Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Judah loves...

YOGURT!!!









AND HIS BUDDY JACE!




They are such sweet friends and we took them to ride the mini train. They were so into it, I couldn't get them to look at the camera. :-)






Here is a random video of Judah doing animal sounds. He is growing up so fast!
video

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Camp of the Hills

I am devastated right now. The main dining hall building at Camp of the Hills burned to the ground. This is a non-profit camp that runs on volunteers and donations. The building was insured but camp is scheduled to start in 10 weeks. This camp ministers to inner-city children who cannot otherwise afford to go to camp, and shows them the love of Jesus. Jason and I worked as counselors out there, started dating out there and got engaged out there. It's a very, very special place to us. And now my mom is the volunteer coordinator out there each summer, and 2 weeks out of every month. It is a huge loss but I know that God is going to show up and the thousands of people that love Camp to make sure those kids have a camp to go to this summer. I can't wait to see how He is going to get the glory from this horrible incident! Please be in prayer about this.



Youth camp burns outside Marble Falls

Director: Fire started in the office

Updated: Wednesday, 24 Mar 2010, 5:27 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 24 Mar 2010, 5:00 PM CDT

MARBLE FALLS (KXAN) - A two-alarm fire currently is burning at Camp of the Hills youth camp outside Marble Falls.

According to prelimary information from the camp director, the fire started in the office. The Marble Falls Volunteer Fire Department is on the scene, and the Granite Shoals FIre Department is on site with its tanker truck. A KXAN crew is on the way to the scene.

Camp board member Raymond Whitman, contacted by phone, said the fire in the dining hall has been contained, although the two-story dining hall is a total loss. The roof on the building caved in. This is the main building on the camp site, and it also contains the main office, nurse's office and counselor's office.

Camp season starts June 1. It employs only one full-time staff member, who reported the fire. The camp's website indicates the camp was founded in 1990 as a non-profit organization and serves urban youth, often renting facilities to church congregations. It currently is located on 100 acres outside Marble Falls.

Monday, March 22, 2010

So...WHY???

Why adopt? Why Ethiopia? The VERY short answer is this: God opened our eyes to the orphan crisis and burdened our hearts to act, so we did.

I have so much on my heart to share. I hope that I can formulate it all into words for you to understand. :-) When I become very passionate about something I love to share it with others. Just ask my friends, or my mom, or my husband...they'll tell you. It's just who I am...something about me. I have to tell you though that I've never been so passionate about something as I am about adoption...whoa, you better stand back people! I am in love with adoption. It's brilliant, it's wonderful, it's biblical...and I've never even completed an adoption yet but I am convinced of these things. Why you ask? Well, because God adopted us as His sons and daughters. God loves adoption. God commands us to care for the orphans and widows. God does this very same thing with each and every one of us. We are not "blood related" to God, we did not choose Him to be our Father - he chose us, He searches us out to be His sons and daughters...chases after us, and it's difficult, all because He loves us and wants us to be His own. This is adoption and this is why I love it.

So why are we adopting? I'm going to list some reasons why...obviously some are more important than others.
* Primarily, we believe God called us specifically to adopt.
* We believe that God loves adoption and commands us to care for the orphan.
* We are excited to give a child the opportunity to know & experience God's love for them, when they otherwise might not ever have the chance to learn about Him.
* There are 147 million orphans in the world...147 million!!! And now we can say MINUS 1!!! I think more and more are saying "minus 1" now so hopefully that number is dropping dramatically.
* Because if roughly 6% of the born again Christians in the world adopted we could care for all the adoptable orphans in the world...that is amazing! Now not all of these 147 million orphans are able to be adopted, but this statistic is for the ones that are.
* We desire more children but I don't necessarily desire to be pregnant again.
* We would love a daughter. We started to hear the call to adopt before we even had our second son and would be perfectly content with a house full of boys, but if we can choose, we are excited to have a girl!
* We know that this adoption is going to bless us way more than it will our daughter. I do know that it will bless her, but we are already experiencing blessings and we are barely into this process...I can't wait to see what other blessings will come as a result.

Why did you choose international adoption instead of domestic? And why did you then choose Ethiopia? Let me say that these are just the reasons that WE chose to adopt internationally through Ethiopia. We think domestic adoptions are just as special, but this is where our calling took us and some of the reasons why.
* We have heard too many stories of birth parents changing their minds in domestic adoptions and then the adoptive parents (us) not getting any of the money back that had already been spent. We wanted to go the most secure route (at least in our minds) to adopt our daughter. It would have been devastating to us if we did not have the money to "try again" after a failed attempt.
* In most international adoptions, the birth parents are not involved (of course not always the case) and therefore the risk of them changing their minds is very low. We do know that there is always a risk of the country closing adoptions, but there are risks with any adoption. And let me say that we would love the opportunity to meet our daughter's parents if given the chance! I think that would be invaluable for us and for her one day.
* We looked at almost every country you can look at to adopt from. Our first thought was Asia since we had such fond memories associated with Thailand. We found Asian adoptions to be long, difficult and expensive, and several countries we were interested in were closed. We then looked at Haiti, but found out the excruciating wait after receiving a referral could be up to 2-3 years or more...they have an extremely corrupt government and it makes me so sad for those children.
* A friend from high school had just received a referral from her Ethiopian adoption and so we started to explore that idea. Honestly, Africa was the last place I wanted to adopt from. I was afraid...afraid of raising a strong black woman in the United States, afraid of the risk of HIV/AIDS in our daughter, I didn't know much about the country or how long it took to get there, and I realized I had this unnecessary fear of Africa for some reason. I was just very uninformed...God calmed my fears and all of a sudden it just felt like it was right. Isn't that funny how God does that? "Anything but Africa God!!!" And God's like, "Okay, how about Africa???" :-)
* We considered Ethiopia and Rwanda. Because of travel rules, we decided on Ethiopia. It has one of the fastest, smoothest adoption programs out there and they only required one trip. The key here being requirED. As of last week, Ethiopia has changed that rule. We now have to take two trips...this is part of the roller coaster ride of adoptions I am finding out. I was devastated to find out that I'll have to leave my children twice, fly over there twice, pay twice the travel expenses, meet and LEAVE my daughter and then go back to get her a few months later. Excruciating. But we'll do what we have to do...if they change it to 4 trips we'll just take 4 trips.
* And of course we met all of the requirements for Ethiopia and every single country has different requirements...a lot of which we did not meet.
* Watch the adoption video on our "announcement" post for a lot of statistical reasons why we chose Ethiopia. There is a HUGE need there with a lot of children being abandoned simply because if their mothers tried to take care of them, one of them would die from lack of food.

So there you go. That is what I'm going to leave you with for now. I have more to say on other things...part of it being our particular journey to this point. Our prayer is that we will be bringing our daughter home about a year from now. She should be between 6-12 months old when she comes home. I would love for you to leave questions you have in the comments. We want to be as open about this as we can and I'd love to answer your questions.
For now, I will be praying for everyone who is reading this. I know that not everyone is called to adopt but I know that some of you reading this are or will be. Some of you have felt that tug when you hear about adoption or see the orphans on television or hear about the poverty. Some of you love to read adoption blogs...maybe the Lord is telling you something as well. Just pray about it...I used to feel those tugs and I ignored them for a long time. I told myself that I couldn't love a child that wasn't "mine", that we couldn't afford it, that it was for other people but not me, but the Lord didn't give up on me. He kept tugging on my heart for years and years until He finally got through little by little. Yes, there are a lot of orphans in the world and yes, the number is staggering, but I have hope knowing that for now I through God can make a life-changing difference for ONE...and who knows the ripple effect that it may have. I am praying that it is HUGE.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back to the Boys

Thank you so much for all of your kind words and encouragement for us as we embark on this incredible journey to our daughter. We are so excited to finally be able to share this with everyone and look forward to keeping you updated. I am sorting through my thoughts and later this week will post about why we are adopting and why Ethiopia in particular. For now, I have some cute pictures of our boys from this weekend that I'm going to post for family, and my new Bible verse is at the bottom.

After our home study, we headed to the park to celebrate because the weather was beautiful!!!












Judah was chowing down on a lemon at dinner on Friday night. It just made my mouth hurt watching him, but he loved it and even decided to eat some of the rind. Yum!




On Saturday I just thought the boys looked so cute with their jeans and no shirts. Very GQ. :-)


Showing their muscles!


My precious 5 year old...in just a few short weeks he will be 6. Sigh.


And my rambunctious 1 year old who will be 2 in just a few short weeks as well. Double sigh.


They were in very silly moods!







New Verse (missed the 15th)

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

I am working on capturing those negative, unholy, complaining, anxious, worrisome or unhealthy thoughts and giving them to God before they can manifest themselves in my heart and mouth. It is very difficult but I'm hoping this verse will be a great reminder for me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Official Announcement

I think by our new blog header you can tell what this announcement is going to be, but I'm going to go ahead and say it....

WE ARE ADOPTING A BABY GIRL FROM ETHIOPIA!!!

We have been waiting for months to officially announce this and today we finally got official approval from our adoption agency, so we feel confident in putting it out there now. We had our home study this morning, which went fantastic, and she was able to tell us at the end of it that we were officially approved into their Ethiopian program. I will go into more details later like why we're adopting, why Ethiopia, our journey so far (which has already been filled with ups & downs), a time line on the side of the blog and more.

Right now I can tell you that we started researching this past summer, sent in our application to Gladney in November, had our phone interview in December, finished up our Gladney paperwork in February, just had our home study today and are well on our way to finishing up our foreign paperwork and then ultimately being put on the wait list hopefully in the next couple of months. We are thrilled, we are thankful, we are blessed and we are hopeful. More later...thank you for celebrating with us!

And for your viewing pleasure, PLEASE watch this video of a family's journey to their daughter in Ethiopia. This pretty much sealed the deal for us after we watched it. It is beautiful. Let it load a little before you push play.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Three

One sunny spring day this past week, our friend Jerry took my boys and Jonathan on a ride around the block in the back of his truck with Kaki. They had a blast!


Jonathan moved this week...we are really going to miss having cousins right down the street. :-(


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And THREE is the number of cavities that Elijah had filled this week. Poor guy! He was so very brave though and I was so proud of him. I think it was harder for me to watch than it really was on him.


His dentist is very sweet...here she is giving him his first shot. He didn't even know he was getting shots...they did such a great job disguising everything.


And drilling....eek!


They called this is mouth "raincoat". It kept his bad tooth exposed without having to suction him the whole time. He disliked the raincoat the most.


And some good old laughing gas. That really helped relax him and keep him still. He said a few funny things while we were there. I told him he looked like a clown with a red nose. :-)


This week is spring break around here! Elijah is at camp of the hills with my mom for a few days. We are really missing him but he is having a blast I hear! He told Jason before he left, "You better take good care of my mama while I'm gone" :-) He is such a sweet boy. He'll come back on Weds, and until then Judah and I are doing some major spring cleaning / painting around the house. I haven't taken many recent pictures of Judah...I am going to try to do that and get a couple of videos to post on here. He is getting so vocal lately and is at such a cute age!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

New Baby & a College Reunion

I just returned home from meeting this precious new baby girl, Brynlee Grace. She was born yesterday at 10:59am weighing 8 lbs 8oz to my sweet friend, Abbie. She looks like her big sister when she was a baby.


Abbie and I have been good friends for over 5 years now. We have known each other since college but became close when Elijah and her daughter, Ellie, were babies. They have become such sweet friends and have grown up together. Brynlee is baby #3...poor Deacon is sandwiched in between two sisters :-) Here I am with Abbie, Brynlee and proud big sister Ellie. I just love new babies and especially love when my close friends have them!


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This past weekend, Jason and I left the boys with his parents and ventured to College Station, our old stomping grounds and first place of residence after we married. We were attending a 20 year anniversary of Camp of the Hills...the place where we fell in love and got engaged. It was like a college/camp reunion...so much fun!


I just recently got my hair cut and highlighted (although some claim to not be able to notice the highlights :). The dinner was held at The Zone and overlooked Kyle Field.


While there, we finally got to visit the Bonfire memorial. Bonfire fell when I was a freshman and I lost a friend that night. His name was Jerry Self, and while we weren't close, he was part of a group that I attended a mid-week college worship service with. I remember the moment I found out that he was dead...it was very surreal and very sad. I had never attended a funeral service for someone so young. Here is the monument in his honor.

Beautiful words about him written in stone:


And an image of his face in his corps uniform with his name and signature above it:


Here are all 12 of the monuments. They each face the city from which the victim was from.


I only captured one picture with some of my old friends. I worked out at camp and attended A&M with these sweet girls.


My friend Sheena, from Fortress, was one of the keynote speakers. She spoke about how Camp of the Hills had changed her life and brought her closer to God. She did an excellent job and I was so proud of her!


This is overlooking part of the A&M campus from where we had dinner. They are doing a lot of construction on the student center right now. I have so many memories in there and was bummed we couldn't go inside.


I am so thankful for my time at Texas A&M in the Aggies for Christ and for my two summers at Camp of the Hills. I can't even count how many ways those years changed my life for the better and brought me closer to God. Gig 'em Aggies!!! WHOOP!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Scripture #4

Proverbs 31:10-12

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good not harm all the days of her life."

I am doing a lot of soul-searching lately and feel like I have a lot of room for improvement in the wife arena. :-) I really like this verse because it inspires me to be more valuable than rubies and to bring Jason good and not harm. In my Beth Moore bible study, we are studying being filled with the Holy Spirit and I know that being filled with the Spirit will empower me to be a better and more godly wife.

A new update with pictures to come soon.