"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Sunday, November 29, 2009


My handsome, creative, hard-working, ever-patient husband surprised Sierra and I today. I took a nap and when I woke up, he was out and about gathering supplies and tools to begin transforming my workout room into Sierra's bedroom. (Notice Sierra keeping her eye on her Dad and herself out of his way. )

We got the room cleared in record time. He has the closet almost framed as I type. He added a couple nooks on the end for Sierra to put her alarm clock and some knick-knacks. Chad always thinks of everything! He makes us all feel special and thoughtfully considered.
The second transformation of the day was the decorating of the Christmas tree. That is the decorating item I save for the kids. I love to hear them remembering ornaments as they put them on the tree. I usually select one for each of them each year, or take them shopping so they can choose their own. Jamison commented that we better find one for Joshua this year so he can put it on himself next year.

The finished product!
Notice the treadmill in the corner? Can you believe I am thrilled to have the ugly thing taking up space in my beautiful family room? I did love the novelty of having a workout room, but I feel so happy to put the room to much better use!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Isn't It Funny How You Can Miss Someone

you've never met?

I have had an amazing weekend. I had 28 people for Thanksgiving, potluck - I did not cook it all! It was a blast and the food was oh-so-good.

I spent a full 20 hours decorating. I love to clean and decorate for Christmas. I love lights, Santas, Nativity scenes, angels, ornaments, garland, trees, and lots of candles.

I went out for supper with only adults!

I watched 2 cute movies!

I slept in AND Chad made me breakfast 2 mornings in a row.

I went to a baby shower.

I fit in a long run, OK not as long as I once could, but at least not rushed. And Thank You God that I CAN run. Might be slow but I am able.

I shopped, mostly on cyberspace - no wait there.

I had supper with my bro and family. We drew secret Santa names, one of my favorite traditions. I chatted a long time with my sis-in law who I adore. All the kids had a ball playing. Such sweet family time.

It has been a full and wonderful weekend, my heart is mostly happy - but still I long. I long for a little boy I have yet to meet or hug or rock. A little boy who is in a whole different country, a world away. But God willing, he will be here to dance with my tacky "Holly Jolly Santa" next year. How great will it be to celebrate Christmas with Joshua next year? Fills my eyes with happy tears of anticipation of so many things to come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Beautiful Family Picture

This is a Thanksgiving art project Brenna completed at school. It is the first picture we have of our future family. Isn't it spectacular?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving ABCs

This week I heard a story about 2 friends who run together. They have a tradition to do a long run on Thanksgiving Day and during the run they each list at least one thing they are thankful for starting with every letter in the alphabet. Hopefully, I will get the chance to go on a long run this Thanksgiving weekend and count my blessings, but just in case I don't I thought I would post my ABC list here. (Besides after forcing it on my kids, I owe them!)

A - Almighty God's presence and direction in my life

B- Brenna Joy, my independent, rational, kind-hearted, brilliant youngest daughter

C- Camping! Many of my best family memories have a boat, campfire, or camper in them.

D- Dad, who is wise, intentional, honest, Godly, and loving

E- Enough; I am blessed with enough of everything important.

F- Family and Friends to love, support, encourage, help, and advise me

G- Grandparents that have provided amazing examples of who/how I should be.

H- Home; I am thankful for a spacious, warm home with an empty bedroom, soon to be filled.

I- Intelligence, Independence, Information, and the Internet

J- Jamison Chad, my amazing,smart, athletic, kind, mischievous, double-dimpled son

K- Krissy, my beautiful, smart, self-sufficient, thoughtful, oldest daughter

L- Love, the one thing I have be so lucky to never lack.

M- Mom, my friend, confidant, cheerleader, prayer warrior, and mentor

N- New and old friends to guide my way and lighten my load

O- Occupation that allows me to keep my priorities my priorities, almost all the time

P- Prayer, how awesome that God allows us to speak to him.

Q- Quiet. I love silence. When I am home alone nothing is turned on.

R- Riley, my dog, my ever-loyal partner in a quiet office and on the running trail

S- Sierra Faith, my sweet, silly, enthusiastic, energetic, irrepressible middle daughter

T- Time for all my favorite things, running, cuddling, reading, boating, movie watching...

U- Unexpected blessings; like flowers from Chad, a card in the mail, a hug, this adoption

V- Vacations!

W- Wonderful relationship with Chad,my amazing husband/boss/best friend/biggest fan

X- Xceptence (acceptance);I am loved and accepted for who and what I am by many.

Y- You! Thank you for caring enough to read this and taking a moment to be thankful with me.

Z- Zeal; I am filled with excitement, passion, and energy.

And I could go on! Take a moment today to be thankful and to share your thankful thoughts with the ones you love. (Maybe even get interactive and leave me a comment with your reasons to be thankful!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do I Have to Make a List?

By Jamison, age 11

(obviously mom's answer was YES! you have to)
  1. Football
  2. Basketball
  3. Food
  4. Family
  5. Friends
  6. My teacher
  7. Wildlife
  8. God/Jesus
  9. Our Pastor

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Thankful Things

By Brenna age 6

  1. Jesus
  2. Friends
  3. Mom
  4. Family
  5. God
  6. Ethiopia
  7. America
  8. Texas
  9. Cousins
  10. Dogs
  11. Cats
  12. Animals
  13. World
  14. Stars
  15. Thanksgiving
  16. Christmas
  17. Valentine's Day
  18. Veterans
  19. Halloween
  20. Ice Cream
  21. Cookie Dough
  22. Junk Food
  23. Butterflies
  24. Caterpillars
  25. Spiders
  26. Camping
  27. S'mores
  28. Camper
  29. Cars
  30. TV
  31. Couch
  32. Clothes
  33. Bed
  34. Stove
  35. Food
  36. House
  37. Silverware
  38. School
  39. Bikes
  40. Scooters
  41. Skateboards
  42. Movie Theatre
  43. Deer Hunting (GIRL'S NIGHT!)
  44. People
  45. Indianapolis Colts Football
  46. Dautry
  47. Skillet
  48. NickelBack

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Things That I Am Thankful For

By Sierra, age 10

  1. Family
  2. Air/breath
  3. Food and water
  4. My house and everything in it
  5. Stores
  6. Friends
  7. Teachers
  8. Schools
  9. Church
  10. God and Jesus
  11. Riley
  12. Camping

*** A note from Mom - I love Thanksgiving, it might be my favorite holiday. To me it is a day of rest, relaxation, and relationships before the RUSH of the Christmas Season. I love taking a time to list and appreciate all the things I have to be thankful for - that list seems to grow each year. One of my goals as a mom is to raise kids that are appreciative of all that they have been blessed with. Each year, I expect our kids to write a list of things they are thankful for before they make a Christmas wish list. I hope it helps them realize all that they have in the midst of dreaming of Christmas gifts. This year I have asked them to post their lists on our blog. I hope as you read our thankful thoughts each day this week, you take a moment to count your blessings too. Happy Thanksgiving!***

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Blankey for our Boy

I was shopping for a baby gift for Chad's cousin today. The baby shower is a week away, but I had a few minutes to spare and what is more fun than baby stuff? So I printed off her registry and started searching the aisles, when I found it!

Joshua's Blanket! It is somewhere between navy and royal blue, it is super soft, and it had silky trim around the whole edge. It reminds me a little of the baby blue blanket that Jamison named "Bluey" and drug everywhere until it fell apart. We spent a lot of hours looking for that blanket, but more importantly it brought Jamison a lot of comfort and joy.

I have spent every minute I can spare this week reading a book titled "Attaching In Adoption." It is the most psychological/clinical book I have read since I had child development and child psychology classes in college. It could be scaring me - there are a lot of potential difficulties in a three year old attaching to us and us to him. However, I am surprisingly peaceful. It feels good to know what some of the issues may be. I am a very black and white thinker and I am well aware that becoming a family will be a process. Having a resource to help us prepare encourages me. It is filled with examples of real hurts and trials, but it is also filled with hope and techniques to turn the trials into successes.

Reading this book has given me some places to start. It suggests lots of cuddling, touching, and holding. It suggests things like rocking and bottle feeding even an older child to fill an emotional need of being cared for that may never have been met. It stresses routine, structure, and stability along with lots and lots and lots of nurturing.

It explains that emotional "age" can be different than chronological age. Just because a child has mastered walking or talking does not mean his emotional maturity is at that same place.

It talks about grief. Joshua will grieve leaving the country of his birth. He will grieve the loss of his birthparents. He will grieve the loss of familiarity. (Duh!) BUT it is good to read it, to think about it, to prepare to help him through those feelings without feeling like we are doing something wrong. Of course it would be better if he could be with his birthparents in his home country. We all long for our parents to be who and what we need - but that is not always the reality.

Anyway, I am so thankful that I am longing to comfort Joshua as I read this book and not fearing it will be too hard... too much. It will most likely feel that way at times. How could it not? I know I have too hard... too much moments with my "homegrown four." But I trust God to give us enough love, knowledge, patience, time, and energy to deal with each trial as it comes.

So sweet boy, your family has open arms, a great rocking chair, and a soft cozy blanket waiting to hold you and comfort you - all in God's perfect time.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I have officed out of our home the last two days. I do love days at home in place of my sometimes lonely brown office, but unfortunately I spent the last days at home because Brenna was sick. She is running a fever, achy, and plain old miserable. (That is what I get for bringing a healthy child to the clinic for a check-up.)

Between having more time at home this week and the cooler days which makes me want to cook, clean, and get to all those projects that have been put off all summer, I find myself ready to nest. I keep telling myself to proceed with caution! Poor Chad cut his palm last week making sausage and it is very sore, it is still deer season - one more tag to fill this weekend, work is the busiest it has ever been, and my amazing and oh so talented contractor husband hates home improvement projects. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Patience and caution I tell you that is how I must proceed.

I have a sweet blond ally on the first and biggest project on the list. SIERRA! We bought Sierra a new bed, bedding, and nightstand for her birthday. She has to wait to use it until she moves into her new room. Before she can move in a closet needs to be built, the walls painted, and carpet installed. Her bed arrived by FedEx this morning, so now he will have 2 excited girls driving him crazy. (We will do our best to behave. Besides we know that he really will not be able to dive into the bedroom project until after Christmas... but maybe he could start on the other minor projects like that piece of trim in the family room. J/K I will behave!)

The one thing I do plan to do in the mean time is sell/give away/throw out some excess stuff. So if you need a white and brass day bed, a Foosball table, or a cute little cabinet for a TV let me know. They are on my going, going, gone list.

I need to clear some space in the family room for toys for a little boy, and make an office area and a workout area for his mom. We feel it will be very important for Joshua's attachment to spend as little time away from us as possible. We hope that he will be able to come with to the office some. I will office from home a little more than now, and I will probably have to work some evenings/early mornings. I am so thankful once again that I have such a flexible work schedule AND such an amazing boss. (FYI I work for my darling husband. I make sure the bills and guys are paid, he does all the hard stuff.)

Today is a HUGE day in the life of our beautiful Krissy. New Moon, the second movie in the "Twilight Series" is at our theatre. She is going with some girlfriends and has been PUMPED all week. I get the honor of picking them up at the theatre at 11 PM and then 4 excited, giggling 13 yr olds plan to have a no-sleep-over at our house. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Double Digits

Sierra Faith is 10 years old today!

We had all our family over for pizza and ice cream cake - Sierra's choice.

I had to add this picture of Krissy and her littlest cousin because it is soooo cute, and she does not let me snap pictures of her very often.

I am so thankful for our enthusiastic, sweet, silly, smart, social, cheerleader. Sierra is completely full of positive energy. She has one of the most compassionate hearts ever, and is so thoughtful and kind. She is spunky and fun. She is sometimes quick to anger, but she is just as quick to forgive. I adore her.
I also love having a house full of people. We are so lucky to have so many friends and family members close by!
***My "friends" the Howletts passed court last night. Yeah! I also recommend you watch the homecoming video on Soli Deo Gloria today. The little boy they just brought home is about the age we think Joshua will be. It was fun and exciting for me to see pictures of his first introduction with his siblings and extended family. When I showed the video to Sierra she said, "Just think Mom before too long that will be us!"***

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blog watching

Before considering adoption, I was NOT a computer junky. I did not ever sit with my computer and look at blogs, facebook, or even shop much. I worked at my computer during the day and used it for research when necessary. When I started to research adoption like a crazy lady, I discovered blogs. The blogs I began watching helped me to understand the process of adoption. I looked back in blog posts to see what writers were thinking and feeling at different points in their adoption. I looked at their time lines, information about travel, and how they adapted after their children came home. Brave souls sharing a glimpse into their family helped me to feel brave.

Anyway all the blogs I have listed on the lower left margin of my blog have inspired me in some way. They have changed my view of the world.

Leap of Love is our friends whose letter started me thinking.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet was in Ethiopia bringing their children home as we were deciding to adopt. She is a gifted writer and reading their story of transition reassures me.

Our Silly Monkeys is a local lady who adopted through our agency last summer. She has been kind enough to answer many of my questions.

Lucy Lane was the adoption "gotcha day" video that would not leave me. Her blog is a steady stream of adoption inspiration.

Soli Deo Gloria just returned home with another Ethiopian son. I was moved by their journey last week. Reading of their union with their son was amazing and exciting for this future mom.

The Wayfarer is a family that adopted two little boys. She posts great info. on everything. This week she had a detailed post about what it is like for an American to stay in Ethiopia.

The Howletts adopted a baby a while ago and are going back for a little boy soon. I began watching them because their children were older when they adopted the baby and I was curious to see how the older kids did. Now I watch because the son they are adopting is near the age I think Joshua will be. They are actually the reason I add this post tonight. I read on their blog that their adoption goes to court as we sleep tonight. Court is a crazy thing sometimes, please pray as you go to sleep tonight that they receive the news tomorrow that they officially have a son.

I have IAN in parenthesis by the blogs of families that use the same placement agency as we are. That way if you choose to watch them too you will know if they were at Sele Enat, the orphanage that Joshua will come from.

Sometimes, it's all about the small stuff!

Some little signs that we've made a good decision.

1. Brenna told her doctor today that she has three brothers. Jamison, Joshua, and Riley (our dog).

2. When asked if he was excited about the adoption by our home study agent Jamison said with a double dimple grin, "Yeah! I'm really excited!" (In some ways I have worried about Jay and Brenna most in this transition. Jamison because he has been the only boy. Brenna because Joshua will replace her spot as our baby. I know it will restack the deck for all the kids, but I feel especially maybe more so for Jay and Brenna. It makes me happy to see them doing so well.)

3. Our pediatrician could not have been more enthusiastic about our decision. He told us that in his experience children from Ethiopia do really well. Their health status is honestly revealed. The Ethiopian people are very affectionate, hugging and kissing their children often. Even in the orphanage children are held and hugged frequently. One of his patients is a little girl that just came home last summer (she was adopted from the same orphanage that Joshua will come from), he called her totally awesome. When she comes in we all get huge hugs. He said he will be happy to look through a referral when we get it. He told me in moments I wonder if I can do enough or am the right person to raise Joshua to remember that anything I can do will be so much more than he would have received in his home country. I respect this doctor so much. I was a little nervous to visit with him today, because his disapproval would have been hard to take. His enthusiasm was much appreciated!

4. On a daily basis I hear one of the kids say "When Joshua comes home what do you think Riley will think." or "Do you think our cousins should be able to carry him?" or "Do you think Joshua will like our food?" It excited me that they are starting to include thoughts of him in their plans for the future.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Excerpts from "There Is No Me Without You"

I just finished reading "There Is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene. It is a book about one woman's attempt to rescue Ethiopian orphans. It was a hard book to read because it was so filled with hunger, disease, poverty, grief, and strife. There was not a lot of hope. The story of one pair of orphans particularily moved me. I would like to share it with you.

In 2003 Mekdes Asnake was 5 years old and lived with her grandfather Addisu, her young aunt Fasika and her little brother Yabsira, in a hut on a shared dirt compound outside the capitol. The walls of her house were a hard mix of mud and straw; the windows were open squares cut into the walls. Sometimes the family had firewood; when they did not, the circle of ashes on the floor was black and the hut was cold. They subsisted, year-round on eggs.

The children's father had been a day laborer in coffee processing. One day when Mekdes was 3 or 4 years old and waiting impatiently for him to come home and play with her, she saw a strange thing happen; he approached the house but suddenly knelt and lay full legnth on the dirt courtyard for a while, before getting up and coming inside.

Later, when her father got sick, Mekdes felt he must have caught the bad sickness that day from the dirt. He got thinner and thinner over the next few months, with a look of surprise in his brown eyes. Then thick black blisters erupted on his skin and he cried out from the pain during the day and groaned with it during the night. Mekdes thought he would get better. She was shocked when she woke up one night to the haunting sound of her mother, Mulu, howling over Asnake's wasted body.

Mekdes had not yet recovered from the horror of Asnake's death when her mother began to get the same disappointed, surprised look on her face.....

(I skip ahead to the children being left at a foster home because their grandfather and aunt are too poor to care for them.)

Mekdes felt the air at her back, suddenly aware that her aunts were no longer behind her - they were walking toward the exit! Mekdes shrieked and ran after them. How would she find her way home to her grandfather? Aunt Fasika and Aunt Zewdenesh turned around; they stroked Mekdes' face, kissed her many times, and told her good-bye.

Mekdes turned inside out with grief and terror. She understood; she was being abandoned! She arched her back in protest. She pulled out of the foster mother's grasp, fell backward to the ground, and writhed there beginning to shriek.

(Mekdes proceded to throw herself against the door to the compound so hard it knocked her to the ground again and again. The author could not stand watching the scene, Mekdes throwing herself at the gate berserk with grief and terror, the Aunt's on the other side listening and weeping. She asked her driver if she gave the family all her cash $200 would they be able to raise the children? No he told her they are too poor to raise them.)

The foster mother approached and took the thrashing child. Mekdes twisted and flailed and cried, and the foster mother, with squinting eyes, averted face, and strong arms, absorbed the blows. She was used to this.

(Fast forward to 2005 - Mekdes and brother Yabsira have been adopted by an American couple in Atlanta.)

Mekdes keeps alive the memory of her first parents and drills her brother on the family history.

"Who is our mother?" she demands.

"Mulu!" she yells if he hesitates.

"What was our father's name?"

"Asnake," says Yabsira.

"Good," says Mekdes.

While still in the apartment in Addis Ababa(right after they were united with their American parents), Mekdes drew 6 stick figures and labeled them: Mekdes, Yabsira, Mommy, Daddy, Mulu, Asnake. She asked her parents to tape them to the bedroom wall.

"Mommy, did Granny get you out of her stomach or out of Ethiopia?" she asked one day.

On another day, she began a story and stopped: "When I was with my mo- I mean Mulu."

"Baby, you can say Momma," Mikki (her American mother) said.

"Do you like Mulu Mommy?"

"I love Mulu!" said Mikki, and Mekdes embraced her.

Mekdes soon told her mother about the day her aunts took her to the foster home. "Yabsira cry a little. I am scream."

"Why did you cry, baby?" asked Mikki.

"I don't know this Ethiopia. I want my Ethiopia with Goshay (grandfather) and Fasika. I don't want new Ethiopia."

"You were sad," said Mikki.

"No hope, Mommy. I have no hope."

"oh, honey..."

"Because no one told me, Mommy."

"Told you what?"

"That you are here in America. I will not feel so sad if I know you are here."

"Yeah, I was here getting ready, getting your rooms ready. I was here, me and your daddy, waiting and getting ready."

"I am cry because I don't know you will come."

Of course, for many of Africa's ten million, fifteen million, twenty million orphans, no one is getting a room ready. No one will come.

***What a crazy combination of horrible and wonderful. I bet you can understand why Mekdes' story caught my heart. We will soon be preparing a room! Please pray that our Joshua can somehow feel hope in a seeming hopeless moment.***

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a weekend!

How much can one family of 6 pack into a weekend? More that we should!

Heading out of town with 4 kids is always crazy, but when you add to that the always unexpected demands of a business it gets even crazier. Friday as we were frantically packing and getting set to go a few things popped up. First was deer sausage. Chad and his brother (with as little help from me as I could get away with) made deer sausage last week, and it had to be smoked and packaged and frozen before we left, all 100 lbs. So we worked a little, packed a little, and worked with sausage a lot. Then, our employees informed us that there were materials they were running low on. Could we pull a trailer and pick them up? We don't usually pull a flatbed trailer with my Tahoe so we had some hitch issues, etc to deal with. We had also agreed to deliver a puppy at our first stop. (Chad's mom has German Shorthair pups she is selling, so we played FedEx.) By the time we hit the road we were already running behind and out of breath.

We found the hotel, delivered the pup to his new owner, and got the trailer dropped off in the nick of time. The really important event of the day was yet to come. Lindsey, our home study agent, met us at the hotel for our second meeting. The kids swam and we visited with Lindsey.

What was Home Study Act 2 all about? More questions! Like...

What do you think the strengths/weaknesses are in your marriage?
How do you make decisions together?
What to you do if you disagree?
What types of discipline do you use?
What types of values do you hope to instill in your kids?
How do you work to do so?
What types of responsibilities do your kids have at home?
Do the kids have any behavior/learning/social/developmental/health problems?
We talked a little about discipline and bonding/attachment with Joshua.

I realized that I have unintentionally been protecting myself a little. I have read and researched for hours about adoption in general, and about Ethiopia - trying to learn what Joshua's world is like. (I just finished a book called There is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene. It is a great combination of personal stories, and a journalistic view of the social/political/health problems in Ethiopia. It is a BIG book and heartbreaking, but also eye-opening and challenging. I would recommend it.) However, I have not allowed myself to dive into the issues like attachment and discipline or even health care. It almost feels too personal to start thinking about how we will parent HIM. When it becomes that personal it makes it hard to be patient and a little detached. By staying a little detached, I protect my heart from the wait.

Anyway, meeting with Lindsey on Friday made me excited and curious about how parenting Joshua will be different than parenting our first 4 at 3yrs old. Each of our kids are very different from each other and thus we have parented them differently to an extent, but they have all been attached to us from the beginning. Lindsey talked a little about discipline being different at first with Joshua. Since he will not be attached, he may not feel as upset if he disappoints us. He may also feel more upset than our first 4 kids would have in the same situation, like if he disappoints us we will not want him. All makes perfect sense when you take the time to think about it. I am looking forward to really investigating this topic!

We also talked about our attachment with him. Some parents feel an instant attachment and love for their adopted children and others need some time for that to develop. She reassured us that if the first moment we see Joshua, we feel nervous, uncertain, fearful, or whatever, that it is OK. Bonds take time. Love is a choice more than a feeling. (I tell you all this because you will be his family. You need information about bonding with him too - and permission to take some time to fall in love if need be.)

We set a goal with Lindsey to have all our documents turned in to IAN before Dec. 15! We should be on the wait list before Christmas! I guess I can start reading those bonding books.

So Saturday we just played. We arrived at my friend Cassie's house at 1:00. Cassie is as close to a sister as I had growing up. She is a rare friend in life. We do not have a lot in common if you dissect our lives, but in my heart she is my sister. No matter how rarely we see each other we can pick up where we left off. We spent the afternoon catching up. We met her boyfriend, played with her dogs, got a tour of her veterinary clinic, and went out for dinner.

After dinner we were off to the main event. The CONCERT! Let me tell you it was LOUD LOUD LOUD!!!!! Like so loud it was physical. Not only did it assault my ears, but the bass hit so hard it made it feel weird to breath. Chad and the kids were in heaven. I am not quite the rocker they are, but I had a great time watching them. When Skillet finally came out the crowd was deafening. I have never heard another as loud. You should have heard my Brenna cheering. It was a riot. And Chad... he was 17 again for an hour or so. The band was filled with truly amazing performers and they put on quite a show. They had 2 platform lifts that carried the guitarists high in the air at times. They had LED light shows, fireworks, and fireballs. Literally balls of fire that shot into the air. Not even a second after they were fired you could feel the heat blast your face. I can not imagine how hot it was on that stage! The other thing that was very unique was that they used a violinist and a cellist on several songs. I do not think there is another heavy metal band that does that. Let me tell you that violinist could rock! It was crazy! Brenna made it until the last song. Then she sat down on her chair and fell asleep. I tried to wake her because I had promised that I would wake her up for "Monster" her favorite song, but it was impossible. She even slept through the crowds encore cheering, which was incredible loud, and the 2 encore songs and fireworks. A lady who was sitting behind me with her youth group kids (a fellow oldie) could not believe how much fun Brenna and Sierra had. She was shocked that they knew all the words to every song. Chad figures it is a testament to his quality parenting.

We dragged everyone out of bed by 7:30 this morning so we could have breakfast with Chad's grandparents before heading home. We started for home by 10. Stopped to pick up and load the trailer with steel studs, and made it home at about 7PM. The kids were troopers every step of the way. I am so proud of them! They all worked hard to help load the trailer, and they all unpacked and got their clothes put away and the Tahoe cleaned out as soon as we got home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Our family leaves tomorrow afternoon to go to a Skillet concert. I included a video for one of their newest and most popular songs in case you have never heard of them. They are a heavy metal Christian band - what a crazy combination! I love that Christian music goes WAY beyond hyms played on a pipe organ these days. They are Chad's absolute favorite band, so we bought his tickets for his birthday. Sierra loves them too, she dressed as their drummer for Halloween.

We have lots of other exciting stuff planned for this trip too. I will update with pictures next week! I hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paperwork Update

Today I received the letter from Chad's doctor for our dossier. It was the last piece of paper that I was worried about! I have a stack of things to get notarized, but that is easy. After everything is notarized I have to bring certain forms to the secretary of state to be certified. (I am learning a lot, I didn't know that was possible a few weeks ago.) Then we just wait for the home study to be completed.

In order for the home study to be completed we need a statement of health from Brenna's doctor. She has an appointment next Tuesday. Chad and I have to complete another 8 hours of training. We should be able to wipe most of that out this weekend. We will be traveling, and I can read with him as we drive. (There is not live training in our areas, so our choices are web-based training and books.) We also need to meet with Lindsey two more times. One of those times will be this Friday, the other is yet to be scheduled. And that is it... as far as I know.

Once we get the home study approved, we send it along with the rest of the dossier to IAN, our placement agency. As long as we have correctly crossed all our t's and dotted all our i's, we are then put on the wait list. I think there is a very good chance that we will be on the wait list by the middle of December.

While on the wait list we have to file an I-600A form with US Immigration and receive their approval to adopt an immigrant child. We can not accept a referral until we have a I171H - their approval. (These forms are still clear as mud to me! But what I think I understand, is that we need the home study done before we can do these US Immigration forms, we can be on the wait list without full US approval, but can not accept a referral.)

Once we receive and accept a referral, a court date will be set. That date seems to come about 8 weeks or more after the referral is accepted. Court seems to be delayed/rescheduled a lot. Once court takes place, the adoption is final - but we will have to wait 8 weeks to go and bring our son home. This is the time needed to process all the paperwork. So, for those of you wondering when will Joshua come home, the answer is God only knows! But I do not think it is humanly possible for his homecoming to be before June, and that would be very fast.

Typical time on the wait list is 5 to 8 months. We will be on one of the shorter lists, since the toddler boys list is not the most popular (when we first started this process their were little boys waiting for referrals and no one to send them to), so our wait will most likely be on the short side. But once again who knows!

I do not feel stressed about the timing at all now. I am fine with waiting. I just want to get all my stuff in so Joshua does not have to wait for us. The wait I do dread is from seeing his face(aka accepting his referral) until we go get him. At that point you will all need to distract and encourage me! I plan to save painting and arranging his room for that time period, but I am a pretty fast decorator.

My wonderful sister-in-law sent me a great waiting verse today. It comes from Habakkuk 2:3
"If it seems slow, be patient!
For it will surely take place.
It will not be late by a single day."

This feels more real every day and as it feels more real, my excitement builds!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My son on STAGE!

Ladies and Gentlemen... He Survived!
Our handsome, talented, kind, thoughtful, and very nervous son did an incredible job last night acting in his sixth grade class play!
In the play he and four classmates traveled through time in the time machine pictured to the left. They landed in several historic time periods and met some important characters from history. It was a funny well done musical play. (Jay did not sing - but he did get a headset mic. like a rock star!)

The end was my favorite part of the play. The kids totally relaxed and did a little dancing to the music. Jamison even blew a kiss to the crowd. It was a riot!
A quick update from the weekend. My hunters are all home. Krissy, Jay, and Sierra went with deer hunting this year. I think they all had a great time hanging with Grammy, Uncle Ryan, Grandpa Great, and Uncle Jim. The biggest buck ever got away, but Chad still has his buck tag and is hoping for a second chance in the next two weekends.
Brenna and I enjoyed some girl time. We did some shopping, baked brownies, ate chicken and broccoli and rice (her favorite and not Dad's so rarely made), and had a sleepover in my room. She got to go visit her Great Grandparent's with my parent's Sunday afternoon. So fun times were had by all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Think of Jay

Send kind thoughts and prayers Jamison's way today. He has one of the lead roles in his 6th grade class play. The dress rehearsal is today - this afternoon. He is so nervous. I have never seen him so cranked up! He's my mellow man, Mr. Go With The Flow.

His theme song last night was, "I'm gonna die! I'm not going to remember any of my lines, especially the ones in the cave!" I told him I believe in him enough for both of us!

The live on stage performance can be viewed Monday at 7:00. Break a leg, Jay!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Wouldn't I?

This is the video I referred to in my first blog entry that God sent me to when I was having doubts about whether or not we should really do this. I love it, and since I have gotten smart enough to post videos this week, I posted it. It just speaks to my heart. I hope it speaks to you too.

My heart is troubled today, aching for 143 million orphans. Aching for lack of awareness and lack of understanding. I have been guilty of this too. I have read the Bible my whole life and somehow all those scriptures about taking care of orphans were just skipped over. Adoption was a good option for infertile couples, but too risky, too expensive, and too much work if you had other options. I realize now how blind I have been, and I struggle because not everyone else has caught on.

The process to adopt truly has risks. We signed the form that promised to love our son even if he has physical or emotional problems that are not detected at the time of referral.

It is very expensive. Most families that adopt have to do a lot of fund raising. Their faithfulness and dedication inspire me. No one likes to ask for help. We want to take care of our own families and our own problems. It would be so much easier to just forget it all, and I am sure some do. But many press on! Financially speaking we have it so much easier than most. It will be a stretch, but I can see the possibility. I am grateful. I hope I would have faith and strength to continue if I had to struggle to fund raise almost every dollar. (Why would/should they adopt if they can not "afford" it? Remember there is a difference between being able to pay for groceries, clothes, and housing expenses for a child and having the cash on hand needed to finance an adoption.)

It is a lot of work! I met to 2 banks, 1 CPA, 4 doctors, 1 vet, 1 police officer, and 3 friends to begin gathering all the required paperwork. I have also spent a lot of time gathering and copying tax, insurance, asset, and liability paperwork. Add to that home study meetings and training and it is a lot of head ache.

However the part that gets forgotten is that adoption is most importantly a mission field. We are not moving to Ethiopia to work in an orphanage or build wells, more traditional mission work. We are bringing our mission field into our home, to be a part of our life forever. To share with all we have, all we know, all we hope, and all we are to become. I love the words of the song. "All of us were orphans too till in our darkness love broke through. Give us Lord a heart to break for all the little one's who ache."

I do not type this as a lecture, or as praise for the "amazing" or "crazy" thing (depending on how you look at it) our family is doing. I write partially because getting my thoughts on "paper" is therapeutic, and partially to inspire a new way of thinking. I am convinced that the scriptures calling us to care for orphans are not just directed at a few families, right? How will you help?

On a more celebratory note, I have almost all the documents I need to gather for the dossier! I have everything dispersed. I am waiting for a few things to be returned, but I am feeling so encouraged! We meet with Lindsey for our second home study meeting next Friday. We will have to meet with her one more time and finish our training before the home study is done. Then we can send everything to our agency and when it all checks out we will be on the wait list! Very exciting stuff!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ethiopian Cuisine

I have been trying to learn everything I can about Ethiopia. So let me fill you in on what I have learned about traditional Ethiopian food.

The hottest, most peppery food in all of Africa is found in Ethiopia. This blend of 15 or more spices including red pepper is called Ber-beri or Awaze. I read it can be overwhelming to foreigners, but if you cut down on the pepper the food can be exciting and interesting.

Ethiopians do not eat pork or shellfish for religious regions. (The predominant religion is Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. The Islam and Jewish faiths are also practiced.)

An elaborate hand washing ceremony takes place the beginning and ending of the meal.

The Ethiopian table is covered with a what looks like a gray cloth overlapping the edges of a huge tray. This is not a tablecloth at all but actually injera. Injera is a sourdough pancake -like bread made of tef flour. Bowls and utensil are not used. Instead your portion of food is placed on the injera in front of you. You then tear off a piece of injera, scoop a portion of food onto the piece, roll it all up, and pop it into your mouth.
Stews or wat are the most common main courses. Wat may be made from chicken (doro wat), lamb (sega wat), and goat. On fast days when meat is not eaten, wat is made from lentils, chick peas, and peanuts. Stews have a characteristic dark color from the Ber-beri, Ethiopian red pepper which is used in each recipe. Hard boiled eggs are commonly served as well. Iab is another common dish. It is a cottage cheese/yogurt mixture with special herbs to give it an acidic lemon flavor. Kifto, a seasoned, ground raw beef is considered dessert.
Beverages include Tej, an amber colored honey wine, Tella, homemade beer, and/or a weakly carbonated water. Coffee comes in on a tray in tiny Japanese cups served black with sugar after the meal.
Dabo Kolo, are tiny, fried, snack-like cookies that are popular in Ethiopia. Even the cookies appear to be spicy. The recipe I found has flour, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, and oil.
It all sounds totally foreign to me, more like a book report than something I may experience. I had considered having an Ethiopian themed meal at my home, but I am sure it would not be well received. The description of Kifto about did my family in! BUT imagine how totally his new home will be for Joshua. I am interested in how other adoptive families incorporate some familiar tastes into their menu, more research awaits!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This picture is for our niece.

She gave Riley this ultra cool shirt!

He did not like it as much as Sierra and Brenna did, but he smiled for the picture anyway!

I have been warning Jamison that as soon as football is over, he will learn to cook. So last night he was in charge of supper. He made meatloaf and baked potatoes. He even set the table, complete with water in the glasses and napkins on the plates.

He did a great job!

The last couple of posts have been pretty serious. We do have a lot of fun around here, too.

Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 8 is Orphan Sunday. I will be showing the attached video to our church congregation and sharing how God has led us to adopt.

Please pray for me this week. I speak fairly often in church and it rarely stresses me out. This time I am a little nervous. I typically share announcements or children's sermons,which are not very personal and are very concrete. This time it will be much more personal and less concrete!

I think it will be easier to share my testimony in a year or so when I can hold Joshua and have proof that my "feelings" are correct. Unfortunately, that is not how I feel God directing me. The more I learn the more I convinced I am that the issue of orphans in our world is not one that we can ignore. God has opened my eyes and heart and expects me to open my mouth!

I realize that not everyone can or should adopt, but here are some suggestions of things that you can do. They are taken from http://www.hopefororphans.org/

  1. Pray for them - Visit http://www.adoptuskids.org/ or http://www.rainbowkids.com/ print off the picture of a waiting child and pray specifically for him.
  2. Speak up for them - Share what you know about the needs of children in the foster care/orphan care system.
  3. Provide for their needs - Give sacrificially to a reputable orphanage. You can find one at http://www.helporphans.org/ or organize a drive at your church/work to collect school supplies, Christmas gifts, shoes, whatever for kids in foster care. Check out http://www.gainusa.com/
  4. Support those who support them - Mow, babysit, or organize meals for a week for foster parents. Encourage a family adopting an older child by hosting a shower for them.
  5. Protect them from harm - Become a foster parent or emergency foster parent or a court appointed special advocate.
  6. Visit them where they are - Go on a mission trip to an orphanage or take dinner to a group home regularly.
  7. Give sacrificially to them - Contribute generously to an addoptive family to help offset their costs. Visit http://www.shaohannashope.org/ or http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/ or help my friends at http://www.leapoflove.blogspot.com/
  8. Encourage them to press on - Sponsor a child, support them financially, encourage them through your letters. Check out http://www.visiontrust.org/ or http://www.fh.org/ or become a mentor or tutor to a teenager in a foster care group-home.
  9. Adopt them into your family - give a child a home through international, domestic, embryo, or foster care adoption. Adopt a young adult who does not have close family, become their family and make sure they have a place to go for holidays and advice.
  10. Mobilize your church for them - Be a catalyst in your church for starting or sustaining orphan ministry. Visit http://www.hopefororphans.org/

I think that list has something that is possible for everyone. I also realize that not all of us are being called to serve children, but you are being called to serve somewhere. Will you choose to make a difference?

On a MUCH lighter note - I have to confess that I am so proud of myself for finally figuring out how to post a video. Took me a while!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Our most Frequently Asked Question in regards to our plan to adopt is undoubtedly, "um, what made you decide to do this?" So here is our short answer. (I thought I would give it to you just in case you are too polite to ask OR are being asked yourself when you tell people what your crazy relatives are up to this time.)

It is really quite simple. There are over 4 million orphans in Ethiopia. We have a room in our basement that houses a treadmill when it could house a child. We throw away leftovers nearly every day. Our kids are the best part of our life. Scripture teaches us to care for orphans. Why wouldn't we add to our family this way?

"To love an orphan is to love Jesus himself." Matthew 25:14

For the loooong answer read my first blog entry.