Tuesday, November 30, 2010

catching up!!

      So, I finally was able to add more pic's!! It was driving me crazy...what's a post without pictures???
As you can see, we visited Santa last evening...and he was a hit!! He loved the kiddos, and was so interested in our story...he asked about Ageze & Tesfa, and how long they've been a part of our family...he was one kind Santa!! Ageze asked for a green car, Tesfa said Toys(like we need more of those!!) Kate said Ice skates, and Grant said food for the orphans...sweet boy! He's got a big heart, that boy:) Anyhow, this was a quick recap in pics' from our wknd...Grant & Kate had their 6 mo. followup Hep A shot today...they were brave!! And in the last two days, I've visited with two amazing ladies who have Africa, Adoption, The Orphan, Widow on their hearts & minds BIG TIME!!! Love talking with people who relate!! It sounds like they are eating, praying, thinking...Adoption...it's true Ladies...it's a God Thing!!! It makes my heart smile..knowing that their will be a few less orphans. Love it!!!And, most importantly, Love what God is doing in the lives of these families:)  Well, off to meet up with a few friends...caramel rolls & hot cocoa calling my name!!!( oh, and of course...what would a girls night out be without talking adoption???ha!!) Heres a quick peek at our 2010 family ornament!!! Ageze can't stop staring at his name...he loves to see his name & picture with ours!!!
                                                                        xo kristen

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 & Christmas Decor Craziness!!!

What a busy weekend we had...Thanksgiving was a delightful day, as always. We spent our morning hanging out as a fam...had lunch at my parents, and ended our day with Kasey's family for dinner!! Holidays are always so hectic, but so much fun...and so much to be thankful for, especially this Thanksgiving....you see, last year at this time, we still weren't on the waitlist, hadnt even begun the "raising money" for our adoption part...which still totally blows me away...have I ever mentioned how blessed we were through this process?? Well, we were!! After we returned home, we still received checks in our mailbox...showing love, support, and financial help to our family!! Not everyone is called to adopt a child..but so many are called to help the families that are bringing a child(ren) home!! It still boggles my mind, that we were able to pay the amount we did...all I gotta say...GOD is GOOD....put your faith and trust in him...you too, will be blown away!! So, this year I researched a bit about Thanksgiving, wrote verses down & found a very fitting Thanksgiving Day Prayer...

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Our Father, giver of life and joy, who is like you, Oh Lord, that we should come to you with our praise? You need not these words, for you formed our lips. What is man that you are mindful of him? You own the lives of all that inhabit the earth.

Your power, might, and love are seen in the bounty of this season. We gather this day around a table laden with food that you have brought forth. We gather as family and friends whom you brought into this world. We bow before you with humble hearts knowing we live because you brought us to life.
We celebrate this day as a nation of people who have been blessed more than any other people on the face of the earth and at any time. We acknowledge you as the giver of the good we so easily take for granted. Forgive us as we are a forgetful people. Grant us on this Thanksgiving Day, the time to reflect on all the ways you have blessed each of us who has gathered. Increase our understanding of your ways, defeat us when we use our blessings for selfish gain, and remind us to love one another.
Thank you for providing all that we need for life and godliness. Make us to be a light and a blessing to the nations of the world. We acknowledge you as the only true and living God.
We pray this in the name of your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
     Anyhow, There is the part that says.." nation of people who have blessed more than any other people on the face of the earth.".... How true is that...yet we complain for what we don't have, not enough money, not a nice enough home, car..etc...the list goes on..WE ARE BLESSED. May we all continue to be a light & a blessing to all of the nations of this world...
   So, our day was great...And then on Friday we broke down and bought a fake Christmas tree...we've always had real trees, but with Grant's allergies and such...thought we'd be better off with a beautiful fake one!! The kids had a blast decorating it...we had hot cocoa, candy canes & listened to Christmas worship music!! Ageze can't get over the fact that we have a tree indoors....and with lights!! He says.." Momma, no Ethiopia trees inside, and no lights...momma crazy!!" So, in otherwards...they never had a christmas tree inside their house...but they did have a COW!!!    xo kristen
    p.s....still trying to work out the reason for pics not uploading....pics to come...I hope:)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I need your help!!!

They NEED OUR HELP!! I am partnering with One Child Campaign in raising funds to supply an orphanage in Holeta, Ethiopia ( about 45 min out of Addis) with beds for these children. We are hoping to raise anywhere between $500-$700...I know, It's Christmas Time & all...but would you please consider sending $10, $20, $30??? You can make a tax-deductible donation by going to http://www.onechildcampaign.com/ .....click on paypal...or if you prefer to send a check... write Holeta Beds in memo line, and send directly to One Child Campaign
                                                P.O. Box 702441
                                                Tulsa, Oklahoma 74170
If we all could just play a part in this...whether you can only afford $5.00 or $100.00.....IT HELPS!! These children will have beds because of people like you!! The deadline for ordering these beds is December 16th, 2010...so we have to act fast!!! Can you imagine not having a bed??? Or your child not having a bed???
                                                                 xo kristen

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ThAnKfUl ThOuGhTs.....

So many thoughts going thru my head...Thanksgiving...a time to be with family & friends, reflecting on our life blessings, the little & the big. And today, although I'm sitting here thinking about what I'm thankful for, I can't help but think of all the people in Ethiopia...what makes them thankful?? How are they to give thanks when they don't have alot of food, if any...or a roof over their heads, or a source of income to support their family, or a vehicle...instead they use their feet. So, I'm thankful for all of those exact things...food, shelter, vehicle..etc..but you see. I believe they are Thankful...Thankful for Jesus that gives them Hope...and that's what counts. I'm so very thankful that my eyes have been opened to the needs in Ethiopia..the orphan..the widow...They are a part of our family...and for that I am thankful...and well, since they are our family...I will help just as I would my own family here, I will Love them, just as I Love my Family here, and I will pray for them...as we all should. I'm so very thankful for our 4 children..each one so different but yet, so much alike!!
My husband who has provided for our family since day 1....this has allowed me to be at home with our children...what more could I ask for?? I am thankful that we chose that path, although it was challenging financially at times...we wouldn't change a thing. My family...oh, my family...how could I not be thankful for them?? Love..the love that I feel from our Lord..The beautiful snowflakes falling from the sky, the very few quiet moments I have in my day, and yes all of the noisy moments too!! Health..job..friends...who love & support us..my VAN..never thought I'd be thankful for a van..but, I AM!! It allows me to haul around my whole family..and a couple more!! YOU!! I am thankful for you!! Anyhow, as I was getting ready this morning..this song came to me...


    "God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say Thank-You??"- William Ward

    "If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
    -Frank Clark

    "Of all the 'attitudes' we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the
     most life-changing."-Zig Ziglar

    "Gratitude can transform days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary
     opportunities into blessings."-William Arthur Ward

    " If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily!"-Gerald Good

    " As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but
      to live by them."-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 I hope you take time this Thanksgiving weekend, to not only count your own blessings,
 but think of how you can bless others...    xo kristen

Monday, November 22, 2010

winter wonderland...

NOT!! Not for this momma...I really dislike this cold weather stuff...especially when it is only 6 degrees when you are driving the kiddos to school in the am...ick! I'd much rather just keep them all bundled up at home & enjoy hot cocoa & movies!! To school they went..or I should say...Kate. Grant is home sick today, so he is enjoying being in a nice toasty house, lounging on the couch etc...poor Kate:( Anyhow, since yesterday was the first day it actually snowed quite a bit...Kate, Ageze & dad ventured out...while Tesfa, Grant & myself watched out the window..wondering...why in the world would you wanna be out in that??Ha!! Ageze really likes it, along with Kate...Tesfa says, "momma, Tesfa no likey brrr snow!" I'm with you Tes!! And well, sick little Grant just couldn't be out in it..this momma said ...nope!! I'm already looking forward to going to Georgia in February!!! Bring on the warmth:) xo kristen
            sorry for the lack of pic's..my computer was not behaving:(

Sunday, November 21, 2010

cake, ice cream & Woody..oh my!!!

Well, Ageze's party was a success!! although, this momma thinks it was the longest day EVER!! The kids woke around 6 am...and from that time on, all I heard was .."Momma, cake, party??" So, probably should have had a birthday lunch!! ( his party wasn't till 7pm.) But, since we didn't invite friends & only family was there (for those of you who were wondering,we always love having friends, but since we were celebrating a half bday..we felt like we should just have family..so, count on coming for his 5th bday!!)...we opted for cake & ice cream at 7pm, so daddy would be home too!! Anyhow, he felt quite special..he said thank-you momma over & over...he has such a thankful, grateful little heart!! We had decorated the night before, so he woke up to streamers, balloons & everything party!! We all had such a fun day...and all day long I kept thinking...I wish his Ethiopian family knew how much we loved him, and could see him celebrating...he was so proud!!! So, he now has his favorite "Woody doll, Alvin & the chipmunks shirt, Toy Story 3 movie...and everything else Toy Story!! Have a fantastic family filled Sunday...
                                          Ageze's 4 1/2th bday cake!!

                                                                         6 of the cousins!!!

                                                           balloons were a hit:)

                                                                 his Woody Doll!!!

                                                         loves Alvin & the chipmunks!!
                                                                       notice his hat???
                                                                        silly cousins!!!
                                                        xo kristen

Friday, November 19, 2010

4 month's home...

Well, yesterday was the actual day...We returned home 4 months ago...July18th,2010...I would love to tell you about that day again & again, but I'm beginning to think that'll bore you!! So, instead I'll tell you how everyone is doing...the kids are adjusting to each other more & more every day...it's wonderful to see them playing with one another, sharing hugs, kisses & I Love You's!! It's so funny, because when we'd hear about Ageze & Tesfa while we were waiting...we couldn't help but think that Grant & Ageze reminded us of each other...not only did their personalities seem to match but also their looks!! I would tell people.."Don't they look alike?", and they would look at me like I was crazy...funny thing is...I get told all of the time how much they resemble one another..They definitely both take on the 1st child thing...they always think they are right, love to tattle, and are best buds one minute, and the next they are wrestling!! Ageze is a very good listener...I usually only have to ask/tell him one time...then he follows thru!! He is such a happy, content, joyful natured little guy...we love him:) And you see, Tesfa & Kate are a bit alike...they are both very stubborn, love to snuggle, and their feelings get hurt veryyy easily...Kate loves being a big sister..she does so well with them both, and Tesfa loves being the baby...people ask him what his name is...and he usually says.."Tesfa baby!!"
So, I am so happy to say...our life is feeling so very normal...besides the occasional fight, hair-pulling & tattle-telling...which I wouldn't have it any other way!! Because that's all normal stuff!!! And guess who's celebrating their half-b-day tomorrow...AGEZE!! He is so very excited...he's been counting down the days all week...stay tuned for his b-day pic's!! For now, I'll leave you with a few pic's from our homecoming day!!
                                                                awwwww....I'm home!!!
                                                           sleepy & sick little guy...
                                                   look at Ageze's face..excitement!!  
                                                                       my boys:)

                                                                      Love this pic:)
                                            We were so blessed to have so much support!!
                                                                    xo kristen

Monday, November 15, 2010

funny the way it is...

As I had a few quiet moments today...i sat thinking & looking back at the last year, and the year before that, and the year before that...WOW....has our life changed!! First to my mind..when I thought about flying somewhere...the farthest I could ever see myself flying was to Florida...why?? Well, because I have traveled there  many times..it wasn't new to me...I trusted that I'd get there fine, and all would be ok!! But you see, no matter where I travel...there's always a chance...a very slim one...that something horrible would happen to me. ...and it doesn't matter where we are or where we travel...God is always there....You know, it's funny how God works...never did I imagine God would send me halfway across the world...You see, that was one of my deepest fears...flying!! And he had it all planned out...At the beginning of the process...I honestly thought...oh.my.goodness...how will I ever make it there...I had heard from so many other families traveling before us...how wonderful their experience was, how beautiful Africa & it's people were...and how precious our sons were..but, somewhere inside me..It felt so out of reach...It seriously felt like I would never get there....and now I know why...because, until you experience it first-hand..one would truly never be able to fully understand how right they all were!! Not only has this been a journey to get our sons & brothers...it's also been a journey in my walk with God...I have never felt so much comfort, peace, & contentment as I do now. Don't let the fears of your heart control you, determine where you go, or stop you from doing something that you so strongly desire...A few years ago, I was diagnosed with M.S...and most of the comments I would get about our family adopting was..."How can you do that?" or, "Won't that be hard on your health?" I tell you what friends...you know whats hard on your health...FEAR!! And HOW COULD I NOT??? I wasn't given a death sentence...hmmm....let me think...be a family to children who are without...or be afraid that maybe someday my MS will get worse...I CHOOSE TO BE THAT FAMILY!! What is fear holding you from??  
   2 Timothy1:7 For God has not given you us a spirit of fear, but of power & of love & of a sound mind.

 Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
                                                       xo kristen

Sunday, November 14, 2010


             p.s. Yep, this was written by Grant...as I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, he showed me what he made for his sweet sister, and asked me if he could write about her on our blog...and he wrote it all by himself!! Thank God for sweet siblings!!! xo kristen


                      zonked out in the kitchen...she's my lil shadow...
              my silly "littlest"...Tesfa
                  Ageze & Grant...aka...the airbenders/ninja's!!
                  ninjas in the night....
                   loves his flashlight...oh, and gotta love the frog boots!!!
            Grant being a spy!!   So long mommas plants..Ageze got the best of them...
Well, both Grant & Kate had their conferences on thurs pm...and you guessed it...they both had fantastic reports!! They are both really excelling in the reading department.it's amazing how once they get it...they truly just take off with it...they are crazy fast little readers!! I have to remind my sweet Kate...singing her way thru books sounds lovely..but probably not great for the comprehension..ha!! Or maybe it is?? Friday, Kate ended up being sick..not too much fun on her day off..& Grant ended up spending the afternoon & evening with nana & bompa...the little ones napped, Kate & I napped..and the house... for a few moments...was QUIET!! That surely doesn't happen too often!! And guess who's celebrating their 4 1/2 half birthday this coming week?? That would be our sweet little guy..Ageze!! You see, his birthday isn't till May 20th...so we thought it would be nice to celebrate a half b-day for him..and thats this November 20th!! He has witnessed many birthdays since coming home...he dreams of having a candle to blow out...and just a cake!! I asked him if he wanted me to make any fave Ethiopian foods..and he said..."no momma...cake, ice cream..no Ethiopian food!!" So, Cake & ice cream it will be!! He has requested an "Ashenafi "cake...Ashenafi was a little friend who was in the same orphanage...now he lives with his family in AZ...but Ashenafi had a woody doll(Toy Story!!)so..I guess that means he'll be having a TOY STORY themed party!! Well, thats most of the weekend happenings at the "casa de gilliss"....maybe a few christmas light's being put up today...kate still recuperating...and we'll top it off with a dinner at nana & bomps!! Enjoy a few random pics from our wknd:)
xo kristen

Friday, November 12, 2010


So...I know I've mentioned this many times before...but, since returning from Ethiopia...I can't shake this overwhelming feeling( a good overwhelming!!) that my heart feels...I LONG to do more...I LONG to make an impact...And guess what....I found what my heart has been looking for...ONE CHILD CAMPAIGN!! I've heard of this organization in the past few months, checked their blog here & there, been inspired, and up until today felt that..here I have this strong desire to HELP, Make a difference in a child's life...and each & every organization I have been emailing or contacting...seemed they needed no help...or should I say...MY HELP!! So, I've continued to search..not only on the internet,FB, and all that...but my heart!! I emailed the founder of One Child Campaign...he promptly emailed back and left me his number...so..I stepped out of my comfort zone...and called him!! I had one of the nicest conversations I've had in a long time...He GETS IT!! He LOVES ETHIOPIA & it's People...and he's doing something about it...and I plan on making a difference...not only for this great organization..but for Ethiopia!!! So, thank you Caleb for taking time out of your busy day, and visiting with me!! So, go ahead...check out this super fantastic organization.........
                                       http://www.onechildcampaign.com/ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

are you my 25,000th visitor???

Okay...so to all of you faithful leapoflove visitors...whoever is my 25,000th hit will receive this yummy treat!!So, when you visit my blog..scroll to the bottom, and if you are that ONE lucky 25,000th visitor...leave me a comment, your name,address etc...and the goodness will be on it's way! ( sorry, the kiddos aren't included!!)
   And if you want to learn more about this coffee, the mission & the fundraising possibilities...check out
http://www.963missions.com/ We sold this yummy stuff  before & during our adoption process, and we found it to be a great fundraiser!!!     xo kristen

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Each day that goes by, we are hearing more & more details coming from our little guys. This morning they chatted away..about 1 1/2 hrs to be exact..my, oh my...did they have details..We heard about the lions at Ageze's door..."lion's eat my food, mama!" "good morning( he means the next morning..)Ageze food all gone...naughty lion!!" "Lions big momma, and noisy!" Tesfa follows it up with..."Momma, hyena bite..scare me!" He then proceeded to tell Ageze & I that a hyena bit him...this momma doubts that...but who knows!! Last evening, I had gone outside quick...and told the kiddos to stay in...but Not Our Tesfa...all of a sudden I hear a very loud scream...our next door neighbors have a small dog and he could hear it barking(he dislikes small dogs in a very bad way!!)...He was yelling louder than the dog was barking!! I quickly ran to him..told him the dog was on a leash, and went inside..reassured him over & over that he was ok..the dog would not bite him..etc..and Ageze said..."stop,Tesfa" I said.."Oh my goodness Tesfa...you dont need to scream your head off..my goodness we are inside now..it's ok..relax!! WRONG THING TO SAY...I guess I have never thought about that phrase before..(Don't scream your head off!!) Tesfa in the most terrified voice said..."No, thank you momma...no head off..Tesfa nap..shaking his finger...No head off momma!" OH.MY.WORD...At this time I was boiling water for spaghetti..and he pointed towards the stove and said..."no more momma..doro..head off!( Doro means chicken!!) Once again, I told him...Tesfa ...momma loves you, you are ok..Tesfa, we dont cut heads off here( all awhile I can't believe that I am having this conversation!!)So, I sure wish that the lions were their only little worry...not so....Ageze clearly remembers his brothers, little sister, papa and stepmom...he talks about them like it was yesterday. He asked me this morning.."Momma..Ageze go with you Ethiopia sometime?" I said..."well, of course...momma & papa love Ethiopia, and hope to take all 4 of you back someday soon"....but how soon is too soon??? He very vividly told me of the day he left his home in ET...for good. He said.." Momma, Ageze cry big, & Taya(sp?) & Atamo(sp?)(brothers) cry big momma...Ageze go to Sister(Sister Almaz at the care center)..."Alto(his stepmom) say momma...come back again?" "no thank you"..replied Ageze.."Ageze happy america momma!" My eyes welled up with tears...I reassured him how much he is loved...by us, and by his Ethiopian family...and he was onto the lions once again. So...I tell you this because...His hurt is real..his love for his ET family still remains...and I try so hard to tell myself that he is so much better here...but, the fact is...a part of his heart is missing...What did he feel that day when he was taken from his home to the unknown?? And I look back to the first few weeks of being home, and get angry at myself for having less patience in those trying days...I will never forget those hours of him wimpering unconsolably...or him thrashing his body against mine...and I remember at the time it frustrated me...How dare I?? So, with that...I say...I'd do it all over again!! The risk is worth it!! Ageze & Tesfa...you are worth it!! You are Loved!!
                                                          xo kristen

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

4 months ago today....

 I was a complete mess...Kasey & I were starting our travels to pick up our sons...and boy did I look like a crazy lady!!i mentioned the other day..I wish I could see the video surveillance from the Bismarck Airport, I'm sure a few people had some very good laughs!! I also wish I could re-do that day..I was so terrified of leaving 2 of our children here at home, and also sooo terrified that for hours...I would be in a plane for hours above the ocean..2 children here in North Dakota & 2 in Africa...knowing if they needed me...I could do nothing! Looking back at that day, I wish I would've relaxed..bottom line!! We were all ok...we were all in the hands of God...and isn't that the best place to be!! So, there you have it...I was fearful!! Fearful that my plane would go down...what??I knew that God did not take me on this journey to go down in my plane..plain & simple!! Fearful that Grant & Kate would feel jealous, replaced..while they stayed here in Bismarck... skyping with me over the computer, seeing Kasey & I with Ageze & Tesfa...It Broke this momma's heart...I ended up crying every time I talked to them...My family was not all together & I did not like it one bit!! But...4 months ago today...I also began a journey that would leave me feeling...BLESSED BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS....And I'm so very thankful that God put my heart at peace..(well, once we were in MPLS,that is!!) and I have never felt so close to my God, as I did when we were flying through the sun-lit sky, looking out of the plane's window..seeing the Mediterranean Sea...Seeing the Northern outline of Africa...knowing that God was with me...even though I was so far away from so many people I loved...HE was STiLL there.... and always will be!! ( I was listening to Here I am to worship...I probably shouldve apologized for my terrible singing voice...I'm sure every one next to me heard me singing...ha!!) Don't ever underestimate the love God has for you...my God is so big, so strong & so mighty..there's nothing my God cannot do. Lord, I am so thankful that even in the times I am fearful, nervous, doubtful...that YOU are still there...and I am so very thankful that you took the fear away from me that July day...I cannot imagine if I would have missed out on such a life-changing opportunity..and I'm forever thankful that you entrusted our family with two of your most precious children!!

                                                               xo kristen