Wednesday, December 8

For Men: A Call to Action

If you are a man who loves Jesus, you need to read this post at One Life - One Legacy. If you know a man who loves Jesus, you need to forward this post to him. This guy and his wife are crazy radical for Jesus and are giving His love away in some amazing ways. Su and I are often challenged by their stories of reaching out and seeing God step in.

In this post, DW (the husband) talks about the call for Christian MEN to love and care for the orphan. He really challenges us to step up to the plate and do something. He calls things like he sees them and shares how he typically sees women leading the charge to be Jesus to "the least of these."

I have decide to join DW (actually join God) in the fight for the fatherless. Will you come with us? Will you fight for these who cannot defend themselves, those who have no one else to fight for them?

MEN, do you dare read DW's post?
Do you dare pray for these little ones?
Do you dare make a commitment?
Do you dare go and serve?
Do you dare send them your finances?
Do you dare weep for them?
Do you dare learn about them?
Do you dare fast for them?
Do you dare ask Jesus, "How do you want me to be involved? "

It might be scary and uncomfortable... but we were made for this!

Friday, November 19

Waiting for Phone Call & Pictures of G-boy

We excitedly await the phone call letting us know of our official court date in Ethiopia. This court hearing will mark the first of two trips we'll make to Africa. The first trip, we'll attend court and be appointed G-boy's legal parents. And at that time be able to share pictures on our blog of our handsome son. The second trip happens 6-8 weeks later and includes the visa appointment at the US Embassy in order to travel home with G-boy. We are eagerly awaiting the phone call letting us know when we will travel.
This morning, our agency emailed us 4 pictures of G-boy. That was the longest 1 min and 21 seconds ever. . waiting for the pictures to download. Along with the pictures was a note that said G-boy was so sweet to share his gifts from us with the other children. And that he loved the punch ball we sent! Oh what a treasure for this momma! Above is G-boy's sweet hand trying out his new punch ball.

Tuesday, November 16

News Friends that Only God Could Give

I am overwhelmed with God's blessings. . .that is brings me to tears and at times paralyzes me with awe. . .
Last week, we met Deb and Jeremy Baus face to face. Remember this post here, where I told you about Deb and Jeremy Baus and shared the email they sent us when they were in Ethiopia?

Deb and Jeremy are adopting two 20 month old kiddos from the same agency, same orphanage in Ethiopia as we are. And they live here in Raleigh, like 15 minutes away!!
And Deb and Jeremy came over last week to share dessert and coffee and conversation about Ethiopia and to show us video of G-boy. .. oh what an emotional night for me.

We were so deeply touched that this sweet couple took time out of their emotionally intense time in Ethiopia meeting their 2 youngins, going to court, taking in Ethiopia. . . to love up on our son, to give him a letter from us, to read the letter and have a translator translate it, to get it all on video tape, to explain to G that they live in the same town his adoptive mom and dad do. . to give him a hug and kisses. . .

I love watching the video. . G is handsome and is in the midst of all the action. On the video, he is not standing off to the side or against the wall. . he is right there with all the adoptive parents and the nannies and the babies.

Deb and Jeremy told us that G is soo cool and that G and their son, R are good buddies! G is 6 years old and loves R (20 mos.) to the point he picks him up and carries him around. And now they'll grow up together in Raleigh!! What a gift!! A gift to G, a gift to R, and gift to the Bauses, and a gift to us Soutters!! Really only God could orchestrate all this.

As many of you know, God did the same thing with Jonathan. . he and Abigail who shared a room at the orphanage in Guatemala and at one point were even crib mates are now both in Raleigh. We love the Crawfords: Abigail and Abigail's mom and dad and big brother. . Su and Abigail's mom just clicked and not just because they both adopted from Guatemala. . .only God. This relationship with the Crawfords is dear to us now, especially Su and we know that this relationship will be important to J as he grows older. We sense that God is doing something similar with us and the Baus family.

Really. . this is just like "icing on the already yummy cake". . God so did not have to do this. . but a little community of families here in Raleigh who have adopted from the same agency, same orphanage in Ethiopia as us? Only God. There is us, there is Deb and Jeremy, and then have I told you about the Watkins family (pictured above) who Su went to elementary school with the mom and they used to spend the night at each other's houses?? Well she and her husband and 4 kiddos. . live like 3 minutes from us. . .and they just brought home their Corrie from Ethiopia. Brooke and the Watkins' 2 older boys go to the same school. I am telling you only God connects dots like this.

Wednesday, October 27

News from Ethiopia about G-boy

The Baus family who just happen to live in Raleigh are adopting 2 little ones from Ethiopia. . using the same agency we are. . and they are in Ethiopia right now!!!

We have not met face to face (yet!), but sweet Deb (the wife) did email me the night before they were leaving asking if I wanted her to take anything down to our son. She had heard about us thru a mutual friend and heard that our son was living at the same orphanage as her two kiddos were. . .only God could connect dots like this.

We did email her a letter with our picture on it to print out and take to G-boy. And Deb did just that.

And Deb just emailed me!!! From Ethiopia!!! Oh what a treasure!!! Here is Deb's email.

Hi Su-

We just got back to the capital last night from our LONG but incredible trip to *** . Our kids (yours and mine) are so awesome.

G-boy is one amazing kid. I gave him your letter and we have the whole thing on video of a translator explaining it to him. He LOVED it.

I also found out that he and our son are pretty tight! But from what we saw and were told, G-boy is really good with all the kids. I am going to try to attach a pic now but the connection here isn't the greatest.

Rest assured your son is in good hands. He is a happy, happy kid and the nannies there are really great. You can see how much they love the kids and visa versa.

We will get together when we get home and show you the video!!

We get back late on Oct 30-

I am in tears. Tears of hearing my son is happy. Tears of hearing that he loved our letter. Tears over having 2 pictures. . .treasures. . of our handsome son. He has a huge smile. Tears that Deb and her husband would love up on us like this. . I mean she is half way around the world meeting her two kiddos for the first time. I am sure she has much to process and take in. . and she took time to email me. . took time to video my son. . I am deeply touched by her love for us. . .and we have not even met face to face (yet!). I can't wait to have Deb and her hubby (I do not even know his name) over for dinner. I am going to have to hold myself back and give them a little time to unpack and recover from jetlag.

Oh what a sweet gift today!!

Tuesday, October 26

Christmas Shopping For a Cause

Stacy over at the blog My Cup Overfloweth has this post where all those who are fundraising for their adoptions can share what they are selling.

Her heart is that as Christmas approaches, instead of going to the local Target to pick out a present for those on our list. . we would come to her blog and buy an item from a family that is in the process of bringing their kiddo home. . .and give that fundraising item as a gift.

Sounds like giving 2 gifts in 1 to me. . a gift to someone on your Christmas list and a gift to an orphan and his forever family.

I love that Stacy is doing this just to come alongside other adopting families. She and her hubby just recently came home with their new little one and saw the Lord provide and she wants to be a part of that for other families. Stacy is a momma of 6, 1 biological and 5 adopted!

I linked up my In This Home Paintings. Here is a recent one I just finished:
If you have some Christmas shopping to do, you may just want to click here to see all that is for sale; you just click on the little pictures at the bottom of Stacy's post. Look for the picture of my painting I linked up.

Sunday, October 24

Daily Gifts from God

On September 22, we decided to move towards the referral of G-boy, our new son from Ethiopia. If you missed that story, you can click here.

At the time, we were asked if we wanted to wait until we had all the money to accept the referral, $7500. We had a couple thousand, but needed much more. We felt God was calling us to move forward, so we stepped out in faith trusting that in 1 month God could and would provide the rest.

We prayed that God would give us financial encouragement every day between Sept 21 and Oct 19th. For 29 days we asked God to give a new sign each day.

And God did. Everyday for the past month, God has given us financial encouragement, daily reminders that He is in charge; like little love notes from God saying, "Don't worry, I have my eye on G-boy, don't worry, I will bring him home soon." When we say everyday, we literally mean every day (except one). We are not sure what happened that day. God probably did something and we missed it or couldn't remember it. But all the other days God did something. We wrote them all down.

Some days it was a check for a painting or a class, other days it was a card from a relative saying "I want to come along side you, let me help." Some days it was a rebate check, other days it was a promise from a friend to send money. One day, Rob went to the Wake Co. Principal-of-the-Year Banquet and won a door prize, a $50 American Express gift check. Each day was filled with anticipation, "How is God going to bless us today?"

We experienced the same thing back in June when we need money for the dossier. For 2 weeks straight, God kept filling our mailbox with all that was needed (click here to read that story). And as soon as we sent in the dossier the money stopped coming, like someone had turned off the spigot. Oh, we got gift checks and surprise money in July, August, and Sept, but they were few and far between (once every week or two).

BUT when we stepped out on Sept 22 it was like God turned on the spigot again and said, "Yeah, go for it, I am right here. You want encouragement each day, I can do that."

And on October 20, there was nothing. The money hasn't stopped completely, it keeps trickling in, but it was key for God to leave the mailbox empty on October 20. It was a reminder or how special the last 29 days had been. A reminder that He is in total control.

Thursday, October 7

Official Referral of G-boy!!

Last Friday, 10/1, we received the OFFICIAL referral of G-boy, a very handsome 6 year old with a big smile!! Wish we could put photos on the blog for you, but cannot due to Ethiopian govt. rules. We are thrilled to be one step closer to bringing our son home.

And yesterday we sent G-boy a package: new jeans, a long sleeve red and blue striped collared shirt, Spiderman underwear, a Hot Wheels truck, punching balloons, crayons and paper, and a laminated 5x7 picture of us. The director of our adoption agency is traveling to Ethiopia next week and will be able to hand deliver this package to G-boy and tell him he has a family!

We are in the midst of watching God provide the fee that is due upon signing the referral and mailing it back. God has wowed us daily. He has whispered that He loves G-boy more than we do and He will provide a way for G-boy to come home to his mom and dad, brothers, and sisters. God has called people to come alongside us in some abundant ways!

Wednesday, September 22

Nehemiah Builds the Wall: Where Our Hearts Are

In our post here posted back in March, we discussed the reality that trouble often hits right after you step out to risk for God. In that post we said, "We know that when you step out to follow God, you are going to be met with wind and waves." Well, we have stepped out again, and the wind and waves have come again.

For starters, Su has taken the risk of agreeing to speak at a woman's conference this week; see details of that here. The topic of the talk is taking risks for God. She will be talking about Nehemiah and how he took on the impossible task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He did not have enough time or resources, there were obstacles galore, but he felt the call of God and knew that his provider had all that he needed. Su will talk about God's call for each of us to be a Nehemiah and do the impossible for God.

Su had cleared her calendar (as best she could) and set aside the week to mentally and practically prepare for the talk. Day one was a disaster. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. This kids were misbehaving, everything took longer than needed, little disasters happened left and right. It was like something out of a Chevy Chase movie. As the table was being set for dinner and a glass got knocked to the floor, sending glass and water all over the place, we had to laugh (after we yelled); satan was hard at work.
Then, after dinner, we emailed YWAM to let them know we were ready to move forward with G-boy. See yesterday's post here if you missed that. Thru our emails with our adoption agecny, we learned we could move forward with an official referral. As part of our communication, we wanted to make sure we understood correctly that $7500 was needed to accept the referral. We wanted to know how much we needed God to provide in the next few weeks. They confirmed, yes that was the correct amount and also suggested that we may want to wait until we obtained the money before moving forward.

What were we to do? Should we move forward and expect that the money would come, or sit tight and wait until we had it all in the bank?

The wind and waves had come again. This time it was not a broken glass of water, but a direct attack on our faith. Were we going to step out and trust that God would provide, or play it safe and wait?

How ironic that God would allow us to be tested in the area of risking during this week, the week where Su is to speak on risking.

As soon as Nehemiah started his project, he was met with opposition. Several officials ridiculed Nehemiah and challenged what he was doing. But Nehemiah responded, "The God of heaven will give us success." (Nehemiah 2:20). And God did! Nehemiah and his helpers finished in record time; they built that wall in 52 days!!! They had limited time and resources, tons of opposition, and every reason to quit, but God gave them success.
We trust that God will give us success, that he will teach through Su on Saturday morning, that he will take care of our family despite the "broken glasses of water", and that he will provide every penny of the funds needed to bring G-boy home. We are moving forward trusting that "the God of heaven will give us success."

Tuesday, September 21

My Son: Update from Rob

In July we finished our dossier (this huge pile of paperwork). This made us ready to be matched with a child. Up until that point there were no 4-8 year-old boys on the YWAM waiting list. There were only infants. There were times we felt like quitting because there appeared to be no children for us.

But in July, at the same time we were submitting our paperwork, G-boy, a 6 year old came into one of the Ethiopian orphanages. We cannot use his real name on the internet so we call him G-boy (like our J-boy aka Jonathan). We posted the story of the God timing miracle here is you missed it: all about our paperwork arriving in Ethiopia within days that G-boy was admitted to the orphanage.

When we submitted our paperwork, the workers at YWAM told us about G-boy. He was not adoptable yet; paperwork needed to be processed but all looked positive that he would indeed be adoptable. Again see this post here if you missed that story.

Over the last month, YWAM has told us more and more about G-boy. We have 3 precious pictures of G-boy. We are not allowed to share pics or any details on the internet, but wish we could. But if you stop by, we'd love to show you his pictures. G-boy has a huge smile and has lost his two front teeth. . . like most of the 6 year olds we know. We have fallen in love with him.

Since our paperwork was submitted back in July, we have been praying for God's direction, asking that God match us with the child he picked out, the one he chose way back before we ever knew we were going to adopt. We have come to feel that G-boy is the one. The kids talk about G-boy like he is their brother. His picture hangs in the hallway amidst the other family photos. When someone asks me, "Who is that?" I respond, "My son, G-boy."

Wednesday, September 15

No More Excuses: Risking for God

This You Tube video so illustrates what I am going to be sharing at the Women's Ministry Conference at Raleigh International Church on Sat, Sept 25.

I am going to be sharing about radical faith, God experiences and what it takes to be on mission with God. I will be teaching from the Bible book Nehemiah and using Nehemiah's story to challenge us to take crazy risks for God. I will be sharing many personal stories; some adoption ones too!

Are we going to make excuses as to why we can't be used by God or are we gonna make ourselves available for God sized dreams? So often we get our eyes fixed on ourselves, our shortcomings, and the large problems in front of us. Instead our eyes need to be fixed on God. That is what this You Tube video reminds me of.

I'd love for you to join me at the conference: Sat, Sept 25 from 10-1:30. I will be speaking alongside 2 other women. Lunch will be provided. Cost is $20 and needs to be mailed to Raleigh International Church by Sept 19th. Email me if you need more details.

Monday, September 13

Happy Ethiopian New Year!

It is a New Year in Ethiopia! It is 2003!! You gotta read this post here about the Ethiopian calendar to understand why Ethiopia is 7 years behind us. The post just made me marvel and reminded me how big the world is, so much bigger than Raleigh, NC and reminded me of how diverse the world is. Heaven will be too.

Thursday, September 2

A God Story and Another Chance To Win a Painting

For a story that will

encourage you in your faith,

remind you that God can do the impossible

shout that God had not forgotten the orphans and longs to place them in families,

allow you to come alongside a family in bringing home their 2 children from Liberia,

and give you another opportunity to win one of my In This Home paintings. . .click here.

Monday, August 30

Where We Are At in Our Adoption: August 2010

Mid July our dossier was sent off to the US Embassy in DC and then went onto Ethiopia. On that day that I Fed Exed that huge stack of paperwork, I breathed deeply. And when I got in the car I literally shouted out loud, "Thank you Lord!"

If you think I am alone, you gotta click here for Missy's blog post about the 13 ways preparing a dossier (a French word for that huge stack of paperwork) is like being in college.

Up to this point (mid July), there were only babies in the YWAM orphanages that were available for adoption and as you know, we feel like we are to adopt an older child between the ages of 4-8 (right in between my Jonathan and Brooke):

I think my understanding is correct; the Ministry of Women's Affairs has been closed and this means that only abandoned kids can be accepted into the orphanages. I am assuming most older kids are brought to the orphanage by a grandparent, aunt, or parent who can no longer provide and care for them. The orphanage cannot take such kids right now because the paperwork cannot be processed because the Ministry of Women's Affairs is closed right now (for how long? no one knows. . it has been closed for several months now). Only paperwork for abandoned kids can be processed right now. . that is my understanding.

Babies are often abandoned and found. An older kid that is abandoned is not necessarily found; he "becomes" a street kid. I am trying to put words to something I have no words for. . .or have even had experience with. . . sometimes you do not even know what questions to ask because you have never heard of such things before.

Anyway, up to mid July there were mostly babies available, no 4-8 year old boys.

But you know what happened mid July???

Do you know what happened over in Ethiopia the same week that our dossier gets sent off?

A 6 year old boy comes to the orphanage! I cannot share details on the internet/blog per Ethiopian gov't requests. And this is not an official referral because the government is closed right now (this is different than the Ministry of Women's Affairs). . the govt is closed right now due to it being the rainy season. The roads become impassable during the rainy season so all shuts down. Again something our American brain cannot understand. Word is the govt will reopen come October.

But a 6 year old boy is at YWAM's orphanage the same month we become paperwork ready for a referral. Coincidence or a God thing?

We are praying for God to speak, to show us whether this 6 year old is indeed our son. We are waiting to see all his paperwork and a picture. Email from the village YWAM has an orphanage in in Ethiopia is very hit and miss and it is next to impossible to email photos. But a missionary did send some pics back to the US with another missionary and there most likely will be some snapshots of this little boy in those photos.

So we are praying we get to see a picture soon; I think my heart will be able to connect and "know" once I see a picture. Or perhaps my heart has already because:

I have been praying for this little boy. . for his heart to be filled with hope despite all he has endured in his short life. I have been praying that God fills him with a supernatural joy and peace. I pray that he does not feel alone. I pray that he is able to sleep thru the night, that he does not have nightmares, that he feels safe. I pray that his heart remains soft and he is able to laugh and play. I pray. . .

Thursday, August 26

Crazy Love Giveaway: Win an In This Home Painting

Many of you know that I have been creating In This Home paintings for others, similar to the one hanging over my fireplace. It is a joy to create these pieces for other families and each painting is such an encouragement to me because each painting brings us that much closer to bringing our son home from Ethiopia (and I promise my next post will be an update on where we are at in this adoption; it is long overdue!)

I wanted to let you know that Jill over at Forever n Ever n Always is hosting a giveaway of one of my paintings! I am really blown away; this mother of 9 (amazing photographer too!) ordered an In This Home painting for herself. Here it is:

Jill then decided to give away one of my paintings to a lucky winner. The lucky winner gets to pick out the colors, background, and "we do" statements, but Jill pays for it. That is some crazy love! Crazy Love spread to us Soutters, to our soon to be son, and to one lucky winner. Really, I think only God can prompt this kind of crazy love.

Go over to Jill's blog and browse around; click here to read Jill's post about the giveaway and enter!!! You have to enter today (Thurs 8/26) because the giveaway ends Friday, 8/27.

Wednesday, August 25

Wanna Join Us?

This weekend Rob, the kids, and I committed to sponsoring 2 kiddos from a extremely poor, small village about 122 miles from the capital of Ethiopia.

YWAM, our adoption agency is spearheading some amazing projects in this village. Click here to see what God is doing in this village. We are excited to join God in His work! Go ahead and read the rest of this post, but come back here and click that link above to read the blog post about what is happening in this village.

You see, the agency we are using to help us adopt our son, a 4-8 year old boy from Ethiopia is Adoption Ministry of Youth With a Mission: Ethiopia. YWAM began humanitarian work in Ethiopia in 2007 with the mission to improve the lives of widows and children there. God eventually led YWAM to help some of these children thru international adoption. And as parents-to-be of an Ethiopian boy whose birth parents could not provide for him or who are no longer living, we wanted to help 2 kiddos be able to stay with their birth parents.

Midaso (Mi-doss'o) is 8 years old and wants to be a teacher when he grows up. Extreme poverty (his father is a missionary who struggles to provide enough income to support his family) has not yet stolen this little boy's ability to dream. We have not only committed to sending $30 a month so that Midasso has enough to eat and can go to school, but we have committed to praying that this boy is able to fulfill his dreams and that God uses him to pour into kids when he gets older.

And our hearts broke (especially my David's) when we learned that 4 year old Alemitu (Al-a-meet'-oo) and her family are living on the edge of starvation. Alemitu lives with her mother and father and is one of four kids. Both of her parents sell firewood to make a living.

And there are only 4 more kids that need sponsorship. Would you join us? Might you be the one to make a huge difference in one of these kids' lives? For only $30 a month, you will give one of these kids food to eat and access to schooling. . .and hope.

YWAM takes your $30 and purchases are made in Ethiopia by their in-country representatives. No administrative fees are deducted; 100% of your dollars are used for these children and their families.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, you can click here for more info. Or you can email Becky or Joy at and tell them you are a friend of mine/or reader of my blog :)

Here are the 4 kids that need sponsoring. If the pictures are still up, they still need sponsoring. I will keep this post updated.

04 Derartu

This little eight year old girl is one of seven children. Her mother is very young and beautiful and her father is dead. They rent a hut for a very small amount of money. Derartu is unable to attend school because they cannot pay the small tuition. Derartu's mother sells firewood and also does cooking for others.

16 Durti Geda

Durti is five years old and lives with her mother and father. She the middle of five children. Her father is a missionary in this village and earns about $35 a month, which is not nearly enough to support a family of seven. This good man needs help!

17 Masho Feysa

This six year old girl's father died and her father's brother became the husband of her mother. Masho is the oldest of two children and her mother is pregnant. Her step-father sells firewood to bring in a small amount of money.

17 Sebona Kedir

There are five children in this 5-year-old boy's family and they live with their mother and father. His father tries hard to provide for his family by selling wood he gathers for fires and he sometimes helps others farm their plots of land.

I have this silly rumbling that thru this blog all 4 kids will get sponsored and that we sponsors will know each other either in real life or in blog land and then we could join together to pray in real life or thru email for this village and these families.

Sunday, July 18

Our Mailbox this June

Hang in there with me. My blog posts have not been as frequent as I would like. Oh there is much to share, and much going on in my head and heart, but the words just aren't there. . . yet.

But let me tell you about our mailbox in June.

For the LAST 2 weeks of June, our mailbox had nothing in it.

Oh, there was the flier for Rapid Fitness, a mailer advertising Capital Dental Care, an Oriental Trading Company Catalog, a letter from ATT wanting us to upgrade to a cable, dsl, phone package.

But really, every single piece of mail we received those last 2 weeks of June went straight into the recycle bin.

This is so funny. . this is so crazy. .this is so a God story. . .

because the FIRST 2 weeks of June our mailbox was constantly filled with blessings, with envelopes full of crazy love.

Those first 2 weeks of June, checks kept arriving in the mail.

Checks for In This Home paintings, some even written for more than the amount of the painting.

Checks for coupon classes that I teach.

Checks from old friends out of the blue saying they wanted to be a part of bringing home our next child.

It was crazy. Every single day for 2 weeks straight there were reminders of God's love in our mailbox. Every single day for the first 2 weeks of June, there was encouragement that God was writing this adoption story.

Little did we know that our fingerprint form would arrive from US Immigration 2 weeks earlier than expected. This US Immigration Form (171-H) is the last form needed to turn in a whole stack of papers (dossier) to Ethiopia.

$2200 is also required to be sent in too. We were not expecting this form to come until the end of June. . thus not needing the money until then.

But God knew and filled our mailbox with checks the 2 weeks prior to getting this form back.

The total of those checks was $2300. $2200 for the fee and $100 for shipping!!! Our God is good.

And then the checks stopped coming. June ended with 2 weeks of junk mail only. To us, the last 2 weeks of June were just as important as the first 2 weeks. It showed us once again that God is in control and He is the one bringing our son home.

I am linking up to Linny's blog party over at A Place Called Simplicity . She calls this party Memorial Box Monday.

As Linny says, "the purpose of each Memorial Box Monday post is to remind yourself and others of God's great faithfulness, His powerful provision and His Unexpected Gifts in each of our lives."
For even more detail on what a Memorial Box is click here.

Wednesday, June 16

Why Ethiopia?

Thru many blogs and books, we have become educated on how AIDS, poverty, and war have created a crisis of unfathomable proportions leaving millions of children orphaned and all alone in Africa.

An entire generation of parents are no longer; there are 4.4 million orphans in just Ethiopia.

Our hearts have broken for these orphans. We feel like God has enabled us to weep for these children.

And now we feel like God is asking us to be one of these children’s mom and dad.

We are excited; we are scared, we are in awe. Us? He wants us?! to be the mom and dad of this little boy? What a privilege! He chose us out of all the moms and dads to be this little boy’s family. That brings tears to our eyes.

• One in six children in Ethiopia die before their fifth birthday

• 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old

• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)

• Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)

• Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school.

Ethiopia’s doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.

• In 1993, after 30 long years of war, Eritrea broke from Ethiopia and became an independent nation leaving Ethiopia landlocked without any major seafaring ports.



Incomprehensible to us middle class Americans.

We (Rob and Su) are not oblivious anymore; we are no longer ignorant.

We have been made aware.

We have grown disturbed and broken over this crisis.

And we’ve come to realize that crazy love takes action.

As one blog we stumbled upon posted:

Love is an action word

Love doesn’t sit idle

Love doesn’t stay where is comfortable

Love doesn’t wait until there is enough money

or until all its ducks are in a row

Love doesn’t worry about what other people think

Love is an action word

The action we feel God is calling us to is another adoption.

Thursday, June 10

African Children's Choir coming to Raleigh

Mark Your Calendars!! Friday evening, June 25th, 7pm the internationally acclaimed African Children's Choir is performing at the Raleigh Vineyard at 6894 Litchford Rd in Raleigh!!

Since 1984, the Choir’s message has reached many millions of people across North America and Europe and as far a field as Australia. Some of their performances include the White House for President George W. Bush, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, American Idol for "Idol Gives Back," the United Nations Assembly, and Westminster Abbey for the Queen of England.

Through the excellence of their performances they have raised substantial sums of money. This supports both the commitment of the organization to the ongoing care and education of the Choir children themselves and funds the education and welfare of many thousands of children in some of Africa’s most troubled and needy areas. There is no charge for this event at the Raleigh Vineyard, but a love offering will be taken during the show if you are so inclined.

The African Children’s Choir is the ambassador for Africa’s neediest, most vulnerable children.

The Choir shows the world that its members, like the millions of abandoned and traumatized children in Africa, have beauty, dignity and unlimited potential.

We Soutters will all be there and are super excited. We see this as a great opportunity to be intentional about supporting those in need, nurturing a broader world vision (and for us, getting a glimpse into our son's birth country). Let me know if you want to come and we'll meet you in the lobby and go sit together.

Tuesday, June 8

A Craft Show Miracle (from 2007)

Linny over at the blog, A Place Called Simplicity (my favorite blog, really) hosts a blog party every Monday where she asks others to share the God stories of their lives. She calls this party Memorial Box Monday.

As Linny says, "the purpose of each Memorial Box Monday post is to remind yourself and others of God's great faithfulness, His powerful provision and His Unexpected Gifts in each of our lives." For even more detail on what a Memorial Box is click here.

I am wanting to participate in sharing our God stories "because when we actively remember God's faithfulness in the past, we see that the future is under His control as well." And I need to remember that God has this current adoption in His hands.

So today's story that "only God could write" took place at the end of 2007. Anna was 10 years old at the time.

Over the Thanksgiving break, we sat Anna down and asked her to pray about how she was going to raise the money she needed to go to Guatemala. She and Rob were planning on spending a week that coming summer (2008) loving up on the children in a number of orphanages in Guatemala, including the one Jonathan (our 4th child) lived in for his first 10 months. Anna needed $1500 for her part of the trip.

Anna prayed and said she felt that we were to participate in Sanderson’s Holly Days craft show. We told her that she probably wouldn’t get in since it was coming up quickly. We asked her to keep praying.

In the meantime, Rob and I prayed privately and both of us felt God telling us to follow Anna’s lead and support her. By the end of the long weekend, Anna was sure that God was asking her to do the show, which we had discovered was less than a week away.

Rob and I had a crisis of faith. Were we going to take some serious risks and support our daughter? Or were we gonna tell Anna that she probably hadn’t heard God because it was too late to get in the show? We went with the former. We bought lots of art supplies, cleared our schedules to find time for creating, began making logistical arrangements, and emailed the folks at Sanderson.

By that first Thursday in December (the show started Friday), the crafts were getting done but we had heard nothing from Sanderson. We called the school and were given the same email we had already tried. We wrote again. This time we heard back, a letter telling us they were full and we would not get a space, they had more vendors this year than any other year. We emailed back, thanking them and letting them know we would be available if anything changed.

That night, we pulled the kids and prayed again. Anna felt like she got a picture of us at the show and people flooding our booth. She also saw a picture of Su at her computer on the AOL screen but did know what it meant. After the prayer time, we continued to craft and Rob and David drove across town to pick up tables for the show.

Part of us felt we were crazy preparing for a show we did not even have a booth at. The other part thought there was nothing else to do: of course we were going to prepare for the show, like Noah preparing for rain.

Later that night we put the kids to bed and each one begged God that we would get in the show. Rob and I went downstairs and continued to create.

We popped open email and found a note from Sanderson that read: “We just now had a cancellation. You will take so and so’s place.”

We jumped up and ran to the kids’ rooms. Everyone was screaming and jumping up and down. Tears were streaming down Su’s face. Anna had the hugest smile on her face and said, “I just knew it!” and hugged Su so tightly. We cheered for Jesus and thanked him for showing up.

Our pastor often says, “How do you spell faith?

The answer is, "R-I-S-K”

We are so glad we took the risk. And so to remember this story. . Anna and I bought the wooden word FAITH to put in our Memorial Box to help my now 13 year old

remember the very first (when she was 10) supernatural, faith filled, risk taking God adventure. May this be a mark of her life.

I'll tell you the turnout of Anna's craft show next Monday.

And if you missed my very first Memorial Box Monday post about God showing up at the mall, click here.

Monday, May 24

God Shows Up at the Mall

So here is my first Memorial Box Monday post. This God story just took place yesterday, Sunday, May 24, 2010. Click here if you missed my post about what a Memorial Box is.

I took my girls to Crabtree mall yesterday because Anna needed a specific top for her dance concert and she had a H&M gift card from her birthday to spend.

As we were fighting the crowds of H&M, trying on shirts, and my head was thumping to the loud music, a lady in a hot pink shirt came up to me and gently touched my arm.

I do not remember exactly what she said. . which is exactly why it is so important to write these God stories down soon after they occur. The lady seemed nervous and stumbled over her words, but said something like:

"I was over there with you when you were looking at the t-shirts and something in my gut told me to give something to you. So I am going to give it to you and walk away. Is that ok? Now don't come after me."

I was kinda taken aback and did not know what to say so I just uttered "ok". I cannot remember if I smiled or not. I was thinking she was gonna give me a tract or perhaps the phone #/website to some business proposition. She grabbed my hand and put some paper in it. I stuck it in my pocket and walked towards my girls.

In the corner of H&M, I looked at what she had given me. . it was $100.

And I looked for the bright hot pink shirt because I WAS gonna go after her.

I was gonna tell her about this little boy in Ethiopia that we are adopting and how we were asking God to provide for the adoption expenses and the plane tickets and a 12 passenger van. And I was gonna tell her that I thought her "gut feeling" was God and tell her that God still speaks today (maybe this lady knew that and she just said "gut feeling" as not to scare me off. . I do not know). Oh I wanted to tell her lots; I wanted to invite her to go get a pretzel with me and my girls.

I could not find her, but right there in H&M, with tears in my eyes, I said outloud, "Thank you God!"

Thru a lady in a bright pink top who had a "gut feeling", God whisperd to me. . "See, I have not forgotten that you are on this adoption journey. I am right here with you. I hear your prayers. I am going to provide." He spoke encouragement to my soul.

And so a H&M logo will go in our Memorial Box to remind us that God can show up anywhere. . even at the mall.

For more God stories, click the box below:

What is a Memorial Box?

Linny over at one of my all time favorite blogs, A Place Called Simplicity has a Memorial Box. This is a box where she purposefully gathers symbols representing the times of God's faithfulness. Every Monday, Linny shares an item in her Memorial Box and tells "the story only God could write". And then she invites her readers to do the same.

Linny explains that "In the Old Testament (Joshua 4) God tells the Hebrew nation to build a Memorial of stones to remember what He had done. He goes on to say that everytime they see the stones they are to remember and tell their children the story of His faithfulness and then to tell their children's children. So why did God tell His people to do that? Just for fun? No!! He did it cause He knew how forgetful they would be and that they would need to constantly tell the story over and over to remember His faithfulness."

So I am joining in. Rob and I are in the process of transforming the firewood box in our stairwell into a memorial box. Rob, the kids and I are making a list of all the God stories in our lives and figuring out what item we want to get to represent them.

And I am gonna start recording these stories here every Monday because as Linny says,

when we actively remember God's faithfulness

in the past,

we see that the future

is under His control as well."

Stay tuned for my first Memorial Box Monday post. . . the story just happened yesterday.

Tuesday, May 18

Where We Are At: May 17

Here's where we are at in the adoption timeline:
  • We are currently waiting to receive our fingerprint appointment card from US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • We will then go to Durham, NC to to get fingerprinted. I am guessing this will be around June 15 or so.
  • A month after that (so around July 15), we should receive our I-171H in the mail. As soon as you we have that, we are ready for the referral of our son.
  • Then we send in our dossier (fancy word for lots and lots of notarized papers and copies) to be authenticated in Ethiopia.
  • Referral of our son
  • Receive Ethiopian court date and make travel plans. This is new, the Ethiopian govt now requires the parents to be there for this court date. This is new as of May 2010 so now we have to go to Ethiopia twice.
  • Travel to Ethiopia to meet our son and appear in court. Once we pass this court appointment, the child is ours and I can post pics for ya'll to see. (I think I am right about this).
  • Say Good-bye to our son. . I have already cried over this. I bawled hysterically when we had to leave Jonathan and he was a baby and did not comprehend that we were leaving and coming back much later. Jonathan was asleep in his bassinet when we left. I cannot imagine leaving a 4-8 year old. So we go back home and wait for an Embassy Appointment date to be given.
  • Travel to Ethiopia again and be reunited with our son. Get son's passport at Embassy appointment.
  • Return home with our son
And here's where I am at emotionally:

There's joy and excitement and anticipation, but there's also a heaviness and broken heartedness that makes me cry often.

To have all these emotions within the same day and try to process and pray thru them. . . at the same time that my 9 year old needs to be homeschooled, laundry needs to be put away, kids need to be picked up from school, and dinner needs to get on the table is . . . a lot. This is the hard part, not all that adoption paperwork, not all that running around town getting this form and that form filled out, not the money. This whirlwind of emotions, this having your heart become aware of things you weren't aware of (more on that later), that is what I am referring to when I say, "adoption isn't for wimps."

I pray daily that my son in Ethiopia. . that his heart would b
e filled with hope, that somehow supernaturally he would know that a mom and dad and 2 brothers and 2 sisters are waiting for him.

My prayer for me is that I would enjoy this ride and be strengthen and changed to be more like Jesus in the process. God loves my boy in Ethiopia more than I do.
God has already written this story.

Friday, May 14

God preparing Brooke

I have been praying that God would prepare each one of us for our time in Africa. Yes, each one of us.

My prayer is that God would provide plane tickets not just for Rob and me, but for the kids as well. I want them to go. For so many reasons (which is another post).

And so I am praying that God not only provides a way for all 6 of us to go to Africa, but that He also starts preparing us for what He is going to do in us and thru us while we are there.

And I think I am seeing a glimpse of this preparation in my Brooke. Remember this story of Brooke praying for our next door teenage neighbor's boyfriend. . even though she was scared?

Well, the story continues. Last Sunday. . .May 16th, 2010. . again documenting for me and Brooke. . .during worship Brooke felt like she heard God tell her that she was to pray for a lady that started with the letter E and had no kids.

Brooke wanted to tell Rob what she had heard, but then it was time to go to Sunday School.

When Brooke got to Sunday School, there was a new teacher assistant, Mrs. Emily. Brooke knew then that she was to pray for Mrs. Emily. . that this was the E lady God was talking about during worship.

After Sunday School was over, Brooke ran and found me and told me that she wanted to go pray for Mrs. Emily. Oh me, I think Mrs. Emily and I had had one conversation before and that is it.

But this was not about me, this was about nurturing this heart of prayer in my 9 year old. So we found Mrs. Emily.

I introduced ourselves and thanked her for teaching Brooke in Sunday School and told her that Brooke wanted to pray for her and could we?

Mrs. Emily said yes. Brooke took over so confidently and said, "Is there anything specific you want prayer for?"

And Emily shared something real and significant. Which so made me smile because by sharing something real. . Mrs. Emily showed me and Brooke that she believed that God does not put an age limit on when God can use a person or when suddenly someone can start hearing His voice. Oh how my heart smiled. Kids can so see thru when we are faking it or just doing it to not hurt their feelings. Mrs. Emily was sincere.

Brooke then asked, "Mom, do you want to go first or do you want me?"

Brooke prayed.

Emily cried.

And afterwards Brooke had to make sure Mrs. Emily did not have any kids so she just out of the blue asked her, "Do you have kids?" No surprise, she didn't. Brooke just looked at me and nodded her head and smiled.

Oh this is what I like about being a mom. . identifying what God is up too. . identifying those unique gifts He has placed in each one of my kids. . and then when I see the chance to water them and nurture them. . to jump at the chance.

I have a feeling Brooke is being prepared for some praying in Africa.

Wednesday, May 12

These are selling. . .

These are selling:

These are selling not because I am super talented or business savvy, but because God longs to bring home a little boy to his forever family.

The following blogs wrote about my paintings. The real reason I am listing these blogs is not for you, but for our boy.

One day, I will show our son this post and tell him, "See, God had it all planned. Look what He did. He totally made a way for you to come home. Look how He got the word out about Mom's paintings. Our God is soo cool. Look how he used paint and paper and crafts and couponing and blogs to bring us together. Our God is so creative!"

And then we can talk about what talents and gifts my son has and how he can let God use then for good purposes and big God things. Oh yes, that makes me smile! I have seen it over and over again. . skateboarding, craft shows, couponing, water bottles and bananas (more on that later), scrapbooking, blogging. . . all used to further His Kingdom.

Check out these shout outs:

Just A Girl

That We Might Be Adopted

A Place Called Simplicity

Throwing Our Arms Open Wide

Musically Pink

We Are That Family, this post too

Cleary Crew

Click here if you'd like to see lots of pictures of paintings I have done for families, to a page with all the details about how these paintings are made, and if interested, details on how to order one for your own home.

Wednesday, May 5

It's More than Just Art. . .

It's More than Just Art. . .
it's a Vision for Your Family

and it helps bring a little boy home from Ethiopia

If you have been in my home, you have seen the large whimsical art above my fireplace. Oh. .this is so much more than just decor; this is what the Soutters are all about; these are our priorities.

The sales of these one-of-a kind pieces of art helped to raise funds for our adoption of a little boy from Ethiopia. And due to the volume of orders I have currently, I am no longer taking orders. I have many orders to keep me creating until March 2011 and then our little boy comes home!! I am keeping this post up because one day I want to make all my posts into a book for our son. . for him to see how God was orchestrating his coming home. So if you came here from another link, thanks for your interest, but I am not taking orders or adding to my wait list. I am slowing down to wrap up current orders, prepare for our son, and then adjust, transition, and bond as a family of 7. Thanks for understanding.

Here is a painting I did for the Marble family:

Just tell me your colors. What colors make you smile?
Pink and brown made this gal smile. You can click on any of these pictures to view it larger.

Or you can send me photos of the room where you will hang this one-of-a-kind art. Here is a painting I did for a special family in Kansas after I saw pictures of their kitchen:

Tell me what color background you are thinking. a neutral like Cream or Tan/Khaki OR a bright cheerful color like this apple green.

Or perhaps a soft blue. I can do any color background you want.

Tell me your colors and I will then pick out the paint and paper and have you approve. This gal shared she wanted blues and khakis and some turquoise too because it was her favorite color.

Once colors are approved, you then get me a list of 20 things your family is about. I can give you a list to help you brainstorm.

Here is a painting I did for the family. I love that one of their "we do statements" is we do snuggles.

Each painting is a custom, unique piece just for your home. No two paintings are identical; this is truly one-of-a- kind art. What a reminder of your family's priorities and purpose!! This piece was made for a special family in California:

The paintings are dimensional. . the words "In This Home" and the house stands out from the canvas. The roof and door of the house are separate pieces and add even more dimension.

I love the button as the doorknob.

Three sizes are available:

A 24" wide by 18" tall painting is $75.

Here is a 24 by 18 painting that will hang in the Roe's homeschool room. I just need to put their 15-20 "we do" statements on it.

The next size I offer is 36" wide by 24" tall for $130. This was a birthday present from a hubby to his wife.

I also offer a huge, 48" wide by 36" tall pieces of art; this is the size of the painting in my living room for $240. Here is one of the large paintings I did for the Dickenson's, to hang in their dining room:

Contact me at susoutter at bellsouth dot net (use @ and .) and we can talk your colors, what your family is all about, and get started on your unique piece of art work right away.

And one more picture. Below is a painting I did for the Cleary family. Look how the door and windows match her dining room walls perfectly!

Click here to see what the Cleary family and others are saying about their paintings.

Please note that if you are not local (Raleigh, NC) and I have to ship your painting, shipping/handling charges will be added to the price of the painting. I will just add the exact amount that I am charged to ship it, plus the charge of the box. The 24 by 18 paintings average $17. The 36 by 24 painting are averaging around $22. And the largest 48 by 36 paintings are averaging $98 to ship.