Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Random Tuesday Post

Last week was filled with egg hunts, dyeing eggs, and eating sweets. Unfortunately, I don't have very many pictures from last week. Jax and I had our MDO egg hunt on Tuesday.
Sawyer's egg hunt had to be moved indoors due to rain. It poured all day!
Saturday we went to the Eggstravaganza at church followed by egg dyeing at my Grandma's house.
I have no pictures from Easter Day, because I accidentally left my camera on a park bench. Thankfully two young men found my camera and turned it in.
Well, they took several pictures of themselves and then turned it in. I had lots of funny pictures on my camera when I got it back today.

I am leaving in about an hour for a conference in Atlanta. My grandma is here for a couple of days to stay with the boys while Justin is at work. I am excited about getting away for a few days, but I know I will miss the boys.

I won't be blogging while I'm gone, so I hope everyone has a great week. I also hope there are some referrals this week. April has been way too slow!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Year Ago Today

I wrote my first "One Day Closer" blog post. I can't believe it has been over a year since we started our adoption journey and one year since I wrote this. We had a family blog for years before I started this one, but I abandoned it when we started this blog. I just couldn't keep up with more than one.

One day when I was talking to my sister-in-law, Kelsey, about how long it was taking to even get started with the adoption, she said, "just remember, every day is one day closer to your child." That was the inspiration behind the title of our blog. With all of the ups and downs with this adoption I have many times thought how humerus the title of our blog is.

I have not done a very good job of keeping an adoption timeline, so I will give a little recap here of our past year.

April 2010: Decided we wanted to adopt from Rwanda with AGCI. We really wanted to use Louisiana Baptist Children's Home for our home study agency, but they were not one of the approved agencies with AGCI. We had to wait for our social workers to get things together, so they would be added to the list of approved agencies.
We started our photography fundraiser, One Smile Closer!
We started our blog!

May 2010: Waited some more for LBCH to become an approved home study agency.

June 2010: We received clearance to work with LBCH.
We filled out our application and mailed it in.
We were officially accepted into the Rwanda adoption program with AGCI!

July 2010: We had our first Orientation Call with AGCI.
We started our Home Study Meetings.
We decided we would adopt a girl and that her name would be Mia. Our parameters were (0-12 months) at this point.

August 2010: We had our Rwanda Dossier Run Through Call
Started our Adoption Education
Completed our Home Study Meetings
Started working on Dossier
At the end of August we found out that Rwanda would no longer receive dossiers after August 30.
We had no idea what this meant for our adoption, lots of prayers and trusting in God at this point.

September 2010: Found out for sure that we would not be able to adopt from Rwanda at this time.
Made the decision to apply for the Ethiopia program with AGCI.
9/17 We mailed our 2nd application to AGCI
9/20 Officially accepted into the Ethiopia program!
9/27 Had our 2nd Orientation Call
Completed our on-line adoption courses

October 2010: Had our Ethiopia Dossier Run Through Call (were relieved to find out it was less intensive than the one for Rwanda, also relieved that we most of what we had already done could transfer over).
Completed the Eyes Wide Open Adoption Training Workbook!
Physicals for the whole family
Worked like crazy on the dossier
Kept taking lots of pictures
Started t-shirt fundraiser

November 2010: My friend Mia hosted a One Smile Closer photography fundraiser in her neighborhood (we raised about $2000) that weekend.
Our friends hosted the One Day Closer Silent Auction and Lunch (raised over $6000) that day
With pictures, benefit, t-shirts, and generous donations we raised about $11,000 in the month on November. Wow!
11/17 Our Home Study was complete and sent to ACGI for approval.

December 2010: December 7 we found out that our dossier was approved. Oh, Happy Day!
Our first wait list numbers were 97 for a girl(0-20 months) and 41 for sibling girls( 0-24 months).
My husband took lots of pictures and edited about 25 photo sessions

January 2011: Numbers were 91 for girl and 36 for siblings.
Not many referrals in the month of January, tried not to be too sad.

February 2011: Girls number, 89 and stayed at 36 for siblings
Attended the Created for Care Retreat and got to meet many of the wonderful moms I met through this blog!
Sold out of our T-shirts!!!

March 2011: Found out that Ethiopian adoptions could be reduced by 90%. (Lots of prayers!!!)
Numbers were 76 for girl and 32 for siblings
Found out that Ethiopia is working to make sure every adoption is ethical. Things may slow down, but we don't know how much just yet.

April 2011: We have been officially waiting for 4 months, but on this journey for a little over a year.
Our numbers are 70 for girl and 29 for siblings.

It is so crazy to look back and see what all we have gone through this year. One thing I know for sure is that I am glad we said Yes! to God when he placed adoption on our hearts. It has not been easy and we still have a long wait ahead of us, but I am so glad to be on this awesome journey to the child or children God has chosen for our family.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Friends and an Easter Egg Hunt

Last November our wonderful friends hosted a silent auction and lunch to help us raise money for our adoption. It was a huge success and we raised over $6000 that day. One of the auction items was a dinner hosted by our sweet friends, Todd and Megan. Originally it was going to be a bonfire, but they ended up doing an Easter Egg hunt and lunch.
They invited us to join them and the six other families who donated to our adoption for a yummy lunch and egg hunt.
It was a beautiful day for an Egg Hunt. Todd and Megan are awesome. They worked so hard to make it a fun day for everyone and they did it with smiles on their faces.
We were reminded of how thankful we are for our sweet friends!
I can't wait to add at least one more face to this picture. Mia's friends can't wait to meet her.
Jax had fun cruising around in the Barbie Jeep.
The kids had a so much fun hunting eggs. Even little Kami got a few eggs. The moms and dads had fun visiting and eating a great meal. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Our Beautiful Cousin

Justin is still taking pictures to raise money for our adoption. We stopped posting all of them sometime around Christmas, when he was doing so many. It was so crazy. We are very thankful for all of the people who have supported our One Smile Closer campaign. My sister-in-law, Kelsey is also still taking pictures to help support our adoption. I will post some of Justin's pics and also some of Kelsey's soon.

For now, I want to share a few of the senior pics he took of my beautiful cousin, Miranda. I used to babysit for her when she was little and I was in high school. It's hard to believe that she will be going to college in the fall.
She also has brains to go with that beauty, and is a National Merit Finalist.
I really can't possibly say enough good things about her. Our boys adore her and I know they will miss her when she is away at college. We went to see her all dressed up for prom this weekend. Absolutely Gorgeous!
Her date brought her a ring corsage, and I love it!
What a good looking group!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Snapshots from Saturday

I have lots of random photos from our fun and busy Saturday. The boys were so excited to go pick up their stuffed animals from the library. (They had a stuffed animal sleep over at our local library.)When we got there they were still sleeping. It seems they had a very exciting night. The librarians captured pics of the animals eating pizza, playing video games, and even climbing in the book drop.
My guys thought the pics were hilarious. Sawyer said, "Now I know when my stuffed animals aren't in my bed, they climbed out by themselves." He totally thinks they wake up when we go to sleep.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been missing our baby this week. I woke again this morning with a burden to pray for her. I have no idea what may be going on in her life right now. All I know is that I have an uneasy feeling until I pray for her. Then the uneasiness is replaced with peace. Today when I checked the mail I had a package from my friend Meredith M.
We did a shirt swap a few weeks ago and my shirt arrived today. I love it! It could not have come at a more perfect time. My favorite part is the little heart button on Ethiopia, because we all know that a piece of my heart is in Ethiopia.

Speaking of a peace of my heart, my Sawyer had his first t-ball game today.
I had to snap a few pics of my favorite ball player and my favorite coach before the game.
Here they are talking strategy before the game.
Could he be any cuter? He had an awesome first game. He got two hits without the tee and had so much fun.

After the game we went to see my cousin and snap a few pics of her before her senior prom.
Isn't she gorgeous? Sawyer thought she looked like a princess. Jax was too busy rolling down the hill to take a picture with his pretty cousin. Justin also took her senior pics this week. I will post those soon.
Well, this was our Saturday. We have big plans for Sunday too, so it is time for me to get to bed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Week In Review: The Week of the Mood Swings

This week in review will be a little different. I hope that's ok, Amy. It has been a week of highs and lows and my emotions have been a bit all over the place. My poor husband probably thought that we would be able to skip the mood swings since we are adopting this time. This mama to be has been a little emotional this week.

The first low came on Monday, while I was cleaning toys at the church. I was just sitting there thinking about what I was going to do next year. Both my boys will be in school during the day and I am not sure if I should keep doing what I am doing or get more of a "real" job. So tears just started streaming down my face because I really thought when we started our adoption journey that we would have another baby by this summer. I have always thought we would have 3 kids by now. That was my plan! I know God's plan is much better than mine, but sometimes I do get sad, since i don't know what His plan is just yet.

Tuesday was a great day! We picked Sawyer up from school and had a spontaneous ice cream party. It was so much fun to spend special time with my boys.
Sawyer had t-ball practice that evening. I love watching Justin coach Sawyer and 10 other little kids who don't have a clue where first base is. They are so precious. This was definitely a high.

That night Justin got the boys in bed while I cleaned the kitchen. They were playing so silly and I could hear roars of laughter coming from their bedroom. It struck me how incredibly blessed we are to have each other. I thanked God in that moment that my kids have a daddy that they adore and think is the funniest person on the planet. Shouldn't every child have that? Just another reason why we want to give a child a family. Every child deserves to have spontaneous ice cream parties and have a daddy who makes them laugh hysterically before bed.

Wednesday started out great. I had women's bible study (high) and lunch with a sweet friend (high). Then that evening I was in an awful mood (low). I just didn't feel right. I had a nervous stomach and didn't know why and was getting my feelings hurt over the silliest things. That night as I was showering and getting ready for bed, I tried to figure out why I was feeling that way. All the sudden it hit me that I needed to pray for our child or children. I started praying and then asked Justin to come pray with me. I have no idea why, but I felt such an urgency to pray. It is so hard to have a connection to a child and have no idea where that child is and if she is ok.

I went right to sleep after praying with Justin and then I woke at 3:30 and could not go back to sleep. Again, I felt the urgency to pray for our daughter.

Thursday I felt such a peace and was in surprisingly good spirits, despite being up much of the night.

Today Daddy and Jax got to spend quality time together which means that I got a little time to myself. That is always a high.

I took the boys and their stuffed animals to the library this evening for a stuffed animal slumber party. We listened to stories and made name tags for our furry friends before leaving them over night.

We will go pick them up in the morning and see how much fun they had. We also get pancakes, which is really all my kids care about.
Lesson Learned
The lesson I learned this crazy week is that God is my constant. No matter how I am feeling, He doesn't change. When I am sad I can cry out to Him to give me peace. When I am happy and hopeful for what the Lord is doing in our family, I can thank and praise Him. When I am feeling out of sorts I can go to the One who knows why and what I need in that moment. I am thankful He uses all of my feelings and emotions to bring me closer to Him.

Filled With Praise

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April Numbers and a Color Blindness Test

We got an e-mail from our case worker today with our new April numbers. I was so excited to get them this month, because I really didn't know what our number was on the girl's list. I thought it was 71, but it was 72 on the unofficial list, so I was thrilled to see that is was actually:

Yay! I have to say I really wouldn't mind skipping over the sixties. I'm praying for lots of referrals in April.

Our unofficial number on the siblings list was 30. I have been praying for the past couple of weeks that we would get a surprise and our number would be in the twenties. Well, God answered my prayer and we are :

The twenties just seem so much better than the thirties (says the woman who will be 31 next month).

When I was looking for a picture of our numbers I found this little color blindness test. If you have normal vision then you should see 29. If you have red green deficiencies you will see 70. So whether you have normal vision or a deficiency you should see our number. If you don't see a number then apparently you are color blind. I see #29, so I am glad to know that I am not color blind.

We are praising God for movement this month! The best thing about movement is that it means children have been matched with their forever families.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Encourage and Be Encouraged

We had another awesome weekend! This makes two in a row for us. The weekend before last we got away for a couple of days and just enjoyed being together. When we were in the car Justin and I were talking about how we would love to find a ministry opportunity that we could all do as a family. We both serve in our church, but in different areas, and really wanted to do something together. Well, we went to a wedding that next day and Justin had the opportunity to talk to a friend of his who runs a camp. One of the ministries the camp offers is weekend camps for foster siblings who live in separate foster homes. Justin asked if they ever needed any help with the camps. His friend said they did and asked if we could come the very next weekend.
So we went to Seeker Springs camp this past weekend. We were group leaders for a sibling group of 3 kids who all live in different foster homes. It didn't take us long to fall in love with all the kids who were there. I wish I could share their precious pictures, but for their protection we aren't allowed to post any. So you are stuck with pics of our family.
Our boys had a blast. We went on a hay ride, played lots of games, did arts and crafts, rode horses, made new friends and ate a lot. The picture above shows the boys getting ready to ride horses. Nothing says cowboy like helmets and rock and roll t-shirts.
Well, except maybe for crocs. Jax loved riding this horse. He rode all afternoon. He was so serious about it, but had a blast.
Sawyer loved everything about our camp experience. He cried when he had to say goodbye to everyone. We can't wait to go back.
Our nine year old buddy, P, took this picture of me and Justin. P is a budding photographer who loved taking pictures with Justin's camera. Every kid there made a special impression on us. There were just 7 kids, a sibling group of 4 and our group of 3. There were going to be more, but the other kids weren't able to make it. The seven kids we got to know were awesome. They have had such hard lives, but they are so special. We were there to just encourage them and let them know how much God loves them.

The weekend was about having fun and loving on kids. When we got home Saturday night I just couldn't hold in my emotions in anymore. It breaks my heart that they have experienced so much heartache in their young lives. I prayed for each child by name. They may never be adopted by earthly parents although I hope they are, but I pray they will understand that their Heavenly Father loves them and wants to adopt each one of them.

We had to head out Saturday evening to meet up with our adoption fellowship group. This was our second meeting. We met with two other families from our area. Both of the other families have sweet daughters from China. It was great to talk to other moms who had been down this adoption road before. They were such an encouragement to me during this tough time of waiting. These families know how hard the wait can be, they both waited for at least 4 years, but they also know how worth- it it is to bring home their sweet girls. We tried to get a pic of our kids, but it was pretty much impossible, so here is a pic of the moms. The dads were chasing the kids.

"As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength." Psalm 138:3

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Week In Review

It's time again to review my week.


I would have to say the high of my week was having conversations with good friends. I can think of at least 3 good friends, 1 being a family member as well as a friend, who I had a good conversation with this week. They encouraged me and I hope I encouraged them. I am so thankful for friends who get me and who I can be myself with.


The low point of my week would definitely be the stomach bug that hit our family this week. Saturday night Sawyer got sick in the middle of the night. Sunday night Jax woke up with it and it hit me on Monday evening. I did lots of laundry, used plenty of Lysol, and took care of two little sickies for much of our week. The only good thing about it is that it went away quickly and we are all back to normal.

Another low (pretty bad week when I can think of more than one) was losing my patience with my children. I just had a day this week that I wish I could get a do over on. It was not my best Mommy moment. It left me feeling drained, defeated, and just plain mad at myself.

The lesson I learned is that His mercies are new every morning. When we come to our Heavenly Father and confess that we messed up and that we need forgiveness, He never fails to meet us where we are. Of course, this isn't the first time and it won't be the last that I needed a reminder of this lesson. He is a God of second chances and that's just another reason I love Him so much and am thankful to be His daughter.

Filled With Praise

Thursday, April 7, 2011

4 Months Waiting

Today marks 4 months since we were put on the wait list for our daughter or daughters. I will say that it has gone by really fast for the most part. I really hope it continues to feel that way, because I have no idea how much longer we will be waiting.

There is a lot of uncertainty about what the timeline will look like for all Ethiopian adoptions. It is probable that things will slow down for a while at least temporarily. This is hard for me to think about, because it didn't seem like things were going very quickly even before all of this. The time has passed quickly and we have moved up on the list, but we still have a Long way to go. It is just hard for me to think about how much longer it could be.

I am really trying to focus on the present and what God wants to teach me daily. I have been reading the book, Orphanology, by Tony Merida and Rick Morton. I read something that Rick Morton wrote that really stood out to me. He was talking about a conversation he had with Russell Moore, another adoptive parent, writer, professor, and pastor.

"I was lamenting about how hard it was to adopt our son and how long it was taking; Russ looked at me with a smile and said, "Yes, but in this process you will learn things about the heart of God that you might not otherwise know." That was prophetic. What God has unfolded before us over the last several years has been a great journey of understanding Him, His story, His plan, and His people more. It's not that we have it all figured out by any means. It's that we see something of Him a little more clearly."

These words really struck a chord with me and I have thought of them every day since I read them. I think they are so true. I know the Lord has drawn me closer to Him through this process. Yes, it's hard at times. No, it is not what I expected from the beginning. But if it brings me closer to the heart of my Savior what more could I ask for. Justin and I said from the beginning that we were adopting out of obedience to the Lord and that our main goal was to bring Him glory.

I do believe there is a child or children at the end of all of this, but even if there isn't, I know it is the path God wants us on. I am learning more each day about how much my Father loves me, how much He loves all of His children, and how he pursues us with a never ending love. He is the only reason we can pursue our child, the one we have never laid eyes on, with a love that never gives up.

I am thankful God called us on this journey. I am thankful that He continues to provide for our family every step of the way. Of course I pray that our wait won't be too much longer, but mostly I pray that God would draw me closer and closer to Himself during the wait no matter how long it is.

"Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Super Party

I am finally posting pictures from Sawyer's Birthday party on March, 26. He had a Super Hero party of course with a yummy SuperMan cake.The party was at the children's building at our church. The kids played on the indoor playground, colored pictures of Super Man, and decorated masks.
We had a good turn out and all the kids seemed to have a great time.
Our friend Parker dressed up like a silly Super Hero and led all the kids in a few songs.
The kids thought it was great and we were so appreciative of Super Parker for taking time out of his busy Saturday to entertain the kiddos.
Sawyer loved having Super Parker at his party! Jax was a little concerned and said, "That's not Mr. Parker. He has hair." The real Mr. Parker doesn't have hair.
I still can't believe my Super son is five. He is such a fun kid and we love him to pieces.
He was pretty proud of himself for blowing out the candles and so was his friend, Jolie. I love how proud he looks and how excited she is for him. They are great friends!
Happy 5th Birthday, Super Sawyer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Week In Review: Spring Break Edition

I am linking up with Amy again this week to do my week in review. I have been out of town and away from the computer for a few days, so I'm glad it's not too late to join the fun.
The high of my week was that the boys and I were off for spring break. We began the week with celebrating Sawyer's fifth birthday. He had an awesome super hero party that I will post about soon.

We had a fun week just hanging out with each other and some fun friends. Thursday I took the boys to super hero story time at the library. They loved it!

Some friends of ours got married this Friday in Shreveport. We decided to go a day early and stay an extra day. We made a mini vacation out of it and had a blast.
Thursday night we ate dinner and ice cream at the boardwalk before spending the night in a hotel.
The boys thought the hotel was awesome. We all stayed up past 10:00 watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Pretty exciting Stuff! =)
We also visited the "wildlife" at the Bass Pro Shop, not once, not twice, but three times. Friday night after the wedding we stayed with some of our good friends' in their family's townhouse.
We did a little shopping at the boardwalk. Then we took all the kids to Sciport. The kids had a blast and so did the parents.
Jax's favorite part was building dams. Sawyer really enjoyed making and eating a sun cookie. My favorite part was that we had free tickets!
The low of the week is that it went by so fast, as all good weeks do. I had lots of things on my list like cleaning out the boys' closet that I did not get done. I am starting the week with lots of laundry and dirty floors. I guess if I had to miss out on something this week, I am glad it wasn't spending time with my kids and husband.

{Lesson Learned}
Vacations do not have to be elaborate or expensive for us to have a great time. We had so much fun being together and getting away for a couple of days. The kids get excited about little things like eating ice cream and going to visit the "aquarium" a.k.a the big fish tank at Bass Pro Shop. I better enjoy these days while I still can!
Filled With Praise