Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Parents Never "grow up"

I love having BIG kids...

These two are TOO much fun! They have so many memories, so much history...SUCH a friendship. It is purely delightful to listen to them hear them quote movie lines back and forth and break into uncontrollable laughter. I love that they have "inside jokes." I love that they really care about each other. I love that they respect each other.
I love that they LOVE each other.
They are too much FUN!
What a blessing...
*that is a PEN in his mouth...not a smoke! and, yes - he is thrilled to be taller than her!

Clean Piggies!

To know this child is to know how amazing it is to see CLEAN FEET! All five of my children take after their mother....they LOVE to be barefoot. After "polishing" the wood floors - quite by accident (just meant to clean 'em) - it's a good thing they don't run around in stocking feet...'cause they DO run and they WOULD be wipin' out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Penny for Your Thoughts?

Do you ever just wonder WHAT they are thinking?

Food for Thought

Interesting parable by Henry Nouwen:
Once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: "How can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food, materials, and knowledge so that we are safe and secure when a crisis occurs."
So they started hoarding, so much and so eagerly that other peoples protested and said: "You have much more than you need, while we don't have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!"
But the fearful hoarders said: "No, no, we need to keep this in case of an emergency, in case things go bad for us, too, in case our lives are threatened."
But the others said: "We are dying now, please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can't wait...we need it now!"
Then the fearful hoarders became ever more fearful since they became afraid that the poor and hungry would attack them. So they said to one another: "Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us." They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether there were enemies outside the walls or not! As their fear increased, they told each other: "Our enemies have become so numerous that they may be able to tear down our walls. Our walls are not strong enough to keep them away. We need to put bombs on top of the walls so that nobody will dare to even come close to us."
But, instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls, they found themselves trapped in the prison they had built with their own fear. They even became afraid of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. And - gradually - they realized their fear of death had brought them closer to it."
It makes me cry to read type identify with it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Counting My Blessings...

Five times......SO MANY!

Do We Give Only When it is "Easy?"

I manage approximately 100 volunteers in the Children's Ministry at our church. Every once in awhile, I find out about a need among this group of people and I have the luxury of sharing it anonymously via email so we can all rally around and MEET that need.
We recently blessed a grandma who is raising her 3 grandchildren with more bags than could fit through her doorway for Christmas. (The only "down" side is that ya always make 'em CRY!)

Anyway, I was thinking about a single mom who serves for me who recently lost her job. Her children are 4, 3 and 10 months. It ocurred to me that the simple - usually joyful - task of giving them Easter baskets just might be a huge burden for her this year.

Via a quick email, I enlisted the help of a handful of volunteers to purchase and assemble 3 cool easter baskets. However, the truly touching ACT came when one volunteer - on her own - decided to provide an ENTIRE Easter dinner for this young woman...and her extended family.

This single mom lives with her parents and, from the conversations I have had with her, they are not very supportive. (Outside of providing a a place for her to live with her little ones...which I am not discounting.) I know her mom is not crazy about the open ended living situation.

Well....the volunteer who provided the meal is currently supporting her young adult son whose girlfriend basically lives there most of the time...and is expecting - unexpectedly! It has been challenging for her to love them, to set boundaries and be supportive in general.

When she dropped the meal off at my house - along with some nice items for a basket for the single mom! - we talked for awhile. It turns out HER husband has been out of work for about 18 months! Their house (her childhood home they purchased from her parents) is in foreclosure and she is working her tail off as a waitress.

I dare say that most of us in HER position would have ignored that email from me...thinking others were in a much better position to help out. She told me that she has believed from the start that God is in control of the whole situation...that nothing happens outside His control and it is all for a purpose. She is not giving out of plenty. What savings they had is gone. She is thankful that they bank is working with them in order to MAYBE prevent them from losing the house. Even in all this...she wants to GIVE. I was humbled....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Books on the Way!

After reading The Gutter and Starving Jesus by Craig Gross, I am aching to read another compelling book. I just order three and I am hoping they will arrive sooner than later.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds by Tom Davis
Nice Girls Don't Change the World by Lynn Hybels

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Planning a HUGE Adoption Fundraiser...

Why does it make me so nervous to attempt something like this?

My Verse for Easter This Year

1 Peter 1:18-21 (New Living Translation)
"For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory."
THOUGHTS: my empty life was ransomed, i was obviously in need of saving, the price was not MERE silver or gold (what is money?!), God CHOSE...he CHOSE, He revealed...just knowing is a gift, precious blood...from a sinless, spotless savior, all this hinges on "through Christ"...done through him, accepted through him, ingredients: trust, faith, HOPE!, you KNOW, and GREAT GLORY! (beyond our comprehension...)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Breaking it Down

If you do the math...$20,000 divided by 7,600 about $2.63 a mile - not bad by today's prices!

Frequently Asked Questions

(or questions people want to ask...but don't!)
You have FIVE kids! Why are you adopting? As American Christians, we are so richly blessed and God has expanded OUR hearts to love more of His children as our own. Jesus paid the ULTIMATE price to adopt US into His family.....
If you want more children, why don't you just have "your own?" Our desire is to follow God as He leads us to parent an orphaned child or children. When God puts this kind of love in your heart, there is an unquenchable passion to ACT!
Do you think this is fair to the children you already have? Modeling the love of Christ and showing our children how to follow God as He leads is what we give our birth children. Our children have the opportunity to share their lives with others and develop into "worldview" Christians. We believe God will richly bless them for whatever "sacrifices" they will make.
Why international adoption - why not a child in the US foster system? At first, we were touched by the bleak conditions of poverty that we cannot even begin to imagine. Orphans in third world countries are vulnerable to disease, unsafe living conditions and the turmoil of war. They have little opportunity to receive adequate medical care, a decent education, and it is unlikely they will experience the security of living in a truly free society. Every child counts...and the country they were born in does not make them any more or less deserving of a loving family to call their own. Our hearts were simply drawn to Africa.
Why Ethiopia? The short answer...God! The longer version...We were open to anywhere in the world, including our own country, but God kept calling our hearts back to the children of Ethiopia.
How much will it cost? Why is it so expensive? The estimated cost is around $20,000 for one child. IT JUST ADDS UP! We venture to guess that we will surely "get our money's worth" - we are making an ETERNAL INVESTMENT. Let's face it...we all spend our money on SOMETHING.
How can you afford it? This is the part that makes the least sense of all. But we believe God is in this and if He wants us to go and get his child - He will surely make it possible. We are brainstorming fundraising ideas, we will be applying for every grant we can get our eyes on, and we will use the $10,000 adoption tax credit to hopefully offset a good portion of the expenses and.....we will PRAY! (Please pray with us!)
Why would you want to adopt a child who is not the same "color" as your family? God's children come in all shapes, sizes AND colors! We believe we will be blessed by the cultural diversity a child from another country will bring to our family. Who we are AND who we become is FAR more important than what color we are OR where we were born. (Plus...the Ethiopian people are BEAUTIFUL!)
Aren't you worried about HIV/AIDS? No.
If you have any more questions we have not thought of, please ask away!!!

How it started...

Some of this information is redundant...but I am just throwing on here what I put on the back of a flyer we made up in an attempt to pull off a Huge Adoption Yard Sale fundraiser. (Tentative sale dates are June 5th & 6th!)

Hard to believe this all started in a high school sociology class. Some may argue we were obviously NOT paying attention...5 kids and counting?! Hmmm…?

We are Pete and Lori Smith and we met in high school in 1984, married in 1986 and joined the ranks of parenthood in 1990. Natali arrived on September 1st that year in New Hampshire, followed by Kane in May 1993. After a move to the Chicago area in 1996, Tatum came on the scene in a record 23 minutes in April 1999!

God gave us a little boy who came into this world too early and left too soon in November 2001. This was God’s plan and we dare say this little man taught us more in his short life than we could have ever imagined. What a blessing!

Done? In our heads—YES! In our hearts—NO! Fynley arrived in February 2003, tag-teamed by a very unexpected Brogan in 2004. Done?! YES!! Or so we thought. Apparently, just with the “pregnancy part” of parenthood…

We have always felt the pull on our hearts to adopt, but decided it was not meant to be since our “quiver” seemed to be full to overflowing with “birth children.” As we searched our hearts for a way to live with more meaning and purpose—striving to be more Christ-like—the adoption seed sprouted & began to grow…LIKE A WILD WEED!

After prayer, research, prayer, sleepless nights & even more prayer...we have decided to step out in faith to adopt a young child from Ethiopia. Due to our ages and, even more so, the number of children we have in our home already, the countries available to us are limited. We had the privilege of visiting Ethiopia in 2007. There is a special place in our hearts for this beautiful country & the amazingly joyful Ethiopian people.

We are all excited to see what challenges and blessings God has in store for our family.

If you would like to learn more about our adoption agency, pop over to They are a wonderful agency out of Louisville, KY. The orphanage they work with in Ethiopia is run by Kingdom Vision International.
You can learn all about their hopeful programs at:

No Fancy Adults-Only Vacations for Me, I guess...

When people wonder why we have so many kids...I think we can honestly answer: "We just love 'em! They make us laugh."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Motions by Matthew West

Oh...for the love of God....DO something...something!

You? Me!

Exclaim/Proclaim: YOU can speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Proverbs 31:8

Educate/Advocate: YOU can defend the cause of the fatherless. Deutronomy 10:18

Encourage: YOU can connect with others to better serve orphans’ needs together. John 17:22-23

Equip: YOU can prepare to join the army of believers who are caring for the least of these.We need each one of you. Matthew 25:40

I am so excited about what God is doing. I feel like I am caught up in what my friend calls a "God web"... people with like minds and hearts, brought together to do something special for His Glory!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do You Just Wanna Know?

"Do you just wanna know?" is a question our now 4 year old started asking when he was 3. It was like asking for AMNESTY when he had done something naughty and knew he was caught.

(I just thought it was a cute title for this post.)

I figured it would be a good time to ramble off some thoughts about who we are and why we do the crazy things we do....

I am the second of five children and said at a young age that I would not have five kids - never say NEVER. I married a boy I started dating my senior year in high school. He was friends with my brothers through sports and I suspect my extended family loves him as much as (or more than!?) they love me.

We had two kids in New Hampshire - got transferred to Chicago and added three more bio kids. There were times when we thought we were "done." Actually, my husband believed that more honestly than I ever did. I was willing to be DONE having them via MY body!

We both believe God has planted a desire in our hearts for adoption. We are blessed with good jobs...a large enough home...great medical insurance...heck, we even have a 12 passenger van! Seriously, though....we love children and honestly believe we have enough room in our hearts and our home for more. We will let God decide how many - trusting He will not give us more than we can handle!
More specifically, our hearts are drawn to Ethiopia. We had the pleasure of spending time in Africa in 2007 and - if you have ever been there - you will know that you do not leave without being changed forever.

So there you have it! We are trusting God to show us His will in adding to our family through international adoption. I am hoping this blog will serve as a tool to document our journey of adoption and allow others to share in it with us.

A Game of Hope

HOPEfully, this will inspire us to do the "little" things...things that are so SIMPLE, but mean SO much!