Thursday, March 31, 2011

Whatcha Reading?

Time for a second round of "Whatcha Reading?"!!!

Ok, so I've been reading a lot and listening to audiobooks because of work travel.

Here's what I'm diggin
I have LOVED the music of Steven Curtis Chapman and always have been a big fan! Their story was the biggest catalyst to us for international adoption...they planted the seed of adoption in our hearts long before we realized what all of that meant for our family. We have seen him in concert and last year at Women of Faith was blessed to hear Mary Beth share her and her family's testimony of working through their loss of Maria. This book is BEAUTIFUL! I'm someone who has to have a clear plan and have things figured out. Though I haven't lost a child, sibling or parent; I've recently faced some challenges in the last couple years. Sometimes it's a choice of choosing to "see". Seek God out in the storm. Love this book. I actually listened to the audiobook with my car travels to and from Tampa this week for work. 

Kera told me about this book through Angie Smith's book club The Bloom Book Club & blog: Bring the Rain. If you've heard of the Christian group, Selah, she's the wife of singer. SIDEBAR: Angie is going to be speaking at this year's WOF conference!!! Wahoo!!! Kera is a HUGGGGEEEE FAN!!! Anyway, this book inspires one to focus on the familiar and simple things in life which often go unnoticed. Perhaps it's the simple fact that on our kitchen table we have a basket of tangerines. Fresh fruit to enjoy whenever my heart desires. Fruit God created for us. In a world of difficult things and challenges we often get caught up in, this book helps us to "stop and smell the roses". At times the writing style can be floral, but still, love the book.

What a jewel of a book!!! Aaron takes us on his journey through being a biological only child for several years when his siblings grew by 4 through international adoption. He travels the globe to the countries his siblings were born in to understand them better. We learn about grandma Holt. That's right...Holt International's founders. We learn the history of international adoption in our country. Beautiful story. My hub's has an aunt who lives in Minnesota and knows one of the children who is now an adult. This book is really, really great. It's hot off the press and just a fantastic read.

Just when I thought Three Cups of Tea couldn't have gotten better, Greg Mortenson writes this amazing follow-up! I have this one on audio as well since I've been a road warrior lately. Oh how I love his writing style and his ability to transport you to where he was at that particular point in his book. I am fascinated with Pakistan as I have a friend at work who is from Pakistan (his mother and sisters still live there) and happens to be a beautiful person. I enjoy learning about his world and culture. I've also learned about the beautiful Muslim religion that often gets an awful wrap. In-Shalla (God Willing)...beautiful phrase. The struggles people of Pakistan and Afghanistan face daily is unlike anything I could imagine. This is a MUST READ!!!

Greg was born/raised in Tanzania, Africa and his favorite proverb is:

African proverb: "“If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a community.”

Now you've gotta share...

Whatcha Readin???

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Running for A Cause

Tim and I received some great advice during our journey from a family friend who has also adopted. She told us to STAY BUSY!

Over the last couple years I have felt moved to support our community and those around us. Tim really enjoys running. There was a time I did too, but I took it way too far causing me to seriously injure my knee. I had quit running after that back in 2003-2004. I have been wanting to get back into running especially since most runs support a cause.

This past Sunday, March 20th, Forest Lake Education Center had a 5K to raise money for financial assistance of children who wanted to receive Christian education at FLEC. Tim's mom teaches piano lessons at FLEC and our BF's, Bryan and Ashley Birmele, have two children who attend FLEC. SOLD!   The opening pic in post is just after finishing the race...which, by the way, had MAJOR hills...NOT MY FAV!!!

Here is Belle after finishing the race with her class. Um, she ALSO ran the 5K with us big kids and TOTALLY whipped my tail!!! Her and Anakin both smoked me!!!

Check out her mama's post HERE. (Ash...I totally need that pic of the four of us...sooo koot)

Great day for a Great Cause!!! Sunday's weather was INSANE here in Florida!

 Then this Thursday, March 24th, Isaac and Suzie Sendros invited us to their first 5K. This 5K was sponsored by our VERY OWN....FLORIDA HOSPITAL! This was the Corporate 5K supporting our communities homeless women and children! LOVE THE CAUSE!

For FH's Healthy 100 initiative check out

Best View when approaching the time clock. Nothing like seeing the word...FINISH!

Isaac and Suzie have been training and SMOKED it! I don't train at all and REALLY need to start. I just say, "Let's run a 5K". I don't do that well at all but have a blast feeling the energy of the crowd and know participating is helping someone else. However, I'm starting to get the bug to beat my times. Not beat anyone else's but personally improve.

Tim is really an AMAZING hubs! 
I get tired at the very end and he has always been waiting for me for the last stretch. He has a little water and then paces me in to the finish line. He finishes with me! So precious!!! 
Tim runs SUUUUPER fast so he's always done in like 25 minutes or some insanely crazy time. 

So this has been our week. It's a beautiful Florida Sabbath morning. I'm getting ready for a Sabbath morning run now. 

Love you all!!

While We Wait for One Less

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

USCIS Fingerprint Appointments

Yesterday we received our fingerprint appointments!!!

They are for mid-April, BUT we received them!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 17, 2011: Eucharisteo

For 34 years, March 17th has meant St. Patrick's Day. For 2011, March 17th meant the day I received a phone call that Grandpa went to sleep to wait for our Lord to come again and take us to our eternal home. 

I had a business trip leaving early Thursday morning and returning Friday evening; just over 24 hours. Very quick trip with little downtime. After completing Thursday's work at the hospital just after 7pm CST, I check my cell phone and see 5-6 missed calls. All calls from family...always makes you nervous. Voicemails and texts confirmed my uneasiness. Being far away in middle of nowhere Wisconsin was difficult when my whole family was able to support Grandpa at his bedside in his final hours. Dad helped mom put her phone on speaker so they could hold it to his ear. I was able to tell grandpa one last time I loved him and reminded him to be good to his nurses. I always teased him about the nurses because he liked the young pretty girls. 

Grandma, well, she has lost her love of almost 31 years. Mom and the aunts lost their step-father. See they lost their biological father when my mom was only 12 yrs old to a freak accident. A Coca-Cola service truck (i think coca-cola), accidently tipped as their dad was coming out of gas station to get into his car. The truck crushed him. So grandpa DeVaughn, who went to sleep this Thursday, has been "Poppy" almost twice as long. Not that he "replaced" their father, but he has been the "father" they have known for most of their years. 

I am thankful.

Thankful Grandpa had a beautiful life of 96 yrs. 
A beautiful wife for 30+ yrs in which they shared in many adventures, travel and cruises.
No longer in pain for yrs to come.
Can rest now.
March 17th marks the beginning of his rest.

The next thing he sees will be Christ coming in the clouds to take him to his eternal home along with the rest of us. Thursday is NOT THE END, but really the beginning.

Eucharisteo: Greek meaning (Grace, Thanksgiving, Joy)

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." ( Luke 22:19 NIV). Whenever you  do this, give thanks as Christ taught us at the last supper. 

Fast forward to this moment as I write. I am drinking from my cup of coffee and reading, "One Thousand Gifts". I stumble on Eucharisteo and think of my mug as the cup from the last supper and ponder "Thankfulness".

 I choose to see Grace, Thanksgiving and Joy in the midst of losing Grandpa.

Thank you Lord for giving us eyes to "see" when our own eyes are "blind".

Thank you Kera for introducing me to this book:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Children of God

I have been thinking a bit lately about what I have learned in the adoption process.

First, I am learning to understand more of what God's love means for me as I and YOU have also been lovingly adopted. Yes, perhaps born with same DNA as our parents, but truly we are all adopted by God and loved just as much as His son. 

Erika, what makes you think you know this to be true? Because, I've fallen in love with our child. Where is he or she now? What will the be like? In love and bonding already with a child whom may not have my genetic make-up but has my heart. I haven't even met this child, but I feel so strongly for them. I'm understanding more what the Bible speaks of. 

Watch Third Day's new music video I found posted on The Oatsvall Team's Blog:

Thank you Third Day for the reminder of who we are and how adoption can teach us more about the very fiber of our Savior's love for us.

The second main point I am learning is to Let Go and Let God unfold His plan for our lives. I am a very organized person who needs schedule and format. I love project plans. Lets just say the "project plan" for my husband and I's life hasn't been EXACTLY what we thought it would be. Steering off course of our project plan sends me into instant correction mode. What I have learned in this process is that everything I believed to be off course has been exactly what was needed to lead us to this place we are today. ALL of the puzzle pieces have fit...PERFECTLY. I believe God has mapped many things out for us in preparation for challenges being faced.

I am able to see the clear footprints of God in our lives and realize we were steering off OUR course, but  only going forward on HIS course. Looking back over the album of the last 2 years each page makes perfect sense.

To Tie a Pretty Bow on It:
1. We're all Adopted and loved as His only Son is.
2. Drop the project management role for your life and wait for your album pages to fill of His perfect plan. It will all make sense once your album is near full...Promise!

Loving You and Hoping for One Less

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Tonight our hearts are heavy. 

"Last week the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs announced their intention to reduce intercountry adoptions by 90% beginning March 10, 2011. The Ministry’s plan for a dramatic reduction is apparently based on two primary issues; 1) the assumption that corruption in intercountry adoption is systemic and rampant and 2) the Ministry’s resources should be focused on the children for whom intercountry adoption is not an option. Without further announcements by the Government of Ethiopia, it is our understanding that the Ministry’s plan will be initiated this week." Released Statement

What truly ends up happening remains to be seen, but we have been advised this is "not good".

Jeremiah 29:11 says, 
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".

If inclined please see below. 

Click here to go to their website.

1) Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi – and pass it on!

2) Have you adopted from Ethiopia? Please send us up to 3 photos and 50 words or less with what you would like the Ministry to know about your child – we’ll compile the information and send a book to the Ministry of Woman’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs. Send your photos and stories to by Sunday, March 12, 2011 to be included. Please note that sending photos and stories gives Joint Council unrestricted right to use the information you provide.

3) Share…Please send this Call to Action to family members, other adoptive parents, and everyone you know! Post, forward and share your adoption stories via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Make sure you include us in your posts so we can all hear your stories! Here’s links to our pages: Facebook, Twitter and our blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Women of Faith: Imagine Atlanta!

The 2011 Women of Faith Conference is ALMOST here!!!

We will be making our second annual trip to Atlanta to enjoy a weekend of growing closer to our Lord in the midst of close girlfriends and many other amazing women! 

If you can't make Atlanta, I would highly recommend finding a conference near you. You will not regret it and will long for the next year's event! 

This event was life changing for me personally. Attending last year was another nudge from God regarding our path to adoption. Steven and Mary Beth Chapman were there speaking and performing. We also learned of the World Vision organization which introduced me to Richard Stearns their CEO and his book, "Hole in Our Gospel".

Again, life changing. This is a MUST READ (if you haven't already)!!! I believe this book broke my heart and I haven't been able to shake the great need out there that's so easy to ignore since it's not in our literal neighborhood. about it? Come join us OR find a conference near you!

One Less

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Today they met their son for the first time........Precious!

My brother Michael and his wife Becca connected us with Keyla and Jeremy Robinson here in Orlando. Michael and Becca go to their church in Celebration now and again. 

Today they met their son for the first time in Ethiopia. Tim and I found ourselves a little choked up when seeing their post on their blog.

Join us in keeping them in your prayers as they prepare for their court appointment in Ethiopia this week!

Click on link below to read about their first day in Ethiopia:

Journey To Ethiopia: First day with Ethan!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Joy in Deer Valley, Utah!!!

We woke to snow falling from the sky. It's just so beautiful here.

While sipping coffee and praying for Tim's presentation today the phone began to ring. It's only 7:30 am here so I wondered who was calling? Our social worker, Debra Hewitt. We have been waiting on my Illinois child abuse clearance for the last near 5 weeks....LONG TIME!!!

My clearance finally came through!!! Our Home Study is being finalized and notarized today!!! We left our USCIS application with Debra in case this happened while we were away. Debra is going to overnight our application today!!!

Oh, what a gift while away! This week has been emotional for me. We have been asked many times this week when we're going to start a family. I can't tell you how many babies and preggo's are here this year. We've also been told what great parents we will be. I find it hard to always answer with grace, "Well thank you, we look forward to a family, but right now we just have a dog and two cats who keep us pretty busy." The people here are amazing and so kind. They only want the best for us, but sometimes it's tough because we simply want a family too.

Today, I feel like shouting from a mountaintop....God has it in control!!!

Today is a blessing.

One Step Closer

Two VERY excited and hopeful parents

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

LilyPie Says....

4 months

Yes, since officially being in the process we have hit the 4 months mark.

The hubs and I are very task oriented and organized. If you give me a list I can have it done in no time flat. We have all our documents and everything well organized. Even our Case Worker fell off her chair when she heard how fast we got all our documents and "to do's" completed.

Unfortunately, that's not the same pace the governing agencies work. Our home study is complete, BUT we are still waiting on my Illinois clearance to notarize HS. This step allows us to begin immigration processes. Our first request from Illinois had been lost so this is our second attempt and we're near 5 weeks waiting.

The's all out of our hands which is difficult for us because we tend to have control and can map everything out. This process has really taught me to LET GOD LEAD because there is NOTHING I CAN DO. 

Since this will be our first born...just seems so much harder. It's pretty simple for us...we just want a family. 4 months would be a near halfway point if I was literally preggo.

We've recently had some interesting circumstances come our way and not sure if God is trying to nudge us and this "delay" in our clearance receipt is part of it or not.

So for my bloggy friends, PLEASE PRAY for God to continue to lead in our lives and that we would be "quiet" enough to listen and discern WHAT God is asking of us.

I'll blog more on that later...

For now, I will continue to watch Lilypie count the days and remember God has this all figured out and has for some time. We just have to wait to see what God will unfold for our family. Honestly, that's really the only way we want our lives to His plan.

One Less

P.S. Tim's been sporting his new T-shirt which has Africa on front with some graphics over Ethiopia and then on back it says, "My shirt fed a child for 3 months. What can your shirt do?". I'll have to get some pics of it and post. Just cute to see him bonding stronger and stronger to our birth country.