"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An AWESOME book about an amazing Olympian

We had an great time watching the Olympic opening ceremony last night.  
Grace waved her Ethiopian flag proudly when the Ethiopian team entered the stadium.  
This was the first time we were able to celebrate the Olympics with Grace, and I have to say that after traveling to Ethiopia and going through the adoption process, it feels like we have a real connection to Ethiopia.  We did not only adopt a beautiful little three year old girl to come into our family, we adopted the entire country of Ethiopia into our hearts.
Our hearts were so filled with joy when we watched the athletes from Grace's country of birth, marching proudly and holding the Ethiopia flag.

OK...I am serious about the next part of my post...this book is sooooo good!
I heard about the book, it arrived at my house on Thursday, and I finished it today (it's that good!).
It is the autobiography of Lopez Lomong.  He is an Olympic athlete that has lived an incredible life.  
He was born in South Sudan.  He was kidnapped by rebel soldiers when he was six years old.  He escaped the horrors of his captures and eventually fled to Kenya where he lived in a refugee camp for ten years. There were so many amazing parts of his life, but one of the most incredible parts was that he eventually came to the U.S. and is now part of the U.S. Olympic team.  Just a short time ago, he was living in Kenya and running barefoot.  He worked so incredibly hard to reach his goals.  He never gave up hope.  He trusted that God had an amazing plan for him, and he did whatever he could to make his dreams come true.  Lopez also has a foundation that works to improve the lives of other innocent casualties of the Sudanese Civil War. 
Lopez Lomong is a true inspiration.
This is a fantastic book to read right now!  
I CAN NOT wait to see what Lopez does in the 2012 Olympic Games!!!!

You can order the book HERE

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Drew!!!

I can not believe you are a teenager!!! UGH!!!!  
You continue to amaze us Drew.  You wake up every day ready to start fresh, and you enjoy life so much.
We could learn a lot from you Drew...

...Like how to be a fun brother...most of the time.
...and how to relax and enjoy the moment.
You are never afraid to try something new (including new food)!
Your love of football is contagious (I never thought I would enjoy reading autobiographies of professional football players).
We are so proud of how hard you play and how much time you spend in the hot summer sun getting ready for the season to start!

We could also learn a thing or two about taking time to enjoy the outdoors...your favorite place to be.
And when it comes to learning...you are an excellent "gamer" and can learn how to use just about any piece of technology (you also enjoy teaching others-I never would have been able to figure out the weird Xbox controller without you).
Thanks for your smile.
We love you more than you know.
We are so lucky to be your family.
We look forward to celebrating YOU today and are blessed to be part of your life.
 Thanks for being YOU, and remember that you are an incredible kid (or should I say teenager?)!
Happy Birthday Drewman!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Best Birthday Party Idea Ever!!!!!!

I love to celebrate my kids birthdays.  We have had some awesome parties over the years.  Bryce's Mad Scientist party was so much fun...Drew's Paintball party last year was great, and of course, Grace's Tutu party this year was adorable.
When it came time to celebrate Alyssa's 15th birthday, I was thrilled that she decided to make a difference in our community in honor of her special day.  She invited four friends to spend a night doing 15 Random Acts of Kindness.  All I can say is, this was an amazing experience.  We had so much fun and I really believe these girls will remember this night for a long time.  More importantly, they will continue to bless others with random acts of kindness for years to come.
The girls gathered at our house, brainstormed all sorts of ideas of kind things they could do for others, and we headed out the door to get started.  We got some awesome inspiration from fellow bloggers.  When I read this post last year, I tucked the idea away in my mind in hopes that Alyssa would concur that this idea rocks. She did!  Thanks so much to "The B Family" for the inspiration!!!!

1.  The girls headed to a local fountain in the center of our little downtown area.  They wrote "Make A Wish" with sidewalk chalk and scattered a hundred pennies next to the fountain.  It was so darn sweet!  Later that night, we drove by the fountain and saw a family with two little kids picking up pennies next to the fountain!  It was so neat!  The girls also each made a wish.  I have no doubt that Alyssa and her friends' wishes will come true some day, because they are an amazing group of girls! 

2.  Handing our Popsicles at an inner-city park
The night of Alyssa's birthday, it was close to 100 degrees outside.  The girls thought it would be fun to give Popsicles to people at a park.  I was excited to drive the girls to a park that was new to them.  The community that we live in is not very diverse.  The girls had not really ever been to the park or area of town that we visited.  This turned out to be an awesome multi-cultural experience for them.  For a change, the girls were the minorities.  It was great.  They jumped right out of the van and headed to the park armed with their treats.  They approached a large family that was hanging out at the park enjoying some time together.  I watched from the van, and was excited to see the family take the Popsicles from them.  The girls also found a ton of little kids at the park to share with.  It seemed a little bit wrong to be offering treats to kids at a park, but these are kids that were tiny, unsupervised, and were so excited to get a treat!  I decided to get out of the van to make sure nobody was upset that the girls were giving goodies to little kids they didn't know.  No worries.  It just felt like a really kind thing to do.  The weather was so hot and the kids were so happy!
The fun continued when the group of teenagers at the park also began to eye up the goodies.  The girls decided that everyone should have a treat, so they walked right up to the group of teenage boys at the park and offered them some.  Fun times.  I don't think this boy has ever had a very blond, Swedish girl offer him a Popsicle at a park.  
The girls agreed that Random Act of Kindness number 2 was probably their favorite of the night!

3.  Delivered card games (Uno, Disney Princess) to the waiting room on the children's floor of a hospital.
(also offered the valet drivers candy bars from our local chocolate store)

4.  Taped quarters and notes to washing machines and dryers at a laundry mat.  
The girls loved this one too.  They also met a few interesting new "friends" who were spending their Friday night doing laundry. ;)

5.  Buried rolls of nickles at a park in an at-risk neighborhood.  Taped to the roll of quarters was a note that said something about random acts of kindness and how they could pay it forward, etc.

6.  Brought pizzas to our local fire station.  The firefighters were so nice!!!!  They invited the girls in to see the firehouse.  This was also one of the girls' favorites.

7.  Taped inspirational notes to the mirror at Starbucks ("you are beautiful" "you are kind", etc.)
8.  Gave out four movie passes attached to movie sized candy right before customers entered the movie theatre.  This one really confused people.  One couple was really thankful, one was skeptical.  The girls laughed about that.  Funny how people are caught off guard when someone does something really nice for them.

9.  Gave someone a gift card to Starbucks.

10.  Taped quarters and notes to toy/candy vending machines inside of the entrance to a store.
(Alyssa noted that I still probably wouldn't let Grace buy anything from those darn machines even if the money was taped to it...she's probably right...we don't need any more bouncy balls!!!)

11.  Wrote inspirational notes and hid them in books at Barnes & Noble.
12.  Gave a gift card to Barnes & Noble to a little boy who was in the store.  The girls explained that they were doing random acts of kindness and that they wanted him to buy a book.  This was awesome, because he was with his family and they really thought it was cool.  My hope is that some of the people the girls met will continue to pay it forward and bless others.  I suspect this boy and his family will.

13.  Approached a man and his daughter who were in the check-out line at Walmart and gave him a gift card to the store.  The girls said that his reaction was priceless.  They said he was giddy with excitement and was almost brought to tears!  So sweet!
14.  Paid for the person behind us in line at McDonald's.
It was fun to sneak in the drive through and go to the window without an order.  When I drove up, the worker tried to hand me her order, but when I then handed him a Seroogy's candy bar and told him that it was for him and we wanted to pay for the lady behind us, he smiled, laughed, and said "you guys are awesome!"  The girls had fun watching the reaction of the person behind us as we drove away.  

15.  Chose random people out of the phone book and mailed them a card with kind words and a two dollar bill inside.  This was fun because the girls wrote such sweet words.  When we googled the street name of one of the people to find out her zip code, it turned out that she was a resident in a nursing home...made the act of kindness even better!

  And to end the night, the girls rolled up a two dollar bill and encouraging note and attached it to a helium balloon.
The girls ended the night by letting the balloon go and watching it fly away in the starry sky.  
It was a great way to end the night!

What an amazing night. 
What an amazing group of girls. 
Please consider this idea, because in addition to spreading joy to others, these five ladies learned how easy it is to bless others.  They also learned how awesome it feels to do so.

(*Thank you to Jessica for sharing the Random Acts of Kindness printables.  You can find them here. )

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy 15th Birthday Alyssa!!!

15 years ago my life was blessed beyond measure. 
 My first child was born.  
I was in heaven.
I knew that she was beautiful, precious, and amazing, but little did I know that...
 she would grow up to be truly beautiful on the inside as well as the outside,
that she IS precious- a teenager that doesn't make us crazy with worry or frustration,
and we had not even begun to realize how amazing she is.

Thank you for being such a sweet sister.

 Thank you for being an incredible daughter. 

Thanks for bringing so much joy into our lives each and every day.
Wishing the sweetest girl the sweetest birthday!