Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Last night on the way home from my last volleyball game, I had to tell a girl on my team that the twins had died. She had no idea they had died last week, and she cried for the lives of those tiny babies like they were her own. I had no consolation for her, as I have struggled with the "why" of tragedy several times in the last week. However, I do know that had our agency not stepped in to help this orphanage by offering support and helping to find families for truly orphaned children, we (and thousands of other people) would never have known about the tragedies taking place in that village. Therefore, we would never have had the opportunity to step in and get involved in what God is doing. And we believe He is using this for good, no matter how awful it is. We are hopeful that the GOOD is in saving lives and giving orphans homes where they are safe and healthy. 

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care." Matthew 10:29

"Coincidentally," we had discussed naming our little girl Sparrow. The world might not have known what was happening in Congo as they died, but it's comforting to know that God was caring for them as they went to be with Him. He cares for us, and He cares for the countless other orphans in Congo and around the world who need clean water. Please join us in the fight against dysentery.

Most of you know that a week ago we learned of the devastating loss of our two Littles--along with 31 others--in Congo due to dysentery. (Dysentery is most often caused by dirty water.) Since receiving news of the first wave the disease two weeks ago, we--along with countless others and our agency--have been researching water purification options for the remote village in the middle of Africa where clean water and resources are extremely hard to come by. Our agency has now outlined a battle plan, and we are begging you to help the children still fighting for life in this orphanage.

Here's a link to our agency's Rally page, where you can donate to the cause: https://rally.org/f/6i5SUWpUJkG

5% of donations on Rally are deducted by credit card companies and Rally. You can also mail checks to ABI at the following address (this method does not have a fee deducted from the donation):

All Blessings International, Inc.
4808 S Griffith Avenue
Owensboro, KY 42301

Make checks out to:  All Blessings International, Inc.
Memo line:  Congo Orphan Relief

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I've spent much of the last 24 hours sniffling back tears and trying to stuff away images of what might have been and what really was. Last night, exactly one month after receiving our referral for the twins and seeing their picture, we learned that our little boy and girl, Omba and Shako Mbodi, died of dysentery.

I feel so helpless.

They died on Friday, a day that I spent much of my time researching water purification techniqies after learning of the horrible epidemic of deadly disease at the orphanage. I got details and suggestions for solutions, then contacted companies to come up with a plan. I've always been a planner; I plan ways to fix problems. That's what I do.

Little did I know that on the other side of the world our sweet little baby boy and girl were dying of a disease so ridiculously preventable and treatable it hurts. 

Knowing dysentery was a real killer, we guarded our hearts for a little while there...we had been warned the disease was going around when we accepted the referral. However, we found it to be extremely difficult and preposterous to guard our hearts to eliminate growing feelings for our own children. I hoped--made myself believe--the twins would be stronger because they had eachother, and the fact that they made it past the first round of deaths sent my hopes up, too. I grieved for those first little ones who died early on, and I hurt for those families. You can definitely love a child you've only seen in a picture, and I knew those families were hurting. 

But after grieving, I thanked God for protecting our Littles and we began envisioning the future Lotz family. We listed possible names; cute names to go on perfect little adoption announcements displaying pictures of our amazing little miracles. I began picturing our house full of kids...eight little white, black and tan legs running up and down the hallway and jumping on beds. Eight little hands and 40 little fingers spilling food and drinks, and four perfect little round heads laying on my shoulder. 

And while we dreamed, they were struggling for life. Oh, how I hope they knew they were loved. I hope they felt that love in their last few moments, because I would have given everything to be there with them, to hold them and rub their backs and stroke their hair. I would have laid their perfect little heads down in my shoulder and rocked them to sleep, then cuddled them all night. 

But I wasn't there. 

I was helpless. And, to me, that's the worst kind of hurt.

Why do I say all of this? Because you need to know. You need to know that across the world, in some remote African village you (we) never knew existed, children are dying because they don't have enough clean water. Brad and I never would have known about this orphanage, this village, this problem until our agency chose to get involved. Now we know about this problem. And now we can do something to help. Our agency is working on solutions, which they have laid out in detail here. Please get involved if this strikes a chord with you in any way. 

We will grieve deeply for our children, and we will never forget them, but I expect that we will also rejoice grandly when the work we've been called to do in this situation is complete. We will accept another referral when we find a match. We do not want another child or children living in dangerous situations for one second longer than what is absolutely necessary. 

I will make no effort to determine the reason for tragedies such as these. He gives and He takes away, but we trust Him..The road is long and so hard--already--but the journey is changing us for the better and will continue to do so. We say yes to His calling. We will follow. Use our story for your glory.

This is the only picture we had, but it depicts the first instant we fell in love with these kids. They were perfectly precious, and we know their Heavenly Father is wrapping them in His arms even as our own are aching to hold them. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Financial Peace University -- Lesson 1

The miracles of adoption--financial and otherwise--are evident in this video. Thanks to my brother, the Dave Ramsey fan, for sharing it with Brad.

We have seen God work like this for us OVER and OVER again, and this truth from the story above has been evidenced out every time: "He was weaving our callings, our stories, together. For us to love and to care for each other to make a beautiful tapestry for His glory."

I guess this is what I meant when I said I had a quibble with Dave Ramsey; HOWEVER, I must now admit that Ramsey-ians tend to be huge givers. Obviously, he would have advised that the couple pay off the debt before adopting, but since God paid the debt (kind of an overarching theme with him), everyone wins! Mama and Daddy, family, orphan, the anonymous couple, and Christ, the conqueror.

Friday, October 18, 2013

while I'm waiting

It's Friday (yay), and although I am enjoying the Littles at home, I am also keenly aware that we are waiting to be a family of six together. The waiting is hard, and we've only just begun. We are praying daily for an expedient adoption process and for the safety and health of our baby boy and girl. 

I feel that this song encapsulates the message in our hearts. 

(I realize this is not an original thought, but there is nothing new under the sun, sooo...)

John Waller - While I'm Waiting

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord

And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord

Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident

Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship

While I'm waiting I will not faint

I'll be running the race even while I wait
I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord

And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord

Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait

Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident

Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting I will serve You

While I'm waiting I will worship

While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

(Video is here so you can hear the song...I haven't even watched this yet.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

relief {sigh}

After hearing of the devastating impact of dysentery in the orphanage where our twins were living, I waited a bit to contact our program coordinator. I knew she was probably hurting from the news she had received about the kids in the orphanage and from the news she had to deliver to some families, and I wanted to give her space. I am also still in the middle of a volleyball season and trying not to allow worries about our kids consume me, particularly since it is all out of our hands. (If I'm being honest here, I also didn't want to know if there was bad news. I allowed my mind to go there for a second, and it wasn't pretty.)

BUT I finally broke down last night and contacted our coordinator. I'm glad I did. I learned that our twins no longer live in the orphanage or even in the city where the dysentery was wiping out the children. Because the dysentery was killing babies first, the orphanage staff called their extended family members and had them take the twins for now. They will be moved back to the orphanage when it is safe again, and the orphanage is trying to get approval for them to be moved to another city (into a foster home, I believe) where it is much more safe for them. This would be a great move for a number of reasons, so please pray that this move is approved quickly and for continual safety and health for our babies. And please say some extra prayers for comfort and peace for our coordinator and agency staff, as well as the families who lost their precious little ones over there. No words can express that sort of loss.

We are so incredibly thankful for the many people who are caring for these Littles and considering their best interests, particularly our coordinator, the orphanage workers, and the extended family members who are now caring for them. I can't imagine what we would do without them, and we pray for all of them daily (hourly).

We are still researching to see if we can help the orphanage in any way. We will keep you posted.

In related news, I have heard rumors that DGM is now issuing exit letters to people whose Visas were approved before they suspended issuing exit letters. DGM had said they would honor those visa approvals, but up until yesterday I hadn't heard of anyone actually getting out of the country with their babies, even if their visas had been approved prior to the deadline. Please pray for continual collaboration between agencies, adoptive parents, Congolese ministries and DGM so families can be together at home soon. Things seem to be heading in the right direction, and we are, again, thankful. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

prayers for hurting hearts

I don't have anything eloquent to say, but I'm writing because a lot of hearts are hurting right now. I will not share specific details, but I will tell you that dysentery is a very serious threat in the orphanage where our twins are living. A VERY serious threat...meaning it has taken NUMEROUS precious little lives in the last two weeks.

I try not to dwell on what that might have looked like over there...A population of precious orphans--all waiting families and homes--was reduced to almost half of what it was two weeks ago. We haven't heard any news about the twins recently, and we are hoping that no news is good news, BUT we don't know anything for certain and we are also hurting for those who received bad news.

We are praying for those families, and we are praying for those children who still remain. Selfishly, we are obviously praying for our twins, our son and daughter who we love, but we are praying for all of the people involved as well. We are praying for STRENGTH and supernatural health and protection, and we are praying for a speedy exit from that orphanage (hopefully to a foster family...praying for God to move mountains in this area), and a speedy entrance into homes with forever families.

Please join us. God is big. He has conquered all things. He can conquer this.

Also, I have heard of people sending water filtration buckets/systems to orphanages. Once we hear from our agency regarding this, we might try to get something going to help get clean water to the orphanage. We would appreciate input/help with this.

Friday, October 11, 2013

another's big dream

Since we've been on the topic of dreaming big, I want to share with you the story of another woman who dreamed big, raised 200K, and dug wells for clean water in six different spots in a village of Ethiopia. Now she is working to build a school and medical center in the village. (I originally saw this story on My Crazy Adoption, here. Check it out for more detailed information.)

This Saturday they are hosting a silent auction to raise funds for the building projects in Chuko, Ethiopia. Please consider donating to this great cause that has already helped so many people there.

Here's a short video about the project:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Things I must teach my boys (Guest post by birthday boy Brad)

A guest post from my husband on his birthday. (Happy birthday, Brad! We love you and admire everything you do to boldly lead our ever-growing bunch.)

Things I MUST teach my boys:
This list does not necessarily contain everything that I must teach my sons, but it's a good start. I have divided the list into two categories: "Biblical" and "Not Necessarily Biblical, but Correct."


1. Love all people: This is the greatest commandment. How can I not teach them to do this? Here is an important side note: Loving all people does not mean to spend your time with and be influenced by all people, and loving all people does not mean to approve of all peoples' actions.

2. Get wisdom: WISDOM IS A SKILL. It needs to be practiced and practiced more than baseball, football, guitar, algebra, etc.

3. Jesus is the ONLY way: All religions are not spokes in a wheel connected to the same hub. Cowards believe such nonsense. Few religions allow for that way of thinking anyway. In America 2013, it takes balls to stand on the Truth that Jesus is the ONLY way.

4. The Bible is inerrant: If they hear anyone teach otherwise, that teacher is no longer to be trusted. The Bible is the most important thing they will have on the planet.

5. Save your money: Proverbs says plenty about saving your money. Fools don’t save their money.

6. Give your money: ALL money is GOD’S money. Give AT LEAST the first 10% of earnings....The FIRST 10%.

I can hear the weaker-minded readers now: "But...but, you said you will teach them to save their money. You can’t save your money and give your money."

See #2 on this list. If they GET WISDOM they will learn how to do both...at the same time.

7. You have a God-given gift. Search hard and find out what it is. Their mother and I will be there to guide them towards that gift and guide them away from where they are not gifted. 

*NOTE--There are a couple of reasons terrible singers try to get famous on those TV tryout talent shows: Dishonest/cowardly parents and/or dishonest/cowardly friends.

8. Adopt or be heavily involved in adoption in one form or another. "One form"= ADOPT. "Another"= Give $$ to people who are adopting. Yes, it’s biblical.

Something tells me that my boys will thoroughly understand and accept this concept.


Not necessarily Biblical, but still correct:

1. Being a sissy is NOT okay: Jesus wasn’t a sissy. 

2. Throw a ball: I taught PE for 8 years. I’ve seen too many boys who throw like sissies. It physically and emotionally pains me to see boys who simply can’t throw. My first thought is "What have you been doing for the last 15,16, 25 years?"

3. Competition is a great thing: If you are going to play, play to win. If my boys don’t like sports, so be it, but they will be taught that if they don’t learn to compete somehow, they will be eaten alive….. by LIFE.

4. How to throw a punch: I have already started this with Brody. They have to know how to defend themselves. Bullying is a bad thing, getting bullied is a worse thing. By and large, bullies are cowards. They pick on people who ALLOW it. I recently heard a TRUE story of a bully picking on a boy by pointing his finger in the boy's chest over and over. The boy’s little brother told the bully to stop. The bully then put his finger on the little brother’s chest and said, "What are you going to do?" The little brother grabbed the bully’s finger and broke it. HE BROKE IT. *snap* The bully stopped. I am fine with how this story ended. I will share this story with my boys and it will serve a two-­fold purpose: Don’t bully and don’t be bullied.

5. There’s no time to be politically correct: Political correctness is for the uneducated and uninformed. Gay is gay; straight is straight; a girl is a girl; a man is a man. In our house we will have 2 black Lotz kids, 1 biracial Lotz kid, and 1 white Lotz kid. Are we supposed to not have mirrors in the house and pretend we all look the same? Pshhhh!

6. Read, read, then read some more:

(That's Brian Regan on reading.)

Also, people who don’t read use profanity like they use commas. Profanity is ignorance making its way out of a person in a forcible manner. It’s ignorance made audible. It’s "the crutch of the inarticulate." Read books! Don’t be ignorant.

*Note--Strong language IS appropriate at times.

7. TV and video games will rot your mind and make you weak: Addictions are for sissies. Both TV and video games can be done in moderation, but my sons will stand the chance getting both a TV and game console smashed with a hammer if they become addicted. "Addicted" is relative. It’s subjective. It’s for Jenny and I to decide. Our house, our rules.

8. Steer clear of porn. I know it is a serious problem and many great men have fallen to it, BUT the fact remains that it is 100% perversion. It will steal your soul and make you way LESS of a MAN. It will make you a shell of yourself.

9. Work hard at hard work: No matter how much money I make (I am a teacher so…..it’s a lot) my boys will get a blue collar job when they are 14 or 15 (if not earlier). Being a lazy pig is out of the question. Mow grass, throw hay, pack lumber, clean up dog poop, wash cars, split and stack wood, etc. You get the idea.

A few other things that I will teach the boys:

How to shake hands
How to shave (when necessary) 

How to camp
How to shoot a gun 

How to shoot a bow 
How to hunt and fish 
How to negotiate 
How to cook meat 
How to eat meat
How to travel

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thirty-One to Bring Two Home!

My amazing cousin, Jill, has offered to help us raise funds to bring these cute Congolese twins home. She is offering up her Thirty-One products!

There are two products available with this fundraiser:

This EXCLUSIVE Medium Utility Tote for $33, which I absolutely LOVE. We have a large utility tote in our living room to corral all of our Little Lotz stuff. The handles even make it handy to move out of the room if we need more space. This size of tote has only been offered one other time, but it's coming back out as the holiday season approaches. It would be great as a "gift bag" for various occasions and filled with lots of home goodies, diapering supplies or snacks! (And you can even purchase a Top-A-Tote for it (seen here).
AND you have all of these options of fabric to choose from...

Here's the other product available, a Pocket-A-Tote for $12. It can go inside or outside any Thirty-One tote with grommets (which, coincidentally, includes the Medium Utility Tote above).

And here are the fabrics available. Obviously, you can also customize your bags with text, icons and/or ribbon to make them extra special.

So who wants one (or both)? If you do, email me at lotzfam@att.net and I'll get it taken care of for you! Each tote sold will send at least $11 (more if we sell a lot) to our adoption fund, while the Pocket-A-Tote will send us $2 and the Top-A-Tote will send us $1.

Also, if you want to book a party with my cousin, let her know and she will donate 15% of your party sales back to our adoption. I'm telling you, she is one great woman!!

This deal will end November 1, so don't forget to get your order in!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

i'm not pregnant

But I did spend most of yesterday running to and from the bathroom while coaching at a volleyball tourney. I am not sure why I feel the need to share this experience with the world; maybe it's just that now that it's over it's actually pretty funny.

The boys were sick Tuesday night, so the second I felt a weird tightness in my belly on the bus ride to the tourney yesterday I had a bad feeling about the day ahead. I coached three matches with the doom of impending sickness hanging over my head. I just did not feel right. The girls were playing well, so I was giving lots of high-fives and cheers, not yet knowing that I was truly about to bite the dust when the true sickness hit.

And boy, did it hit.

I ran to the bathroom during a break in the day and proceeded to get sick (I will spare you the details here...). I then apologized to the person in the stall next to me that she had to hear such a wretched sound. She says, "Don't worry about it; I was just doing the same thing." After we had both recovered a bit we came out of the stalls. Lo and behold, the other sick woman was a teacher from Branson who was officiating the vb matches on the other court. That's how Branson does it; we stick together!

From there, it all went downhill for me pretty quickly. I sat on the bench for the semi-final match and watched while trying to keep my stomach steady. You know how in cartoons, sick people are depicted with green goo rising up into the irises of their eyes? That is EXACTLY how I felt trying to focus on the ball and the game. At one point, I called a time-out while running out of the gym to get sick in the bathroom. At least I managed to make it to the bathroom every time and retain about 10% of my dignity.

On the other hand, my girls were playing great, and they won the semi-final match in two sets. They did a GREAT job of coaching themselves, lifting each other up, and doing what needed to be done. Luckily, we had a Branson teacher with us in the crowd who came down to sit on the bench and make us legal. (Thanks to Annette!!) I cannot say enough about my senior leaders. They were absolutely phenomenal in their last tournament playing as Branson Pirates.

The championship match went to three sets, each of which were hard-fought battles with a great opposing team. I spent most of that match in the bathroom or in the floor in the hallway. I felt even more awful that I couldn't really see my team doing so well, nor could I really coach them. However, they did the best they could with the situation at hand and played some of the toughest volleyball they've played all year. Although we lost that match, I couldn't be more proud of them. I think this is just the sort of proof I need that a coach's job is somewhat overrated. If the girls know what to do and want it bad enough, they can figure out how to make it happen on their own. And I'd say my girls did that, even though we took 2nd. We definitely got tougher yesterday. I just hope none of them get what I had!!

Then, as always, my parents saved the day for me. My mom came mid-way through the championship match to take me home so I wouldn't have to ride the bus (and the vb parents found ways to get all of the girls home without the bus...bless them!). I stayed until the awards were given out, then wobbled out to her car, and my parents watched the boys the rest of the day while I slept/cringed and waited for Brad to get home from the college fall retreat where he was teaching. Have I ever mentioned that my parents are amazing??

Moral of the story: Let other people be the strong ones sometimes. My team was strong, my team's parents were strong, my parents were strong. And I'm thankful.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Life is busy, so "What's Happening Wednesday" is "What's Happening Thursday" this week. Or this month.

Last Saturday, I coached in a volleyball tournament and Brad coached in a softball tournament. We decided to divide and conquer where childcare was concerned: Brad took Brecken so a sister of one of the players could watch him (Thank you, Hunter!), and I took Brody to be entertained by "bolleyball," which he loves.

We were in the car and headed to catch the bus at school by 5:00 am. Brody LOVES riding the bus with "the girls," so this was one of his favorite Saturday's yet. He slept a bit on the bus, begged tons of good snacks from the girls, and chased volleyballs. It was his dream come true.

But it was also very tiring, as evidenced by the pictures to follow. Yes, that's him sleeping while standing up at our bench during a three-set match that included a ton of yelling and cheering. Did it phase him? No. He actually stayed there for a bit until I could take pictures and allow plenty of people to get a good laugh in about his level of excitement during the games.

But the kid in this next picture isn't tired. This pic was taken somewhere around 4:30 am, 45 minutes after Brecken woke up Monday morning and thought it was time to party. Not sure what the time confusion was all about, but after 45 minutes of trying to get him back to sleep (and him wandering around the bed), I gave in. Party it was. And he had this cheesy grin to show for it.

Brody got sick on Tuesday night and pretty much did this most of the next day. Poor kid. I didn't even stay home to take care of him because I'm saving up sick days (just in case we get to make a trip to Africa before school gets out). So when I say "poor kid' I should also say, "poor nannies." One of them called me right before our game on Tuesday night and left a message with my assistant coach: "We're all sick." UH-OH. Not a great thing to hear when you are far away and can't do anything about it! 

When I got home she told me that at one point she and Brody were both throwing up into the toilet at the same time. That's one tough nanny, people. 

Sports are in full effect right now, as is school, so Brad and I rarely have a second to see one another. In fact, we have communicated our referral acceptance to our agency, but we haven't yet signed the official documents because we can't get together for any amount of time to meet with a notary! Hoping to do that tomorrow, though. 

I can still hardly believe that we have TWINS waiting on the end of the world for us. (!!)

Also, we have also learned new information about the process in Congo. I mentioned the other day that DGM isn't issuing exit letters, but they did in fact allow a few families who already had visas (or at least approval to get them) to exit up until Wednesday. However, adoptions are processing normally while they sort through the DGM problem. (DGM's only duty in adoption is to issue exit letters after adoptions are final and visas are approved.) Apparently, an adoption attorney sought revenge on the agency he used to work for and told DGM the agency wasn't following through with post-adoption monitoring appropriately. This is what caused the shutdown in DGM. Several people, agencies and entities in Congo are working to restore things back to order and to assure DGM that they are monitoring appropriately post-adoption. We are hopeful that this will get resolved shortly, and we are praying to that end. 

And that's "What's Happening Thursday."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An open letter to DGM

Dear DGM (General Direction of Migration),

Your recent decision to suspend issuance of exit letters comes from the right place in your hearts. I understand that you are concerned about the children of your country. No one blames you for that. A few recent reports have come out that tell the grimmest of grim adoption tales: "rehoming," alleged abuse, and child trafficking are abominable behaviors that we--the other adoptive parents in this discussion--detest. While I sincerely wish that none of these things were true, I hate to admit that a few of the allegations in these reports may be a sad reality. I have never seen anything like that in person, but I do know that we live in a broken world, and I have seen much worse behavior in biological families as a public school teacher.

However, those rare and dreadful situations are not the reality for us and thousands of other adoptive moms and dads who are trying to give the children of your country safe, loving, and secure homes.

Let's talk about those moms and dads who were not represented in these horrible reports. Let's talk about how they have spent hundreds of hours working on paperwork, thousands of dollars on the adoption process, and millions of minutes thinking about bringing their children home from your beautiful country and rich culture. Let's talk about how they lose sleep at night because they are praying for their children across the ocean--praying for health, safety and a speedy adoption process so those kids can come home quickly and their parents can tuck them in to their own soft and snuggly beds at night. Let's talk about how their brothers and sisters have been looking at pictures of them for months, waiting for the day they will get to meet. Let's talk about how it must finally feel for them--the adopted--to have a family, a home, a future. Hope.

Right now, while you investigate the allegations to which the reports alluded, many of the children in your country are being significantly hurt by the inability to go home with their adoptive families. Surely you know the stats: One in five children die before the age of five in Congo. Compare that to the United States, the country with an average life expectancy of almost 79 years of high-quality life.

Yet, there are these kids in Congo...Their adoptions are final; all that's left is a ride home that they can't catch because of a few reports that have told only one side of the story. While children wait there in your country they are often hungry in orphanages and exposed to treatable diseases that your medical professionals--with all of their good intentions--cannot treat, simply because they do not have the resources. (We wish your country did have the resources, by the way. But that is something that cannot be fixed without major influence and change. Influence that might--MIGHT--just come from a child who was born in Congo, adopted and educated in the U.S., and who travels back to Congo to educate, equip, and change his beloved country. Wouldn't THAT make a great story for a journalist?)

But we have the resources here now. We have resources to protect your children, to save your children, to love your children, and to be parents to the children who are in such desperate need of family. So please let us do that, and let us do it quickly.

We understand that you want to keep those kids safe. So do we. Feel free to investigate us--all of us--even more thoroughly than before, but please be extremely quick about it so we can get them home. In fact, feel free to investigate us for the rest of our lives. Just get them home quickly.

Warmly, but with strong conviction,

Adoptive moms and dads everywhere