17 October 2014

Shut Up

So yesterday I was sitting in a coffee shop, trying to do some freelance work, when I noticed a middle-aged man walk in. I did a double take, because he looked slightly familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place him. He eyed me suspiciously as well, and then looked around nervously.

Turns out he was meeting another man--not sure if he was a friend, a mentor, or a pastor of some sort. But the two sat right behind me, so I was privy to quite a bit of their conversation, and it seemed like a confessional of some sort.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that I'm all for accountability and confessing/sharing with friends. But I'm also for listening, and for having a teachable spirit.

Let me explain. Man #1 seemed to do ALL the talking. Or at least all the loud talking. He was telling Man #2 about his marital problems, and how his wife had left him, and what a terrible sinner he was, how merciful God is, and blah, blah, blah, blah.

For nearly an hour, Man #1 verbally puked all over Man #2. It didn't seem like he was seeking advice, since Man #2 barely got a word in edgewise. It was just talk, talk, talk. Excuses, excuses, excuses. My wife never...and My wife won't. But God ... My church ... My bible study... Blah, blah blah.

I am not unfamiliar with this type of man. I know someone else quite well who likes to talk about what a terrible sinner he is and how he messed up his marriage, but he always adds in little digs about his wife, insinuating that a lot of the problems are her fault. And two years counting, he hasn't changed a bit.

So yesterday when I heard this middle-aged, quite respectable looking man, going on and on about how close he was to God but not taking even a second to receive counsel from the man he was with, I wanted to do something.

I wanted to stand up, walk over to his table, grab his shoulders, and shout, "SHUT UP. Quit talking and start doing. Go home to your wife and work on your marriage. Quit talking about God's grace and forgiveness and start reflecting it."

I'm so tired of "Christian" men being unkind to their wives. You stood before God and witnesses and promised to love her, care for her, cherish her, and protect her. And now the person who is supposed to be protecting her is the person she needs protecting from.

When I got up to leave, I took a long look at the man in the denim shirt and the pressed, pleated khakis. He looked at me, too, and I wonder if he knew I was on to him and his sort.

I drove away, thanking God that my husband is kind. Loving, Teachable. And a great listener.

25 September 2014

Black and White

I'm sitting in Starbucks, where I should be working on a freelance project, but am instead staring at three little faces on my computer screen.

Joy and sorrow. Elation and grief. Every adoption is borne in tragedy and loss. A mother dies. A father dies. Children are left without the most basic need: someone to care for them. Someone to love them.

But God. ... He places the lonely in families. He cares for the orphans. He makes beauty from ashes. He turns mourning into dancing.


Today 168 pages of documentation have been sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Fifty-six pages for each child we are adopting...proof that they are indeed orphans. Testimony from witnesses who know their family and can verify their parents are dead and they are in need of care. Birth certificates. Death certificates. Official translations.

Ken and I knew much of the children's history, but there's something about seeing their parent's death certificate in black and white.

A  mother died. I wonder what her final thoughts were. I try not to think about it too much. The thought of it is almost too much for my heart to bear.

But joy... The documentation also includes baby pictures of our three Ethiopian children, pictures I had never seen before. They are black and white, and photocopied on the world's worst photocopy machine. But I see their eyes. I see their little ears and mouths and all the things a mother loves.

Tears of joy, tears of sadness.

The next part of the process usually takes 12 weeks, and then we're getting really close to the Big Day. Twelve weeks from today would be just before Christmas.

I can't think of a better gift.

11 September 2014

Do Over

Great news for all of you who have long abandoned your New Year's resolutions:

Today is a new day, a new year. Time for a Do-Over...if you need one.

In Ethiopia, they follow the Coptic calendar, which celebrates the New Year on Sept. 11.

Today I'm an honorary Ethiopian. Do you want to be one too?

Here's another reason to consider being Ethiopian for a day: In Ethiopia the year is 2007. Seriously. (If you don't believe me, check this out: this.)

So if you woke up stiff and sore this morning...if you're feeling like your age is catching up with you...deduct 7 years from your current age and live accordingly.

Reset your internal clocks, my friends! Melkem Addis Amet! (Happy New Year!)



02 September 2014

01 September 2014

Thoughts on 43

  • A giant piece of carrot cake is the perfect way to end a perfect day.
  • I am so rich in family and friends that even Bill Gates is jealous.
  • Well, he would be if he knew me. But he doesn't. His loss.
  • I've had my share of ups and downs in life, but for the most part, I live a pretty charmed life.
  • A quiet house at the end of a long day is a wonderful gift.
  • I love that I spent the majority of my weekend gluing, cutting, painting...creating. Creating makes me feel joyful.
  • I bet that joyful "I just created something!" feeling is the reason God made so much stuff.
  • Yesterday Jack didn't want to take a nap, but I finally convinced him to lie down on my bed and quietly read books with me. He'd look at a few pages and then turn his head to me, put his face next to mine, smile hugely, and say in a high-pitched voice, "Mom! Your birthday is tomorrow! I'm sooooo excited!"
  • My hubs gave me a dishwasher for my birthday. You know you're a grown up when appliances excite you.
  • 43 is so much better than 13 or 23 or even 33. Probably better than 3 too, but I don't remember that much about 3. Because I'm old.
  • I read this quote today: "There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why." -William Barclay
  • I've known the "why" part for a while, but the vision has become more tangible this past year. That makes me happy and excited.
     
    I can't wait to see what next year holds.
     

22 August 2014

Conditions at the Orphanage

Some of you have asked about the orphanage our kids are at. Yesterday I was able to message some other adoptive parents who have children that were at this orphanage, and they gave me some
reassuring information.

From everything they said, the workers are extremely loving, caring for the children as if they were their own. They said there isn't a ton of "stuff," but the children liked the orphanage better than others.

I was told by one of our workers that both Islam and Christianity (Orthodox) were practiced in this area, so the kids might be exposed to both. However, the other parents I communicated with didn't seem to think their children had received any instruction in Islam.

The town where the orphanage is located is small-ish and laid back, especially when compared with the hustle and bustle of the capital city, Addis Ababa. (Legend has it that the Queen of Sheba came from this area of Ethiopia.) The workers are very welcoming and we were told to expect a coffee ceremony (tradition in Ethio as it's the birthplace of coffee), which takes a few hours!

All of this info on the orphanage is relative, of course, because an orphanage is never an ideal condition in which to live. But...some are better than others, and I'm happy our kids are at one of the better ones.

...

We continue to prepare for our church's fall festival, where we will be selling more pendants to raise money for FIVE airplane tickets from Ethiopia to Chicago. Here is another sneak peek at some of the original, one-of-a-kind pieces we'll be selling. There's only one of each, so don't get your heart set on anything! :)

This butterfly and winky-smiley face would be so cute on a little girl, wouldn't they?


Love these two pieces below. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I'll never run a marathon, but if you or someone you love has, the 26.2 would be a nice gift. The one on the left is our "African Sun," but it's made on a rectangular pendant. Isn't it beautiful?

Love these for the kiddos in your life. A great stocking stuffer or back-to-school gift. And the one on the far right...perfect for any classic rock fan..

Owls and snowflakes. So pretty!

And if you are a sports fan, these would make great key chains!


Thanks for stopping by today.

Enjoy your weekend! What are your plans? We don't have anything on the calendar...and that makes me super happy. :)

-Luann

20 August 2014

100!


I got a message from a teenager at our church. He was ordering two of the Reality Check keychains (4million minus3). A teenager with a part time job. He wanted to do his part in reducing the number of orphans in Ethiopia.  And when I delivered them, he gave me a twenty dollar bill and told me to keep the change.

This will sound cheesy, but that order really touched me. He would probably be embarrassed if I mentioned his name, but he knows who he is. Thank you!

Another friend messaged me to say her pendants had arrived, and immediately her daughters put them on and were wearing them around the house.

A friend from my high school and college days donated several hundred dollars for just one pendant. I was stunned.

And a woman I met on the Mom's board on FB ordered two of our "signature" pendants "Splendor."

Two friends bought pendants last minute as birthday gifts for family members, and a family member stocked up on them so she'll have Christmas gifts to give her coworkers.

A young mother who I knew when she was FIVE YEARS OLD (I know, hard to believe I'm that old) not only bought some pendants but is donating hand-made earrings for me to sell!

I wish I could share all the stories. Each and every sale, each and every prayer, is so greatly appreciated. We couldn't do this without you.

I've just totaled the number of sales we've had, and we're at 100 pendants sold! ONE HUNDRED. That's a lot. My niece, Melissa, ordered 97, 98, and 99. It was not intentional on her part to be the hundreth; I believe it was more a matter of procrastination. Regardless, to celebrate this milestone, Melissa will get one free pendant of her choice. (Send me a message, Melissa!)

SNEAK PEEK
The response to these simple pendants has been so overwhelming that we've decided to expand our inventory and sell them at our church's Fall Festival on September 13 in Winfield.

Our local artisan (I love using that word, if you haven't noticed) is providing SEVENTY-FIVE completely unique, one-of-a kind pendants. You guys, they are so amazing. There are different colors, shapes, and themes for whatever your interest is.

Here is a sneak peek at just a few of the many choices that will be available.
 Don't you just love the "courage" one? It would be such a lovely gift for someone who is facing a difficult time. It could easily be adapted to a key chain if the person isn't into jewelry. The multi-colored heart would be so sweet on a young girl--perhaps a reminder gift of how proud you are of her.

A few more:


Does anyone else LOVE the bronze/black sunshine? I love how organic and earthy it is. It would look great with a black top.

Here are four more that I am crazy about:


I have a friend who loves the color red. And with her golden brown skin and dark hair, she looks great in it. I chose several red pendants for her to choose from.

And if you are a fan of snow like me, you'll like the beautiful snowflake pendants. This one is in a crisp blue, but I have a few others in other shapes and sizes.

The brown square pendant on the far right...wouldn't it be perfect for a fall outfit? It has autumn written all over it.

We also have a teddy bear, a football, a smiley face, a butterfly, and many, many more.

Please come out to the Fall Festival if you're interested in any of these pendants. There will also be an antique car show, bounce houses, a petting zoo, and pony rides. And food. Delicious food. Because we're Baptist and Baptists like to eat.

And if you'd like to purchase any of the original pendants, we have about 20 of each available. I put in a rush order, and they are ready to be packaged and shipped.

Lastly, if you already received a pendant and it arrived broken, PLEASE let me know. I've only had one report of that so far, but I really want to know so I can do better with the packaging as well as replace the damaged items.

Thanks again! See you at the Fall Festival!

Luann