Mar 26, 2011

Saturday Shoot

Today in southern Illinois, it's not quite the lovely Spring day we had hoped for. Actually it is about 46 degrees and sleeting. Last weekend it was in the 70s and we were outside. Today, D and I are stuck in the house. Grace and Josh are outside mulching up some old shrubs and Gbug is at a birthday party. I decided to the throw some food in the crock pot and attempt a mini photo shoot with lil' Miss D.
She will be 2 next month and to be honest, I have fallen behind on getting her picture taken. Our schedule is usually too crazy to make an appointment very far in advance.
So with one crazy momma, one silly little girl, a camera, and a kitchen/impromptu studio this is what you get! (and the laughs we shared were a bonus)

This is my one of my faves from today.
A good representation of who she is!
I can't believe how quickly she is changing.
Right before the next one she was saying "what to do mommy, what do you want me to do".
It was cute, she was so into the photo shoot!
Grace walked by the kitchen door and off D went to see her.
I love this! She had been singing Jesus loves me and looking out the door, while I was messing with the camera.
I wanted to remember the moment.


I can't wait to shoot them all together when our next arrives!!!


Mar 25, 2011

Another One

Another wish.....

I would love to see you all at the Summit!

Last year I had the privilege of going and sitting in on some great sessions about transitional living, foster care, and kids that were aging out of the system. I was blessed greatly by the knowledge that I gained and the people that I came in contact with. This year Josh and I are getting to attend as adoptive parents and growing advocates for children. I can not wait!

Please pray and ask the Lord if this is someplace he might want you to be. From a newbie who has a yearning in their heart to someone who has walked the road of orphan ministry for many years, there are sessions for everyone. Domestic, international, foster care, transitional living, adoption funds, and orphan ministry are just a few of the topics that are going to be covered.


Click on the picture above and head on over to the website and make my wish come true! I would love to see you!

Mar 23, 2011

Just a little bit of what I wish

Wishing that next year at this time...

I will be pushing one of these around with two toddlers in it
All the chairs at our table will be filled on a nightly basis.


That we will be looking to buy one of these because our family doesn't fit the minivan anymore. Source

And...that my daily view will look more like this at home, church, and in the community.


I have lots more, these are just a few!

Mar 14, 2011

Hearing His Voice In the Music

I have to admit, I do not keep up with all the mommas and their blogs. I am not always that connected. I rarely look at fb, never tweet, and only read email when it is work related. I prefer a good book and a cup of coffee over the Internet and television. So when Andrea asked me to post I naturally jumped to the keyboard…..a week after she asked:) I will admit though, I am now more motivated to share my heart than I have been in the past.

We have now been going through this process for almost a year, and we have been on the wait list for five months. During this time we each have experienced seasons of growth, and periods of trials. The most recent may be one of the toughest trials we will face in this process. You see our hearts are broken not only for our child, but for each child that will be effected by the proposed changes within MOWA. As we have navigated what all this means to us and other AGCI families we have fervently searched God’s will. When the first word of changes came last week Andrea and I immediately hit our knees. Our human desires naturally came through as we ached for the children, but as God began to minister to our hearts we have resolved to listen to His plan. We have (with a lot of prayer and God’s peace) been content to wait for our child. The prospect of having to wait is heartbreaking, but God’s plan is bigger.

We had our first glimpse of God’s faithfulness in this situation last Thursday. Earlier in the week I stumbled upon tickets to a Mark Shultz and Jason Gray concert that we had forgotten we had ordered. Now, if you are at all familiar with Mark Schultz and his music you would agree with me when I say this was not the concert Andrea and I needed to be at. (Our emotions had already peaked.) We however are gluttons for punishment and went on to the concert. We took Grace for emotional support:) Well, without knowing, we stumbled into a World Vision sponsored concert. Jason Gray is an amazing performer and advocate for World Vision. During his performance he made a passionate plea for each to search their heart to support World Vision.(here come the tears) A video was shown featuring a woman from the US who had supported a woman from… guessed it….Ethiopia(cue the snot bubbles). This woman had deeply impacted the life of the Ethiopian woman and vice versa.(Bring on the Kleenex.)

Andrea and I had past peak and are now on a world class emotional roller coaster ride. God was speaking, our hearts were torn open and His words burned deep within. Now, with our hearts bleeding and vulnerable Mark Shultz began his performance. His songs, formed from stories of life, are emotional without any added stimulus. So to be bombarded with these touching verses only added to the loops and drops we were already experiencing. One song in particular ministered to me on a personal level. “What It Means to be Loved” portrays the love of a father and mother that has been tested by the prospect of losing a daughter, but their faith is great and the mother will not give up hope. In return God blesses their faithfulness with abundant life for the child. In our real life situation, this song mirrored much of what I was feeling. Unfortunately, I tend to be the pessimist in the house, often detoured by things such as we are facing now. When the first rumors came in my initial reaction was to immediately think about how long we will have to wait. However, as you have probably learned, my wife has faith of steel (hence the super woman underoos). She refuses to give into Satan’s schemes and therefore encourages me. I have to throw in a side bar here and state what a wonderful wife God has blessed me with. We complement each other perfectly. What I lack she makes up for and what she lacks I haven't found yet:) As great as she is, it sometimes still takes God’s audible voice through such a song or His word to get through my thick skull. Thursday night God spoke to me plainly through His people, word, and music. I fully believe that we were invited to that concert by God Himself so He could minister to our broken hearts and reinforce the calling that we received a year ago. I am convinced that we will see our child soon. We will watch her grow and be blessed to know her. -Bigg Daddy

Some Fun!

This week has been a crazy week to say the least. We started off by hearing the news of the changes on Sunday. From then on I found myself checking my e-mail several times a day and watching the petition to see if the numbers had changed. At work I tried to keep busy, which wasn't hard at all. Thursday night we found a dose of relief in a concert we had forgot we had tickets to.
I am hoping to post on that soon! Actually hoping for the hubs to post on that. I just have to say in reference to it, God is so good and I am not sure why, but I am always so blown over when He speaks specifically to my heart.

Saturday, we ventured out of the house and into the beautiful sunshine! It felt amazing!! The girls have been begging to go the park or the zoo for weeks. Not sure why they wanted to go when it was 30 degrees.... Oh wait, I do, they were stir crazy!!!! They wanted outdoors! We love being outside, so much that Wednesday night in the rain my children were outside playing in the water that was standing in our neighbors yards. It was about 40 degrees out and I am sure there were people wondering what we were thinking. They loved it and came in to take hot showers afterwards!

Little Miss D was upset because she wanted to play too. We kept her occupied by letting her help put up her new bed. (Well new to her!) That's right our little girl has now successfully slept 4 nights in a toddler bed. She has been so excited and has done great! It's sad to say but this momma had some serious doubts about taking down her crib. I think I had expected Alex to go in it when she came out.
Can you find Curious George? This just made me giggle!

Saturday, we all ventured out for the day and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. We needed to be outside all day. We headed to the zoo in the morning and picnicked close by.
Grace took this pic of Josh and I.
Look at my crew! I know what your thinking. Yes, I am blessed!
Can't wait until the next one is in this pic as well!

D and Gbug petting the goats.

Our guide for the day!

On the way home, we stopped to stock up on some items for our pantry. Gbug didn't make it very long after that. At least the papertowels were a good substitue for a pillow!


Mar 9, 2011

In a State of Crisis but Not Despair

I am sure many of you are wondering what exactly is going on with Ethiopian adoptions. I know a lot of words and acronyms have been thrown around and if you aren't adopting or adopting specifically from Ethiopia it may be a bit confusing. I have been asked tonight several questions. What does all this mean? How does this affect our adoption process?

First off I will explain this to the best of my ability and based on the information we have been given.

In the past few months, Ethiopia has stepped up their reviews of intercountry adoptions (adoption where a child from a country is adopted by parents from another country), due to the increase in intercountry adoptions and the possibility of unethical adoptions. I won't comment on unethical adoptions except to say, they are the reason why whether adopting in the U.S or any other country, it is so very, very important to research agencies and seek out reliable references for the agencies before choosing one.
Anyway, MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs, a branch of the Ethiopian government) closely reviews the potential parent's paperwork and then writes/issues a letter of recommendation to the Federal court. That letter has to be there by the day of the court hearing or no ruling will be issued and the adoption is delayed/rescheduled. MOWA is now stating that as of March 10, they are no longer going to review 40-50 files a day, instead they will only be reviewing 4 or 5. This is a 90% cut. This cut would result in a huge increase in the timeline of intercountry adoptions.

This would affect our adoption. It would mean we would potentially wait a lot longer for a referral. But I am less concerned about that and more about the fact that this would result in longer orphanage stays for children waiting to be adopted.
A longer stay in an orphanage can mean a lot for a child. It is well known that the majority of children adopted are usually babies. The longer a child waits, the lower the odds are of them being adopted.

This greatly saddens me and breaks my heart.
I know that adoption without a doubt is not "the" answer to the orphan crisis. It is a necessity though for those without other alternatives. I know there is more that has to be done in country, if there is truly going to be a great change for generations to come.

With all of this being said....

I will lay this burden at the feet of the Lord, I will give my worries and cares to him, I will give praise and thanks to the one who provides an endless supply of hope and grace, and I will ask what action He would require of me in this situation.

Please join us in prayer and action in this matter.
**There is a petition that you may sign that states support of ethical adoptions but ask MOWA to review a better plan of action in order to accomplish that.**
Thank you for your concern!

Mar 6, 2011

A Little Bit of A Proud Momma and an Airport Party!

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

This weekend has been such a blessing to me. Friday mid morning, Grace and I sat off on a small getaway. Just the two of us armed with a great book on being an ever growing girl and a nonstop supply of goofiness. Hey, the goofiness comes easy to us! We headed to Nashville, TN. Me with the hopes of creating some great memories and sharing some special talks. Grace with the excitement of missing a little school and being sibling free. As the oldest of three, it doesn't happen that often for her.

Our pic taken with the self timer. The camera was a little low!

I often refer to Grace as our "test child". Sounds endearing, right? She is the oldest, like I said, and therefore the child that we have tried out all our parenting skills on. She has survived them thus far! So we get points for that, right?! I am just joking!

She is very special to Josh and I. We were only married about 4 months when we found out we were pregnant with Grace. We were set on the 5 year plan, marriage and then 5 years until we would have our first child. Obviously God had other plans for our lives. We were young, very young, still in college and just trying to adjust to married life and here came miss Grace. She broke us in to parenthood really well. She was a colic baby that cried most of her first year. After all the fussiness finally disappeared, asthma soon showed up. She was about 4 1/2 when she began sleeping the whole night through. She was also a very determined toddler and preschooler. I'm not sure strong-willed fit her level of determination! She tested us many, many times. She also amazed us with her cleverness. She was always one step ahead and thinking about her next move.

Now she is an 11 year old, 5th grader, sweet, smart, still clever, and still very determined. Her determination shows up in different ways now. She is very persistent with her school work, sports, and helping others. Grace is the type of child that doesn't like to see someone else being left out. She is a fan of the underdog. She doesn't necessarily run with the crowd. She is who she is and she isn't ashamed of that. We are so hopeful for her future, as we are for all of our children, but we have already seen her heart at work for the Lord and others. We give thanks for the privilege of parenting her and for having a front row seat to her life.

Ok, ok....... I will quit being sentimental and move on to our Friday afternoon and the airport party!!!

This was our first airport party! We were there to welcome home a sweet couple with their new son. The Darlings are from Kentucky. They are one of the closest families to us in AGCI's ET program. Let me tell ya, they have been blessed with the most adorable little boy, Cohen. He is such a cutie! Grace and I were so happy to be there at their arrival. It was great to see all the family, friends, adoptive families, and youth from their church there to greet them.

After the airport party we headed off with the some friends to eat dinner. Cris, Tally, and Tissy led us to a restaurant near our hotel. Grace and Tissy have been pen pals since last summer. They met at the AGCI picnic in July. They hit it off right away and that is how I met Cris. She is a great momma and I am glad to call her my friend. She and her husband brought home two boys last February from ET. Good food and good company for sure!
The rest of our time was spent just Grace and I. Laughing, shopping, ice cream eating, talking, a movie, reading, staying up late, sleeping in, and she even treated me to a nice meal before we headed home. *I told she was sweet!*