Sunday, December 1, 2013



The chorus of a certain Beatles song started playing through my head recently while looking at the latest photos from our Acacia Shade home. Especially so, after reading the favorable updates on the children from their caregivers there. 

Apparently John Lennon and Paul McCartney were right on the money when they were crooning about the value of this most basic of human needs. Any question as to wether a little TLC rendered can throw a life of neglect into reverse and spin it in the direction of hope, has been put to the test and can be answered with a resounding YES it can!

It has only been a few short months on this steady diet of food for the body and soul and these children are flourishing like a "shade tree in its native soil". When I look at these photos I can't seem to smile wide enough to do justice to the joy it gives me. And when I think about our kids ( ours, yours... we are their family now) I no longer worry about what will become of them, because I know they have a future now that is filled with promise, uniquely their own with nothing to hold them back. 

I am longing get back to Ghana and see their smiling faces, hug them and give them a high five to let them know how incredably proud I am of them for being such little fighters. For taking life by the reigns and riding it through the storms, while patiently waiting for the sun to shine, so they could shine. And shine they do, in all their brilliance casting a warmth on those lucky enough to be in the realm of their existence. 

 Okay, seriously, how happy do these pics make you?

Esi racing to the dinner table... and I love the four small bowls of soup ready to fill four happy little tummies.

So happy to be the first one there, it really is the small things for these kids. 

 Esi helping Zumah learn her shapes and what it feels like to have a big sister. 

High fives and hand shakes for Zumah, crawling like a champ. 

Along with these pics came updates  and stories on each of the children. They told of clapping, and dancing, and crawling and growing. Laughing, and sleeping, and helping and learning. The house is as I expected it to be, brimming with praise, warmth and a continual flow of that thing that is sometimes all we need to change a life. Love.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Changing Lives...... it's a good thing.

A week ago today I was in Ghana doing something that would change a life forever......MINE. 

After months of planning, raising money, negotiating, dreaming, emailing, begging, hoping, and most importantly... PRAYING. The time had come, and I found myself signing a document that would undoubtedly alter my life and heart forever. It was one of those defining moments in my life as four little children were assembled behind me while I signed the papers that would release them into the custody of our Foundation. 
My dream that had begun years earlier while visiting that very orphanage with my family had now become a reality.


The enormity of what was happening was in no way "lost" on me as I signed my name in exchange for the responsibility of these children for the duration of their lives. I am fully aware that the Ghanian Government is expecting us to care for them indefinitely.

That is a humbling thought indeed and as I work my angles to secure the funding needed to sustain them, I realize that the feeling of urgency to do so, is a feeling that I will come to know well. It's not a bad thing nor do I see it as such, for it is what will keep me motivated to 'go to bat' for those who cannot swing the bat for themselves. Those who now depend on our foundation to sustain their lives.

It's hard to describe the emotions of that day, and I have thought about it plenty over the days since. Certainly there were feelings of such joy and relief mixed with a bit of worry and doubt.... only because we didn't know these kids or their backgrounds, capabilities, how they would adjust, or even if they would like us. 

I had prayed for, and thought about them everyday since meeting them last October. For ten months I had imagined how happy and relieved I would be once we finally got them safely into our home there, and could begin to change their lives. Surely that would produce one of life's indescribable moments.

I had imagined it to be a happy and sweet day, I had imagined to feel a bit overwhelmed with the responsibility. I had imagined my heart to swell with a love for these children whom I was serving and helping. I had imagined to feel some heartache too for the struggles they had endured previously. I had imagined I would feel a satisfaction and renewed purpose in life.

That day did not disappoint.... In fact, my expectations were exceeded and it was a very, very good day indeed.
There was however, one thing that had escaped me in all my imaginings of how amazing and wonderful it would feel to truly change a person life.....and that was that it had never occurred to me once that the life I would be changing the most that day would be my own. 


Friday, August 30, 2013


Making A House A Home

Everything is done differently here in Ghana 
and that can be,at times, frustratingly humorous.
One has to have spent a little time here to 
truly understand what that means.
It's not unlike those idiosyncrasies of your 
loved ones that drive you crazy while endearing them to you at the same time.

Setting up home here has exemplified this point and makes the fact that we did it in under two weeks a true African miracle!

Acacia Shade home, Accra Ghana  

The home is now ready for its precious new occupants. 
It is, by no means perfect, but it IS the perfect home for us.

The doors will still hang crooked, there are cracks in the floor tiles, the finished paint job looks like primer, the water often just trickles out, while toilets flush only about half the time and the dim, weird florescent lighting leaves you having to feel your way around at night.
But it is affectionately warm, and shiny clean, with new little beds, and lots of kindly donated furnishings, supplies, and toys.

I know it will be a good home. 

If ever there's a day when the water has pressure, the lights don't blitz out, the fridge holds temp, and the toilets flush, it will have been a good day indeed. 

Better still however, are the days when kids are smiling, tummies are full, fingers are busy stringing beads or coloring pictures, while delicious smells waft from the kitchen, and laughter rings through the air. 

We plan to have many of those days here at Acacia Shade's new home. 

And so it is .....tomorrow we collect the children from the orphanage and bring them here to their new home.

We have had them in our thoughts each day as we unpacked, cleaned, arranged, purchased, and anticipated their arrival.

They may never know the hours spent readying this house,
or most of the generous and kindhearted souls who donate 
funds to make this happen. But it gladdens my heart to think that there is ONE thing that they will know for certain and that thing is....what it feels like to be loved and to be part of a family, 
and that thought alone is priceless to me.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013


They are not so different from us

The term "ignorance is bliss" has taken on new meaning in my life since meeting these sweet children and learning of their heart breaking struggles. Thoughts of them now shadow my days and the urgency to be doing more fills up my usual "down time."

When I went to the orphanage in Accra last October to select the most at risk children which we would relocate to our first home there, I came to understand how truly misunderstood these children are.

The customary belief in Ghana is that those who are born with a physical, or mental disability are considered to lack the very things that make us human....hearts full of emotions and brains which are capable of learning even the most basic forms of communication. They are thus believed to have no need for human interaction. 

It was astonishing to me as I met these children, 

 how anyone could deny that they had 
minds that can think and hearts that can feel.

 And now, nearly eight months after first meeting them, I visited with them yesterday while I'm here once again. 
This time with our Acacia Shade team as we prepare their new home.
And as they reach for my hand, smile and look in my eyes, there is no doubt in my mind that they can not only learn to communicate and interact, but that they also feel deeply and connect on a level that goes far beyond the "normal" capacity.

In a few days they will start a new life, in a new home where they will have the opportunity to expand, grow, and learn as never before. 

Even so, again... I have no doubt,

that it is us
who will learn the most from them.

 I for one, am anxiously awaiting those lessons.


Sunday, June 16, 2013


A small village in Ghana is where this all began... or was it?

People often ask me how we came to adopt a child from Ghana. To be honest, the thought had never even crossed my mind until about 5 years ago after two of my siblings adopted these beautiful little seven and eight year old Ghanian girls. One thing led to another and then a series of happenstance events( or as I call them, miracles)led me to the village where I met our son Kwasi.

Kwasi (on the day we first met)

 Almost a year later from that first meeting. I met him again for a second time as he officially became a member of our family, and he and I were soon on a plane bound for America to his new family, and a new life for us all. 

He came to us this small, malnourished eleven year old boy, having no useful schooling, speaking very little english and having absolutely no knowledge of a world that existed outside the forested surroundings of his small village in the hills of Ghana. I joke that it was like having a two year old in an eleven year old body because he basically had to learn everything starting from the beginning. 

And so began this adventure for our family...and one that has undeniably blessed us all in ways that could never have been otherwise. Kwasi makes us smile every day and always helps us remember those things that are most important in life. To say he is a remarkable boy is far from adequate and although as his mother, I may have taught him a thing or two in the past four years, there is no question who has taught whom the most.

It's strange when I think that he has only been my child for four years because I feel like I have known, and loved him all my life. I have no doubt that God sent him to me. I can't imagine how I could have pulled through some recent events in my life without this sweet young boy who, not only loves me deeply and is my fierce protector, but is still dependent on me and needs my mothering for years to come. He helped give my life the renewed purpose it needed.

 Because I am not his birth mother I cannot hold claim to his inbred goodness, his pure heart, and that calm and steady spirit he was born with. But, I like to think his love for chocolate (and all things sweet), his joy in serving, his appreciation of nature, and his deep love of God and family come from me....and so I do. 

Who would have known that this little boy that I found four years ago, brought into my heart and thought I was rescuing would be the one to rescue me?
God Knew.
God Knew and he led me to him. There are no words from this mother's heart to adequately thank him for that. 
But,I will always try... and I know he knows this too.


May 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dreadlocks, Reggae and the "Sweet Art Gallery"

He goes by RASTA......

One of the coolest things about Ghana is the local talent, wether it's wood-carving, bead-making, playing the djembe drums in a Rastafarian Reggae band, or in the case of Ras Sweet,(who goes by Rasta because of his 18+inch dreads and Rastafarian beliefs)  it's ALL OF THE ABOVE.

How seriously cool is that? He is a true renaissance man!

Meet Rasta

We LOVE his wood-carvings and therefore have decided to give everyone the chance to own a "RASTA original". So...... Acacia Shade commissioned him to carve our very own Nativity Sets, which we sell on our website to raise money for our foundation.
Each set is unique and masterfully carved by Rasta himself.

$75.00 for an all hand-carved, 12 piece set.
WE can promise you will love it!

And just to be clear......We are under no illusion as to the fact that it is no where near Christmas time. Talent knows no season, besides think how nice it will be to be so ahead of the game! 

Buy yours today here:

Acacia Shade Nativity Set

Thanks Rasta for sharing your talent with us!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Buy a Necklace, Help a Child, and BONUS.... make your mom proud!


Okay...... We are a board of all moms, we have moms, and we know what moms want... and we are telling you that moms LOVE when their kids give back! 

There is no better gift that you could get for your mom this Mother's day then an 

Acacia Shade Necklace.

By giving her this gift you are also giving a child the gift of a life that every one of God's children deserves.

Trust us on this one.

They are $50.00 each and so much better then giving her flowers or chocolate any day, because every time she puts it on she will smile knowing that because of her thoughtful child (sister,friend,mom,husband,aunt,cousin.. you get the point),
 a child out there In Ghana 
is feeling the love!

Order yours today (from the links below) for all those moms in your life, we all have one, or know one, and love one.

The good people at Arhaus Catalog have joined our cause by helping us produce and sell our Acacia Shade Necklace. The cost of the first 300 necklaces has been donated to our foundation... meaning 100% from the sale of these will all go directly to the care of these children. 
Thank you Arhaus!

or  you can buy one off our website at


Friday, March 22, 2013


Few things make me happier then witnessing random acts of kindness. Who doesn't love "nice people"? ... and when they happen to be an amazingly talented photographer who lends his awesome photo for a good cause, well... that's especially joyful!
Andy Biggs 

Andy is the talent behind the awesome Photo we adopted to represent Acacia Shade, and he kindly gave us permission to use it. We have a hard time not believing that he didn't take it just for us because it couldn't be more perfect.  

I don't need to tell you how incredible his photographs are, they speak for themselves. Do yourself a favor and take a tour of his website, you won't be sorry for the minutes spent at your computer while your transported to places few ever get to see. 
Andy is a celebrated Photographer, adventurer, conservationist, and teacher, whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. All awesome in their own rights, but on top of all that he happens to be a super nice guy.

Thanks Andy  


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

GHANIAN ANGLES.... they exist and we love them.

There are a few things I know for sure and one of them is that angels walk the earth in Ghana..... and lucky for us three of them are on team Acacia Shade. We couldn't be more grateful!

 Everything is harder to accomplish in Ghana and so when I say that they perform miracles daily, all while still smiling..that is no exaggeration. They have been through the fiery furnace of life which melts away the dross from the gold and fewer hearts I know are as pure as theirs. Sometimes I think life is too easy for me to ever achieve that kind of goodness, but as long as I have them to show me the way, I'll never stop trying. 

Meet these beautiful ladies....

Helena Obeng-Asamoah

Helena works for the Department of Social Welfare and is an advocate for children everywhere. There is no distinction from her work and how she lives her life everyday....selfless and doing what ever she can to bless and save a child's life.  

"I am a Social Worker. My work involves ensuring that kids live in families and not in institutions. That kids who cannot live with their biological families have appropriate alternative care. I love kids and hate to see them suffer." 

- Helena

Vivian Kissiwaa Apeaning

Vivian has a way of getting the impossible done. She has a kindness and warmth about her that people can't resist. We wouldn't be where we are without her time and efforts which she gives so generously!
 In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, singing, dancing, traveling, watching soccer, and spending time with family and friends. She is pleased to be a member of Acacia Shade.  and says that "When you see the condition of the children, your heart breaks.  Instantly, there is something that communicates with you to help in any way that you can".  

Yvonne Ansah-Arthur

When registering our foundation in Ghana we discovered that we needed a third board member and Yvonne so graciously, and without hesitation accepted. She is a recently widowed mother of four with a huge heart and spirit. In her own words she describes herself as... "a strong and affable single mother of four children." Yvonne tells me that she loves the ideology of Acacia Shade because of her strong desire to serve, learn, and acquire new experiences. She has a special interest in children and the desire to see them live a fulfilling life. She grew up with many foster siblings whom her parents were working with to take them off the streets.

Thank you our Ghanian Angels.. you inspire us.


Monday, March 11, 2013



It takes a village to raise a child, and in some instances a city or two. Thank you good people of Provo and Alpine who donated boxes of items including cribs, blankets, linens, and kitchenwares to furnish our new foster home in Accra, which will soon become a place of refuge to some very special children presently waiting in an orphanage there......and a BIG shout out to my brother Eric, who let us stuff those boxes of goodies along side some heavy equipment that was making it's way in a container bound for his company in Ghana. 
Free shipping and free stuff = more funds to spend directly on the care of these sweet children. win/win... Thanks All.


Sunday, March 10, 2013


The Acacia Tree 

When trying to come up with a name for our foundation, we were stumped. What do you call something that encompasses so many things... things we feel deeply committed to, things we want to accomplish now, and things we dream of achieving someday? Nothing came to us until one night Hannah's husband Shane hit the "mother-lode" of inspiration and brought Acacia Shade, with its perfect symbolism to the table. The vote was unanimous, how could it not be? This was the perfect name... Not only can this incredible tree survive in the driest and bleakest of conditions,  but it also offers respite from the scorching African sun to any beneath it's shade giving branches. And....So for us it represents, not only the will these children have to survive against the challenges they face, but also our ability to comfort and shield them from the reality of their situation by offering them a safe haven to flourish in. Thank You Shane for finding us the perfect name.


Saturday, March 9, 2013


Meet the children..

 These are the first four (of what we hope are to be many) Acacia Shade children. They are currently in an orphanage in Accra waiting for their new home to be ready, which, if our efforts pay off, should be very soon.

 When I met them, none of these sweet children could communicate verbally,... but as you can see from the pics that I snapped, their eyes say more then words ever could.  

We are working to be able to get these children tested by medical professionals to find out what their capabilities, as well as their disabilities, are and what more we can do to improve their quality of life beyond meeting just their physical needs.

Eyes are the window to the soul... and as I look at these pics again, I see souls as deserving and precious as any and all of God's children.


Monday, February 18, 2013


Launching our website

After months of waiting, working, planning and (most importantly) praying..... our web-site is ready to launch. If you are here reading this blog, then that means you made it to our web-site, care about us and hopefully want to help this great cause....We thank you.

Getting to this point was no small feat for our team of dedicated board members. I don't want to say we are clue-less(because we're all pretty smart!)but not one of us had a clue as to how a group of seven moms with a common, searing desire to make a difference in the life of these suffering, forgotten children could even begin to realize our goals here . Well.....where there's a will there's a way ....and almost a year later from our very first meeting, here we are ..... We are now official and raising money to run our foster homes in a country that has become, for various reasons, so near and dear to our hearts.

I have returned recently from Ghana where, with the help of our selfless and amazing board members over there and the Ghanian Department of Social Welfare, we have targeted five at-risk, disabled children. These children are merely surviving in less than desirable conditions in an orphanage in Accra. With your help, we can move them into a loving home where they will have the specialized, life-giving care that they will never receive otherwise.

We are not above begging for help here, and are pleading with you to pass along our good cause to any friends and family who would be willing to help. Please follow our blog (and see what we can accomplish together), like us on face book and email our web-site link to everyone you know. These children need your continued support.  

We can promise that you will feel "the love" when you plant trees under whose shade-giving protection you will never sit...but others will.  Acacia Shade....that's what it's all about.