Wait Mailing #2

A month or so ago I would have been so excited about receiving a new email from our adoption agency however now, anything short of a referral call is short. The email was great and included a 22 page document of information about Ethiopia. I was actually surprised at how much I already knew but we bought books a while back and have been reading up on the Ethiopian culture. Still holding out hope for a call this week....but I know the holidays are a busy time. We have been waiting just over 4 months and the wait is 4-6 months.

Our family is headed to Gatlinburg on Thursday with our friends the Stalnakers. Looking forward to playing with the kiddos and getting away from the house. Happy New Years to all!


Turning 40!

Yes it's true ....I am turning 40. It's so funny because I see people who are 28-30 and think they are my age, my friends, my group, etc. I really don't feel 40 and although it does sound a bit old to me to say I'm 40, I really don't think I am old. (My daughter may say differently however). We celebrated with a wonderful party at my parents house that included friends from when I was 5 up until 39. My actual birthday is this coming Tuesday, the 22nd which is also my mother's birthday. I can't help but hope that just maybe we will receive our referral...what an awesome gift that would be! I must admit the past two weeks have been a little tough on the waiting for referral front. Because we know that we are "on deck" and could potentially receive a call at anytime....I can't help but wake up each morning and have a bit of hope that today might be the day. Then about 3:30-4:00 when I know the AWAA office is closing in VA I have a bit of sadness and disappointment. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions. I so want God's perfect timing but my humaness (sp??) can't help but switch from hope and excitement to disappointment on a daily basis. Thank goodness for the joy of Christmas which is keeping my spirits high and my body and mind busy.


Shots and more shots....

Well, today Russ and I went to the Vanderbilt travel clinic to get our shots for travel to Ethiopia. I got 5 shots and Russ had to get 6. You might think that was enough but we actually have to get our Hep B from our primary care physician and we may have to go back and get Yellow Fever if we decide we want to leave the city of Addis Adaba on our trip. We also got Typhoid pills an antibiotic prescription and a list of things not to eat. Although this was not just loads of fun it again makes it seem a little closer and a little more real which is very exciting. Next step....is for the phone to ring!

This weekend my husband and parents are giving me a 40th birthday party (no it is not a surprise). The theme is Ethiopian and we are having Ethiopian/African decorations, food and music. I am so looking forward to the party and to sharing a little bit of our sons culture with all my friends and family. I will try to remember to take pics and post them.

Headed to take some more tylenol and massage my arms....


New news...

Sorry there has not been an update in a couple weeks. I have been preparing for Christmas like a crazy lady in hopes of having everything done by Dec. 1st.....that didn't happen 100% but I am actually very close and should easily be finished before the kids get out of school.

Yesterday Russ and I had an appointment with the International Adoption Clinic at Vanderbilt. We met with a pediatrician, occupational therapist and psychologist. It was very interesting and very helpful information. We were there almost three hours but it was such good info that neither one of us minded. I had gone back and forth as to whether it was necessary to go to Vanderbilt (since we have a great Pediatrician in Murfreesboro) but what they do is in addition to what Dr. Collins will do and should be very reassuring.

Next step.........shots. Russ and I both go to the travel clinic tomorrow morning to get our immunizations in order to travel to Ethiopia. Can't really say I am excited about this part but it does make it seem pretty real.

Now for the important news..... I have mentioned before that there is a blog that keeps an unofficial waiting list. I am a regular viewer and even have the three names ahead of mine memorized (Nicol, Beal and Regalado). Thanksgiving week Nicol received their referral, last week Beal received theirs and YES yesterday Regalado received their referral. So we are "unofficially" next on the list for an infant boy!!!! What this means is that from now on I will sleep with my phone, jump everytime it rings and possibly be crazy for the next few weeks. As excited as I get I am at peace with the fact that it will happen exactly when it is suppose to.

That is the update as of today.......hope everyone is joyfully preparing for Jesus' birthday!


We are officially "ON DECK"

I was so excited to open my email today and receive our ON DECK email. For those of you who don't know the America World adoption lingo here is a paragraph from the email...

While there are many unknowns in the referral process, and this email gives no dates or guarantees, America World anticipates that your family could receive a referral within the next one to three months. Referrals arrive sporadically throughout the month. For this reason, families with the same DTE date frequently do not receive referrals at the same time. America World issues referrals as soon as a child’s paperwork is completed.

I already knew the approximate wait time but somehow getting this email makes it move from we will receive a referral in 5-7 months to we could receive a referral anytime in the next one to three months. We are moving forward in the process and our son is closer to being with us! Because of the age of referrals it also means that he is more than likely born, on this earth, and we are being carefully brought together in God's plan. My heart is overjoyed.

Hope everyone has a beautiful day!


Give Love --- I love you Beth Ann

I can't wait for you to hear about this incredible person that God brought into my life 4+ years ago. She is such an inspiration and you will be touched by her story. Beth Ann graduated from Lambuth College in May in pre-med and in 10 days is headed to Tororo (Uganda) to answer God's call and serve God. She has a great blog that tells more about her and her story and you just have to go visit....PLEASE. It is www.givelovejourney.blogspot.com Here is a quick excerpt:

Through an organization called Africa Inland Mission (AIM), I have an opportunity to serve God and His children in Uganda. My team and I will be helping care for 400 beautiful children in an orphanage in the town of Tororo. While I don't know the wonders in store for me in Africa, I am excited to begin this journey to give and to love.

Now for a story to show how amazing our God is.....
It was 4 years or so ago and I was working as was Russ both in different towns from where we lived and raising 3 children. To say the least we were burning the candle at both ends and I just needed some help. My mother is good friends with the guidance counselor at the local high school and called her to find out if there was someone she would recommend to help with her precious grandchildren. That is how we heard about what a beautiful person Beth Ann Carkuff was and she was so much more to us than a babysitter. Her heart is so big and loving, she is smart, beautiful and loves Jesus. This was her as a high school student and through college she has amazed me more and more. We hated to see her go to a college several hours away but were very happy for her.

Last Christmas (before I had talked to Russ about us adopting) I called Beth Ann to see if she was home on break and could keep the kiddos. She came over and we ended up figuring out that we were both being called to Africa! Her for mission work and us to adopt....how crazy 2 people from a small city in Tennessee, being brought together and being called to Africa. It just amazes me.

I am trying to be a little bit of help to Beth Ann and help her raise the money for her trip. There is a golf tournament this weekend at Blackberry Ridge golf course on 231 headed toward Shelbyville. It is an 8:00 shotgun start and there is room for several more teams....so if you like to play golf please come out and help send Beth Ann to Africa. Cost is $40/person or $150 for a team of 4. She also has great t-shirts on her blog site. Please pray for her, her safe travels, for the money to be provided and for her family.
Don't forget to check her blog out and keep up with her while she is in Tororo.

I'm So Excited.....

Actually not much has happened for us specifically BUT after 6+weeks of no baby boy referrals there were finally some referrals this week! I think I have mentioned before about the "unofficial waiting list" that is kept by some wonderful people. It is a list of everyone's information that has sent it to them so there could be families not on the blog and not on the unofficial list but it seems like to me that about 90% of the families from America World adopting from Ethiopia are included.

When I started "my list" we were number 10 of the known families requesting infant (0-2) boys. I check for referrals often (yes, daily) and after going for more than 6 weeks without seeing a referral I was getting a little down. Yesterday was a busy but wonderful day which I am going to post about next so I did not have time to check email until last night. When I saw the words referral and recognized the names I got SO excited. At first there were two referrals and then I went to send an email at 10:30 last night to one of the kids teachers and saw another boy referral----for a total of 3. Joy, love, hope, joy,love, hope kept running through my body - it was great. We have had a very difficult month dealing with losing Hallee and there was so much darkness in our grief - please know we are very happy for Hallee knowing she is with Jesus and happier than we could ever even imagine but we love and miss her so much and it is so difficult watching your daughter ache all day everyday that the darkness was present. This news is such a light to all of us.......a hope, a dream, a new Connelly boy!

Now I must admit in regards to information we have officially received nothing happened yesterday but on my list we made it to number 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God's timing is perfect and I don't know exactly what it is for our family but I will sing praise to Him as we move a little closer family by family.


Filling the time..

Not much happening on the adoption front. Next time I tell my children to wait and be patient I am going to remember that it is really hard. I think it would be easier if I saw activity happening for other families but referrals, court dates and travel have been very slow since August. In an effort to keep myself busy:) I have been working on a project with my friend Tracy to promote Orphan Awareness. We put up a blogsite hoping to give people information and inspiration regarding what can be done for orphans. The site is www.2loveorphans.com so please go check it out. There are also some really cute products for sale ...some even that came from Africa! Our new t-shirts will be here on Wednesday and we will be sure to post a picture.

Have a great week


My Sweet Son

I have an incredible desire to say, My sweet son I love you. Even though I don't yet know you I know you are meant to be in our family. Even though I have not seen you ...you are beautiful in my eyes. My heart longs for you and my hope is that you will be with us soon. I pray for you every night that you will know how much you are loved. I can't wait to hold you in my arms and kiss your forehead, hold your hand and tickle your feet. I will be patient as God weaves us together according to his plan but my heart will continue to long for you until you are home.


Waiting Mailing #1

Any communication from our agency always gets me very excited. Today I received an email that was titled Waiting Mailing #1. I am assuming since I have not received any correspondence since 8/20 that this means we have moved from one point to another in their system.........small step but still one worth getting excited about. I don't know how many mailings there are or how often they may come but this first one is on transracial and transcultural adoptions.

Russ and I attended the Fellowship 686/Ethiopian group get together yesterday. It was so fun to see all the children who have come home and hear their wonderful stories. The get together reminded me of the song Jesus loves the little children........ red and yellow, black and white they are precious in his site.....was truly the picture on the playground.

God has placed the following (very common) story on my heart the past several days. It is one of my favorites buy I am not sure why it keeps coming into my thoughts so regularly the past few days. I can only guess that maybe someone else is needing to hear it or it is suppose to be part of our story. Here goes

The Starfish Story
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the oean. Approaching the boy he asked, "What are you doing?" The youth replied, " Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they will die."
"Son", the man said "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference!"
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, " I made a difference for that one."

I just love that story. Everyone can make a difference!

Have a great week,


2 months down....

Actually I am posting one day early but tomorrow is the 20th which means we have been on the waiting list officially for two months! The wait was 5-7 months and is now 6-8 months but either way we are getting closer. There has not been much news from the agency but that is to be expected right now. I think the next step will be that we will receive an "on-deck" email. Once you receive this email it is about 1-2 months until you receive a referral. I know it is a bit early but I still get excited when I see an email come through from AWAA.

Last week was an extremely difficult week and we are still grieving for our sweet friend Hallee and praying for her family. Thank goodness for their faith and our faith it truly is what gets us through day to day and have hope. The funeral was so sweet and Brooke did an incredible job speaking (as did everyone)- I know Hallee is proud of her.

Praying for a peaceful week,


Our Sweet Hallee.

It has been several days since I have posted because we have had a terrible loss in our lives. Brooke's best friend Hallee Cartwright passed away on Friday October 9th and it has devastated not only us but everyone who knew her. We had a wonderful weekend with her last weekend celebrating Brooke's birthday...a fun mother/daughter dinner on Monday night. Hallee became ill on Wednesday and although her mom had her at the doctors Wednesday and Thursday by Thursday night Hallee was critically ill. She had been diagnosed with the flu but somehow her mom knew it was more than that and late Thursday night took her to the hospital. Hallee passed away around 6am on Friday morning and it is a fact I still cannot seem to grasp even as I sit here typing.

Brooke, Hallee and Hannah have been BFFs since Hannah and Hallee were in kindergarten and for Brooke since she started PCA in fourth grade. The girls loved being together it really didn't matter what they were doing and we as parents knew there was never having just two of them...it was the three no matter what. The girls have shared so many wonderful times with school, sports, sleepovers, vacations, etc. I am so happy that they have so many wonderful memories and yet overcome with grief. As you parents know...your child's best friends become your children and Russ and I both feel a tremendous loss.

I have to ramble a little and tell you a story about Rhonda (Hallee's mom). Rhonda is an incredible person and has been such a good friend to me. I remember when we first started PCA and not only did Brooke and Cole not know anyone I didn't know many folks myself. I was sitting on the basketball floor waiting for practice to be over for Brooke and the nicest lady came right over in her work attire and sat down, introduced herself and said we will have to get our girls together. Brooke had been feeling a little "too new" at school but not for one day after this. Hallee and her friend Hannah took Brooke in and never looked back. Rhonda also took me in and as two working moms at the time we had an instant connection. We spent a week in a hotel room with the three girls last year on a school field trip to DC and truly had as much fun as the girls did. Rhonda's heart showed through in Hallee and vice versa. Des (Hannah's mom) and I were constantly giving our girls a hard time about be more like Hallee or have Hallee's manners, etc.

Because I always like telling Caroline stories I want to mention what she told me as we layed down tonight to go to bed. Today was the first day back to school and the school had grief counselors and the teachers did a great job talking to the kids...so when I asked Caroline about her day she said they had talked about Hallee and that she had raised her hand to speak. I asked her what she asked or said and she said that she would really miss Hallee because Hallee was her sister Brooke's best friend and that she was her best friend also. It made me smile and think about how many people refer to Hallee as their best friend...pretty much anyone who knew her from very young to very old. Hallee had a way of making you feel so special.

So as I am typing I feel that I have not done near good enough job explaining the sweet heart to anyone who did not know Hallee but she was a true angel. The joy she brought to my Brooke's heart and the friendship they have will not end on last Friday yet simply take another form and the things Brooke learned from her and the memories she has will last forever until they meet again.......to laugh and laugh and laugh.

Please pray for Hallee's family specifically for her mom Rhonda, her father Keith and sister Hannah C. and all their extended family. Please pray for Brooke and Hannah S. and all of Hallee's great friends. Thanks,



I am posting several blogs because one I want to catch up and two I am in the hotel with three sleeping girls and it is very quiet! I must thank my sweet Aunt Jane for letting us stay at the hotel...it is always so nice and so easy! Had dinner with her and my awesome cousin Kelli last night...we had so much fun, I love being with them both.

About 2loveorphans.........My friend Tracy and I both have a heart for orphans and feel that God is calling us to be his hands here on earth to help their cause. Tracy adopted from China four years ago and I am in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. At an adoption Gala event in Nashville we were both moved to do more. I in fact told my sister on the phone that night that I was ready to adopt six or more but seeing as how there are 147 million orphans Tracy and I decided that we should do something that would help more children even if it meant we did not adopt more ourselves. With that thought and some brainstorming we came up with the idea to start an organization/partnership/mission/effort called 2loveorphans.com
We even have a mission statement...
2loveorphans.com (2LO) is an organization that longs to be a part of helping defend, rescue and deliver orphans from their distress. God promises to set the lonely in families and 2LO wants to be a part of His plans for the orphan and encourage others to do the same.

In a nutshell we just want to encourage others to speak up for and pray for the orphans...they are real children with real stories and real hearts....they may be far away but they are part of our world and our lives. Not all are called to adopt but all are called to care.

This website has been so much fun to create...it is still in a draft format but you can go to it and check it out. Let me know your thoughts....

Happy Birthday my sweet Brooke -13

Today is Brooke's 13th birthday and it is quite fitting that we are in Knoxville. She was born at the UT hospital at 8:24am and I quietly went into her room this morning and kissed her forehead. I brought her and two of her sweet friends, Hannah and Hallee, up to Knoxville to experience a UT ballgame. It is beautiful fall weather and I know will be such a great day. Russ, Cole and Caroline are headed up to meet us as soon as Caroline's game soccer game is over. It was my dad's birthday yesterday, my nephews birthday tomorrow and my brother's the following day..........what a weekend to celebrate! I will post a picture or two once I get home to my computer.

The adoption conference call was good. No really new information but nice to hear about things going on with the agency and in Ethiopia from an official source. Courts have been delayed re-opening for a week which I hate for so many families who have received referrals but it does not exactly affect our situation.

We are looking and praying about some children on the waiting list (this is children who are either older or possibly have a medical condition). There is a precious little four year old boy that we were talking about .....I went to have lunch with a friend about my 40th birthday and they were considering the same boy....they are actually on the list to review his file behind one other family. How wonderful is that! This little boy has so many people praying and wanting him....I hope somehow in his heart he knows he is already loved.

Not sure what the next step or update will be on our adoption...the waiting time goes stretches without much update....


New music

I changed out my music on the blog too. There are only three songs right now but they are fitting to our time of "waiting". Let me know if you have any other songs about waiting that you think I would enjoy. Thanks


My house is so cluttered and all of a sudden it is driving me crazy. I spent the whole day cleaning out my closet and moving summer clothes out. I am also trying to figure out how we are going to do bedrooms, who is going to share, how we will arrange all the rooms and baby items, etc. It is fun and exciting but I don't want to start spending any money until I figure out exactly what the final decision is. All of this on top of not knowing when our son is coming home or how old he is makes it difficult when you are a planner by nature (and/or nurture).

There has not been much word on the progress of where we are on "the list". We do have a conference call on Wednesday with the agency and I am looking forward to getting a little more info then.

The kids are out on fall break this week and next and it is so nice to move a little slower. We are staying home and cleaning out and hopefully cleaning up. We have also planned some local outings and a trip or two to a UT football game. I treasure this time so much with the kiddos now that I am at home with them and can play, read and talk - it is a treasure.

I will update anything I find out Wednesday on the conference call!


One month down....

Things have been extremely quiet on the adoption front so I am having to make my own little celebrations! We have now been on the official waiting list for one month which if you take the middle point of the wait time (6 months) means we are 1/6th closer to bringing home our sweet son. Can you tell I have too much time to think about the wait? Actually I have done pretty good.......not too anxious yet and have now made a list of everything I would like to get finished before traveling to Ethiopia. I am in the middle of a bible study with our church and have just joined BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) which is quite a commitment and will keep me busy in prayer and studying the bible.........definitely the best way I could find to pass this time.

America World usually posts referrals every 2 weeks or so and there had not been any referrals announced for almost six weeks until this past Friday. There were not infant boys referred but 6 other sweet children. Courts in Ethiopia open back up in October and the lady who handles a lot of the referrals for America World has just come back from maternity leave so I am hoping as I know many others are that there will be lots of referrals flowing soon.

Hope to be able to update more about our adoption but right now it truly is pretty quiet. I plan to check out Vanderbilt's International Pediatric Unit, begin planning on the switching around of bedrooms and Oct. 1st I usually start on Christmas----can you believe it is coming up so fast. It is amazing how time can move so slow and so fast at the exact same time.


147 Million Orphans by Brooke Connelly

My children make me very proud all the time and I love them so very much. Not to show off too much but I have to share one story with you. My oldest (Brooke, 12) had to write a poem in one of her classes...they had been discussing the president and his campaign being about "change". The teacher then asked them to take the topic of change and the lesson of poetry and write a poem. Brooke did not tell me about this assignment until time to turn it in. When I read the poem I couldn't believe how good it was, how heartfelt it was and that our family deciding to adopt has really made an impression on her to help orphans. Can you tell I am a proud momma!! Here it is:

147 Million Orphans

Do you care
I want a home
I want a family
I want someone to love me
There are 147 million of us
We don't have anyone to call mom
Please don't be selfish
Love me and I will love you
Do you care?

God has a plan for me
I found my home
I now have someone to love
There are 147 million orphans minus one
My family was very unselfish and chose to take care of me
They love me and I love them
God has a plan for me

Isn't that incredible! I am so PROUD of her. Another bragging moment and I will stop....Brooke has been so unselfish and sweet in regards to our adoption. We have been fortunate to have a house where everyone has their own room but with the addition of our son we are one bedroom short. After some discussion and brain storming Brooke offered to let her little sister who is only 6 move into her room so that the baby can have his own room. It will be such an adjustment and sacrifice for Brooke and yet she very sweetly and willingly offered to do this.

I have so much more to post and update but have to go for now.........


Waiting is not very exciting...

I am sure you saw in my previous blog that we are DTE 8/20/2009!!! There was so much to do in the paperwork part of our adoption that I literally worked on it everyday. Although I am glad that part is over it is a bit odd to now just wait and not be doing much. I am not impatient (yet) about the waiting it is just hard to update much on my blog because really there is not an update except that we have now been waiting 2 weeks. There is a great "unofficial" list on a yahoo group that keeps things updated but we are not close enough on the list to make the list yet. The yahoo group however, is so helpful, kind, informative and supportive. It is nice to have friends going through the same process even though we have not met in person and actually might not.

One update is that a very dear friend of mine that was following God's call to adopt is home with her baby! It is an incredible story and has God written over every part of it. They were starting the process to adopt from Ethiopia and then God redirected them to a domestic adoption and ONE week later they were bring a precious little boy home to their family. If you would like to read this inspiring story you can go to Karen's blog at www.followingthephillips.blogspot.com

Russ and I are headed on a "grown up" trip this weekend which I am looking forward to however, Caroline cried when I dropped her off at school this morning and I have been crying since........it is so hard to leave all 3 of my precious children even for a weekend. We do figure however that this will be our last trip without kids for a while. Hopefully our next trip will be to Ethiopia!

Hope everyone has a great Labor Day...


DTE Day....Finally

What a special day.....it is my parents anniversary, my dear friend Des' birthday and my DTE DAY! Yes that is right my dossier was shipped FedEx to Ethiopia today and from what I can tell this date will prove to be very important as we go through the waiting process. I actually have no clue what happens next exactly but I figure it has to be good that our paperwork is actually going to be in Ethiopia. I have got to read up on this next phase. It is an awesome feeling though to know that we are one step closer to having our son at home with us........I wonder if he is born yet, I wonder if he is an orphan yet, and I pray that somehow he knows in his little heart that I love him and am searching hard for him.

On a lighter note ...my sister sent me a very cute email about dusting (or why we shouldn't even bother) but at the end it had a statement that said
"It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived." Thought it was sweet.


Smiling ear to ear

I have the greatest friends! I went for a walk with my friend Karen this morning and she mentioned making a comment on one of my blog post. Crazy me had not noticed that several of my posts had comments and as I went back through and read them I began to smile bigger and bigger. Karen and Jeanine your words are so encouraging and uplifting, I am very blessed to have you as friends and to have you praying for us. I don't know how to reply back to a comment you have made so the only way I know to thank you is to write a post about how great you both are!

There was also a sweet post from Kristi and a post from a "new friend" Lindsay. Lindsay I was so happy to hear from you and to hear that you are in this process with us. It would be wonderful if your family moved to Franklin....it is a nice city and the Ethiopian Fellowship group is the greatest. If your looking in this area you ought to check out Murfreesboro too.......just a little plug for my hometown. Please send me your blog when it is ready I would love to follow along on your journey.

Thanks again to all for the encouraging comments!


Sweet Caroline

What a great weekend we had. We went to Center Hill Lake with the Stalnaker family and they were so kind, sweet and generous. We had an incredible time and are very appreciative of their invite. By the time we got home it was too late to make it to our Ethiopian Family get together and although I really wanted to go I was probably trying to pack too much into one weekend - which Russ says I do all the time.

To explain the picture......although those who know Caroline will need no explanation....Caroline is very creative and enjoys picking out her own clothes. This outfit she has on is obviously a combination of several outfits - mostly hers but the sash is mine. I am not sure where she saw someone holding their baby this way but she must have because I have not had a baby sling (at least not yet). When she came downstairs I could not help but smile and wonder although we are ready for Africa - is Africa ready for us! I used to struggle with Caroline not having on one complete outfit but now I enjoy her uniqueness and smile at her creations (most of the time). Notice her cute little black baby doll she has in the sling - it's a little boy and she loves him.

Adoption update - WE RECEIVED THE I-171H FORM ON THURSDAY!!!! I made copies and sent them to America World and got an email this morning that they had received the copies. They will now do a second check over my ENTIRE dossier and if everything is o.k. they will take it to authenticate it at the Federal level and then over to the Ethiopian embassy. I am so excited and although I know the wait will be a challenge it feels very good to have the paperwork part done. I am hoping that the baseball, soccer and volleyball games that we have over the next several weeks will make it pass by a little quicker.

Blessings to all,


Following the Phillips

My dear friend Karen Phillips (who is also adopting from Ethiopia) has written the best post - I want you all to read it.


You will be blessed by taking the time to read any of her post but especially this one. It is my favorite, so far......


O.K. so I hope I am not the only one that when they hear this word thinks it is negative. I can't even help but say it with a little attitude:) So I was very surprised when I heard it was the theme for Brooke's Disciple Now retreat with her youth group. I was not sure how they would tie it to being a disciple of God. Me of little faith..........

Philippians 4:8-9 (English Standard Version)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

In church on Sunday the service was all about the weekend and gave us a glimpse of what the kids had experienced....it was so awesome and all we saw was a piece of it!

Update on the adoption front.........Dossier went to America World last Thursday and I found out today there were only one or two things needing a modification - YEAH! And yes I have already made the correction (we had not signed our passports). I also got an email from USCIS that said we should have "the form" by the end of the week!! If I can get it and get it turned around to America World by Monday then Caitlin (our family coordinator with America World) thinks they might can get it sent off by the end of next week. Things are moving.......slower than I would like....but they are moving.

Whatever it takes....


The Gala

The Orphan's Ticket Home Gala was Saturday night and it was such a great night. The event was very well done, music was nice but my favorite was a tie between Tom Davis' talk and Aster's talk. Tom Davis has written several books, is an adoptive dad and had a great message about how all 143 million orphans are God's children and that he loves them so much and he expects us to do whatever we can to help them, love them and save them.

He gave an example that if one of our children went missing, not only would we no longer throw away the mailers that say "Have you seen me?" but that he bet there was nothing we wouldn't do to save our child. We would be on every radio and TV station, we would sell all our possessions, we would do what ever it takes to bring our sweet child home. This is how God feels about his children who are suffering and he is waiting for us to do something about it. God gave us free will but his heart's desire is for all of us that know and love him to love the least of these.

There are so many good causes and God calls us to be champions for different causes but He is very clear that we are all to care for the orphans, widows and strangers.... That may not mean to adopt yourself but it is clear that we are all to do something.

My sweet sister went to the Gala to support me in my adoption and she also gave to support the Orphan's Ticket Home. She is an incredibly giving person and I am lucky to have her as my sister and friend. Love you Christy.......................


One more post today and I'll stop

Can you tell I am so excited I can't do anything but think, talk, type and blog about adoption?? O.K. I have finished another book that was recommended to me called A Treasury of Adoption Miracles and it was a great read. It is different stories and the true miracles that occurred in them not to mention the miracle of adoption in each of them. The last story is the author's story and she addresses a couple topics so well that I just have to mention them here.

She states.....People ask us about the transition. "How do you bring children into your home who have nothing in common with you?" "You have different skin colors, different cultural understandings, different languages - even different food preferences. We tell them with much prayer. You see, we knew going into this adoption that we would have different colors, countries and cultures. But we would have the same Christ and that, we believed, was enough. It was enough at the beginning, and it remains enough now. More than enough.

Our primary heritage is found not in our ancestors or family genealogies or birthplaces but at the cross, in Christ alone.

She then mentions another story which I have now heard 2-3 times in the past month with slightly different variations but it is one I love so much....

There's a story often told of a particularly rough storm that came up one night and left a sandy beach strewn with starfish. The next morning a child walked along the shore, stopping every few feet to pick up a starfish and fling it back to sea. An old man watched the child and finally shouted at him, "Why bother, son? There are too many starfish to make a difference!"

With that, the boy picked up another starfish and looked at it intently before heaving it out to sea. Then turning to the old man, he said, "It makes a difference to that one."

Karen Kingsbury ends with this - Adoption itself is a miracle.....Certainly our family has seen the starfish principle at work amid the miracles in our lives: Adoption makes a difference.

Please take just a minute and pray..........pray for the orphans and pray to know if you are being called to adopt.....you might get a surprising answer.

Praise God! Dossier is sent to America World

The day I have been waiting for..........(with a slight modification). Caitlin at America World, our adoption agency, told me I could go ahead and submit my dossier without the I-171H. I was so excited and relieved. This way she can be reviewing all the documents and then by the time she is done hopefully I will have the form and the whole package can be sent to Ethiopia. This just makes me feel like at least a little progress is happening instead of everything being totally stuck and not moving forward. I feel like we are getting closer to bringing our son home and I pray for him nightly. I do not know if he has been born yet or not and what his situation might be but I pray for him and for his mother. I yearn for him and I love him even though I have not seen him.

Now in case you would like to see a picture of what I have been doing for the past three months and groaning about on here I have posted a few pics of the paperwork and the FedEx package that was sent out today! There was really no way to answer the question of the value of what is inside......what do they say......priceless.

I still have to follow up with immigration and work diligently to get the form into my hands but this somewhat seemingly small step forward is like climbing Mt. Everest to me. Thank you all for your prayers.

Ups and Downs

Monday came and went without much to note in regards to the adoption and then Tuesday morning a great phone call. Mr. Rick Werhh, the ASC Manager (fingerprint place) called and said I actually only had to have a police letter from Murfreesboro! Yahoo----cause I already had it. I was so happy and went immediately and overnighted the letter to the Memphis office. I was thinking that things were finally breaking for me in regards to this form.

Then Wednesday....... a note from Memphis that said on page 2 of the application there was a place to date and sign and although we had both signed we had not both dated the document. Can you believe that.........they would not budge and are returning that page of the application to me via USPS regular mail. Once I receive it I will date it and then have to mail it back and then they will proceed with our application. They have had our application since June 1st and are just now noticing the date thing...........

O.K. so you can imagine my frustration and disappointment. But on Thursday it occurred to me that I could at least ask our family coordinator if since I had absolutely everything but that one sheet of paper (which we keep and they just get a copy of) could I go ahead and send the packet to her for review. Thank goodness she replied yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That means basically I could send in our Dossier - the moment I have been working towards for close to 3 months! Caitlin can't send our dossier to Ethiopia until we have the form but she can be checking our documents for anything else that may need to be revised, added, etc.

I am not sure if you can understand the pressure of the dossier unless you are doing or have done one but it is a huge project and one that I so bad have wanted to complete (for numerous reasons).

So I continue on my journey of ups and downs but when I put it all in perspective I realize I am a very blessed person....................................


Last Week - A test for me...

Last week I started the week anxiously awaiting the form from Immigration that is holding up our adoption. I was confident that it would come and ran to the mailbox Monday and Tuesday as though Santa Claus had visited. Reality - on Wednesday I decided to do whatever to try and actually reach a human at the USCIS office - to no avail. I did however, get an email of a person (who never identified themself) that was kind enough to at least reply back. My second set of fingerprints had been rejected by the FBI - what is up with that?? For some reason my fingers are not able to give readable prints. The FBI will only accept prints twice so now I had to move to the exception phase. The person emailed and said I not only had to go back to the USCIS office for a sworn affadavit but that I had to contact every police department in any city I had lived in since I was 18 and get a clearance letter/background check.

Now the frustrating part of this is a couple of things....wonder how long I would have had to wait to hear that I had failed the fingerprint test if I had not started calling and/or emailing. The second thing was that when I called Murfreesboro they said I should just get a report form TBI and that would show anything from the whole state........this would be great because I have only lived in the state of TN and I actually already had that piece of paper. But for whatever reason the Memphis office would not accept that. When I went in for the sworn affadavit the ASC manager who took my statement tried to help me out by saying he thought I only had to go back for five years however, Memphis would not accept his word that that was the law and he could not find it on-line to show them.

Next step contacting Memphis, Knoxville, Shelbyville and Murfreesboro police departments which proved to be a test of perseverance itself. But by Thursday at 6pm I had sent Knoxville's form (which had to be notarized) off to them, mailed Shelbyville a letter and sent Memphis a letter with a $20 money order. So now I must wait......................for the background checks to come back which I will then send to Memphis and hope that they will then send the paperwork to me so that we may get on the list to yes ...wait...........................

I strongly urge anyone who thinks they even might want to adopt to pray about it, pursue it and take the leap of faith but let me tell you that it is not a simple, easy or quick process. Granted neither is being pregnant and labor and delivery is not a party but this certainly isn't either. Thank goodness the gift is GRAND!

I really don't like to publish post that are complaining or whiney in nature but for anyone in the process I think it helps to know others have struggled and not everything just falls into place without determination. Keep moving forward and don't give up...............tears of frustration will turn to tears of joy - I just know it!

Happy Birthday Russ!

This past weekend (7/31 to be exact) was Russ' birthday. We celebrated the entire weekend and had lots of fun family time. You will see pics below. I am so thankful to have a wonderful husband who loves me enough to trust me, believe in me and yes put up with me. We have been through a tremendous amount in 16 years but because of our love for the Lord we have weathered the storms and come out stronger. Russ is an incredibly hard worker, an incredible dad, son, uncle and husband. Depending on how far down you have read in my post you will know that adopting was on my heart before it was on Russ'. Although I have no doubt Russ will be in love every bit as much as me with our son - his love for God and for me is what got him to the point that he was willing to take a leap of faith and start this amazing journey! If you can't tell I love him very much and feel very blessed that God brought us together - then let me say "I love you, Russ". Our days are not all filled with sunshine but they are filled with love.............



I have been working on my blog (for a while) and somehow managed to get both the time in Ethiopia and some music added. It is a pretty simple process it just wasn't simple for me. At one point I thought my blog was playing two songs at the same time....it wasn't until I started closing browsers that I realized I had my site up twice and it was playing two songs at the same time...it was pretty cool though. My next goal is to be able to add pictures......so I am going to test it out on this post and the picture will be totally random.

The kids had their first week of school this week and it has actually gone very well. I can see that I am really going to miss not having Caroline home in the afternoons.......my arms ache for that sweet baby from Ethiopia!! We actually have not made any progress on the adoption...ugh. I am waiting on the paper from USCIS - still waiting. I am though reading a new book that I can already tell I am going to love. It is called Fields of the Fatherless and yes it is about adoption.

Hope everyone has a great weekend - we are headed to the lake with my adoption buddy.


Please Watch - It's Amazing!

Below is a link that will take you to a Youtube video of the Johnson's Gotcha Day. This is a family that I met via their blog and have since met in person. They live in Nashville and are part of the Ethiopia Fellowship Group that we have joined. They recently went to Ethiopia to bring home their daughter Lucy Lane Martha Johnson. It is an incredible video!!

For those not currently adopting, Gotcha Day is the day when you get to meet your child in person!




Love is a beautiful thing...

God is love. God commands us to love one another. Why are we adopting? To love, we are trying to obey what God has laid out for our family.

When I talk to different people about our adoption journey they are always so kind and tend to want to compliment us for "doing this." Trust me, everyone's positive comments are welcome and needed at times but I do want to say one thing about this....

we are not trying to SAVE a child - but maybe we will
we are not trying to draw attention to what we are DOING - but hopefully more people who meet us will consider adoption

we are simply trying to obey - TO LOVE.

In regards to the adoption we are so close and yet very far also. I now have everything needed for the dossier to go except that one sheet of paper from USCIS - please pray our file will float to the top! Once I get that form I will have everything off to America World asap. I look forward to being on the list. I can't believe I am so excited about getting on a list to wait again but I am.

While I am waiting I am thinking a lot. I am designing a t-shirt, a logo and having fun with my blog. My first t-shirt design which may or may not ever happen would have the following block of copy on the back ................


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. Matthew 22:36-38
16"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15
16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16



Why Africa?

O.K. so I am a bit nervous about this post. Every single child without a loving home deserves that and is important, valuable and a child of God. Thankfully God calls different people to adopt from different places and that is truly the answer to the question Why Africa for us.

I had for a long time thought that if we ever adopted that we would adopt domestically. It was only after God showed me something else and lead me somewhere else through conversations with people, books that I would read, and dreams that I would have. Yes we have a need in America but here are a few statistics. There are 73.2 million children in the U.S. 70% of them live with 2 parents and 94% of them live with at least one parent. 10.7% are in the foster care system and have a need for a forever family.

A little bit about Africa..... there are 48.3 million ORPHANS ....not children but children without either parent or relative to care for them. There are 5 million in Ethiopia alone. 1 in 6 will die before their fifth birthday and 1 in 10 will die before turning one.

Every 15 SECONDS, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa
Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans
Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone)
143,000,0002 Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home
Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
Every YEAR 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system
Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT
Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no family to belong to and no place to call home
In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18.
60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.
Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls
are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans.

The need for help is tremendous and the call is urgent. I have not been to Africa myself but I can only imagine the pain of seeing children on the street with no one to care for them. They do not have foster homes, government aid programs or people waiting to adopt them. Our family adopting one child seems pretty small in terms of the numbers stated above but it is one life and from the beginning I have seen it as a small pebble in a large pool of water.........the ripple effect.....that is I hope that our adopting can help or persuade or support hundreds of more adoptions.

We had decided to adopt months before I looked up all of these statistics....so I mean it from my heart when I say that God answered "Africa" for us and now we are trying to obey. Yes there are children here who need help but our call is in Africa and if the above statistics can help to raise orphan awareness in Africa then that is why I have posted them.


Happy 4th of July

I am so excited ....I have been catching up on several of the blogs that I follow and suddenly it hit me that hopefully we will have our son home by July 4, 2010. We have been in Grayton Beach for a week with my mom and dad, my sister and my three nephews. It was the best trip and even with six kids it was easy and fun. It was fun to think about having eight kiddos next year on the 4th.....that's right our son plus my sister-in-law (and Jax's mom) is expecting. Her due date is in January so her son/daughter will definitely be here and we will just keep hoping that we will have returned home from Ethiopia ourselves. You should have heard us trying to explain that Aunt Jen was having a baby but that he is not in my belly like his mom but in my heart. It was also precious to hear him pronounce Ethiopia.

I had hoped to have all the paperwork done before leaving for the beach but it just didn't happen. However, once I got home all the papers I was waiting on had come in and while we were gone our home study was finalized and ready for me to pick up!! So now all that is left is getting that piece of paper from USCIS.... but I have to go have my fingerprints taken a second time and my appointment got delayed until July 14th. I would get mad or something but I try to remember that everything is in God's timing not mine and that things will happen as they should.

On our trip we had fun trying to come up with a name. We had several suggestions Cooper, Hayes, Alex, Taze and a few others. I feel certain the list will grow before it narrows plus I keep reminding everyone that he may already have a name. It is becoming so real and although I resisted the urge to buy any baby items I really had fun looking. I also met a very nice lady who had adopted domestically four years ago and she told me to celebrate all the milestones in the process .......makes it easier to endure the process.

I hope you had a wonderful fourth also.......I feel so blessed as you hear me say often but in all honesty we had a very blessed vacation and 4th!


Getting closer...

As I continue to work on our family photo pages, tracking down medical papers, etc. at times I get discouraged and even begin to question myself (along with several other of my family members). When I seem to struggle however, I am always led to an answer. I was reading the Hamilton's blog which referenced another blog and I was very moved by this ladies post. Here was my answer
"Go. Leave behind the life you planned. SEEK OUT the orphan. Don't ask God one more time if He wants you to adopt. Because...HE'S been asking YOU, who WILL?"

To read her full post go to http://blessingsfromethiopia.blogspot.com/2009/06/i-wish-i-could-tell-you.html

Blessings to you all!


Hague Training and more paperwork

It is Tuesday night and I have spent most of yesterday and today working on the adoption. There is a training program - online that you must complete that takes right at 8 hours to complete. That coupled with making passport copies, tracking down medical information and corresponding with the social worker and family coordinator has kept me "working" full days. The kids went to Pops and Vees house which is how I was able to spend so much time at the computer. Our home study draft was sent to our family coordinator today so hopefully it won't be long until it is approved and sent to the USCIS. I can't wait to be on the waiting list!!!!!!

Excited about this weekend ....we are going to the Ethiopian family meeting/Fellowship group and will get to meet other families on this journey or who have completed the journey. Then off to a concert and to hear Katie Davis speak. It is a big week on the adoption front.

I have also started the photo pages we must do.....it was fun going back through photos however, difficult to find photos with all five of us in them. That is the update for now.



"...once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."(Proverbs 24:12)


The Infamous Fingerprint Appt.

For anyone else who might be reading this and new to the adoption process let me explain the fingerprint appt. I had heard it was a big deal so when my social worker had me go in Murfreesboro to an office and I walked right in, got fingerprinted and walked out I must admit I thought what is the big deal? Well, that was for the state of TN check.....not the Federal fingerprint appt that is sent to the FBI. While in Branson we received a letter from USCIS that we were to appear at a certain office on June 16th at 11:00am. Wow- no window of time, option of dates, etc. you show up when they say.....you cannot even bring your phone into their building and it was a very formal procedure. Still just took my fingerprints (2-3 of each finger and then all fingers together) but I must say now I understand the big deal. So, Russ and I are officially in the FBI system and being checked out!

Also working on getting our reference letters sent in.....three for the social worker and home study and then three for the dossier. I have such dear friends that are willing to do this for us and I know they are all so busy. Thank you guys.

Branson was interesting....a very long way from Murf. TN. The kids had a nice time at camp and Caroline and I had so much fun just hanging out for a week. This week brings baseball camp for Cole, art class for Caroline and we are keeping Jax from Mon-Wed. We absolutely love having him and it has really been easy. I guess it is probably good for us to get a taste of four!

I am still working on paperwork this week........medical forms and then some Hague training. Loving being home this summer with the kiddos - they are such a joy to me.


What a week!

It has been a very full week on the adoption front. I have been trying to send in paperwork left and right to get as much done as possible before I head out of town for a week. Our last vist by our social worker was Wednesday night and boy was I uptight. It went very well....Bethany checked out the house and had conversations with each of the kids individually. I got a notice that the USCIS had received our paperwork (which is one of the lengthy processes) so things are under way.

It has also been a hard week though. Russ had a conversation with his parents about the adoption on Wednesday and it did not go well. They love him so much and are so worried about the stress this may put on him. They asked to speak with me and him on Friday and I was then a nervous wreck about that. We met with them tonight and they shared their concerns, worries, issues, etc. I tried to explain to them our journey and how God is leading us to this child of ours. They listened and tried to understand. I hope that they will accept our decision and be part of this incredible journey with us. Russ really wants and needs their love and support and I would certainly like it also. The meeting went well and it was nice to be able to sit down and talk about something we didn't necessarily agree on and discuss it in a loving way. Please continue to pray for us, for the Connelly's and for my family. We are a very close knit family and desire to go through this pregnancy just like our others.

Headed off to Branson tomorrow to take the kids to camp. Caroline and I are staying up there and going to do a mommy and me camp/fun time. I would love to think that this time next year there would be another little Connelly but I try not to get my hopes up too high. I am so in love with God, with our child who is not with us yet and with my family - I am so blessed!


Home Visit - Tomorrow!!

Tuesday night at 8:30 and I am almost done preparing the house for our home visit tomorrow night. I don't know why I don't organize and clean up like this on a regular basis instead of when I am under such important deadlines. I have drilled the children with where the fire extinguishers are and the tornado room, fire escape plan etc. I think we are in good shape but I guess we will know for sure tomorrow night. I am also down to the last 4-5 documents needed to submit our dossier to America World. The paperwork is incredible and just keeping up with it all is a task in itself. I am hoping to have everything done before I leave for the kids camp on Saturday. That is all of an update for now...................thinking of a few more things to do before tomorrow.


Kindergarten Graduation

Whew! Last week of school and it is a crazy week. Tuesday Cole's Africa project was due, Wednesday was Caroline's kindergarten graduation and tomorrow is field day which I am a volunteer for and have to be there to set up at 6:00 AM!! It will be so nice to be home next week.

Caroline's graduation was absolutely adorable. The two classes put on a mini play called "Journey of Praise" and Caroline was the "A" in praise. She knew her lines perfectly and sang the songs at the top of her voice. When they marched out in their white cap and gowns it was the sweetest and sadest of moments. They already look older. Their was a reception afterwards and then a graduation/birthday party afterwards at the Jordan's.

Update on adoption: Totally overwhelmed with the paper chase. Often referred to as the paper pregnancy.....this is definitely a project keeping up with forms to fill out, some notarize, some certify, some send to social worker, some to the family coordinator. I have had to ask so many people to sign things, write letters, etc. It is truly a job running down all the paperwork. After saying all that I will say that it is still better than throwing up for 12 weeks which I did with all three of my pregnancies. We have our last home visit scheduled for next Wednesday afternoon. Russ and I both had our individual interviews last week and as anyone who knows us can imagine Russ' took 45 min and mine 1 1/2 hours..............the typical time is one hour:) Bethany asked us everything from birth, education, family members, hobbies, work history, views on marriage, family support, attributes of each family member and that is just what pops in my mind right now.

I sent my paperwork off to USCIS last week and was very disappointed to see it returned to me this week. I had not sent enough money (missed one of the fees) and so I sent it back off tonight. This is the agency that will send us the paperwork that says we can bring a child from outside the US into the US as a citizen. Apparently this is the part that takes the longest and that is why I was so anxious to at least get in the system.......oh well. I have been working very hard to get as much of the paperwork done before the kids get out of school and summer fun begins. I will need some time next week but then should be in pretty good shape.

Will post pics of Caroline's big day as soon as I figure out how .........need to go start getting the house organized for our home visit next week................


Out of Order-but almost caught up!

Now would actually be where the post called The Gift should go (scroll down about 4 posts or so). I have tried to write about our process of coming to the decision to adopt - a love story of sorts. On May 10th (actually the night before) Russ gave me a Mother's Day card that said "Let's start the process to bring our son home".

As anyone who has adopted knows -- the papers began flying! What a tremendous process. On Friday, May 15th we had our first meeting with our social worker - Bethany Graff. She was so helpful and very kind. She did however, have even more paperwork for us! She asked us our motivation to adopt and specifically to adopt from Ethiopia..................and then she had to listen to basically everything that is listed below this post. Our next meeting is Tuesday the 19th for our personal interviews. We meet with her four times so she can determine if we are fit to be parents..................for Brooke, Cole and Caroline's sake I hope we pass the test:)

We are also planning to talk with Russ' family this week - my prayer is that God will talk through us to explain our decision.

The Resources

I am not a reader.........my whole life I have read out of sheer necessity or requirement. However, not only was I now reading adoption books I was also reading three other books that definitely helped me to better understand God's love for me and his plan for my life. I began The Shack about six months earlier and ended up setting it down........timing is important in dealing with your relationship with Christ and I must have gotten ahead of myself. Anyhow, I picked it back up and could not seem to put it down at all. This book has absolutely nothing to do with adoption. What it deals with is a man that although always a Christian did not truly understand the meaning of having a relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As it turns out I did not either and reading this book was an instrumental tool in my spiritual growth over the past year.

There is one specific part of The Shack that did speak to me about adoption when reading. At this point remember I still did not know if Russ was willing to move forward. It went like this
"Mack, if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again."

In summary of this resource the book is about this horrible thing called independence that we think we have a right to and the real meaning of life which is relationships and love......at least in my opinion.

The next book I was reading in between starting The Shack and then getting back to it was called Crazy Love. This book is not about adoption either. It is however, about the love that God calls us to......a crazy, restless, all consuming love.

Throughout the past six months I was praying.....hard. I wanted God to tell me if this was his calling or if I was simply hormonal and wanting a baby or to be needed or something insane like that. I would honestly look into the sky and hope that a cloud would spell out "yes" or "no" or "go". I wondered if my scare with possible breast cancer was him trying to re-direct me or spur me on. I would pray that if it were not his will that he would take it off my heart and/or definitely not put it on Russ'................I just didn't think I could move forward without Russ honestly believing and wanting this for our family.

The Shack did so much to educate me about the Trinity and Crazy Love helped me so much to understand what Faith truly is. Here is an excerpt from the book that I have read dozens of times now.

But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through. Question answered.

Another section from the book that spoke to me:
I wrote this book because much of our talk doesn't match our lives. We say things like, " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." Then we live and plan like we don't believe God even exists. We try to set our lives up so everythig will be fine even if God doesn't come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God's fidelity to His promises.

The last book I will mention in this post but another that had such an amazing impact on my spiritual walk and my discerning if I was being called to adopt was the book of Esther. I was reading the book of Esther in the Bible and doing the bible study with a group of wonderful ladies from church.

I will point out several times when I truly felt God was speaking to me.

In the bible study workbook in the Intro............Scripture cannot come without effect to the receptive soul. God is up to something profound in your life or you wouldn' be holding this Bible study in your hands. He not only desires to teach you but to transform you.

At one point when I was feeling impatient with Russ and the days and weeks passing by. And guess what the study was on that week...........yes timing. Beth Moore reminds us to Reflect on the importance of knowing
1. When it's time
2. When it's time to wait************yes, this was written for me on the day I read it without Mrs. Moore even knowing it.
3. When it's time to wait for someone else's time ************I am surprised my name wasn't written beside this one
4. When the meantime is God-time

It is about God's time and not my time which is very hard for some one who likes to plan things out!

Last comes more specifically from the Book of Esther. You really need to know the story for this to make any sense but for my history I want to be sure it is here ...Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not think that in the king's palace you will escape anymore than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish.

God will save the orphans whether I adopt one child or not but what would that mean for me and my family?

I strongly recommend all the above reading ............really for anyone trying to grow and figure out their purpose. As I mentioned earlier none of the books have a thing to do with adoption and yet they were the ingredients that lead me through my process of figuring out how I could bless.


March Madness

January and February went quickly with positive signs, conversations and meetings on adoption. Amazon was delivering books weekly and I may never get all of them read. However, this high speed chase was fixing to come to a hault. I think I overwhelmed and scared Russ a bit with how taken I was over us adopting. He needed to slow down, pray and process. We had a lot happening in March and so I decided not to talk about adoption to Russ and to hopefully not stay obsessed with research for ONE month.

A 7 day trip to DisneyWorld certainly helped the time pass by and it seemed as though we hardly blinked and April was here. Time to move ahead....right? Not exactly. The next few weeks would prove to be some of my most difficult and trying times in this process at least so far...

Russ was avoiding talking about the adoption but assured me he was continuing to pray. We knew we were serious enough that we both wanted to let our families in on what might be going on with us. Russ met with his parents and sister-in-law for lunch and was very tight lipped about the conversation except that they were concerned about us adopting. My conversation with my family although initially semi-supportive (although my dad was great and never missed a beat) I could tell there would be questions to answer and concerns to be addressed. I had several conversations with my sister and sister-in-law .....we are very close and I respect their opinions so much...they quizzed me pretty hard and tried to bring up anything that might possibly have crossed my mind....they are always taking care of me:)

My mom who is honestly the best mother in the world was consumed with worry from the moment I mentioned this to her. She was worried about me handling any more on my plate than I had, worried about the strain it would be on my marriage, worried about financial matters, emotional matters, physical matters, pretty much everything you could worry about. We had great conversations about how blessed I felt and about how my crazy home life was not stressful to me but beautiful, wonderful fun.

Then came Easter weekend. Good Friday brought tornadoes through Murfreesboro and literally down our street. It was very horrible and although we escaped without injury or much incident there were so many families that lost their homes and two people their lives. We did actually lose power and being the non-camping family that we are we decided to pack up and go to our folks houses. We went to Shelbyville Friday night and to Brentwood Saturday night....I know we are total wimps.

Now if you remember I had agreed to not talk about the adoption for the month of March but we are now well into April. Saturday night I was about to explode.....and had to force a conversation with my hubby. It did not go well........he just wasn't ready and although he felt my calling was from God he just couldn't pull the trigger. I was devastated, tired and frustrated. We made it through the night and back to my parents house on Sunday for Easter lunch. Needing to talk about my feelings more than ever the conversation came up with my mom, sisters and me. They were all questioning me pretty hard and my mom was firmer that she thought I might be "crazy". They did not seem to understand that this was not about me but about serving God and showing his love in the way I know best which is loving children........all His children. Seeing as how everything had been negative and no progress had been made I was on a downward spiral that led me to nearly giving up. I cried for two days.......on Monday so bad that Russ offered to come home. My family's support means the world to me and I think it was the first time I ever felt as though I did not have it on any significant matter. My heart was broken, I felt like if God meant for us to adopt that it would not be this hard and let me tell you I was being tested. By the end of the week the turmoil inside of me was nearly more than I could take. There was a meeting of the Ethiopian group the following Sunday and Russ and the kids were fighting me about having to go..............................I did not push and simply went to my room, fell to my knees and asked God to please guide me or more specifically to re-direct me.

Seeing as how I NEVER take naps Russ came into the room to see if I was o.k. He could tell quickly that I was not and we had an incredible talk. He told me that God's work is not suppose to be easy and that there are several places in the bible where it says it may be very lonely and that although he was not ready to send in the paperwork that he did not think we should give up........persevere he told me. I prayed and prayed and then decided to get up and go work out.

The phone rang as I was headed upstairs and it was my mom. She called to tell me that her concerns were fears of hers for her and that she should not place those on me or my decisions. She let me know that she loved me, admired me for my desire to bless a child and try to make a difference and that from that point on that she would support my decision. I cried and cried. I did not have to have my mothers approval but I did want her to understand my motivations and she finally did..........it was great! I count on my mom to be able to talk things through and not having her for this had been very difficult. I love her so much and do not want it to sound as though she was mean or mad for one instant but with a relationship like we are blessed to have you can feel when things are not well.

So as you can see the tide was about to turn.....Thank you God so much. I am anxious to get caught up but it will have to be tomorrow............it's late and I need my beauty sleep.

God will not give us more than we can handle but sometimes he thinks we can handle more than we think we can!


A little more history....February

I was so taken back when Russ agreed to pray about us adopting that I didn't know what to think. He had not really taken me seriously in the past but I think we both knew there was something different this time. Anyhow, with him not saying no I was full speed ahead on research. I spent hours looking at different agencies, researching countries, buying books, reading blogs, searching websites, etc.

Somehow in all that research I got on a mailing list and received a bulk email about an adoption conference in Nashville on February 21st. It was a Saturday and an all day event........I hated to even mention it to Russ but of course I did and he said he would go!! We went and it was very informative and really good timing. We spoke with a person from America World about how to decide where to adopt from and she told us that God would lead us by opening some doors and closing others. Well, this was very true and after just a few days (but many hours of research) Ethiopia was on our short list. I was pretty sure that I wanted to adopt from Africa but had initially looked at Rwanda. One of my biggest concerns was how a child would adapt being taken out of his country, culture and placed into our little world where he will not look like the rest of his family in regards to his skin color. But guess what, at the adoption conference we were told about a group that meets in Brentwood once a month and all of the families have either adopted or are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. Is this not amazing.........lots of families that will look just like us with boys and girls, white skin and dark skin, with biological kids and adopted kids and lots with both just like us. Talk about an instant support group!

Their next meeting was February 26th and once again I did not suspect that Russ would have any desire to go to a complete strangers house with no one we knew to discuss adoption from Ethiopia when we had not even committed to taking this step. But I mentioned it anyway and he wanted to go!!! His love for God and for me is just amazing, what a blessing I have been given to be married to him.

So as you can see February was a very exciting month. I was getting very consumed with all the information, meetings and positive signs.

I have not mentioned but I also did have a bit of a scare with a lump that was found in my breast. It was really weird but I did not go crazy with worry probably because I was so focused on the adoption. It did not all get resolved as quickly as I would like but after a biopsy, and surgery it did all get resolved and although I am high risk the doctor is going to watch me close which will be some extra insurance that nothing becomes cancer.
I was also going through Beth Moore's bible study "Esther" and it was wonderful.......I highly recommend it to every woman alive. She is so incredible. Although, I am fully aware that she did not do this bible study specifically for me ........it felt as though she did. Things seemed to relate so directly to this decision we had before us. I even brought one weeks session home and asked Russ to watch it. I don't think everyone who goes through the study will want to adopt but whatever your call is that God has laid out for you will take on new meaning as you progress through the nine weeks.

That is all for now.........I hope I am not leaving too much out and will move on to March in my next post.


Mothers Day and the present

What an incredible mothers day! My husband and children are so sweet and made my day very special. I am pretty sure Caroline told me she loved me 20+ times......she is always filled with lots of emotion. Well, Russ has always been very good with personal presents (outside the one mishap with some perfume) and he is even better with his cards........not only the card itself but the note he writes inside of them. However, this card may win the award for all time greatest. Inside his very kind note about me and our family he wrote that he was ready to start the process to bring our son home!!! I am so excited, thrilled, surprised, anxious and overwhelmed all at the same time. What an incredible husband I have and with everything he is dealing with and has dealt with over the past two years and yet he is willing to trust me and God that this is what is meant for our family. Together we will follow the plans God has for us and be blessed with a child of His to love forever.

We spent the day at my parents and everyone was so happy for us and supportive of our decision. It is such a blessing and joy to have my family be excited about this journey we will all be taking. My brother and sister-in-law also just announced this week that they will be adding to their family- she is pregnant with her second child and I truly could not be happier for them. It will be so great having cousins so similar in age.

This post is a pretty big jump from my last one and there is so much to tell of God's work between "the talk" and "the present". I do plan to update and give all the details but am headed off to bed for tonight.

I can't imagine anything greater than being a mom........Happy Mothers Day to all!


The Talk

O.K. so this is the last post I am going to do today .......I am anxious to get caught up but if I am not careful it is going to be time to pick up kids and I will not have done the breakfast dishes.

It was Friday morning, January 23rd and Russ and I were headed to Atlanta for the Craters and Freighters Southeast regional meeting. Yes, in other words, Russ was trapped and with no kids in the car there was no chance of me getting distracted. I remember so much of our conversation especially the incredibly sweet, supportive and loving comments Russ made but for some reason I struggle remembering how in the world I brought this up. Now, my expectations were for Russ to say "You are crazy, no way no how and you can find someone else if this is your plan". But God was there for me and for him and he listened intently to my feeling that God was calling me to do this and that it was not about me. Russ agreed to pray about if this is what God wanted for our family and that is truly all any wife could ever ask for..........told you before that I am so blessed.

The next several posts will be about our research part of this process and as I sit here typing I do not know if we are going to adopt or not but I do know that God will guide us and that we must trust Him. A very large part of me hopes that this is God's calling on my heart and that I am not confused about what He is asking me to do. However, I know the important part is that I continue to seek Him and his will for me whatever that may look like down the road.

For God so loved the world......................aren't we lucky!

Blessed Beyond Measure

What an incredibly blessed life I have been given. I am not deserving but very thankful. I grew up in a family of 5.........an awesome mother and father, an older sister and younger brother. I was loved, taken very good care of, never wanted for anything that I needed and was raised in the Catholic church. Did I mention how loved I was? I was able to attend the college of my choice (UT of course) and although my parents were always teaching us important life lessons, the value of a dollar, how to be a responsible person etc. I really was very spoiled in that I did not have to work to go to school or travel to Europe or any of my other fun ventures.

My family is my world and they have molded me into the person I am (for better or worse:)). In college, I met the most amazing man..........he was SO good looking, smart, fun, and I met him just before he graduated.........just in the nick of time. We married a few years later, moved from Memphis, to Knoxville and finally back to Murfreesboro. We began our family in 1996 with our precious daughter Brooke, then Cole and finally Caroline. Russ and I both felt for several years after Caroline was born that we were done having children and that our family was a family of 5.

An event in my life that I have not forgotten was in 2000 just after I had Cole and was still home on maternity leave. I was watching an Oprah show on adoption and it did more than just grab my heart. I remember a very specific moment when I said out loud to myself....a child has been born in my heart and I knew that it would be a child brought to our family by adoption. However, I pushed this thought out of my mind and into the very back of my heart.

In 2006 I was feeling a tug to adopt and felt like it was coming up a lot in my life. At that point I wasn't sure if it was just that it had been three years since Caroline was born and every three years I had a child since 1996. So once again after a very brief conversation with Russ I pushed away the thought and tucked it back into the back of my heart.

In 2006 the Lord began changing my life to where even I was amazed. I moved my children from the Shelbyville school system to a private school on the north side of Murfreesboro called Providence Christian Academy. You really have to have known me to realize what a monumental step this was for me and the beginning of a lot of changes for my family. In 2008 I decided to become a stay at home mom....I had worked since Brooke was 8 months old and had a very fulfilling career life. The change brought a lot of new people into my world and some very, very dear friends. Change is always bitter sweet and this change in my life certainly was also.

One of my "new" friends was Tracy Jones and yes she had adopted a very sweet little girl from China....Mary Margaret. Tracy and I would discuss adoption, orphans, etc. often and she certainly watered my adoption seed that was planted so long ago.

Most importantly in everything that I will ever post is that the past few years have been a tremendous time of spiritual growth for me. Although always a Christian I began developing a very personal relationship with Jesus which enabled me to see the path he was laying out before me. The people God brought into my life have blessed me so much and I will forever be grateful to them (Missy Price Leonard, and Chris and Cathy Ownby.......thank you and I love you all).

In the fall of 2008 I began struggling with why God had blessed me so abundantly. I knew I was not deserving and could not figure out why I had been so "lucky". Of course, I now understand that no one is deserving of all God has done and continues to do for us but really I am just SO blessed. And then finally it hit me..............God blesses us so that we may bless! Wow, why had it taken me almost 40 years to figure that out. So I began my pursuit of figuring out my spiritual gift and how I could be a blessing in order to honor God. Anyone who knows me knows my love of children..........and it is pretty obvious that I gravitated to that immediately. But what did that mean for me..........what was I to do?

Through praying, talking and soul searching it became evident to me that we (bless Russ' heart for getting stuck with me) were to adopt. I didn't know where, how, when etc and boy was I anxious about filling Russ in on this little idea of mine...............trust me that is a post within itself.

Be a blessing!

History - Part I

It is Thursday morning and I am once again at the computer checking emails, facebook, and the 5-6 blogs on adoption that I follow daily. Yes that is right on adoption. I have not posted on my blog because there is so much I want to go back and "tell" that I can't seem to find the time but I am going to start today and hopefully get caught up or at least get to 2009.

Russ and I are praying daily about my feeling called to adopt. We have three terrific children and a very busy schedule with school, sports, guitar, social events, friends, etc. One would think that our cup would be overflowing but there seems to be something missing and I believe that something is a little boy in Africa. In an effort to provide some history I am going to digress back to when I was a child.

I don't remember why or exactly when but I remember wondering if I was adopted?? That is a bit crazy seeing as how there are plenty of pictures of my mom being pregnant, having me in the hospital and the fact that I look very much like my entire family. I don't believe it was a worry but an interest in what adoption was ........it was very interesting to me. I have always loved children and spent most weekends babysitting. I loved Ginny and Cameron Hunt so much (and as a side note Cameron was adopted).

Although growing up I never thought about adopting myself I do believe the seed had already been planted for a time much later............


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