Monday, January 31, 2011

Faith Like a Child...

I have two full-time jobs: a mom and a daycare provider. Both jobs bring a lot of joy and laughter to my home. It means I can wear sweatshirts, jeans and socks around "my office" all day. It means I can play all day. But it also means that most of my inspiration for my blog is from my clients...the kids.

Kids offer a lot of material to write on. They always have a lesson to teach me: about my personality, my patience quotient and how to see and live through the eyes of a child.

Lately, life has be fairly uneventful at the Kellerstrass house.

Can I hear a resounding "AMEN!"

The lack of adventure in our daily life doesn't mean everything is suddenly perfect, it just means God likes me to reflect during these times and see what He is and has been doing. Its a moment where I can breathe and say "God what are you trying to reveal to me that I can be working and praying on?"

For six years now (since June 3, 2004 to be exact), we have had a child accompany us in our bed nightly. There are no extra bodies in our bed at the beginning of the night, but by 1:30 in the morning there is usually an extra bunk mate or two.

For some reason beyond me, Nick and I decided that when we bought our mattress (pre-children) that we would not need a bed bigger than a queen and that we would just snuggle with our kids. WRONG!!! Never, ever make a decision about what you will or will not do once you have children before you have children. Kids change everything!!!

Lately, the whole sharing a bed situation has gotten worse. It is a regular occurence that within an hour of Nick and I going to bed Amra and Wrigley will join us. Four in a queen size bed just doesn't work. Nick is now a resident of the bottom bunk in the boys' room. He and Owen are bunkmates, and I share with the other two.

Yesterday I decided that enough was enough. It was time for me to reclaim what is rightfully mine! Amra and Wrigley will stay in their ands, ifs, or buts about it.

I'm not the best of people to mess with in the middle of the night. I'm cranky and tired and DO NOT enjoy having my sleep interrupted. At the punctual time of 11:33 (an hour after I slipped into my coma), Amra came into the room crying about how scared she was. I had already drawn my line in the sand, and I was not going to allow her to cross it.

I picked up my little girl and carried her back to her bed. Instead of being angry, I took a second to sit on the edge of her bed and offered to pray with her. She closed her eyes and I asked Jesus to give her peace and to take away her fear. I prayed that she would feel His sense of protection and get a full night's rest. I opened my eyes and looked at her and realized her eyes were closed. I gave her a kiss and said goodnight, and she told me she loved me.

I walked back to my room, prayed another prayer that she really would feel a sense of peace and waited. And waited. And waited. And she never came back. She slept the entire night in her room without another sound. I couldn't believe it!

I've been watching alot of movies lately. I signed up for Netflix and have been consumed in the number of movies and t.v. shows I can watch at the press of a button. Its like heaven for a movie buff! Last night, I watched the recent BBC remake of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Sure this girl was a thirteen year old girl, who behaved like a thirteen year old girl would, but if I take this movie and remember that this is a true story of a young Jewish girl, I realize that this child had more faith than I can ever imagine! To be hidden in a room while people wanting to end your life are right outside those very walls, is hard to comprehend. To still be able to go on living, when there are bombs exploding around you and no where to run and hide is unimaginable. This young girl and her family were hanging on to every strand of faith they could muster just to live through two years of hiding.

Do I truly have the faith of a child? Not the kind of faith that brings us to our knees, weeping and crying out to God when the trial seems bigger than we can bear. But the kind of faith that gets us through the little fears and uncertainties that we face each day. To truly believe that God will provide every need, that He will protect us on each trip to the grocery store. To know that He holds our very lives in His hands and that He knows what is best for us each and every day, better than we know ourselves?

It's this faith that I need to be working on. To lean on Him for everything, not just the big things that I know I can't control anyway. My life is His, and I need to hand every bit of it to Him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Wow! That was really fast! In less than 24 hours our blog went from 4 followers up to 15! That's fantastic...thanks to everyone who is following our adoption journey!

So why the sudden interest in "followers"? Is it because of some unresolved popularity issue...possibly. But the real reason is to get awareness out to our friends and family of our deep desire for prayer from those who care about us. We've been learning that the adoption process is a daily struggle with emotions. We have seen first hand what the power of prayer can do, and believe me when I say I NEED daily prayer :)

So because you've all been so gracious to me and joined my little blog, we wanted to say thank you with our first drawing of Gobena Coffee! is a orphan ministry located right here in Morton, IL. Our friends, Steve and Danae, have adopted from both Colombia and Ethiopia and feel their calling is to help orphans and Ethiopian churches. Through the sales of Gobena Coffee they are providing education, food, and shelter for orphans. Check out their website at! By "following" our blog, the purchase of this one bag of coffee will feed an orphan for ONE MONTH!!!

The picture above is of my kids picking the winner! We thought it would be fun to include the whole family (and then you would all know it was a fair and unbiased pick!)

And the Winner Is...


Congrats, I will be e-mailing you later with more details.

We figured this went so fast that we'd offer another challenge. When we get to 25 followers we will have another drawing for an Ordinary Hero T-shirt (check out the styles at! Tell your friends!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time for a Drawing to say Thanks!!!

Today I got the message that said I now have SIX followers on our blog. That may not seem like many to most of you, but I'm surprised anyone but my husband is a "follower"! To say thank you to all of you who support our adoption and read our blog, I'm going to have a drawing for a bag of Gobena coffee! ( In order for the drawing to occur, we need to reach 15 followers. Once we have 15 followers, we will have the drawing! Thanks to those who have stuck through it with us!!!

Why Do They Have To Be My Parents????

I remember asking myself that very question nearly every day of my childhood. My parents just weren't cool enough, fun enough...good enough.

This isn't a rant against my parents, in fact, those days are gone. On my wedding day, my relationship with my mom literally changed. We used to be enemies. There wasn't one day in my teenage years (I got married at 19, so there weren't many years besides that) that we didn't have one major blow-up at each other. I so loved getting under my mom's skin, and she so loved falling into that trap. Day after day we'd scream, we'd fight, I'd slam the door in her face and not feel one ounce of guilt. It was horrible! But the day I got married I remember getting ready to leave on my honeymoon, and my mom came and gave me a hug. It wasn't just a regular hug. I could feel the sense of loss and knew she already missed me. The tears welled in my eyes and from that moment on, we've been the best of friends.

So why the trip down memory lane? Because my turn has come to be the be the "worst parent in the world". In the last week alone I have heard the following statements from my cherubic little children:

"You are SO mean!"

"You never let me do anything I want to do!"

"We always have to clean!"

"You NEVER want to be my friend!"

"You can't be my friend! You're just my mom!"


To be perfectly honest, my kids have never said these things to me until this week. Let me say that it is a blow to your ego to be told these things. I thought I would be different. I wanted to be the cool mom, the one that all the kids wished was their own. I guess I'm not. I guess I'm just like all the other evil mothers who only want the worst for her children and never wants them to have any fun.


I think the desire for another life and another set of parents carries over in to other aspects of life, as well. How many times have I asked God, "Why didn't you bless my with THAT house?", "Why does she get to drive THAT car?", "Why do I have to do THAT?" It's pathetic how many times I whine about not getting to have or do what someone else does. If only we could move up just one spot, then life would be all the better, right?


In our research and classes for Adoption Education, I've been learning incredibly interesting facts about other races and cultures. It's daunting to think about bringing another life from a completely different culture, country, and race into our family, but exciting as well to incorporate new foods, holidays, and lifestyles into our home.

Last night, we were learning about the cultural reasons for adoption in Africa, and it really hit me hard. Besides the most common reasons of poverty, poor health, and HIV/AIDS, one reason particularly stood out to me. In Africa, many women who are about to be married for a second time, usually due to the death of their first husband, have to choose between their second husband or their children from the first marriage. Because of poverty and starvation, many women are taking into consideration their own survival in this world. They may see that this man can potentially save their own life by providing a living. So in essence, they have to give up their children (which are seen as unwanted by the new husband) in order to save their own life.

It was like a punch to the stomach to hear that. We, as a culture, cannot even understand the decisions that these women around the world have to make. I cannot understand how children can be seen as wasteless property, when I treat my children as kings and queens of this world. It's heartbreaking. The pain, the hunger, the poverty, the hopelessness these people face on a daily basis.

And I am concerned about the new Expedition that woman is driving? How selfish! How sickening!

My heart breaks for my sisters in Africa. I yearn to care for the moms in Ethiopia who are currently making a decision of whether they are able to risk their own life to keep the life of her child. It's not fair on so many levels and yet this is the reality for women around the world.

I am so grateful for the richly blessed life I live here. I'm thankful for being born into the United States, for having hard-working parents who expected the same from me, for having a diligent, determined husband who works to give us a wonderful life, and for three beautiful children who right now are wishing that someone else's mother was their own. We all learn through the lives of others and someday they will appreciate me...I hope.

"Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills...When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:1-5, 21-26

Friday, January 14, 2011

And we're off...

2011 is starting off with a bang for us, and I'm so grateful for the blessing of this change! We first heard our call to adopt in September and immediately began filling out applications and paperwork. We met our case workers and agents and felt like things were moving quickly. We thought we might actually get our little girl within 10 months. Unfortunately, due to circumstances out of our control, our little adoption journey came to a dead halt. Surprisingly enough for my personality, I trusted that God was in control and that His timing is perfect. I trusted Him and decided to follow where He lead and for the time, He wanted me to spend time and help care for my mother who was fighting leukemia.

Praise the Lord! She has been told that she is currently in remission and has been home since the day before Christmas Eve. It's been a wonderful, peaceful few weeks, and I'm thankful for every moment we get to spend with her! It is so nice to see her smile again, to see her gain back strength, and to allow God to continually use her illness to glorify Him (and let me tell you this is not an easy task).

I've learned alot from my mother's illness and the various other trials my family has gone through, and I know now that my strength and understanding is not enough. I need to lean on Christ.

Not to say that I've perfected this faith. Not in the least. In fact, its still a daily battle to remember to put down my goals and desires and say "Your will be done."

Wednesday is the perfect example. We had our first meeting for our home study. Everything went really well. We had already finished half of the paperwork, but were given another large stack of papers to complete. For those of you unfamiliar with adoption, I can not accurately describe the number of trees that give their lives to fulfill the requirements of our adoption. Our respects to them all...

The meeting went really well, and we enjoyed our caseworker so much. It was exciting to finally feel like we were on our way to adopting our little girl (whoever she may be) waiting for us in Africa.

That night I lay in bed unable to sleep. Thoughts of the mounds of paperwork still to be completed and compiled and notarized and apostilled were swirling through my mind. I actually enjoy paperwork. I LOVE filling out forms. Its a sick obsession of mine, but if there is a form to fill out, pass it my way. However, these papers worried me. You have to worry about the date that you sign them, the date that they are notarized. You have to make sure you word everything correctly so as not to offend the Ethiopian government. In a word, its very...tricky.

I also felt the burden of the financial load we were taking on. And not only ourselves but our reliance on others. We took this step of faith knowing God would provide every penny we needed. In my mind, I thought this meant Nick's business would start booming or he would do some side work to earn extra money. I knew we would rely on our friends, family, and acquaintances for some of the finances, but not EVERYTHING.

Adoption is a costly, costly mission. And the burden of knowing that I need other people to support our mission in something I love and cherish doing makes my heart feel heavy.

I tossed and turned and tossed some more. And I began to question if we were making the right decision.

Nick is usually showered, dressed, and out the door before my alarm even goes off. But because of a scheduling conflict, Nick hadn't left for work when I got up the next morning. I told him my concerns. I told him the weight I felt on my shoulders. I told him I was questioning what we thought God had called us to.

And then he asked, "Are you doubting?"


Questioning is one thing, but to doubt God is another thing altogether for me. I wasn't "technically" doubting God...I didn't think. But maybe I really was. Was I actually worried about the effort it was going to take by me to fill out paperwork and go to the courthouse and raise $30,000 to adopt my child. Suddenly, I just wanted to be able to have another baby because it was EASIER! Life is not about the ease of which we go through it. Christ calls us to daily pick up our cross and follow Him. Our cross is a BIG burden and He expects it of us.

After Nick left, he sent me this text "Doubt is the direct result of taking our eyes off the Lord. - James McDonald". Followed by "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5,6. And my wonderful husband reminded me that this is not about us, it's about leaving a testimony to those around us. That we are to reflect the glory of the Lord in every situation.

Psalm 119:36 "Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Putting Things in to Motion...

I'm a slightly rebellious person.

Ask my parents...

ask Nick.

I'm not your normal rebel where I go against the basic rules like speeding, texting while driving, drinking or doing drugs, I typically rebel against the commands in the Bible that tell us to obey our parents, submit to your husband, and respect authority. With me it's an attitude thing. If someone tells me I have to do something or in my mind I have to do something, I feel the sudden urge to completely ignore the direction and do the opposite. NO ONE tells me what to do.

Unfortunately this also crosses into the diet issue. I decided that after the holidays it's time to buckle down and go on a diet and start running again. Only I know how much I consumed over the last two weeks and how much extra fluff I added to my waistline over the holidays...and it's not pretty. So I decide to start a diet plan. I get online and make my meal plans, print up the grocery list...and decide I just can't stick to that.

The excuses begin rolling off my tongue as if I'm trying to recite the alphabet in ten seconds or less. Ok, that won't work. I'll just try eating in moderation, that has always worked before and I'm training for a Half Marathon in May so the running will take care of the rest. Suddenly EVERY junk food item in my house needs to be eaten so they are no longer accessible. But who will take care of eating these things? Me.

Ok, so my diet will start tomorrow after I've eaten all the junk food in the house so that it is no longer a temptation. So after a long night on the couch gorging myself with the rest of the Christmas M&M's, chips (which I don't even like), soda, etc, etc, etc, I go into sloth mode and suddenly running, walking, even sitting up seems like a lot of unnecessary work.

Welcome to the mid-winter blahs. I think this is what happens every year after the joy and excitement of the holidays wears off, my stomach has expanded and all I can think about is that I'm stuck in the house for 3 more months. Blah.

It doesn't just affect my health, it affects my mind. The creative juices just aren't flowing these days. Nothing seems interesting enough to write about. Nothing sparks my interest enough to actually sit down and share it with everyone, so that is my excuse for the slow updates that will or will not be occurring over the next 3 months.

I just had to let everyone know, however, that this has been a very successful week on the adoption front. Things have been moving forward and it is just so exciting to us to finally feel like we are moving forward in this process. This week we had all of our physicals, TB Tests (it took two nurses and myself to hold Owen down for his, the kids is TERRIFIED of needles), and HIV Tests to complete the health portion. Adoption Education has been ordered and delivered! Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificate are being delivered, and we finished our CPR Training today! I love all the check marks I've made this last week on my long list of things to do!

Wednesday is the beginning of our actual home study. We have the all the paperwork and prerequisites done, now its just the actual homestudy that we will be undergoing. I'm a little nervous. I keep picturing it in my mind: my kids will be all excited about the new visitor in the house and they will decide it's time to show off aka be CRAZY!

It never fails. Whenever a guest comes to the house it's as if instantly they ate five pixie sticks and drank a can of Jolt (I personally know this feeling from my jr. high slumber party days, it's pretty scary). I can just see her walking into my house, see my out of control children (who actually are very well behaved), see the stress in my eyes as I'm concerned about the small toy I just noticed in the corner that never got put away, see Nick as he just watches in amusement the manic children running around, and the words written on my file:


Not only unfit to adopt a child but to take care of her own children.

Ok, I'm actually not that concerned, but the thought has crossed my mind. What if they don't think I'm good enough to take care of my own children? What if I don't have enough smoke detectors? What if the cleaning supplies and medicine aren't up high enough? What if the batteries on the Carbon Monoxide Detector decide to stop working right when she arrives? WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?

This is where I need a moment to breathe and remember that we were called here to fulfill a mission. God didn't bring us to this place to abandon us right in the middle of the chaos. He is here to guide us every step of the way. He is the one who brought peace during the months of inaction. He is the one who gave me the break to be able to care for my mom and family when they needed me. And He is the one who is now giving my mom a break so that I can concentrate on the stage in this journey where I need to be proactive.

My goal is to be on the waiting list by the end of February. It may or may not happen, but will I get discouraged? No, because His timing is perfect and mine is not.

"Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust...Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare." Psalms 40:4,5

Monday, January 3, 2011

First New Year's Resolution...FAILED!

Well, it is January 3rd already and my resolution to be more organized has already failed, and I'm just now writing my review of 2010. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come. It's hard to believe that it is 2011 already!

2011 started off peaceful, uneventful...exactly how I like it. Nick and I spent the evening at the movie theater watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1.

Yes. I am a geek.

We came home and watched the ball drop in New York City. In New York City time. And called it good. Considering it is still only 2004 on the Ethiopian calendar, I figured one hour wouldn't make such a difference.

So here is my rundown of 2010. An interesting year. A life changing year. A year I will never forget and pray we never relive, but a year of blessing, joy, and peace! Enjoy!

Favorite Verse of 2010: "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalms 37:5,6

Favorite Book: Crazy Love by Francis Chan - Get ready to have your world rocked

Sermon Series that Changed Our Lives: The Compassion Series by David Platt, another Rock Our World Never Be The Same message that we encountered

Favorite Movie: Eclipse (sorry its lame, but when it begins with a four hour Twlilight marathon with food and friends, it's hard to top)

Biggest Accomplishment: Running the Indianapolis Marathon. 26.2 Miles of hills, hills, and alas, more hills.

Best Nick Memory: Celebrating our 10th Anniversary. We took a trip down memory lane and spent a couple of days in Chicago doing nothing! It was wonderful and helped us reflect on our relationship and make goals for the future.

Best Owen Memory: The first day I dropped Owen off to school, I asked him if he was too old to give me a kiss. He looked at me and said, "I'll never be too old to give you a kiss." My heart melted. A week later, he no longer wanted to kiss me goodbye.

Best Amra Memory: In May, Amra got her tonsils out. After the surgery, I just got to hold her and sing to her and snuggle her. Before the surgery, she always sounded like she had a cold when she spoke. The first time she spoke after the surgery, she sounded like a little mouse. It was the sweetest sound ever!

Best Wrigley Memory: The boy was only 11 months old and he flips over the side of the couch. Not on accident. On purpose. And he hasn't stopped. He jumps, flips, and tumbles off furniture. He keeps me on my toes and makes me laugh all the time!

Top 10 (or 15) Memories of 2010
1. PBS Mini-series of Emma Tea Party with The Girls (Jill, Sandy, Heidi, Andi, Alex, Marla, Katy, Abbey, and Lori). I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE theme parties, and this was one of my favorites! Tea, Tea Sandwiches, and mini desserts mixed with a Jane Austen classic and you have a proper evening.

2. Indianapolis Half Marathon - the whole family jumps in to the car, heads out east to Indy and runs a half marathon, followed by good food and SHOPPING!

3. Brookfield Zoo with my mom, Nicki, Teo, and the kids - a little bit hectic but great memories were made!

4. Ten Year Anniversary Date down Memory Lane - we had a scavenger hunt to all the important places in our relationship with a soundtrack to match. A few tears were had by all.

5. Cubs Game for Owen's Birthday - Owen's first trip to Wrigley Field. The weather was beautiful, the seats were great, and as long as we kept feeding Owen, he was content.

6. ECLIPSE PARTY!!! - Food, Friends, and Edward Cullen...need I say more?

7. Abbey's Wedding - a beautiful day with a beautiful bride

8. Long Runs with Amy - If you ever want to know a person completely inside and out, then I suggest running 10 or so miles with them. I never knew I would look forward to a twenty mile run, but with Amy it was the highlight of my week! Our friendship was deepened immensely during this year, and I have truly made a friend forever!

9. Jet Skiing and Captain Ron's - My BFF Amy and Brandon took us jet skiing on the Illinois River and to Captain Ron's on the riverfront. Sounds pretty much like a redneck vacation but it was SOOOOO fun! And I only fell off the jet ski two times and almost went up river once...a pretty successful evening!

10. Chicago Half Marathon - We spent so much time walking around enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, that we were too tired to run a good race the next day. It was a really fun time!

11. Cubs Game with the Family - we were lucky enough to go to TWO Cubs games this year. The second was with our great friends and cousins, the Flemings. We got to take the kids and they did amazing! Wrigley kept saying, "My field."

12. Coffee with Danae, Erin, Lyndsey, and Toni - God blessed me with the best friends this year. Friends that will forever be a part of my life, and I'm SO grateful for the one on one time I spent with each of them!

13. Pumpkin Carving Party - Picture this: 6 kids, 6 pumpkins, 4 laid back parents and sharp knives. Need I say more?

14. The Sugar Cookie Party - we cram as many people as we can in our small house and eat to our hearts content. I think there were 23 children running amongst the 25 was heavenly madness!

15. Christmas with my Mom - after a year of ups and downs, it ended well with my mom home celebrating Christmas with her family!

Probably the most exciting time of this year was our BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! The whole reason I have this blog. To announce that we are expecting! Expecting another child through adoption! We are so excited because after receiving three large financial gifts we finally have the ball rolling towards our adoption! Our hope is to have both our homestudy and dossier completed by the end of February, so look for more announcements to come! 2011 is starting off well!!!