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I found this post in my “Drafts” folder. Written on December 12th, I hadn’t gotten around to posting it. It’s a testimony to the dramatic healing that was taking place in Kalkidan and in our family. We felt “almost normal.” I could weep over not having more time to enjoy this sweet spot (and I do weep over it).  To be honest, I feel ripped off; after all the hard work for  Kalkidan and for us, she’s gone. It still seems impossible. Over and over I remind myself of what is true: God loves her, God loves us, he is good, he is sovereign, he is wise, and his plans are far better than mine.

Some days we feel it. We wake up, look at each other, and there is no fear in our hearts. We don’t dread the start of the day or wonder how we’ll survive. We don’t feel the need to shield our younger ones from a coming storm.

We feel almost normal.


This simple ritual of giving thanks is especially important to me right now. It would be very easy to let my mind sink into the lowest, saddest places. I’m choosing to remind myself over and over of the truth, that we serve a loving God who loves Kalkidan more than we ever could imagine — and he loves us too.

giving thanks #1581 – 1600

a short walk and coffee with a friend

my shoulder pain finally diagnosed – a coracoid fracture – and a great doctor

my sister flying back tomorrow – I thought I could do without her…but maybe not


Last summer Kalkidan, Claire (Sunshine), and Eden made a bucket list. They were so excited that Kalkidan was coming home and they had big plans – lots of big plans.

This friendship goes way back – all the way back to the beginning. In fact, I was at Eden’s birth and I like to tell her that she was such a cute baby that I couldn’t resist having one more of my own – so God gave me Claire. They’ve been like sisters more than friends, and thankfully, Eden’s mom, Signe is one of the people I love most in the world.

michele and girls

Over the years I’ve written many times about my very dear friend, Michele, whom my kids affectionately call Aunt Michele. There is so much I want to say, but I’m struggling for words today. I’ll let Michele’s tribute from the memorial service speak for itself.

I would first like to thank Russ and Lisa and the rest of the Qualls family for inviting me to speak and offer this remembrance of Kalkidan. It is a distinct honor and privilege and I am very grateful. I would also like to take a moment and thank Russ and Lisa and the rest of their family for the tremendous sacrifices which they have made over the last years to provide for Kalkidan. God has seen all you have done and I am confident that He is pleased.

As I have been thinking about what I would like to say, my mind kept composing a letter to Kalkidan, so that is what I would like to share with you now.

Dear Kalkidan,

Well, here we are – most of your favorite people, all gathered in one place to celebrate your life and remember you. I am sure that that makes you happy. And if you were not in a wholly better place right now I am sure you would like to be here with us. You have always loved parties and celebrations, and just being with people. It is one of your many endearing qualities.



Lord, We fall to our knees before the Wounded Healer
who cups His hands to catch every falling tear & sparrow & heart
in His palms that have our names engraved right into Him
far deeper than any of earth’s sorrow.
We pray tonight in the name of Him of who catches everything falling
so we don’t fall apart…so we are held. Amen. [Ann Voskamp]

giving thanks #1571 – 1580

my sister, Laura, who spent a week caring for us

my physical therapist who is helping my body heal


This is what I’ve read every morning since I’ve been well enough to pick up my Bible and hold it in my hands.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height  nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39

Three Sisters

I could make a stack of albums titled, “Kalkidan’s Cute Moments.” As you know, there were plenty of hard moments, but we didn’t take pictures of those. We aren’t rewriting history, we’re just savoring the precious, joyful times with her. Her smile was amazing.



Our dear friend, Dan Hamer, shared these words on Facebook following Kalkidan’s memorial service. Dan is a pastor at Overlake Christian Church and an adoptive father. He heads up the work in Kenya that allows Russ to do ministry as a hydrologist. He is also Kathleeen’s husband; together they have opened their home to us many, many times, especially during the years when we were traveling to Seattle every other week for therapy with Kalkidan. Now they’re stuck with us for life.

If you didn’t get the chance to know Kalkidan you missed an amazing young girl with a smile that would light up a room and melt your heart. She also had a tender heart of gold and a larger than life personality. She was adopted by our dear friends eight years ago from an orphanage in Ethiopia having lost both of her parents to AIDS. Just last week at the age of thirteen, Kalkidan was killed in a tragic car accident.

This is one of two slideshows we shared at Kalkidan’s (Dimples’) memorial service. The first was our one year “Forever Day” video and this is one spanning her life from the very earliest photos we have of her. She was truly amazing and we are missing her so much.



This is the text of our family’s tribute to Kalkidan at her memorial service. We all stood together lending our strength and love to Russ who spoke beautifully.  You can watch the video on my One Thankful Mom Facebook page.

Thank you to each one of you for being with us today, celebrating and remembering our amazing daughter, Kalkidan. Your presence means more than you’ll ever know.

On Valentine’s Day 2006, Lisa got a phone call that would change our lives. Our friend Emily called to tell her that they were adopting two little boys from Ethiopia.  Something happened during that phone call – a door opened just a crack and she glimpsed a possibility for our future.