"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven." Ecc. 3:1

Photo credit to darlingbydesignphotography.com

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Hudson is so thoughtful. Look what he left on the kitchen counter for me to find!! He found it out in a field yesterday. Got to love 9 year old boys......

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

I have been thinking for days that I wanted to write about my recent trip to El Salvador. But every time I set down to type, I can't find the words. My heart and my mind are so full. I am still working to process all that I saw and experienced. Following is a copy of something I wrote on the third night of our trip:

"I am at a loss for words as I sit to type about our experience here in El Salvador. Words seem cheap. My emotions are raw and I have cried a million tears. In the past three days I have: rocked a new born baby abandoned at birth, watched homeless men, women, and children crawl out from under a bridge for food, kissed the face of the handicapped adults that the world has forgotten, and prayed with the beautiful El Salvadorians that call a Squatter Camp home. As I lay in my bed and wept last night the only prayer I could muster was for His quick return. I pray that the Lord will come and end the suffering and pain. Until He does, I pray that He will continue breaking my heart and yours. I pray that we will not rest in our comfort, in our conveniences, and in our "security." Starfish IS making a difference here. God is using His people to reach those who are in the worst of circumstances and in desperate need. I am blessed to be a part of this fabulous group of people! All glory, honor and praise to our King"

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Friday, September 24, 2010

A Birthday to Remember

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Disclaimer: I have NO idea why the pictures are like this?!?


Hudson's 9th birthday this year is one that we will certainly not forget. The weekend prior to his big day we celebrated at our house with 10 of his buddies, grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins. This was his first big "sleep over" and we did it right!! They played football, basketball, spotlight tag, and wrestled. They ate pizza, cake, popcorn, and lots of soda! They went to bed way to late (sorry parents) and got up the next morning ready to do it all again. I think the party was a success!!

On the night of his actual birthday we decided to go for ice cream after church. He was in a mean game of chase with his siblings and cousins when he decided to leap off the play set. I knew by his scream that something was really, really wrong. As soon as he rolled over we saw that his right forearm was disfigured, disgustingly disfigured. We knew immediately we were headed for the E.R. and after a few X-rays we were told he had snapped both bones in his right forearm, in half!! At 6:00 a.m. the next morning (couldn't do it that night because he had a full belly of Snickers Blizzard) they put him to sleep and set his arm. He is now in a cast for 6 weeks.

He is enjoying "slacking" on his school work and jobs around the house. He is loving having his big sisters take care of some of this for him!?

As we set at the hospital that night I remember being overcome with gratitude that we were there for an arm that would heal. The E.R. is a sad place to be. I set with my son behind a curtain and listened to the sounds of people that were in some desperate, lost, very sad and difficult situations. Young, single moms with sick children. You could see the hopelessness on their faces. There were senior citizens that were very ill and alone. There was one man beside us that was biting, hitting, yelling and spitting and was being sent to a Mental Facility. Late that night an ambulance came in with a drunk driver injured in an accident that was his fault. I remember praying for these people as I would hear their voices and see their faces. I hugged and kissed Hudson's head and held him tight. That is certainly not how we wanted to spend the night of his 9th birthday, but the invaluable gift was the reminder of all that our family has been given.....and to remember "that to whom much is given, much is expected."

(Hats off to Aunt Renee and Uncle Brandon who were with us at Dairy Queen to take care of our other children and get them home when we raced off to the E.R......they are an "invaluable gift" as well!!)

Step by Step

The first picture was in our referral information packet we received in January of this year. He looked sick, sad, lost, hopeless, and miserable. It broke my heart every time I looked at it. I remember not wanting our friends and family to see this picture because I didn't want them to worry or question what we were doing. I was carrying enough doubt and anxiousness on my own. I remember asking myself, "Can we do this? How can he heal? Will he let us love him?"

We have come so far in just 5 months. I don't ever want to portray that this has been easy. It is not. There have been huge adjustments for all of us. Some days are great, some not so much!?! Some days we take 2 steps forward and then 3 steps back. But we are not alone. All glory, honor, and praise to our Healer, Counselor, and Mighty King.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

End of Summer

Well, summer is officially over here at the Stivers' house. Gone are the days of late night movies, swimming, sleeping in, late afternoon trips to Dairy Queen, sunscreen, and trips to the water park. "His Call" Academy has now officially began it's 2nd year of school! We are reading, writing, and "arithmaticing". We are doing everything from learning our colors to Pre-Algebra.....please pray for the students (and the teacher).

We ended summer this past weekend at the St. Louis zoo with some very special friends (it was Luke's 8th birthday). We swam at the hotel pool, jumped on the beds (why do kids always like to jump on beds in hotels), saw lots of hot, stinky animals (us and them), and ate lots of snow cones and ice cream. It was a great time and a super way to end the summer of 2010!

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy 4th

We spent the 4th of July weekend with a wonderful family, the Walters, that we met on our trip to Ethiopia. They were there adopting their son, Micah. We have kept in touch since we have gotten home and were so glad they could make the trip from Lexington for the weekend. The kids had a great time being together, swimming, watching fireworks, and playing in the yard. A.J. was so happy to see Micah, who he called by his Ethiopian name all weekend. They are a beautiful family with 2 adorable boys who are very close in age. We are already planning another get together in October.
Fireworks at my in-laws.
Happy 4th of July from Harper!!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Syd

My girl is 11!! I can't believe she is 11!! We had a great time at Venture River with some sweet friends. We spent the day sliding, swimming, and floating!!! This 37 year old mom was worn out keeping up with these girls but we had a wonderful time.

Happy Birthday Syd!!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This says it all......

"I can not play it safe and please God."-Keith Seabourn

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Friday, July 9, 2010

"Buzzin' Cousins"

These guys have so much fun when they are all together. It has been such a wonderful blessing watching them all grow up....now ages 13 to 3. The past week we enjoyed their bi-annual play, a great trip to Six Flags, and fireworks on the 4th of July.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

(Pictures in reverse order)

Our time in Ethiopia ended on Thursday evening as we prepared to leave the hotel and head to the airport around 7:30 p.m. We spent most of the afternoon packing all of our things and saying good bye to many very special people. There were only 4 families able to leave this day, others were forced to take later flights home due to the continuing volcanic ash situation.

I loved this picture of A.J. and Jody looking out our hotel room window. Each afternoon we had watched young boys playing soccer, cattle and donkeys roaming, and people walking through a huge field across the street. On this particular afternoon it was raining as they gazed out that window for the last time.

The second picture (from the bottom) shows Jody and A.J. taking our huge load of luggage into the airport. A.J. was, and continues to be, a hard worker that loves to carry through on tough jobs. The airport was extremely crowded. The lines to check in were long. There was a brief moment in time that I thought we might miss our flight. I wanted to come home so badly by this point, I think I would have rented a boat and rowed us across that Atlantic Ocean.

A.J. and Sydney did WONDERFUL on the flight home (thanks to a little Benedryl)!! They slept from Addis to Amsterdam and most of the way to Detroit. Unfortunately, no drugs were strong enough for Jody and I!?! Thankfully we had some good snacks and movies to watch to pass the time. I can't even begin to tell you how pumped I was to be on that final leg from Detroit to Nashville. Jody and I were both on the verge of tears when the plane hit the landing. I remember looking right into his eyes and knowing exactly what he was feeling and thinking.....you just know after 15 years......

Next, our airport homecoming!! Praise the Lord, we were all together again!!!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

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As our week in Ethiopia was drawing to a close, we were able to visit two very special places. On Wednesday night we had a traditional Ethiopian dinner at Yod Abbysinia. This was a wonderful experience. While we were eating our dinner we watched a beautiful display of the Ethiopian culture, lots of singing and dancing. A.J. danced right along with the performers and that was so fun to see. The food is "shared" with others out of a large, center platter. Lots of different types of meat, rice, spicy stew, and sauces. Everything is eaten with injera, a thin, spongy type of bread....just tear some off and scoop it up with your fingers. A.J. loved it!! (By now I was really craving a cheeseburger and fries!?!)

On Thursday all 23 of us (adults and children) crammed into a 16 passenger van and went to Bethzatha, named from the Pool of Bethesda in the Bible. This is the home A.J. was in before going to Hannah's Hope. It is run by Samuel (see picture), a Ethiopian man that walked away from his lucrative career to serve the Lord and help the orphaned children in his country. He was amazing and it was a joy to hear him speak of his experiences. I could not fight back the tears as we toured Bethzatha. The conditions there were not as good as Hannah's Hope. It broke my heart to see the children with severe special needs. The dedicated staff had no washer and dryer for their laundry (there were 66 children). The food was cooked in a concrete shed. But, you can see the precious faces of the children. Their eyes begged for love and attention, and as you can see Jody was happy to give it!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I have been very impressed with our adoption agency, All God's Children International. I was even more thankful for their work after spending a week at their transition home in Addis where A.J. has been living for the past several months. Here are a few pictures of some of the Ethiopian women that have been caring for him and the 60 or so other children that live there.

The women are called special mothers. They are certainly "special". The group picture is with Almaz, the Director of Hannah's Hope. She is incredibly efficient and has a beautiful heart for the children of Ethiopia.

There is also a picture of the gate to Hannah's Hope which is a very nice facility that the children and staff moved into after Christmas. In stark contrast is the road leading to Hannah's Hope. So much of the city is in very poor condition.

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Icing on the Cake

On Wednesday we got an "extra special wonderful terrific" visit from my cousin Charis, her husband William, and their newly adopted daughter Hannah Fevin Brown. Words can't describe how comforting it has been to walk this adoption journey with the Browns. I remember Easter of 2009, standing in my aunt's foyer, talking to Charis about the possibility of us both adopting children from Ethiopia. Never in a million years did I think that we would travel on the same plane (adopting through different agencies) one year later to bring our children home. There is no way we could have planned it this way. Isn't God awesome!!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Loving "heavy"

Our third day in Ethiopia with A.J. was "heavy" for me. I remember pondering all day what it is to love an adopted child. As a family we had been praying for months that God would prepare our hearts (and A.J's) for what was to come. I had explained to the kids before we left that it may take time for them to "feel" like he was their brother. I didn't want them to feel guilty for not having instant love for someone they had just met. We talk often about loving others as yourself and how this would apply with our newest family member.

As I was laying in our hotel room that night I remember praying, "Jesus, I would die for this little boy, but I don't know him." That was strange for me. With our biological children I had 9 months to carry and nurture them. When they were born, I rocked them and nursed them, and gradually learned who they were. In their toddler years I fed them Cheerios, read books to them, and helped them learn their boundaries. With A.J. it was obviously very different. I stepped off the van and this 4 year old boy jumped into my arms......a 4 year old that couldn't speak English. He couldn't tell me about his past or how he felt. He couldn't tell me what his favorite color was or if he was scared in his bed at night.

God continually showed me His faithfulness as we spent the first days of our life together in Ethiopia. Despite the conflicting emotions that were playing in my heart I felt His leading me to be patient, to not be anxious, to wait on Him. I had no doubt that He knew that Afewerk Joseph was going to be my son when He placed the stars in the sky, and that made all the difference!

The distance between "I would die for him" and "I don't know him" is drastically decreasing. Our love for one another is growing. I am watching our whole family learn to love each other in a new, sweet way. A.J. has now been with us for nine days and we have come so far. I am learning more about him every day. He scrunches his nose and growls when we wants to wrestle with me, he says "I love you" and calls me "mommy" 400 times a day, he loves to take a bath, he doesn't like ice in his drinks, he wants Eggo waffles without syrup every morning, he loves to listen to music, he likes to be read to and rocked to sleep, and he detests riding in his car seat.

I have often said that adoption is a roller coaster ride. The last 10 months have been full of highs and lows. I am so grateful to be setting on this side of the process, but I wouldn't trade one minute of this "ride". God is teaching me so much about love, about uncertainties, about His sovereignty. It seemed appropriate to post the picture of A.J. and I with one of my favorite verses painted on the wall of his transition home, Isaiah 40:31.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

The moment we had been waiting for.....

We were so glad to arrive in Ethiopia Sunday evening. We were exhausted, but overjoyed to be so close to A.J. We got to the hotel around 9:00 p.m. and unpacked all of our things. I have to say how proud Jody and I were of Sydney. She was a wonderful traveler and we truly enjoyed spending so much time with her on the plane (lots of quality time on an 18 hour plane ride). We fell into bed around midnight and were up early Monday morning to meet Almaz in the hotel conference room. (Jody filling out paper work above). Normally we would have already had A.J and would have spent the day with him before we headed to the Embassy. However, the volcano had disrupted our entire schedule and we rushed out of the hotel after this meeting and headed to Hannah's Hope to pick up our children. I remember praying on the way there, "Lord, I pray that he feels safe. That he can sense how much we love him." I was so nervous! As we pulled into the gate I heard Jody say "I see him. There he is." Of course, all of the parents were glued to the windows, each waiting for that first glimpse of their child. I hate that we were rushed, but we had to leave shortly to make our American Embassy appointment. I remember stepping out of the van and Afewerk running into my arms. I couldn't even look at his face because he was covering my cheeks with the most precious kisses. I remember feeling great relief. I remember thinking he was smaller than I had envisioned. I vividly recall thinking he was beautiful. I was so grateful and my heart was full. Unfortunately, we literally had to jump back on the van and go. That was the first time Jody got to hold him. He received the same wonderful greeting (pictured above.)

The next several hours were a blur. We stood in line for almost 2 hours waiting for our turn at the embassy. That is never the beginning you want with your newly adopted child. We had packed plenty of snacks and toys and I was so glad we had. We rolled a toy car he instantly loved and ate animal crackers and suckers.

After the appointment we were taken back to the hotel. We walked into our room and Afewerk immediately headed for the dresser full of snacks and toys. We spent the rest of the day playing and eating. The exhaustion set in during the late afternoon. That night we gave him a bath, put on his new PJ's, and ate dinner in the room....traditional Ethiopian lamb tips for him, french fries and Coke for Jody, Sydney, and I. What a sweet night it was as we tucked him in bed and watched him drift off to sleep. I remember drifting off to sleep as I thanked my Savior for saving me and blessing me in such an awesome way.

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