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Monday, June 30, 2008

Hanging With My Peeps

Here they are. A few pictures from the retreat. You can go here to see another slideshow of more. We had a great time. Nelda did a great job planning games and activities. The speakers were wonderful and overall it was a really great experience. You can tell by the smiles everyone had a good time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Retreat, Retreat!

I am heading out tomorrow for the women's retreat. Yes, the women of Palm Valley will descend upon the city of Scottsdale in a swarm of Fuscia (100 of us will have matching tee shirts for the occasion.) and it should be a blast if last year's retreat is any comparison. I am really looking forward to it.

My good friend Brooke S (not to be confused with my other good friend Brooke F who happens to be in Ethiopia right now) has been heading up the planning for the retreat and has done an awesome job. When we were in a meeting with some ladies who will be small group leaders at the retreat Brooke cracked me up while making a comment about how the tee shirts will be so great for bonding because, "You know when you're out and you see someone wearing the same shirt you have you think, Yea, there's my peeps."

I had to hold back laughter as hard as a could as I scanned the room of women 10 or more years older than me and Brooke. All of them were looking sorta confused by the expression "there's my peeps." I wondered to myself if they were picturing the fuscia Easter candy chick peeps.

Yesterday as I was out shopping the Lord blessed me and caused my hands to fall upon a shirt that had a chick on it which said "Where my peeps at?" I thought it could be destiny and when Dustin agreed we realized that Brooke is the rightful owner of that shirt... she just doesn't know it yet. Unfortunately, it's brown with gold writing so she may never wear it in public but I KNOW Brooke will love it. I plan to present her with the tee when she drops her kids by for me to babysit this afternoon. Maybe I can get her to pose for a pic just for fun. If I can I will add it to the bottom of this post.

Look for pictures of the retreat to follow (if i can take a break from all the fun long enough to remember to use my camera... we PVC ladies know how to PARTY! ;)

**** Update: Brooke loved the tee shirt and proclaimed that she will be wearing it tomorrow on the first day of the retreat. I didn't take a photo because I will get one of her at the actual retreat and post it later.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why Adoption? Why Ethiopia?

People want to know Why we chose Ethiopia.

......Truth is we didn't, at first.

The story, which could possibly be classified as an ordeal, is one marked with the fingerprints of God. There's really no short answer but I have been working on refining my responses for general consumption. Because people - like the person I just met at church - don't usually have time to sit down for an hour and hear ALL about it, here's my short(er) version of the story.

I want to highlight that there are many more well informed families who investigate for long periods of time, who pray and fast and meditate and who KNOW with certainty that this is the program for them when they sign up. I'm always amazed at their stories filed with certainty that they were headed in the right direction before they even took one step.

I'm here to tell ya that just wasn't our adoption experience at first.

Some of our best friends had adopted. We knew it was a blessed and beautiful thing. Dustin and I had discussed adoption and felt is was something we should do. Then life happened. We got pregnant easily and in quick succession gave birth to three precious daughters. Adoption was still something we discussed but only as something that we'd try to get around to sooner or later.
We'd always said we wanted 5 kids. Crazy, I know. But crazy is how we roll in this family. Of course, after having the three girls so close in age we considered calling it quits. Then, the baby got older and the desire to have more kids came back with a vengeance. Dustin and I were in agreement. It was baby making time ( a favorite pass time of ours ;-)

Then, the miscarriages happened. Two of them. Christmas '06 and Easter '07.

I am not saying I am happy to trade the lives of those to babies for the wake up call to get off my booty and adopt our boys, BUT the redemptive power of God totally used the loss of those children to awaken us to the suffering and losses of orphans around the world.

We were parents missing two children. We could choose to conceive and give birth to more kids (the docs all said my miscarriages were a "fluke") or we could be parents to kids who were already here in this world.

We simply felt God impress upon our hearts, through the loss of those pregnancies, that the adoption seeds He had planted over our lifetime had grown. It was the time for the plant to bear some fruitful action. Our desires turned from conception to adoption and the child/ren it would bring us.

God impressed adoption upon our hearts in a very NOW fashion as opposed to a 'later' or a 'wait and see fashion'. So we DID........ But we had NO clue where we were going or any real concept of how we would get there.

Actually, we kinda sorta ran from Ethiopia. Not because we didn't like the country or the people, rather we had some insecurities to deal with. Despite the fact that I woke up one morning with a pressing urgency placed in my heart that we were to adopt from Africa, and despite the fact that we began our search for agencies by googling "Africa adoption agency" we still felt unsure about taking steps in that direction.

I remember the feeling of staring at web pages filled with agencies facilitating adoptions in countries I couldn't find on a map. I remember the vulnerability. No one we knew had adopted internationally. All our friends were domestic adoptive/foster families. This was uncharted territory. How would we narrow the choices down? What did we really know about Africa anyway? What qualified us to adopt from there?

We simply decided not to chose a country first. We chose an agency. We investigated who we wanted to facilitate our adoption and that narrowed down our options considerably. The agency we chose was America World Adoption Association. They offered 5 programs at the time; Ethiopia, Russia, El Salvador, Ukraine, Kazakhstan.

You'd think we would've headed straight for the Ethiopia program since it was the only African option available to us, but I'll be honest once more: The whole white parents raising a black child thing was scary. It wasn't a decision to be made lightly. We knew a black child would have specific needs and we needed to honestly access whether or not we could meet those needs.

Even though we had both felt God was initially leading us to Africa we reasoned that Ethiopia is far away and it would be harder to take trips over there to maintain the connection with the country of our child's birth, something that was so important to us. Yadda, yadda, yadda the excuses flew. So, faith filled people that we are, we pulled a Jonah and headed for our agency's El Salvador program.

Then, we were rejected. The El Salvador program was a no-go.

God is sooo good!! For various reasons we really had no other alternative but to go to the Ethiopia program. From there we learned more specifically about the needs there, other than just the raw stats of orphans. We soaked up all we could. We became educated the backwards way, I guess you could say.

Now, I know this story really highlights our human weaknesses. I takes all the glamour out of the heroic adoptive parent fantasy. It's so uncertain, so learn as you go. And that would be the perfect description for our experience. That is the way God chose to work with us.

I love to highlight that God is faithful and able to keep us on the right path. If there's a heart willing to obey him He will make a way. He will even redirect his little chicks if (or in our case should I say WHEN) they start wandering off in the wrong direction.

In the space between signing up for the Ethiopia program and today Lord has confirmed our decision in a million ways. He relieved our fears and has equipped us for parenting our adopted son in amazing ways (and the equipping continues still) We have been blessed to have a large support network of families who've adopted from Ethiopia that we didn't even know existed before we signed up; some of whom have become VERY close friends. God has even provided a connection to a local immigrant Ethiopian church for us to link up with and preserve our son's culture and heritage. He continues to make connections IN Ethiopia for us as well. We hope to take missions trips in the future and develop lasting relationships there.

When people ask how we ended up adopting from Ethiopia my super short answer is, "That's where the Lord led us." and it isn't a lie. Of course I have to follow it up with, "He took us there the back way." ;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Top 20

I forgot to mention that Dustin and I are in the top twenty families now waiting for a referral. We still have a long way to go but just a few months ago the line seemed ENDLESS and though AWAA does not use the dossier numbering system anymore hearing that we were dossier number 59 might as well have been #590 to us at the time. I am excited that progress has been made.

I don't exactly know where we stack up in the line because I prefer to keep a loose grip on those details. I like to keep some space because I know how I can be. The temptation to obsess would be too great for me.

The time lines for referrals have been increased from 5-7 months to 7-9 months. August will be our 7th month waiting and so we can look forward to receiving a referral anytime thereafter (I think it would make a pretty great anniversary gift for me and Dustin to get ours in August... but that may be too soon.) Since our referral will come during the court closure (if everything goes as planned) AWAA has advised that we expect 4 months from date of referral to travel. If we get a referral at the tail end of the waiting timeline that would put travel around February. Needless to say we should be home with The Boy before we hit the TWO YEAR mark in the process which would be May 7th, 2009.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh My Another One

Can you believe this folks!? Another friend has gone and gotten herself a blog. Yes siree Joyce of the Hurt clan is Alaska Bound. Go say hello from me. They have a long haul ahead of them and they could use some wackos posting strange things on their blog comments to keep them entertained. I KNOW you are just the folks to do it!!

Red Letters Campaign- More Fingerprinting

Golly it's been a whole 4 plus months since I've had the blessing of posting about some annoying paperwork or appointment we needed to make. I know you've really been missing out on my griping. So I thought I would give you what I knew you'd been missin'.

Today I mailed off a check for $140.00 to the Dept. of Homeland Security requesting an appointment to have our biometrics taken once again (I am SO proud of all you non-adoptive readers because I know you actually know what those are by now. You lovely, faithful readers you!)

Turns out that the one free extension only applies to the I600a form NOT the biometrics
required for the I600a. (I know I might have lost you for a second.... the I600a is paper that requests advance processing of The Boy's visa... Oh, that's right, you remember now.) The I-171h approval form (that's the one which says your I600a form was approved.... gotta love the government and it's FUN form numbering system) is "good" for 18 months. The fingerprints are only valid for 15 months.

"Convenient!" you say.

I know.

So we've buckled down and settled in for the long haul of the court closure as the cliff hanger continues. One fine day in the future I'll thrill you with the details of yet another trip to our local
USCIS office for more fingerprinting.

Red Letters Campaign- Some Sort of Something's Going On

It's been a bit quiet here lately. Trust me it's not that there's been lack of activity going on in my life these days. It might actually be the opposite. With everything going on I am having a hard time finding the words for it all. Some sort of something has been happening and I want to tell you all about it..... just can't find all the words. Some things have been BIG even though there seems to be a kind of delayed reaction between the spiritual world and the physical world. I know that doesn't make much sense. I told you I'm having a hard time expressing myself these days.

I already introduced you to my dear friend Brooke. I've had tons to be excited about and pray over as she and Kim get ready to leave for Ethiopia. They are first and fore most going to pick up Kim's daughter Netty and then they will be visiting Hope for the Hopeless' orphanage and in-take center to gather information for sponsorship and for financial assistance from churches back home.

Also, church has has me chewing on lots of good, meaty spiritual food. Last week in addition to hearing a great sermon (click the audio link to hear what I heard last Sunday or click vidoe to see the whole service) via video from Perry Noble (Who's church is also a part of the One Prayer campaign) we had the opportunity to hear from the High School Go missions team as they shared their experiences. One of my favorite things was being able to rock out with the high school guys who played the praise music for us. They were great!

Then, there is me and here is where I fall really short of having any words to explain what's been going on. I have definitely hit the slump in the middle of The Wait where there seems to be a battle ground. In the midst of all this adoption stuff flying around me, while I am deeply invested in the happenings in the lives of my dear friends, there is a temptation to feel more and more disconnected from the reality of our son. I am fighting to stay emotionally connected in a positive, healthy way that doesn't have me obsessing/controlling or, on the flip side, detaching .

The balance between two is harder than I ever would have thought. It's emotionally painful to wait. That might not make sense to anyone who hasn't had to do it, but it is. Harder than the 9 month wait to give birth by far. There is all sorts of space for the enemy and your mind to play tricks on you as you choose to open your heart, hopes and life to a person who is -as of yet- completely unknown to you. There are days when feelings that this is never going to happen wash over me and D. It occurs to me that it's because we want to identify with our child at this point not simply with our adoption. Does that make any sense? Up to now it's been adoption, a general word, a general idea, a general thing that will be happening to us at a time TBD.

Now, we seek a connection to the concrete, to our child. This desire for a connection is where the big rub lies. This is where The Wait gets really hard, because there is no concrete physical connection to be made right now. It's simply a spiritual connection ( I say "simply" not to mean 'merely' as if the spiritual connection were some small thing. I use it to imply the singleness of it. Maybe the word to use would be 'purely') Because it's spiritual in nature there is a spiritual battle that ensues. There are times when we feel almost ridiculous for feeling so in love with a 'mythical child' despite knowing in faith that he is oh-so-real and needs our prayers. We know these feelings are not of God. So, we continue to battle and fight. I just wanted to be honest and share these things with you because it is the ugly side of the process and it's hard to talk about.

So there's the above mentioned stuff and there still more! God is moving. I see Him in the lives of my friends. Amazing things are happening. Spiritual things. Preparatory things. If you listen to Perry's sermon then you'll know what I'm talking about when I say that I am standing in the anticipation line and there have been moments when my pulse has raced because of the hints God has given me that He's afoot and working miracles around us. I can barely catch a drift of what is about to go down but I KNOW it's HUGE.

Personally, I sense that I am fulfilling the role God would have me in right now by staying on my knees in prayer for my dear friends as they travel, by praying for the women of PVC and working to prepare for the Palm Valley Church women's retreat (which I will be attending here soon) and covering our son in prayer even on the difficult days. So that is what I continue to do.

BUT I also sense God is preparing my/our heart. I know He is faithful. Despite feeling lost in a never ending line at times and despite this strange desire to latch on to something physical that could give us a feeling of permanence and reality of our son I press on. I release my death grip on my will and turn it over to Jesus. I get on my knees and wait once more.

That's what's been going on with me lately.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Caving In

FOLKS it's finally happened! After Months possibly YEARS of pestering my dear friend B to start a blog she ha finally done it! (Yeah B!!) Go say hello to her for me. You'll love her just as much as I do!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's My Day

I'm 29 today. Yipee. I found a single gray hair as a birthday present. To that I say: Thanks LORD. I'm not so vain that I can't thank him for letting me live long enough to have ONE. Let's just keep it at one, okay! From here on out I vow to NEVER go hunting for gray hair again. It's me and my haircolor 'till death do we part ;)

Also, this is the LAST official birthday I will ever be celebrating. If age is just a number then it's a number I prefer not to know. Then I won't feel so compelled to act my age.

The name game poll is officially closed. The clear winner is Bridon. I am not guaranteeing that this will be The Boy's name but you definitely validated our top pick, so, we shall see. Time will tell.

That's it for me today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One Prayer

I mentioned in a post the other day about Greg's sermon last Sunday. I am posting a link to watch it online if you'd like. Go here and click on the video link for One Prayer: Lord, Make Us Believe.

Here is a link to the One Prayer Web Site go check it out.

Birthday Girl Pics

Well These are very late but I am finally posting the pictures from Rory's birthday party. Her daddy, being the BEST daddy ever, went out to get her flowers for her special day. Sun Flowers were his choice and I thought they were wonderful. Rory really liked them too and I know she felt special. He's such a wonderful father. I have no doubts in my mind mind why God gave him three daughters first. He's so in love with his girls!
Here she is all dolled up for her party. Even though it was a pool party she wanted me to curl her hair. She picked out this dress. She is probably our most girly of the girls and really enjoys frills and everything fancy hence the pink decorations. She had glittery pink EVERYTHING including balloons and streamers.

Later when the kids got changed to play in the water I got drenched in the water balloon fight so I figured I'd just go ahead and jump in the pool with my clothes on. That started a trend and we had a few of the adults hanging out in the pool with the kiddos. Here's one last photo of the birthday girl looking quite happy. Notice the necklace with the swimsuit.... I told you she's girly ;)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- What to Say?

I am still more busy than words can express and the list of things weighing on my heart is too long to mention right now. One of the most pressing issues tonight is the news delivered to me by my friend Kim who told me that our dear Pastor Surefel was up until the wee early morning hours discussing the urgent need for funds for the Hope for the Hopeless Orphanages in ET. The kids are now only eating injera and food costs have risen so drastically. The news is that the famine is taking it's toll. Kim and my friend Brooke will be traveling in just over a week to see first hand the situation. Please pray for the children. Please pray for funds as there are several opportunities we are pursuing right now. Pray that the need is met. Pray for deliverance.

In other news we are certain that we will be waiting through the court closure this year. We will need to have our biometrics updated (that's fingerprints in laymen's terms). While we certainly aren't looking forward to more paperwork or additional costs related to the adoption we knew this could come with the territory. We certainly feel the sting of the prolonged wait but we know that we can't feel too sorry for ourselves. God is certainly working out the details and He knows so much better than we do. His plans are good. I've gone rounds with the enemy this week and last fighting discouragement but I feel the Lord has set our hearts in stone this week placing a new found strength to resist the temptation to feel forgotten about during the wait. I sense the call to more fervent prayer for our son. My heart is ever so heavy thinking of the famine and what he might experience. In all of this God has blessed us with the ability to rejoice with our friends as they are preparing to bring home their kids.

Sunday at church was awesome. Greg delivered a sermon which was, I am sure, difficult to share but He was blessed of God and was full of His truth. It rocked the house. Dustin and I looked at each other with jaws dropped. We sure love a good talkin' too ;) Waves of good, healthy conviction swept over us. Greg didn't pull any punches. He straight up preached. Dustin and I agreed it was as much needed for ourselves as for anyone else there as we set about asking God to remove the planks in our own eyes before we picked at the speck of another's. Ah, the joys of working out our salvation and what it truly means to be a servant of Christ. That's something to chew on for a lifetime!! I will have to share more about the sermon and what PVC is up to at a later date. Possibly even link to Greg's podcast or something. For now I am off to bed.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I am just popping in for a moment because it's been WAYYYYY too long since I've posted and though I have been intending to stop by and say hello to everyone i'ts been nearly impossible. Today finds me with 3 sick children and a house that looks like it needs to be condemned. After the smoke clears I will stop by and try to fill you in on the events of the last week.

I pray you are all well! I haven't even had much time to catch up on everyone else's blogs.... I feel so out of the loop.