Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Info on HIV+

Hi all,
I was reading one of my favorite blogs - she is a mom of a family somewhat similar to mine (though she has 12 children, while we only have five!!). They are a multiracial family, having bio children, and internationally adopted children. Anyway, this was her post today:

I have a friend whose family looks a lot like mine: a mix of adopted African and Asian kids along with several kids born to her. One difference, however, is that two of her precious Ethiopian children, Belane and Solomon, are HIV+. She asked readers of her blog to share these facts about HIV with two other people. Maybe some of you will consider passing on this information as well.

Today I have heard from several different parents of HIV+ children who are facing negative reactions to their adoptions based on the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV. It is extremely frustrating to me that in 2008 there is still so much unfounded fear caused by a lack of education, that results in nasty, ugly and mean treatment of people who are HIV+ and their families. The reason people in the U.S. are not educated about HIV is that most people don’t care, because most people in this country are not affected by it. People still see it as the problem of homosexuals, drug users and people in Africa.

The reality is, HIV/AIDS is everyone’s problem. It is a devastating problem in Africa and many countries, but there are many, many Americans living with this disease as well. In fact, new cases of HIV in the U.S. are now being seen in the largest numbers in heterosexual women. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Living with this nasty disease is hard enough, but compounding that with the misguided fear and judgment of society is beyond tragic, and as the mom of two HIV+ children, it is sad and frustrating.

So, if you are one of the many who check in to this blog every day, I am asking you to do me a favor. I want you to tell at least two people about HIV.

Spread the word that…

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact.

HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way.

It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Help me spread the truth about HIV, and take a tiny stab at the stigma against HIV. Tell your friend when you talk on the phone. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Post it on your blog and ask other people to tell their readers. Ask them to pass it on as well. I would love to see this spread beyond the adoption blogs.

Even if you have no real interest in HIV/AIDS, even if you are not involved in adoption, even if you don’t think you know anyone who is HIV+… education and knowledge are always a good thing. It is so easy to say to someone, “hey, guess what I learned today?” and it is even easier to put it on a blog or in an email.Do it for me. Do it for the other adoptive families and the HIV+ orphans that are waiting for homes. Do it for Belane and Solomon. Do it for all of the other people on this planet living with HIV. If everyone that reads this blog tells at least two people, that is a whole bunch of people we can reach and a little bit of difference we can make.


Hi - it's Christy again. I have learned these amazing facts about HIV prior to our adoption. At that point I had not learned any of this. It was amazing to me that the medical specialists compared living with HIV+ diagnosis similar to living with Type 1 diabetes. It really made it concrete for me, as our middle child has been diagnosed with type 1 for nearly five years now. We know that it is intense, that there is a lot of medical care, that medications are absolutely critical to our child's health and survival, but to compare it to HIV really brought home how far we have come in the HIV/AIDS crisis. I have to admit that the AIDS crisis is significant to me, as one of my sons was orphaned by AIDS. I am blessed that my children are healthy, but there are many parents raising children with HIV. It is possible, and these families deserve our support. Perhaps the hardest part is all the misconceptions.

When we were learning about Ethiopia and all the issues there (prior to my travel) I was amazed to learn that initially HIV was passed in Africa through vaccinations! You have to understand that initially, glass vials and glass syringes were used when penicillin became available, and the same needle was used for hundreds of people for mass vaccinations/medications. In may cases there was not the funds or electricity to sterilize the needle between uses. Even now with plastic syringes and disposable needles, due to poverty, needles are used for many people. Literally hundreds at a time. I would highly recommend that you read the first couple chapters of "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Faye Greene. She is a journalist, so researched it so very well and presented it in a way that made a lot of sense. Anyway, now HIV is spread through what we consider the "normal" ways - drug use, sexual contact, birth, blood to blood contact, but continues to be spread through use of medical needles, especially in rural areas. And things just continue. It all adds to the tragedies of what is happening there, the poverty and sadness. And that is for another blog. How can you love a place so much, a people so much, and feel so helpless? Like I said, another blog!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Go Fish "Mom Song"

Hi all!
I wasn't necessarily going to post yet today, and then I found this YouTube video thanks to another blog that I love! You need to check this out!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wkc9-SvqfDM

I will double check this link, but it should work. The group is called "Go Fish" and this is the Mommy Song. It is hysterical and I needed to hear it this morning! It inspired me to hop to it! Fun and honest. I haven't heard of these guys before, but you know I will be checking them out.

Today is an at home day, mostly. I need to run to the local dump. Ugh. At least usually I have two kids to come with me to make the job more fun. See out here in the boonies it costs a fortune to have garbage pickup. Literally. More than cable. Ugh. Cannot lose the History channel for the convenience of garbage pickup!!! Or American Idol - heaven forbid! Or Extreme Home Makeover!!! So, to be able to keep that, and not break the budget, we have a small pickup truck with a cap. The theory was that it could pull a trailer, but in all honesty it is too small. But it does great as a mobile garbage can! We load it up regularly (and let me tell you, we recycle or reuse whatever we can so we don't have to do this too often!) and when it gets full, we go to the dump! It is a happy and unhappy time - happy to see it all go, but yuck, what a job! I do it, so who am I to complain when I get my wonderful, quiet country home?

So, anyway, I am going to drag the kids outside and we are going to make sure the truck is as full as it can get with the yard debris from winter, and then I will make the trek to the dump. It is always considered an adventure by the kids to come with mom on this job even though they generally just ride along. Whoo -hoo!!! Why this is so exciting, I don't know, but the kids trade off and off we go. I don't remember whose turn it is this time, but the kids certainly will!

And other than that, and maybe on the way back picking up an old freezer to use for grain storage, we are home! Yay!

I got to spend the most wonderful evening last night at a purse party (Zag Bag if you have ever heard of it, I hadn't). It was a great time with dear friends, browsing, and being creative. But most of all, I ended up staying out past my curfew talking with two wonderful women that I love dearly. We got to talking about our experiences in Ethiopia, and the upcoming trip for our friend. It really sent me back and refreshed all those memories, and as Lisa and I recounted our experiences from our trip (we traveled together to bring home our adopted children) it really helped me to process all that we had experienced and all that we had experienced since then. It really helped us to put the changes in our lives in perspective. Our children have changed our lives, our children's lives and us overall. Anyway, it was so refreshing, and put things in such perspective for me, well, we turned around and nearly three hours had passed!!! Oh, my goodness! I haven't had that happen in ages!!!! But how nice to share parenting with good friends, and with a friend who will travel to Ethiopia. We could tell her what we saw, recommend things, and then share our experiences. A truly surreal time.

So, today is back to the usual, daily things. The laundry monster is almost conquered, I can see the end in sight (at our house the end means that everything is contained within the baskets in the laundry room and not creeping onto the floor and out of the laundry room door!), and dishes are contained! Whoo - hoo! It takes so little to make me happy. But it is all good. The little things are so foundational for the big things, so needed, without them the big things cannot happen. I am learning to focus on those, though I have to admit that I am a slow learner. So today is things like the routine things, and washing the floors! But the clean smells and lovely freshness is priceless!

So, we are off to the day. Time to make sure that the kids are finishing up their chores so we can start the academics. And I need to bake bread today. So, on we go!!! Hope you have a delightful day, and I will try to be more creative another time. But do check out the Mom Song!!! It will bring a lift to your spirit!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bwahh-ha-ha!!!!!

The laundry has been multiplying behind my back! It just takes two days of running around and not being home, and it is now a mountain again!!! Drat! Well, it is 9:30 and there is one load being folded, another in the dryer, and another in the washer! And blankets on the line!!! Whoo - hoo! Take that you laundry monster! A few more loads and you will be beaten back into submission!

And the dishes! I think they were conspiring with the laundry, plotting an overthrow!!!! Well, I have just about foiled their plot! A sinkful is soaking, and the counters are empty, the clean ones dried and put away by a helpful child! Just a bit more and they are totally vanquished, at least until lunch!

And so the evil overthrow of my household is vanquished! Whew! Now on to lessons with the kids and hopefully those can be done outside in the sunshine, but I do worry about what plots may be hatched behind my back if I leave the kitchen and laundry room unsupervised!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring growth

Today I sit and wonder where I am going. My pastor likes to say that God doesn't speak to him, he shuts the doors to the room, lights it on fire, and opens a window. That is the only way to go - it is so clear! LOL! I don't think I said it with the finesse that he does, but whatever. This morning I found out I goofed up something at work last night. I haven't made this mistake in all the years I have been working, but now it has got me wondering if I had and just didn't know it. You know how that kind of thing makes you question everything. What am I doing? Am I really doing a good job? Should I be doing this anymore?

I only work on call, a couple hours here and there, so I am home with the kids. And I have to admit that I was quite distracted last night - Kiley had been low before we left home, and hadn't really wanted to eat as much as I would have wanted to know that she would be safe at the park across the street. The kids love to play on the playground while I am working. Generally an hour and a half, and they know right where to find me if they need me, and with five of them together, and their ages, I don't really worry. But I did and was checking out the window at them several times, counting their flying bodies as they played. Maybe I shouldn't have been working? Maybe this is the wrong place if I cannot get my head into the game. See how this makes me question everything? I hate that.

I am reading a devotional by Joyce Meyer based upon her book "Battlefield of the Mind". I know some of these questions are legitimate and some are directly from Satan, maybe all of them. So, I have to go in and put things right. That is the only thing to do. And I really don't want to. I want to cancel it all and hide in a hole and say that it is all done. That is clearly from Satan. So, I won't. I will go in, explain myself as best as I can, and fix things. I know that I will feel better when it is done, but I really, in my heart of hearts just want to throw in the towel. That is the coward's way out. Ugh. I know that I will be glad that it is fixed and God will use it.

On to other things, just had to sort of get that out of my head.

How do we know where we are supposed to be in life? I don't know. I still struggle with not saying that I am a speech language pathologist. I am, I was, but I don't do much of that outside the home right now. I don't want to lose it, but don't know how to keep it. I am needed so much more here at home, even though at times it feels like basically for cooking, cleaning, washing, teaching. This is where I am needed, and I am using my skills here every day! But it isn't a recognized "profession" and I don't contribute to the financial part of the household, except by hopefully being a wise and frugal steward (and I am impulsive, so some days, not so much). I love the work that I do/did, but that is not where I am now. I don't know that I will ever be there again. Should I use my skills to create products for the field? I don't know. I seem to be specializing in English as a second language right now! LOL! Obviously I don't need to be outside the house! I just don't know. And so I am writing. I know that this is a calling (but what if I fail, what if no one likes it, on and on, you know the drill, we all doubt ourselves), and it is something I try on. The bottom line is that I am needed here. With the six people entrusted to me by God. Not by my selfish desires, want for glory or recognition, or anything else. There are times that I do feel that I labor in the dark, and I do, but God sees it all.

I am watching my peonies and daylilies starting to come up. Spring is a time of renewal. It is a time when all does as God created them to do. Now if I can just keep the sheep away from them! I wish I was kidding, but the new lamb is not yet back in the pasture with the others, so I have a mama sheep and a lamb walking around the yard. But the dogs are on the side of the house by the flowers, so the sheep seem to keep away. Anyway, we are planning our garden, starting seeds in homemade mini greenhouses, and dreaming of summer. I love spring! Perhaps our lives have a time of spring too - a time where we can feel that all is in sync with what is God's plan. I felt that as we went through the adoption process with our Ethiopian sons. The impossible became possible and we were in line and it was so clear. And it continues to be so right that they are here, never a doubt, even when they make me crazy (don't all kids?). But that huge driving of the impossible has settled to the day to day. It is RIGHT, but it is a much slower pace. I feel like a plant, waiting to come out from the ground for spring. I am stretching and reaching, but cannot see the light yet. I know that I have purpose and am doing it, but cannot feel the sun showing me that I am there. The last year and a half, I felt that sun, knew that I was growing in the light. Now we have spent time in dormancy, establishing and knitting together as a seed underground in the winter. And I want that wonderful growing that I felt before. I know that I can feel the warmth, I know that it is there, I just cannot decide which way is up today. I know God has more in store. I know it is there, and I want it. I want to be part of his plan, but today... Today I am that plant, under the ground, under the pebble, not quite sure where I am going, which way is up. I know God has more in store for me. I just don't know what it is.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shout to the Lord!

I was really struck today, sort of out of the blue. Thank goodness, not by a flying ball, a kicking horse, or anything like that, but instead by sheer gratitude. You know, some days I am so absorbed in what the day to day needs of my family's life are, that I don't exactly see the big picture. Well, today the big picture hit me square between the eyes.

I have been in a season of really working to find my way in our new family constellation, to complete all that must be done, and to get ahead - not financially, but I would be thankful for getting ahead on the laundry!!! LOL! At least now it is generally closer to caught up. And I sometimes actually do have dinner thought out prior to throwing it together, I do actually have a plan in mind, with all the ingredients, before five minutes to wanting to put it on the table. Now if someone wanted to take me out for Chinese food or something, I would be thrilled to put my plans away for later (hint, hint). Though on the other hand, way out here in the boonies there are no wonderful Chinese restraunts. So that saves the budget and my waistline! But I digress. The point is, I have been busy in DOING all that needs to be done.

No, that does not mean all my dishes are done, or that my kitchen floor doesn't need a good wash. Not by a long shot. But I am getting things somewhat feeling like they are in a rhythm. And learning to be a mom to three boys (increased from just one) and two girl, all ages 8 to 13, so three are hitting puberty hard at the same time. Whew! Two boys comparing fuzz on their lips - just wait Mom, look in the sunlight, if I tilt my head just right! And one girl having places growing and curving that Mom and Dad really weren't ready for!!! And all the entailing hormones and drama. Whew. And the little two, both eight (boy and girl for anyone who doesn't already know) are now glued at the hip for most things. They are currently outside making a jumprope out of old twine from the hay bales - good recycling!

But it has been a season where I am doing and doing. And loving it, but sometimes you get so involved in the day to day that you forget the big picture. Even when you lived it.

Two of my sons are adopted from Ethiopia, a wondrous and beautiful country full of heritage and strength. Did you know that Ethiopia is the only African country never colonized? Yep! They were invaded by Italy early in this century and they were overwhelmed for a bit, and then chased those Italians out. No slam on the Italians, but kudos to the Ethiopians, who were definitely the underdogs. And Ethiopia was linked to Israel and the house of Solomon from the time of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Yep, the Queen was from what we now call Ethiopia! And their son was the first of the ruling line. Until just recently their royal house was supposedly a direct line from those two ancient figures. The Ethiopian script looks much like Hebrew to me, and much of the language is considered a Semetic language. They are a very Christian nation, mixed now with Muslim, but a larger percentage Christian than any other African nation. OK, enough history and stuff. Here in American we have seen the photos, videos from Ethiopia from the 1980's and on. How many of us don't have seared into our memories the starving children from Ethiopia? Other African nations as well.

So, we have such mixed messages. But much of the sadness is true. I read and learned before I went, and I just thought I was prepared. But, the reality and the enormity was just beyond words. Again I digress.

We have a long story about how we came to adopt internationally, mostly an amazing testimony to the strength and power of our Lord, because this was surely not our plan, and surely beyond what we could do. But the story of seven orphans came to the attention of a member of our church, who mentioned it in one small bit of the end of a message to the church. Fast forward to me, homeschooling, homesteading, Wisconsin girl, never left the US, on a plane to Ethiopia! I have to tell you I spent a great deal of time asking God how this was happening. It was surreal. Believe it or not, I was in Germany (yeah, Eric, I know, you go there all the time!) for a bit, then on another plane with a quick stop in Khartum Sudan (held my breath the entire time while we watched huge anti aircraft guns around the airport, UN trucks and a UN compound, and many many soldiers with machine guns), and then on to Addis Ababa Ethiopia. What was I doing there???

I am not a hero, I did not rescue my sons, I did not take pity on anyone. I would say that we did see a need and felt called to it. But, over and over I tell people, we got the greatest blessing (sometimes very loud and even aggravating), but truly we got the best of the bargain. How it all came about was so far beyond what we could do, so many people helped to make it possible. And now I have two very dark sons mixed in with our other children. And it is a blessing, even when it is a challenge. And it is a challenge. But, it is the greatest honor in the world being the mother of all these children.

It really struck me when someone linked me to Idol Gives Back 2008 where the Idols sang Shout to the Lord. First of all that it was sung so beautifully on national television!!! Praises! But also as they share the needs and the photos, I see in my mind my trip. I see those so many who have so many needs the world over. I have to admit that it really pulls on my heart to see children who look like my sons who are in need. How could it not? It reminds me that my life is about something bigger. Much bigger. SomeOne thought I could do this, with His help. (Not perfectly or without mistakes by the way!) We can do this. There is so much need. In our towns, our states, our country, our entire world. Somehow or another our path has taken a turn I never would have guessed at. But our lives, all of us, can make a difference. God asks us to. And it doesn't have to be flying to the other side of the world!!! LOL! I am so humbled and grateful that God has blessed me with this calling. It is my calling, I am definitely best at this, but that does not mean every moment of every day. And each and every day I have to ask God for the strength to do this wisely, as He would have me to. I do want to improve each and every day. But we are all part of something bigger and wider.

Makes my dirty kitchen floor not quite so depressing, doesn't it?

Sometimes it takes something that reaches out to touch us, to really strike us, to remind us that we are more than laundry, dishes, meals, lessons, sweeping. We are beings called by God to His missions, and each one is different. For someone who doesn't believe in God, well, this may be a way that I try to make myself feel more important. Maybe so. Maybe it does give me a way to feel that I impact things. I can accept that. But I also know that it is more than that. It is more than that for all my children, not just those that we adopted, not just those that we loved and fostered. I hope that God used us to weave into the big tapestry. I hope that He can use me, small person that I am, to do something lovely for Him.

So, this is the YouTube post of that wonderful song from American Idol. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXEraRnE4o&NR=1
Check it out and let God speak to you however He might. Sometimes it feels that He is silent, sometimes we just aren't listening. He is in the whispers, in the daily small evidences. And He is in the big things.
Love to all!