Thankful 10.13.17

On this gray, rainy, just-stopped-snowing morning, I’m thankful.

Give Thanks

1. Wogayu’s 11th birthday today
He adds so much joy to my life and heart. Birthdays can be complicated for adoptees. He thinks about his Ethiopian mom and misses her; I know she’s been on my mind a lot.

2. Russ home from a four-day work trip
He was at NASA in DC, which the kids thought was pretty great – I keep telling them, science is cool.

3. a decluttering project 3/4 done – one of my goals for the week
I’m convinced we will all breathe better with less stuff around us. This project is eliminating an entire piece of furniture that has been holding “stuff” in our family room. I realized I had three cabinets throughout the main floor all duplicating the same purpose. I emptied all three onto my dining room table (and chairs and kitchen island) and began sorting, tossing, making a stack to file, etc. It’s taking longer than I hoped, but I’m looking forward to the extra space in the family room.

4. snow this morning
I’m not really thankful, but I’m trying to be thankful. It was pretty and the kids were excited, so I’m thankful for that.

5. a new lamp
Who knew that better lighting would make this room so much nicer in the evenings?

6. a weighted blanket for Wogayu!
Can’t wait to show it to you and tell the story

7. pizza night
No cooking tonight. We’ll have Wogayu’s family birthday dinner Sunday when the big kids gather with us.

8. teachers, principals, football coaches

9. older sisters who call at 6:45 in the morning to say “happy birthday”

I’m stopping at nine so I don’t get locked into the idea that I always have to come up with ten. Right? We can be thankful for three things or thirteen things. This is about joy and freedom!

Points of Joy

If you are in the midst of hard, practice at least one (or two, or three) points of joy each day this weekend.

It can be small:
light a candle
step out on your porch and take three slow, deep breaths
read a book (unrelated to anything you are struggling with) for 10 minutes
call a friend
take a bath
bake cookies with your child
give yourself permission to take a nap or do nothing for 20 minutes
take a walk

Or it can be bigger:
go to coffee with a friend
plan a date with your husband
buy yourself fall flowers
go hiking
go to a movie
go away overnight (miracles can happen)

Have a good weekend, my friend. If you have a moment, share something you’re thankful for, or something you did (or are going to do) to add joy to your days.

Lastly, if you haven’t signed up for my friends-letter, it would mean a lot to me if you would. I send it every few weeks or so and it only takes a minute (or two) to read. I’ll explain more soon, but book publishers care about numbers, and newsletter subscribers are considered my most loyal readers, so they really care about that number. Please take a moment to subscribe.

With courage and hope for the journey,


Thankful 10.6.17

So much to be thankful for this morning.

Give Thanks

1. sunshine, blue skies, and fall leaves

2. Zoe’s* little sister having a sleepover last night

3. Wogayu stepping into the “big brother” role

4. books – even when there are so many I feel compelled to read all at once to find information for my family

5. homemade chicken and rice soup

6. learning not to stress over my kids’ grades – this is progress, friends

7. years of homeschooling when grades and gpa’s didn’t exist – and my kids were just fine

8. faith which gives hope

9. friends who make me laugh

10. friends with good taste who give much-needed advice

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

encourage one another,


*Zoe is the name our foster daughter chose to use on One Thankful Mom; it is not her real name.

Thankful 9.22.17

The weekend is almost here and it’s the first day of fall – yes, happy, yes.

I have so much to be thankful for and I want to get back to simple gratitude. I don’t have a clever title, but I’m not sure clever matters when it’s more an issue of the heart.

I also want to share things that are making my life joyful – maybe one will be just what you need too.

I’m thankful for:

1.|a pumpkin spice candle found in the back of the cabinet.

2.| five minutes to speak about foster care at a local IF: Gathering tomorrow and also sell jewelry from my Etsy shop with a portion of the proceeds being donated to local foster care ministry.

3.| Emily P. Freeman’s new podcast, The Next Right Thing. Sweet wisdom from a writer and podcaster I’ve been following for awhile.

4.| having a simple two-week menu to follow (and actually following it pretty well).

5.| maybe, just maybe, sleeping better with a tiny dose of melatonin. Too much is no good for me.

6.| surviving my Pilates class without feeling I might cry before it’s over (I’m not joking).

7.| doing yoga online when I don’t go to Pilates with these free videos – so good! My first attempt and yoga, and I’m glad I tried it.

8.| this slow cooker Beef Barbacoa recipe (hint: go easy on the chipotles in adobo sauce at first – you can add more – trust me).

9.| looking down at the pen I was using and seeing it labeled with Kalkidan’s name – it must have been one from school. It both saddens me, and touches my heart to have reminders of her surface in unexpected ways.

10.| a teacher who lets kids sit on yoga balls in class, letting them move while still being in their seats.

What are you thankful for? Leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

Have a fabulous weekend, friend.



Ebenezer’s Sisters Meet

They share a brother. One sister from Ethiopia, one from Idaho, meeting in Italy. Only God can write a story this good.

Mesky and Annarose (2)

Annarose is on her grand, crazy fast, spring break dash through Europe. She traveled to Bologna, Italy, where Eby’s sister, Meskerem, lives and they met for dinner.

They talked for four hours and had an amazing time. Meskerem is 11 months older than Annarose, so they have plenty in common. 

Held By Love

On the morning marking two years, I walked into the kitchen; Russ was standing at the window looking out at the snow. He turned as I poured coffee.

“Do you remember what today is?”

“Yes,” he quietly answered.

“You know what I remember most about that day?”

“What?”he said, reaching out his hand to me.

“The love. We were surrounded by love. Hundreds of people came; they just kept coming. They showed up and held us up with their love. Their strength gave us strength. They carried us.”

He pulled me close against his chest and we stood in the quiet, tears running down my cheeks.


January 2nd was the two-year anniversary of the memorial service for Kalkidan. I lay awake in the night reflecting on it, thinking about how hard the day was. I honestly didn’t know how I would survive. My body was so broken and bruised, I couldn’t shower and dress myself, I couldn’t walk. My heart was devastated. My brain injured and in shock; I couldn’t think clearly.

Russ and I were crushed. Our children clinging to one another and to us. It was one of the worst days of our lives.

You would think I would remember it that way, but you know what? I don’t.

Yes, I remember my fears, the pain, the overwhelming sense that I couldn’t do it, the sense of disbelief that this was even happening. Surely this was not true. The accident couldn’t be real, our daughter couldn’t have died – this was a terrible dream.

If I let myself dwell on those thoughts too long, my stomach hurts, my chest aches, and I feel myself slipping downward into a very dark place.

The beautiful truth is that my strongest memory of the day is an overwhelming sense of love.

We gathered with our community in the most broken, vulnerable, painful moments, when we were most nakedly ourselves, and we felt loved.

We worshiped. We told our love story of Kalkidan, and declared that everything we had ever said about Jesus was true. He died for her, for us, and she was with Him in heaven completely healed and loved.

Our friends and family, some of you, from near and far, were the hands and feet of Jesus to us during the darkest, most painful days of our lives. Your love, His love, carried us. This is the sweetness of the fellowship of the saints.

You prayed for us, fed us, cleaned our house, sent us cards and gifts, cared for our children, drove me to appointments,  donated, created art, wore orange in memory of our vibrant girl.

When time passed and we thought everyone had forgotten, leaving us alone with our grief, you still showed up, sending cards and flowers, wearing orange again on her second birthday gone, leaving flowers at the site of our accident, and most of all remembering – just remembering Kalkidan.

She was so alive – I can only imagine her in heaven.

Friends, when possible, even when you don’t know what to do, just go. Go to the funeral.

The receiving line was long, and every person so precious to me, every minute, every hug, every word. I remember. For those who couldn’t stay to greet us, we read each signature in the guest book, marveling at the people who cared enough to come that winter evening.

Russ and I chose these verses from Psalm 27 for our 27th anniversary and I have loved them ever since.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Friends and family showing up was such a powerful experience of the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. God strengthened our hearts through them, through you. He gave us courage. You gave us courage.

Dark days of grief pulling us under like pounding waves did come, and sometimes still do, but I look back on that hardest of days and remember it overflowing with love.


Mom, Dad, Kalkidan

My 2016 Goals – How Did I Do?

I set six goals for 2016. They weren’t resolutions or hard and fast determinations, they were simply goals.

I’m writing this on the final morning of 2016 sitting in my nearly dark living room in front of the Christmas tree. As much as I love it, the tree is coming down today; I need to start the new year with Christmas packed away and a fresh start.

This is the perfect time to reflect on my goals – how did I do?

[p.s. Don’t miss the wonderful giveaway at the end of the post!]

End-of-December-3005 x 1999

These goals were not set out of sheer determination or a desperate need to change. I wanted more joy and set them with that in mind.

My 2016 Goals

1. Read the Bible in a year. | I completed it this morning! I was on course until October when I got completely out of my routine. It was a struggle to catch up, especially when I got bogged down in Ezekiel, but I made a plan and did it. I nearly cried this morning when I finished. You hefty Bible readers will not see this as significant, but I’ve had a hard time sticking with this goal in the past. The free She Reads Truth app gave me the structure to be successful.

2. Healthy and happy weight. | I didn’t set a number, I only wanted to be healthier and happier. It’s very vulnerable to write about weight and body issues, so I never do; I have a lifelong struggle between self-acceptance and self-discipline. For some real wisdom on this topic, please read Anne Lamott’s recent facebook post. I was going to keep this goal on my list for 2017 but decided to broaden it to be more generally health focused as I continue to learn more about what makes my body feel strong, gives me good energy, and allows me to sleep well. [note: I also never write about weight because it’s not my main purpose here and I don’t want to distract or discourage anyone. I want to bless and encourage. Read Anne Lamott – she has so much good to say.]

3. Complete my book. | My book is as complete as it can be at this point – editing and small tasks remain, but I believe it will be published in 2017, and I cannot wait to tell you more about it. I had a couple of important meetings in December and another coming up in January. Things are looking good, so although it is not completed, I’m satisfied with my progress on this goal. It stays on my list for 2017.

4. Reestablish regular exercise in my life. | I was a runner (a very slow runner) for thirty years – starting and stopping and starting again through seven pregnancies, multiple autoimmune crises, surgeries, and many challenges. Then I got shingles and after a long recovery, I didn’t start running again; I lost my routine completely. Two years ago we had the accident and I was thankful just to be walking. I am very grateful to say, with the encouragement of Russ and my FitBit (last year’s Christmas gift from our kids), I’m outside most days getting 10,000 steps. With the current snow and ice, the treadmill and Netflix are my companions.

5. Prayerfully plan further education, pursuing a career, or developing writing as my profession. | I chose writing. I made some false starts, like trying a team blog, which didn’t work out. Now I have decisions to make about staying where I am as Thankful Moms or going back to One Thankful Mom, which is who I was as a blogger, for so many years. In 2017 I’ll develop my writing even further, with the first book (started so long ago), the Giving Voice to Siblings book (which is on my mind and heart!) and possibly some ebooks and other resources.

6. Declutter the garage.| I got this 75% completed and was feeling pretty good. I had visions of my car parked in the garage for the first time ever. Then one of our big kids moved and some furniture was stored in the garage. We started a home project and Russ needed to haul supplies in our big van, so three (big, heavy) van seats and more equipment were put in the garage. Before I knew it, all of my work was lost.

It grew more complicated when Samuel moved to Portland and his apartment full of furniture was temporarily put in the garage, then Russ’ parents’ property was sold and more things were added to the garage.

Of all of my goals, this one was a complete failure, and also the one I have the least control over. This time, when I declutter it again, I’m parking my car in it immediately and giving away/selling excess furniture. Clutter is toxic and brings me to tears. This goal stays on the list for 2017.

So, how did I do?

It’s tempting to say I didn’t do very well, but if I were speaking kindly to myself, as I would to a friend, I would look at the positives.

I accomplished the most important goal of all, which was more of God’s Word in my life. I needed that more than anything else.

I made positive changes for my health, which becomes even more important as we age. Most (almost) 53-year-old women don’t have elementary age children and have more time to focus on themselves. Some of our friends are actually empty-nesters – I can’t even imagine. They aren’t cooking dinner for six kids and don’t have teen daughters baking cookies on a regular basis. God had a different plan for my life, so I need to give this more thought and planning as I move into a critical time of caring for my health. With exercise once again part of my routine, I feel much stronger and healthier than I did last year January when I was one-year post-accident.

While my book is not yet published, I completed all I could while other details fell into place. I have every reason to hope it will be published in 2017.

I made the decision to continue writing rather than pursue a different career path. While some of my attempts didn’t work out, I took a chance and tried something new, which took courage and I learned a lot in the process.

Lastly, my grand decluttering attempt failed, but I refuse to accept defeat. Clutter affects my mental health – seriously. I have to keep trying.

Today we’ll take down the tree, pack away the decorations, and clean the house.

Tomorrow will be a new year with new hopes, dreams, and goals.

This weekend I’ll begin writing my goals in the moleskin journal I use for important lists, quotes, sermon notes, thoughts, counseling notes, books I’ve read, and everything else important.

I’ll share my goals, at least the ones I figure out, with you in my next post.

Photo Jan 01, 11 45 43 AM

I can’t wait to start my Line a Day Journal ,which just arrived yesterday (hint: it’s one of my goals), and I have some special news for you! I accidentally ordered two for Claire, so I have one extra journal to give away!

[EDIT: 1-4-17 The give-away is CLOSED. The winner is Krista! Thank you, friends!]

You have two chances to win a Line a Day Journal.

1 | Subscribe to my friends-letter, a short, somewhat more personal note I send to your inbox most weekends.

2 | Share the giveaway by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter or some other social media site.

Leave a comment on this post (not Facebook – it’s difficult to keep track of entries in multiple places) telling me how you are entering. If you subscribed and shared, leave two separate comments.

I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning and pop it in the mail that day so you can get started right away. My most sincere apologies, but I can only mail this to a winner in the U.S.

Happy New Year, friend, I look forward to sharing 2017 with you.