Verse of the Day

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is the Orphan My Neighbor?

Is the Orphan My Neighbor?

Wonderful article by Russell Moore, author of "Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption in Christian Families and Churches."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

T-Man Gets Some Print

From the West Valley News, Friday, October 15, 2010

Verrado golf looking strong as state nears

Casey Pritchard
assistant sports editor

T.J. HALVORSON of Verrado hits an iron shot during the West Valley Cup. Halvorson and his teammates have qualified for the state tournament, which will be played Oct. 29-30 at Randolph Golf Course in Tucson.
Verrado's boys golf team has had a run of success in making the state tournament each of the last three years. They weren't about to let that end now.
Despite new rule changes to the qualifying system for state, Verrado managed to get all its golfers to state for a chance to compete for the team title.
"Some of these scores guys are shooting and not getting in, you can shoot in the 30s but not qualify," Verrado coach David Hopkinson said. "It seems like there's a bunch of teams that have qualified, so it should be a pretty competitive state tournament, but I think there's going to be some good players and good teams that don't get a chance to play either."
In the past, all a school needed to do to qualify was finish in the top two positions at their region tournament, or individuals needed to make the top 10 if their team didn't qualify. Now, it's different. There are only two divisions for all classifications across the state, which makes the pool of teams trying to get in bigger. It's much more difficult though because teams have to record a certain score based on each course's rating, and teams have to do that in five matches during the year. Verrado only played 11 total.
"It's tough," Hopkinson said. "You take the course rating, so say a par 36 [for nine holes], but the front nine at Sundance [Golf Club] is rated at 35 from the tees we play. So the kids get 35 plus four strokes, so they've got to shoot a 39 or better to qualify as an individual."
For a team to qualify, it gets four strokes per player spread across the best four scores of its five-player team, so the best four scores have to be less than 16-over par for that course rating in order for that to be a qualifying score. Therefore, someone could shoot par and another player could be eight strokes over, but the team would still be on pace for that round.
"There was a couple rounds where we had three kids shoot in the 30s and we only made it by a few strokes, so there wasn't really any room for error," Hopkinson said. "The guys had to play well every time out."
They did though, and did early, getting all five of their qualifying rounds in by the end of September. The courses they qualified on were Sundance, The Raven Golf Club at Verrado and Palm Valley Golf Club.
No. 1 playerCorey Knight has been the team's top golfer, and has gone as low as 32 this year for a nine-hole round. Hopkinson said Knight has really worked on his game because he wants to play at the next level. The senior is also mentally strong on the course, and putting is the best part of his game.
"He hits the ball so far, he's a big, strong kid, but his touch around the green, there's a couple times when he hasn't been playing that well from tee to green but is still getting up and down and shooting around par," Hopkinson said. "You see a lot of high school kids, when one part of their game goes they're done, but he's able to fight through and sink some putts, make some pars when he needs to."
Sophomores P.J. Garcia and T.J. Halvorson battle back and forth between the Nos. 2 and 3 spots on the team. Hopkinson likes the competition with which they fuel each other.
"They're teenage boys and they're competitive, always trying to beat each other, which is good," Hopkinson said. "It makes for some good competition, it's bragging rights, too, and they let each other know."
Kyle Thraen and Josh Mun are the Nos. 4 and 5 guys, respectively. Both are seniors who have been to state every year.
"They really wanted to do it again, go out senior year by making state again," Hopkinson said.
Nolan Rozell, Kyle Nguyen and Zach Olson round out the team.
Verrado's regular season is over, but the state tournament is not for two more weeks. The Vipers were on fall break this week though, so Hopkinson used the time to have his athletes work at the range and get in a few nine-hole rounds. It has been tough, however, because many of the courses are closed for overseeding.
"Sundance has been nice to let us out there, but it's just trying to find a place to play," Hopkinson said. "The course for state in Tucson is closed as well, so it's tough. That's always the hard part of golf this time of year, you get in a groove, you get your game to a certain level and then you have to take two weeks off."
If Verrado's players can keep their game polished until Oct. 29-30 when they hit the links at Randolph Golf Course in Tucson, they could compete for a state title.
"It's going to be tough to win, there's some really, really talented players out there, but you never know," Hopkinson said. "We've got some guys that have the ability to go low and it could be interesting. We could turn some heads when we go out there."

Casey Pritchard can be reached by e-mail at

Grief and Sleeping at Almost 10 Months

If you've ever lost a dear loved one, you know how it feels... the grief sneaks up on you at times you don't expect.

Last night was one of those times. My sweet Mr. B. wept bitter tears last night; he now mourns the loss of the memories of his beloved birth mother, Galani. It pains him to no longer remember her--- what she was like, what she cared about, what she spoke of. His tears literally stained the photo.

I held him, rocked him, prayed for him, and cried with him. What finally got him to stop weeping was the strong, loving arms of Daddy. We both held him tightly for what seemed an eternity. Poor, sweet, Mr. B.! What we would do to alleviate his pain! It's funny how pain bonds people together, though, making their relationships infinitely more stable and trusting.

This last cycle of grief gives me a better understanding of why Mr. B. has such difficulty sleeping. Yes, we have found temporary "fixes" for sleep; the latest, best remedy being headphones with music in bed. But the bottom line is this: B. hates being still or quiet or alone for any length of time simply because he doesn't want to think or to feel. He keeps himself busy, much like any of us would when we don't wish to deal with something.

Lord, give me the wisdom, the strength, and the new skills I need to be the best possible mother for my dear children. Teach me what I need to know to love truly and wholly.

"Thank You," from Kassa

This is the email I received from Kassa this morning.  Again, many thanks to all of you who made a huge difference for two people on the other side of the world!

Hello Mum, how are you? I am fine hope you are the same. I know that it wood not be like this with out your great love and support it is you who made it all happen thank you again and again!! She is much recovering from her pain, some times some part of her body blooding but the doctor told us it will stop after some time since they are following her day today. Your love and fanatical support makes our happiness double and this is the beginning of our life and there will be the time to make you proud. as you light up my sister life she will light up the life of others together, we have learnt a lot from you you are not just helping us to save my sister but also show as how to give love for human being who don’t have father and mother may the lord return your favor! Mother K., what ever we lost our beloved family we fell like we have every one around us. It is your courageous words and commitments that still make us stand in two feet I hope you will continue to be there for us when ever we wont you. wont you K.? We thank you very much for every thing you are doing for us. Mum, how is your health? And how is my younger brother T-Man health? He is in our heart we don’t forget him in our life what he has done for my sister to get better from her sickness may our lord give him long life with his kind family!!! K., we have great hope that tomorrow will bring bright future in our life and we thank you again that you are with us in the ups and down of our life. God bless you all with his love and peace. Your son Kassa

Friday, October 15, 2010

God's Abundant Blessings--- Kassa Update

If you've followed Kassa's story at all, you know that I have been trying to raise money to help my friend pay hospital bills and start life over again.  $1500 seemed like so much money....

The first trip to Western Union, I was able to send $400--- I scrimped and saved and had additional help from a couple friends.

Now, I'm on my way to rush to the bank:  I have an additional $1700 to send Kassa!  $1500 came from one friend who wishes to be anonymous. If that's not the Lord's provision, I certainly don't know what is!

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for my friend; I appreciate your generous spirits.  It am so deeply moved... I just a mess of tears!

May the Lord bless all of you, my friends!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Miss T. is Home from Ohio!

The kids REALLY missed T. while she was away.
Always ready for a picture!
My sweet Grandma and two bed heads.
My grandma and mother
The crew, minus one.
Things quickly get out of control when the camera is present!
Can you just feel the personalities?
D-Man even admitted to missing his sister.
Thanks for the special trip, Grandpa and Grandma!
Miss T. and my parents took a special trip to Cleveland, Ohio, to visit my dad's family. While there, they took a two day side trip to Niagara Falls. Thanks for the memories, Mom and Dad!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Two Wins!

A. scored 2 goals!

Happy Brothers

Daddy Scores Hugs from the Girls

Mommy with Her Superstars!

Go, Vipers, Go!

B. as Goalie

A. Might Even Prefer the Sprinklers to Soccer!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Re-Adoption Day!

Today, our new kids became official US citizens!  What a happy and blessed ending to a long haul!

Now, we only have to get birth certificates, Certificates of Citizenship, updated Social Security status, and passports....  The paperwork never seems to end. Yet, all these smiling faces are just the best testimony to absolutely knowing you made the right decision.  I love my sweet family!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kassa Update (friend from Ethiopia)

As you know from a previous post, my Ethiopian friend, Kassa, is in need of financial assistance. He lost both of his parents in a tragic house fire; his only remaining sister is in critical condition in Dessie Hospital.

He needs $1500 USD to pay for his sister's massive hospital bill, and to help rebuild their home. He believes it is his responsibility to care for his sister and to help her regain her life--- an admirable attitude. $1500 may not seem like a huge amount of money, but for an Ethiopian it is absolutely overwhelming. In Ethiopian Birr, this amount is $24,711.75! No wonder my friend is overcome with worry! He makes a very modest salary as a Lalibela tour guide. This amount of money is simply beyond his ability to pay.

You may ask, "Why is it my responsibility to help this person... someone I don't even know?" Would you rush to help your neighbor--- the one living right next to you--- if his home burned down and his parents died and his sister was suffering in the hospital with no medical insurance? Kassa is also your neighbor; he just happens to live in Ethiopia.

Mark 12:30-32 (New International Version)

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

John 13:34-36 (New International Version)

 34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Pain of a Mother

All of us moms can relate: it is so difficult to see your child in any kind of pain. It doesn't matter if it's physical or emotional; we want to comfort our children. As parents, we can feel especially helpless or anxious when there is simply nothing we can do to alleviate our child's suffering. If possible, you would do most anything to remove their burden. You'd take it upon your very own body if you could. You pray and pray... and pray again.

And that's the way the Lord intends us to be: ever-praying, loving, sacrificing, compassionate, and merciful with our sweet children. He allows us to endure situations and trials to grow us into beautiful people. Some of the hardest lessons we learn involve understanding just how truly powerless and helpless we are to change many situations.

This week I listened to reports and wept as I heard of our grandson's suffering. I so wanted to alleviate the pain he was feeling, and I wanted to throw my arms around his parents and relieve some of the burden. But I couldn't. There was literally nothing I could physically do to help them.

Yet, my grandson has access to the best medical care in the world. He receives regular medical exams. He has medical insurance. He has parents can put him in the car and whisk him to the doctor or to their choice of hospital. Once diagnosed, our grandson received immediate and a superb medical care. We may still feel anxious, but we know that he was in the best possible place to receive appropriate care.

Now, if my grandson had been born on a different continent--- say, Africa---and in a different socio-economic environment--- how would the situation be different? Do moms in Africa or other nations feel any less for their kids? In general, moms all over the world want the absolute best for their children; that's just the way we were created. Moms would gladly give their children anything:  the food they need to grow, the education they need to mature, the love they need to flourish, the medical care they require... if they could. But life is different for much of the world; the world is not like America, where a person can somehow manage to obtain medical care and the basics of life.

I could quote all sorts of statistics about the shortage of doctors, and the shortage of water, and the shortage of food... but you've probably heard that so many times that you just don't even listen to it any more. But listen to this: how would feel if you watched your child suffer from a disease and could do nothing to alleviate his pain? How would you feel if you watched your child die? The feeling that a mother or a father experiences is no different if you live in America, or if you live in Africa. The pain is unbearable and sometimes beyond our immediate capacity to process. Humans are all alike: we may look different, but we fiercely love our children.

Please pray for the Lord to break your heart for the things that break His heart. Pray that He would show you how you can reach out and relieve some of the burden and helplessness many around the world experience every day. Try to feel the pain of your sisters around the world.  If you saw death on your doorstep, you'd take action.  Don't let distance be a barrier to love and help.

James 2:14-20 (New Living Translation)

 14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

Count Your Blessings, Indeed

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James, NIV, 1:2-4)

This week was one of those weeks... the kind that takes much of your energy to simply endure. You're trying to stay focused on the goodness of God and persevering with your eyes focused on Christ--- although just doing that can be rather exhausting if you're in the midst of trial. You're surrendering your thoughts and your family and your dear friends over to the Lord all day long, sometimes ever minute. Trust Him... trust Him... trust Him.

Without going into detail, our family has been quite grieved upon hearing news that one of our dear grandchildren is seriously ill. Thankfully and mercifully, it appears as if he will completely recover after he endures a significant and lengthly treatment protocol. 

When life throws an unexpected curve into our plans, it stirs up all sorts of emotions. We may react in fear or in anger; we may search for someone or something to blame. But must must train ourselves to see with the eyes of our Lord. 

This week was full of reminders and mini-lessons:  We remember not to take life for granted; we remember that any time we have, any enjoyment we experience in this life is a merciful gift from Above. We remember to make the most of our moments with our children, our beloved friends, and our aging parents, knowing that perhaps we will not have those moments back again. We need reminders in life so we don't waste our time and our lives on trivial pursuits. Trials are meant to teach us and to perfect us so that we can be more like our Lord. Trials teach us to surrender--- again and again.

Psalm 39:4-7 (New Living Translation)

4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered—
      how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
      My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
      at best, each of us is but a breath.”

 6 We are merely moving shadows,
      and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
   We heap up wealth,
      not knowing who will spend it.
7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
      My only hope is in you.

Sometimes we may cry out, asking the proverbial "why?" question.  Why this child? Why this woman? Why this pain? 

Isaiah 45:5-7 (New International Version)

 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other;
       apart from me there is no God.
       I will strengthen you,
       though you have not acknowledged me,

 6 so that from the rising of the sun
       to the place of its setting
       men may know there is none besides me.
       I am the LORD, and there is no other.

 7 I form the light and create darkness,
       I bring prosperity and create disaster;
       I, the LORD, do all these things.

Somethings we simply can not make human sense of happenings. Yet, we can trust that we know the One who does understand, as He orchestrates the happenings. We must be content with not having all the answers. Therein lies faith... trusting when you cannot see the full picture. Thankfully, the Word tells us that all things are from God:  the good, the bad, the in between. All things are through Him and for Him and are for His purposes. If we understand that--- if we truly comprehend that in our hearts and souls--- we should not fear anything. He will strengthen us to deal with whatever He allows. 

Psalm 27 (New Living Translation)

 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
      so why should I be afraid?

Are you distressed? Afraid? Weak? Weary? Take action. Do not merely retreat and grieve. Remember to turn to the Lord and surrender your control. Surrender your will. Surrender your children. Surrender your suffering friends. Surrender your timing. Get on your knees and give Him every part of your life. Pray His will on your life. Then you will find peace and joy in suffering.

Ephesians 6:10-13 (New Living Translation)

 10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
May the Lord give you His peace as you surrender yourself to His will; may the Lord grant you the wisdom to count your blessings.