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!

Monday, August 22, 2011


I have no idea how to even go about writing this.  I never thought I would have to write it... not for a very long time anyway.  Pearl is gone.  It kills me to even write it.

I have no idea what happened.  I have been taking Pearl on walks with me and Sara lately.  It's good for both of us to get out and walk.  I'm trying to get into better shape, and I'm trying to keep her in shape.  Anyway, we have been walking the rail trail behind our neighborhood.  Saturday we walked 5.5 miles and did the same thing on Sunday.

On Saturday I felt awful as I forgot to take some water for Pearl.  Normally I take a bottled water with me and half way through our walk, I'll stop and get a drink and then give the rest to Pearl.  Well, on Saturday I asked Cameron to grab me a water - well usually when I ask for water I have him make me a lemonaide.  He assumed that was what I wanted and he made me a lemonaide and put it in the bottom of the stroller for our walk.  When I went to get a drink, I realized it was lemonaide and then didn't have anything for Pearl.  It was not that hot and she was doing fine, so we just continued on our walk and she got water when she came home.

Sunday we decided to do our walk again.  Tim had to go into work so I went with Pearl and Sara.  This time, I remembered to not only take a water for Pearl, but I decided to just throw her bowl in the bottom of the jogging stroller so when it was time to give her water, I could put it in her bowl... that was easier for both of us.  (Usually I just gave it to her out of the bottle by pouring it in her mouth - she was pretty talented and could drink it that way).  So, we went off on our walk.  It was not exceptionally hot, but it was warm.  It was cooler than it had been on Saturday when we went though.  So, we did 2.6 miles and we stopped and I gave her water.  What she didn't drink I just poured over her.  I figured if she was hot, that would help with cooling her off.  We continued on our walk.  We were not running - after breaking my leg I will never run again in my life - we were just walking a brisk pace.

We got to the end of our walk and got off of the trail and came back into the back of the subdivision.  I can't see Pearl when she is walking next to me, her shoulders always stayed right about at my leg and I can't see there.  She never got ahead of me - she never did.  But... I could hear her tags with every step and she was making the same rhythmic sound with her tags - she was not slowing down or hesitating. 

Suddenly, we were two houses from our house and I felt her body nudge my leg.  I thought it unusual (most people wouldn't think anything of it, but when you are with a dog 24/7, you know what is normal and what is not).  I hesitated long enough to look down at her.  At that instant she collapsed.  It was so sudden.  I was literally 2 houses down from our house and I always carried my phone with me, so I called Cameron to come and help me.  I told him to bring water and to hurry.  He brought me more water and I tried to give it to her - she was just lying in the road.  She wouldn't move.  I picked her up and moved her over to the grass and she just laid there.  I called Tim and he rushed home - but even before I could make the phone call she took her last breath. 

A wonderful man - who actually turned out to be the parent of one of a couple of students at Cameron and Anna's school was driving by.  I don't know why he was here, but I was very thankful he was.  He stopped and pulled his truck in front of Pearl so people wouldn't stare at her going by.  He picked her up and put her in his truck and brought her to the house.  He stayed with us as I waited for Tim to come home.  We were very blessed to have him be the one who drove by to help us.  God sends people to places for reasons they will never understand - but I firmly believe he sent this man, yesterday, to be with us until Tim got home.  He even stopped by in the evening to check on us - because obviously I was distraught at the time.  Cameron was as well.

I have been kicking myself for even taking Pearl on the walk.  Somehow I feel it was my fault - maybe she got overheated.  I looked up on the internet what happens when dogs overheat though, and usually they get disoriented / delirious and throw up.  Pearl did none of those things.  She walked without a stutter step until she collapsed in the road.  I wasn't running her, we were only walking....  I can only imagine that there was an underlying issue that we did not know about - it happened very quickly and at least that I am thankful for.  I just don't understand it, because she was so young.  She was not really acting any differently lately either.  It's all I can think of that there was something wrong and we just didn't know it.

Pearl spent nearly every minute with me for the past 2 1/2 years.  She was a sweet dog with a bit of a stubborn streak - kinda like me....she guided for me, even when she was not in harness - just on lead.  She would lead as if she were in harness.  She spent every day at work with me - cocking her head up against the book shelf snoring away while I worked, knowing I would make her move to quit snoring.  She provided much needed relief and friendship to people at work - a select few interacted with her regularly, and they were her favorites.  She sat quietly at meetings and acquired a taste for popcorn from long meetings where people "accidentally" dropped popcorn on the floor.  She snatched it up immediately if it was close enough to her.  She was stunningly beautiful and an amazingly smart dog!  When she was at home, and not working, she was the best pet a kid could ask for.  The kids loved her, even Sara.  Sara would go and sit on her mat with her - Sara did that just about from the time she came home with us.  Cameron took her out to the bathroom - because sometimes she would not go for anyone but Cameron.  Anna snuggled with her during movies - her in her bean bag chair and Pearl on her blanket on the floor.  She never barked, she never left the yard (well, occasionally she would go visit the neighbor's garage - there must've been something very interesting in there) and never, ever did she give any indication that she would bite someone - even when I stepped on her once, or when Cameron pinched her tail in the door - she was a very gentle dog - but she was also a dog in complete control when I needed her to be.

I have no idea why this had to happen - as much as I feel guilt, as I was the one walking with her - I know that can't be the reason that this happened.  There has to be something more.  I may never know what that is.

I can't even think about what I'm going to do without her.  Tim's picking up her things from work today - I don't want to have to look at them going back into work tomorrow.  Eventually, I will have to get another dog - but it's obviously too soon to think about that now.  Given my choice right now, I'd never get another one.  I know that's a response out of grief.  At this point, I'd feel sorry for any dog I got - as none would compare to Pearl.

She was a much loved dog.  At least I can say that.  She saw the world with our family.  She went everywhere we did.  She will be very much missed.  She taught me what a dog could do for a person - how she could make my life easier, how she could keep me safe... and she always did.

I'm sick over losing her.  She will be greatly missed.

In Christ,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And so we move forward (not on)

When you move "on" from something, in my mind, you leave what you are moving "on" from, behind.  I choose to move forward.  Moving "forward" allows you to carry things with you.  It's not getting rid of anything, it's just changing your perspective, your position, to something different.  It's seeing things in a different way, in a different light.  Sometimes it's all you can do.  Sometimes you just don't have a choice!  Sometimes the choice is made for you, and sometimes you have to come to the hard choice.  In any situation, you can choose to move "on", or you can choose to move "forward".  I'm choosing forward.

I've thought long and hard about what I can do to occupy this place in my heart that lives to love children.  I haven't come up with anything yet.  There are changes on the horizon for our family though... maybe God is waiting to show me His plan, until these changes come to fruition and we settle into our new normal.  All I know is.... God is moving.  He is moving in my heart, and in my life.  He is moving in our family.  That is pretty exciting.

The kids are starting back to school this week.  Cameron will be starting 7th grade - junior high.... with schedules, moving classes, a locker... all the things that junior high has to offer!  Anna is starting 2nd grade - second grade with learning cursive, lots of spelling tests and getting older and maturing.  My little Sara Joy - she is moving up to the 2K room.  No more cribs, those have been swapped out for mats at nap time.  She'll have new teachers to adjust to and a new schedule to get used to.  Changes are happening all over at our house. 

Fall is in the air - ok, admittedly, we live in SC, so fall is not in the air here yet temperature wise, but the fall schedule is in the air.  Pretty soon we will have football games to attend on Friday nights, Clemson football games, Monday night football, college football (ugghh - it's all about football, isn't it???).  Tim, Cameron and Anna are going to head up to a Clemson game and then camp out for a night.  It's best to camp out in the fall or spring here, as in the summer it's just too hot!  I'm not a big fan of tents, public bathroom, public showers or spiders - so Sara and I will stay home while they do that outing.  We'll take another trip up to the cabin to see the beautiful fall colors changing in North Carolina, pick up apple cider and take long walks in the mountains.  Rhubarb pie... am I the only person in the world who likes rhubarb pie?  It's my favorite.  I make a mean Yankee Apple Pie too - fall is a good time for that.

Sometimes moving forward is hard.  It's letting go of what you thought would be... but it can be grabbing onto what is to come as well.  Here's to something good coming that I can grab on to.

In Christ,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taking a step back...

This post is extremely hard for me to write - which is why it has taken me some time to write it. 

Tim and I were struggling over some thoughts lately.  I posted on FB and asked for prayer for some decisions that we needed to make.  Last week, we came to those decisions.  Tim and I have decided to stop the process to adopt from India - not just from India, but stop the adoption process in general.  I'm honestly surprised that I have it in me to even write that.  It is not in my nature to say "no" to caring for a child - but at some point, we would HAVE to say no.  So, we prayed and considered, discussed our motivations and asked for advise.  A wise friend said - make your decision and live with it over the weekend.  Act as though it is the decision you have made.  By the end of the weekend, if you are at peace with it, then you have made the right decision. If not, then do the opposite.  She is a Christian woman, so obviously prayerful consideration was part of that equation.

So, this is exactly what Tim and I did.  We learned alot about each other in this process - we learned that even if we have fears about something, we don't want to disapoint the other, so we don't share them openly.  I'm not going to share what led us to this decision, because I think it's pretty personal, but I will say that it was a decision that was not made lightly.  It is a decision that right now weighs heavy on my heart - but it is a decision that we are at peace with.

The one thing I will share is this:  Adoption is a MIRACLE - as miraculous as conception or birth.  Who would not want to participate in as many miracles as possible?  Not only that, but you get to welcome this seemingly "unwanted" child into your family.  You get to show them the power of love.  You get to watch them transform right before your eyes.  You watch them put on weight.  You watch their skin start to glow.  You watch their hair go from dry and tangled to shiny and beautiful - through good nutrition and regular bathing.  You watch them absorb the world around them.  You get to see them not just take love, but GIVE love as well. You see life SPRING into their eyes!  You can look at them and see all the potential that exists in their future. You get to experience them learning about Jesus!  Sara sings "Jesus loves me" (only those words, because it's all she knows of the song) from her crib at child care when she does not want to sleep.  It distracts the other kids, but like her childcare provider said - how do you tell a child to stop singing "Jesus loves me".  (I've since had a conversation with her and we've gone over how to sing quietly)  Anna and Sara, and what we hoped would be Aliyah are not just "adoptions" - they are children. 

Therein lies part of my problem though - Aliyah was another child, who I would welcome with open arms.  Nathaniel - yes, he was already named, is yet another child.  When Aliyah came home, and when Nate came home - there are a billion more names in the baby books - at least 100 of which I could LOVE for another child's name... so when would it end?  There would always be another child and there would always be another name.  There would always be another spot in my heart.  I see pictures of children from everywhere - Uganda, Ethiopia, Russia, China, United States - there is an endless number of children in need of a home.  There is not "just one more".

I came to realize that this may be my motiviation for adopting again.  This was not the areas that I was struggling with, but throughout this process, it was something that I realized.  I may NEVER be ok with saying no to another adoption.  So, my motives needed to be evaluated, God needed to be consulted, my current children needed to be taken into consideration, and where we are going as a family needed to be evaluated.  All this considered, plus more, brought us to our decision.

For those of you who have a 19 kids and counting - please don't say I'm selfish.  Because if I were selfish, I would have Aliyah and several more in my home in the next few years.  This is NOT. AT. ALL. about my selfish desires - just the opposite in fact. 

With adoption and the orphans of the world weighing so heavily on my heart, I know that God has plans for me, and for our family - to somehow help the orphans.  Maybe it's a mission trip.  Maybe it's financial support to a reputable organization.  Maybe it's doing something here in our own country... I don't know.  I do know that orphan ministry is where I need to be.  Where I need to serve.  I pray that God reveals His plans for my life - for our family - quickly. 

I wrote the initial part of this post about two weeks ago... I could not find it in my heart to hit "publish post".  It hurt to badly.  It still hurts.  Sometimes though, not just the joys, but the sorrows and sadness need to be shared - so others can encourage you.  Right now, I'm discouraged.  Because of some of the issues that were under consideration when making this decision, I personally feel defeated.  Maybe I will share that detail later - I'm not really ready to right now.  So, this is it - this is what our family looks like.  Am I disappointed?  Not in the least - not in the family that I have.  Am I disappointed that I can not bring the orphans of the world into my home and call them son/daughter - yes.  For that I am very disappointed.  But... I feel as though God has something bigger and better in store for me - something to soothe my broken heart over not being able to "bring them all home".  I'm anxiously awaiting that plan.  Closing the door on a dream is so very difficult - but maybe, just maybe, God needed to nudge me to close this door (my personal desire) to fulfill something bigger He has in store for me and our family.  I'll have to wait and see.

Eventually I will update the caption on this blog.  Someday I will remove the India clock - or maybe I will leave it there as a reminder of all the kids that God loves, everywhere.  Something tells me that that clock may be significant to my life at some point.... not sure why, but that might be left here.

In Christ,