Sunday, March 30, 2014

Winter Jam 2014

So much fun with this sweet friend

We went to Winter Jam this year with our two incredible friends Amy and John! We were fortunate enough to have been given VIP/backstage passes through Holt International - the agency we adopted Kai through in 2012. A big shout out to Holt for graciously giving us tickets. We had great seats and the music from the ten Christian bands was awesome!

Our close seats

LOL - Photobomb 

A stadium filled with praises

And beautiful words of love and passion for children!

The handsome hubs and I

Love, love, love this couple

John and Amy do incredible mission for families right here in our community. They reach out to families in need through their church, missional community and their "garage". On top of all of this their hearts were pulled this night, after a great sermon bringing awareness to international adoption and sponsorship, to sponsor a child in China - a sweet little girl! The love that they share for each other and for Jesus is beautiful. We are thankful to call you friends!

Dear Father, thank you for an amazing weekend with friends! I'm so thankful for the way that you moved in our hearts. Thank you for placing a passion for serving others in the lives of so many that we know. Please continue to show us how to be your hands and feet. Thank you for bringing incredible people into our lives to share the joy of music and laughter. I love waking up the next morning still thinking about the miracles that you performed and the thousands that confessed their faith to you. Glory to you as you fill each life with everlasting, unconditional love and joy! Amen. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Holt Gala 2014


Celebrating adoption at the Holt gala 


Quick pic of us taken by Quin

Mama and Kai ran for the "desert dash". Yum!

She chose chocolate :)

Bidding to support children in need living in Korea

Kai proudly telling friends about her dress that she picked out for the special event. We were also given Holt chapstick - someone take it before she uses it all in the first night!

Happy "friendaversary"! Such great women with hearts of gold! Love their passion for children and families. Thank you for letting us be a part of your table again this year Randa and Laura! 

I feel so blessed to be get to party with this mama in support of families in need! Katie is a blessing to everyone who knows her. She has an incredible voice, a strong passion for others, a great family and a beautiful heart! And...to top it off, her little girl and Kai are from the same orphanage in China. Yep, these two little girls who were living in China together (they are two months apart in age) now get to live close together in the US! 

Awesome friends and amazingly, beautiful women!

Our sweet little girl all dressed up to support the work of the agency that helped bring her home!

Every year I struggle to find the words through the emotions of giving thanks at this event. We had a great experience with Holt and would proudly recommend them to others. We appreciate their drive to work together with first families first through sponsorship. Adoption really is the last resort for so many children waiting to be welcomed into a forever family. Holts China adoption was smooth and predictable for families who chose to be parents through adoption. Every country is unique, with many different regulations and guidelines, but for those interested in adoption - the Holt China program is a great option. 

Lord, thank for blessing this night together with so many incredible families and friends! Every year, we feel incredibly blessed to get to experience advocating for children and families through Holt. Thank you for leading us to our daughter through Holt. Thank you for the gift of adoption. We know that it is us who truly are being blessed by Kai. Thank you for adopting us into your family. For calling us sons and daughters. For creating us in your image. For knitting us each to serve a special purpose. Thank you for your promise. Your Love. Your Hope. And Your Joy. that only you could give in this life adventure. Amen. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fun Friday - Update 29


Oh my love! Look at their hair! Its filling out and getting curlier. The girls are from a region known to have big, soft curls. I am so excited to get to see them again. They change so much in pictures every week. And I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with our updates. Of course, I want them to meet new milestones like sitting, crawling, and playing independently. And obviously, we are so happy that they are healthy, happy and growing. Buuuuut, there is a little part of my heart that is sad to watch it all happen over photos and not in person. But it shouldn't be much longer now before we are able to hold them close and breath in their preciousness.

Jesus, thank you for these two beautiful girls! Thank you for the updates that we receive and for letting us watch the many changes that happen at this age. We are thrilled with the care they are both receiving and knowing how well they are being taken care of makes the wait a little easier. We ask, Father, that you bless over the embassy appointment coming up in two weeks. We give it to you and trust that you will hold each person in this journey close to your heart. Thank you for your sovereignty. For the hope that you give. And for the love that continues to be filled in our lives. Amen.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Running Buddy

Cole and I cooling down after our run

I'm currently training for a half marathon again this year. Every weekend after my long runs, I get home hoping for a leg massage. Oh no, not just yet. This sweet little boy wants to go for a run too. So after I'm done, this little guy takes his mama back out to race. Many times, the other kids want to join, but he is loyal in his commitment each time. I can't express my gratitude enough for this sweet, wonderful boy. Cole is the first to pray, offer encouragement, use his manners and give cuddles. He is always happy and makes parenting a breeze! Except the fearless, often crazy moments when he is trying to fly off of the bed in an attempt to be a superhero. Thank you, buddy, for being you!

Perfect morning for a jog

And apparently running hills

I'll race you to the sign. And he's off

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fun Friday - Update Week 27


Big news this week!! We have an embassy investigation during the second week of April!! That is just 4 weeks away! We are so very excited to start seeing movement in our adoption! So what's next? Assuming that the investigation goes as planned here is what the next big steps are in our adoption journey:

1. When the investigation is cleared, we will receive our PAIR letter. The PAIR letter usually arrives about 1-2 week after clearance. This letter will need to be authenticated in D.C. The estimated time is 6 weeks for completion of PAIR. 

2. We are also waiting on more documentation. This time the embassy is requesting this evidence. The good news is that our lawyer can deliver these forms and they don't have to be shipped back to the US since all of our paperwork is now in Addis again. The other good news is that these documents can be worked in conjunction with the embassy appointment. With so many new rules and regulation with PAIR, many families are seeing additional information being asked for at each side of the process. Unfortunately, this has caused many delays, and has become the new normal until kinks in the process get worked out. We are praying that each delay now for the first to go through PAIR bring a stronger international program for the many families following us. 

3. After clearance we can be submitted to court. There will be a first interview done with those on the Ethiopian side and then a second one court date given for us. We are estimating 4-6 more weeks before we are given a court date. This would mean that we could potentially be traveling back to Ethiopia in May or June. 

4. We will still need to make one more trip to Ethiopia in 2-6 weeks after court to officially pick the girls up from the foster home. We went back and forth whether or not we could make it in one trip, but the reality is that the timelines are so different, so no one really knows how long the time would be between court and embassy trips. 

We would love you to pray for our adoption beside us! Please pray that the girls continue to stay healthy and strong. I know I mentioned it before, but one of the little ones has a head that is oblong and tilted. She will mostly likely need a helmet when she gets home. However, as she approaches a year old by the time she gets home, there may not be a lot of time to correct the shape. Please pray that we have time to do this and that she doesn't have any issues related to her misshapen head. Please also pray for the upcoming embassy appointment. Please pray that the results would conclude the optimal situation for the girls. We really do want the very best for them. We are handing our fear over to our Father and trusting in his judgement and protection over the girls. Please also pray that each step of the adoption process goes smooth from here on out. We are anxious to see their smiling faces again!

Heavenly Father, thank you for such great movement this week with the adoption of these two beautiful baby girls. Thank you for  your faithfulness. Your sovereignty. Thank you for bringing peace as we wait. Thank you for bringing amazing people into our lives to support our journey. Thank you for discernment. For breathing truth into our hearts and for giving us wisdom. We are grateful for You. For directing our path. In your name we pray. Amen. 



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grandpa's Birthday

Happy Birthday GG Pa! Grandma Marilyn and GG Pa together enjoying a beautiful day. Our Quin was names after this good man. Wish we could be there to celebrate with you all! Hugs and kisses! 
We love you!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fun Friday - Update 26


Praise God for moving forward in our adoption! On March 4th, we were able to speak with our USCIS officer and it was confirmed that our paperwork will be sent to Addis Ababa to start the investigation part of the PAIR process. The estimated time is 4-8 weeks.

The girls continue to grow! Each week brings great big smiles! We love the joy of Fridays!

Lord, thank you for this great news! Thank you for moving our paperwork back to Addis Ababa for further investigation of the PAIR process. In the coming weeks, embassy officials will meet with very important members of this process. Please bless each step with grace and honesty. Thank you Father, Amen. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Shen Yun

Mike and I went to see Shen Yun this past weekend! We wish we would have brought Kai. We were not allowed to take pictures during the show. Trust me when I say the costumes were stunning. It was absolutely amazing! We would definitely see it again! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Leprechaun Chase

Jill, Kayleen, Jenny, me & Leslie

I had the privilege to race in the Leprechaun Chase this year with these beautiful women. I hadn't ran in four months consistently but decided to jump in on this10K. I'm so glad that I did! It was just the motivation that I needed to start training again. Sure, I may not have made the calculated time that I would have liked, but it was one giant leap forward to running the race that I hope to run in May for the half marathon. And even better, I got to be surrounded with fun and laughter with these girls! Each one has a big heart and an incredible testimony of God's grace and love. Thank you for letting me join you on this incredible day! 

This is what it looks like when three girls are asked to jump at the same time. We all have the same goal just on slightly different time frames. LOL!




Thursday, March 6, 2014

And we met...

Our first picture together

Ten years ago today, I had no idea the extent to which my world would dramatically change. I didn't know how meeting one person would rock my world in such a dynamic way. I couldn't have imagined the blessings that would flow from allowing someone into such an intimate space in my heart. It took a lot of patience on his part (and still does) but each day only gets better. 

Our relationship started with his smile. It still makes me melt. His kindness. It's all encompassing. His spirit. It's gentle and kind. His love. He's so sweet. His thoughtfulness. He's always thinking of me first. His hard work. A constant provider. As we woke up this morning he whispers between kids,  "I love you more today than yesterday. But not as much as tomorrow." I smile. "Happy 10 years together!" 

Our first gala together - The Golden Apple

In May, we flew out to California. He told his parents he was bringing a "friend" home. I told myself that I was just visiting friends.  :)

It didn't take long for our friendship to blossom

Soon we were in love

After being apart for two months in the summer, we both new that we didn't want to live another day without each other. On September 20th, after 6 months of meeting, he arranged a beautiful night out for dinner followed by a stroll in the park where he asked me for forever. I said Yes.  

The night we got engaged

More today than yesterday

I want to look at him each day with this much love and adoration 

Because the story didn't end, its really only begun

Heavenly Father, thank you for this day a decade ago that this man strolled by with his big smile. Thank you for the blessings that you have brought to us both by uniting our hearts as one. Thank you for softening my heart through him. For giving me grace when I needed it. Thank you for walking along side us when the road wasn't always easy. For teaching us what a healthy, strong marriage looks like. For showing us how to protect our marriage. Thank you for the obstacles that have overcome as each one has encouraged growth between us. Thank you for teaching us how to communicate. To depend on one another. To encourage each other. To rally for each other as best friends. Thank you for giving us incredible memories of love and happiness. Tender moments of compassion and joy. We have experienced incredible blessings together. I am so pleased with the life that you have given us both. Thank you for encouraging us to travel and see the world which you have made. Thank you that each day is a crazy, wild adventure. We are excited to see all that you have in store for our family. Thank you for our children. For giving us the opportunity to be parents. Partners to lead in honor of You. I would never have dreamed that 10 years ago, you would call me to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama to 6 (almost) kids. But, Father, you provide outside of our imagination. You not only set us on a beautiful path but you further blessed us with each other to walk through life with each day. Thank you for filling our hearts with joy, hope and love. Thank you for tucking us safely at your side anticipating Your next surprise. For asking us to dream. For delivering miracles. Thank you for welcoming us to Believe Big. Amen. 




Saturday, March 1, 2014

Love-ism

Best quote of the night from my sweet Cole: "Mama after your race, let us rub your feet and take care of you. After all, you take the best care of us. I'll even do all of your chores tomorrow - whatever it is that you need - Im here for you!" Love him to the heavens and back!!