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The Truth

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Merry Christmas 2016! I’m rolling my own eyes at my own self as I recall saying on LAST YEAR’S Christmas card that I would soon recover from my blog writing hiatus and actually share some of our lives with you dear ones that have so graciously held us in your thoughts and prayers as we set sail on our adoption journey and who have loved and nurtured us as a family of six. When I wrote those words, I thought surely it would serve as an accountability of sorts that would force me to get back to it. I have thought of that commitment monthly, if not weekly for the past year….”haunted by” would be more accurate, if not a bit dramatic. I’ve started writing multiple times and wrestled with SO MANY thoughts and words and feelings which inevitably left me overwhelmed each and every time. I feel such a responsibility for the words I put out here. Writing about our adoption process and the makings of our little tribe started as truly a cathartic process for me….a process where I could just put pen to paper and hash it out. I think as the journey continued and more of our broken pieces became exposed, I began to struggle with what to say and how to say it…or maybe how to tiptoe around it…how to balance protecting myself and my people with being real and honest. I’m not typically one to sugar coat things, but I somehow convinced myself that the message needed to be all rainbows and unicorns and sunny skies and smiling kids–“Isn’t adoption GREAT?!?” which felt horribly inauthentic on most days, downright ludicrous on others. My remaining alternative as I viewed it was to talk about the struggle and mess and dark places that feel shameful and sad and vulnerable. It’s hard enough to write that stuff down, much less think that anyone would be interested in reading it. So I’ve stayed silent. Don’t get me wrong—we have NO REGRETS. Adoption is to me, by far the most beautiful and humanized example of God’s redemptive love. And I have to tell you, as I’ve wrestled with this strange dichotomy, the words and conviction that keep coming back to me over and over….in my quietest moments of reflection….in raging tears….in the sweetest snuggles… desperate prayers… honest conversation with dear and trusted friends is this:


And so I tell myself this today as I turn my face toward this new path. I will tell you our stories and I pray my words will be real, truthful, and most of all shine a light on my Savior….His redemptive work and His glory. This is the gift He has entrusted me with and I will not squander it.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and Cheers and Joy to the New Year ahead!


Jesus Loves Me

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The very first night that Sol & Coco stayed with us in South Africa, we were a jumble of emotions.  We had asked their caregivers at the orphanage what their nightly routine was and they had told us that they usually had a bath and then they sang before bed.  I was certain they would be terrified to got to bed, but the excitement and newness of everything really filled them with delight…the first of many times I would expect disaster and be shocked by the amazing adaptability of these two.  The warm bath, new pajamas and toothbrushes—really, it was like Christmas morning!  They climbed into their cozy down covered beds which were in a room side by side and I panicked—what were we going to sing???  We had all of 10 words to communicate with and we hadn’t heard any of their songs yet, so as they looked at me expectantly, I started singing the first thing that popped into my head…

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves Sol!
Yes, Jesus loves Coco!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.


I think I might have sung it a few more times that night as the littles settled in, but we continued to sing it each night as part of our routine and it was just a matter of days before they were humming along and inserting a word or two.  And you know what?  We still sing it every night…it stuck.  For our weeks in Africa, and for several months after we returned home, it was a full family affair.  Zach and Mason would come running from whatever they were doing as they heard us start to sing and Sol & Coco would break into big smiles as their brothers entered the room singing at the top of their lungs.  The big boys do still join us on occasion, and the nightly choir has varied at times to include grandparents, babysitters, cousins, aunts, uncles and other friends.

It is a sweet ritual that I am most certain had a divine prompting….and lately I’ve been contemplating its simple message A LOT.  It seems so much harder to accept this basic truth as I’ve gotten older–why is that?  I guess some days it’s just too hard to believe amidst all of my shortcomings, my failures, my weakness—heck, I wouldn’t love me much!  But oh the sweet simplicity of this truth—pure and simple enough to hear and understand for young and old.  Oh how I pray that this song and its message will forever be imprinted on Sol & Coco’s hearts and that as they grow they won’t learn to doubt it, but to fully comprehend and embrace it’s miraculous meaning.  Maybe somewhere along the way so will I.

Running the Race

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The Bergler Six are alive and well!! So sorry for the hiatus in writing….as you might imagine….we’ve been “otherwise occupied”.  🙂   Our most sincere gratitude for all of you who have followed us personally in this journey with your friendship, love, prayers, questions and listening ears. And to those of you who have encouraged me to keep writing…thank you for your kind words and prodding. While I will never claim to be a writer, I am realizing more and more how much I’ve missed the process of putting words to the page. It is often therapeutic for me, but even more so I’m finding how important it is to stop and reflect, to mark time and feelings amidst the busyness of our little world.

If you can believe it, one year ago today we laid eyes on Sol & Coco for the first time at their little orphanage in the foggy hills of Kwa Zulu Natal. As with most momentous occasions, it feels like a lifetime ago, but also just like yesterday. I have tears streaming down my face right now as I think of the four Berglers who traipsed up the hill in the rain that day, hearts pounding in anticipation of our long awaited meeting.


And those two sweet shy faces that met us, the smiles that came in spite of the lack of words we shared.

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All six of those people are hardly recognizable to me today.

The past year has been WILD—beautifully complicated, utterly exhausting, remarkably full of delight and wonder and just HARD. It’s funny…I have had this one year mile stone in my mind all year long as the ultimate destination. Everyone said, “Oh the first year is so hard” or “It will be a year before you feel like yourself again”. I have been running head long toward this day for a year now thinking how all of “the hard stuff” must somehow miraculously evaporate at this point in time.  (Yes—I see you shaking your head….how can a reasonably smart girl really think this could be true?)  Well, call it denial, or a coping mechanism or what you will, but that is the race I’ve been running—and I mean RUNNING—with so little time or attention given to the course or our pace or the hurdles we’ve leapt across.  I’ve been so focused on just getting to the finish line–being settled, finding everyone whole and happy. As I’ve unpacked and sorted through these thoughts over the past few weeks, my discovery was this:  subconsciously I have viewed adoption as an occurrence—something we would do, and then, at some point, return to “normal life”.  The reality that is now staring me in the face as I’ve raced towards my illusion, is that we will spend the rest of our lives working out this adoption….in all of its joy and pain and beauty and complication.  It is the journey we have been called to, not the event.  The marathon, not the 100 yard dash.  And while that reality may feel overwhelming some days, it also makes for a more thoughtful and well-paced approach, and reminds me to rely daily on the One who called us to the journey in the first place.

So, as we cross the one year mark, my sprint is slowing to a jog and I think it might be nice to even walk for a bit….especially if I have a little brown hand in mine.

Oh and these six people?  _BEN8953t

I do recognize them.  And to be quite honest, I dig them a whole lot. I am honored and humbled to be on this journey with them.  Can I just tell you—each one is so incredibly amazing—I hope to get to share with you more about them in the coming months.

Home Sweet Home for the Holidays

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The bells of joy are ringing loud at the Bergler home!!   We are catching Christmas just in the nick of time and I’m so unbelievably grateful to be home.  This is probably my favorite sight from the past two weeks…. IMG_1260

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I had those puppies ordered the minute I knew we were going to Africa, and oh the tears that flowed as I hung them at long, long last.  But more on that later….here are some other favorites…

Two sweet littles snuggled in their room for the first time…be still my heart.


The snow, oh my word they LOVE the snow—who would have thought?!?


And probably the most poignant was coming in the house that first night and Sol (who was the only one awake!) walking through their room and all around upstairs just exclaiming over and over, “Oh Wow!  Dad, look it—oh wow!”  Home, finally home.

After two weeks now back on US soil, we are all settling in and finding our way….I will be honest and say it has not been easy, not by a longshot.  Frankly, week one was unfortunately similar to your classic horror film….close your eyes and just imagine…after being quickly whisked home from the airport Friday night and arriving to a warm house, with welcome banners, oodles of goodies and a refrigerator and freezer completely STOCKED full of hearty goodness by loving and generous friends, Saturday dawned brilliantly with fresh inches of snow and a happy family of six hunkered down, enjoying a little sledding, long naps and continued togetherness….the only hint you have of the terror ahead is the foreboding music in the background that begins as they go to sleep on Sunday night.   Monday morning, it hits…the wheels come off….Brian returns to work, Zach and Mason return to school….we are down to three….the endless questions begin, most of which I can’t understand….naps come to a screeching halt….there is laundry for miles….there are crying jags (mostly mine)….and children up in the night….Mason comes home from school sick on Tuesday…there are bills to pay and mail to sort….oh and by the way you still own a business and guess what?  It’s Christmastime!!….LIFE settles in and we are a M.E.S.S….completely undone.…and you wonder as the shower curtain is pulled back and the knife comes down “how could she not see this coming?”  (Sidenote:  Brian thinks this is a bit of a dramatic analogy, but I’m sticking with it…)

However, things have improved exponentially since week one….some good sleep and a little routine go a long way!  I did feel completely blindsided by that first week I must say.  I really thought we had worked through most of the ‘adjustments’ during our time in Africa.  But hello…this new reality is quite different from what we were experiencing together while traveling.  As I hung those stockings, I wept once again…I felt ashamed of having longed for something so desperately and then being completely exasperated by its arrival.  Oh how I continue to be confronted by my weaknesses…my selfishness, my overconfidence, my deep distaste for needing help…just my plain old stinking pride.   It’s not pretty, but nothing like having a mirror held up by two sweet littles who need their mom to pull it together!!  They are a reflection of God’s mercies to me….new every morning….fresh and forgiving.  The tide has turned and time is now our friend…each day brings further progress, more words, deeper patience and bigger love. 

I woke this morning thinking about how God did not send His son to this world to make things easy.  He was sent so that we may have LIFE and have it more ABUNDANTLY.  And if there is one thing I can say about today, Christmas Eve 2013, it’s that LIFE is ABUNDANT for the Bergler Six….crazy, fun, joyful, hard, beautiful abundant life.  We hope and pray the same for you and your family this Christmas and through the coming year.


Goodbye South Africa

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Our final days in South Africa are flying by…it all of a sudden feels like the end of vacation where the once languid days seem to be gone in a flash.  We made one last trip up to Johannesburg to obtain Sol & Coco’s visas from the U.S. Embassy, enjoying the Drakensberg mountain region on our way north over the weekend.  This country is astounding in its beauty and we feel so blessed to have been able to cover so much ground in our time here. 



I am a jumble of feelings right now—on one hand, coming home feels like we can finally start our lives together as family, and I can’t wait!  I have a thousand pictures in my head dreamt over the past three years of the six of us at home, just living life…the mundane little daily details…Sol and Coco asleep in their beds…the three of us walking Zach and Mason to school in the mornings…which toys will be their favorites…six of us around the dinner table.  The past six weeks has been an adventure of grand proportions, but home is where our hearts truly are. 

On the other hand, I have some MAD love for South Africa—tormented, crazy, overwhelming love for this country that birthed our lovely littles.  I know for certain we will be back one day, but I don’t know when and that makes my heart hurt a bit.  We drove through Inchanga tonight, where Sol & Coco were born and spent their young lives and I can only hope that one day we can take them back there and walk those streets together. 


But even more so, going home means returning to our busy lives where the six of us are going different directions five or more days a week.  It is hard to express what an indescribable treasure these six weeks have been….there has been no other time in our lives, nor will there probably ever be again, where we have had this amount of time just to be TOGETHER.  That in and of itself is sweet….so very, very sweet.  My heart hurts A LOT knowing our time is almost up and that soon life will once again resume its daily tide.

So we are soaking it all in, storing up these treasures in our hearts, resolving to let this trip change us on every level…gearing up our hearts for the long journey HOME.


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As you can imagine on this Thanksgiving our hearts are so thankful…..simply chalk full of gratitude.  I thought about those words this morning quite a bit and finally decided to look up the definitions just to make sure they accurately described how we are feeling….

adj: 1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful
noun: 1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness


Yep—nailed it!  I love this….we couldn’t be more aware or appreciative of the massive blessings bestowed on us in the past several weeks and are simply cannot wait to show appreciation and return kindnesses.  My brain goes wild thinking of the hundreds of daily blessings too numerous to count.

We spent our day at the beach—a Thanksgiving first for us.  It wasn’t super sunny, but warm, nonetheless. 

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We enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner—believe it or not—with our American friends, Zach & Kylie Crandall and their sweet littles.  It was lovely. 

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Our Thanksgiving tradition inherited from the Bergler family is to circle the table after dinner while each person expresses what they are thankful for, which we did tonight.  It is still surreal to be sitting here in Africa celebrating the culmination of so many years of waiting…sitting around the table with our family complete at last….aware and appreciative.  A few notes on what I’m thankful for tonight…

Brian Bergler—if you didn’t know it already, this guy is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  He has covered the gamut in these last few weeks, from rock solid husband to superdad to world explorer to crazy dedicated employee.  He is stellar in every respect and he belongs to me!

Zachary Bergler—I dig this kid.  He made me a mom and just makes me so proud every day.  I’ve seen the biggest change in him over these last few weeks…really, really cool changes…accepting the mantel of oldest child with grace and diplomacy. 

Mason Bergler—this one makes me smile…like big time—ear to ear.  He has had a BIG adjustment and it is not easy, but you know what?  He has the biggest heart of all and just doesn’t give up.  Sweet and affectionate, he has my heart forever.

Solomon Bergler—my little wonder boy.  So fierce, so strong, so determined–I can’t wait to see the plans the Lord has for him.  His little sense of humor is starting to come out and his smile and laugh can seriously light up the room.  There is something about the way he says “I love you mom”….oh man, I’m a goner.

Colletta Bergler—my baby girl.  Pure beauty and joy this one.  I still can’t believe the Lord saw fit to bless me with a girl…not to mention this one in particular.  She makes me laugh every day with her sweet silliness.  She has already brought a new world of wonder to my life…I’m completely enamored.

The Crandalls—an unexpected blessing.  Zach, Kylie, Zoe and Sefo have brought such joy and camaraderie to our world here in South Africa, we couldn’t be more thankful for their friendship.   We have forged a crazy strong bond in these unusual circumstances, especially in this past week as they have occupied the cottage next door and and I have no doubt we will be lifelong friends. (They are seeing progress in their process, but need one final miracle to return home on the 9th, so please continue praying!!)

You—our lifeline and support.  Our dear family and friends who have carried us on your shoulders, with prayers, comments and emails of support—we have felt you every step of the way, and would never have made it without you.

What is hardest for me to properly articulate is my gratitude to my precious Lord and Savior who has walked beside me patiently and unconditionally for oh so long, raising up my faith, moving mountains and parting seas.  When I think of the tapestry He has woven out of ALL the details of my life, including the list above, I am moved to tears…He is so good and I am so unworthy.           

And last but not least tonight we are SUPER DUPER thankful that we have a confirmed trip HOME next week!  Our last documents were processed yesterday allowing us to proceed to the consulate for visas next week and fly home.  Praise God!!  We will depart next Thursday and will be back in Bend Friday night, December 6th!! 

Our thoughts are with each and every one of you as you start your Thanksgiving Day….praying that it is full of sweet family time, good food, great memories and moments to be thankful.  This is one we will surely not forget!

Jen Hatmaker

to south africa and beyond.....

Shannan Martin Writes

to south africa and beyond.....

the berglers adopt

to south africa and beyond.....