Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Gift for Christmas...

As we approach this amazing holiday of hope, and the birth of our redemption, there is so much to celebrate. No matter where we are in life, we are better off than the vast majority of those living in poverty and bondage in other parts of the world. And while stories of Santa and his elves make us feel jolly inside and out with the giving of gifts, cookies, shopping etc.; it is important that we remember what true joy really is. It is the hope of eternal life through God's son, who was born to this earth with a willingness to die for us. That is the only joy worth celebrating in my book.

I try amidst the clamor of our world to make my children realize that there is nothing important this Christmas season, or any season for that matter, but Jesus. He is our gift, our joy, our hope. And no man in a red suit can supply that for us. No one should outshine Jesus. He is my redeemer, the light of my life. He is the reason i am who i am today. And I am FAR from where i should be. But He is bringing me there a little at a time. Through my hardships, I find joy in him.

So, though i do love all the other fun stuff Christmas has to offer, I love the specials on TV and the decorations wherever i go. I have to be sure though to keep coming back to what has given me that joy. I have to remember that I have done nothing to earn it on my own. It was a gift. A gift that all started one starry night in a stable, when amidst sheep and sweet donkeys, our redeemer was born of a virgin named Mary. That is not just a fun story to read before bed. It is the truth of our salvation. Jesus' birth was the beginning of our great hope.

May you find that true peace in the gift of redemption this Christmas. It is the best gift you will ever get!
Merry Christmas from the Koby family.
And if you do not know our great redeemer, we would love to introduce you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Christmas of Hope to the World...

We are to be His hands and feet...showing Jesus to the world.
Our one true HOPE!
Merry Christmas, World Vision Style.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

AWAA Calendar 2011...

Great news! Aimee, Julianna, and Elias made the cover of our adoption agency's calendar for 2011. So exciting!

Here is the link...

If you would like information on our agency, America World Adoptions, please feel free to reach out to us. We have been honored to complete 3 adoptions with their help. They were consistent, professional, and with us every step of the way both here in the US during the paper process as well as in country.
The highlight of America World for us is the faith behind their work. They have a heart for God and orphans. That is what they are all about. They pray as a staff daily and I know they have prayed specifically for our family a number of times through our journeys. That means so much to us, that we were more than just a client, but a partner in fulfilling God's plan for our lives.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New Season...

As i walked outside this morning something wonderful happened...i saw my breath as it steamed up into the air of dawn. It was a perfect morning. One that seemed to usher in one of my favorite seasons, Autumn. I must admit, my least favorite season is the summer! I just am not a hot weather girl. My idea of a wonderful vacation is a road trip up to New England as the leaves burst into an array of colors.

There are just so many great things that come with the fall season that have to do with family. So i have decided to compile a list of the top 20 things i love to do in the fall (you will find many have to do with food. I find it funny that so many of the joys in my life revolve around food. My mother nurtured that in me. LOL)...

1. Collect leaves with Juli and make crafts with them.
2. Bake a Pumpkin Pie
3. Have a bon fire in the back yard and toast marshmallows.
4. Our church ladies retreat at America's Keswick.
5. Run through a local corn maze.
6. Go pumpkin picking.
7. Carve our pumpkins.
8. Make homemade Applesauce (my recipe below)
9. Apple picking
10. Bake an Apple Pie
11. Halloween at Aunt Lora's.
12. Thanksgiving here at our house with our family.
13. The start of all our favorite fall shows.
14. School festivities that as a mom i love to participate in.
15. Fall scented candles in the house!!!!!
16. Making caramel apples with those silly wrappers that come in the box in the grocery store.
17. FOOTBALL Season!!!
18. Getting to wear hoodie sweatshirts with jeans.
19. The smell of fire places in the air.
20. Local harvest festivals. They have a great one at Quiet Valley Historical Farm in Pa.

Here is my recipe for apple sauce.

Easy Homemade Chunky Apple Sauce:
(Thanks Karen I.)
*8 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks or slices.
*1 tsp. cinnamon
*1/2 cup water
*1/2 to 1 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hrs.

This recipe is so easy and yummy! You will love it. My kids do!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


We all make them, experience them etc. We all have so many memories surrounding great milestones, in our lives, the lives of those we love, even the history of our nation. Markers of where we are and where we are going

My daughter hits a milestone in the morning. Her first day of kindergarten. I know every mom goes through it. The blubbering as your child walks onto that bus and drives off into their future, leaving their toddlers years officially behind.

Amidst the sadness there is such triumph though. I think so often of my kids' lives and try to put them into perspective. There is a song Juli and i love because it begins with this music that sounds like a chinese music box playing. And we used to listen to it as we prepared to travel to China for Aimee and giggle about how lucky we were that we were going to see the Orient!!!

But the song has such an awesome message. It is called "Forgiven" by Sanctus Real. Sometimes when i listen to that song I am actually brought to my knees. When i think of all that was done for me on the cross. Completely forgiven. But the one set of lyrics that stood out to me went like this...

This verse puts every piece of my kids' lives into perspective for me. My children could have been nothing more than a statistic... 3 of the 145 million orphans around the globe. According to the majority of the world, orphans don't measure up to very much. They often live in institutions where they are fed, bathed, taught to go potty etc. in mass groups. Often they don't get much personal interaction from their caregivers, maybe not because they don't want to but because there are just too many.

My 3 amazing, beautiful children could have grown up forgotten by this world, measuring up to what others may have not seen as very much in this life. But to God, they are his treasures. When they weren't being held by people, they were treasures in his arms. And because of his love, we were brought together to be this family that now can celebrate their milestones. Just like tomorrow for Juli.

So, while i am sad tonight that we are taking this step tomorrow and leaving her baby years behind, I rejoice that because of a divine plan, my daughter will make this and many more milestones in her life. And so will all the children who were once orphans but are no longer.

Wow! God is so good!

"Who am I oh sovereign Lord, and who is my family that you have brought us this far?!"
2 Samuel 7:18

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Do you ever sit back and wonder if you are doing all you can? I don't mean when it comes to cleaning the house or socializing. I mean when it comes to humanity.

I ask myself this almost daily and I cannot seem to ever say yes. I sit down and think about all the things that require people to stand up and make a difference...
1. 145 million orphans globally (UNICEF 2008)
2. Genocide and displacement in Darfur
3. Haiti's millions of people who are still homeless following the earthquake
4. The HIV epidemic in Africa
5. The millions of people world wide who cannot freely worship Jesus Christ and are persecuted for doing so.

These are only a few.

And when i sit and look at this list a few things come to my mind.
First i feel helpless. As a mom who spends her days changing poopy diapers and watching elmo while practicing piano with my daughter i cannot help but feel helpless and often useless in this crazy world that we live in. I at times fight the question of my purpose here. Yet i know that God has called me to be this mom right now.

I look at that orphan statistic and again, though i know i am doing what i have been called for this season to do, there are still so many more children in this world who deserve, no, have the right to a mother and father.

Then i look at the government. I pay taxes to a government who is squandering it all away over greed and useless politics when they could be using the wealth and freedom we have to help others when they are in desperate need. How often do people around the world pray for the United States to come and help them when they are in the midst of a tragedy. I think we would be surprised to know this answer.

And i cannot help but wonder if God cries. I know he knows everything that has, and will happen on this earth from the beginning of time until eternity is here. But still, when i think that God loves us more than we can fathom.... when my daughter is hurting I am torn up inside. And he is our father, imagine the grief he must experience when he sees the vast amount of suffering we endure and even cause one another.

But, he is faithful. No matter how things seem to be, he is faithful. And he will be victorious at the end of this earth. His plan is grand and will overcome the sufferings we face here.

But i still am brought back to my responsibility. I need to examine if i am holding up my end so to speak. The blessings i have... am i showing my gratitude for them?

I love the new song out by Matt Maher called Hold us Together when he says,

I want the whole world to see how we as Christians hold one another together with the strength of Christ as our support. I have experienced that support; my Christian family holding me together. It is an amazing feeling. And I have seen it and been a part of holding others together when i traveled to Haiti with Dayspring. That was mind blowing. I want to be and do and see more of that. On a global scale. And I am going to pray that more people will see the difference they can make. I just hope that more people will answer the call.

I can serve as a mom in so many ways. We all can serve right where we are in so many ways. We just need to step out in faith and take that leap for Christ and his kingdom and his suffering world. And i want to step I am...send me...please.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Son...

So, Elias is at stage in his life where he lacks any form of self control. He is TERRIBLY TWO!
I daily get so frustrated with him. He respects no boundaries i set for him, no matter how i try to impress them upon him. And he so enjoys pushing the limits.

The other day he kept turning on the water in the tub in my bathroom while i was putting my make up on. Finally after trying all angles, i put him outside the bathroom door and said "do not pass this door way." Well, he stood their and inched his toe forward just enough to get it past that door way. Then he would giggle hysterically to himself almost falling on the floor he thought he was so funny. On a side note, he thinks he is the absolute funniest person on the planet. And I have to say he is quite a laugh grabber!

Long story short...every time he gets me angry with him for his behavior, I find myself saying, "You are so lucky that you are so stinkin' adorable." And he TOTALLY is. And that is what gets me by most of the time.

So, with that said, I have decided to encourage myself as another tough day has ended with some proof. That he is super cute!

Mostly Funnies of Elias...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Valuable Possesion...

This morning i was sitting in my office checking my email and i heard Juli yelling at Elias and calling me. This is not unusual. Elias spends most of his day getting into trouble. I am told that is just what boys do.

Well, this morning when she called me i actually went over to the family room to fix the situation. You see Elias was writing with a pen in my Bible. Do you have a Bible that is so important to you? To all of us our Bible should be one of our most treasured possessions. In many countries a Bible is their most treasured possession. In fact in countries like China where i recently visited, people are not free to read the Bible or gather to talk about it in Bible studies or churches. So, if someone has one, they often only have parts of it and they often keep it hidden as a precious treasure. If it is found, they can go to prison and often times endure torture.

The Bible tells us to hide his our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says "I have hidden your word in my heart that i might not sin against you."

I also think of Corrie Ten Boom and her sister. These were christian women who lived through the Holocaust in German occupied Netherlands. They hid jews from the Nazis in their home and eventually got caught. They were sent to a concentration camp for their illegal actions. I remember that towards the end of their sentence in the camp, her sister dies. But before this, these ladies orally discussed and taught one another the Bible. When they didn't have this treasure on paper, they had it hidden in their hearts. Amazing.

Then i think of the recent movie which i loved, "The Book of Eli". Long story short, everyone thinks this man has a rare and valuable Bible in his possession. It is thought to be the last one on earth. But in the end we see that he himself is the Bible. For he has memorized ever verse from cover to cover.

And so i am brought back to my precious treasure. My Bible that was on my coffee table that Elias was writing in. It is just a book, not some relic of holiness or anything. If it is destroyed, God will not punish me. But to me it is precious. It was my mother's Bible you see and she died in 2000. And i at one point thought i had lost it and could not find one like it anywhere. It has such a great concordance and references in it. And i have highlighted all my favorite verses and written little notes throughout. But i really need to spend more time hiding this treasure in my heart. So that i am in constant communion with God. If I have his word in my heart, I will remember it in my conscience. I will be more likely think before i act in a way unpleasing to him. And His spirit will guide me through whatever i am struggling with using this word spoken right from God's lips.

Do you realize the value of your Bible? Is it hidden in your heart or just a pretty decoration on your book shelf? Get it down and mark it up a won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Koby Family has grown!

God has richly blessed us with these 3 amazing children... Thank you my Father in Heaven.

"Who am I oh sovereign Lord, and who is my family that you have brought us this far?" 2 Samuel 7:18

Monday, July 19, 2010


Comes in all colors, from every corner of the world. That is how it is in our family. And that is how it is in the family of God.

I LOVE my family...both of them!


Always a struggle for me. I never know what to wear or what others will be wearing so i feel like it is such an overwhelming task. When i went to Haiti, at first i was frustrated that we had to always wear skirts. Mostly because i had NO skirts...I just don't wear them. But in the end it was so easy to pack everything because the weather was always HOT and i could only choose skirts. Simple living...It was beautiful.

I have borrowed a friend's travel guide on China but it is a bit old. Does anyone have any recommendations on a good guide book? This one was Lonely Planet. It was good so i may just go get a newer version of that. I was going to just use this one but so much has changed in China, that i found the guide book showed places that are no longer there etc.

And packing for Aimee is the hardest part. I can only really guess her size at this point. And so i need to bring enough clothes for roughly 2 weeks and in multiple sizes just on case some don't fit. And it all has to fit in our bags because we are only bringing 1 each due to our in country flights... Ugh!

Well, the one thing i know i will not leave behind is my Bible. God has carried me around the world so many times for His great purpose, and he will carry me yet again to a new unknown place. He is always gracious in His patience with us. He always shows us His love in other places by the amazing people we meet who want nothing more than to serve him. And He carries us through the tough first moments as parents to a toddler who's world has just been turned upside down. I need all the help i can get with that one.

So many people can't wait as soon as they get there to meet their kids and take them to their hotels with them. And not that i don't want to...I cannot wait for Aimee to be a Koby. But the moment i have that new child in my arms and the chaos begins, i just want to get out of Dodge so to speak. Our experience with Juli first taught me this lesson. In Russia, after you go to court, you have a ten day waiting period where you stay in the hotel and go back and forth to visit your child. As new parents to this experience we were so saddened by this...every time we would go visit her we had to leave her behind. But then the day came when we would just visit her for the last time. Our lives changed forever in that moment and i am not talking changed as every new parent does. We were suddenly in possession of a child who was terrified of her surroundings, only knew us, understood nothing we said, screamed ALL night long if we weren't holding her...and at times we would put her down just for a couple of minutes and she would scream so loud that at one point we heard footsteps coming to our door of the hotel. Now being in a country like Russia where many people think Americans adopt children for their organs, we did not want any trouble. So hold her we did....for 6 more days and all the way home on the airplane as she screamed and others moved their seats in disgust.

Therefore, i now think the policy should be in every country that you get your kid as you board your plane home. LOL But it is not and so we will see what this new venture brings for the Kobys. God is good...ALL the time!

Monday, July 5, 2010


Well, we finally know we are heading to China! Aimee Grace is coming home on August 5, 2010 forever to be a Koby!
We are so excited to meet her, especially Juli. She said she wants to get matching Chinese outfits for them to wear. I think she is going to be surprised by how much like Elias she will be. Steeling her toys, smacking her, following her around pestering her. But she will discover that for herself. I just hope she doesn't have her expectations that high. I have been trying to prepare her for her reality check.

In the meantime, we are getting Aimee's room already. I decided to paint it red and cream with white chair rail. It is so pretty...very Asian. It will be perfect for all the little collectibles i will buy to decorate with.

I am above all amazed that i will be traveling to the Orient. It has in my mind for so long been such a place of wonder and beauty. I know i will not be going outside of any cities, and i am disappointed in this, but just to go to that part of the world will be such an amazing experience. I have had the privilege of traveling to so many countries in my lifetime, England, Israel, Jordan, Russia, Ethiopia, Dubai, Haiti... but i never did imagine i would get to China. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because as a child it was always considered the farthest place on earth. The place your parents would always joke that you should try to dig to when you were at the beach.

I love to watch Bizarre Foods with Andre Zimmern. It is a great show. You learn so much about other cultures and the truly bizarre, often gross foods they eat and consider delicacies. I one episode, he traveled to China. And i do not remember too much about it because it was quite some time ago, but one of the foods he ate was a seahorse on a stick. Weird foods like this were sold on the side of the road from carts. And there were all kinds of odd things on sticks too, not just seahorses. So, i was telling Juli about this and she insists she will eat a seahorse while we are there. And i do not doubt it either.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Have you ever really looked deeply into the story of Lazarus in the Bible? It is so amazing. I was doing my devotions yesterday and they were focused on this story in the book of John.

It teaches so many things.
Patience. When Lazarus was dying, his sisters, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus in hopes that he would come and heal him. But He didn't. I would have expected Jesus to rush on the scene, like a super hero to save the day. I mean that is how we as Americans tend to live life isn't it? Instant gratification. When i pray for something i hope desperately for God to hear me and answer...right then. But most of the time, He doesn't. In the book of John 11:6 it says "Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was for 2 more days." I can see so much of how God works in that verse. No pressure. He just knows everything is in place and the reason behind it. He has no need to rush. But when Jesus finally gets to Mary and Martha's house, they are totally like i would have been...frustrated and filled with worry. Martha runs out to meet Jesus and says to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." That would so be me. But she is still faithful, continuing, "But i know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."...And he did!

As Jesus walked to the tomb, He wept. That is one the most profound verses in the Bible to me. God, wept. He loved Lazarus his friend so much, that even though he knew he was going to heal him, his humanity caused him to actually weep with sadness over death. Reading this, we know that he feels our pain in the sadness of loss on this earth.

But i love picturing what happened next. I see him gathering himself back...straightening his shoulders with authority, then he prays the most amazing prayer. He says in verse 41, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me..." And with great strength in his voice i picture him calling..."Lazarus, come out!"...and he did. Can you picture the mouths of all the people standing there? Their jaws dropped to the floor in amazement? How some of them probably became faithful followers of him right there in that moment! God is sooo amazing. Why do i doubt him?

Yet in my daily life, i will often, lose faith, doubt, worry, and or fear the unknown. But, why? I know that the God of the universe that performed miracle after miracle has me in the palm of His hand. He has always cared for me and always will.

I love the verses of the new Chris Tomlin song, Our God.
Water you turned wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There's no one like you
None like you.
Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like you
None like you

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is healer, awesome in power
Our God.

If you'd like to read the devotion that i read on Waiting Patiently, just click this link.

Johnny Stone this morning on Star 99.1 fm declared today national no fear day. He was not serious totally. But he challenged everyone to go forth into this day without fear, trusting that we are in the hands of a mighty God. How appropriate for my recent reading. So, i will go forth today, putting all fear aside. Knowing there is no reason to fear.

Psalm 27:13 & 14 say, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord: be strong, and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bringing Up Girls

I recently began reading the book Bringing Up Girls, by James Dobson. What an amazing insight into the minds and hearts of girls. I never knew for example what an impact Daddy's have on their daughters. Don't get me wrong. I knew they were super crucial. I grew up without one and reaped the consequences of it for a very long time. But i never saw just how deep that need for a Daddy and his approval goes. But now that i know, when i watch Juli with Eric i see so much more. It is amazing!

This is what the book has to say about Daddy's and their influence on their daughters. This excerpt is actually taken from another book called Strong Father, Strong Daughters, by Dr. Meg Meeker.

I have watched daughters talk to father. When you come into the room, they change. Everything about them changes: their eyes, their mouths, their gestures, their body language. Daughters are never luke warm in the presence of their fathers. They might take their mothers for granted, but not you. They light up - or they cry. They watch you intensely. They hang on your words. They hope for you attention and they wait for it in frustration - or in despair. They need a gesture of approval, a nod of encouragement, or even simple eye contact to let them know you care and are willing to help.
When she's in your company, your daughter tries harder to excel. When you teach her, she learns more rapidly. When you guide her she gains confidence. If you full understood just how profoundly you could influence your daughter's life, you would be terrified, overwhelmed, or even both.

If you have a little girl, you should really pick up this book. I think it will change how you think about raising a daughter.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Journey to Haiti

A few weeks back i had the amazing privelege of going to Haiti to serve. It was an experience unlike any other.

I have to admit i wondered along the way if it was really what i was supposed to do. I mean i have 2 kids at home and it is far from easy to just up and leave for a whole week. But though i felt doubt along the way God took care of everything. He gave me amazing people who stepped up and took care of my children during the day while Eric was at work. And then there were people who cooked for my family while i was gone. And of course there were the people who prayed for my family and i the entire trip. Never doubt the power of prayer...I have seen it demonstrated too many times to push aside.

Haiti has a beauty to it unlike any other. The skies are almost always blue. The rains come hard in the evenings and they are warm and cool all at the same time. The people are amazingly beautiful despite their hardship and the sweltering heat on a daily basis. The children are happy and have so much love to give that at times it overwhelms you.

But then there is also the sadness. The first realization I had of the state of Haiti was when i looked out to the mountains. I did notice that they had no trees, but i just thought perhaps that was how they were. Until i was informed that they have over many years been completely deforrested. So much so that you could see the massive errosion from the hurricanes that beat them down yearly. This gave me a realization of their situation. They have almost no natural resources, they import just about everything including now wood from the Domincan Republic.

Then there was the tragedy of the earthquake. A people already struggling through their everyday now faced such intense devastation. Why must they suffer so.

The tent cities that we saw were a far cry from the state of the art tent cities we see on TV on the news channels. They are entire towns made of sticks and sheets sitting in massive pools of water, filling higher every day because it is the rainy season. In this water the people as well as sometimes their livestock live. Too sad for words really.

But in the midst of this sadness and tragedy i got to spend a week with a group of people that God has a shield of protection over. They are the people of Light and Peace Mission and My Father's House Orphanage. The people in these communities were fed, clothed, together, and praising God for how he cared for them as they worshipped under a tent in the heat of the day. Their praises were unending...literally. We attended a prayer service; one of many that last for 4 to 6 hours.

So my prayer today is with Haiti...for the people that suffer daily, living in pure desperation. But thanking God for the example of their faith. I learned so much from this trip. True faith is exemplified not through people of plenty, but through people of need. Those who live everyday completely dependent on God to carry them to the next.

I will post more pictures of my journey tomorrow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Aimee Grace Koby, or baby Aimee as Juli calls her, was born October 3, 2008 in Guiyang City, China.
Guiyang City is nestled along the Nanming River in the south central part of China, in a province called Guizhou. It is from what i have read and heard from others who know China, a beautiful, more remote, and poor area (except for the capital) of China, consisting of mostly farmers.

We are so excited to travel there. Our Journey will take us to almost every corner of China too! We will begin by flying into Beijing, seeing the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City, etc. Then we will fly to Guiyang, where we will meet Aimee for the first time! We will also see some local history so that we can document Aimee's culture for her.

Our next flight will be to Guangzhou, a little further south, closer to the coast. Here we will visit the American Embassy to get Aimee's passport etc. And from here we will begin our journey back home with Aimee in tow.

I have to admit, i am a bit torn about it all. While i am excited to see China, and super excited to bring home Aimee, all that flying is a bit daunting. We have done it all so many times. It is starting to get old. Especially the way home. On the way there, I am always so excited, ready for our newest adventure. I say to myself that this time i am going to be a pro, ready for anything. But once it is all happening, the jet lag, the drastic difference in our surroundings, the constant watchfulness of everything Juli does from what she is eating, to who she is looking at etc. the energy needed, to just go constantly to keep up with all the details that need to be attended to with paperwork etc. And finally there is Aimee. The moment we have been waiting for for, well with this adoption, we have been waiting for 3 years!!!! What a great moment that will be. But everything will change once again in that moment. How will she like us? Will she be happy go lucky, or will she be terrified? Will she fit into any of the clothes we brought? Will she eat our food? Will she be ok with the fact that we speak so differently than anything she has ever heard before? And how long will it take for her to adjust? Better yet, how long will it take for me to adjust?!

When all the dust settles and we are home, i will be able to answer all these questions. Of course, that will take time, as i am just now answering some of these questions for Elias and it has been over a year. These questions that at the moment consume my thinking. Because our whole existence for the next year, rides on all these factors. Through it all however, i know that God is in control. He has composed every moment into a symphony that is our lives. I just hope i choose to play my instrument in a way that will glorify Him.

Catching Up

As i read a few emails of friends over the past few weeks and months, so many of them asked if i will be blogging on our next journey. At first i said to myself, "I really don't have time to do this with 2 kids." But then i came to the conclusion that it might be a bit selfish to say that. Aimee deserves a blog too. LOL So, today i will begin attempting to blog that last portion of our journey to China.