Friday, January 1, 2010

my sweet sister

We really had a fun time in Alabama for Christmas, and we gave AND received some fun gifts. One of the most special things I received was from my sister, Kendall.

It's a mother's journal entitled "Always in My Heart." She knew about our adoption plans a little sooner than everyone else, and she knew that it would be good for me to have a place to record my thoughts and prayers for our new son. I couldn't even read the card with it because I didn't want to cry like a baby in front of everyone :). She also wrote a poem for her new nephew. I asked for her permission to share it on here, and she graciously agreed.

Even though I haven't met you
I am praying for you often
and each time, my heart you soften.
I don't know the color of your eyes
or the curves of your precious little smile,
but you already have a special place in my heart,
and I can't wait for the day
your new life with us will start.
I love you,
Aunt Kendall

I will always treasure her words and her gift, and I can't wait to pass them along to our little boy one day so he knows he was in our hearts long before he was an "official" part of our family. So today, on New Years Day, I'm sitting and sipping and scribbling down my heart for him. I'm hoping and praying that 2010 will be the year he comes home!

Speaking of home, we've already been doing some rearranging around here. When we got home from Alabama Sunday night, we decided to set up the new flat screen TV that Daddy & Joan gave us for our bedroom (thank you - what a fun surprise!). That meant moving a small entertainment center out of our room since we didn't need it anymore. That led to us moving a chair from my office/guest bedroom into our room. That led (somehow) to Brad rearranging his office downstairs to accommodate my office (we'll be sharing office space now to free up a bedroom). That led to us moving ALL my office furniture downstairs to my new/Brad's old office! We were moving filing cabinets and desks at 1 AM . . . crazy! The office is pretty well organized now, though, and I like it a lot. The bedroom, on the other hand, is still in need of some attention. I'm glad we went ahead and rearranged, though, because every time we look in that room, it's a reminder that someone is missing - that our family is changing.

Okay, I better quit rambling and get to work cleaning out that bedroom! I hope all of you are having a wonderful, relaxing New Years Day!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I love this place!!!

As many of you know, our family moved to Nashville in May 2007 to help start Green Hills Church. We left the security of a familiar town, a growing church, wonderful friends, an expanding clientele for my photography business, a great elementary school that Riley had attended for a year, etc., etc. We knew that God was calling us away from all of that into a new phase of life, but everything seemed very uncertain. We weren't going to an established church with a working budget and the security of a paycheck, and we knew very few people in Nashville. But we knew that it was our next step, and we were excited (nervous, but excited!). I remember leaving Memphis and driving to our new home with a trailer behind my Envoy. Brad was in front of me in a huge yellow moving truck. The boys were in the backseat, and I could hardly see for the tears welled up in my eyes!

Now it's 2 1/2 years later, and Nashville is home (actually it became home very quickly - we love this city!). Our hearts are so connected to the people that make up Green Hills Church, and we're amazed at all that God has done in our hearts since we've been here. He's definitely on the move at Green Hills, and we are so incredibly thankful to be a part of it all. Just this morning, I read this blog and this one, and I was moved to tears again at how much I love these guys and what they're allowing God to do in and through them. I'm so proud of them and thankful for them!

We certainly haven't done this alone, either. Mike and Brad are co-pastors, and we feel blessed to do life with him and Tabitha. Tabitha has sat with me at Starbucks and listened to my heart as we considered adoption. She has cried tears with me and for me, and I just couldn't be happier to have her on this journey with me. She's graciously offered to help in any way possible as we work to bring our little boy home, and you can bet that I'll be taking her up on it!

As I said before, God is teaching us at GHC a lot right now, and I can't wait to see what He has in store for us in 2010! We've started caring for "the least of these" in our own community here in Nashville, and the ripples are going out across the world. I continuously hear of possible mission trip opportunities, Compassion International sponsorships, having conversations with members of the homeless community and taking steps toward meeting some of their physical needs, and just thinking beyond ourselves in general.

Just tomorrow, a group of us will spend our day ministering to a struggling family. Their house is in rough shape, and the one bathroom they share is barely functional. We'll spend our New Years Eve day cleaning their house, painting, doing laundry, buying groceries for their family, and renovating the bathroom. It will be a lot of really hard work, and we'll get our hands dirty . . . but I CANNOT think of a better, more satisfying way to bring in 2010.

I don't say any of this in a prideful way at all. I say it because I'm completely humbled to be a part of this church family. If any of you are reading this, please know that I love you from the bottom of my heart, and I'm so grateful for you! I tell Brad all the time, "I would definitely want to be a member of Green Hills Church even if you weren't one of the pastors!"

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:17-18

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
- Isaiah 58:6-7

"'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:35-40

It's my prayer that we will live in light of those verses this upcoming year and that God will do things through us that we could never imagine to do on our own.

[P.S. - Go here to listen to a few of Josh's songs (Josh is our worship leader at church). I like them all, but I think my favorite might be Wake Up.]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Etsy & Ethiopia

I was browsing on Etsy tonight, and I came across these fun finds! Many of them are adoption fundraiser products. We've been brainstorming fundraising ideas, but I haven't come up with anything this creative! If you have any fun ideas, let me know!

I like this little shirt and this necklace and this necklace and this decal and this shirt and this shirt and this set of cards and this shirt . . .

And for those of you who saw my announcement on my photography blog or Facebook tonight and left such sweet, encouraging comments, THANK YOU!!! I am already overwhelmed by the love and support we have received in making this decision. You all will definitely be part of our journey, and I'm so thankful for each of you.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Love doesn't have color"

Check out this interview with Michael Franti & his family. It was shown during the 11th Annual "A Home for the Holidays" CBS television special.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Praying for you . . .

. . . my sweet boy. I missed you this Christmas, but you were talked about a lot! We told everyone about our plans to get you, and they're excited about you being part of our family, too! I'm praying that we're able to celebrate Christmas with you next year!

When we got home from Alabama, our home study paperwork was in the mailbox, and I'm ready to get started! We have to gather birth certificates, our marriage certificate, tax returns, letters of recommendation, medical forms (which means a trip to the doctor for each of us), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation criminal check reports, police clearance for the time we lived in Mississippi, a residential history form, a vaccination certificate for our cat (!), a copy of our city water bill & a family picture. Looks like I'll be busy for the next week or two - and we're just getting started!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I love these boys...

...and I love how excited they are about their new brother! I was so nervous the night we told them about our plans for adoption. I knew Cole would be all in (he's my "go-with-the-flow" / "the more the merrier" kid!). I didn't know what Riley would think, though. I love him dearly, but he's kind of set-in-his-ways for a kid, and he's not so keen on change. I was relieved and thankful when they both responded with nothing but excitement. I know there will be a lot of adjusting once their brother gets here, but I'm so thankful that they seem to "get it" as much as a 6 & 8 year old can. They're good kids, and I'm happy to be their mama! We had fun taking pictures for our Christmas card this year! I was torn between this one and the one we ended up choosing. I liked the starkness of the one on the card. It's impossible to miss that there's an empty chair in between them. But I also liked this one because they're touching the chair - as if to say we love you and welcome you into our hearts and our home.


A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had begun to take a special interest in Uganda. So, you may be wondering how in the world we chose Ethiopia. You might also be wondering why we decided to adopt internationally rather than domestically when there are so many children in need here in the United States.

To answer the first question, my heart had become connected to Uganda mainly as a result of Katie Davis' blog. God really used her ministry there to get my attention. So, all along I had thought that if we adopted, we'd definitely go to Uganda and specifically to Amani Baby Cottage. There are several families here who have adopted children from there, and it just made sense to do the same. However, after speaking to Gwen & Suzanne of, we learned that Amani isn't currently taking applications. Also, the government there has no established laws regarding adoption, making it much more complicated. I had already begun to think of Ethiopia as a second option because an old high school friend of ours is adopting from there, as well as some other people from Nashville that I've recently met. We also learned that there are approximately 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone, so the need there is great. There are several placing agencies that have very well-established programs in Ethiopia, too. If you're like I was, you might not even know exactly where Ethiopia is, so here's a map of Africa if you need a little geography refresher:

And here is a map of Ethiopia:

The answer to the second question (why not adopt domestically) is pretty simple, and there are two main parts: 1) We sensed that God was leading us to Africa rather than the United States, and 2) adopting a child from a third-world country is sometimes the difference between life and death for them. It basically just comes down to the fact that Ethiopia is where God has directed our hearts.