8 Colemans Becoming 10

The journey of a family of ten, loving Jesus, loving each other, loving a hurting world.

Monday, April 20, 2015

From Loss to Joy

In 2007, we saw the most beautiful, shining face on a waiting list through an adoption agency. Immediately, we knew this darling boy named Israel was to be our son. We adopted him and named him Joshua Israel and brought him and Julianna home in 2008. He was a tiny 4 year old gift from God. At the time of Joshua's court date, we were told his birth mother could not be found. A Kebele letter was required and obtained and we passed court. Josh became a Coleman although still living in Ethiopia. At this time, it was not required of families to travel for court. Joshua came home and blessed our family with his booming laugh, his quick wit, and his compassionate heart. For the last seven years, he has grown into a talented athlete, smooth dancer, lover of God, and precious son, brother, grandson, nephew, and friend. Everyone loves Josh. He is social and fun to be around, yet has carried a heaviness since he came home. As a little boy, Josh would act out and struggle every April. Other adoptive families are familiar with trigger anniversaries and March and April seemed to be Josh's tough months. He often talked about "The lady" that he misses, referring to his birth mother, always sad about her for reasons he couldn't express. We prayed him through many Aprils and many moments of grief in losing his birth mother. Months ago, we discovered that files from the now shut down agency were seized in Soddo, Josh's birthplace. Other families were searching for roots for their kiddos and locating family members, all of which was impossible before. We were told on many, many occasions there were no pictures and no information at all on Josh's birth mother. We assumed she was in heaven as we knew she was sick at the time she took Josh to the orphanage. Last week, we got a message from the precious brother/sister team, one living in the States and the other in Soddo, ET, that had been searching relentlessly for any connections for our son in Ethiopia. The news we heard was beyond what we would ever dream was reality. Joshua's birth mother was, in fact, alive. She was living 8 hours from Soddo in the city of Addis Ababa...a city we had been to four times over the years. Even more unbelievable was what this young woman had in her possession... all the pictures and descriptions of Josh written in my hand that I had sent over the years in our post adoption reports we prepared annually up until our agency closed several years ago. Suddenly, our son's story looked very different. He thought all these years she was probably in heaven. We didn't know for sure, but we certainly never imagined we would find her alive and well and working as a cleaner in a healthcare center. We began to pray and ask our family and closest friends to pray with us. We had to share this news with Josh and wanted it to be a discovery that brought healing, not confusion or pain. Two nights ago, Kurt and I sat Joshua down on our bed. We began to ask our 11 year old son questions about his birth mother..what he thought may have happened to her, what he would want to ask her if he could talk to her, how he felt about her. His eyes welled up...He said he missed her even though he didn't remember her. We proceeded to share with him the truth because we believe truth always sets us free. No matter what the results of this truth, Josh deserved to know his story. Upon telling him his birth mother was alive and well and wanting to talk to him by Skype, that beautiful, brilliant smile that marks the bubbly personality of our Joshua Israel, spread wide across his face. His spirit seemed to exhale in relief and he was overjoyed at this news. Our hearts were warmed with his mature response. Today, we received some beautiful gifts. Joshua's mother traveled back to Soddo, overjoyed at the news of her only child and with the help of the heroic brother/sister team, she sent us something we never thought we would see...a baby picture of Joshua. I jumped up and down in elation at the chubby-cheeked, smiling picture, clearly my son. Within moments, another email came through and with bated breath, I downloaded the attachment. A gorgeous, young woman stared back at me through my computer screen. She had my son's eyes, the round shape of his face, and his nose. Her beautiful Ethiopian poise was familiar to me...I had marveled at the stunning Ethiopian women on my many trips, but this was no ordinary woman. This was my son's mother...she and I had the same heart...we loved the same boy of destiny. I have gazed into her face all day today, trying to imagine her pain...her husband dead since Josh was 3 months old, her only child half a globe away and no news of his whereabouts or well being. The thought of that kind of pain took my breath away. The conflicting emotions have run rampant through my heart this week. I've been Joshua's mommy since he was four years old. I watched him learn English, start preschool, lose his first tooth, experience Christmas and birthdays, learn to read, cry over his first crush, give his heart to Jesus, get baptized...on and on our experiences of growing up have bonded us. The beautiful, olive-shaped eyes that seemed to look into my soul, however, had carried him in her womb, given birth to him, nursed him, changed his diapers, fed him his first solid food, saw him take his first steps and heard him speak his first words. That's a bond that is incomparable. This beautiful, now 29 year old woman so selflessly handed her Israel to an American adoption agency and walked away from her baby at 3 years old...no doubt she has cried over him daily, prayed for him, dreamed about him. Her pain became our joy. How do you figure all that out emotionally and spiritually? I am beyond grateful he is my son, but that gift came at a deep, painful price for her. It's difficult to resolve that within me. I wouldn't change it in a million years and she wishes beyond hope it would've never happened this way. Heavy, heavy stuff for our hearts to sift through... Just as Moses' mother agonized and laid him in a basket in the river, praying he would be saved and cared for, this stunning Ethiopian woman, very sick at the time, left her son, hoping and praying someone would save him and care for him. Just as God restored Jochebed with a relationship with Moses, God seems to be bringing restoration for our son and his birth mother. So today, I took a deep breath and set up a Skype meeting with her and a translator Wednesday morning at 7am. My son will be face to face with the mother who brought him into this world in two days...and she will look into the face so similar to hers and connect again with the son she probably thought was gone forever. It's beautiful and tragic all at once. Only God in His sovereignty has it all figured out. I will hold on for dear life and love deeply and give grace and space for my child to open his heart to his mother. Restoration and jubilee...God is all about returning to His children all they have lost. This is my son's story. I asked him if he wants it shared and with energetic joy, he responded, "Yes! Share my story!" It's a testimony to God's faithfulness, restoration, and healing. Its a story only beginning, but one I want to share with you, in hopes you allow it to touch a place in your life where you've experienced loss or grief, disappointment or tragedy. God restores all. His plans for you are to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future. He will return to you what the enemy has stolen. You can trust Him to bring wholeness where there is brokenness, restoration where there is loss. It may not look like you want it to, but His plans for you are good. Stay tuned to see God continue this story on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Coming Home

18 months of paperwork, praying, crying, fund raising, praying some more....and THE BOYS ARE COMING HOME! We have cleared embassy and will travel the third week of October. Cherinet has been waiting for three years and Shasho two. The waiting is almost over. So hard to believe!! God is good. We have one final push to raise the funds for our final trip. Caleb will be traveling with me as Kurt can't be gone again and I'm not comfortable traveling alone. Round trip tickets on Qutar Airline are $1450 each for Caleb and I and one way tickets for Shasho and Cherinet are $1090 each. Hotel for a week is about $500 as well as paying for a driver and guide ($500). We have had some recent donations that will cover food and extra expenses. That is $6080. A great friend had a great idea. If 99 people would give $60, that would raise $5940. We are selling some things on ebay and can probably provide the rest ourselves. If you would like to help this last time to get the boys home, we know God will bless you in return! You've all been so faithful already, but if God impresses on you to give, you can donate to our PayPal button or send it by mail to 728 Chatta St. Haysville, KS 67060. Your investment will change two entire generations!!! We will be going back for Cherinet's sister, but will, more than likely, get grants for her. Her process should be much easier. The boys are coming home!! I can hardly believe that statement is finally coming from my mouth! What a long journey...but what a faithful God! Thank you to the hundreds who have prayed and supported and given. The harvest will soon be evident as you see Cherinet and Shasho in a FAMILY...with a church, a community, a school, and a future. It's the most powerful gift you can ever give. COMING HOME!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013


The number 16 has been a number we have almost obsessed over these last three years.  We knew our son would lose his opportunity to join our family at sixteen.  As the court closings approached, we knew he would age out if we didn't get our date.  Even when we first became his parents in 2009, 16 was an age we thought he would be home by.

Cherinet turns 16 on Sunday.  September 22, 2013, he will enter his 16th year and he is still sitting at Kolfe waiting for his family.  I am heart broken and grateful all at once.  I so wanted him to be home by his birthday.  It was a date I prayed over for months.  However, I am so grateful that on this birthday, his hopes are not dashed, his window of opportunity didn't close.  Cherinet is spending his 16th birthday in an orphanage, but he is spending it as Cherinet Samuel Stephen Coleman.  For that, we are overjoyed.  God came through with a last minute court date in the nick of time.

I have been so weary of fund raising.  It is such a monumental task, such a huge mountain to climb, and so many have given sacrificially to help get us to this point.  I am weary of asking and I'm sure most are
weary of hearing me ask.  However, if your 16 year old was spending his birthday in the conditions our son is, I know you would also shout it from the rooftops, "Who can help us? Please help us get our sons home!"

So, we humbly inquire of the Lord and of you for one last time with this adoption.  Is there someone you could share our story with?  Perhaps you've followed our story but not yet given. Could this be the time you help us get them home?

In honor of Cherinet's important 16th birthday, could you help with a $16 gift?  We are praying over a goal of about $7000.  Our goal was $8500 and $1700 came in!  God is good!  So around $7000 should complete this journey, mainly paying for round trip airline tickets for Caleb and I and one way tickets HOME for Cherinet and Shasho!

$16 for Cherinet's 16th birthday!  Let's get this thing done!
Thank you for your prayers and support!  They are changing generations for eternity.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Coming of Age-Fighting For His King

There are so many difficult aspects of being a pastor's kid. Expectations that are unrealistic, constant watchful eyes, and the sometimes painful things pastor's kids see their parents endure at the hands of "church people"... it can wound a child and chase them away from God.  My children have been through their share of grief and pain in their roles as children of a pastor.  Our oldest three at home especially have had to fight to keep their eyes on Jesus as they are not just pastor's kids, but leaders in the church as worship team members. With all the struggles that come with the territory, there are moments when God makes up for it all.  My children are beyond blessed.  We saw a glimpse of that blessing this weekend.

In the 13th year of each of our children's lives, we take them on an overnight trip with Dad and Mom. It isn't a long trip and it isn't to a far place, but what is accomplished in that 24 hours is amazing.  Two of our older girls have gone and this weekend it was Caleb's turn. In the weeks and months before the time away, we ask for letters from people that have impacted our children's lives throughout their first 13 years.  Once in the hotel room, we present them with a purity ring to be worn until their wedding along with these letters. We each take turns reading one after another. The surprise and emotion of seeing the people who sent letters is priceless to see.

As our son, sat quietly listening to the letters, I began to see something transpire.  Our son is unique to say the least.  He is a skilled drummer and called into ministry, but spends most of his time being a miniature Jim Carey!  We love that about him!  He will make a great speaker with that humor. This child who spends his life making people laugh, always a weird face, always a funny monologue to offer, began to transform in this moment, into a young man.  People have always been Caleb's favorite part of life.  In every church we've ministered in, there have always been men Caleb loved. In our first pastorate, Ardell Talkington, a quiet, mild mannered trombone player, was all that Caleb talked about.  He helped Ardell put his trombone away after church every Sunday. Ardell would take him on rides in his truck.  Ardell would talk to Caleb about Jesus.  When I opened the letter from Ardell and read it, an emotion hit Caleb like I've not seen before.  It was a strengthening of his heart, a validating medal of honor placed deep within his soul.  Letter after letter was read, one from an amazing missionary we love who told stories of his African adventures as our children literally sat at his feet. A strong, anointed letter from our district superintendent who is more like our own pastor than some far off official.  Pastors, godly family members, strong men of God from our various times of life...and all of them said the same thing.  "You are a strong leader, compassionate, a worshiper, a defender of the weak, wholehearted, devoted, kind, and aware of those around you."  With each letter more strength came.

If you would know what our son has had to overcome, you would understand how powerful this moment was.  Caleb is dyslexic and dysgraphic.  His intellect is brilliant, but it's hindered by the words he reads being jumbled on the page.  He was bullied for several years in elementary school, a boy actually breaking his hand by pulling back his fingers back until his hand broke in the recess line at school. He was cast aside often, dismissed as less than, treated with contempt even when he reached out in kindness. But, those messages no longer defined him because a group of men and his father spoke life defining words through those letters. Over and again young men he looked up to who are now adults urged him on.  "Don't let the past define you."  "Don't be afraid to lead your generation"  " I see greatness in you"...With each word read on that hotel bed, I could see Caleb's spirit change.  Strength was coming in the supernatural, an impartation of the Spirit was deposited. He was a man.

With the emotion lingering from the letters, my husband grabbed the gift he was giving to his son. Kurt preaches a sermon that everyone talks about.  He has preached it in every church, at men's events, and often on Father's Day.  The sermon is called "Fight For the Heart of Your King".  It is a clarion call to men.  It is a message that brings freedom to men...to be men, to allow their God given traits of toughness, a conquering spirit, and valiance to come out of hiding.  Caleb knows this message well.  He has heard it over and over again.  In the message, Kurt tells the story of King Richard, the Lion Heart and his loyal knight, Robert the Bruce.  It's a powerful, riveting story that brings the men to their feet at the end of the message shouting, "I will fight for the heart of my king!"  In his sermon, he carries a replica of the sword of Richard, the Lion Heart. When Caleb was eight years old, he stood on the platform at a men's retreat and held the large sword while his Dad preached.

Kurt pulled out that sword and began to talk to Caleb.  He named Caleb courageous and true, strong and victorious. He urged him to fight for his king, for his family, for himself...to live a life of honor and excellence.  As Kurt talked, Caleb's eyes welled up in emotion with the slightest smile of anticipation.  Kurt gave Caleb the sword as a symbol of him becoming a man.  Caleb held it on his knees in admiration.  I was moved beyond words.

What an privilege my children have in being children of ministry.  The level of godly men that wrote him letters and spoke words of valor over his life was staggering.  My girls had the same experience....letters from powerful women, worship leaders, family and friends.  My son is a man now and it didn't take a village to get him there, but it certainly took this group of men and his father. What amazing forerunners Caleb has to look to, to model after, to find strength and courage in.  We are blessed....to overflowing, we are blessed.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Becoming Coleman

">The natural so often reflects the supernatural.  Jesus used parables so often to help His disciples get a revelation of the amazing Kingdom that He belonged to.

We have 'parented' Cherinet and Shasho for years.  From afar, they have called us Mom and Dad, they changed their names on Facebook to Coleman, we sent them things they needed, and money consistently to help meet their needs.  Even more so, after we began the adoption process, they began to feel more like ours.

However, something shifted the moment the beautiful, young, Ethiopian judge signed our paperwork, declaring Cherinet and Shasho legally ours...the became Colemans.  In Scripture, God often changed the names of those who followed Him.  The name change wasn't simply to give another name, but to bestow upon that person a new identity, a new destiny, a new position. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah.  Jacob became Israel and Saul became Paul.  Their new names gave them a new inheritance...one of descendants and children, one of leadership and anointing and victory.

As human beings, we so often approach weakness and frailty by addressing it, labeling it, magnifying it.  Our child or our spouse struggle in an area and we talk about it, we argue about it, we label them with it. What we magnify, always grows.  Abram was a liar, Sarah a doubter, Jacob was a deceiver, and Saul, a murderer.  God didn't focus on those things, however.  Instead, He declared who these men truly were.  Abraham, a father of many nations; Sarah, a mother in old age; Israel, an overcomer; and Paul, a man who evangelized the world and wrote much of the New Testament. When the new name and new identity was declared, the weakness fell to the background and the strength of their new character became prominent.

The past and rough start our two sons have had will not define who they are anymore.  They have become Colemans.  They have a new identity.  They are a child of two parents, in a large family. They are now pastor's kids. They will be Americans.  They have a new mantle, a new inheritance, a new identity. Something shifted in the heavens when that name was declared.  It will take time and love and the Spirit of God to heal the wounds they carry, but we will continue to remind them, 'you belong to our family forever', 'nothing you will do can ever change that',' you have a new name, a new family, a new future'.

If only we could grab hold of that revelation as believers.  When we surrender our lives to Christ, we become new creatures, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and God gives us a new name.  We have a new inheritance in the Kingdom of God, we carry a new mantle, a new anointing, a new authority.  We spin our wheels when we focus on what we're not....not pretty enough, not talented enough, not strong enough, not popular enough.  Magnify who you are.  You have become a believer.  God has given you a new name...and that name is "Righteous".  Wear your new identity like a garment.  Walk in it.  Your weaknesses will then fall away into the background and your strengths will magnify.  Whats your new name?

We now can share our adoption video freely.  Here it is.  To God be all glory!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sick and alone

Remember those miserable moments of childhood when you were covered in chicken pox, your body racked with body aches that left you tossing and turning searching for relief, your thoughts confused and hazy with a high fever? Do you look back and see where comfort and relief came from?  Your mom or dad or grandparent sat with you, cold rag on your head, oatmeal baths, Tylenol and pain medication, the soothing voice of your covering reassuring you it would be ok. Do you remember taking your blanket and pillow onto the couch, distracting yourself from the pain and itchy skin by watching your favorite cartoon or movie, an endless supply of Popsicles or ice cream and  new art supplies to keep you busy as you laid in your warm house with your mom just a holler away?

I hated being sick as a child. It was overwhelming, scary, and miserable, but comfort was always there. In the past month, 17 boys at the orphanage my sons reside, have been sick with chicken pox or some other kind of sickness. Over 250 boys ages 6-20 live there.  When they are sick, they suffer not only from very little medical help, but have no one they can call out to to bring comfort. It's the rainy season, so their dorms are damp and cold at night, there's nowhere to find quiet as hundreds of boys run in and out of the dorms. They have no one to put a cold cloth on their head, no one to give them a Popsicle, no one to cover them up and make sure they are warm. No soothing voice of a mama, telling them they are going to be ok.

Lately, I have watched many of the boys who have been sick post on Facebook, "please pray for me! I am very sick!" They reach through technology to the group moms who love them from afar. Kolfe Moms are a breed all their own. Stubbornly loving and advocating for a group of boys labeled "the forgotten boys" of Ethiopia. We all shower them with comments of prayers and hope, but its not the same. Laying down on their bunkbed, body aching and fever raging, they need more. They need what only comes from Gods beautiful creation called "family". They need a mom and dad.

Sitting here in my recliner, my feet up, watching tv and blogging my thoughts, I feel a righteous anger building up within me. This should not be!  No child should be sick and alone, no child should long for comfort and find none. I recently talked to my sons about them being sick and told them how sorry I was that I could not be there for them. As usual, they politely responded, "Its ok, Mom. All is fine now. Don't worry." And in the very next breath, they say, "When are you coming to get us?"   My sons can verbalize their need for us to come for them, but many of them cannot. They don't see any hope in their future for a family. The majority of the boys of Kolfe will never realize the feeling of belonging to a family. They will live through many of life's hardships alone.

Adoption, especially internationally, is expensive,  It's costly in many ways, but there's nothing else I I'd rather spend my life doing them giving children the comfort and security and love of a family. They deserve that. God wants that for every single one of them. I am consumed for their plight.  Adoption isn't the only answer, but one of many, but for me, it's what God has called me to do. What has God called you to do for those children who suffer silently, longing for comfort and family and protection.  Everyone should do something. Help fund adoptions, sponsor a child, give to a missionary who is helping children on the streets (All-Out Ministries, Bring Love In), adopt a child and see your life changed forever!

My sons will soon be home, never to be alone again. We need prayer and support to get to that final place and we know God will provide. But there are hundreds we will walk away from at Kolfe who will lay their head down another night alone. This should not be the case. We have more than enough resources and room in our lives to help every single one of them. What can you do?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Letting God Be God

Helpless...a common, overwhelming rush in this journey of waiting for children to come home from a distant land.  As a mom, I am used to stepping in and making everything better.  When my children at home are sick, I offer them comfort, medicine, a trip to the doctor, and prayer. When stress or hurt feelings follow them home from school, I embrace them and speak value and encouragement into them. When one of my sons in Ethiopia is sick as "C" was this week, I feel helpless.  I pray with him and for him, but I must let God be God.  I cannot run to their aid, I cannot comfort them or even offer them medicine.  When bad things happen to them at school in Ethiopia, I am not there to embrace them and offer them encouragement. I have to let God be God.  Trusting God becomes a deeper revelation in the adoption process.  I cannot force paperwork or judges or court systems.  As much as I want to, I cannot fly over and be with my sons.  In this difficult, heartbreaking, exciting journey of bringing children home from afar, I must let God be God.

I sure pray this discipline becomes an ingrained part of who I am as a child of God.  As other circumstances come my way, I pray I learned the value of letting God be God.  He knows how to fill that role and I don't.  He can be trusted.  He never fails us and always fulfills every promise to His children.  He is molding the character our sons as they wait and long for a family.  He knows the perfect timing for us to bring them home. He is all-knowing, ever-present, perfect in love, always working things for our good. 

No matter what you are facing today.  Let God be God.  He is trustworthy.  You don't ever need to question His heart.  It's always for you.  His ways are higher than ours.  He is steady and sure.  Let God be God in your life.

We are waiting for a court date for our sons first and then one for us in Ethiopia.  Please be praying for paperwork to move swiftly through the red tape of Ethiopia.  Please pray for favor with schedules and court systems.  We need a court date before court closes in August.

If you would like to partner with us to get the boys home, you can buy a "Not Forgotten" Tshirt for $20/adult sizes and $15/children sizes or you can sponsor a piece of the puzzle of our sons for different prices.  This will help us with travel expenses for our trips for court and embassy.