Tuesday, July 31, 2018

I Love You, Daddy!


I came home from work tonight to find this little piece of art on my desk!

And it didn't take me long to track down the artist!


This girl absolutely loves to create - and coupled with the fact that she loves to LOVE... we often end up with awesome surprises like this!

Oh... and her smile?

Infectious!


Mebbie - you are an absolute joy and an amazing GIFT in my life... I hope you know this!

Never, ever, ever lose that smile or your love of creating, girl!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Every Now and Then...


Every now and then... when the stars align and the universe is in a state of bliss...

This crew gets along with each other!

Real talk... they love each other.

But every now and then the pull of the world mixes up with being brothers and sisters and things get gnarly.

But most of the time - here's how you'll find 'em!

Stay loving each other goofballs!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Follow me to the Pool!


Summer is quickly winding down and the goofballs are taking advantage of every opportunity to hit the neighborhood pool and get their swim on!

Complete with his mandals, his goggles, his pool bag and a lifetime supply of TOTAL GOOFINESS...

This guy is leading the charge!


And while they'll continue to hit up the pool til they close it down around Labor Day... the school-less days are disappearing!

Stay goofy Z-Dogg... and keep leading the goofball crew to the pool!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Adventuring


While daddy was out running around on a mountain top this morning - these guys were out adventuring on their own!


Mommy found them a pretty dope little trail to go take a hike on!


This crew is always down for a little exploring...


And Colorado always offers up a lot of options!


And when water is involved - the shoes eventually come off and the feet go right in!


Great job Laura leading these guys to an adventure!

Next time - it's ALL of us!

Always look for adventures guys... there's a ton to be had!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Texted Smiles


Technology can be annoying - but it can also be awesome...

Like when I'm off running on a treadmill somewhere and my crew is hanging with some friends and they text me these pics to cheer up my run!


At least somebody was having fun and not just pounding along on a BORING treadmill!


And then there's this guy... ALWAYS CRAZY!

Thanks guys - ya made 5.5 miles on a treadmill slightly more tolerable!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Sure. I'll Stop Talking About It...


I always struggled with the whole "offensiveness of the Gospel" thing. Especially before I became a disciple... I just didn't get it. What made it "offensive?" I always wondered.

But then... then I started following Him and I started seeing just how offensive it was. Not just to those who don't know Him... but to those who DID CLAIM Him as well!

Jesus wasn't kidding when He said in Luke 12:51:

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. "
And I don't know if I have seen that Jesus-driven division any louder and clearer than when we stand up for justice and against racism. His own people start dividing super quickly - and ain't everybody falling on the right side.

It's insane. People get downright crazy in their denial that it exists and refusal to acknowledge that it is happening more and more frequently.

And here's the deal... I'll stop talking about racism when there is no more racism to talk about. Cool?


And WHOA NELLY... don't even think about saying the words "White Privilege."

White Privilege.

Those two words are enough to send people STRAIGHT OVER THE EDGE.

And then look at them and say "Yeah... it's real. And I've reaped the benefits of it..."

And they really lose it.

It happened more than once in the last week. and it's getting more frequent.

And tonight - a man we weren't even engaging with - simply didn't like that we were standing up for what's right and calling out racism. So he chose to say we were as bad as the racists in our actions of standing against it.

He pulled the age-old "There's hate on both sides from all races..."

And when I called his white privilege out - this man who I maybe have exchanged 9 or 10 words with in my entire life - proceeded to tell me I was a "two-faced racist bastard who didn't care about God at all and only cared about my self..."

Because I stood for what's right.

Because I believe God DOES see color.

Because I'll stand in defense of my kids and others who receive hate because of their skin color EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I've been on the receiving end of much worse from people who are much closer - so this fool's words didn't hurt me. But in the middle of it all - God whispered...
"See how offensive My Gospel can be?"
And it made a little more sense.


Shame on this man for speaking and behaving the way he did... but I firmly believe this: he showed his TRUE self.

And for that I'm thankful... for it helps me know who is welcome near my family and who is not.

Stay strong my friends who are choosing to stand against the hate that is ooozing all over... because...

Racism Still Sucks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Regulators


Charlie Bowdre said it best:

"Regulators... we regulate any stealing of his property and we damn good too. But you can't be any geek off the street, gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean..."
That's my crew for life right there.

Regulators... MOUNT UP!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

But You Guys Went About It The Right Way...


It's weird to me... the things people say.

Every time we stand in defense of compassionate immigration - and remind people that our family was built through immigration - somebody inevitably says something super stupid like:

"Yeah - but you guys went about it the right way..."

As if that somehow should make me comfortable with the hateful, evil, spiteful rhetoric our leaders have used towards immigrants and the lack of empathy and compassion with which they approach the refugee and immigrant in our country.

As if the fact that we did it "the right way" would somehow remove the fear from our young kids' minds that our country's leaders are promoting when it comes to immigrants and who belongs here in this country and who doesn't.

I was lying on the bed talking to Laura the other night - when a distraught Mebbie showed up - tears just streaming down her face.

"Daddy - I had a really bad dream..."
She managed to get out between sobs.

We asked her what it was and after calming down to where she could talk she said:
"Me and Meron and Zechie were forced to go back to Ethiopia while you and mommy stayed here..."
And the tears just kept on coming.

I grabbed her tight - wiped away the tears - and let her know there was NOTHING that could ever take her away from us.

NOTHING.

Not relentless enforcement of stupid laws, not evil, mean-spirited and hate-filled leaders... NOTHING.

I prayed for her right there - prayed for her heart and spirit - and prayed for Ethiopia - to help her understand that we love it and will always go back but that she is right where God intended for her to be right now.


The next day Laura gave her a new wooden cross that we always buy when we're in Ethiopia and assured her again that she is loved, protected and safe where she is and that NOBODY can remove her from her family.

She seemed to be a lot better - at peace - and hopefully in better understanding that her mommy and daddy will never let anybody or anything break our family up.

She'll never be forcefully separated from us.


So yeah - we may have done it in what some consider the "right way" but that doesn't do much to calm the fears that our ridiculous and heartless leadership is sowing in the space of immigration.

Our kids hear it. And at times... they fear it.

And if you're silent - you're complicit.

Don't just love my kids... love ALL kids from ALL over who are in need of safety and love.

We can't be quiet around here...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Cooking Camp!


Somebody had her first day of COOKING BOOT CAMP today!

Three full hours of cooking, baking and making delicious treats!

Somebody was in her zone!


She called me on my way home from work to tell me she made me a banana chocolate chip muffin!


And I don't know which brought her more joy - making the goods or giving them away!

You keep cooking Meron... I'll keep eating!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

She Still Rocks Rough and Stuff...


Meron spent the night at a sleepover (right down the street) last night - and came home before church this morning rocking her puffs!

I was so excited - she hasn't worn her hair like that in a while and I LOVE it!

And she still rocks rough and stuff with her afro puffs!


It's been a minute - but she has always rocked those puffs well!


Even way back in the day!

Long live the puffs, Meron! Long live the puffs!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Pennies From Heaven


Last week Laura got her first ever TATTOO while she was in Ethiopia!

I was bummed I couldn't be there with her for it - but it meant a lot to get it done in Ethiopia and it has some good meaning to it (and I may just be getting a matching one at some point).

But this story has more to it than just the tattoo and what it means.

That's our friend Sarah up there and you're probably wondering - "What's Sarah got to do with this?"

Well - in her words - here's how she was involved!

My Dad was never big on tattoos, in fact I tried to hide my first one and succeeded for many months. However, my second one was amazing.

My father was battling cancer and I wanted something that would speak to both of us. My Dad and I both had a love of beer, so when we celebrated Christmas in July , because we knew he wouldn't make it to Christmas, I had this tattoo done. I however HATE needles, but as my father - who was being stuck from one side to the next as he battled cancer - held my hand, I had the courage to get this tattoo.
Fast forward to about 2 years after his death and I met the most amazing lady - Laura. We instantly connected on so many ways - AMAZING mothers, amazing husbands and kiddos, and the best/worst connection that we lost our fathers to cancer a few months apart. Over the years our friendship and families have grown SO much stronger.

Over the last 5 years my mother has often given us random money that she calls "pennies from heaven." For mothers day I received the most amazing gift from my mother, a Broncos clutch. However, tucked inside was "pennies from heaven - always gift from my dad."

A few days later I was once again with my amazing friend Laura and she talked about her upcoming trip to Ethiopia. I was drawn to offer my pennies from heaven for a special reason - a tattoo. Not just any tattoo - but a tattoo that I had come to know as a deep deep heart of hers.

Over the last 3 years I have fallen in love with the Hoffman family and every inch of their "story." I knew my father was telling me to share my "pennies."

The best part was when I shared with my mother my idea, she became ecstatic! See... my father passed away at 52 and had always wanted to travel the world. When I told her my plan with my "pennies" her respond was, "Wow, your dad will make it to Ethiopia!"

And that's how Sarah came to be part of this story of ink on Laura's wrist.

Her tattoo has meaning too. There are four Africa's to represent our 4 kids born in Ethiopia... the filled in one represents Brighton - who passed away before we could get him home - and the other three represent the goofballs - Meron, Mebbie and Z-Dogg!

Oh... and peep this. The amount Sarah graciously gave Laura?

With no prior knowledge of this gift - that's EXACTLY what the tattoo artist charged Laura in Addis Ababa!

Thanks Sarah - for allowing such a deep heartfelt part of your story to intersect with Laura's!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Reunited and It Feels So Good


Ahhhh - that feeling when your whole crew is back in the same spot...

We got that today!

Laura landed back in Denver this afternoon and was back in our front yard by the evening... and all was right with the universe again!

With as many times as one of us is gone to Ethiopia each year - you'd think we'd get used to it.

But we don't.

God designed us to be together like this as a family - and while we always support each other in the mission... there's something about coming back home and finding us all together again!

Thanks to everybody who prayed for Laura on this trip and everybody who supported the crew back home!

Welcome home, Mommy!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Family Forever!


For ten years strong the focus of this blog has been about our family... which is why I am super pumped to highlight these guys - our FAMILY in Ethiopia!

I mean... is our family good looking or WHAT?


I mean... come on... look at my niece!

If you know us - you know family doesn't mean "blood" - AT ALL.

Instead - it means hearts aligned, missions alike, and a love that actually runs deeper than any blood ever could.


This extended crew of ours has been through thick and thin with us... I could tell stories for days.

And it is a true privilege to call them FAMILY.

And hello - gorgeous little stinkers!


This was Laura's first meeting with this one... and I think they're both in love!


Nebiat... my brother... I hope you know just how much you mean to our family.

Selfishly - I wish you lived here or I lived there - because I love every minute I get to spend with you!

Dude... we have an amazing and gorgeous family... and I am forever grateful for you and yours.

Family forever and ever...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Right Hand Ladies...


While I shake my fist at Father Time as he speeds the days of youth up with these two beautiful sisters... one thing that is super cool now is how mature they are and how much of a help they are when Laura is out of the country.

I couldn't pull it off without these two!

They are so incredibly helpful, diligent, on point and running things!

Girls... daddy sees you and I am thankful for you! Your help means the world to me and I love how you support this crew when one of us is on the go!

You can stop growing up so fast though...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Down For Whatever!


"Hey guys..." I yelled.

"Let's take a funny picture that looks like we're barely surviving without mommy and that all you guys do is EAT!"

BOOM!

Z-Dogg is in the sink with a colander on his head and spaghetti dripping off his glasses... NO QUESTIONS ASKED!


Mebbie is grasping her Lucky Charms box and looking sugary marshamallow comatose!


Meron passes out on the counter with the Honey Nut Cheerios in her hand while gripping the Apple Cider Vinegar!

These guys are down for whatever with me!

And I love it!


And listen...

It ain't too far from the real truth!

All jokes aside - we're surviving with Mommy gone - but I have washed 600 trillion dishes and cooked 4 bazillion meals.

But with this crew? I'd do it over and over and over again... cuz they're the best!

Take your time Mommy... we can do this!

Thanks goofballs - for playing along with your wacko daddy!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Reading Camp Warrior


School starts here in Colorado in exactly 3 weeks.

Yes... 3 weeks!

And that means Z-Dogg will be the 'hood's newest first grader.

This summer he got invited to be part of a reading bootcamp - to prep him to be extraordinary in first grade when it comes to reading.

So this morning we got up early while his sisters snoozed away - walked through the typical pre-school morning prep - and then headed out the door for the first day of reading camp.

He was stoked about it - and I know he's gonna put his best foot forward.

Take no prisoners, Zechie... read, read, READ!!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Created in Christ Jesus to Do Good Works...


Okay - in all seriousness - and no offense to anybody (truly) - this is my favorite mall group bible study crew ever.

Only thing missing was mommy!

When we made the decision to pull out of Awana a while back (for several reasons) we collectively said "We're gonna make a real effort to get something in place to help us work at studying and remembering scripture."

We've just been super slow to launch...

But we changed that today!

With a steady rain pouring down - the time was ripe to grab our bible, our journals and hit Starbucks to kick off our first family memory verse!


We chose Ephesians 2:10 because... well... it just speaks so much truth to our souls.

Truth we desperately need in these weird, odd, freaky, scary hateful times we live in.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Simple. To the point. Perfect and true.

We are God's workmanship...


We took some time to all write it down in our journals and kinda pray about it and come up with what we thought it meant.

And then we jumped in and started having a conversation.


These guys were HUNGRY for it man!

The conversation was so good as we dove into what they thought the words meant ("what is workmanship?" and "what does unmerited mean?" [we saw it in a footnote]) and what they thought the application of this verse was for them individually and us as a family.

Honestly - I was kinda blown away by it all!

I mean... I'll stop short of calling it "church" cuz ya know last time I did that I got dragged through the mud for 8 months by "church leadership" so... oh heck... no I won't...

This was the BEST Church we could have had today!

Yeah... I said it.

Take that - silly "leaders"


Even Z-Dogg got in on it and spent a good chunk of time copying the verse down in his journal!

We wrapped it up with each of us reading the verse out loud and then closed in prayer.

We committed to working all week together to try and recite it every day and lock it in to our memory and our hearts!


I am so proud of these guys - my favorite little crew of bible study folks.

Not only were they willing and engaged - they were the ones pushing it!

Lord... work in us and draw us near so we may bring honor and glory to You in all we say and all we do...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Daddy... do you know my birthmother?


I never know when the questions might come from these three right here - but I know they exist - right there under the surface - looking for an opening to come out and get some insight.

And while I may not know when they're coming - I know they MATTER - so I have prayed for YEARS about them - asking God's words to flow through me when they do come.

And last night... they came.

We were driving - all in the van - and conversations about race, strength, all these goofballs had overcome in their lives already - gave the questions just the little crack they needed to come flooding out...


"Daddy... tell me again about how that police officer named me?"

Silence.

"Daddy... you okay?"

No. I mean yes... but no.

I couldn't talk from the lump in my throat and the single tear rolling down my cheek.

Meron saw it.

"Awww Daddy... it's okay..." she said.

Their stories are so hard. So raw. So real. So full of redemption, grace and His undying love.

They get me every single time.

But it didn't stop there...


"Daddy... what happened to my birth father? And how many Ethiopian brothers and sisters do I have?"

No pain in their voices - just curiosity.

More tears. I'm weak in this space.

I'll admit it... when the Holy Spirit is present - I find myself weeping.

And the Holy Spirit was all kinds of present.

Answers through tears... more discussions.

Some laughter. Some more tears.

Then a small voice from the far back seat of the van...


"Daddy... did you know MY birth mother?"

These kids are some of the strongest human beings I have ever, ever met.

Their stories are theirs and theirs alone - to share or not to share... at their pace. In their own time.

But I'll tell ya this... I'll never stop telling them how beautiful their stories are and how full of God's love they are.

Just HOW loved by their Creator that they are.

We pulled into the garage and the girls hopped out and headed in.

I saw Z-Dogg was moving slow while wiping his glasses and then I heard the sobs...

I snatched him up and hugged him and said:

"Bubba... what is it? You can tell me anything..."

And he whispered in my ears through deep, chest heaving sobs:

"I just wish I had gotten to know my brother Brighton."

Sigh.

More tears on my cheeks. Me too, Zechie... me too.

Adoption is beautiful. Like - to the core - beautiful.

But it ain't always easy.

I fully believe it's a redemption plan He built for a fallen world - so I lean on Him with full faith when these hard questions arise.

And I do my best to point to the beauty in the brokenness of it all.