Thursday, April 28, 2011

Read and Be Blessed

Please take a moment to read this article. Hug your child, spouse, friends.... Thank God for the small details, like actually being able to be busy with work, little league and cleaning rather than deciding between chemotherapy or none.... life and the quality of such life. I know I am more thankful. What a beautiful family this is. Trust me.|topnews|text|Sports

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This is Home

Natalie is working the night shift and I have been listening to this song all day.  My prayer for Tedi is that he will be able to believe lyrics like these (I highlighted the lines I really like):

This Is Home
by Switchfoot

I've got my memories/ Always inside of me/ But I can't go back/ Back to how it was
I believe you now/ I've come too far/ No I can't go back/ Back to how it was
Created for a place/ I've never known
This is home/ Now I'm finally where I belong/ Where I belong
Yeah, this is home/ I've been searching for a place of my own/ Now I've found it
Maybe this is home/ Yeah, this is home

Belief over misery/ I've seen the enemy/ And I won't go back/ Back to how it was
And I got my heart set on/ What happens next/ I got my eyes wide/ It's not over yet
We are miracles/ And we're not alone

And now after all my searching/ After all my questions/ I'm gonna call it home
I got a brand new mindset/ I can finally see the sunset/ I'm gonna call it home

Now I know/ Yeah, this is home/ I've come too far/ And I won't go back
Yeah, this is home

Don't you feel like that song was written for this beautiful boy?

I could not be happier that God chose for Tedi to be HOME with Natalie and I!!!!

Here is the video if you are interested. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Story: Henderson Style

There is nothing hotter than listening to your husband teach your son the Easter story.  (Let me tell you single ladies out there....this is more important than looks, age, education, experience, money, image, cars, houses, jobs, clothes, height, weight, past mistakes.... a Godly, family leading, respectful man....Now that is who you want to wake up to every day.... Think about it.  Sorry to digress.)  I mean there are a lot of reasons I love this man, but none more than the moments I steal listening to him and Tedi say prayers, tell secrets, learn Bible stories, and chat.  Below is the Tedi Easter Story (if you know Tedi, imagine his accent)....thank you to a beautiful God for a caring husband, who both look after my little man's heart....

"Jesus died on cross.  He was very very sad.  He carry cross.  Dropped it.  Was naked. And he had glue (we don't know what this means)  Had boo boo and cut with knife in hands and in feet.  He was very sad and he cried.  Then he happy and went to heaven.  With Mamaw."
I am not sure the Gospel could say it better.

                                                              * * * * * * * * * * *

After hearing Tedi's Easter story, you may not read this but I feel compelled to write it.  I was sitting in church tonight listening to the sermon.  The message was spot on.... In my journal I wrote "God is not opposed to effort but rather opposed to earning.  We do not have to 'earn' it because, simply, Christ died so we wouldn't have to.  Thus our daily action of "earning" it should change.  Rather, we are selfish, getting good at keeping score with our good acts and bad acts."  It was the "selfish" word that got me. I can tell myself  "Natalie, you are not selfish."  but I am.  We all are.  With this, I admit, my mind bounced around a little, but then it halted.  My selfishness in another form.....please keep reading....

While JT and I were engaged, we decided to go to Opry Mills IMAX to see Passion of the Christ...(not a great date movie, especially in IMAX).  At 20 years old (yes, I was a child bride :-) I still remember the deep ache I felt and tears that snuck from my eyes as I watched Jesus' mother Mary run through the streets peaking at her son dragging His cross.....weeping at His feet....wiping His blood......listening to people mock and bully Him.... I remember her pain.  At twenty years old without the inkling of what having a child may be like, I was broken for her.  Today, in the eighth pew back sitting between two of my most coveted blessings, the image of Mary's grief collided with my selfishness.  Could I give up any of my beloved?  Even more, could I give up Tedi to save merely one person, much less generation upon generation?  God gave His only Son for us (something unfathomable), but I wonder if Mary ever felt like Jesus, her son, was taken from her....that no mommy should watch her son die....probably not.  God chose a lady much better, much stronger than selfish little me to mother the Savior of the universe. 

Then it hit me....though different in magnitude, but quite similar in pain.....He chose me to mother someone else's most valuable did Tedi's Ethiopia mommy feel as she watched him walk through the gate to the orphanage or up the steps onto the bus (we do not know how it went down).  Did she wail and make dirt turn to clay with her tears?  Did she turn helplessly and walk away?  She, my friends, was not selfish.  Regardless of motive or circumstance, she gave her most precious gift.  I am entrusted with his life, his well-being, his becoming a Godly man..... And thus, I must choose now to NOT be selfish, to embrace the gift of the Cross and stop trying to earn Christ's love and salvation..... I, along with JT, must do this because a lady far far away saved her son, giving us the gift of Tedi, and our Savior gave His life to save us.
                                                              * * * * * * * * * * *

Check out our Easter Challenge pictures.  Even at our casual church, many people were dressed "up" for church.  I felt proud in my shirt!  If your family or church or friends did the challenge, I would love to see pics!  Love toooo and I will post them! 

 The Hendersons
Natalie and Elizabeth Lauer, rocking our challenge like champs!

with his "Easter Gift", a Panda Pillow Pet "kung fu pana"

My beautiful, Godly, inspiring friend who started this Easter Challenge with her Forget the Frock blog post.... I can't even begin to thank God enough for this blessing, this friend, He has given me.

Check out this girl in Emily's Sunday School class.  What an example and what parents!!!! 

the ones responsible for inspiring the challenge and truly living it!
You must check out their website!

An entire church I do not know that rocked "Feeding the Orphan" shirts this Easter!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Adoption = Easter

This blog was written by JT.

***Full Disclosure: I “borrowed” some of the points in this blog from Ben Hardman, our pastor at the Avenue Church. Ben and his wife, Sarah, adopted a little girl from Ethiopia about the same time as us. If you would like to hear his version of this story, go here.  

If you have missed out on our Easter Challenge, catch up by reading here and here. I find it incredibly appropriate and poetic to blog and speak about adoption during the Easter season because there are so many similarities.

God is the biggest advocate for orphans (read Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27 if you need any reminding), so it’s fitting that we are going to celebrate adoption and the manifestation of the Gospel on the same day, Easter Sunday. I am going to use Tedi and myself as examples below to tie the two together.

A little over a year ago, Tedi had little identity. He was given up as a three year-old. He was a victim of the harsh realities of being born in a developing country. Tedi’s identity is no longer that as an orphan; he is an heir, handpicked, redeemed. Tedi is now an integral part of our family’s story. My identity is that I am no longer lost. No longer am I an orphan. The God of the universe loved me enough that He sent His only son to death. He sent His son to the cross so I could call him Daddy. This fact did not weigh heavily on me until I became a Dad. I cannot imagine allowing Tedi to die to save people who ridicule, mock or upset me. The exciting thing is that God feels this way about everyone who has ever lived!

Today, there is absolutely nothing that Tedi can do to separate from my love. It doesn’t matter how badly he acts or how many times he asks me “Why?” (by the way, we are at about 250 today- UGH!!!). The same can be said of my relationship with Jesus. No matter how many times I screw up (and people that know me know that is a lot), Jesus only loves me more. What an amazing example of unconditional love He shows each of us. The first moment I met Tedi, I got down on one knee and let him walk slowly to me. I embraced him and whispered in his ear, “Mommy and Daddy came a long way (I meant that both literally and figuratively) just for you, Tedi. We love you so much.” I felt him trembling in my arms; he was scared. I quietly started singing the chorus to one of my favorite songs:

“And I’ll be by your side whenever you fall, in the dead of night whenever you call. Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you. My hands are holding you.”

I find myself singing this song to him often. My hope is that one day, Tedi will realize that this song is not only being sung by a father to his son, but by our God to him.

Tedi knew no English when I first met him in Ethiopia. Our first few days together were like the world’s longest game of charades! I think it is a good thing that he could not communicate to me because, if he could, I am sure he would have said things like this in the first few days:

-“Who is this crazy white dude and why does he think he is funny?
-“Does he really think I am getting on this plane?"
-“Why are all these people cheering for me at the airport in Louisville? I can get used to this.”

One of the coolest things in adopting a child is watching him/her gradually (some slower than others) trusting their new family. Unlike if he had been born to us, Tedi had experienced life without us and was living as independently as a three year-old could. He did not and does not have to trust us. After nine months home, I still get chills when Tedi chooses to call me “Daddy.” When he first got home, he would wake up in the middle of the night and we would find him standing in the dark living room moaning pitifully. Gradually, he would come closer to our room if he woke up. After a month or so, he would stand at the foot of our bed and moan. I vividly remember the first time, instead of moaning, he yelled for his Daddy!!! Much like the process Tedi went through; I have gone through stages of trust with my Heavenly Father. I think God gets the same joy when I call him Daddy.

One thing that scared us before we met Tedi was the reports we received from other families who had visited with Tedi in his orphanage. Every one of them told us the same thing: Tedi was very shy, didn’t open up and was kind of a loner. Several described him as sad. Natalie and I were scared that perhaps he was severely traumatized by his experience and would suffer extreme attachment issues. Here are some pictures of Tedi before we met him.

Those of you that have met Tedi know that he could never be described as shy, closed off emotionally, or sad! When Tedi became a part of a family and had a Mommy and Daddy that loved him, everything changed for him. He went from being all alone to being accepted and loved. The same can be said of our relationship with Christ.

I hope you all have a great Easter and will proudly tell the world that you have been ADOPTED by your Heavenly Father.

I am going to leave you with a video that I found on YouTube that I think is excellent. It is one of my favorite songs. Also, don’t the bridges in the video look like the Kennedy and Big Four bridges in Louisville?  Someone tell me I am not crazy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Talking with Tedi

Tedi: mommy, you broke the lights.  Kitchen light and Bedroom light!
Me: no, I did not.
Tedi (emphatically): you tell me the trufth. You broke lights and that is not nice to boys!
Tedi: that was a very very bad girl!
Me: I am telling the truth. I didn't break it.
Tedi: you did and I am telling the trufth. We have to get new light you broke.

Tedi: I tell you my secrets (whispered). Jesus loves you and tedi loves you too....
(This comes from his bedtime routine.  JT tucks him in nightly, mostly because I am gone at work, and tells him two secrets....that Jesus and Daddy loves him..  I love seeing how he gets it now.)

In the movie theatre watching Rio, there are human characters scantily dressed...specfically one girl in a bikini-like costume.  Out loud in the theatre, pointing, Tedi says:
"Mommy, she is NAKED."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fundraising: Sharing Others' Idea

I believe in the power of fundraising.  I know it works and it is one of the many ways God will step in and blow your adoption away.  I was very concerned about fundraising (ie..."asking people for money") in the beginning of our adoption...then we sold ornaments, then tshirts and then a cookout fundraiser....several thousand dollars and many blessings later, our son is home cuddled up with me on the couch.  The most true and yet the most difficult concept to accept in relation to adoption funding is that WE CAN NOT SET LIMITS ON GOD.  If we fully trust Him and are truly called to the journey of adoption, He will step along side you and provide (granted, in His timing, not ours).  Below, I am going to highlight some families who are fundraising currently while also interjecting some additional ideas. I hope this helps!  (Please feel free to email me with any questions or if you would like your fundraisers posted...

Working with other agencies/grant giving organizations:
Lifesong for Orphans: Not only do they do adoption grants and loans but they have another awesome program called Both Hands.  Our friends, The Uchereks, who we met last year at Adopted for Life, shared with us their experience with Both Hands...Here is what she said:  "We planned for a Both Hands project and got our friends, family, and small group involved - God provided $20,000 through that project!!!!! AND changed many hearts to see how we, the Church, are called to serve the orphan AND the widow. Because of that project, our small group ended up serving a couple other single moms in our church and several of the guys that are handy are realizing that God wants them to use their 'trade' to serve others... been really eye opening for some new believers in our church and small group!!" Another family, The Sweeneys, also did a Both Hands project...serving to both fund their adoption while serving widows here in Louisville. 
ShowHope: Similarly to Lifesong, they give grants for adoption.  However, they also partner with families to sell their gear in order to fundraise.
147 Million Orphans and Ordinary Hero both do similiar programs....helping families raise money by selling the respective companies' gear rather than designing your own.  Both organizations I love!

I am always a fan of a good adoption tshirt.  They are great fundraisers, not just for your friends and family, but many other adoptive families and adoption supporters like to rock these! Tips from someone who has bought and sold adoption tshirts:
Pricing and your shipping.  For our family of three, if we find a shirt we like but it cost $25 each plus $5 to ship, we are looking at $80.  That is a lot of money when we have multiple adoptive families and causes to support.  Consider your audience.  This may also help you pick your designer and supplier.

Design: Find a good person to help you design shirts....most of us think we know something about design, but if we are honest, we don't.  Try to find something both stylish and that makes a point.  Good colors, good material
Advertise: Put them on facebook, twitter, your blog, your friends' blogs..... You do not have to beg but just put it out there.  It amazing who will be willing to step up and support you!

awesome shirts for their Congolese adoption 

I like arts but I am not good at crafts.  Ask my Bible Study friends....not that I don't try, but I really can't craft.  But the beauty is, some people can.... really well!!!  I have a friend making coasters, another doing keyfobs, another doing flip flops....There all kinds of options.  Ornaments were the closest to crafting that I got.  Try to think of practical ideas that do not require more effort and time than financial reward....adoption is busy and stressful and costly so you need to make the most of your family's time and money! Check out my friends' ideas below:

Sarah Elliot is now selling coasters, set of four for $15 a set.  This is just one of the coasters.
 The Jochims have several craft ideas, such as the onesie below:

Summer is coming and yardsales seem to have been one of the biggest money makers for our friends last year.  One family we know raised close to $9000 with three different yard sales.  I highly recommend this option.  Ask friends to donate items.  Choose different locations in different neighborhoods.  Advertise!  We had a cookout with a $5 charge to eat and had raffles and such.  Another family in our circle did a chili supper and silent of the auction items was being the first person to hold the child (outside of the family).  The Jochims, a family making multiple crafts, also did a photography fundraiser.  Their friend, a photographer, charged a reduced fee for mini sessions and gave all of the profits towards the adoption!  How awesome!  Another family did a date night at church.  They, along with a few friends, babysat children in the church so that the parents could go on Valentines Day dates.  They accepted donations and made $1000 in one night!  These are just a few ideas to think about!

Support Others:
The biggest way to gain the support of others, in the adoption world specifically, is to support them.  You may be thinking "I am trying to save $25,000 here.  I can't afford to help someone else."  Yes, you can.  Pay it forward and trust me you will be blessed....others will begin stepping up and supporting you.  It also connects you to others and provides a network of support during tough adoption times. 
I hope a little bit of this helps.  Again, if you want your fundraiser posted here, please drop me an email or comment.  I will do it for sure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Few Pictures

I am working on a few other posts but in the meantime, here are a few pictures from coloring Easter eggs and my intern retreat last week.  Let's not pretend I am domestic so don't judge the egg quality....we had so much fun with this.  The pictures do not show the volume and quantity of laughter that filled the night!

Our Intern Retreat
(aka....friends from work getting out of work in order to play)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Challenge

A couple of weeks ago my friend Emily posted an Easter Challenge....  give up the "Easter" church outfit, white sandals, and sweater vests and give your money to a good cause....Feeding Children, adoptions, causes that matter and make a difference.  Well, I am challenging you and your church.  I think Janie and Jack, Macy's, Target, (fill in favorite store) can do without your business this year.  Emily's family supported Feeding the Orphans as did a church in her hometown.  We chose several different organization to represent during this year (JT and Tedi's tshirt pics are below).  So, I would love to see pictures if anyone else does this... ( I know, it is scary.  You should see some my past Easter dresses and JT's outfits growing up.... But isn't GIVING BACK what the death of Christ is really about, not what we wear.  I mean, the dresses are cute (from the person who stares at the little girls' clothes as I walk to the one rack of boys' clothing), but kids sitting in orphanages waiting for the families to bring them wanting food but having none.... that is what this life is all about.  Buying a tshirt and then rocking it out in CHURCH is simple and small but is more of us did it, what a difference we could make.

Tedi in his Ordinary Hero tshirt

JT got this shirt (man version) from Project Hopeful

Loving Others

Let's be honest.  It is really hard to feel love for others all of time....  Like the Encouraging Others post from a few days ago, I personally find this task difficult at times love everyone.... Yet I realize we often confuse LOVE with LIKE... we do not always like everyone, like their behaviors, their words or how they treat us.  Thus, loving others is different than liking.   We may not like all of these things, but we should love the person because the person is created in God's image.  Even the people we love the very most in our lives are often very difficult to like. Loving, though, is what we are called to do!

Who???....who is in your world, your immediate world, to whom you can demonstrate love...  If you are in the adoption world, is there another family to whom you can show love? This section definitely overlaps the Encouraging Others blog post.  Who CAN'T you love?  Well, as I said above, we are called to love people even when we do not like what they do or certain aspects of their personalities.  God loves us despite our sin.  If we apply this truth to those around us, how much more love (and grace) could we afford those around us?

How??? There is a book written called the The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.... it talks about the different ways each individual gives and receives love.....1)Words of Affirmation 2)Quality Time
3)Receiving Gifts 4)Acts of Service 5)Physical Touch.  These do not apply only to the marriage relationship, but to all the important relationships around you.  I took the quiz for wives before writing this section.  They have ones for singles, husbands, children and so on.  I found it interesting because I realize the way that I feel the most loved may not be the way the other importment people around you receive and feel love.  I challenge you to go take a look at it...

However, at core of truly loving someone, anyone, is sacrifice.  Sacrificing time to give yourself others; Sacrificing sleep to spend moments with others; Sacrificing pride to admit you were wrong and loving someone deeper; Sacrificing self-seeking behavior and desires to put another person ahead of yourself.  And maybe that is what makes unconditional love so very difficult....we (I) are so concerned about our needs and making ourselves feel better and meeting our own needs that sacrificing for another is often the furthest thing from our minds... 

Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love, is by far, the truest type of love.

Why???....because he told us to "And the second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39.  Simple.  If you are a Christian, this is the only "why" you need.  Does that make it easier?  Absolutely not.  I would argue that being a Christian makes it harder because we are specifically instructed to love others.  It is fine and dandy to love others when convenient but it is much more difficult to do so when our Savior commands it and holds us accountable to it.

                                                                         * * * * * * * * * *

Parting thoughts.... I write on this because I still struggle daily with this.  I fail my friends, my family, my spouse, my son.... I am selfish and do not always sacrifice for them.  But what can I do?  I try to seek guidance daily through life, making mistakes, and growing from them. 

So do you have any ideas... I would love to hear them.  And some quotes I love.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

If you could only love enough, you could be the most powerful person in the world.
Emmet Fox

Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible - it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.
Barbara de Angelis

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 3: Three Films

I love movies but am not always tied to them like many people are....  But I do have a few favorites....

Family Movie Favorites (Tedi really):
1) TOY STORY (this lumps them all together):  I can not tell you how much he still loves these movies and I am not sure he will grow out of them anytime soon.  Plus, I think they are great movies about friendship and love and sticking together.  And maybe a great 15 minute babysitter....

2) CARS: Gotta love this movie....a touch of humility, responsibility and loyalty... and MATER..  Just when we thought this one may be fading....Cars 2 is coming out.

3) KUNG FU PANDA:   I must admit this movie sat in the DVR for almost two months without viewing....however, now that I have seen it, it is truly one of my favorite kid movies... Not only is Po the Panda adopted by a duck who makes noodles, the message of the movie is about the difference in life is "you".  And like Cars, Kung Fu Panda 2 will debut in May....

Personal Favorites:
1) Love Actually:  Far and away, this is my favorite movie.  I know, a strong statement but I love it.  I love the episodic nature of the movie and intertwining of lives and stories... I like the stories of love and friendship and the humor.  I don't know if it all of this or that it was the movie I watched countless times while studying for medical school exams during a difficult time in my own life waiting to land in an airport, but I am a huge FAN!

2) Red Violin:  Though I have not watched this movie in awhile, it is a favorite that started in my theatre class at Western Kentucky University.  Like Love Actually, I appreciate the episodic nature and the change in decades... I do not know if I could even find this on DVD but I have the old VHS.  Check it out.

3) Hmmmm, Bad Boys II or Hitch: I know I great reviews attached but if USA or TNT show a movie over and over, I take it as credible.  Love these two and know most every line...can't pick between them though.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Conversations with Tedi

As we pull up to the stop light I hear.....
Tedi: Mommy, Mommy!  That's Happy Neal.
Me: What, Tedi?!?
Tedi: Happy Neal.  That's Happy Neal. 
Me (realizing we are next to a McDonald's): What's in a Happy Neal?
Tedi: Ummmm.... fwench fwies, toy, spwite (aka french fries, toy and sprite)

Today in the grocery store....
Tedi:  Mommy, waz that?
Me: That is a PEZ dispenser, like you have at home.
Tedi: But that's a Madagascar zEEEbra!
Me: Maybe I can have the Easter Bunny bring you that.
Tedi: That is VERY good idea Mommy.

In the same store....
Tedi: Mommy, waz that? (pointing at nerf balls that you soak with water)
Me: A toy that you do not need and I will not buy.

Tedi: I no like cheese. I no like sausage.  Boys no like sausage.
Me:  Fine then. You and boys do not have to eat sausage. I am making them for my bible study friends.
Tedi: Oh, so you making them for girls?
Me: Yes.
Tedi: Me and daddy not like sausage.  Only Bible study girls like sausage...

Day 2: Two Songs

Songs really evoke so much emotion inside of me, I won't lie.  Name a song and I can pin a memory to it....but choose a specific song or two that I love, well that is difficult.  I will give it a shot.

Two Family Songs:
Our family songs are ones that really incorporate Tedi and our newly formed family.  Before him, it was more like a mix of 90s music as our soundtrack, yet the evolution of our family has brought our world and my perspective on music.  Check out these songs on iTunes or if you have not heard them.

1) Lay 'Em Down by NeedtoBreathe
The first song Tedi learned.....he can sing the lyrics, at least most of them, and each time he does, my heart good way.  He claps his hands and sings, insisting no one else sing.  Ask anyone who has heard...your will melt

2) Follow You by Leeland
We sang this over and over while waiting for Tedi to come home to our family and now it serves as somewhat of a mantra for us....a goal for the way to live our life as first a couple and now a family. 

Two Personal Songs:
....and two songs that I love, not just for right now but that are reminiscent of my life....

1) Walking in Memphis by Mark Cohn
This song takes me back to multiple car rides with my dad.  I can not hear this song without thinking of my dad....  So nostalgic. 

2) O Holy Night (any rendition) or I Wanna Be Loved Like That by Shenadoah
First, I love Christmas music but of all the songs this one...shew, I love it....  The other one I loved as a child because it had my name in it....then I fell in love with content, despite it being a country song. 

What are your favorite two songs?

Monday, April 11, 2011

10 Day Challenge

My sister-in-law, Denise, started doing this challenge on her blog and I have decided to add it to ours.  However, I will not do it everyday but mix it in with posts that I am already doing.  I thought this would be both fun and interesting stretching it over several days... Each post I will share based on myself (ie...two songs I love or five foods I love) and for my family (ie...four books important to our family)  Feel free to steal this idea for your blog!

ONE picture of our family (tough to choose)

ONE picture of me
(not so hard to choose becaue of my overly critical nature)

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Slice of the American Dream....

I hear my husband was on the news this week?!?!  Why didn't someone tell me :-) I also heard our family pictures made MSNBC.  (Thanks Elizabeth for such awesome pictures. Can you believe they were on national TV and you don't have TV :-)

In all seriousness, I wanted to post what the "American Dream" means to me.....

.....going to a public high school, public university and making it through med school as a woman in a male driven field  (EDUCATION)

.....wearing jeans to our church, The Avenue, and worshiping a Jesus who always loves us, despite what others say or think about us, regardless of what we do or have done  (FREEDOM of RELIGION)

.....writing a blog and reading blogs of others without restriction of subject matter (FREEDOM OF PRESS)

.....serving my friends, family and community out of love regardless of their skin color or social status

.....adopting a child from another country after suffering from infertility and raising him to become a man of God who loves others and serves those around him

I am living my slice of the American dream here in my two bedroom rental house in an older neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, a state often ignored or criticized, with my little family of three trying to serve others, love Jesus, and make a small difference in the world while I am in it.  I feel blessed that I was able to share a little bit of my husband with the world over the last few days.  I feel honored and blessed to be gifted with him and have him walk through this life with me.   (Stay tuned... I plan to post my "Love Others" blog in the next few days.  Also, keep the adoption fundraising ideas coming...I going to do that post around Easter.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011


It's JT here.  What a busy 24 hours.  This update will be short because I am in the middle of a few things.

Here is the link to President Obama talking about me in last night's presser:

So far this morning, I have been on Mandy Connell's show on 840WHAS and nationally syndicated host Laura Ingraham (more about these later).

I will be live on MSNBC at 11:45am and on WHAS11TV at 5:00pm.

Gotta run.  Be in touch!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How It All Went Down...

On Twitter (follow me @jthenderson76), I follow Jake Tapper, who is the ABC NewsSenior White House Correspondent.  Today (at around 12:30pm), he asked his Twitter followers if they were worried that a prolonged government shutdown would delay their tax refund checks.  I responded with "In a word, YES."  Within five minutes, Tapper contacted me and asked me to email him our story and how we were dreading not getting our return.  Here is what I emailed him:


Thanks for the opportunity to explain why so many "normal people" are dreading a government shutdown. While I am sure our story is a little different from others, the tenets are the same.

My wife and I had to file our taxes by mail this year because we are set to recieve the Adoption Refund. We adopted Tedi (4 years old, picture attached) from Ethiopia in July 2010. I work in development for a non-profit in Louisville, KY. Our agency aids children who have been sexually abused, neglected or been exposed to violence. My wife is a first-year Pediatric Resident at Kosair Children's Hospital.

As one can imagine, we have large bills from medical school loans, moving expenses, Tedi's adoption, etc. For the past year, we have been scraping by to get things paid off in hopes of receiving a substantial 2010 tax return (which would be more than 50% of my annual pre-tax salary). News of a government shutdown and subsequent halting of IRS functions (especially for those returns mailed in) has not set well with me.
If I had the opportunity to address President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Rep. Pelosi, Sen. Reid or Sen. McConnell, I would urge them to take action and remember that grandstanding by both parties has real consequences for those of us downhill. This potential shutdown is not just played out on the news by the talking heads- it is played out in living rooms all across America by real people. I read that our soldiers would not be paid until this was all settled! How can this be? Unfortunately, I cannot run my household and family budget like our federal government! I am required to pay my debts as they are due.

I would love to discuss this with you further and delve into our story even further. If needed, I will be a spokesman for what this shutdown is going to do to middle America. I really enjoy your work. Keep it up!

To my surprise, Tapper emailed me back within five minutes and said our story was compelling and one of his producers would contact me about being on the news.  About 1:15pm, Daniel (one of Tapper's producers) called my cell phone and asked me a few questions.  He then asks if they could send a crew to either my office or home and shoot some footage and do an interview.  By 2:30pm, a film crew was in our living room.  They came in and moved furniture and set up lots of lighting.  We discovered our living room's light is not conducive for filming (who knew?). 

When they had us all set up, Jake called the producers' cell phone and interviewed me via speaker phone.  One of the producers held the cell phone up by his face so it would look more conversational on camera.  

It was amazing at how quickly this all came together.  It is also neat to see how small our world is because of social media.  I was in Louisville.  Tapper was in DC.  Daniel was in NYC.  Together, a story was pulled together in under three hours.  I'm glad ABC found our story compelling and interesting. 

Most importantly, I am glad that people all over the country got to see our multi-racial, blended family.  Natalie and I both feel called to change the world in any way we can.  Our hope is that someone watching the news will be convicted to either adopt or inquire about orphan care.  Notice the carefully placed T-Shirt on Tedi.  It is from one of our favorite organizations, 147 Million Orphans (

Finally, Natalie is a little perturbed at me.  For the past week, she has been arriving at work by 4am.  In an attempt to savor as much sleep as possible today, she went to the hospital without fixing her hair after her shower.  When I called her to fill her in on the camera crew at our house, her first words were, "I'm going to kill you."  She still looked beautiful in the piece if you ask me.  She is an amazing woman, wife and mother.

If you haven't seen it, here is the finished product:

Monday, April 4, 2011

9 Months Home

Yesterday marked the ninth month of Tedi coming to the US to be our son....I can not tell you how time flies.  For families waiting through the adoption process, I was in tears more days than not this time last year.  So I feel your pain and angst when I say, many of those pangs are fleeting once they are home. 

I should have listened to my mom...(yes I admit it) and written down more of the funny, cute, unforgettable yet ultimately forgotten stories.  Despite this failure, I must say that as Tedi has grown 4 inches and 5 pounds in the last nine months I have grown as a person....I have learned so much. 

I have learned.....
.....that boys are loud and messy and don't listen well and are dirty and want to touch "it" all the time, but love to cuddle with their mommy and so much fun

.....that being called mommy is worth more than being called doctor could ever be

.....that I will always feel less than adequate but with a little prayer and support from others, I am figuring it our one day at a time

.....I sound a lot more like my parents than I would like to admit.

.....Buzz Lightyear is a great babysitter for adult "alone" time

.....doing dishes and making beds are not as important as building tunnels and working puzzles and hiding

.....patience is not something I was born with but am slowly developing, I think

.....I love my work, but get much more joy from time with T

.....our world and the worlds of our family/friends have been drastically changed by this one boy

.....I laugh more each day when we put Tedi to bed (after he falls asleep on the couch) than from any other single thing I do

.....that I will adopt again, I will not set limits on God and I will have faith

.....that adoption is the best example of God's love story for us

9 Months Ago

 (he truly has changed our world...and I think that of others)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Encouraging Others

Some days we just feel crabby, cold and want to wallow in self pity.  Other days we are more concerned with ourselves...our future plans, our careers, our goals, what we will eat, what others think of us....  It is all about US, all about ME.   I don't know if you are like me during these times but sometimes it is easier to quietly withdraw.  Shutting others out, selfishly pouting, deservedly or not. 

I have come to realize during the times when I am the most down that reaching out to others tends to pull me out of my personal FUNK.  So what would happen if we lived in a perpetual state of trying to encourage others....encouraging whether we are sad or happy, down or up?  Would we tend to focus less on personal misfortunes and be more in tune to the needs of others?  I think so.  I would also argue that the more we tend to encourage others, the more we will feel encouraged....  If you could encourage each of your friends on a weekly basis, at some point I think the encouragement would make it back to you...

Who?.....I could easily say everyone, but that is not always practical.  I also do not believe in being that "fake nice" person.  Think of those people at your work that may need a little pick-me-up.  Or your friends who you love dearly and maybe you should tell them more.  Or for you adoptive people, are their blog friends, real friends, or even acquaintances that could use some encouragement?  Think about it...

How?.... Kind gestures, note cards, random and planned phone calls, hugs, holding the door for someone, grabbing someone a coffee, send an email.  There are innumerable ways to pick up another person...I just listed some of the things I find encouraging.  If there is something you find encouraging when others do it for you, chances are others will feel the same.

Why?.....well normally I would say "Why Not?"  but I don't know need to when the Bible clearly tells us we should.  "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,"
1 Thessalonians 5:11.  No bossing needed from me when the Bible will do it for me....Like I wrote above, we tend to perk up as we build up those around us.  When we become vested in supporting those around us, it is amazing the inward satisfaction and pleasure God will grow within us.  
* * * * * * *

So what is your plan?  Can you think of a few specific people in your world, both those closest and those on the periphery, that you can speak encouragement to???  Since I issue the challenge, I will share my plan. 

Here it is, my plan....keep in mind, I readily admit my flaws and attempts to do the below things will inevitably fail at some point...  However, I am of the persuasion that there is much to be gained in the trying (for me and for you)

~Send at least one card each week to a friend or someone in my life.  I love sending cards as I have written about many times.  I have stockpile of Nascar greeting cards, don't ask, that are waiting to be prepared. 

~Choose one person in my work to encourage with a card each week, as long as I am resident.  This will be tough....2 years and 3 months.  I am not always happy at work and sometimes I am tired.  At the nudging of a friend, I have recently started leaving "thank you" notes for the janitorial staff that clean my call room....people I do not even know.  My goal is to choose people within the hospital system that have jobs very different from mine and encourage them.  Case and Point.  My program director said in a survey two years ago from Kosair Children's Hospital maintenance staff that said all of the employees had high job satisfaction except for the fact that they "felt invisible," especially to the medical staff.  Sad.  Is there anyone around you, in your your life...that may feel invisible?  My goal...try to make my place of work a little better for a few people.

~Call someone weekly, just because. 

~Pray for those around me....before I pray for myself. Not just tell someone I am praying for them to make them "feel better" but sincerely do it. 

Okay, I can think of tons of other things but for now, I will try to stick this. 


Guest Blogger #2: Lindsey Thurmon Norris
Lindsey is a dear friend of mine from medical school.  Our friendship has afforded me so many good times....we had sleepovers during my last semester probably 3-4 nights per week.  Both of us left our men (my husband, her fiance) at home and we leaned on each other a lot.  We played basketball every Friday together, along my room mate Angie.... They both hovered at six foot, me....not so much. She has never met Tedi, but adores him...sending him gifts (too many of them) and always calling to check on him.  I can not say enough wonderful things about love and respect for her, as a friend, Christian, and physician.  Thanks Lindsey!

Hi ya’ll! Just a warning, my grammer is not the best and my spelling is down right pitiful. I have also noticed that spell/grammer check does not correct everything. Alas, I continue to blog!

Last Sunday I was sitting in “big” church. Yes, I still call it big church, yes I am 29 years old, but I love the term big church!! Rewind prior to big church and I am in the hospital trying to round on patients and get out so I can make it to church. Good news, I made it! Bad news, I was not ready for church.

I sit down by Brad (my wonderful husband) and wait for church to start. All the time thinking about the lab I ordered that will be back at 11:30, yet I won’t get out of church until 12:00. So I ponder on that and the next thing I know the pastor is already praying. I didn’t hear the first part of the prayer but one phrase really socked me in the gut. He said, “intrude on our lives God”. I really don’t know what he said next (sorry Bruce!) but I thought, “How odd to use intrude in a prayer and then to ask God to intrude”. I mean really, does God intrude?? That word has such negative implications. I then went to Merriam Webster to see what he thought of the word intrude.

Intrude: to thrust oneself in without invitation; to cause to enter as if by force.

Wow, that’s intense. I really didn’t pay much attention the rest of the service because I was stuck on the word intrude. I was stuck at how appropriate that word was to me that Sunday morning.

Rewind to about a year ago. We were living in Houma, LA and we were in Sunday School. We were discussing how to get out of the valley’s of our Christian walk. Long discussion, but what I came out of the conversation with was, “ we pray to God to help us love God more”. That was a foreign idea to me at that time. Pray to God… to ask him… to help me… love Him more??? That doesn’t make sense either, it doesn’t seem logical. Nobody has ever come up to me and ask me to help them love me more. Ha ha ha, what a thought! But to pray to God asking for help to love Him more makes sense. He wants me to love Him and strive for a real relationship with Him. In my mind I imagine God smiling when I pray for help to grow my love for Him and grow in my relationship with Him. Because let’s face it, it’s my side of the relationship that needs growth, not God’s.

Anyway, I apply my thinking to asking God to love Him more to the intrusion prayer I heard in church. I needed God to intrude on my life that morning. Am I proud of that? No, but if I had not been so distracted that morning I would not have had a second thought about using “intrude” in a prayer. It was an epiphany of sorts that I keep in my brain right next to asking God to help me love Him more. When I feel distracted, not ready for the day at hand or just not feeling patient, loving and kind, I’ll ask God to intrude. I’ll ask God to open my heart and eyes so I cannot just see but have sight to see the world around me. To intrude in my life when I am not prepared. To intrude and take control when I don’t ask. To intrude and take me down the path I need to go on, not necessarily want to go on.

Now intrude doesn’t seem so malignant, more of a reassurance that even when I don’t ask, God will be there to intrude and guide me.

Have a good and intrusion filled day!


 Lindsey and I having too much fun in Dominica
JT and Lindsey after running a 10k in Central Park in NYC