Thoughts on the Meaning of Life… Todd Helmkamp

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This Is Why We Chose the Democratic Republic of Congo….

Posted by Vogeler on December 4, 2011

So the election results should be announced soon. The word on the street is that if the current president is re-elected, things will get nasty, but if he isn’t then it should quiet down soon. Many people have already left the Democratic Republic of Congo, crossing the border into neighboring Congo to escape the threat of the violence. As we know so little of the true situation, I just ask that you pray for the safety of our little girl and those she is with, and that God’s Will be done.

Also, there is a polio epidemic in the Congo right now. It’s strange to hear of diseases that are extremely rare in the US taking such a terrible toll. It reminds me to be so thankful that God has placed me in such safety. Please pray that our dear little one be healthy.

Also please pray for F. She is a little girl that has been matched with a family, but there have been no updates on her status or condition for a while. Please pray the she be safe, and that things are proceeding on schedule for her and her family.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support, they truly mean so much to us!


Posted in Adoption, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Things to Pray About

Posted by Vogeler on November 13, 2011

We have received some updates on the situation in the Congo.  Depending on how closely you follow world events, you may or may not know that there is a presidential election coming up in the next couple of weeks.  Apparently, there are some serious worries that the election will not be honest and that there will be a lot of violence occurring.  As a result, any travel to the Congo has been suspended until January 1st.

Please pray that:

1.  Anyone connected to our agency is kept safe.

2.  The election is resolved peacefully

3.  Travel is resumed sooner than expected.

Also, we have received word that several of the children have succumbed to meningitis.  All of the children who have died had referrals to families with our agency.  We don’t know if our little Adia is one of them, but hopefully we will know soon.

Please pray that God’s will be done in this situation, and please pray for us and for any of the families who have lost their child.  It may seem strange as we have never met her, but we already love her so much, and I am sure it is the same with the other families.

There are a lot of frightening things happening right now, a lot of uncertainty.  But, God is in control, and things will happen according to His will.  Adoption is messy; so many things can go wrong, so much fear, so much pain.  But to give a child the chance for a better life is worth it; even if Adia has gone to be with our Lord, we would do it all over again.

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Posted by Vogeler on November 7, 2011

It’s funny how a few simple things can ease a sore heart, lift the dark clouds of a rotten day.

Today, it’s “Bittersweet” by Jim Brickman, “Redeemer” by Paul Cardall, and the picture “A New Adventure”, found on

Posted in Ramblings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »


Posted by Vogeler on September 21, 2011

Note:  For this post, I’m borrowing an idea from a new friend (thanks, Mer!).  She is currently writing a blog in the format of letters to their soon-to-be daughter.  So, this post is a bit different, as I’m writing it to my little sweetie.  Someday, when she’s old enough, I’ll sign it and give it to her.  ~Todd

Dear Daughter,

Things are moving quickly now, and it seems like we’ll get to bring you home soon!  We can’t wait!  Your brothers ask about you all the time, and we pray for you every night before bedtime.   I can’t tell you how much I want to hold you, listen to you, read to you, play dress up and dolls and tea party.  I can’t tell you how much we ache to bring you to our home, to care for you, to soothe your hurts.

I want you to know that, no matter what, when we bring you home, we are your Forever Family.   I don’t care what issues you may have from past hurts, what emotional baggage you bring, we are your Forever Family.  I don’t care how long it takes you to adjust, how many times you wake up screaming in fear, how many times you reject us, how long it takes for you to accept that you truly are staying with us.  I don’t care how many doctor visits, how many therapists we see, we are your Forever Family.  And we will never abandon you.

We love you.  From Mommy and Daddy, Luke and Brennan.  Forever.

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Another Adoption Tragedy

Posted by Vogeler on September 21, 2011

Nanette and Michael Craver, who adopted two children from Russia, have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their adopted son, Nathaniel.  You can read about the case here.

Regardless of whether they are directly or indirectly responsible, this case demonstrates some of the extreme difficulties that come with international adoption.  So many of these children have been abused all their lives, have health and developmental disabilities, and have never known love.

Its not something to enter blindly.

On a brighter note, here is a blog I highly encourage you to read, about and adoptive family facing the same issues, but who respond with ever-increasing love.  That’s the key, people.  At 4 am when your child is awake and throwing a tantrum and you are at your wit’s end, only love can keep you together.





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A Mountain of Paperwork

Posted by Vogeler on September 16, 2011

We just got news that our dossier looks good and is ready to send in.  Hurray!  And next week, we’ll submit our forms to Immigration.  Things are moving right along!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Amazing Love

Posted by Vogeler on August 10, 2011

“And three days later, the Father raised him from death. And the Son now looks at you and says, “The wage for sin is death. Since I died, why don’t you tell me you’re sorry and I’ll have my death count for you? So that the Father won’t be angry at you, so that you won’t be eternally condemned, so that I won’t be the stone that crushes you. I’ll be the cornerstone that helps you rebuild a whole new life that glorifies God and bears fruit that will last.”

So the Son looks at you today and he says, “How about your murder of me counts so that it would be my death in your place?” And then the Father looks at you and says, “If you will take that kind offer from my Son, here’s what I’ll do. “I’ll adopt you into my family called the church. I’ll give you my name, the family name of Christian. And I’ll call you my beloved son as well.” You say, “But I hated your Son and I murdered him.” “I know. But he’s willing to allow his death to pay for your forgiveness. And if you will receive that, I’m willing to adopt you into our family. Not only that, because you were greedy and selfish and all you wanted was stuff, I’ll give you an inheritance. I’ll give you an inheritance that begins with the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit and it culminates where one day you will rise like the beloved Son rose and you will spend forever with me in a kingdom of lavish provision feasting, laughing, free of sin and suffering forever.”” ~ Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church

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The American Way

Posted by Vogeler on March 16, 2010

Good grief, has it really been almost a year since I’ve posted anything here?  My apologies, Dear Readers, Life has a way of distracting me (for example, I am eating lunch while I type this and just very painfully bit the inside of my cheek.  Very distracting).

Anyway….a lot of things have changed since last April.  I started a knife-making business/hobby, Man Group (the men’s group from my church I lead) has gotten larger, shrunk, then gotten larger again, the boys are older, I’m older, Bethany now has a job….lots of changes.

But the biggest change has to be my dissatisfaction with the way our lives, and American culture, revolve around Money and Stuff.  It seems as if everything we do is aimed at either getting more Stuff or making more Money so we can buy more Stuff.  My sons have a giant box of toys they don’t even play with, I have stacks of books I have yet to read (my wife is the only who doesn’t have piles of Stuff, but that’s only because she hates to spend Money on herself).  I firmly believe that the clutter and upkeep from all of this Stuff is having a negative effect on our family financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  We have to store it, we trip over it, we spend Money on it, we spend time on it.

Now, I’m not saying that having material possessions in-and-of-themselves is bad; I just think that, especially in our culture, our reliance on and reverence for Stuff has gotten out of hand.  Do I really need 8 pairs of shoes when I wear 3?  How many shirts can I wear at once?  How many toys can my children play with at any one time?  My garage is so full of junk that I can hardly move in it.  I can’t WAIT to have  a garage sale and hopefully get rid of some of this Stuff.  But that’s only half of the equation.  Getting rid of all this extra Stuff will do no good if I simply go out and replace it with other Stuff.

What it all comes down to, in my opinion, is mindful spending.  Before I buy something, I need to stop and truly consider the purchase.  Do I actually need the item?  If so, can I get it for cheaper elsewhere?  Is this the best balance between quality and value for the item, or would another one work better?  If it’s not a need, why do I want it?  Am I trying to fill some need or void with this item?  Is this desire a symptom of something deeper?  Am I just bored and seeking an emotional thrill from buying something new?

In my battle with Stuff, I’ve learned a TON from 3 men in particular,  JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly, Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, and Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar.  Although JD and Trent focus mainly on personal finance, a very large part of managing your finances is managing your Stuff.  Leo from Zen Habits focuses on simplifying your life in general.  All three are well worth the time to read daily, and all three offer email subscriptions so new articles are delivered directly to your inbox.

I am also on a quest to change the way I eat, the way I think, and the way I treat others.  I am tired of not being the man I desire to be, the man God created me to be.  For too long I’ve talked, thought and dreamed about how I wish I or my circumstances were different.  Well, I didn’t quit smoking cigarettes by talking, thinking, and dreaming about it(cold turkey baby, 4 years-smoke free!).  Action is everything (thanks to Action Girl for a great article, and thanks to JD for pointing it out!).  I will chronicle my journey here, and encourage you to embark on your own journey to a life lived with purpose!

What are some changes that have come about in your life recently?

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Posted by Vogeler on April 3, 2009

I got my haircut yesterday.  Because summer is coming, with warmer weather, and because I’m tired of wasting time messing with my hair, I got it cut pretty short.  Really short.  Full Metal Jacket short (ok, not quite that short).

Bethany gave Brennan a haircut this morning.  She used a shorter guard than normal because summer is coming.  She didn’t realize quite how short the guard was….


So now we have the same haircut.  He looks so much older with his hair short!  My baby isn’t a baby anymore.

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90% of Guns in Mexico Come From US? Not So!

Posted by Vogeler on April 2, 2009

Recently there has been a barrage of politicians, reporters, and public figures spouting a statistic that 90% of firearms used to commit crimes in Mexico comes from the US.  Hilary Clinton, the assistant Director of field operations at the ATF, and Senator Diane Feinstein have all used this statistic in anti-gun speeches.

There’s just one small problem:  it’s not true.

What is true is that 90% of TRACED guns originate in the US.  Did you catch that?  TRACED is the key word.

According to an article on,

…a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

Out of 29,000 guns recovered by the Mexican government, 11,000 (38%) were submitted for tracing.  Of those 11,000, only 6,000 could be traced.  Of those successfully traced, 5,114 were traced to the US.  5,114 is only about 18% of 29,000.  The 90% statistic comes from the fact that 5114 or 6,000 guns successfully traced were from the US.  The others were from who knows where.  Yes, it is possible that some of the untraceable guns were from the US.  Let’s say that even all 11,000 guns submitted for tracing were from the US.  That’s still only about  38% of the total guns taken by law enforcement in Mexico.  The rest are from China, Russia, North Korea,the Middle East, and South America.  Yup, the fact is that over 80% of guns recovered in Mexico DO NOT originate in the US.

Obviously, this is just more political propaganda against the 2nd Amendment by those who are avowed gun-haters.  Because they have a gun-hating president, they’re stepping up their efforts to sway those who are undecided on the gun issue.  A populace that cannot defend itself is a populace that is at the mercy of it’s government.

I have not ever, and do not, advocate violent overthrow of the government.  In fact, as a Christian, I believe that I have a mandate to live under the laws of the duly appointed authorities God has placed over me (Romans 13).  But I believe that as long as Americans are armed, the government will still stay in check.  If Americans lose the right to possess weapons, there will be nothing to hold the government in check but the integrity of those in power.  And from what I’ve seen in my 30 years, I have little reason to trust those in power.

To sum up, here is a quote by British politician Benjamin Disraeli that is well worth remembering:

There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

So, be careful what you believe.  Politicians are typically only out for one thing:  control.  And people without the means to defend themselves are much, much easier to control.  How many Jews in Germany had guns?

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