Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Blessing

We got a very special Christmas blessing in the mail today!

First, just let me say that we have an incredible family!  And even though we now live far apart, we've always been close!
The way they have encouraged and rallied around us since we announced that we would adding to our family through adoption has been simply amazing!

Today we got a very special card in the mail.  Inside were several checks and a note explaining that instead of drawing names and buying Christmas gifts for each other, our family decided to put together a "love gift" for us to help in bringing our newest little family member home from Ethiopia.  Amazing!
Tears come even as I'm typing this...it feels like a huge family hug with all their arms wrapped tight around us, even though we're 800 miles away.   I'm so thankful for a family that loves us so much that they would do this for us.

Incredible.  Precious.  Simply Amazing...a true Christmas Blessing!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Let the Paperchase begin!

Ok.  Today I sat down and read the 30 pg. Ethiopia Dossier Guildeline Packet that our Family Coordinator sent to us.  I'll be honest, about 1/2 way through I broke out in tears...I had a moment...and then I wiped away the tears, picked my resolve up off the floor and finished reading the rest of the packet. 

So this weekend, I'll get started!  For the next 4-6 months (I'm determined to get it done within that timeframe) we'll officially be in what adoptive families lovingly refer to as the "paperchase" phase.  Pray for me - the Guidelines were almost more than I could handle, for goodness sake! :) 

Seriously, I know these next months are going to be challenging, but we are determined to fight for our little one (if you haven't read my last post, you really should!) - this is all part of the journey!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

...may you also dance!

I love the blog community that surrounds families who have, are or will be adopting!  It's amazing how connected you can feel to families that you've never met, but as you read their words and experiences you realize that when you share a common love for God and a heart for little ones who need families to love and care for them - the world really is a small place and people you've never met seem to feel like sweet old friends!  I follow many blogs, but the words from one gal in particular this week really touched me and brought tears (lots of them) that I'm still trying to fully explain to my husband. :) 
Andrea and her husband, Richard, adopted a little guy (Isaac) from Ethiopia about a year ago.  Here are her words -
Me and Isaac...we slow danced today. As we danced and I looked at him...as he giggled and giggled...I thought about that plan ride with Richard. How badly I wanted my husband to say yes - but I knew I had to trust my husband and follow his lead..but oh how my heart wanted to say yes to the list of unknowns...yes to our agency saying "he is 8 months old and can barely lift his head...but he smiles"...say yes beacuse I knew in my heart that this baby deserved a mommy who would fight for him. Well, we have fought this year...and now we dance. And the hard parts..the tired parts..the oh-my-gosh-can-we-do-this parts...Yes, they are all worth it.
May the leaps of faith you take trusting the Lord in the big and in the small result in moments like these...where you sit back, shake your head, wipe away a tear realizing how good God's plans really are. And then, may you also dance!

The part that brought a load of tears was when she said, I knew in my heart that this baby deserved a mommy who would fight for him. That's exactly how I feel, that the little one God has chosen for our family, deserves a mommy and a daddy and sisters who will fight for her. Despite the waiting and the challenges that have been, are and I'm sure, will be - a family who will love, adore and fight -with everything they have- for her. And someday, I know in my heart...there will be lots of dancing!

Keep praying for us - it really does mean so much!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Great News!

Today we put our 1st Ethiopia Program Fee in the mail on it's way to America World Adoption Agency!
Another step closer. 
On Monday, we'll put our Home Study paperwork in the mail on it's way to Family Christian Services. 
Another step closer.
We'll be assigned a Family Coordinator in the next week and then we'll begin putting together our dossier.  At the same time we'll be meeting with a Social Worker assigned to us by our Home Study Agency.
I think about how long it took to complete this first set of "steps" and I have to admit I feel alittle discouraged and overwhelmed, but then I remember that God equips us to carry out what He's called us to do!  God has called our family to grow through adoption - of that, we are 100% sure!  We know He's faithful!  So we'll just keep taking one step and then another - until one day (hopefully soon) we'll hold our little one in our arms!
If you'd like to pray for us, here are a couple of things that you can specifically pray for -
1.  That God would continue to provide financially for our adoption
2.  That God would help me use my time wisely as I take care of our family, my responsibilities at work and also work on putting our dossier together. 
We appreciate your prayers! 

Great reminder for today -

God will equip you for the work He's called you to do.


That's all there is to it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

As Jeff and I were thinking back over the blessings of this past year - we realized that we have so much to be thankful for - family and friends top the list!  This year we got to spend Thanksgiving with the DeMaios - we love these friends and the fun they bring into our lives!  We also love that they are on the "journey to Ethiopia" with us - our two families will be forever connected by the little ones we bring home - we're so thankful for that!  Here are a few pics from our Thanksgiving -
Gearing up for the big football game

The DeMaio's were the winners!

Dustin playing "Just Dance" - we also have video, but I'll spare you! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010


I had to give myself a time-out today!  I used to use time-outs with our girls (with varying degrees of effectiveness), but those days are long gone and, sadly, now it seems I need to use them on myself. 
I have this tendency to fix my eyes on all that I need to accomplish (which right now is a lot) and then it's full steam ahead!  As the wheels get rolling I tend to become less and less concerned with what's alongside the road - which includes such things as my husband, my girls, my friends, my good-attitude (to name a few). 
I just had to stop today - literally, to give myself a 10 minute time-out!  During that time, I asked God to forgive me for being so busy.  Busyness is not God's idea - it's one we've come up with all on our own.  Busyness robs me of precious connections with my family, precious time with my Creator - it wears me out, shortens my fuse and really just makes me an all-around grouch!  So today, I had a time-out!  And it was good.  I'm wondering what my girls didn't like about them...I'm hoping to have another one tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

So Thankful

So thankful for this handsome guy...

And for this family (and sweet little E.too) - you probably noticed an extra one in there! :)

And for the bright sunshine - even though it messes with my picture-taking abilities...and fall festivals and cooler temperatures and time spent together...I love spending fall with my family!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are you Passionate?

Each week the ladies on staff at Southbrook get together for a Bible study.  I love this time!  I love these women!  Each one of them is beautiful inside and out and I feel like I gain so much strength and insight from the time we spend together - I feel blessed to call them friends. 
We take turns leading our Bible study time and this week, it was my turn...I thought I'd share my thoughts here as well.

Passion – I think this is a word that some of us have a hard time defining. I know when I think of passion I immediately think of Italians – they are passionate about food, family and having the last word. Their passion usually manifests itself in loud, in-your face communication (I can say this because I’m married to a man with some Italian-blood running through his veins). I realize I’m stereotyping here a little bit, but you get the picture - we usually think of passionate people as people who speak loudly and proudly and without a whole lot of concern for what others think about what they have to say. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but when I look at that definition of passion, I don’t fit the bill - so does that mean I’m not a passionate person – I’m not a passionate Christ-follower? I don’t think so.

I'm beginning to look at passion in a slightly different way. In Colossians 3:23 it says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

This verse reminds me to be “breathless” with dedication to God’s calling and purposes for me. I love the word “breathless”. It makes me think of those times when someone or something has amazed or surprised me. And that’s exactly the way I feel about what God is doing in and through me each day – there are times when God’s love, provision and plan knocks the breath right out of me. That sort of breathlessness stirs up passion in me – maybe a quieter, less in-your- face passion, but passion nonetheless - and I need passion because I can’t live without what it produces – and neither can you!

Passion Produces Drive – with passion we have the enthusiasm for pushing ahead. With passion, we have the energy to drive through to the finish line, even when things get difficult.

Passion Produces Possibilities – with a passion that believes in the power of God, the possibilities are endless. If we could accomplish the work with our own resources alone, why would we need God to show up? For us to be stretched and God to be glorified, we need to be thrust into impossible situations, situations in which He needs to show up for things to work.

Passion Produces Exceptional Effects – when we approach our tasks with passion – passion for the great privilege we’ve been granted to be used by God – amazing spiritual results will blossom. We will be known as a person who loves, values and honors others and who expects exceptional things to happen when God is in control.

Are we willing to lose our breath for the vision God has for our lives? Are we spending time today focusing on the things that stir up breathless passion deep in our hearts?

Today, remember -
In all the work you do,
Do it with all of your breath,
With passion.

Trick or Treat

I seem to be about 2 steps behind in just about everything lately...oh well, better late than never, right?!
 Here are a couple of pics of our trick-or-treater - Alice in Wonderland (and some friends)! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll

I absolutely adore Fall!  Wearing sweatshirts, eating smores and drinking apple cider just makes me feel all cozy and warm and I love that!  
Our family had a little fall-getaway a couple of weekends ago and I've been so late on getting some pictures posted, but better late than never...here are a few -


Hope you're taking time this Fall to create beautiful memories with your family!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christmas Frenzy

It may be time for pumpkins, apple cider and bonfires, but Christmas will be here before we know it! That means it's time to start thinking about a Christmas list. As I do my shopping this year, I want to try to help as many families as possible on their adoption journeys.  Many families are doing fundraisers right now to support their adoptions - including us!  A sweet family is bringing together many different adoptive
families and showcasing their adoption fundraiser items. Check out Christmas Frenzy on their blog here!  Enjoy your Christmas shopping and find joy in knowing that you are giving gifts that will keep on giving!

So Thankful!

"Has God trusted you with a silence - a silence that is big with meaning?  God's silences are His answers.  Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany (when Jesus did not come at Mary and Martha's request, and Lazarus died)...His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself."  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I have been in a spot of seeming silence from God lately.  I was beginning to feel discouraged, but then God sent me this amazing reminder today (via Oswald Chambers).  I'm learning that more than anything my desire is to know God intimately and there are times when silence is necessary.  It causes me to cling more closely to Him so that I'm ready to hear the moment the silence stops.

So thankful for His reminder today!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trying too hard...

Most of us either try too hard or we quit trying. 
In both cases, we miss God.
Linda Dillow, Calm my Anxious Heart

I'm reading the book The Relief of Imperfection, again!  I tend to fall into that "try too hard" category and need to be reminded again and again that without Christ, I can do nothing of eternal value.  With Him, I can do whatever He calls me to do.  I love that!  It's all dependent on Him and the great news - the woohoo news - is that He never fails! 
Now does that mean that life and circumstances always turn out like I think they should - of course not.  It does mean that His purposes are carried out and I'll take His purposes over my purposes any moment of the day - any day of the week!

I love the way The Message puts Matthew 11:28-30  "Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly." 

I'm praying this week that God will continue to teach me the unforced rhythms of grace.  It's not trying too hard - it's not giving up.  It's finding God in each step and letting His mercy and love and peace and passion flow freely.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sweet Averi

Ok, so I'm going to take the next few moments to shamelessly brag about our sweet Averi (if you can't do that on your blog, then where can you?!) 
Last night I went to Averi's parent-teacher conference.  I met with 3 of her teachers and heard wonderful things like, "good student, hard worker, very polite...", but it was the story that her teacher, Ms Jenkins, told me that really made this momma's heart melt.  Ms. Jenkins has been suffering with a sinus infection and not feeling very well.  The other day, she decided to try making it through the school day, but ended up having to leave early because she just felt awful.  Right before she was getting ready to leave the class in the hands of her sub - Averi came up to her, put her hand on her arm and said, "Ms Jenkins, I'm so sorry that you don't feel well".  Ms Jenkins had tears in her eyes as she was telling me this story.  She told me that the compassion and sincerity in Averi's voice and words that day had touched her heart in a special way! 
I love that Averi is a hard-working, polite student, but I LOVE that she has a heart that truly cares for others!  We're so proud of you Averi - you're an incredible young lady and you reflect the love of our Heavenly Father so beautifully!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Blessing

This is the message we got from our niece, Kendra, on Facebook - So, I was telling one of my customers about your (adoption) shirts tonight and he goes "get me $100 worth"... and just handed me the money!! I was shocked so I asked what sizes and he said it didn't matter... one big enough for him and the others he would hand out to his friends! It was just inspiring and I wanted to tell you guys about it :)

On that note... Paige and I are putting together a rather large order for us, our co-workers AND our customers too!!!!

When I read that it gave me goose bumps and brought instant tears!  It's so incredible how God orchestrates His plans - In this case, He's choosing to use a complete stranger to play a part in bringing our little one home.  What a sweet blessing!  I don't know who this man is or who some of the others are that have ordered shirts and chosen to support our journey, but to all of you - sweet strangers, friends and family - thank you so much!  You have no idea how much your support means.  We have said from the beginning that this is God's story and we want it to bring Him incredible glory.  It's moments like these when my heart sings Psalms 100  Shout for joy to the LORD...Know that the LORD is God, it is He who made us and we are His...Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the LORD is good and His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Busy Week

It's been a busy week around here.  Soccer and football seasons have officially started (added to school and work and sleepovers and friends and a husband who is traveling alot) and trying to keep up with who needs to be where, when - is wearing this momma out!  Last night was Averi's 1st official football game to cheer at - she was fabulous - and the middle school football team looks like they may even do some winning this year - woohoo!  It also was Anni's 1st Champions League soccer game - they won 4-0.  They played under the lights - that is until the lights suddenly went out, leaving it pitch black with a bunch of screaming girls running around on the soccer field - really kind of funny!  All in all, it was a great night!  We made all the connections that we were supposed to and then came home and fell into bed! 
Here are a few pictures - Enjoy!    

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our Adoption T-Shirts are Ready!

A HUGE thank you to Chris Goeller for the amazing design!  We promised they'd be cool!  We're so excited to give our family and friends a chance to support our adoption journey and get a fabulous t-shirt in return!  So all you need to do is email us at adoptionshirts@gmail.com and let us know the shirt color - blue or gray - and size(s) you want.  They're available in Youth XS-XL ($15.00 donation) and Adult S-XXL ($20.00 donation).  Thank you so much for supporting our family's journey to bring our little one home!
Check it out!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Anni's Baptism

What an incredible gift to see your kids make a decision to obey their Heavenly Father!  We're so proud of you Anni and your desire to shine God's light and love so brightly. 

There were many kids and youth that made the decision to be baptized today.  Another confirmation in my heart that our kids and youth are not the "church of tomorrow" - they are living for Christ today in their churches, in their schools and in their homes! 
What an amazing God we serve!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Start of the Soccer Season

It's soccer time!  Anni and Jeff had their 1st tournament this past weekend.  The girls (and coaches) did a great job!  They lost their 1st game by 1 and won their 2nd game by 4!  It was a HOT day, but everyone held in there really well.  It's going to be a great season! 
Go Palmetto United!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


There is an anticipation of the unknown future. And so often it’s the very best thing that we never knew we wanted. God has a way of doing that…
I was so encouraged once again this morning by the book of Psalms. 
"From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint;  lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  Psalm 61:2
In times of uncertainty and anticipation - it is so incredible to know that there is a Rock who is higher than we are!  And no matter where we call out from and no matter how frail and faint we feel - He is right there ready to lead us by the hand to a place of His perspective - eveything always looks different from the top of the highest rock!

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Mom, she totally trusts me"...

When Anni got home this afternoon from her 1st day in 3rd grade - I asked her about her High and Low (the high-point of the day and the low-point of the day).  She told me her Low was that her assigned seat is right between 2 boys - yikes, 3rd grade-boy germs!  Her High was that she was able to control her talking during carpet time while she was sitting next to her "best friend" who happens to be in her class this year (finally!) and so now she knows her teacher, Ms. Massie, totally trusts her!  That is a definite High!
Let's see how the "controlling the talking" goes tomorrow!

First Day of School

The start of a new school year - a new beginning!  This morning we were ready to go early! (whoever decided that elementary school should start at 7:20, seriously needs to have their head checked)

I do have to say this year was a little different.  This was the first summer that I really didn't count down the days until school started.  I don't know why.  Maybe because my girls are getting older and really, for the most part, are 3 of the most "undemanding" kids ever.  Maybe because I really enjoyed our time this summer - doing puzzles, going to the movies, going to the beach and the pool,  spending time in MI, staying up late (eating popcorn) and sleeping in.  Maybe it's because each year I realize that we're that much closer to sending Abbi off to college (and then Averi and then Anni...)  I don't know, but I wasn't quite as ready as I normally am for summer to be over.  But it is...
I'll admit that I cried on the way home from work today because I feel the days getting shorter and shorter.  Anyways, tomorrow I'm sure I won't be quite so emotional.  Today - they were excited and so I'm excited for them - I'll be all smiles when they get home!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.

Proverbs 24:12  If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?
(Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act.)

I was challenged and also encouraged by this verse today.  God opens our eyes and once our eyes have been opened it's our responsiblity to act on what we see. 
Our eyes and hearts have been opened to adoption and we couldn't turn back now even if we wanted to. 
We know what to do.
I'm so thankful that God has opened our eyes and called us to follow Him on this journey.

What has He opened your eyes to?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Abbi!

Happy 15th Birthday Abbi!  Wow.  15.  Amazing.  Years.  Old.

I love this girl!  Abbi is fun and laid back and has a smile that is simply infectious!  She's our first-born and we've definitely made our fair share of mistakes, but we've tried to hold her in open hands, realizing that she's an incredible gift, but she is ultimately God's.  We're reminded so often that our days of "parenting" Abbi are growing short and that always brings a little bit of sadness, but we're also so excited to see all she is becoming.  Our prayer for Abbi is that she'll continue to allow God to do big things in her life.  That her story will be one that brings incredible glory to God!
We love you kiddo!


Just a quick update on our puzzle project - it's finished!! 
What a great way to spend 100-degree days!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making a Difference!

I just finished reading "What Difference Do It Make?" (yes, that's what it's called - you have to read the book to understand the reason for the incorrect grammar).  Incredible book!  It's been a summer of great reading for me!!  Through the many books I've read and also just through the prompting of the Holy Spirit I've been so inspired to get more involved in my community and make a difference. 
Several months back I had heard on the radio about a ministry called Birthday Blessings.  Their ministry brings birthday joy and support to homeless children and their families. They operate on the belief that every child's life deserves to be celebrated, regardless of circumstance.  Which I whole-heartedly agree with! 
I've decided that I'm going to start volunteering with their ministry one morning a week.  If any of you are local and interested, I'd love to have you join me!

I love this quote -
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the
something I can do.

What's the something you can do?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


en·dur·ance  n.  The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress

When I think of endurance I always think of runners - those who keep on, even when every muscle in their body is saying STOP!  I can't say I remember exactly what that's like - I was a runner in my younger days, but have lost the desire to be one now - but I do love those with endurance!  I strive to be one with endurance.

The great thing for us as Christ-followers is that our "power" is coming from the one true, endless Source!
He never promised us that life would smooth-sailing, stress or hardship-free.  He did, however, promise that He would be our source of never-ending strength - so that we can endure!  And not just endure, but endure with gusto - endure victoriously!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Great Thought for Today...

Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.
(Francis Chan)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Putting this 1000 piece puzzle together has become our new fascination (maybe obsession is a better word).  Here's our progress so far -

Hopefully, we'll finish it up before we pull all our hair out!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

God Funds what He Favors and He Favors Adoption

I want to be as real as possible as I share our adoption journey, but I also am a pretty private gal so sharing some of the more personal aspects of this process will be a stretch for me (but I promise I'll do the best I can).
We believe that one of the ways God will make Himself most evident in our adoption will be by providing for us financially - by moving the mountain, so to speak, that stands between us and the child He has for us.  One of the things that I love about the adoption blog world is reading about all the different ways that God has provided for families just like ours. It's encouraging, inspiring and reminds us again that this is God's story and it will be for God's glory!
The fact of the matter is that international adoption is a financially costly journey - we've known that from the start.  One of the things that we're excited about is seeing how God will provide to bring one of His children home.  We know He will.  There isn't a doubt in our minds that God funds what He favors and He favors adoption! 
So we are praying and skimping and saving and we're even getting a little bit creative!  Pretty soon, we'll be unveiling our new Adoption T-Shirt!  We want to give our family and friends a fun way to support our adoption and also get something pretty cool for yourselves in return. We're in the design/print stage right now, but we'll let you know as soon as they're ready.  We hope you'll buy one for yourself and also pass along the opportunity to all your friends!  We promise they'll be cool! (you know they'll have to be if Abbi's going to agree to wear it)

So...we'd love for you to pray with us - thanking God that His timing and provision are perfect and asking the Holy Spirit to give our family patience and wisdom as we wait on Him.  And...we'd also like to ask you to save up for one of our Adoption T-Shirts and spread the word once they're available! 
We can't wait to share with you how God moves this mountain - I'll try to do it as authentically and openly as possible.  Like I said, this is God's story and we want it to be all for His glory!

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's Official - She's a Teenager!

Happy 13th Birthday Averi! 
Right now, our birthday girl is at Whisper Mountain on our church's middle school retreat, so we'll wait to start the "celebrating" until she gets home on Wednesday night - but I wanted to take a few minutes to rave about our sweet Averi Kristine!

Words that describe Averi:  smart, funny, loyal, loving, innocent (or some might say gullible), responsible, kind and thoughtful - she believes the best in others, sticks close to those she loves and has a soft heart that God is molding for His glory!  She's a true friend and absolutely beautiful inside and out!  There are so many things I love about this girl - I want to be Averi when I grow up!
Happy Birthday Sweet Girl - We can't wait to see the plans God has for you as you grow into the young lady He's designed you to be! 
We love you so much!

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Grandma

Elise Parker 1920-2010
When I think of my Grandma there are so many things that come to mind... 
I think of all the times my cousin Sally and I used to spend at my Grandma and Grandpa's house - swimming in their pool, swinging on the hammock, being tickled and tucked into the twin beds - ready to spend the night. Christmas Eves spent waiting for Santa to make a visit, eating Grandma's trifle and watching old family slides.  All those memories are vivid and priceless.
I think of how many times Grandma and Grandpa prayed for all of us -their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.
I think of how stylish Grandma was - with her hair done, nails painted...her jewelry and high heels.
I think of how much she loved Grandpa and how much she's missed him since he's been gone - They were 2 peas in a pod and I know she's been hoping for this day ever since he passed away.
My Grandma went to Heaven this morning and I feel incredible joy that I'll see her again someday.  Until then, I'm so thankful for sweet memories to hold onto!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Shield

God says that His Word is alive and powerful and I believe Him!  I love when I read a verse that I've known for years and all of a sudden something new in that verse jumps off the page - something that I've never really noticed before.  I had that happen this past week...
Some things have come up this week that have challenged me.  To be honest, I was feeling really small and discouraged.  As I was reading through the Psalms I came upon Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped...  This is a verse that I've known since my AWANA days (we won't say exactly how long ago that was) - I've read it many times.  In the past I've always held onto the “strength” part of that verse and sort of jumped over the “shield” part, but this week... I was really struck by the fact that the LORD is my shield! 

The LORD is my shield.

He stands in front of me.

I love to picture that - me, small and helpless with my Almighty, Powerful Savior standing in front of me - I picture Him with his hands on his hips, feet spread apart - sort of that "noone's going to mess with my girl" pose.  He's taking the arrows that are meant for me and they just bounce right off Him.  Pretty soon, I don't feel so small anymore - I feel like I'm standing taller and stronger!  My heart trusts in Him and I'm helped.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Adoption Paperwork Day"

At this rate, I'll have all our adoption paperwork completed around 2015.  Seriously... It's not that I haven't been getting around to it because it's not important - that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's just that in the midst of being wife, mom, children's ministry director, friend, laundry-lady, house-cleaner, food-preparer, problem-solver and of course, lady-of-leisure - it's hard to fit everything in!
I've decided that I need to have a plan.  So... the plan is that Friday will be "adoption paperwork day" - a day (well at least a few hours of the day) set aside for getting paperwork done in a timely manner! 
So here's what I accomplished on my 1st "adoption paperwork day":  I finished filling out our Home Study Application and Response Form, printed them off, attached a check, attached a family picture, attached a picture of our house - put them all in an enevelope, addressed it to Christian Family Services, attached a stamp and put it in the mailbox.  Job well done!
One step closer - I'm trying not to think about the many, many steps in front of us (or the dollar bills that go along with each of those steps).  Today, I'm rejoicing in completing this step and resting in the truth that God's timing and provision are perfect!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stretching and Growing

As we move forward in our adoption process, I'm already seeing how God is going to use this experience to stretch and grow me.  I have a feeling He's going to teach me a thing or two about waiting!  For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm one to take on tasks with focus and determination.  I'm a "let's get'er done" type of gal - the quicker the better!  I'm already realizing that the journey to our sweet little one is not going to be a quick, "let's get'er done" type of deal.  There are so many things in the timing of this process that are beyond our control. 

I'm convinced that there are those who know how to embrace the journey, who rejoice in the day...and then there are those of us who just want to celebrate at the end of the journey, at the end of the day.

I'm praying that God will grow me into one who truly embraces the journey, simply rejoices in the day - I have a feeling that if I can learn to do that, it will make the celebration at the end of the journey, even sweeter! 

So let the stretching and growing begin!  I'm not just going to wait for the process to be over, but I'm going to wait with great anticipation for what the journey holds!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Resting - Time Well Spent

Resting can be difficult for me, but I'm getting some much needed practice at it this week.  Our family is up in MI enjoying time with family and friends - away from our normal responsibilities and routines. The first couple of days I'll admit it's hard for me to stop thinking about what's going on at home, at work, in the web-world; but it doesn't take too long to realize that it all keeps on keeping on with or without me. That's both humbling and reassuring all at the same time!
In the midst of resting, here are some things that God has brought to my mind this week (in no particular order)...
My life is His story - He plays the starring role (not me)
A wedding at the Zoo is awesome - here are some pictures to prove it -Jake and Courtney's Wedding
God sure knew what He was doing when He designed us to dance - when else can you have so much fun, burn so many calories and care so little about what others think of you!
Each day I need to reduce my expectations to zero and just embrace whatever He brings my way
MI is absolutely some of God's most beautiful handiwork (but I do enjoy it much more when it's not covered in snow)
God funds what He favors and He favors adoption
Life is so much more purposeful and peaceful when God is steering the boat
And last, but certainly not least...There's nothing like time spent around a campfire!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School is going on this week at our Weddington Campus!
I love the actual nights of VBS - seeing the kids, the excitement - it's just simply VERY cool!  This year we are learning that God's word is true, surprising, comforting and life-changing - what great truths for our kids to learn and hold on to!  God's word is the light that will lead them through the rest of their lives!
This year, Wendy Poovey is our Weddingotn VBS director and she has done/is doing an AMAZING job!  We also have an incredible group of volunteers (and staff) who are making this an "adventure to remember" - we couldn't pull this off without them!
Along with VBS this week, our family is also getting ready to head out for Michigan to attend my nephew's wedding and to visit with family and friends - we're so excited to see everyone! 
So... this will probably be my last post this week - but I did want to post a few VBS pictures!
I just have to say that I love when Heidi and the youth lead our kids (and adults) in worship.  Anyone who doesn't believe that kids can truly worship and praise our GREAT God seriously needs to come and visit us at Southbrook!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Weekend

We celebrate special occassions in weekends or weeks - Mother's Day weekend, Birthday week, Father's Day weekend - you get the picture!  It spreads out the enjoyment and allows us to justify eating out and doing extra fun things as part of the "celebration"!
This past weekend we celebrated the best Daddy around!  Jeff is the strong spiritual leader of our family, which in my book, is #1 Dad material!  He makes our girls laugh (ok and yes, sometimes cry) - he encourages them to think on their feet and be flexible!  He makes them feel special, which in turn makes them strong and confident!  He doesn't shy away from uncomfortable or awkward conversations and discussions - which in a house of growing girls is super important!  He's just the all-around King of the castle and we love him so much!
We were so thankful that this Father's Day weekend we also got to celebrate the official start of our journey to sweet Thomas girl #4 - she's sure to steal her Daddy's heart just like the other 3 have!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I am not the same.

I finished the book Radical.  I could go on and on about all that God revealed to me, but instead I'm simply going to encourage you to read the book yourself and see what God will reveal to you!
I am not the same.
We all have a choice.  We can cling to short-term treasures that we cannot keep or we can live for long-term treasures that we cannot lose.
Pretty powerful words.
We will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts and ulimately the gospel He has entrusted to us.  When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the America dream.  Instead we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.

Friday, June 18, 2010

We got the call...

At 5:00 today we got the call..."Congratulations, you're family has been accepted into our Ethiopia program!"
Thank you so much for praying! 

Application Follow-Up

Yesterday we recieved an email from America World's intake coordinator - she is in the process of reviewing our adoption application!  She was looking for a little more information on how we will be financing our adoption.  Thankfully, America World is a Christian organization - so when we say things like, "we are trusting that God will provide for what He's called us to do" - that makes sense to her.  Still, she is doing her job and making sure that our family is prepared for the financial weight that lies ahead.  So we sent her some more information and explanation about the various adoption loans and grants that we are looking into (what a blessing that there are organizations that make these things possible and available to families that have a heart for adoption) and we are now praying that our application will be accepted and our "official" adoption journey will begin.  Would you please take a few minutes today and pray that we'll get a phone call and they'll say "Congratulations, your application has been accepted"!  Just typing those words brings tears - I'm praying that we'll hear them very soon!
Thank you for your prayers!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Special Day with Anni

Anni and I spent the day together - just the 2 of us - it was so much fun!  We did a little shopping - she helped me pick out a dress - I helped her pick out some shoes.  We had lunch at Wendy's (her choice). 
The most amazing thing is all the talking that happens when we just have one-on-one time. 
Anni's been telling us (and anyone else who will listen) for quite awhile now that she doesn't think she'll want to have children - it looks to her like they are just way too much work!  But what I heard come out of our sweet girl's mouth today made me smile a "that's my girl" kind of smile! 
She said, "Mom, I know you've been kind of worried that you won't have grandchildren (really hadn't crossed my mind at this point, but I let her continue).  I don't want you to worry anymore, I've decided that I'm going to adopt.  I think there'll be a little girl in Ethiopia or maybe China who will need me to be her mom." 
I love, love, love that adoption is now something that is on the hearts and minds of our girls! 
Thanks for a great day Anni!


I started a new book last week - Radical by David Platt.  This book is not a lite summer read - it's one of those books that you can't read without being challenged to change.  I'm not finished with it yet and quite honestly, I need time to process all that God is revealing and challenging me with.  But I want to share with you a little snippet from the opening of the book - We will together explore the biblical gospel alongside our cultural assumptions with an aim toward embracing Jesus for who He really is, not for who we have created Him to be.  We will look at the core truth of a God-centered gospel and see how we have manipulated it into a human-centered message.  We will see a purpose for our lives that transcends the country and culture we live in and we will see our desperate need for His presence to fulfill His purpose in us. 
Like I said, no "lite stuff" here, but so far, incredible!  Ultimately, I want to serve, honor, bring glory and praise to the God of the Bible - not the nice little "American-Christian God" we try to mold Him into.  We live in a society where it's "all about the packaging" and so we try to package Christ in a neat box with a big bow on top - a package that we like and are comfortable with.  But the God that I surrender my life to does not fit in a box, He isn't about making people feel comfortable - in fact, while Jesus was here on earth He made most people very uncomfortable!  Like I said, I'm only about 1/2 way through the book, but it is definitely causing lots of thought and discussion - I love that!  If you've read the book or read it in the near future, I'd love to hear your thoughts too!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Official Application Submitted

Our official adoption application has been submitted!  The adoption agency we chose is America World, we will be adopting a little girl under 3 yrs old (at the time of referral) from Ethiopia.  Here are some of the heartbreaking statistics that drew us to this country. 
  • There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia
  • One in fifteen children die before their first birthday
  • 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition
  • More than 1/2 the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
For us, these are not just unthinkable statistics - these are lives - each one wonderfully created by our Heavenly Father!

We have great friends who are also adopting from Ethiopia - they have submitted their dossier and are now waiting for a referral.  I saw first-hand the time, energry and resources they poured into getting their dossier ready!  You can read their story at From Heart to Home.
For us, this is just the beginning, we have so much in front of us. Our Home Study will be the next step.
We're praying that God will give our family what we need - we're just going to take it one step at a time!  We're praying that in the end we'll be a family of seven (including Buddy the wonder dog) and we'll have another sweet girl to love! 
When our family comes to your mind, we'd love to have you pray for us!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dinner is Served - Part 2

Tonight was Averi's turn to prepare dinner.  She made turkey wraps, fruit salad and mashed potatoes.  I know, weird combination, but the mashed potatoes were Abbi's special request and being the nice sister that she is, Averi obliged!  Earlier in the day, Anni and I had made raspberry pie (my favorite - and very hard to come across down here in the South).  It was a fabulous dinner!  Great job Averi!

A little side note, my hand-mixer was a casualty of tonight's dinner preparations.  It's quite sad, Jeff and I received this mixer as a wedding shower gift from George and Sophie Ranger many years ago.  It served our family well!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

do, do, do...

Psalm 51:16-17 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. 
These verses struck me this morning.  I'm a doer by nature.  I do for my family, I do for others, I do for God; sometimes I do out of love, sometimes I do out of obligation, sometimes I do because noone else will.  But this morning I was reminded that I can do till I'm blue in the face and never touch the heart of God. 
Here's what God is interested in - Does my will bend easily to His?  Does my self-sufficiency crumble in light of Who He Is and who I am not?  Does my heart break for what breaks His?  These are the things that matter to God. 
I can do, do, do, but if I'm lacking a broken and contrite heart before a Perfect and Almighty God, what I'm doing will never have the impact He meant for it to have!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dinner is Served

We decided this summer to start something new...1 night a week Abbi and Averi will be responsible for dinner - deciding what to have, making the shopping list, preparing a well-balanced, (at least somewhat) healthy meal! Tonight was Abbi's 1st attempt - we had 5 cheese pasta, salad and bread.  It was fantastic! 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Anni - 3v3 Soccer

Yesterday was Anni's 1st 3v3 Soccer Tourney.  This is new territory - 3v3 soccer is different than what we're used to, but Anni still did a great job!  Their team came in 4th (out of 4 teams), but I must say that the other teams were all boys!  So...
Way to go Girls!
Way to go Coach Jeff!
Way to go Anni!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Flip Side

"Bad attitudes breed bad attitudes.  Grumpy hearts breed more grumpy hearts.  Ungratefulness breeds ungratefulness.  On the flip side, praising God breeds more reasons to praise God.  Thankfulness breeds more thankfulness.  And a person who daily practices both praising and thanking has a rare joy that very few people possess."
(Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl  Lysa Terkeurst)
Today, I'm going to choose the flip side!

We're off to Anni's 3v3 Soccer Tourney!  I'll post pics later.

Friday, June 4, 2010

GREAT or small

"Great people make others feel great, small people make others feel small."
Praying that God will make me a great person today!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just Words?

I wanted to share with you why I chose 1John 3:18 "Let us love not with words or tongue but with actions and truth" as the verse to "head up" our blog.
Words are really important to me - I love to read words, I love to write words; other's words carry a lot of weight with me and I speak words carefully, hoping that they will carry weight with others.
But God has really been challenging me lately...are the words that come out of my mouth just words or are they tied to actions that come from a heart that really believes what I'm saying? That can be a tough question for me.
I think we all can agree that the word love is pretty over-used. We say we love everything from blueberries to FlashForward (which I really do find entertaining and hope they don't cancel). But when I speak of love I want it to be more than just words, I want it to be a true expression of my heart! I want to be so filled up with the love that God continually shows me, that it overflows from my heart, out of my mouth and into my actions.
When we think of adopting, that's what we think of - love in action. We want to love a child who might not otherwise experience what it's like to be treasured and adored by a family. We want to share God's truth with a child who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be led to their Heavenly Father. For our family, we want it to be more than just words - we want to love "with actions and truth"!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Beach Pictures

This weekend we had some sickness, some sunburn and a couple of creepy crawlies - we also had cake and ice cream, walks on the beach, great seafood and fun in the waves!  Most importantly, we got to hang out with a couple of great families!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Weekend

We just got back from a weekend at the Beach with great friends! It got me thinking...our family has been so blessed with incredible friends over the years. I'm truly thankful for that! Friendship is one of God's sweetest blessings!
I'll post pics from our trip tomorrow!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I don't mind if they have something nice to say about me...

It's good to be recognized for a job well done. School ended yesterday and our girls were awarded for their good grades, their citizenship and their leadership skills. Let me explain Abbi's - her teachers got together at the end of the year and handed out "paper plate awards". They believe she will one day be the President of the US because she mixes strong leadership and lots of persuasive powers (that's for sure!) with true compassion and concern for others - pretty cool!

Anni and Averi both received Honor Roll awards. Anni received perfect attendance and an award for Spanish class. Averi was awarded "The Principals Choice Award", and top honors in Science and Social Studies.

Good Job Girls! We're so proud of you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Here We Go!

Do you ever feel like God is up to something BIG in your life, like He has you standing right on the brink of something that will take your breath away? I have felt that a few times in my life and now here I am again. How do I know that “feeling”? First comes the restlessness, that stirring that makes me question where I’m at and what I’m doing. Next, God begins to plant tiny little seeds of passion in my heart. These passions start as little thoughts, little nudges, little wishes. And then, I wait…wait for God to grow those tiny seeds and illuminate the path He has for me.
I wanted to start blogging now so that I can keep track of what God’s up to. Not just the BIG things, but also the little things that happen each day that make our family interesting and real and yes, a little bit crazy!
Let me start by telling you a little about myself. I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom and Children’s Ministry Director. I work so hard at trying to live my life in that order, but I’ll admit that it’s a daily challenge and a continual matter of prayer. The above mentioned roles take up most of my time, which means I’m not a grocery guru, expert seamstress or exercise fanatic. If there is someone out there who has figured out how to “be it all” – I seriously would love to hear from you!
I’m married to my high school sweetheart – we’ve been married for 18 years. We are the poster couple for “opposites attract”! People always told me that being married to Jeff would keep my life exciting – they had no idea! One thing I love most about my husband is that he is always the 1st to apologize – he’d rather be reconciled, than right – I love that so much!
We have 3 daughters. Abbi is 14, Averi is 12 and Anni is 8. We have 1 girl at each school right now – high school, middle school and elementary school – I think that’s a fun fact! I love being a mom. Our girls are sweet, fun and growing in their faith – I couldn’t ask for anything more. We, of course, have our moments and there are definitely times when I feel like a complete failure as a mom, but I claim Philippians 1:6 for each one of them - “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I am the Children’s Ministry Director at Southbrook Church in Weddington, NC. Remember how I said earlier that I’ve had this “feeling” a few other times before. Well one of those other times landed me smack dab in the middle of my current ministry and trust me when I say it has definitely taken my breath away! This has been a calling that has stretched me in incredible ways! It’s painful, exciting, rewarding and draining all at the same time. I love the people I’ve had the opportunity to grow with! I love the kids I see each week! I love the parents who trust us with their most precious children! I carry out my calling for an audience of One and I am constantly listening to hear His voice.
Now let me tell you about those little seeds that have been recently planted deep in my heart… a few years ago, Jeff came to me with the idea of adoption. We started with the process, but kept running into roadblocks. We decided that God definitely was calling us to adopt, but we were going to have to wait on Him for the timing. A few months ago, God made it clear that very soon He would grow our family through adoption. As I’ve learned more about adoption, visited adoption sites and blogs of families that have adopted or are in the process, God has planted yet another seed in my heart. My heart breaks that there are children all over the world who will never know what it’s like to be loved by a family. They will go day after day without having even their most basic needs met. I don’t know what this seed will look like when it is full grown, but I do know that God is opening my heart and mind to children all over the world who long to be loved. I know God’s heart breaks for these little ones and I know that in some way, someday, He will use our family to reach out - to be His hands and His feet!
I’m so excited to share this journey with you!
So hold on…Here we go!
P.S. I promise that not all my posts will be this wordy!