while you begin to truly enjoy that morning routine. I'm doing this since more than 10 years now. And so does my wife. She has the diabetic gene in her family, but her blood glucose values and her insulin sensitivity are all in the deep green zone. Maybe because of her daily super-stimulus.  
So when will you get yours?

Blogger App

I really want to start blogging and sharing my classroom stories, getting ideas, and advice and utilizing the social networking tools available. This is really something I should've started right out of college...well okay maybe not that first year of teaching, lol. Well anyways. I found a blogger app in the app store. Woohoo! So I'll be testing it out from time to time.

About the pic below. First of all that's my dog, Vanilla. I found a Seuss camera app. This one was 99¢ but they had a bday one for Dr. Seuss that was free. Nabbed them both.

Sub Plans

Aaargh! Is it just me or is it way more work to not come to school than it is to come to school?! Luckily tomorrow is Friday and I have specials so I hope it'll be easy to plan. But not only do we have to write lesson plans (most of which we've already written in our plan books...but in a shorthand only we can read) but also classroom procedures, management, etc. Sigh. It's like the beginning of the year with the kids. My plan pages for my sub come out to be very long but I really really try not to leave anything out. I've been that sub reading the confusing plans. I'd also like to say that at my school we try to only get subs that we know and have subbed here before so the person that is subbing in my room is someone that is AWESOME!

Well, anyways. I told you that story to tell you this one (if you get that reference...bonus points) I'm going to be gone tomorrow and I usually give the kids notice so when they come in it isn't a big deal and they know the expectations. For once, I decided NO WARNING. I've really been wanting to do the writing prompt where the kiddos write about where they think I am. I have a few students that I think are just going to come up with outrageous ideas so I'm psyched. I really wish I would've gotten the book Miss Nelson is Missing . That would've been perfect. Ah well, maybe next time. I'll post the template later tonight. Wish me (and my authors) good luck!

**Edit**
My lovely co-teacher had the book! Eureka!

Oh and here is the writing prompt template I left for my sub  My Teacher is Missing! 
Click here to download the free template.


Portable Clean Water!

Today is World Water Day - a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water for everyone.

Sources of clean drinking water are almost non-existent in many parts of Ethiopia and the diseases that result from drinking contaminated water are deadly.  Typhoid, Cholera, Dysentery and parasites are all transmitted through dirty water. 

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Source

Our ministry director, Joy Casey, recently visited a woman living in Korah who, along with her son, was suffering the devastating effects of Typhoid and Giardia – you can read about her story here. These are the types of families we want to provide with a means to get clean drinking water.

Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia has been providing bio-sand water filters to many families and communities through our YWAM Gift Catalog.  But these cement filters, while effective, are large and heavy.

We’ve recently connected with a wonderful ministry – The King’s Storehouse – who will supply us with portable water filter kits that we can send to Ethiopia with mission teams.  These small, lightweight kits (only 6 oz. each) remove all disease-causing bacteria, parasites and protozoa.  They contain a water purifier, adapter, hose and filter cleaner.  They can filter 5 gallons of water in 20 minutes and can provide up to 170 gallons of clean water per day.  The buckets are easy to get in-country so these kits can be widely distributed with instructions on how to use and maintain them.


portable water purifier kit


These filters can be donated through our YWAM Gift Catalog for $40 each.  All money received for these filters is will be sent to The King’s Storehouse. 

We hope you think of these each time you drink a glass of clear water!  Now enjoy this award-winning film "Refresh."



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Good Links

2hands

Man of THIS House
@Bring Love In
“Is the house that we are called to tend as Christians more than the physical house that we dwell in and the family we call our own?”

While You Wait: Preparing Your Family At Home For Their New Siblings
@Hope at Home
So often the wait for our children to come home seems so long but the Lord never wastes time!  Here are some ideas to make the time fruitful by building up your family even before your adoption.

It okay to ask if someone’s kids are adopted?
@Rage Against The Minivan
I regularly hear adoptive parents, especially from transracial families, complain about the questions they have to field on a daily basis and I think that sometimes leaves people wondering what they are allowed to say at all.

Even “easy” is hard
@A Safe Place to Share
Even though we’re not experiencing the “worst case scenario” I prepared myself for, this is still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

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Heroes

by Joy Casey


Noun 1. hero – a man [or woman] distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength

I suppose the word “hero” can be over-used these days and I am aware that the title is subjective.
 
When I was in Ethiopia working with pastors and case managers of Adoption Ministry 1:27, time and again I was told how much this program was tangibly affecting the people. One pastor said, “I don’t think you fully understand the significance of what you are doing for our people.” Of course, it is not me doing anything. It is the 85 people whose hearts have been moved by God’s Spirit to give $40 a month so that a family in Ethiopia can have enough to eat. It is these ministry partners who are the heroes.


Glen and Sharon Oliver are retired and yet were one of the first people to sign up to sponsor a struggling family in Ethiopia. For several months they faithfully sent their money to Adoption Ministry who in turn made sure that Widow Mulu received food and other necessary items to hold her family together.
 
 
IMG_5460I met Mulu in a cafĂ© in Dembidollo and had the rare opportunity to explain who Glen and Sharon were.  She was utterly delighted and asked me to share with “Glenni” and “Sha-rone’” (Glen and Sharon - Ethiopia-style) how Adoption Ministry 1:27 had helped her. She is HIV+ and her health was very precarious because she did not have regular nutritious food.  But after she was sponsored, her health improved remarkably because food combined with the antiretroviral medication works wonders!
 
 
 
IMG_5455
 
Now that she was feeling stronger and was assured of ongoing monthly help, she took pity on an orphaned girl in her community who was HIV+ and had no one to take her in. Bontu is 12-years-old and was sleeping wherever she could find shelter and eating whenever someone would give her food.  Mulu decided she would adopt this girl and be her forever family. I was elated with her generous spirit and proudly told “Glenni” and “Sha-rone’” about the amazing woman they sponsored. Now Glen and Sharon are asking how they can increase their support so there is plenty of food for Bontu and they want to provide resources so she can attend school. Isn’t that amazing?
 
Glen and Sharon, you are heroes in anybody’s book!
 
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Post-Adoption Depression

praying

Depression?  After I’ve waited so long, so expectantly for my child to come home?   After I’ve been praying for that sweet little person and memorized the shape of their eyes, their mouth, their nose?  After I’ve spent months imagining what it will be like to finally hold them and be the mommy they never had?  I can't imagine that!

It does seem impossible that you’ll feel anything but delight, satisfaction and relief once you have your child home.  But experience says otherwise – it is very common for adoptive moms especially to suffer some form of depression, let-down or lack of loving feeling toward their child.  Researchers tell us 65% of adoptive parents have experienced post adoption depression syndrome (PADS). 

Many of the parents I talk to after bringing their children home have felt these same things in varying degrees.  It’s critical that adoptive parents prepare for this possibility so that helpful resources are at your fingertips and so you aren’t completely surprised and unprepared.  Sometimes it will mean getting some needed respite or the support and understanding of another adoptive parent; other times professional help is required.

Here are several ‘testimonials’ from adoptive parents about their own experience after bringing their child home…

  • I thought I would instantly love her just like my other kids, (I thought I already did) but when she first came home we were exhausted, she was sick, and truly we were strangers. I felt terribly guilty that I did not feel an instant "mother's love" for her. I expected to immediately be totally IN love with her. I had prayed over her and loved her for almost a year, and I thought I would know her just as if she had always been with us. When I picked her up, I realized that I did not know her and she did not know me. We were strangers.

  • Even though I thought I was prepared for being a transracial family, that was hard for me at first. Any time we went out I felt like people were looking at me (although that was probably in my head). I felt very self-conscious and I felt like everyone could see right through me and see how much I was struggling. I had trouble making eye-contact with any African-American people because I felt like they disapproved of our adoption. There was no basis for this, but I just felt that way.

  • My life instantly felt so complicated and I longed for the "easy" life I had the week before we traveled. Everything seemed so hard... worrying about attachment and bonding, trying to establish sleeping and eating schedules, going to the doctor over and over again. I was overwhelmed and sometimes just wanted my life back the way it was before.

  • When my husband realized I was really struggling, he sent an email out to my friends and they really rallied by providing meals, etc. to help me get through the initial hard days.

  • I didn’t really expect to have any negative feelings toward my son. I was shocked when I realized he was annoying me by following behind me and chattering all day.

  • It is easy to fall in love with a picture and have a certain vision of what life with that precious child will be like and then when reality hits, it can be a shock.  Jet lag, frequent doctor visits, stool tests, blood work, etc. in the early days can be draining. If a mama is already struggling with her feelings, that can really lead to feeling overwhelmed. Add in the isolation that "cocooning" requires and it adds yet one more challenge.

  • I think it is important for mamas to see that sometimes something like an antidepressant might be needed - maybe not even for the long haul, but to cope with challenges that prove to be more than you bargained for.  There is a stigma attached and I think that needs to be shattered.  We treat physical ailments with medicine and don't have a problem.  Somehow, mental or emotional struggles aren't treated the same.

  • Seek advice or help right away. If you’re going through it or feeling it, you can bet someone else has too. I remember going through a really rough time with our daughter and not even liking her. I felt so alone and like such a bad parent. I confessed this to a friend who has adopted four times. She was so comforting, as she had gone through the exact same thing with two of her adoptions. She helped me to see my daughter’s behavior was attachment-related so we were able to start seeking help! Experienced adoptive parents can be a lifeline in those difficult times. I think too many parents think they can just muddle through the hard times – maybe they’re the only ones having a hard time or feeling what they do. The blog world can sometimes paint this “white picket fence” picture of adoption. But it’s hard. It’s messy. Friends who haven’t adopted won’t really get what you’re going through.

  • For a solid week I felt overwhelmed, a bit panicky and even wondered if we’d done the right thing in adopting. After finally getting a few nights in a row of good sleep, my outlook began to change. Prepare to be wiped out, emotionally drained and don’t make any important decisions or judgments that first week or two home.

  • It's very hard for anyone, including family, to understand how difficult transitioning is because they have not ever done it.  People think they know how understanding and patient they would be and how they would just feel so empathetic for the child that they would be able to just reason away any frustration from the behaviors.  Well, that's just not how it goes.  It is a frustrating process.

  • I was completely unprepared for feeling the way I felt – even though I had read about post adoption depression syndrome, I didn’t even consider that it would happen to me. I had been so anxious to be a mommy to this little girl, it didn’t seem possible. I felt overwhelmed and trapped as soon as we had custody of her. I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself for feeling this way because I assumed it meant I was a terrible mother. If this happens to you, get help quickly. Don’t be in denial about what’s happening. Things will get better. I was amazed at how many other adoptive moms I know admitted to the same feelings when I shared my struggles. I guess we don’t want to look like failures by admitting how hard it can be.

  • I was expecting the possibility of working through attachment issues on my son’s end… I did not expect to have attachment issues myself.  I thought I would immediately feel bonded to him, especially considering I felt a bond to him before we went to pick him up.  That was not the case. He has been home for several months and the bond is still growing.  That was very difficult for me to deal with because it led to negative thoughts about the situation… "Did we make a mistake?" "Will I ever feel attached to this child?" etc…  I would even say that I experienced post adoption depression, which I didn't even know existed.  Luckily for me, I also had postpartum depression after our oldest was born, so my husband and I knew the signs and knew to get help right away.

  • I think one of the most helpful things for me was the adoptive moms who told me they had felt all these same feelings. For me to know that this was NORMAL was huge. I had no idea I might feel this way, so when I did, I panicked. I think it is important for parents to know that they may very well feel some of these feelings, but that it is normal and okay, and things will get better. It takes time to build a relationship, and you have to give yourself some grace.

Thanks to all the families who shared their honest feelings above.  As more parents share their experiences with each other, the shame that’s sometimes associated with these feelings will be brought into the light and families will get the help and support they need.  These feelings do pass.  The season of major adjustment and transition is just that – a season.  Our hope is that adoptive parents will prepare for the likelihood of experiencing some of these feelings, share honestly with others if they happen and have realistic expectations for those first months at home.
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What I wish I’d known the first time around…

Many families who adopt a child from Ethiopia end up adopting again.  We actually feel that bringing another Ethiopian child into your family can be the best thing for that first child – especially if he or she is the only one who looks different from the rest of the family.

Families who have been through this arduous process learn a thing or two that helps in their second adoption.  It doesn’t always make it easier but experience can be a great teacher.

Johns fam

John and Jennifer Johns, a YWAM family who brought their daughter Sena home just a little over a year ago, are getting ready to bring home daughter #2.  Jennifer recently compiled a list of things she learned as a result of their first adoption journey.  First-time families – take note!

1. After the paperwork is complete on our end, the rest of the process is completely out of our hands. The sooner you accept that, the better off you'll be.


2. God's timing and my timing usually don't line up. One of us is right and one of us thinks we are right - again, the sooner you accept that His timing is indeed perfect, the better off you'll be. Your child will not come home one day sooner than he/she is supposed to. You can choose to fret about it or you can trust God's plan. Trusting His plan is far better.


3. God has a way of redeeming lost time. When our first process went on months beyond what we expected, I grieved every missed milestone. Her first steps, her first words, her first birthday - all were lost to me. However, when she came home, we rejoiced in the firsts that we were able to experience with her. Now, just one year later, it seems that she has always been with us!


4. The process is draining and has an impact on the whole family. Each setback affected not only my husband and I, but our sons were also disappointed and needed to voice that. When Sena finally joined our family, the JOY was palpable.


5. Set realistic expectations. It is easy to fall in love with a picture of a precious child, but you also have to consider that the picture is a representation of a very real child. All children need structure and guidance and an adopted child will need an extra measure of grace thrown in, too. Do not expect them to behave as your biological children did. Really, don't even go there. Your biological children have most likely not experienced anything even remotely close to the losses that an adopted child has experienced and drawing comparisons between two completely different situations does not help. At all.


6. Read, read, and read The Connected Child, Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft, and Attaching in Adoption. Really read them and consider how you will implement some of the suggested strategies. Working to develop attachment early on will pay huge dividends down the line and the whole family will be better off for it. And make no mistake - it is work and you must be intentional about it. Don't expect your child to just acclimate to your lifestyle right off the bat. Stay home. Develop a routine and try to stick to it - especially early on.


7. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Empowered to Connect conference, DO IT! The material truly comes alive in a way that it just doesn't through reading alone. It is one of the most worthwhile things that we have done to help in our journey as an adoptive family.


8. Read about the symptoms of post adoption depression BEFORE your child comes home and have a plan in place if you find yourself really struggling once your child comes home. Find a friend (perhaps another adoptive parent) with whom you can be brutally honest and who you trust to help if needed.


9. Know that above all, God is in control and we can trust Him to see us through any situation that may arise.

Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing these great suggestions.  Be sure to read her blog:  7,739 Miles Away

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What weight loss?
You have probably heard one or the other diet guru claiming that manipulating the nutrient composition of your diet will make you lose weight. Well, for those of you, who stubbornly cling to the notion that excess weight is simply a matter of too many calories-in vs. too few calories-out, here is the good news: You are right, after all. It really doesn't matter.


In an exemplary 2-year study New Zealand researchers compared the effectiveness of a low-fat high-protein diet with an equally low-fat but high-carb diet http://www.springerlink.com/content/c5krn1t1104nuk3k/. Not only was there no difference at all between the diet groups into which the participants had been randomized. Their mean weight loss was a paltry 4 Kilos. Nothing to scream about when you look at the mean starting BMI of 36 and a mean body weight north of 100 Kilos.

The primary outcome parameters, that is blood sugar and HbA1c, which is what you are really after, when you try to lose weight as an overweight diabetic, didn't improve a bit. Well, there was some improvement after 6 months, but by 24 months the participants were back to square 1. Does that sound familiar?

Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves and let's look at what makes this study exemplary. First the researchers took in 419 overweight, diabetic participants for 24 months (which is really a large number and a long duration relative to what is typically the case for such dietary intervention studies). These participants were randomized into one of the two dietary groups. Each participant received individualized dietary advice on how to achieve a daily 500 kcal energy deficit. In the first year each participant was given 18 dietician-led group meetings with no more than 12 people per group. Follow-up measurements of body weight, waist circumference, diet composition and a host of biomarkers were done at baseline and at 6, 12 and 24 months. And then what happened?

30 Percent of participants dropped out right away in the first year. While HbA1c and blood glucose had dropped slightly but with statistical significance in the first 6 months, these markers remained deep in the red danger zone with > 7.7% and 7.9 mmol for HbA1c and glucose respectively. Which emphasizes the point I always like to make: there is a difference between statistical significance and clinical relevance. The latter wasn't there at 6 months and certainly not at 24 months when both had come back to their baseline levels. All the other biomarkers, which you probably know from your personal risk profile, such as cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, didn't show any improvement at all. Neither was there a difference between the diet groups.

So, are we, and the researchers, right to claim that it is only calories which count, and not the macronutrients which deliver them? In my view, the study doesn't really answer the question. The weight loss was possibly too small to detect any difference. From personal experience (as a diet guinea pig and as one who does research with overweight people), replacing carbs with protein does have an effect on body weight. But comparing the typical energy density of a lean piece of meat with that of, say, bread, the differential weight effect might well come from the fewer calories the meat delivers in a meal of equal weight. Which would, again, make it an issue of calories, not of macronutrients. I also have some misgivings about randomizing diabetics into any high-carb diet.

My personal reading of this study? Well, I admit I'm biased against any weight loss attempt that is purely based on diet without physical activity as a component to achieve a calorie deficit. I'm also biased against calorie counting, which really is only for masochists and for those who mistakenly believe that they can estimate their calories reliably. But more on that another day. Which is why in our health science lab we have developed that tool for people to train a 6th sense for calorie balance. It really is the simplest way of getting your weight where you want it to be in an intuitive, playful and amazingly low-effort way. Try it out here: apps.facebook.com/adiphea Maybe you won't fall for those gurus any more. And maybe, just maybe, you'll know how to deal with the calorie cartel.

Cheers

 Lutz

All You Need Is Love

by Kate Leavengood
I love to throw a good party and a few years back an idea popped into my mind to host an annual Valentines Day event. It would be called "All You Need Is Love" and would change based on our life, commitments and community in any given year, but its purpose would remain: focus outward rather than inward. Although doubtful, I convinced my husband it would be fun, even for him. My previous good idea was to throw a masquerade ball (who doesn't love a masquerade ball?) so you may understand his hesitation.
 
After a move to Hawaii, a deployment and our eldest heading off to kindergarten, Valentines Day lurked just around the corner. We brainstormed ideas shaped by the community in Kailua and the friends we thought might participate and eventually settled on a biking scavenger hunt complete with casual dinner and awards ceremony. The winning team would pick the charity to benefit. “All You Need Is Love” teetered on the edge of existence.
 
Anybody who has an idea knows that it's just an idea until someone comes along and makes it into what it could be. So it is with our story. We just had an idea. It would have remained so had it not been for the amazing participants.

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Creative costumes!

Our friends arrived in rare form, complete with costumes and their required bikes. Off they zoomed, zipping through our town snapping pictures of the clues and having a grand time. They single-handedly inflated the event with their unbridled enthusiasm, carried it along with their participation and pushed it into the lofty realm of success with their generosity.

Race Poster - kailua 2012
The cherry on the cake was when my ridiculously talented, highly sought after, graphic designing brother donated his time and skills to make vintage race posters as favors. When all was said and done, three charities got face time and one - Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia - received over $600. Each participant went home having had a great evening on an otherwise ho hum holiday not to mention a piece of art to commemorate their philanthropy.
 
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One clue said to get your picture taken with a tourist!

 
Who knew our little town of Kailua had so much love to give? Who knew that a silly race for our friends would touch people half the world away? Once the last medal was awarded, the final bike packed up and on its way home, my husband and I looked at each other in happy disbelief. What a gift we had been given by choosing to throw a little party, hoping to spread a little love.
 
February is behind us and the warm glow of a gift received permeates our days. But the months will click by like playing cards in a bike wheel and before you know it, the day of love will be just around the corner. Did I mention I just learned how to make masquerade ball masks?
 
Leavengood familyDoug and Kate Leavengood live in Kailua, Hawaii where Doug serves in the U.S. Navy.  They have two children and a lot of really awesome friends!  Thank you both so much for blessing this ministry through your creativity and hard work!  That $600 will go a long way to provide support for our orphanages in Ethiopia.
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On to the real business

Every adoptive parent should read this post by Jen Hatmaker...


"This morning, I got a panicked email from my dear friend who just had the fast-forward button pressed on her adoption. They are now throwing jackets and socks and toys and granola bars into suitcases and paying through the nose for tickets to Ethiopia to go fetch their two new daughters.
What hair products do I bring?
What food should I have in the freezer?
How are we going to talk to each other??
Am I going to be able to pull this off?
Please, please tell me this is going to be okay. 
We are only six months home with our two Ethiopians, ages 8 and 6. So we’re clearly experts (sarcasm). All at once, it seems our panicked overseas trip was a million years ago and one nanosecond ago. In preparation, I read all the books and joined the online groups and went to the conferences and logged in to the podcasts. I obsessed over all the things I was supposed to obsess over: their names, their hair, their language, their food, their shoe sizes, their bedding. I read blogs and articles and became fake BFF’s with Dr. Karyn Purvis (in my head). I drove everyone mad with my myopic perspective, which was: “We’re adopting. There is nothing else.” We theoretically readied the house and everyone who lived in it.
Then we actually got them and brought them home..."
Click here to continue reading!  
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Who is my neighbor?

written by Joy Casey
2-28-12



The day began early. The place we went is a section on the outskirts of Addis by a garbage dump that originally was a leper colony but has grown to 128,000 densely packed people who are the marginalized of Ethiopian society: the leper, the cripple, the outcast and the desperately poor. Here Adoption Ministry has started a work with a humble church whose mission is to meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the community where the pastor and Case Manager of Adoption Ministry 1:27 grew up. Both Pastor Nunesh and Case Manager Tesfaye are children of leper parents and God has given them hearts of compassion for the sick, the lame and the poor. It is an honor to work alongside such dedicated men.
 
Noonish and Tesfaye
 
People ask me many times if I am overwhelmed by the depth of poverty manifested in the teeming masses of people in Ethiopia. In this place called Korah, the results of poverty are evidenced by severe health issues secondary to malnutrition, abandoned women and children, scores of orphaned children whose parents have died of disease, and crushing poverty on a scale seldom seen. But I am not overwhelmed.
 
God has given us a unique opportunity to meet the basic physical needs of people through Adoption Ministry 1:27, and I have the privilege to observe Pastor Nunesh and his team pour out their lives in service to their growing congregation and lives are being impacted for eternity. We look at what we do as an assignment from God to bring hope to the people He has put in front of us. What Adoption Ministry does is small in comparison to the need, but God is a God of individuals and all I am asked to do is lend support to those He has given me. I am not to do more; I am not to do less. You are asked to do the same. Obedience is everything.
 
I am not an eloquent writer and lament that I cannot paint a word picture that can adequately capture the sights and sounds of Korah, but I will bring you stories of encouragement and stories of people whose lives are desperate. The stories of hope will bring smiles, especially to those ministry partners who are providing monthly funds for some of these people. The needs presented by other stories are highlighted to give opportunity for you to gain a heart of understanding and compassion and possibly be moved to help through adopting a family financially through AM 1:27 or praying for the church leaders on a regular basis.
 
A Story of Hope
The families identified by the churches we work with are what we call “at-risk” families. They are at-risk of disintegration if there is not intervention on some level. With the help of our ministry partners, Adoption Ministry 1:27 can stabilize a family with the goal of then providing seed money and counsel on how to start a business that can eventually bring income to provide for that family. During my time in Ethiopia visiting many of the adopted families through AM 1:27, I am blown away at the courage, ingenuity and hard work of some of these families. When their basic food is provided, many then have the luxury of spending their new found energy (amazing what food does!) on looking to the future with the hope of being self-sustaining.
 
When I first met Tigist and her daughter she was scavenging in the garbage dump looking for things to sell and snatching up food that the restaurants had thrown out. She and her 6-year-old daughter were barely surviving and at high risk for disease. A wonderful American family adopted Tigist and Aleme and they have received bedding, rice, sugar, salt, oil, teff, tea, buna (coffee) and soap. When I went to her home to visit her, she was not there because she was at the market selling bananas and mangos.

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She told me that now that her basic food needs are being met through AM 1:27, she was able to buy some fruit and sell it and could earn enough money each month to pay her rent of $25.00. Of course, she is not making enough money to completely support her and her daughter, but it is a huge step in the right direction. One of my friends gave me money to use to help in a small business (thank you Lori!) and we will use it to help Tigist enlarge her business and become successful. Her whole demeanor has changed and she is grateful first of all to the Lord from whom comes every good gift, and secondly to the American donor who has given her food for her belly.

Stories of desperation
  • Alehegn Derbe is the father of four children, two school age and twin 3-year-olds. His wife died two years ago and the full care of the children fell on his shoulders. Alehegn is a leper and leprosy has affected his hands and feet and eyes. The only option for him at this time is begging. His daughter Mitk is 13-years-old and fixes ladies’ hair after school earning about 60 cents a day. Rent for their small room is $25 a month.
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  • Teje is a beautiful young woman whose hands, arm and chest are deformed due a severe burn. Teje has untreated epilepsy and during a seizure she fell into a cooking fire and was badly burned. She has a 2 ½ year-old son, but her husband divorced her after her accident and now she earns a small amount of money begging bringing in about 87 cents a day. Her rent is $11.50 a month. The really heartbreaking thing is Teje knows no man will ever marry her and she is quite disabled so her future is very bleak.
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  • The Widow Mestawt lost her husband shortly before giving birth to their daughter 7 years ago. For the past four years she has washed clothes for others and makes a whopping $23 a month. She manages her money really well, though. Half of her earnings go toward rent, another fourth goes toward her daughter’s school costs, and that leaves less than $6.00 for food for the month. Adoption Ministry 1:27 wants to help her with food and find an income generating activity that she can do to earn enough money to adequately support herself.
 
As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, Tesfaye grew up in Korah. In conversation I observed that since he has lived in this village all his life he must have many good friends. He looked at me and said, “Most of my friends are dead.” I was shocked because Tesfaye is only 30-years-old. “Dead? Why are so many young men dead?” I asked. “They died of disease, AIDS or at the hands of the police because of criminal activity,” he somberly replied. “All that you see here is the result of poverty.” It is true. Sanitation is non-existent, health care is scarce and of poor quality, the living conditions are crowded, small and dirty, and worst of all there is not a lot of hope for the majority of the people.
 
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I have become passionate about lifting people out of poverty. I don’t want children growing up alongside a mother who is degrading herself by begging for alms or food. I don’t want children growing up digging in garbage. I don’t want children growing up worrying if their mother is going to die. I don’t want children growing up without an education. I don’t want children growing up without the hope and grace of Jesus Christ.
 
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I want families to be strong and for mothers and fathers to pass on to their children a legacy of employment and stability. I want a strong and vibrant local church that has the wherewithal to meet the needs of the poor in their midst. In five years I want to see a noticeable difference in the churches we partner with …. a strength and assurance that Christ’s body can and will meet the basic needs of widows and orphans.
 
“Who is my neighbor?” an expert in religious law asked Jesus in Luke 10:29.   His answer indicated that we are responsible for any person, no matter nationality or political affiliation, who is in need. I know many who read this are already doing the work of the ministry in various ways, but if anything I have said has tugged at your heart, would you consider adopting a desperate family in Ethiopia and giving the gift of hope and a future?
 
If you would like to adopt a family or get more information, please contact us at:  jamie@adoptionministry.net
 
 
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He was planning to get a parrot

Here is a note I received from a 6 year old boy…

Dear Becky: nate1
I'm going to mail you 22 dollars!
my parents will now send it to you and they will add 78 dollars.
please by a water filter for the people that don't have clean water in Ethiopia.
i got it for doing a-bunch of chores, and then it got into my bank.
i was planning to get a parrot, but then i decided to give it to the people who don't have clean water.
thank you.
love Nate

And from his mom…
We did not put him up to this or even suggest it -- we do pray for people who don't have clean water quite often, and we've talked about how important it is, but we did not expect him to give 2/3 of his piggy bank toward it! He had been talking about saving up to buy a bird for months - talking about it every day, and then one night this week out of the blue he decided he wanted to give money for a water filter instead. I gotta say, I am one proud mama!!  Haley


Wow!  I think there’s pretty good reason to be proud! 
THANK YOU Nate!  You have a heart like Jesus!
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