Monday, March 28, 2011

T-shirt Fundraiser

Calling all t-shirt junkies!!! 

We just got our t-shirt design back from the printer and we are super-excited to share it with you!!  The first batch of shirts will be printed up sometime this week.  It is NOT too late to order shirts.  Our goal is to sell 100 shirts.  If we did that, we would be able to put a little over $1,000 into our adoption fund.  How cool is that??  So far, we are about halfway to our goal.  If you are interested in placing an order, email me your sizes and get your money to us.  You may write a check out to:  Kirsten Gregoire.  Mail payments straight to us.  Unfortunately in order to order the shirts, we do need to collect money ahead of time.  The point is to make money, not lose it!  :)  Here is a look at the final design:

Well??  What do you think??  T-shirts can be ordered in ANY size, including toddler and youth.  I should note, that kids shirts will be done on white t-shirts instead of black in order to keep down our costs.

A couple other fundraisers I'd like to highlight:

Children's Book Sale:
Have any little girls in your life?  Looking for a way to combat the message that our society gives them about beauty?  Stephanie Farley, author of the book, "God Made You Beautiful", has offered $2 from every book sale to go towards our adoption.  Perfect for Easter baskets!!  Visit her website at to place an order today!  Just make sure to include a note that it is for our adoption.  Thanks so much Stephanie!

Ticki-Tacki-Toys Wooden Toy Sale:
We really do have some great friends!!!  Our friends, Josh and Tember Heft make homemade, wooden children's stacker toys out of completely organic materials.  They are absolutely beautiful!!  They have offered $5 from every toy sold to go towards our adoption.  You can check out their site at  Thank you Tember and Josh!!!  <3

Many of you may know, that Charles has been asked to photograph several weddings over the past couple years.  It is a hobby that he thoroughly enjoys (and one that he is quite good at too, I might add!!).  We’d love to photograph your next event!  Family portraits in the park, pregnancy pictures, weddings, family reunions……all proceeds will go towards bringing our child home!  View sample photos by visiting 

Coffee Sale:
Purchase coffee and support our adoption, ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!  Just Love Coffee knows coffee, and they just so happen to have a heart for orphan-care around the world!  Visit  $5 from every bag sold will go to bringing our child home.

Real Estate:
 Now I KNOW I've gotten your attention!  I'm sure you're wondering what in the world this could possibly have to do with our adoption, but here it is:  Our good friend, Mary Pappas, is also a realtor with Prudential Rittenhouse Realty Group in Harleysville.  She is highly motivated to sell homes and just so happens to have a heart for adoption!  Mary has offered to donate HALF of her commission towards our adoption costs for anyone who buys or sells a home with her!  Now THAT'S a good friend! :)  I know you will LOVE her!  Mary is incredibly personable, honest, hard-working and absolutely loves people!  If you are looking to buy or sell your home, and are in need of an agent who will work for YOU, you may contact Mary at or by phone at (215) 262-4458 (cell) or (215) 256-6543 (office).

So there you have it!  Lots of ways to help orphans right at home!  Happy Monday to you all!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Newest "Member"

So, this weekend we added a new "member" to our family.  She is big and she is beautiful...and she looks like this:

That's right folks!  Our new ride is a sweet 12 passenger van!!    Haha!  Never in a million years did I EVER think I would be driving one of these.  My goodness!  We ONLY have 4 kids!    But, unfortunately, our mini-van that has served us well for 3 years, is not worth the amount of work that it will require in order to pass inspection.  So, we knew it was time.  And....because it is only a matter of time before our family expands, well, a 12 passenger van it is!! 

Today, Charles made me take it for a test-drive to the grocery store so that he could "test" my driving skills.  I passed. :)  I'm still not sure what I think about driving a big, white van....but I do like what it represents! :)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Down by the bay....

So, today in the mail, we received our ENORMOUS dossier packet.  It.Was.Overwhelming.  Right now, I'm in need of something a little light-hearted.  So here goes.... :)

My kids had a BLAST this weekend down in Maryland visiting my parent's Bayhouse.  We are so incredibly blessed to have a place like this for our children to grow up visiting.  It is our home away from home.

I love my little stepping stones.

Kaya was in her glory working in the garden with Cessa (my mom).  She LOVES bossing those boys around and telling them what to do. :)

Of course, they love to have a little fun with her too. :)

Joseph loves working out in the yard also.  He helped Charles take down some tree branches and haul them away to the fire pit.  They're in the process of planning out the construction of a playhouse in the woods.  I can't wait to post pics of that once it's finished!!!

I just love this kid.  He infuriates me and cracks me up all at the same time!!  Come on, isn't he just adorable??!!?

This is where my boys spent most of their day.  They were even kind enough to give occasional rides to their little sister. :)

And, of course, my little So-bean was not to be outdone by her older brothers and sister!!  She was hard at work as well!!!  Love me some Sophia!

So there you have it!!  A fun-filled weekend with family enjoying the (almost!!!) spring-like weather.   Can't wait till this summer when our visits to the Bayhouse become more frequent. :)  


Saturday, March 19, 2011

We Are So Blessed!!!

Wow.  We truly have some of THE BEST friends and family (and friends of friends and family!!!)!  Here is a recap of some of the AWESOME ways in which we have been blessed over the past couple weeks:

About one month ago we began the adoption process to Ethiopia.  When we stepped out on this journey, we were not AT ALL sure how we would pay for it.  It was truly a leap of faith.  Within ONE WEEK, we had gone from $0 to $8,000!!!!  $8,000 in ONE WEEK!!! 

Since then, we have had friends and virtual strangers donate money towards our adoption.  We have sold about 50 t-shirts, a local author of a BEAUTIFUL children's book offered to put money from every book sale towards our adoption, and Charles has been asked to photograph some family portraits.  Shall I go on???!??

This week, a good friend, Tember Heft contacted me about a new fundraiser.  She and her husband, Josh, make homemade, wooden children's stacker toys out of completely organic materials.  They are absolutely beautiful!!  Tember has offered $5 from every toy sold to go towards our adoption.  You can check out their site at  Thank you Tember and Josh!!!  <3

5dollars DONATED- Stacker and Teether Gift Set,  All Hardwood  SAVE 8 dollars Organic, Natural TickiTackiToys
5dollars DONATED- Stacker and Teether Gift Set,  All Hardwood  SAVE 8 dollars Organic, Natural TickiTackiToys 5dollars DONATED- Stacker and Teether Gift Set,  All Hardwood  SAVE 8 dollars Organic, Natural TickiTackiToys 5dollars DONATED- Stacker and Teether Gift Set,  All Hardwood  SAVE 8 dollars Organic, Natural TickiTackiToys 5dollars DONATED- Stacker and Teether Gift Set,  All Hardwood  SAVE 8 dollars Organic, Natural TickiTackiToys 5dollars DONATED- Stacker and Teether Gift Set,  All Hardwood  SAVE 8 dollars Organic, Natural TickiTackiToys
See?  I told you they were beautiful!!!  :)

I also have some wonderful sister-in-laws who are in the process of planning a SUPER FUN Ladies-Night-Out event in June.  More info on that to come....

Lastly, alot of good news coming out of Ethiopia!  For those who have been following the proposed changes to the adoption process there, it appears that no drastic changes will in fact be taking place as of now.  Child advocacy groups have joined forces with adoption agencies to work with MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) in Ethiopia to come to agreements on how to adequately care for the needs of orphans.  Foreign staff on the ground in Ethiopia are reporting that MOWA has completed some staffing changes and are now working at full capacity to complete those adoption cases already in progress.  For new cases moving forward (this is us!!), it appears the original changes proposed by MOWA will not be implemented to the degree to which it was first intended.  We are excited by this news and are trusting that God will continue to be in control of the situation at hand.  Pray that He would continue to guide our steps through this VERY unfamiliar territory!!

As I write this, I am spending the weekend with my family at my parent's house on the Chesapeake Bay.  Can't wait to post some pics of our time here this weekend.  We are truly BLESSED!!  That's all for now!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hosea - A Story of Redemption

I just finished reading the book of Hosea.....again.  I can't get enough of it!!  It is a beautiful story of redemption.   A man for his wife.   A God for His people.    Here is a man, whom God instructs to marry a woman named Gomer.  But not just any woman.   Hosea is told from the get-go that his soon to be wife WILL be adulterous and WILL leave him many times and WILL have children with other men.  But in spite of all this, God instructs him to marry Gomer anyway.   To love her unconditionally.   To pursue her each and every time she goes astray.   
And.  He.  Does.  

Wow.   In fact, in the end, when she leaves him again, Hosea buys her back for fifteen shekels of silver.   He redeems her.   Not because of anything SHE has done, but because of who HE is.   And therin lies a picture of our heavenly Father.   A loving, passionate Father who pursues His children even when we are undeserving.   Even when we have gone astray and have been unfaithful to Him.  It is a love that makes a DELIBERATE CHOICE to love, even when the love is unreciprocated. 
Unlike Hosea, we don't know the end of our redemption story.  With all the changes taking place in Ethiopia regarding adoption, it's difficult to know exactly how this story will end.  But we know that God has placed us on this journey for a reason.  And just like so often in life, that reason is not always known until the story is complete.  And so, "we press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us]" (Philippians 3:14) and we trust that we serve a God who DOES know the end to our story.  The following excerpt came from a friend's blog, Cayte.   Read about her family's redemption story here.  This testimony that she had shared was written by a man named Derek Loux as he was in the process of adopting from the Ukraine. 
Renee’ and I are sitting in the office of a telephone company in Novograd Valenski, Ukraine, using wireless internet.  We are in the middle of adopting three special needs boys from an orphanage here.  Two of the boys have Down Syndrome.  Roman is high functioning, energetic and happy.  Dimitri has serious mental retardation, failure to thrive, and though he is five years old, he is the size of a 1 year old.  He has sores on his face, a distinct smell of death on him, and yells out if we try to do anything with him other than hold him. Because he has less ability to respond and learn, he naturally gets less attention and care from the orphanage workers in this world of limited resources.  The harsh reality of the “survival of the fittest” principle is a life and death struggle that this little boy is losing fast.  Our third boy Sasha, is a brilliant six year old who has Spina Bifida (the condition our son Josiah died from in 1996). He is like a learning sponge that can’t get enough! He is happy and alert and thirsty for knowledge and experience.  So with two of our boys, we get an immediate return on any investment we make.  With Dimitri, there’s not much immediate gratification. In fact, it’s unknown when and if there will be a return at all. This is the kind of situation that makes the carnal, fallen, human reasoning think, “Why try?  What’s the point?  What will this produce?  What good will this do?  Why not select a boy who has more potential?  This looks like a lost cause.
Two days ago we drove for hours into the Ukrainian countryside to the village where Dimitri was born. We met with officials there and signed papers and answered their questions. We also went and saw Dimitri’s house. The day had been long, we were still recovering from jet lag, I was beginning to really miss my six daughters at home and all the familiar things our fragile human hearts entangle themselves with in feeble attempts to feel secure. Sitting in the dark on our very long drive back to Novograd that night, the Holy Spirit began to whisper to my heart, and new understanding about redemption began to take shape.
I was thinking, “Man, adopting this little boy has been so much work. This is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable … and it doesn’t feel very rewarding right now.” What am I doing in some little Soviet car in the dark, in the middle of rural Ukraine in frozen December, as the driver dodges cats and potholes? What if Dimitri doesn’t improve at all? What if we get “nothing” out of this? … Ahhh, there it was; that dark, fallen, unreedemed, selfish human love, rooted in the tree of the knowledge of “good and evil”. The love the Greeks called “erao” love. The love where we treat someone as precious and treasured for what we can get out of it. This is unlike “agapeo” love, the God kind of love that treats someone as treasured and precious for their good, not for my good. It’s when I love a person in order to meet their needs, having no expectation of them meeting any of my needs. At a whole new level, God is working His kind of love into my weak heart, and He’s using little Dimitri to do it.
On the drive home that night, the Lord whispered in my ear, “This is Redemption. Derek, do you know how far I travelled to get you and bring you back? I had to be separated from my Son, in order to get you, just like you are separated from your children in order to get these boys. Do you know how expensive it was for Me to purchase you? It cost me everything. Do you know how broken, sick, damaged, twisted, dirty, smelly, and hopeless you were? And at the end of it all, you had nothing to give me or add to me. I did it for you. I emptied myself and became nothing so that you could have it all. This is redemption.
My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can’t even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly “Papa” feels towards us.
Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to “pay Him back”. You’ll never get close you goofy little kid.
Beautiful.  Redemption.

Please continue to pray for the beautiful children in Ethiopia who are waiting for their redemption stories to be written.  Some will have the opportunity to be adopted.  Many will not.  For every one child who leaves the orphanage to be united with his/her forever family, millions will be left behind.  Pray that regardless of the situation that is taking place within the adoption world right now, that God would continue His story of redemption in the lives of His children.  For as Jesus promises, "I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you."  ~John 14:18


Thursday, March 10, 2011

If Not Us, Then Who?

Project Hopeful is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring HIV/AIDS awareness and to educate, encourage, and enable families seeking to adopt children living with the disease.  Take a look at this clip that aired on Monday on the TODAY SHOW.  Truly an amazing family!

If not us, then who?  I kind-of love that. :)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Over the past couple weeks in Ethiopia, proposals have been made to decrease international adoptions by 90% starting March 10th, 2011.  This is due in part to a desire by the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth in Ethiopia to more closely regulate adoptions.  What does this mean for us?  As of right now, nothing.  However, if this law does pass, it would mean that the wait time for an adoption in Ethiopia would INCREASE dramatically.  In the meantime, instead of uniting with their forever families, orphans will remain  in orphanages indefinitely.

There are a couple things you can do to advocate for the orphan: 

1.  Pray!:  Check out this article by Tom Davis, the President of Children's Hope Chest, an international child advocacy organization.  It gives practical, specific ways we can pray for the situation at hand.

2. Sign the following petitionTo sign the petition that is intended to reach the Prime Minister of Ethiopia sometime this week, click on the following link:

Also, would you go to the Father on our behalf and ask Him to give us wisdom?  As a family right now, we are reading through the book of Proverbs.  This morning we read this:

"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.  She is more precious than rubies; nothing you can desire can compare with her."
~Proverbs 3: 13-15

After reading that verse, I began to talk with my kids about wisdom.  Why is it more valuable than riches?  I explained to them that in James it says that God will give wisdom generously to all those who ask:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
~James 1:5

After we finished talking about it, I asked my kids to sum up why wisdom is so important and what God will do if we ask for it.  Jackson's response??

"If we ask God for wisdom, He will dump it on our heads!!!"
~Jackson (age 3)

Hahaha!!!  I LOVE IT!  Pray that God would not only grant wisdom to us, as well as those making decisions in regards to international adoption, but that He would "dump it on our heads!" :)


Friday, March 4, 2011

One Small Act

One comment that we’ve heard over and over by people as we’ve told them about our plans to adopt, is, “Wow!  What an awesome thing you are doing for that child!”
Years ago, I would have thought the same thing.  After all, isn’t it noble to provide a home and clothing and food for a helpless child without?  Isn’t it admirable to love on “the least of these” as Jesus commands?  Isn’t it the responsibility of the church to “help orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27)?  While obviously, all this is good, I am struck by the fact that it is a view that places us as the rich westerner riding in on our white horse to “rescue” some poor, helpless, forlorn child from poverty and what we deem unacceptable.   In reality, instead of God using ME to “rescue" this child, I believe that God is using THEM to rescue me. 
Rescue me from what, you ask?  The idols of materialism, “The American Dream”, etc…  Their presence in my life and in the lives of the people they touch, is doing much more for us, then we could ever possibly do for them.  Already I have seen how God is using this one child, a child whom we have never met….a child whom may not even be born yet, to impact a community.  To stir hearts.  To change lives.  This child, by simply being whom God created him/her to be, is allowing us to catch a glimpse of Jesus. 
Now, understand when I say, that adoption is a beautiful thing.  It is a beautiful picture of how God has rescued us all from our spiritual “orphanages” and made us a new creation in Christ.  Just like a bride and groom depict Jesus (the bridegroom) and the church….or how the love of a parent for a child models the agape love that God has for His people.  Adoption portrays how God has loved us, pursued us, and given us an inheritance far greater than what we were destined for.  It is a picture of the place we hold in the family of God.  But God is at work, and He is doing something even bigger.
So how did we get here?  Honestly, we just felt that God was calling us in this direction.  We felt that we wanted to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Right now, there are 145 MILLION orphans in the world.  We are hoping that when we return from Ethiopia, there will be one less.   But sadly, that will still leave 144,999,999.  We are but one.  And so, some may wonder (quietly, to themselves), “So, what’s the point?”  The point, for us, is to in some way inspire others to follow God’s leading.  That may look differently for you, than it does for me.  God may not be leading you to adopt at this time.  But certainly He is leading you somewhere?  How can we climb out of our comfort zones to truly be the hands and feet?
Many of us are looking for Jesus in the churches.  We are looking for him in Christian books and theology.  In worship music and Christian radio.  And while all these things are well and good (and necessary!!), I can’t help but to remember that that is not where Jesus hung out.  He hung out with the prostitutes…the tax collectors…the blatant “sinners”.  He was more commonly found amongst the poor and the needy, than the rich and the affluent.  So while I do recognize that adoption is a beautiful thing, a noble act that mirrors how God has taken us, and adopted us as His sons and daughters and bestowed upon us all of His inheritance, I see how this “thing” is so much bigger than us.  It is so much bigger than this one simple act.  God is using it, and HAS used it already, to reach others.  To show His glory.  And He’s doing it through one small child.
I’d love to hear how God is revealing Himself to you.  How is He using “the least of these” to make Himself known to you?  God is constantly at work…often times we are too busy doing “His work” to notice though.  But HE is there…in the face of a homeless man who climbs into your dumpster at work to collect scrap metal… the face of a single mother who is working two jobs to support her children….in the face of a small Ethiopian baby who has already captured the hearts of so many.  He is there.  Will you see Him?  Or will you walk right past?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Fundraiser!!

Hey there!  Just a quick note to let you know that we have added a new fundraiser to help off-set the cost of our adoption.  God is so good!  He has sent complete strangers who have heard of what we are doing, and have offered creative ways to help us raise funds quickly.

Stephanie Farley, author of the children's book, "God Made You Beautiful", has offered to donate $2 from every sale of her book when people mention our adoption.  This is a perfect book for little girls, especially in a society where beauty is only considered skin-deep.  You may visit Stephanie's website at to place an order.  Just make sure to mention us!  Great for Easter baskets! :)

Have a great rest of your day!!!