Big Decisions

After much prayer and discussion, we have decided to delay our return to the US by 12 months. This was not an easy choice, but one we believe to be the right path for all of us. Staying in Niger will allow Samuel to graduate from Sahel Academy, Doubara’s adoption to be completed, and for us to find a solution for Madjé.

In early March, just after sending our last update, we were given a glimmer of hope that it may still be possible for us to adopt Madjé. After several meetings with Nigerien and American legal counsel, we determined that it was not possible. However, our lawyer encouraged us to seek a visa for him based on his medical needs. He believes that, if we could find doctors and hospitals that are willing to treat Madjé for free, we should be able to medically evacuate him for treatment in the US. This is not a certainty. We have tried to get help for him in the US in the past, but it was determined that he would not be a candidate due to his limited cognitive ability. We are trusting the Lord to provide what is best for Madjé.

While this shift in plans was a surprise to us, the Lord has already provided. Hope will be teaching first grade at the American International School and Dave will be working part-time for SIM, an international missions organization, and working on Doubara’s adoption and Madjé’s care.

We are encouraged by the Lord’s comfort and provision for our family and we know that His timing is best.

Prayer Points

Pray that God would work in Madjé’s body. Pray that the doctors (and us) would have wisdom and that he would be comfortable and healthy.

Pray that God would lead the way for Madjé’s care and his future. Pray that we would have wisdom to know what’s best for him and that we would obey the Father as he leads us.

Pray for Doubara and his adoption. D is currently in his birth village with his cousins (YAY for summer break!). Pray for his safety and health as he travels in the bush. We are working with lawyers to complete the Nigerien side of his adoption.

Pray for all of us as we delay our move, but are still processing through our transition to the United States.

Pray for Dave and Hope as we both start new jobs this summer/ fall.

Pray for our family life. Pray that we will honor each other and bear much fruit in our day to day lives. Pray that God would be honored and glorified. We have endured much over these last few months, and we are weary. Pray that the Lord would strengthen us and provide all that we need emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

the faces that bless me

Ask me about my blessings, and I really won’t know where to start. If there is one thing I’ve learned from living here, it’s about how blessed I am. Not just physical, financial, or patriotic blessings, although each of those smacks me in the face just about every day. These blessings that I’m learning about as years roll by are really measured in my mind by their faces.

People like him.

And her.

People from countries close by and far away.

Miriam discusses a patient’s case with medical workers at the nearby District Hospital in Kollo.

Sweet, treasured souls, who I never would have known if I hadn’t moved away from everything familiar to allow their sweet faces to become my everyday life, so full of blessing.

But the one face I might treasure more than any of them is Atina.

He’s not quite my son, and not quite my brother, but at this point he’s for sure family. I don’t know how many years he’s been living in my yard, but it’s been a few. In the beginning, we just thought of him as a kid we liked. And then as the years rolled by we saw the treasure inside him.

On any given day, Atina (who works for us) will wash my dishes, mop my floor, hang out my laundry, go buy me some apples, and then some sugar, scrub the toilet. And oops, I forgot the eggs, can you go get me those too? He does it with a smile. When I get home from teaching or shopping or visiting at the orphanage he carries in my things, puts them where they belong, asks me how I am. He’s learning to iron and he learned to speak French. He opens the gate when I back the car out, closes it behind me, and always waves goodbye.

When I was sick, he asked about me every day. When the kids are outside, he’s there playing along with them. Greta stands at the door and shouts, “Side,?!?! Side?!?!” And he lifts her up and carries her around until she fusses to go back in.

And don’t get me started about his love for Jesus. A few years back when Dave’s trampoline ministry got really going with the guys in yard Atina told Dave he really needed to go back to his village. To tell them. He said, “They think they understand about Christianity, but they’re really missing Christ. I want to tell them about Jesus.”

Now he’s involved in his Gourmantche (his heart language) small group at church. He brings his friends with him every week. Last week it was someone who had never been. The week before it was a few that are semi-regular. Atina is always there, drinking in the words, getting up to dance, holding Greta, understanding more and more.

This friend, like the others who have been in our home, have left an impression on my life that will always be there. He knows all about us. Sees us argue. Sees us love. Last week I had a flat tire at the Baby Home visiting M. Dave took him in to meet M for the first time. I’m excited to see what happens between those two boys (Atina and M) when they’re both living here. I have no doubt that Atina’s heart of compassion will bond him to sweet M in the same way mine is.

The blessings overflow.

the tested genuineness of our faith

The power is out. Sweat is pouring down my back and down my arms and legs. I’m laying in bed trying to sleep and trying not to think about the heat.

The road is blocked. There are people, and cars, and donkeys, and I’m trying to get down the road, but I wonder if it’s safe to try. Are there people protesting? Are they burning tires down there? Or maybe it’s just a traffic jam? Should I wait or go around on the bumpy, sandy side street?

IMG_2092Crazy taxis in Niamey.

My child has a fever and he says his stomach hurts. It could be nothing. It could be malaria. It could be typhoid. Why does this always happen on the weekend or in the middle of the night?

imageGreta melting down.

I really wanted to make a chocolate cake for our special family celebration, but there is no chocolate in the stores. This city has run out of CHOCOLATE. It feels like the world is ending.

I watch the insane taxi and the darting moto collide within a few feet of my hood. I thank God that I was able to get out of the way and don’t have be involved. There will be a mob. There will be a big scene. Will that man die? I’ve been told not to stop because the scene is not safe, and I make it worse by getting out of my car. I drive on.

Day in. Day out. My stress level rises. It seems that the things pressing in on me will never stop.

imageNata doing homework during a power outage.

Someone is knocking on my window. When I turn to look, her hands are extended in the hopes that I will put a coin there. She brings her fingers up to her mouth to emphasize her point. She is hungry. She shows me the baby on her back.How should I respond? My heart breaks.

I am blessed beyond measure. In the middle of the stress, I feel the blessing. The provision. The unending grace. I am swimming in it. I am drowning in it. I am here to offer hope. I am here to share this grace. I am here to be effective.

I sit in a room surrounded by my peers. The lights are low, our Bibles are out, and one of the missionary women begins to share about the things that are stressing her out, frustrating her. We all feel this way; we all understand as our friend shares.

We are studying 1 Peter. We have learned that this letter is written to “elect exiles of the Dispersion.” This means that God chose these people to leave their home (or be kicked out of their home) and spread the Good News in a foreign land. Peter encourages these “elect exiles” with these words in 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor….”


I am learning to swim in this pool of grace. Some days the swimming is easy and other days I think I might drown. The trials, big and small, all seem to press. I need Him; how I need Him. Every hour I need Him. And when I take my eyes off of His, I find that I am sinking. In truth, that’s what stress is- taking my eyes off Him- a lack of trust.


Pray for us, friends. And pray for those that work side by side with us. So much of the daily trial is not something we always feel we should share. It’s a spiritual battle, but many times the components of the battle are made of dirty dishes, homework, traffic jams, and power outages. We balance it with his grace and pray that even when tested, our faith may result in His glory and honor.

my baby boy is six!

I am breaking out of my self imposed blogger silence today because I want the world to know about my love for this sweet boy.

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Being a momma has changed my life more than anything else ever has. But this boy, he has most certainly filled me with a joy quite unlike any other. When I think back about his birth, one thing I remember is how surprised I was at how DELIGHTED we all felt to have a new brother. We all felt that this child was a precious treasure, an unexplainable joy.

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There really aren’t words to describe the magic we all felt with the birth of our Caleb. From the beginning, we all felt it was so important be our best for him, to give this boy our “best stuff”, to show him how to love. And so we got busy doing just that.
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These days, our sweet Caleb is growing into a big boy that we are all proud of. He is learning how to love others above himself. He is making choices at home and at school that show that he understands the importance of doing what is right. Most importantly, this boy loves Jesus with his whole heart. He loves to worship loudly (anyone sitting in front of him at church understands this). He loves to play and laugh and really enjoys a good joke. He often looks at me with earnest eyes and says, “That’s hilarious. Right mom?” He loves with great affection and always wants to cuddle. He is loyal, adventurous, and super smart. Really, I don’t have words to tell you just exactly why and how I love this boy, but I feel that it’s important that I try.

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My Caleb greets the adventures of life full force, head on, with determination and courage. He is so excited and happy about getting to be a BIG BROTHER this year, and I am excited for him. He is ready for this challenge. I am so proud of you, son. I am so honored to be your mama.



miracles (part 3)

Start with part one, posted Monday. Then read part two, posted yesterday. This is part three, which is not the end of this amazing testimony!! He is still doing great things in the life of Naomi and her new family!

The fact that God allowed me to be so involved is a treasure that I will NEVER quite be able to put into words, but I know that Jesus and I will talk about it in heaven.
His love is so sweet. He gives more than we could ever ask or imagine.

I got to share this testimony at our church in Niamey, and our pastor explained to the church that God sent Nana a specialist (Stephanie). He has so gifted her with the ability to supernaturally know what that little girl needs. I know that when God created Nana he knew that Stephanie was called to someday be her mom. The thing that gets me is the whole thing could have happened and I might never have known them at all. But God is so good that he allowed me to show up and nose my way to this beautiful story. And I just get to watch and enjoy and know that it’s all Him.

Our friends walked a long and grueling journey as they waited for the paper work to finally process. Stephanie’s ability to show God’s grace and endure through this process was a witness to everyone who had the honor of watching it. Their return home felt like a miracle in and of itself. God opened doors and timed things as only He can.
Naomi has been living in Colorado with her brother and sister and mom and dad for four months. And we are still seeing miracles happen in her body and all over her little life. The stories are priceless and they are many. I just keep posting that word MIRACLE in the comments on facebook as Steph reports to us after each doctor visit. Please continue to pray for her. I am itchy and excited for the day when she will run. It’s just so cool. As I look back on all of this I am struck with a deep impression that the miracles are just beginning for my sweet friend Naomi and her family. I am so very thankful that I get to stand in awe of all God is doing.

And that’s the (long) story that I’ve been waiting to tell.

Here is the update I have just received from Stephanie on Naomi’s progress(so cool!)….
April 2015: While she’s still working on consistently holding her head in the center, basic head control is something we hardly think about now! She doesn’t collapse to one side in the car seat or high chair anymore, and can hold her head up while being carried with no problem. She shakes her head “no”, and even (vigorously) nods “yes” to answer questions (even rhetorical ones).
Naomi is now able to sit cross-legged, supporting herself with her arms, for 5-10 minutes at a time! She doesn’t make much effort to balance correct with her arms (which can lead to toppling over, but she can take both hands off the floor for a couple seconds to reach for something. She’s also able to stand, bearing her own weight, holding onto furniture for support. She’ll lose her balance slightly every few minutes, but has had the strength to stand for about 45 minutes at a time!
We recently discovered with our therapist that the only remaining stiffness was in her quads where she couldn’t lay face-down and have her foot bent back towards her booty. I confirmed this myself the following day – I couldn’t bend her knee to raise her foot more than about an inch. Two days later, I tried the stretch again… and was able to bring her foot all the way to her booty on both sides!
Naomi’s grasp of everyday English is astonishing, and she’s incredibly creative in combining words, gestures, eye gaze, and signs to communicate. She’ll sign “sick” (one of several signs she’s invented on her own), I’ll ask “Who’s sick?” She’ll gesture toward the bedroom. “Daddy?” She nods and signs “sleep”. “Yes, Daddy’s sleeping.” She signs “medicine” (another invented sign). “You think we should give Daddy some medicine?” She nods vigorously.
She’ll imitate almost any word now, and has many new sounds. She’ll use any opportunity to communicate (mostly, we talk about people’s hair…). She’s able now to close her mouth. (It always gaped open even when eating and drinking) She even purses her lips now in “poison face” when she tastes something unpleasant.
She now lives with 2 loud, often hyper, small dogs and is constantly delighted by them (except when they lay on her doll by accident or try to lick the stray drips from her high chair). She plays a game with the beagle (who I promise enjoys this just as much as Naomi) where she lays on the floor and kicks the dog, who rolls around and chews on her toy. No end of delighted squealing and tail-wagging ensues.

Naomi sits in her high chair in Colorado. Her mama has attached an easel to help her create new works of art. She LOVES all things related to art and music. She especially loves to sing worship music. Which, really, is no surprise!!

Psalm 145 Living Bible

I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name each day and forever.

Great is Jehovah! Greatly praise him! His greatness is beyond discovery! Let each generation tell its children what glorious things he does. I will meditate about your glory, splendor, majesty, and miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds shall be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will tell about how good you are and sing about your righteousness.

Jehovah is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of love.He is good to everyone, and his compassion is intertwined with everything he does. All living things shall thank you, Lord, and your people will bless you. They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom and mention examples of your power. They will tell about your miracles and about the majesty and glory of your reign. For your kingdom never ends. You rule generation after generation.

The Lord lifts the fallen and those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all mankind look up to you for help; you give them their food as they need it. You constantly satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The Lord is fair in everything he does and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on him sincerely. He fulfills the desires of those who reverence and trust him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. He protects all those who love him, but destroys the wicked.

I will praise the Lord and call on all men everywhere to bless his holy name forever and forever.