Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser Update

Hello friends!  We are so humbled and thankful for your generosity as we launched our last adoption fundraiser this week!

We purchased a 252 piece puzzle of our daughter, Anna Rakeb, and for each $10 donation toward our adoption at Pure Charity, we are putting the puzzle together piece by piece.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

To make this a very special keepsake for Anna, we are writing the names of every donor on the back of the puzzle pieces.  Then, when the puzzle is finished, we will display it in a double sided glass frame, so we can still see the names on the back.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

And today, just 5 days in, we are at 48%!  Will you help tip us over 50%?  These funds are tax deductible through our Pure Charity site and go directly to our adoption agency for our final travel costs to bring Anna home.  Really, we will probably be traveling in the next few weeks.

So… here’s what our puzzle looks like tonight!  Thank you so much for your support!  Keep it coming, and feel free to share far and wide.  Adoption truly does take a community.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser


Our family is thrilled to be Making Room 4 One More.  Will you be part of our story too?


{In case you missed our Ethiopia Court Trip recap, you can start here}

{Did you ever see the face that inspired us to start our own Ethiopian adoption journey?  It’s here.}

Help Bring Anna Home: Ethiopia Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

Good news!  We are within days of receiving our travel itinerary to bring our Anna home. We just officially applied for her visa through the U.S. Embassy.

The Lord has blessed in so many ways, supplying through yard sales, gifts, and grants. As we anticipate our last trip, we’ve been in communication with an adoption foundation to fund the last trip; however, we are not guaranteed we will receive funding from them.

The adoption process reminds us how much we need community to finish this journey.  We have had so many friends and family members come alongside us many times along the way.  We just need to pay for the last trip to Ethiopia and our Anna will be home!  Could you help us?

We have purchased a 252 piece puzzle featuring a picture of our sweet girl!  For every $10 donated through our Pure Charity site (which is tax deductible, by the way), we will write your name on the back of a puzzle piece as a memory of your contribution.  Using a double sided glass frame, we will be able to see all the names on the back of the puzzle as a remembrance of those who had a part in her adoption.

As the puzzle comes together, we will enjoy showing you the progress and finally our sweet girl’s picture! (a real picture of her face this time!)

ethiopia adoption trip

God has an amazing story that He has already been writing for our Anna Rakeb.  Will you be part of that story in helping with the final costs to bring her home?

Feel free to share!  We so look forward to sharing with her the many people who had a part in her adoption.

{Are you new to our story?  We were recently in Ethiopia to legally adopt our daughter.  You can read about that trip here.}

snapshots of Ethiopia – Trip 1 Day 5 Court!

{Here’s Day 1, 2, 3 & 4}

The purpose of this trip to Ethiopia was to, of course, finally meet our sweet girl.  But this trip is called the “Court Trip” because we officially and legally in Ethiopia went before a judge and adopted her!  She is our daughter now, even though we are home and she is still in the foster home.  We are waiting for “Gotcha Day!”  (So many biblical parallels to our faith in this picture.)

Right after breakfast on Tuesday, February 24th, our driver and lawyer drove us on those crazy streets of Addis Ababa to the Federal Court Building for our appointment.

ethiopia adoption court trip

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip

About nine other couples were there at court too.  Most of them were from the US, but others were from Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

One by one, each family was called into the judge’s chamber.  We were overdressed in our business casual clothes.  He asked us ten easy questions as he went down a checklist.  Then, he said that the court approved our adoption!

On the drive back to the guesthouse for lunch, we saw an interesting sight and had to take a few pictures as best we could out of the car window.  Very colorful.  Can you tell what these are??

ethiopia adoption court trip

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip

Why, they’re “corpse boxes” of course!  We had a hard time asking our driver and lawyer what these were called.  We said “coffin”, “casket”, “for dead bodies”, and they still didn’t know what we were talking about!  I guess it didn’t seem odd to them that they were for sale along a busy street.  And so colorful!  Finally, it clicked and they said, “Oh, corpse boxes!”

We visited our daughter (yes, she was now legally our daughter!) again in the afternoon.  One of the nannies made coffee for us as the foster home.

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip

Two more days of visiting and bonding with our daughter before we had to be on our way home.  Trying to soak in every minute with her.


snapshots of Ethiopia — First Trip Day 4

Just showing off my photos from our 4th day in Ethiopia!  Maybe by the time I’m done this little series, it will be time to go pick up our girl.  Then I will show you her face!

ethiopia adoption trip

So, with two days to prepare for our trip to Africa, we left our house in PA on Thursday morning, February 19th, with a direct flight to Addis on Friday morning.

Day 1, 2, and 3 are here.

Day 4 was Monday, February 23rd, and once again we were looking forward to getting caught up with sleep.  We were surprised when, once again like Sunday morning, the live singing started over the loud speaker in the town and woke us up starting around 1 a.m.  It continued throughout the morning.  When we asked the guesthouse staff why there was singing on a Monday, we learned it was a holy day for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  We said — does this mean there will be no singing tomorrow morning?!  We were assured not!  Whew!

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @

Peering out of our guest home windows on the second floor, we could also see a man in the streets with a curved horn, stopping at every side road and path, also “singing”.  We learned he was the town crier, and he was announcing a funeral that would happen that afternoon.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @

Today’s visit was the best ever — complete with belly laugh!  And the best fun?  No toys or stuffed animals or even bubbles could compare with the game of emptying out mommy’s purse and filling it up again.  Hey, whatever works.

After our morning visit with our girl, we headed out to do some shopping!  Our driver went with us and helped with the language barrier and also with the bargaining.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @

I really wanted to get some items for our daughter to have from her birth country.  I hope I bought enough keepsakes to give her one each year on her “gotcha day” (the day when she will leave the orphanage!).  Then, when she has a home of her own, she will have some special items from Ethiopia.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @


Day 5 would be the whole reason for this trip — Court!


DIY Spring Floral Pillow

I’m interrupting my recap of our adoption trip to Ethiopia {you can start with Day 1 here} to bring you a fun sewing project to span that confused season called spring.  Today is the first day of spring, but here in the Poconos of PA we have more snow!  Go figure.

DIY Spring Floral Pillow using an up cycled sweater l

This project is great for up cycling one of those tired sweaters you have in your closet that you’ve worn all season and are planning to put in the “donate” pile anyway.


So, here’s your supply list:  {measurements are for a 16″ square pillow}

Cotton fabric 37.5 x 15.75 inches

Upcycled sweater or jersey knit top cut into 3.5 inch strips {roughly 120 inches total length}

16″ pillow form


DIY spring floral pillow

Step 1:  Make your envelope pillow cover

I had a cute cotton quilting fabric in my stash with little grey, yellow, and white geometric designs that I knew would help my grey floral front to pop.  So, I cut that fabric out into a  37.5 x 15.75 inch rectangle, then folded the short edges over and ironed them.  This will make a neat edge at the pillow opening.  You can also straight stitch the folds you make.

DIY spring pillow cover

I made the mistake of sewing my pillow cover together at this point, which caused more difficulty than necessary when sewing on the big bloom.  I would recommend finding the center of your pillow cover and moving on to Step 2.

Step 2:  Cut your strips

I used an up cycled wool sweater that had been felted.  It was lightweight, which made it easier to manipulate and sew on than a thick chunky sweater.  You could also up cycle an old jersey knit top or skirt.  Check your local thrift store for some fun options.

DIY spring floral pillow l

I kept cutting strips out of the grey sweater until I had about 120 inches worth of them.  They measured about 3 1/2 inches thick.

Next you will want to run a long stitch to gather the strips.  Make sure you leave several inches of thread at each end, then stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge of the fabric.  Don’t backstitch.  You will use these threads to gather the fabric so it puckers.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect — this  pillow is great at hiding imperfections!

DIY spring pillow

Step 3:  Trace a circle

Now on the center of the front of your pillow, with right side facing up, trace a circle onto your fabric.  This will help you line up your fabric strips in the next step.

DIY spring pillow tutorial

Step 4:  Start sewing the sweater strips

Here’s where things can get a little crazy, but just tackle it little by little.  Starting with the circle you just drew onto your fabric, line up the first sweater strip so the edges cover the markings.

spring pillow DIY @

Start sewing the strip on near the top where you did the gathering stitch.  Again, don’t worry if it’s not perfect because your other strips will eventually cover these strips.

spring pillow DIY

Keep sewing the strips onto the pillow, gradually moving the design in toward the center.  Just make sure each time you add a new layer of strips, they are covering the stitching done on the previous layer.  Overlap the short edges of the strips.  Nothing too perfect here.

DIY floral pillow cover

Eventually, you will not see your pillow fabric anymore in the center.  That means you’re almost done.  It will look something like this.

floral pillow cover DIY @

Step 5:  Finish the bloom 

Did you make it this far?  Seriously, the hardest parts are over.  Cut a circle with a 3 inch diameter out of your sweater or jersey knit fabric.  Spiral cut it like this.

DIY floral pillow @

Now, fashion a loosely rolled flower and tack into the center by hand stitching.

Step 6:  Sew your pillow cover together

Yes!  With your beautiful bloom inside, and right sides facing together (and making sure your pillow form will fit inside), sew the top and bottom of your cover together.  This is an envelope style opening in the back, so some of the back fabric will naturally overlap.

pillow cover DIY

Turn right side out, pop that pillow form in, and admire your bloom!  This is such a fun pillow for spring.

DIY floral spring pillow @

DIY spring floral pillow

Have you ever made a pillow like this?  Will you be trying one this spring?

Oh, and if you’d like this pillow without all the work, it’s for sale in my shop.  All proceeds go to help us finish our Ethiopian adoption!





snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 3

{In case you missed it, here is Day 1 & Day 2}

We were excited to be finally going to bed early on Saturday night, since we had been up for over 30 hours.  It had been an emotional day as well — meeting our sweet girl for the very first time!

So, at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, we were awakened by singing from a church.  It was being played on speakers all morning long.  We somehow managed to snooze but were awakened every hour with more singing.

ethiopian adoption trip day three @

At breakfast, we asked the ladies at the guesthouse where the singing was coming from.  They told us it was from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on the hill.  Since it was Sunday, John asked if we could visit an Orthodox Church.  He really wanted to observe their worship service.  Instead, our driver took us to the big “tourist church.”  It was the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

But I can’t complain — it was a really neat outing!

ethiopian adoption trip day three @

ethiopian adoption trip day three @

ethiopian adoption trip day three @

ethiopian adoption trip day three @

Don’t forget that the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon, was from Ethiopia.  Ethiopian rulers have traced their lineage to the Solomonic dynasty through Sheba.

ethiopian adoption trip day three @

Ethiopia has an amazing history, as the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world.  Except for a few years from 1936-1942, when Italy invaded, it has remained free from colonization and outside control.  Emperor Haile Selassie fled Ethiopia during this time, and is buried in the Holy Trinity Church.


We visited with our girl for as much as we could.  She started opening up little by little.  She is tiny!  We think she is about 18 months old (we don’t know her exact birthdate so this is the best estimate).  However, she was wearing size 12 month clothing.  Oh, so sweet and little!

ethiopia adoption trip day three @

We ventured out for dinner on Sunday night to the Yod Abyssinia Cultural Restaurant.  We tried traditional Ethiopian food.  John had lamb and I had chicken with injera.

ethiopia adoption trip day three @

What is injera?  Wikipedia answers:

Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour, it is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

ethiopia adoption trip day three @

How was the food?  One word in capital letters:  SPICY!  Makes our American food seem really bland in comparison.

The crazy part of this trip was that we did not have internet access from the time we arrived until probably Monday.  Even at that point, internet connection was still spotty at times.  We felt very disconnected from our boys back home!   It’s amazing how much we have come to rely on technology for fast communication.  When you don’t have it, you miss it.

snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 2

{This post is a continuation of my recap of our recent trip to Ethiopia to meet our girl and adopt her!  You can read about Day 1 here.}

Saturday, February 21st

The guest home is very nice for local standards. It has a gate, barbed wire, and a guard on duty all the time. The surrounding area is very poor, but not as poor as it gets, apparently. We have a western bathroom, which is a luxury. And toilet paper.

The foster home is on a cobblestone street and is a pretty little property with flowers and trees.

ethiopia adoption trip

We got out of the car, and no one told us what to do. Another adoptive family was there, thankfully, and grabbed our phone to take a video. They brought our sweet girl right out, and she looked just like the pictures!

ethiopia adoption trip

To us, it was like 2 a.m., and it all kind of felt like a dream.  She was nervous with us at first — of course!  Who could blame her?  Who were these strange looking people speaking a strange language?  We were able to visit with her for several hours that first day.

ethiopia adoption trip

ethiopia adoption trip

ethiopia adoption trip

By the time we went to bed on Saturday night, we had been up about 32 hours with a few tiny naps.  We went to bed hoping for a quiet night’s sleep.  But we were in for a rude awakening at about 1 o’clock in the morning!

{I know, I know — you all want to finally see pictures of our sweet girl, right??  Well, she is legally our daughter, and we are technically allowed to post pictures of her.  But since she is still in Ethiopia and we are home until our US Embassy appointment in Addis Ababa, we’d rather not show her picture all over the internet.  We hope you understand.  But, hopefully in the next month or so, we will be able to show you!}



Read about Day 3 here.

snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 1

Welcome, friend.  Come on in and grab a cup of coffee while I show you some snapshots from our recent court trip to Ethiopia~!

Here’s how the week went down.

On Tuesday February 17th at about 1:30pm, John calls me and says something to the effect of: “Are you sitting down? We need to be in Ethiopia THIS Saturday!!”

What?? So the rest of that day and all the next we scrambled to get our 4 boys taken care of, pack our necessities, get cash from the bank, and get our documents in order.  (Thank you to our family and friends who helped us tremendously in this regard — you know who you are!!)

On Thursday we started our trek by heading to Harrisburg in below zero frigid temps to get some final documents state certified.

ethiopia adoption trip

We stayed overnight with family in Virginia, and on Friday morning my brother dropped us off at Dulles International at 7:30 a.m., with departure at 10:30 a.m.

ethiopia adoption trip

On the twelve hour direct flight, we enjoyed the view as we headed over NYC, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Canadian ice flows.

Then we didn’t see anything else until the lights of Italy sometime in the middle of the night. Afternoon? Night? We were so mixed up with flying East and over several timezones.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore

The continent looked dark until we experienced our first African sunrise.

ethiopia adoption trip

Then we saw the rugged terrain of Ethiopia and the capital city of Addis Ababa.

ethiopia adoption trip

We landed about 7 a.m. local time on Saturday, February 21st. It took almost two hours to get through customs at the airport. Our driver was waiting for us outside the airport and had a hard time loading our two suitcases into his 1980’s Corolla.

He drove us right to the Guesthouse. Boy, was that drive ever scary!   Pedestrians and cars play chicken with each other to get the right of way. No stoplights.  Several traffic circles. Honking horns warn people to get out of the way.

This is exactly what it was like!  But it’s a lot easier to watch this from above.  Imagine being in a small vehicle with no seatbelt down in the middle of all the action.

We were experiencing jet lag and culture shock!

But seeing Africa on our local weather forecast was amazing.  We were finally here!

africa weather

We had about one hour at the guest house to freshen up before our driver took us to the foster home to meet our sweet girl!

{Read about Day 2 here}

{Adoption} Ripples

Ripples of influence are an amazing thing.  Our choices are far-reaching even though we may not always know who has been touched by them.

When God was opening our eyes to the needs of the orphan, several families we knew were in the adoption process.  Some of them had children already in their family, yet they were adopting.  It was a new thought for us.  But God continued to give us the desire to love another child and graft them into our family, just as we had been adopted into God’s family.

One family in particular was adopting from Ethiopia and had a blog to chronicle the experience.  We felt like a fly on the wall during their journey.  This was the face that inspired us.

But what’s amazing is — we weren’t the only ones who were inspired!  One year after their “gotcha day,” this family made a new video to show the impact their decision to adopt had on countless families.  And at 6:45 in this video, the faces start pouring in.  You will see our family at 7:08 at a much younger stage in our lives.

The concept of impact, influence, and one life touching another really causes me to stop and consider what kind of ripples I am causing.  How about you?

{update:  our adoption journey is complete~!  You can start reading about our trip to Ethiopia here.}

Our first trip to Ethiopia

We were astounded two weeks ago to find out that we had barely two days to prepare for our first adoption trip to Ethiopia!  In the stressful process of getting documents ready to be updated, we had a phone call from our agency letting us know that we needed to be in the country ASAP.  Wow, the news we had been waiting so long for had finally arrived.

welcome to ethiopia

We were in Ethiopia for six days and it took nearly that whole time to get used to the sights, sounds, smells, food, and weather (we left a very wintery mix in PA, so this 80 degree weather is delightful) –> not to mention the time zone change!

ethiopia trip

We met our sweet girl after being up for over 24 hours.  It was a wonderful, happy, nervous meeting all wrapped up into one.  She is officially and legally our daughter now, as we appeared before the Ethiopian judge last week and he approved our adoption.  We are home now without her while the US Embassy does their part to ready her documents for travel.

I’ll share more about our trip in the days to come.  Thanks for all the prayers and support!


{For details of our trip, continue reading here…}