We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One month...

So, we are down to one month.  30 days to be exact, but one month sounds so much smaller.  Maybe I should really play games with my mind and represent the days left in the fraction of a year.  30 / 365 = 0.08219 years until I get to hold my daughter for the very first time.  Four weeks from today we board the airplane to Washington DC and then transfer planes for the ride that will change our life... straight thru to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with only a short stop in Rome for refuling.  Four weeks!  That is not long at all.

While we are waiting, we have a birthday to plan for.  Anna is turning seven and she decided she wanted a party with her school friends this year.  We had one for her the year before last, but she didn't really want one last year.  Instead she just wanted cupcakes at school.  This year she wants a party.  So, we will be inviting 17 first graders to a party.  Since Anna's birthday is on the 16th, and it's so close to when we leave for Ethiopia, we decided to have it somewhere other than our house.  Anna's really excited about it, and I'm excited about the fact that they take care of everything... all we have to do is bring the cake.  I can handle that the week before we leave for Ethiopia. 

The weekdays are filled with school work and activities associated with school.  The weekends are filled with... well, weekend stuff.  Time should fly between now and when we leave.  After we return home Cameron and Tim are planning a guys weekend out.  They are going to go to a Clemson football game and maybe go camping somewhere over there.  Anna and I will stay home and probably do some "girly" stuff like get a manicure and pedicure together.  Just spending some time together doing girl things that we normally wouldn't do, and will be a bit more difficult to do for awhile after Sara gets here. 

One month... 30 days... tomorrow, the number starts with a "2"... so exciting. 

In Christ,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Five Weeks

Five weeks from today, as of right now, I will have already held my daughter!  I can't believe in just five weeks, she will be in my arms and our bonding process will begin.  I'm hoping she will be very interactive with us.  I'm hoping she will not be terrified of us.  I'm hoping she will smile at me by the time we leave.... in all her pictures I have not seen her smiling.  I so desperately want to see my little girl smile.  I'm hoping I will somehow manage to get a hug out of her.  I think that one hug will carry me thru until I can bring her home with us forever. 

More than anything, I hope she is healthy.  I hope she is happy in her current "home" and I hope that she transitions to us easily.  That is a lot to ask for, I know, but I'm asking.  I also hope that she not only grows comfortable with me, but with Tim as well.  I can't wait to see Sara interact with Tim.  I can't wait for Tim to be holding his daughter!  He is getting very excited about this adoption and bringing our Sara Joy home.

Five weeks!!!!!  It's getting closer!

In Christ,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Answered prayer

God answeres prayers in so many ways, but it is so exciting to see them answered in a tangible manner.  In a way that I can put my finger on and only thank God for it.

Tim and I started some time ago, really right after getting our court date, looking for child care for Sara.  Unfortunately, the school that the kids go to does not start until 3K.  Sara will not be old enough to go there with her brother and sister for awhile.  So, I made lists and phone calls.  Many places I crossed off my list right away - no chance my daughter was going to them.  But there were some (two) on the top of my wish list.  We placed our names on their wait lists.

Several weeks have passed since we got our court date.  I've put looking further into child care on the back burner to getting things ready for the kids to go back to school and things like that. 

On the way into work today, Tim and I were talking about it again.  It has been back on my mind.  When I got into work today and was starting up the computer, I saw Sara's sweet little face as the wallpaper on my computer.  It reminded me again just how much I wanted a great place for her to be while we have to be here at work.  As my computer was starting up and I was getting some work organized, I said a quick, very informal prayer.  I asked God to open the doors to a child care facility that would be good for our little girl - one where I would not have to worry about her care and one where she would be happy.  I want a happy little girl!  I thanked God for giving us Sara and then just went on with my day. 

We were studying prayer at church last Sunday.  God has everything planned.  I know and understand that.  I know also that God knew before I was born, that Sara would come to our family at exactly this time.  I also know that God knew my heart would be heavy today and I would pray for an answer to our child care options.  God planned for my answer today.

A couple hours after I asked God to open that door for us, I got a phone call.  It was from one of the two child care facilities that Tim and I were hoping would have an opening for our little girl!  They called and have a spot for our Sara Joy.  Tim and I will go next week to make all of the arrangements.  It is in a Christian environment so we are thrilled with that!  It is relatively convenient in terms of dropping her off and picking her up.  We are happy about that as well. 

I'm so thankful to have this burden lifted from us.  I'm also grateful for Sara having a great place to be when she can not be with us.

38 days until I have my little girl in my arms for the very first time!!!!

In Christ,

Monday, August 16, 2010

16 Months today

When I got into work today I was caught up in the day's activities.  Go into work in the morning, leave work and take kids to Anna's orientation, go back to work and then rush home and get Cameron off to his orientation this evening.  Iin the meantime I had a lot of work to do and not a whole lot of time to get it done.  That's ok though.  Orientation days only come once a year so you just deal with it. 

I was kind of teary eyed as I dropped Anna off in her 1st grade class today.  She was only there for 1/2 hour as we were in the auditorium listening to the opening day instructions.  I'm not sure why I was teary-eyed, but at one point I looked at Tim and I said "I didn't like leaving her there".  He asked me why not, because I leave her at the school all the time.  She attends summer day camp at the school as well.  I don't know what it was... maybe it's just me being a mom, realizing that my kids are getting older... but there she sat in her little 1st grade seat and she really didn't need me anymore.  She didn't cling to me like she did when she went to 4K.  She didn't stand close to me like she did the first day of 5K.  She went into the classroom, found her seat on her own and basically that was it.  I stood around looking kind of stupid, hoping for something more.  I'm VERY proud that my daughter has become so independent - it's all part of her growing up - I just wish she still needed me for certain things.  I know, I know.... it shows that she has matured... and she did look for me - she turned back and waved and gave me a little smile.  But then she was ready to be with her teacher and her friends. 

So, Tim and I went to the orientation and came back and picked Anna up.  She was happy for us to see her in her new "environment" that she now claimed as hers.  She was listening so nicely and had a huge grin on her face when she saw us.  My little girl still needs me, but it's becoming less and less.  She needs me for discipline, instruction and her basic needs, but she is growing mature emotionally.  I am SO VERY PROUD of her for that... but I miss her needing me for that.  I told Tim that thank goodness we have Sara Joy who will need me.  I really love and would miss the "baby" stage if this were it for us.  I'm so glad Sara Joy is coming to our family!  I also reminded Tim that Nathaniel (Nate) would come along at just the perfect time too.... I think Tim rolled his eyes :)  He would like to get Sara home before thinking about Nate!  Yeah, me too... I'm just sayin'.

And as for Cameron...entering 6th grade... WHERE DID MY LITTLE BOY GO???  Everyone says it, but they really do grow up WAY too fast!  Cameron is going on a three day field trip this year.  He is really excited about that.  He said he didn't care if Tim or I came.  That really says that they are growing up.  It used to be that he wanted us there for even a day trip to Alligator Adventure.  Now he can go to Kentucky for three days without either of us???  Yes, he is growing up and I have to losen the strings.  We were thinking about Tim going on the trip with him.  I won't be ready at that time to leave Sara for that long yet.  So, I would stay home with Anna and Sara and Tim would go with Cameron.  We haven't decidee for sure yet if Tim will go or not... we'll see.  It was just surprising to me to know that Cameron was ok for us to not go. 

Cameron has a great teacher this year and a great group of friends to have fun with.  As we were eating dinner tonight we were talking about our new "tightened up" schedule.  With two of them having homework, Tim and I are going to have to divide and conquer.  I will get Math and Science (YES!!!) with Cameron.  Tim will get History and Language (Ugghhhh - yuck) and we will split spelling and bible.  Whoever is working on spelling with Cameron, the other will get Anna.  And we'll take turns having Anna read to us.  Fit all of the homework in with cooking dinner and sports activities and normal end of the day stuff and our plates are full.  I really do love this time of year though.  I love the "newness" of back to school.

So, while all this was running thru my head today, I suddenly remembered... Today is Sara's 16 month birthday.  Happy 16 months on this earth Sara Joy!!!  We are SO thrilled to have the opportunity to be your mom and dad!  Hopefully you will not have many more months without us to celebrate with you!  I showed some of my friends at work her pictures.  One of the ladies is african american.  When she saw pictures of Sara from June, she said "Oh, her hair is silky and soft curls".  Apparently something happened to Sara's hair over the past six weeks, because when I showed her the pictures I got this past weeked, taken of Sara last week, she immediately said "Uh Oh - you may need my help after all".  Great!  I thought I had it made.  I'm sure it'll be fine.  I'll learn how to care for Sara's hair.  It may take me a while as a mom with fine, thick, bone straight hair who has only had to deal with straight Asian girl's hair or crew cut boy's hair... but I'll get it.  With a little help from my friends :)  She truly is a precious, precious little girl.  I can not wait to have my arms around her.  She will not make it to 18 months without this mom loving on her!!!  One month and 11 days and she will be IN. MY. ARMS!!!  Boy, I can't wait. 

Tomorrow I will have pictures of the official first day of school!

In Christ,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Pictures

Tonight I received a wonderful gift!!!  Remember when I said I was able to send a care package to our little Sara Joy.  Well, the family traveled to Ethiopia and are back home.  They arrived home this afternoon.  And tonight, they sent us a wonderful, beautiful gift!  Pictures of our Sara Joy.  They said that she is just precious and that we would be "tickled" with her.  I bet we will be!!!  Heck, we already are!!!

They took pictures of her with the blanket that we sent for her.  She looked a bit 'perplexed' in all of the pictures - probably wondering what is going on.  Not only was she absolutely beautiful, but she looked extremely healthy!!!  Praise God for that!  She has grown a bit since the last picture we got of her about six weeks ago.  She grew a ton more hair too!  I am going to have to hurry up and learn how to manage her hair because she has a LOT of it.  And what used to be kind of loose curls, has now turned into a bit tighter curls.  She had her hair up in two little ponies in the pictures! 

I am SO thankful to this family for taking pictures of our little girl for us.  I know it's probably the last thing in the world they wanted to think about when going to get their little one, but it truly meant the world to us.  They must understand because I'm sure they were exhausted when they arrived home today, but they managed to send our photos to us tonight.  That was very sweet.  I have actually been wondering if/when we might be able to see pictures of her!

I need to curl up in bed and go to sleep, but my heart is full of excitement just seeing those pictures of her.  I wish so much I could hold onto that little girl and just love her to pieces.  I'm scared to death that I won't be able to leave her once I get my hands on her in September.  Thank you God for this little girl.  You whispered in my ear to go to Ethiopia.  We listened.  God's plans are so much better than mine!  Wait til you see the little girl He has given us.  Take care of her God.  Keep your hand of protection over her until she is safe in the arms of her family.

I bet I have sweet dreams tonight!

In Christ,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Angel trumpet

Isn't this just the most beautiful flower?
It's an angel trumpet.  I think they are absolutely beautiful... and have such a fitting name.  They really do look like how I would picture the trumpet of an angel.  I snapped this picture this evening.  The flower just looked so pretty.  There are about 8 flowers on the tree right now.  By this fall, there will be dozens of them on the tree at a time - and they are breathtakingly beautiful.

I don't have much to share, so I thought I would share this picture.  I did get some loose ends tied up for our trip to Ethiopia.  I have our visas figured out.  We are going to wait to get them until we arrive in Ethiopia.  I have called and made an appointment with a doctor to discuss vaccines.  Has anyone gone without any?  They recommend taking a malaria Rx with us.  I wouldn't mind doing that.  But the CDC website recommends like six different shots - one of them alone being $175 per person.  That is a LOT of cash!  So, we are going to talk to the doctor and see what he recommends, but I'm hoping we can get away with much less.

We are inching closer and closer to our Sara Joy.  I can't believe that soon I will be able to share her with all of you!

In Christ,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maybe it's because I don't ask...

If you know me personally at all, you will know that I am a fairly independent person.  I really don't like to ask for help.  I ask when I need to, but I wait until I REALLY need to ask.  It's just something about me.  Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad.  In this case, it was bad.

If you remember, I've written a couple of posts recently about coming close to the end of our journey for Sara Joy and Satan attacking our family via our finances.  Satan will not win... but he sure is putting up a good fight!

Yesterday we were taking a trip to my mom's.  We were going to take the Expedition.  We have a second car that we drive most of the time, just to save miles and the expense of gas with the Expedition, but on long trips, we like to take it.  It's just more comfortable and we need to drive it every once in awhile anyway.  So, we got everyone ready and Cameron went to get his DS game charger out of the truck.  He came back in and said he could not open it using the code.  So, I went out.  I couldn't open it either.  Sometimes if you try to open it too many times, it won't let you open it for a period of time.  So, I went and got the keys.  They did not work either.  So, I opened it the old fashioned way... using the key in the keyhole.  That worked fine.  Then, as I thought it was strange that the code / opener weren't working, I tried to start the truck... NOTHING!  Ok, seriously???  We JUST PUT $1400 in it about SIX WEEKS AGO!!!  Tim went out and tried to jump the battery using the other car.  Nope... still wouldn't start.

Well, we needed to get to my mom's so, in a quick change of plans we took the car.  On the way there, Tim and I were talking about the attacks of Satan.  Cameron asked about it and I explained to him how Satan does not want us to go get Sara.  He wants Sara to be there all alone... that will make it easier for him to capture her heart, rather than her hearing the gospel and giving her life to Christ.  I explained to him how Satan puts roadblocks and stumbling blocks in our way, trying to keep us from loving the Lord like we should and following His will for our lives. 

At that point, it hit me.  With all these things happening to us financially, I have done nothing more than complain.  I've struggled to find a way to make the math work where we could afford everything and still have some money left in savings.  I was doing it all on my own.  I immediately stopped and prayed.  I didn't know what was wrong with the truck, but Tim was going to go up to the auto store and buy a new battery to see if that would work.  So, I prayed "God, I have no idea what is wrong with that truck.  Please let it be something that we can manage and fix easily and not drain us financially.  It's in your hands.  Either way, we will find a way to go get Sara with your help!"

So, we got home and Tim took the battery out of the truck and went up to the auto store.  We had just bought that battery a few months back.  Tim looked all over for the receipt, but could not find it.  Well, when he went to the store, he gave them our phone number.  Their computer records showed when we bought the battery.  They hooked the battery up and found that it had a bad cell... and they gave him a new one at no cost.  The old one was still under warranty.

Many may find this just a coincidence.  I don't.  God intervened.  I asked and he listened.  I was so frustrated yesterday, it seemed like everything was falling in around us.  But then I asked God for help, and he took away some of our burden.  Nothing is too big, small, or inconsequential for God to handle for us.  We just need to ask. 

Thank you God for listening to my prayer and providing us some relief.  We would have followed you either way, whether you intervened or not, but it sure makes it a lot easier this way!  Thank you for giving us an answer and thank you for our Sara Joy!  We can not wait to go get her!

Today the floors should be done (FINALLY) and hopefully the air will be fixed as well.  Yes, we had to go the whole weekend without air upstairs.  I didn't ask God about that one... maybe I should have!

In Christ (thankful for His hand in the seemingly minor things in our life)


Sunday, August 1, 2010

As of today...

As of today, we can say, next month we will meet our daughter!

So excited!  Can't wait to get my arms around you Sara Joy!!!

In Christ,