More on Summit VI

So as I said in a previous post Summit is a yearly conference and this year it was in Minnesota which living in Chicago makes it practically in my backyard or an 8 hour drive away.  I was blessed to be in great company for the drive so the 8 hours flew by,  the time flew faster on the way to MN but the drive home was more effected by my sheer exhaustion and the exhaustion of my car mates.  I wish I had a picture of our car trip up to MN and back because we had some good times but alas I did not have my camera with me.  Although if you go to There’s glitter in my coffee you will meet my good friend Elizabeth who was one of the lovely people I went to the conference with.  Actually it was a facebook post that Elizabeth made that alerted me to Summit, Thanks Elizabeth, you’re hilarious and awesome even if you can’t read a map!  Hehe!

Ok, so on to the conference stuff.  This conference is over two days and is absolutely packed with sessions to educate you on all aspects orphan care from the U.S. foster system to Global orphan care and the stuff in between. I can only tell you about my journey through the conference but I think that you will get a pretty good idea of what a typical experience would be from what I did.

Each morning from 8:30-10:30 was the general session in which corporate worship began in the large sanctuary of the church, there were also a few speakers during this time.  Each evening there was also a corporate session in which we heard a speaker and participated in worship of some kind.  Thursday night Steven Curtis Chapman preformed and Friday the worship band from Bethlehem Baptist Church led worship.

Breakout sessions:

I attended 6 breakout sessions and 1 lunch time session over the two-day conference, here are the breakout sessions that I attended:

  • Church based orphan ministry 101- Overview- This is the session you take if you want to start an orphan ministry in your church, it was really good and if you purchase the book Launching an orphan ministry in your church you will basically have all of the information and more that was presented in this session.
  • Church-based orphan ministry 201- Global orphan care- This session was great the guy who lead is the president of Orphan Outreach.  There was so much information presented and a lot of it was really practical information for starting a ministry in a foreign country.  There were a lot of things about this presentation that Americans need to hear about having relationships with the people we are trying to help.  I am not quite at a point that I would be starting an orphanage or ministry abroad but it really opened my eyes to wanting to work with organizations that have people already on the ground and that really know the organizations they are working with.
  • Engaging Church Leadership- This was an essential session if you are desiring to start your own orphan care ministry.  I learned a lot about how to approach the leadership in our church, things to do and NOT to do.  Loved this session and Daniel Bennett who presented it is a pastor so his perspective was really valuable.
  • Implementing a Balanced Orphan Care and Adoption Ministry in our Church- This was another session that was packed with information.  Bethany Christian Services were the ones that did this session and the videos that you can see on the link I gave are given by the same man who did the session.  The site is packed with information and links to help get a ministry started.
  • How Does it Work? Models of Global Orphan Ministry Based in US Churches- In this session we got to hear from a panel of pastors and ministry leaders that apart of churches or ministries that are doing global orphan care.  It was really informative and really a treat to hear from Pastor Sudaker from India.  I really appreciated hearing his view on short-term missions to India and whether they are helpful or not he told us they are!
  • The Truth About Orphan Care: Are We Doing More Harm than Good? This session was given by Vision Trust, and was really informative and eye-opening.  I walked away from this session which happened to be my last session feeling like I had a much better understanding of the pitfalls of not fully understanding the culture that you are working within.  The goal is to help these countries and to equip them to help themselves and often times that is just not happening.  I really loved this session and how thought-provoking it was.

In one area of the host church there was an area set up for ministries to have informational tables.  I collected a huge amount of information and took home a lot of business cards to build up my contact list.  Some of the ministries that were there were:

Sweet Sleep

Show Hope

147 Million Orphans

Lifesong for Orphans

Hope for Orphans

Of these featured speakers I would say that Stephanie Fast was really awesome as was Mary Beth Chapman.  John Piper was really great too and gave a thought-provoking sermon.  All of the people who spoke during Summit were wonderful and on fire for orphans which was really inspiring.

I can’t wait to go to Summit 8 next year, I have already started saving for Brian and I to make the trip together to where every it is going to be.  The conference was awesome and it was a huge blessing to be able to share two days with people who are advocating for orphans locally and globally and are really, really passionate about Gods call to …care for the fatherless…



On Dec. 23 Brian and I took the crew downtown for a very special occasion, Esuyawkal’s court date for his re-adoption.  We had to be at the court-house at 8 am- which was difficult, but we made it.  My Mom, Dad and my sister Toni met us there to share in the special occasion.

Here is the crew minus Brian and I:

We waited in a room with lots of toys and talked with our lawyer for a while.  She then left to go and file some paperwork and we went to the Sheriffs office so that Esuyawkal could officially served his court summons.  It was really cute- They actually have to touch you with the summons for you to have been officially served, I thought that was interesting.  Esu make it very easy for the deputy by reaching out and grabbing his summons:)

Here is the happy father and his baby boy!  We were able to take some pictures while we waited to see the judge. Seeing the judge was pretty cool, albeit brief.  We literally stood in front of the judge for about 2 minutes, she asked us some questions that our lawyer told us how to answer and then she congratulated us and bid us farewell.  It was short but sweet:)

After our trip to the courthouse we decided that since we were already downtown we would stay a little while and take in some Christmas sights.  We visited the Marshall Fields Christmas windows which were cute but not as good as they used to be (Marshall Fields was bought by Macy’s:().  The kids also got to see a cute puppet show that was put on by a traveling puppeteer.   We then visited the Christkindle market that is in Daley Plaza every year, we did not stay long since the weather was really nasty.  After our outside adventures we were off to the Lego store, Ewan especially was really looking forward to this.  The Lego store is pretty cool, the things you can do with Legos- who knew:).

Anwen watching the puppet show, you can see that the stage is attached to a bike. Pretty neat!

Esu is sitting next to the little old Lego lady:)

Ewan is cozying up to the Lego guy on the bench.

Our court date and our adventure afterward were the perfect way to kick off our Christmas holiday!

Nifty links

Check out these websites- maybe get some ideas for your holiday gift giving.


Chole In Style

Jenny Lee Fowler- Etsy

Uncommon Goods


Have any websites that you love?  Share them with us- we would love to broaden our knowledge of nifty links.

From Thanksgiving to Advent

This year as you know I hosted Thanksgiving at my place and we had a blast!  It was a small crowd of family and things were pretty low-key, just the way I like things to be:)  We laughed, and joked, cooked, ate, talked, relaxed and had a great time together.  Here are a few pictures from the day.

My turkey- this year it tasted as good as it looked:)

The recipe for this turkey can be found here in my recipe section.

My darling sister Meghan and I posing for a picture next to the turkey.

This picture was taken after a really hysterical moment in the kitchen- Meghan loves the biscuits that come out of the can so she brought them to make for dinner. The first can that she opened exploded all over the kitchen, and sort of sounded like a gunshot. I think that she will probably flinch now every time she opens a can of biscuits.

On to Advent which started last Sunday.  This year we are taking part in a movement called Advent Conspiracy so we are creating some new traditions for ourselves and our family.

For the first time we have created a homemade Advent wreath that we light before dinner each night.  We have also been singing the first verse of Oh come, oh come Emmanuel after we light the candle.  It is really beautiful to sing that song without instruments and is such a beautiful prayer.  It also reminds me of the way Jewish people sing prayers, singing this after lighting the candles feels like we are stepping back in time to when Jesus was born.  I feel like we are closer to celebrating Christmas the way it was originally celebrated when we take part in small traditions like this one.

This is our homemade advent wreath. It is really basic but since we are trying to make wiser decisions about what we spend out money on this Advent season I thought it best to use what we had around the house.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

A view from the top- I look forward to when we are lighting all of the candles!

We did not put up a traditional Christmas tree this year and that is mostly because we are afraid that Esuyawkal will pull it down or something like that.  The nice thing about not having a Christmas tree up is that the other Christmas things in the room get the attention, like our nativities.  I like the way not having a tree sort of shakes up our idea of Christmas- I like focusing on the holy family and Jesus’ birth and the story of that first Christmas.

One of our nativities, the small brown clay piece in the back between Mary and Joseph is a small crèche from Ethiopia.

This is a the small tree that we have up, we got it from Brian's Gram so we thought we would put it up. The nativity next to it is for the kids to play with and set up as they like. I bought that last year so they could have a more hands on experience with the nativity.

The other tradition that we are starting this year is this- We are each giving up one present and the money from that gift will be donated to Heifer International.  The kids will be able to pick out an animal to donate to a family in another part of the world, which we hope will help them to feel connected to the gift they are giving.  Perhaps next year we will each give up two gifts:)

If you have special Advent traditions I would love to hear them, I am always looking for new ways to help my family experience Advent:)

A worthy cause

Look to your right, you may need to scroll down a little.



Do you see that purple quilt- that really gorgeous purple, pink and black quilt?  Well, if you click on that quilt you can make a donation to help a young Ethiopian girl travel back to Ethiopia to visit her grandmother, you will also be linked to a pretty awesome blog!

Oh yeah and if you donate you will be entered into a raffle to win that really gorgeous quilt!  So what are you waiting for- click, donate and feel good that you are helping to give a child a trip of a lifetime!

A new perspective on cleaning

I don’t know about you but I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning.  I love a clean house and the feeling of accomplishment but I hate how hard it is to find the time to clean.  I don’t really mind the cleaning itself if I can be left to just do it by myself, but if the kids are around and undoing everything i have just done than I start to get crabby.  Sometimes all I want to see a room I have cleaned stay that way for even a half hour, but often that is too much to ask with three kiddos in the house.

I have recently realized that the perspective that I have had about cleaning needed to be adjusted.  You see, when I was growing up we had a cleaning day and it was Saturday.  We would all have a list of chores to do and nobody could do anything until the chores were done, and to a certain someones satisfaction. Everything was put on hold until the cleaning was done, no playing, no friends, nothing until our lists were complete.  Though this method worked for getting the house clean it did not leave me feeling all that postive about cleaning.

Once I had my own place (now into adulthood) I had freedom!!  I could now chose when and what I cleaned and I could do it whenever I wanted or not at all. After the excitement of living on my own wore off my place was sort of messy and I attribute it to the loathing I had for cleaning when I was young.  Plus the fact that we had an insane amount of stuff with no place to put it.

Fast forward about 3 years and I am in back in college (I took a little break) and I have grown up a little and actually like living in a clean home.  Very conveniently due to my school schedule I find myself with Friday afternoons free so I spent every friday cleaning, (I am back to a cleaning day).  I loved how clean my house was and how good it felt to be able to relax, everything was in its place and I was becoming a little obsessive about the way my home looked. This is obviously a luxury I indulged in as I was childless and lived only with my husband.  I would not even try being obsessive at this stage in my life- It would be the end of me.

Fast forward again to present day- three children, one husband, 2 bedroom condo.  Try as I might I cannot seem to keep my house as clean as I once could, and I have come to accept that- for the most part.  I do what I can when I can and have all but abandoned the cleaning day idea.  Now I clean a few things each day, and I try to be diligent about cleaning up straight away after meals and projects.  Here is what a week might look like with regards to cleaning:

Monday- clean bathroom

Tuesday- mop floors

Weds.- laundry

Thursday- dust and vacuum

Friday- clean kids room- with their help of course:)

Things like cleaning the kitchen and picking up around our place happen everyday, because if they don’t things get out of hand really fast.  I won’t say that this system is perfect but it is better than our old system and we just needed to try something new.  I needed to stop trying to have a cleaning day when it just was not working and could rarely happen.  I needed a new perspective!

Who do you know that sweeps their floor in pointe shoes, a one piece leotard and apron? Not me, I definitely do not look that good when I am cleaning and I am not that happy either:)

This is a website that I have used to get ideas-  Fly Lady.  This site has been very helpful, I am figure out ways to change my old habit of cleaning into new habits of cleaning.  The website could probably help you organize your whole life if you wanted it to, for now I will stick with using it to help me organize my cleaning efforts.

Join the Advent Conspiracy


“The story of Christ’s birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.

So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.

And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.”

This movement really strikes a chord with me as I have long been frustrated with the materialism of Christmas, the stress of the holiday and the feeling Christ has been taken out of Christmas.  I want for myself and my family for Christmas to be different, for it to be Christ centered as it used to be.  I am excited that this year my church is taking part in this movement.  We hope to:


We hope to bring Christmas back to the way it used to be.

Visit Rethinking Christmas for gift giving ideas that support Advent conspiracy.  Click on the pictures through out this post to see video, get resources and enter the story!

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