Sunday, December 30, 2007

"That was incredible..."

Today Laura and I attended a morning worship service at Rehoboth Ethiopian Evangelical Church. There is no way I will do it justice in words on this page but I will do my best to convey what it was we felt and experienced.

First off, I need to say the people that make up that church are really, really cool. They are kind. They are loving. They are humble. They love God. They love Ethiopia. And they loved us today. I am not sure if I have ever felt as welcome at a church anywhere. Ever.

Let me rewind for a second. The morning started like any normal Sunday - up early, feed the dogs, send them outside and get ready to head out to church. But instead of our 20 minute drive to North Metro - today we were heading about 55 minutes away to a church we had been invited to 2 days earlier by our new friends Challa and Masresha. I'd be lying if I said we weren't a little nervous. I mean neither of us are very good at just putting ourselves out there in new situations. But hey - as we said in the last post - God was running this whole thing. So who were we to not follow?

We arrived shortly before worship and they were still wrapping up their Sunday school service and prayer. Oh - and I might mention - the only language we heard coming from a pretty packed room was Amharic! Not a bit of english. Cool - but it didn't help the nerves. While we were waiting outside and debating whether or not to enter the service in progress a young guy with a huge smile came bounding out. It was Challa, husband of Masresha (who had invited us). With an outstretched hand and wonderfully spoken english he immediately removed all of our anxiety. After a quick tour of the church and a rowdy introduction to his beautiful daughter we headed in to the worship service.

Honestly - the graphic up there says it all. Wow. That's what we felt. The service opened up with beautiful singing led by a choir of about 8 and everyone joined in. Unfortunately I don't read or speak Amharic so all I had to offer was a measly clapping of my hands and a Cheshire Cat grin on my face. This was awesome! After the worship and prayer the pastor recognized us as visitors (it wasn't too hard) and asked us for introductions. There were a few other new faces and after all introductions they settled in for the message.

The coolest thing about the whole visit today was that God was so up in that place. And He went out of His way to speak to us yet again (2 very clear times). I know I have shared quite a few examples of how God has been speaking to us in rather loud volumes lately but I can't help it. It's too cool. And the more we try to polish our relationship with God the more we can see Him working almost in real time in our lives (like I felt like I did today).

So here is example 1. As the pastor was praying and they were preparing to give the message I began praying that somehow, some way God would let me hear this message. Let me understand it. How in the world would that be possible? Everything so far had been in a different language. I didn't know how it could be done but I did know that my God is big and He can do anything - so I went ahead and prayed that. When we sat down, the girl beside me got up and left. Challa then slid into her seat and whispered in my ear "I am going to interpret for you." Well, hello there God. That was a quick answer to that prayer. So Challa proceeded to let me know what book we were reading from in the Bible and he took meticulous notes and constantly whispered in my ear (which I then whispered in Laura's ear). Not only did I feel like I got the entire message, Challa was so good at what he was doing that I even got all the jokes and was able to laugh along with everyone else in the congregation.

Pretty cool, eh? I thought so. And example 2 comes right after that. Anyone who knows me knows that I have been living by Matthew 6:25 for a while now. It says:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?"
It's a great verse and it has given me the peace I have needed time and time again throughout the past 2 years. So imagine my surprise when Challa said we were reading from Matthew chapter 6 verses 24-34. What? Okay God - I am hearing you! There are no coincidences, right? I know I don't think there are.

So here was God answering prayers and providing reassurance to me all within a matter of seconds. I love that He works like that. After the service was over we headed to a fellowship room where they served freshly baked bread and tea and coffee. We met so many people, shared our son's photo with everyone and were just made to feel so loved and so welcome. The pastor spoke to us at length and said if we need anything at all to contact him. We also met Fanuel - a very nice gentleman who was here visiting but who actually lives in Ethiopia and works for Ethiopian Air Lines. We exchanged contact information with him and will be getting in touch later on as we prepare to head over to bring home our little man.

I don't know if I did this justice at all with what I have written. I am still a little overwhelmed myself from how cool the experience was. I can tell you this though; God's Word is God's Word no matter what language it's coming at ya in. Sometimes we overstudy it and get hung up on things like textual variations in manuscript copies - and when that happens I think we all ought to ruffle our own feathers and head out to hear a service in a language you have never even heard spoken before.

After shaking all of the hands of so many people who were thanking us (what??? no, Thank YOU!) we headed out in to the rain to leave. When we got back in the car Laura looked at me and said:
"That was incredible..."
Yep Laura. It was.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Loud and Clear

Tonight was one of those nights where God turned the amp all the way up to 10. Matter of fact, if you've seen Spinal Tap, you probably know what I mean when I say I think He turned it up to eleven. Anyway ya look at it - He was loud. And He was clear. And we were in awe (yet again).

The night started out pretty simple. We headed out to do what we had been putting off for a while - Register. Wow, what a tedious process. Wow, how many things does a little human need? I got to control the gun and in my head I was Jack Bauer in Season 2 busting terrorists - not Tymm in a baby store zapping piddle pads. Perception is reality people. And my altered perception got me through the next 3 hours.

Afterwards, we hit the first restaurant we could find because we were pretty hungry from our hard work busting terrorists. But the restauraunt was freezing - no joke - it was cold. Cold enough for us to leave to find somewhere else. We're not good at major decisions like "Where should we eat?" so we stumbled into the next closest place and took a seat. When I returned to the table from the restroom Laura said "Check out our waitress - I bet she is from Ethiopia. I am going to ask her where she is from." In case you don't know, that is not like Laura (or me for that matter). We have gazed at and admired adopted children from a distance but never really enaged anybody in conversation regarding their ethnicity before.

So when she came back to take drink orders Laura didn't waste any time asking "Do you mind if I ask where you are from?" Come to find out she was from Ethiopia and had been here for 6 years. We showed her pictures of our little guy and told her the 30 second version of our story. She was very happy for us and asked if we would bring him by there when we got home. Of course we will. Pretty cool, huh?

But it didn't end there.

After dinner we had another conversation with her regarding where she had lived in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) and it was then that she offered her brother, who still lives in Ethiopia, as a guide for us when we are there. She gave us his cell phone number and everything. Then she invited us to attend her church on Sunday - a traditional Ethiopian church service. And of course we are going - wouldn't miss it! So we exchanged all of our contact information with this incredibly kind, incredibly generous woman who we had just met about 40 minutes earlier.

So you tell me - how cool is God? He placed us in a freezing restaurant to change our minds and then guides us to a different restaurant and directly to the tables of an Ethiopian woman. He gave Laura the courage to speak up and talk to this woman that she didn't know at all. Like I said the other day - there are no coincidences.

So now, because we somehow managed to hear God through the hustle bustle of registering and everything else clouding up our eyes and ears, we got to meet an incredibly nice woman from our son's homeland, we have yet another contact in Ethiopia and we'll be attending what will surely be a very cool Ethiopian church service on Sunday.

We are so thankful that we have a God who cares enough about us to stay with us all the time. We pray that we can continue to see His presence and follow His will throughout this whole process.

It's amazing what can happen when you let yourself be led by Him.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Monday! AGAIN!!

On Friday we were expecting to hear from our agency on the status of baby e's health, but did not. They tried to get him to the doctor on Thursday, but pushed the appointment to Friday. We were sad to not get an update on Friday, but tried not to think about it too much (which is IMPOSSIBLE) over the weekend.

This morning, I came into work and checked my email. Once again, Monday's are WONDERFUL for us!!

An email from my agency said:

"The baby was checked by the clinic doctor Dr. Sophie on Friday the 14th of December 2007 and he exhibits no sign of sickness. He has responded well to the medication and has now fully recovered from his illness last week - broncho pneumonia. Happy Monday!!"

Praise God! Once again, our prayers have been answered! Now maybe, my sympathy cold will go away, too!

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for our sweet boy's health. Now, if we could just get him here to fatten him up!!

Love and hugs to you all!

Laura

Sunday, December 16, 2007

There Are No Coincidences

We definitely feel like we have been specifically chosen for this mission that God has us on right now. At times we've doubted ourselves and even questioned God - but He has shown us time and again to trust Him and He will lead us right where we are supposed to go. Some of the signs have been obvious, some of them we have had to really pray on and open our hearts, eyes, ears and minds to see.

I have learned countless life lessons throughout this process so far - but one thing that I know for sure is that there are no coincidences. God has a plan so much bigger and so much better than anything we can imagine here on earth. And just when you think you have it all figured out and you're right there in tune with God, He goes and shows you just how big He is.

This isn't just about us. We know that - it's about adoption and babies and people all around the globe, right? Well, yeah - but for the last 2 years God has been working right in front of our eyes. He has been building a community of friends and brothers and sisters in Christ right here in front of us. He has been making the proverbial villiage for us that may just be needed to raise a child.

He has worked in us but He didn't stop there. He has worked in people around us. He has worked in them - for them and for us. Does that make sense? He has surrounded us with prayerful people. People concerned about our well-being and the well-being of our child. People who love God and listen to Him when He speaks.

Selfless people. Humble people. People we love and respect and maybe took for granted. Ya know - I knew all this but I just didn't see it all until tonight.

We want to take a second to thank all of you. Every last one of you that God has put in our world. He is working in you all - whether you believe it or not. And we are so glad for that. We are thankful we have a God who is so big that he doesn't get bogged down in the things that bog us down. It's nothing for Him to change lives in the blink of an eye and change hearts and minds and souls at the same time.

We are thankful for every single person surrounding us in our lives and our community right now. And we are thankful there are no coincidences.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No news...

For all of you praying for and thinking about ebaby, I just wanted to let you know the latest. I contacted our agency yesterday asking if they had heard anything about our little man, but unfortunately, they had not. I sent her a list of questions and she was forwarding them on to her representative in Ethiopia. We hope to have an updated medical report by the end of the week. A doctor will check him once he has completed the weeks worth of antiobiotics.

Things we are praying for:

* ebaby's weight is back up
* ebaby's pneumonia is completely healed
* for God's protection over him while we wait
* that he gets lots of attention from the nanny's in his room

Thank you for all of your prayers and support while we wait for the day we meet our son. Each day is hard, however, we know there is a reason for this time. May we use it for God's glory and not waste it.

Psalm 5:3 says "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

First Friday Rocked Our Socks Off

If you are adopting from China and you live in the metro-Atlanta area you know what the first Friday of any month means. It means getting together with a bunch of other adopting folks and hearing their great news, sharing yours, playing with all the fun kids and eating cookies. Oh yeah - awesome music and incredible speakers usually round out the night.

This past Friday was no exception. This honestly may have been the best First Friday we have been to yet. We are actually experiencing a lot of "bests" right now - and as Mark pointed out to me Friday night - it probably has a lot to do with that picture I am carrying around everywhere with me.

We met a bunch of fellow adopters for dinner - it was nice to see some familiar faces as well as see the newest face that is home from China - Shelby - and to see pictures of the next one that is on his way - the Ladmans received a referral last week and they are beyond excited. I know how they feel.

When we got to the church for the actual event I gotta tell ya - it was incredible. So many people have been praying for us and following us and so many people came up to us to talk about our little man in Ethiopia. It was really amazing. I know First Friday is really a group for those adopting from China - but they have embraced our concurrent Ethiopian adoption with as much excitement, joy and vigor as if he was coming home from China. For that I am so grateful and I know that God is pulling all these strings for us - our little man is going to have so many friends here. He doesn't know what he's in store for!

I don't want to be too long winded but I gotta give props where props are due. Dan introduced us to Carole Ford shortly after we got there. Carole is an amazingly talented, blessed and gifted singer, musician and best of all - prayer warrior. She told us that Dan had told her about us and she has been praying for us (whoa!) - and after us telling her a little bit about our story she asked if she could pray for us right there. I am not kidding - I think God opened the side door of the room and slid in beside her when she started. She is powerful. She is prayerful. She is passionate. She is real. She is incredible. I can not thank her enough for that prayer and her willingness to continue to lift us up in prayer.

On top of all of that I was just stoked to meet her. We have been so amazed with her voice and powerful presence since we started coming to NMC so it was a blessing and a treat for us. I mean we only had to adopt a child from Ethiopia to get to meet her - and it was worth it. Everyone should do it!

Amy Eldridge from Love Without Boundaries was an amazing speaker. I agree with Laura when she said "I could have listened to her speak and tell stories for days." I am pretty sure everyone was fighting back a tear or two in there. My sister is a nurse at Arkansas Children's Hospital so it was really cool to hear Amy tell of Dr. Buckmiller. My sister has worked with Dr. Buckmiller and told me her story while it was happening so it was pretty neat to hear it again from the other side.

We also got to see our little friend Sophia - who showed me her new trick of being able to spit up at the sound of my name. Quite impressive little Miss Sophia. Her mom and dad were there and it was great to see them too - they have been beyond excited about Ethiopia so we couldn't wait to share the pics of our little man with them. Thank you guys for eBaby's first christmas present - he is going to be as blessed as we are to know your family.

We want to thank everybody who came to find us and sought us out to tell us how happy and excited they were for us. Thank you to those who looked at the pictures and made us feel even more excited through their excitement. Thanks to God most of all - He is at work in that group of people there Friday night. He is opening new doors and helping shed light on new areas.

If you have never been to a First Friday - I say get to one as soon as you can. It's not something I would have ever imagined going to and now it is something I can't ever imagine missing. The people are special, the environment is electric and I can't describe it or explain it the way experiencing it would.

And while you're thinking about attending First Friday - do this - pray for what to do with your wait. A much wiser woman than me told us to do that (Thanks Susan!) and God has given us a laundry list of things to do to fill up this wait time:

  • Paint the house
  • Finish basement
  • Adopt from Ethiopia
  • Support an orphanage
  • Love
  • Pray
  • Study
  • Prepare
Some are easier than others - some have an incredible impact - and some of those will change our lives forever.

How does God want to use you during this wait time?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thank you David Crowder Band...

Not much to say today except that I am so thankful for the God inspired words of The David Crowder Band. I heard these at the perfect moment today:

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do

Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
Bring expectancy
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Something


I just have to trust my Father that we ARE part of change...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Plays, Eats & Sleeps Like a Baby

Monday seems to be a good day for us. Last Monday we received the best pictures we've ever seen in our lives. This Monday we received some updates on eBaby and a little bit of background information on him and his medical records. I used to hate Mondays - I am kind of starting to like them.

The medical records weren't complete as they need to draw some more of his blood for some additional testing but we were able to get some specs on our little man. He is weighing in at a whopping 8 pounds and 13 ounces! Someone took good care of this guy for his first month on this Earth - it doesnt look like he missed too many meals! He is also stretching out to a full 21.2 inches long.

So now we are praying that he is safe and comfortable. That someone is there to comfort him when he gets more blood drawn - it's hard to know that he is being poked and prodded and we're not able to be there with him. But God is. And honestly, that's better than us.

We are also praying for his birth parents. I simply can not fathom the range of feelings and emotions that they are going through right now. They loved and cared enough about this little guy to put him somewhere very near a hospital - probably with the hope that a caregiver would find him. I know how much our hearts yearn for him - so I can only imagine that his birth parents are hurting right now.

Oh - my favorite part of the medical report?

Describe Child's Behavior: Plays, eats and sleeps like a baby.

Isn't that the life?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

We Are Blessed

We have really been blessed through this process of adoption. Not just with what God has done with us in terms of personal growth, understanding and a relationship with Him - but also with the amazing community of friends that we have come to know.

Last Sunday we finally got the chance for our schedules to synch up with Mark and Rebecca's so we could go by to officially meet little Sophia. What a precious little girl she is.

Laura and I had run a 10K with Mark but it was great to get to visit with this wonderful family all together and learn more about them. I "borrowed" this picture from their website.


We stayed WAY longer than we intended to and probably ate up their whole afternoon - but it was cool to hang out with them. They have been so excited, supportive and encouraging about our Ethiopia Adventure and we are so thankful to them for that.

Mark was also nice enough to give me my first crash course on diaper changing - not a hands on experience (Thank You!) but more like I was auditing a diaper class - I now know what goes in to that terrifying process and it isn't all that terrifying after all. Mark looked like he'd been doing it for years and knocked it out like a pro.

Less than 24 hours after our visit with these guys we got our referral - they might be our good luck charm! We just want you guys to know we cherish the friendship we have found with you and look forward to sharing your experiences with Sophia and Claire!

The Cracker Fairy

Sheridan can eat him some crackers! We had the opportunity to hang out with him for a little bit tonight and man - the little guy loves him some crackers.

I was a little worried that he wouldn't remember us - but there he was waiting for us on the porch when we pulled in his driveway. He grabbed Laura by the hand like she was some kind of Cracker Fairy and led her straight to the cracker dish and gestured with a polite "More." Man - can he eat some crackers. He eats them with passion too - not just chowing down - but savoring every delicious little crackery bite.

We got to share dinner with him and his parents and Laura got to help put him to bed for the night. What a wonderful family he has - he couldn't be in a better situation - any where! Sheridan and his family are all so excited for us and our Ethiopia referral so it was fun to just sit around and talk about that and to learn more about their story.

Thank you so much for the gifts and the time spent getting to know you guys better. We look forward to watching Sheridan grow and experiencing his life with him!

Friday, November 30, 2007

I cannot even begin to compare to my husband!

Okay, okay...I know you all have been waiting for me to post something, but honestly, when you are married to an extraordinary writer it is very difficult to write after he does! Tymm has such an amazing way with words and he can truly paint a picture for you as you read. In his writing he wears his emotions on his sleeve and I love that about him...but here goes, I will try my best.

As you all know, this week has truly been amazing, our actual Thanksgiving Day was Monday November 26. It was a day that will be burned in my memory and in my heart forever. The day that my world stopped in an instant, or a buzz, you might say, when the email of all emails dropped into my Eudora inbox. I had just been chatting it up with my wonderful coworker and friend, Kelli, and had decided that I needed to get back to work. I sat down, checked my mail, and there IT was! The email was from our adoption coordinator, Elizabeth and all I saw at that moment were these words, "I have some wonderful news, you have been referred a baby!!!".

At that second, my heart was racing and I shut the email as fast as possible, first wondering if I was dreaming and then being afraid to see the pictures. I knew that I wanted to see our child's face with my husband...certainly not in a cube farm at GA Tech! I slowly got up, afraid of fainting, and walked over to Kelli's cube. She looked at me with a puzzled look as I was shaking and breathing heavily. I think she probably thought I was about to puke on her cube floor. Anyway, I managed to tell her that we had received the referral and it was a boy. She came with me to read the email and managed to help me gather my thoughts enough to call Tymm. After a big hug from her and some tears shared, too, I was able to call him. Kelli has known me for only a year but has been there for me for many ups and downs. She has watched as my heart has broken over and over again as with each passing month and there was no expansion to our family. But Monday was different! I got to share amazing news about the "birth" of our son with her and I could not have picked a better person to have shared that moment with...well, other than my husband, of course!

Back to the story...I told you I am not as good as Tymm! So I managed to make it home. Tymm met me in the garage. All I could say was, "I have to pee!!" He was like, "WHAT??!!! Our baby is on that computer!" I could only laugh and cry at the same time at that comment.

So the two of us gathered around my laptop in C-Baby's room and downloaded the pictures. Three and half years of heartache, pain, questions, anger, love, salvation, redemption and healing were coming down to this very special moment where we would see our child for the first time.

All I can really say is that it was one of the most amazing moments of my entire life. In that room, where we stood staring at our lil man's face - God was there. I felt His tears flow with ours as He once again brought even more healing to our hearts. For years now He has slowly been turning the pages of the book of our lives and that day, we got to the best chapter yet! How good and faithful God is and He loves us so...even when we are broken, angry, and full of sin...He loves us! He loves me! And now He has given me a child to love...boy, I cannot wait to teach lil man about the love of our true Father.

That is what life is truly about...

Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Laura

Thursday, November 29, 2007

1,440 Times

That's how many times I thought about our son today. I mean it doesn't help that I have his picture propped up on my desk - but yeah - that's how many times I thought about him. Roughly once a minute.

The human mind can be a dangerous place. And when mine is left unattended - watch out. It's open, vast, empty, warped, spacious and scary. Dangerous sums it up.

If my thoughts were prayers, our son would be drowning in them. But not all of mine were. Some were worries, fears, anxiety, greed, selfish thoughts. I want him home. Here. With his mom and me.

We'll get there.

Heres a picture to pass some time. A shot of the land where our son is at right now:

Beautiful isn't it? Man - we can't wait.

GodPod

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
- 1 Chronicles 16:34
About 20 strides in to my run this afternoon my iPod started acting flaky. Seemed like maybe the cord on my headphones or something so I stopped to try and fix it. No good - the vocals were sounding all crazy and it wasn't going to work for me - it'd be more annoying than helpful.

That's when I realized what was happening. God has been such a gigantic part of our lives over the past year and so often I spend my time running in prayer. But not as often as I should and sometimes I let music take the place of a good conversation with God. Well today it felt like He wanted to talk to me. And He was giving me a pretty clear hint by completely geeking up my iPod.

I turned the iPod off and took off running - and let me tell you - I had both the best 5.6 mile run I have had all year and the best conversation with God I have had in a long time. I owe so much to Him - so much gratitude - He has been consistently present and consistently good to me.

I was able to get some alone time with just me, the woods and God - to tell Him how thankful I am for the news this week. I was able to ask Him to be with our son - I prayed long and hard about that. I prayed for Him to make our son one of the favorites in the orphanage. I know that sounds selfish but if we can't be there for him I want him to be showered with love by those around him. I prayed for His will on the upcoming medical records - and for Him to make everything crystal clear to us.

Man - I prayed for so much stuff today on that run that I started to feel a little greedy and guilty - like I was taking up all of God's time. But then I remembered that He is God and He probably heard me think that and just laughed at me. Cuz He is God.

When my run was over I had run my fastest time all year for that loop and didn't even feel tired. God was so with me - I think He showed up today for a couple reasons. One - I needed Him. I needed to tell Him how thankful I am for Him. How much I love Him and how much I am in awe of His world. Two - I think He showed me that He can be right here with me and all the way in Ethiopia with our son at the same time. And that was a great feeling to get - a huge peace of mind.

Oh - and by the way - when I got back to the parking lot my iPod was working fine - like nothing was ever wrong. Tell me God ain't cool.

I heard more on my run today with my broken iPod than I have in the last 6 months with lyrics blasting in to my ears.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

What a day today has been. First Monday back after the long holiday weekend - lots of work to catch up on. All about business, right?

Wrong.

At 11:56 AM my phone rang. Caller ID said "GA Tech" so I knew it was Laura. Our conversation went something like this:

ME: Hello
LAURA: Hi.
ME: What's going on?
LAURA: We just got a referral in my email.

At that point my hearing went a little nutty as chills ran through my body - Laura was crying, I was crying - it was nuts. I said "I'm on my way down there" so we could soak this in together. But Laura's boss allowed her to leave for the rest of the day so she could come home and we could experience this as a family.

The next 40 minutes may have been the longest 40 minutes ever. I knew that in Laura's email account were some pictures of our child. I could hardly stand it. Laura had not opened the pictures because we were going to do that together.

Let me just tell you - he is PERFECT. He looks so healthy and he looks so awesome and he looks so incredibly perfect. All we know is he is around a month old. That's it. We are still waiting on the health records to come through - hopefully this week sometime.

So that's it - we have a referral! As soon as we know more we will post it - and once we know some other things for sure and know we are allowed to we will share his picture with everybody.

For now we are asking for prayer - prayer for our guidance - that God will really live in us while we get his health records and make sure everything checks out. Prayer for our little child's safety and health and ability to affect those who are taking such great care of him.

God is so incredibly good and we feel like He has really showered us with his graciousness and love.

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." - Psalm 115:1

Monday, November 19, 2007

Praying for Emebet and others

It is officially all out of our hands now. We have received word that our paperwork has been completely translated and authenticated in Ethiopia. So right now, a wonderful person by the name of Emebet is visitng orphanages 8,000 miles away from us - being led by God to our child.

We are praying for Emebet. Praying that she feels God's presence and follows His lead. We are praying for our child who right now is somewhere halfway around the world. Maybe hungry. Maybe tired. Probably scared. Hopefully touching the heart of someone who is taking care of him for us right now.

We are praying for our child's caretakers - that they may see and feel God's presence throughout this process.

We are praying for our child's birthparents and family - who right now are dealing with a whole set of circumstances that we know nothing about. We are praying for them. A lot.

We are hunkering down for the stretch of this that really should be the easiest because there is nothing required of us but in reality is the hardest (maybe because there is nothing required of us). The wait.

But it will be worth it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

National Adoption Day


Today - November 17, 2007 - is National Adoption Day. What a great day to think about those that you know who have adopted or are in the process of adopting. I know we will be saying a lot of prayers today - not just for those in the process - but for the millions of kids out there all over this world who find themselves without a home. Without a mom. Without a dad. Some without the simple neccessities of life - food, water, shelter.

Never really thought about adoption? Think about it today. You won't believe what you can accomplish when you hand it all over to God. Yeah - you can do this too.

I like the report in the bible where the disciples were arguing with Jesus about who would be the greatest. Jesus pulls a child aside and pretty much says "Look - unless you can become more like this child you ain't getting into the Kingdom!"

And then He says:

"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." - Matthew 18:5
If that doesn't tell you what God thinks about adopting I am not sure what would. How cool to know that when you open the door to a child you are opening the door to God.

Think about adoption today. Because you can make a difference. You can change the world. You can open the door to God.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

B.O.B. and Jimmy

Laura and I have become pretty avid runners and we are bound and determined (against what everyone says will be so impossible) to continue running when we get back home with our son. So on Saturday we headed over to REI to meet B.O.B. in person and see how he was gonna work for us in the running stroller category. I'm not gonna lie - B.O.B. is pretty dope. His full name is B.O.B Ironman - and I think he's gonna work out perfect for us.

He has really sweet suspension, great hand brakes, an emergency brake - all the bells and whistles to keep little eBaby chilling like a villian on a run - whether it's off-road or just cruising on the pavement. We still have to do the mandatory consumer reports check out but all the reviews I have read online from pretty serious runners say this is the one to go with. So B.O.B. - it looks like you're getting adopted too.

Now let me tell ya about Jimmy - cuz this is just cool. The whole time we were ogling B.O.B. we kept having the helpful REI sales guys come up and ask if we needed any help. We were really just looking so we kept saying no. Finally, Jimmy rolls over right as I am attempting (miserably) to fold B.O.B. up to see how that works. It was pretty obvious we needed help - I know nothing about folding up kid's equipment. So Jimmy shows us how and points out all kinds of other cool characteristics of B.O.B.'s.

After some conversation about the stuff hanging around my neck (African piece from my mission trip, my Sharpie magic marker, my fake tooth, etc.) Laura tells Jimmy we were adopting from Ethiopia. He seemed genuinely intrigued, and in what I thought was a pretty bold move at the time, he asked "Did you guys decide to do that because you couldn't have kids?"

I gulped and and looked to Laura - and God bless her she didn't miss a beat - she isn't one to pass up a chance to talk about God. She said "Yeah - we tried and couldn't so we prayed about it - and God led us to China and Ethiopia."

Come to find out - Jimmy was a Christian too. He said "I wondered if you guys were Christians - doesn't seem like too many non-christians would do what you're doing."

How cool was that? So we got to spend a few minutes out in the real world talking to a brother in Christ and it was really nice. We talked about our church, his church and what all we were doing. He even asked us to bring eBaby by the store when we get home.

Thanks Jimmy for helping us get to know B.O.B. better and for giving us a great experience at REI!

13 Days

God showed up in our life last week. Don't get me wrong - He is here all the time - but He left behind some real deal evidence this time. I'm not talking about burning bushes and parting of oceans (though that would be really cool to see) - I'm talking about a practical every day thing that I would typically try to explain away when in reality I should really just say "Thanks God."

So on Friday, November 9th - which just so happened to be our 5th anniversary and my birthday - a walk to the mailbox produced the coolest gift we could have asked for. A white envelope from our friends at the Department of Homeland Security. It was our approval to bring our child home from Ethiopia. Nice, right? Here is where it gets cool - the USCIS received our application on October 24, 2007. They approved it on November 6, 2007. I'll do the math for you - that's 13 days! For those of you not deeply embedded in this international adoption world - this may mean nothing to you. But here in Atlanta - that process usually takes a lot longer. For example - our China petition took 76 days.

So needless to say we were a little excited about that. It really means everything is running smoothly and at this point all is kind of out of our hands (this form was the last thing we could keep in our control).

So HUGE thanks to God - for taking time off from running the universe and taking a part time job at the Atlanta USCIS office and really pushing our paperwork through. Big thanks to Jan at USCIS and Dick, Chaunda & Ellie from CCAI for all they did to expedite this process!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

525,600 minutes...

So it has officially been a year since we sent our application in to CCAI to see if we would be accepted to their adoption program. A whole year! Last Halloween about this time I was sitting at my desk thinking "Wow - our lives are about to change." And man have they ever.

I am reminded of that song from Rent (one of Laura's favorite productions) that says:

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love?
Measure in love. Seasons of love.

Here's a look back at the last year and where God has led us.

October 31, 2006
Around 2:00 - full of nerves and apprehension - I dropped off our application packet and a check to cover the application fee at the CCAI offices. Wow - we were really doing this! I drove straight home - called Laura and told her that CCAI said our packet looked complete and we should hear something within 7 days. At 4:30 PM that day we got an email with this in it:

November 2006 - February 2007
They don't call it "The Paperchase" for nothing. That is all we did for a good couple of months. Papers from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia - send them to Houston, to Washington, D.C., to New York. Visiting various federal buildings in Atlanta. Staying Busy. The holidays came in the midst of all of this and we're not gonna lie - they were hard. We always thought we'd have some little Lauras or Tymms running around by now - and decorating the tree was hard. God was so with us that night - I am pretty sure I felt him hanging ornaments on the tree with us.

March 2007
Wow. What a month for us. We'd spent quite a bit of time at Emory Reproductive clinic the past 5 months or so. We had just tried an IUI and almost immediately I got on a plane to head to Africa for 2 weeks for a mission trip. My mind was everywhere. My wife was back home, wondering if she was pregnant. I was somewhere over the Atlantic ocean - wishing Laura was with me or me with her or something.

It took about 30 hours to get to Capetown and finally be able to talk to Laura. Here I am on the other side of the world - and Laura has to tell me that the IUI wasn't successful. I was mad - not really mad at God - just mad. It didn't feel fair. Then Laura told me she had found out we were officially logged in with China.

How cool is God? If I had any doubts about us adopting He wiped them clear right then and there. I was happy and sad at the same time - and looking back I think thats the point where we stopped trying to control this thing and handed it over 100% to God - and He has been nothing short of incredible with His grace and faith to us since then.

I spent the next 2 weeks sharing God's love with the kids of Africa. I told myself - "soak this in Tymm - you'll probably never be back here again." I met so many cool kids, learned a lot about myself and witnessed a global God like I had never seen before.



April 2007
I ran my first half marathon. That has zero to do with our adoption or this blog or anything for that matter. But I am posting it cuz I did it. It was off-road, in the woods and it was great. Not as hard as I thought it would be and I think a full marathon is completely attainable at some point. This is how I planned on passing the time til we go to China - by running.

May 2007 - July 2007
Waiting. Man - that is what we're doing now. I am thinking to myself - "Did I mess around and pray for patience or something? Cuz this is tough..." The wait for China has increased and when you're not chasing documents or running from one office to another - it seems like time is standing still. So we wait.

And we go to First Friday - an awesome event sponsored by Susan and Dan Chapman to help mentor and provide support for those who are thinking about adopting from China, waiting for an adoption from China or who have completed one already. We have met so many great friends there and have gotten so much out of it. It has definitely made the wait so much more bearable.

August 2007
One late night phone call later and Laura and I find ourselves fumbling around with the question "Have ya thought about Africa? Ethiopia in particular?" Well - no. Not really. I mean Africa has a forever place in my heart as my life was changed earlier this year there. But do you mean - adopting from there? We know God had led us directly to China and He has a wonderful plan for our child that will come from that country - we didn't want to do anything to mess that up. But now we have this nagging thought in our head - this constant buzzing in our brain about Africa.

Well - ya know - we knew we wanted to have siblings - at least 2 kids. And with the way things were looking in China - it could be a LONG time for that to happen (it's gonna speed up I know it is). So maybe we should explore this Africa idea. And explore we did. And man, I'll be darned if God didn't just lay it right out there for us - it wasn't about us. Or about the number of kids we wanted or siblings we felt that our kids should have. Or how we saw our family. This was about how He saw our family. How He was making our family - and it hit me like a lightning bolt in a dream (no joke) - I woke Laura up at 4:00 AM and said "We are supposed to do this - we are supposed to adopt from Africa too." We went and met with an adoption agency here in Atlanta that was willing to do a concurrent adoption and we loved them - they are great people with great hearts and huge love for Africa. I don't think a week had passed from the dream to where we were now - filling out the application and sending it in. We're adopting from Ethiopia now too!

September 2007
Guess what we're doing again? That's right - the chase is on. It's easier this time - we kinda overdid it during China so we had a lot of extra documents - ones we needed for Ethiopia as well. That saved us a lot of time. We love our China adoption agency so much that we decided to use them to do our Ethiopia homestudy. They were so excited for us and so helpful during the whole process.

There was a lot of confusion with the USCIS and how to do what and CCAI stepped up and helped us out through all of that. I spoke directly with our match department and they assured me everything was fine and they're confidence gave us confidence that this could go off smoothly.

After another round of doctor visits, physicals, background checks and just about anything else you can think of - we finally turned all of our paperwork in to the Ethiopian Agency on September 27, 2007 (minus our Homestudy).

October 2007
Whew. Here we are. A year later. An adoption from China in process, a mission trip to Africa under my belt, another adoption from Ethiopia in process. I have been praying for so long for God to give me clarity - what does He want to use me for in this life? And I just now realized that I think He may be setting us straight on our path. I am thankful that God is patient and loving and slow to anger and quick to forgive.

On October 30, 2007 at 4:09 PM our dossier was signed for in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is being translated now and soon after they will start looking for a match. God already knows who it is - so really, He is going to let them translate our paperwork and then He'll lead them to our child.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, stood with us during the down times and praised with us during the awesome times. We can't wait to see what next year is going to bring us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Eagle Has Landed...

Feels like a part of us has made it to our child's land. Pretty cool.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Great Ethiopia Story

Here is a beautiful adoption story from Ethiopia that you MUST watch. THIS is why Tymm and I will go to the ends of the earth for our children...Just as Jesus has done for us!

And I thought 7 was a lot!

Yesterday, Tymm, our good friend Tony and myself took off at Cheatham Hill (a trail in the woods) for the longest run of my life! We ran a total of 11.2 miles!!! This is my personal record and I am so proud of us...AND it was ALL MY IDEA! Tony thought I was down right crazy when I came up with that one.

BUT, we did it and I am so happy. It was a wonderful way to spend 2 hours with 2 very good friends. The day was gorgeous, sunny and 70 degrees and being outside just made me downright happy. It gave me time to think about where God has brought us over the past 3 years and I would not trade where we are for anything!

As I was running, I found myself daydreaming of the day we get our referral, both Ethiopia's and China's. We are hopeful that the E-referral will be in the next 3 months, if not even sooner! Tears stung my eyes as I imagined hearing the voice of our Adoption Coordinator, on the other end of the phone telling us if we have a boy or a girl and then seeing the pictures for the first time. Boy, am I ready for this baby...I know that God will watch over our children until we are united.

Anyway, here is a big thank you to my wonderful husband and great friend Tony for coming out and joining me on my "Sunday Physical Challenge". It means so much to me to have friends that enjoy getting outside and running with me. Both Tymm and Tony really encourage me to keep going...I couldn't do it without them.

I don't say it enough, so thanks, T & T!

Laura

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DTE!!! (Documents to Ethiopia)

Well, we got the GREATEST email from our Agency today (execept the one telling us we have a referral...sometime in the future)! They wrote to tell us that our dossier was back from D.C where it was authenticated by the Ethiopian Consulate and was shipped TODAY via DHL to Ethiopia!!

I asked our Coordinator to send me the tracking number so I could stalk DHL myself and not drive her crazy everyday asking if the package had gotten there yet.

YIPPEE! We are so excited! The paperchase took about 2 months and soon we should hear when our dossier is out of translation. I am not sure how long that takes, but once finished, they start looking for match!

Here is a great link for information on Ethiopia, and any other country you wish to know more about.

Ethiopia Information

Laura

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hangin' at the crib!

Hi, everyone! It has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I make my husband happy and write a bit!

This past weekend we used our Babies-R-Us gift card, from my aunt and uncle, and bought the mattress for the crib! We also went and picked up the crib bedding we ordered and ran home (after a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course) and put it all together!




We are so excited! Clay (our golden retriever) is very curious about the bed and is constantly sniffing around the bed...he and Peanut KNOW something is up!



Our documents will hopefully be shipped to Ethiopia by the end of the week....praying praying praying on that! After that, the process is a bit vague. The average wait for a child referral is 3 months. We have trusted the Lord thus far, so we will keep on trusting!



Thanks again for all your prayers for our little ones! We know God is watching over them while we wait.

Laura

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hallmark Going Red

Join us in welcoming Hallmark as the newest member of the (RED) family!

Just in time for the holidays, there is a (RED) way to wrap all of your gift items and connect with your friends and family using Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED cards and flowers.


Now, when sending a card or gift, you can also help eliminate AIDS in Africa and spread (RED) to people you love!

Click here to see the Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED collection.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Something New To Me

A lady bug, a panda bear;
A bamboo sprout and jet black hair;

It all means something new to me today.
Embassies and Notaries;
D-T-C and L-I-D;
It all means something new to me today.
HIV, Hep B and C;
Hypocrisy and Jealousy;
It all means something new to me today.
Currency and what it's worth;
Adoption really no different than birth;
It all means something new to me today.
The wait is hard. The wait is long;
Just be patient. Just be strong;
It all means something new to me today.
God is good. God is great.
Let us thank Him for this day;
It all means something new to me today.
In the east or in the west;
A kid's a kid - there is no best;
It all means something new to me today.
When all is said and all is done;
With God and Love, we've surely won;
It all means something new to me today.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It Could Be Nice To Be Alive

Adoption is an interesting world. To some it is just a fleeting though - they know someone who knows someone who is adopting. But to others - to the ones involved in an adoption - it can consume every moment of your everyday. You wake up with it - eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner - and then go to sleep with it.

The beauty of it all though is just how ALIVE it can make you feel. After the years of struggling, the months of testing, the surgeries, the counting days, the stress, the drama, the tears, the letdowns, the fatigue, the anger - trying to have a baby can leave you exhausted and lifeless. We know.

God knew too. That's why He opened our eyes to adoption and with a simple wave of His mighty hand, He took away all that pain we had been living under. He is that big. He cares so much about us that He gave us this "adoption option" and He surrounded that with His glory. And THAT will make you feel more alive than you'd ever know.

We have learned a lot in the past year. We've learned paperwork can consume you whole. We've learned that the wait for China will be so worth it. We've learned that the wait for Ethiopia will be short but still seem so long - and it too will be worth it. We've learned to love. And we've learned to be alive.

I am going to end this with the immortal words of one of my favorite bands of all time - the Beastie Boys:

Dip dip dive, so socialize
Open up your ears and clean out your eyes
If you learn to love you're in for a suprise
It could be nice to be alive

- "Alive" (Beastie Boys)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Thank You Single Sisters!

God showed up at our house this weekend. Seriously. You know what He looked like? A stack of envelopes. Who would have thought? Let me explain...

Laura's mom (Sandra) heads up a group at her church called the "Single Sisters." They are a group of women providing support and friendship to each other as they go through life. Sandra puts in a ton of time and effort to this group - just recently she organized a trip that close to 50 single sisters went on. Laura was able to go along on this trip and spend some precious time with her mom and this great group of people.

So now - fast forward to this past weekend. Sandra was in town to go to our First Friday meeting with us. She showed up Friday afternoon and had a stack of cards for us. Wouldn't you know that some of those single sisters had taken the time and effort to write us some precious notes and donate some of their very hard earned money towards our adoption? We were overwhelemed - they had sent close to $600 for us to use towards the adoption fees and costs (which seem to never end).

We wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to the Single Sisters from the First Christian Church in Kernersville, NC. You guys have no idea what your love and generosity means to us. Thank you so much to

Sandra - Linda - Bonnie L. - Patsy - Phyllis - Carolyn - Reba - Judy - Connie - Robin - Michelle - Bonnie S.

And to demonstrate just how relevant it was and how great our God is - we have a pretty big fee we will be paying this month to the USCIS as we get fingerprinted and approved for clearance to bring home a baby from Ehtiopia.

We were not really stressing over it because God has been so incredibly good to us - and here He came once again - looking like a stack of envelopes. Thank you guys. It is really really cool to see God live and shine through people on this earth.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stand Up Act Now

I told myself from the beginning of our adoption process that I was going to stay relevant to our adoption here on the blog and not become a raging activist or anything nuts. But you know what I have discovered is this: you can't really have a heart for adoption or a heart for a particular area of the world without having the specific needs and issues of that area lay heavy on your heart and mind.

So, with that in mind I wanted to share this music video with you. I have been blessed with a great friend in life who is incredibly talented. He is an amazing singer, producer and all around artist. He has been involved in many successful projects - one of them being a tour of Africa last year. From that experience he and his group AFAR created a new song on their just released album talking about the water issue (pretty much everywhere it seems).

I am proud to call him a friend and love that he is using the skill God gave him to reach out to people.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Agency Visit

Okay, so it is finally time for me to write my very first blog entry! So last Thursday my dear friend, Mareba and I went over to our Ethiopian agency's office to official turn in all but one of the dossier documents! YEA!

Mareba was one of our personal references and she wrote a letter for us and needed to have it notarized while we were there....that was an excuse I came up with to get her to go with me! Anytime she and I are out and about together, you can bet it will be an adventure!

So we head over to the office and go inside. From there I proceed to sit down with the agency owner, our adoption coordinator and their notary. We go through all 13 documents, one by one, confirming they are all signed and notarized properly.

We then get into a discussion about Ethiopia and the situation there and how things are going. We talk about the major slow down in China, and although it is difficult for all of us adopting from there, the slowdown has definitely shed light on other countries and the desperate need to adopt all over the world. Our agency says that Africa is really on fire right now with more adoptions, so this is wonderful news!! Babies will be coming home!!

I was so happy that Mareba got to go with me and experience such an important day with me. It meant so much to have her there...my sister in Christ. Like she said, it was like she was there for the ultrasound! I love that and I love her...

So in case I don't tell you enough, Mareba...I love you. Your friendship has truly been given to me from the hand of God.

Laura

Friday, September 28, 2007

It All Seems a Little More Real Now

So... with the whole China process we've been kinda taking our time - nonchalantly dragging our heels along - no need to rush out and buy a bunch of stuff or paint a room or anything really - with the wait as long as it is right now - we're looking like we'll be 327 by the time we travel anyways.

But Ethiopia. Oh Ethiopia. That is seeming like a different kind of story. From what they are telling us it could be very soon - we could possibly have a referral by end of year (of course it's International Adoption - so no hopes too high, right?).

Anyways, we thought we should at least start preparing since we have, I dunno - nothing. So when I got home from my run this afternoon what was leaning against the garage door? Check it out:


Yep. It's getting real now. Really real. And ya know what? I think we like it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I was a Guest Blogger

So last week Amy over at When Loves Takes You In asked me if I would consider being a guest blogger on her blog.

That scared me. I have never been asked this before. I have never really written anything worth reading before - and here she was gonna have people on her site reading it. Cuz she is like a semi-professional blogger. She owns the blogosphere. So yeah. See what I mean? Scary.

But I was also honored to be asked to do this (but scared) and was happy to participate. So go visit Amy and you can check out my litle entry on her site called Living life for the One who gave us life to live.

On another note - do you have some good adoption links? We are trying to beef up the resources section so if you have some good links post them for us and we'll add them.

Thanks. Keep it real and have a wonderful Wednesday.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Party Like it's 1999!!

"I was dreamin' when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin'
Could have sworn it was judgment day

The sky was all purple
There were people runnin' everywhere
Tryin' to run from the destruction
You know I didn't even care

They say two thousand zero, zero, party over,
Oops, out of time!
So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999!"

- Prince


Ever since God put it on our hearts to start an adoption from Ethiopia we have been learning all kinds of fascinating information about this interesting foreign land that is becoming less and less foreign by the day. This little tidbit is no exception. I have yet to meet anyone who already knew this it I told them this - and I definitely didn't know it and actually didn't believe it until I researched it myself.

It is the year 2000 in Ethiopia. That's right - on September 11th of this year they were partying like it was 1999 - because it was! And on September 12th (the first day of the Ethiopian Calendar) they celebrated the first day of the year 2000. Kinda cool, eh?

The Ethiopian Calendar, also called the Ge'ez Calendar, consists of 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 or 6 days (depending on leap year).

So fire up the DeLorean McFly - because we're heading back in time to pick up our son!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Whew - Finally!

Alright - alright. So I was a little late. Man, I procrastinate so bad, it's a wonder we ever finished our paperchase, let alone got logged in. Actually, for some reason - that motivated me like nothing before ever has.

But this blog. Now that's a different story. I could go on and on giving a million little excuses as to why it took us so long to update and get this thing tied in to Blogspot so my wonderful wife can start posting her adoption thoughts here (that's right Laura - I'm talking to you!)- but I won't make you listen to me do that.

I'll just say - "Welcome!" Come check out the new site over there and drop by here and let us hear from ya. We are really going to try and be better at maintaining this - as much for us as for all the folks along for this ride with us.

So if you see us slacking, let us know (right, Michael P.?) and we are going to do our best at staying up to date. Our Ethiopian process is moving right along so we will have plenty to write about in the coming weeks.

Thanks again to all you much better bloggers out there who have inspired us to get on point with our own!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cute and Tiny!

The first friday of August came and went - and we didn't make it to our First Friday Adoption Get-Together. It was just one of those weeks - actually, it may have been the most hectic week of the year for us. When Friday came, we just kinda passed out. We did, however, have our own little First Friday event as we watched the National Geographic Special called "China's Lost Girls" on DVD. What a great DVD - it really gave us a wonderful perspective and insight into the process and what goes on from the other side - helped me to remember this isn't all about me.

I wanna share something with you that I thought was really cool. My nephew, who is going in to the 4th grade, is one cool guy. Check this story out. Apparently, when he has trouble falling asleep at night he asks my sister to give him something to think about so he can ponder that thought and make himself sleepy. Well, I guess one night he had been thinking about his soon-to-be cousin from China and asked his mom what he or she was going to look like. My sister said, "Your cousin will be cute and tiny."

Well - my nephew thought that was great - so much so that almost every night now when he is going to sleep he makes my sister tell him again what his cousin from China is going to look like.

"Say it mommy - say she's going to be cute and tiny - say it," says my nephew.

"She's going to be cute and tiny" - (sigh) - "now go to sleep!" says my sister.

I just thought it was funny. But ya know what - he is right on - his new cousin is going to be cute and tiny. And you know what else? He isn't the only one thinking about that every night before he goes to sleep.

Thanks for the smile Will.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Infamous Brown Envelope

Today was a rough day. One of those days ya just wish ya could have a do-over on. I spent the majority of the day on the phone with my insurance company, a lab that did my lab work for my routine physical for our adoption and my incompetent doctor's office. To make a long story short, they are trying to bill me for close to $500 for my routine physical that is covered by my insurance. Very, VERY frustrating.

Anyways ... so the day was progressing kinda like that - when I decided to leave the phone for a while and go check the mail. Usually I am all like "Ahhh - the sun feels good, the fresh air is great..." but today I was all "The stupid sun is so hot and this air is too freaking humid..." See what I mean? I was frustrated.

But then I opened our mailbox and golden rays of edible light shot out as harps began playing in the background. Because right there, along with 2 credit card applications, 2 junk magazines, a letter from my cool nephew and a Guitar Center flyer was the infamous brown envelope I had read a little about. Yep, there it sat - addressed to Laura and me from the U.S. Consulate General, Guangzhou. I gotta be honest with you - I had no idea what this magical brown envelope contained. I just know some people in the yahoo groups have discussed it and sometimes posted when they got theirs. And now we had ours.

So I jumped up in the air, clicked my heels and skipped back in to the house. I immediately called Laura at work and after apologizing for being a stupid monkey on the phone with her earlier (frustration, remember?) I told her we had the magical brown envelope. I told her we needed to hurry up and open it cuz magic pixie dust was spilling out of it all over my desk and I was sure I heard our little baby from China in there - I mean how did they fit him/her in that envelope and why didn't they punch any breathing holes in the thing?!

Laura assured me our child was NOT in there and then directly ordered me NOT to open it - "Call CCAI" she said. "Ask them what we should do."

After doing as I was told and speaking with the great folks at the CCAI-GA Office, I found out there wasn't really a reason to be too excited - this envelope contained more paperwork (is that even possible?) and it was stuff we would probably see again and again before this journey was over. But she did say we could contact the travel department in CO and give them the reference number in the letter in the envelope - so there was something we could do with it! We HAD reached another little milestone!

Like I said in my previous post, this journey is all about those little milestones. And each one should be cherished, remembered and celebrated. Not everyone is chosen to be sent on this incredible journey - this Odyssey of ours. And we are proud to be on it - and I don't care what anyone says - i think a lttle tiny bit of our child showed up today in that brown envelope.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Our 4 Month LID Anniversary

Okay - so today it was 4 months since we have officially been "logged in" as they say - all that means is 4 months ago today we officially got in line. And to put that in to perspective for ya, they are currently matching referrals to folks who "got in line" in November of 2005. Yep, that's right. I said 2005. I know what you're thinking - "Wow - I knew it took a long time but that long?" Yes - it takes that long. But that's why we celebrate these little milestones, like 4 months Logged In. These little anniversaries come with both sadness and joy.

Joy because it brings us that much closer to fullfilling this wonderful journey that God has chosen for us. We feel more and more blessed every day that God would pick us to send on this amazing path through life. Yeah - the circumstances around it have been tough - but the outcome is going to be so amazingly incredible.

Sadness because - well come on - that's obvious - I mean holy cow - we're talking about 2 more years at least here. Whew - I will tell you what - it is sometimes really hard to trust God - I find myself asking Him "Why?" - Why would He give us the desire to be parents but not the physical ability to make that happen? Why would He make this journey take so long? I have no answers. But I do know God is good, no - scratch that - God is GREAT - and He is making this happen in His time for His will to be done.

Last sunday at church it really seemed like God was talking directly to us - and one of the verses He threw at us was this:

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride." Ecclesiastes 7:8

How perfect is that? We'll keep waiting. We'll keep celebrating little milestones. We'll keep praying. And no doubt we'll keep wondering a little and maybe even questioning God - but He is so good that He gives us our answers all around us if we just open our eyes and hearts to Him. And for that I am so thankful.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sheridan's Shower

Ya know what's cool about being part of something like the International Adoption Community? You get to take part in all kinds of exciting things and share in other's excitement along the way. It's actually one of the best ways to cope with this wait - living vicariously through the excitement of others. Like I have said before - this journey is like a race that we can't quite figure out how to pace. So what better way tp deal with this than to run alongside someone else who sees their finish line coming up? It's pretty cool.

So this past weekend we got to run the last leg of someone else's race as we attended a baby shower for some new friends we have met. Michael and Kim will be heading to China somewhere around the first of August to finally pick up their little boy Sheridan. We have gotten to know them through our First Friday gatherings and we couldn't be happier for them. As Laura continually says "I can't wait to get my hands on Sheridan!"

Their shower was great - lots of people came - several we knew - lots we didnt. They had good food, got lots of gifts and I sealed the deal by eating a piece of cake that was the size of my head. I had a sugar rush the rest of the night.

Michael & Kim - thanks for allowing us to take part in this special event with you guys. We will be praying for you as you travel to China and back with Sheridan and can't wait to meet him!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

First Friday (from Laura)

Well, once again, tymm and I went to our 1st Friday adoption group meeting last night. It is not so much as a meeting, but a get together to chat with others who are either in the process of adopting from China or already have their children.

Each month Tymm & I walk away from that meeting ready to take on "the wait" with a new found confidence. We just love talking to the other parents and seeing all those sweet little faces.

Last night was especially great because little Laney was with us! Just one month ago, at the last meeting, Jay and Angela, now known as Laney's mom and dad, had not even left for China yet, and here they stood, right at the door when we got there last night with their sweet little girl! What inspiration to see God working in their lives. Here is the link to their website, so you can see Laney, www.journeytolaney.blogspot.com .

We also got a chance to meet Sha-Lu (not sure about the spelling). She is 4 years old and just got here to be with her forever family this past April. She is just the sweetest little thing with an amazing story. Her new mommy found out about Sha-Lu by donating money to a foster program in China. Sha-Lu was not available for adoption, but Rebecca could not get her out of her mind. Through many talks and much paperwork, Sha-Lu was put on the list for adoption under the Waiting Child Program (special needs). Rebeccah was able to petition for her and GOT HER!! So inspiring! I asked Sha-Lu her name and she held up 4 itty bitty fingers and smiled and said, "Four." I guess she didn't hear me, but I didn't care because at that moment, my heart was hers! She had Tymm's heart once she gave him a high five. He then asked her how old she was and once she answered she quietly asked how old he was!! How funny is that!!

We also went to dinner with 2 other adopting parents prior to the meeting. It was great. One set of parents may be traveling to China THIS MONTH to get their son, Sheridan. Here is their website: www.sheridans-shenanigans.info . We are going to their toddler shower next Saturday. I just cannot wait to get my hands on this boy! Maybe it is because I have a gut feeling that God is going to bless us with a son. I will take WHATEVER God wants to give us.

The other couple we ate with, Amy and Michael are just wonderful! Amy suprised me with the sweetest card this week just to let me know she was praying for us. She is just awesome! And so funny, too! I just love her personality.

Another neat part of the night was meeting a young couple, Diane and Chris, who have 2 young boys but truly have the heart for adoption. It was the very first time that Tymm & I got to share our story with someone contemplating adoption! See how this circle just goes on and on and touches so many?! I felt so good after talking to them.

Our desire to become parents is growing each day. I know God is gonna show up, well He already has, but this is going to be BIG, I mean, BIG...

Thank you so much God for making us dream big...we love you and our child is yours.

Thank you all for loving us and for your continued support and prayers during this exciting time in our lives. You have no idea what it means to us.

Friday, July 6, 2007

First Friday (from Tymm)

Well - it's that time again - first friday of the month. Which means we get to go see where everyone else who has been chosen to go down this incredible path of adoption is at in their journey. This month was extra cool because some folks who we have met through this group and who happen to go to our church actually just got back from China with their little girl - Laney! What an inspiration.

We started off the night by meeting up with some fellow soon-to-be-parents for some dinner before heading to the Chapman's house. It's really cool to be around people who understand what it is we're going through and who are actually experiencing pretty much all of the same emotions we are. Not that our non-adoptive friends and family don't get it - but they don't fully understand the magnitude of this incredible process - and it's probably because we simply can't put it in the right words. But to experience it is to know it - and that is one of the things that makes First Friday at the Chapman's the awesome experience that it is. Thanks again Dan & Susan for what you do for this community.

Laura and I got the opportunity to meet and talk with a young couple who are currently considering adopting. They have two kids of their own and they were cool - we shared with them how God has led us down this path and hopefully we can be of any assistance or support if they need it. We also got to chat some more with some folks we have seen and probably met but never talked much with - that was cool. And I think I now have someone to run the Cobb County 10K Classic on Labor Day with! Laura said she was in for it too.

All in all it was another great meeting - and with the referrals coming out at the pace they are right now, the support couldn't have come at a better time!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No More Faith

Sounds like a scarey subject, doesn't it? Man, I'll tell ya what - if my newly found faith has ever been tested it is right now - adoption is an amazing thing - but an incredibly hard thing. It's trying. It wears you out. It tries every last ounce of your patience. It almost laughs at you with it's ever-increasing wait and just taunts you to the point of frustration - a point I might add that Satan wants you at.

It even dares you to question God and His perfect timing and His perfect will and plans for you. Overall - it's just exhausting.

Let me back up for a second - don't get me wrong - adoption is dope. It is the bomb. It is everything we want to be doing and know we are supposed to be doing - God has definitely made that clear to us. Back in October 2006 when we dove in head first there was sooooo much to do. So much paperwork. So much running around and cutting red tape here and there and hunting and gathering - you know - the stuff us humans were made to do - hunt and gather. And it all went off without a hitch (Thank You God!!)

But now Laura and I find ourselves heading in to month #4 of our wait - and wow is it tough. The hunting and gathering is all done with and we are now trying to cope with something we humans just werent built for (or so it seems) - waiting patiently. And man - we suck at it. I mean - this wait seems sooooo long. We have this passion inside of us and it's like we have to sit on it for the next 2 years. Can you imagine waking up on Christmas Day as a kid and sprinting downstairs full of excitement to ... an empty tree? With a note that said "You can open your presents on Labor Day!" That's kinda how it feels. Or like you are running a race - but you don't know the distance of the race. So how do you pace yourself? You see people finish and you know they ran the same race but they ran different lengths - how do we even set a pace to get through this?

So anyways - those are some things that have been running through our minds lately. And today, while i was running in the woods and talking to God - okay, I was kinda yelling at God, saying "What is up???" - but anyways, a song from one of our favorite artists came on - "No More Faith" by Andrew Peterson. What a song. What a guy. He gave me something I needed to hear right then. Thank you God for controlling my iPod at that moment.

So here are the lyrics and the song is here also (just push play on that embedded Windows Media Player). I hope you can get a little something out of it - I know Laura and I did tonight.








No More Faith - Andrew Peterson
This is not another song about the mountains
Except about how hard they are to move
Have you ever stood before them
Like a mustard seed who's waiting for some proof?

I say faith is a burden
It's a weight to bear
It's brave and bittersweet
And hope is hard to hold to
Lord, I believe
Only help my unbelief

Till there's no more faith
No more hope
I'll see your face and Lord, I'll know
That only love remains
Have you heard it said that Jesus is the answer
And thought about the many doubts you hide
Have you wondered how he loves you
If He really knows how dark you are inside

I say faith is a burden
It's a weight to bear
It's brave and bittersweet
And hope is hard to hold to
Lord, I believe
Only help my unbelief

Till there's no more faith
No more hope
I'll see your face and Lord, I'll know
When there's no more faith
And no more hope
I'll sing your praise and let them go
'cause only love
Only love remains

So I will drive these roads in thunder and in rain
And I will sing your song at the top of my lungs
And I will praise you, Lord, in glory and in pain
And I will follow you till this race is won
And I will drive these roads till this motor won't run
And I will sing your song from sea to shining sea
And I will praise you Lord, till your kingdom comes
And I will follow where you lead

Till there's no more faith
No more hope
I'll see your face and Lord, I'll know
When there's no more faith
And no more hope
I'll sing your praise and let them go
'cause only love
Only love remains

Friday, June 22, 2007

Letter From Mommy

My Dearest Baby,

This is a letter to you, the child who waits for me in the future. God has been pressing you on my mind and heart this week, more so than ever before. The longing for you grows by the minute as do the questions on why I have not met you yet. When the questions come, God gently reminds me it is not time. The time for a paths to cross is destined to happen at a particular moment perfectly timed and picked out by our Lord. So there I will try to find rest....rest that does not come easily for me. There is a hole in my heart that you are destined to fill.

I have so much more to say to you but finding the right words to describe how I feel is very difficult. Your daddy is much better at that than me.

But do know that although we have not met yet, I love you more and more with each passing second. I know our meeting will be perfect.

Until the day God unites us I will remember this verse:

Psalm 139:14: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Love,

Mommy

Monday, June 11, 2007

Boys vs. Girls

I know, I know - hold on to your seats people - cuz I just made 2 journal entries within 10 days of each other. That's right - I'm back (for right now at least). Anyways, something that was on my mind while I ran today (other than "Dear Lord, it's hot!") was the gender of our little one. Most people, when they hear you are adopting from China, immediately assume you are adopting a little girl. And I supposed I understand this since we see and we hear so much about the rules of the government in China - and all of the fines associated with multiple children which sometimes causes society in China to cast out their female children. So I understand that most people have the idea that everyone comes home from China with a little girl.

But that is not the case. There are little boys in China in need of families as well. For us - it wasn't up to us to say what gender of a child we would be getting. God had orchestrated this entire process, from decision to DTC, and far be it from us to say what the gender of our child should be. Plus, we relish the idea of treating this like a biological birth - and not knowing until referral what the gender will be. Does it get any more exciting than that? I think not. That's like the month of December as a child waiting slowly for the big day of presents to come - thats the kind of anticipation I have for the day our referral comes in and we'll finally know whether we will have a little boy or a little girl.

Like I said, I understand the mistaken perception that everyone comes homes from a China adoption with a little girl. But lately, I have read a few things where some people have made comments along the lines of "I would be devastated if I got a little boy..." and that is where I have to draw the line of understanding. I just can't wrap my head around a comment like that - Laura and I will be blessed beyond belief with whatever God chooses to place in our lives - a little girl or a little boy. And we simply can not wait..

Friday, June 1, 2007

First Friday Update

Well what do you know? People do actually come to this site and read it to get updates on our adoption process - well, I should say "try" and get updates. Yes, it's true. I have been one terrible slacker of a maintenance guy for this website. I am hereby publicly declaring that I will be trying much harder to keep this site rolling with some semblance of regular updates.

So, with that in mind - let me start anew right now. Tonight we went to a monthly meeting called First Friday - held at Dan & Susan Chapman's house. Dan & Susan are a couple that actually go to the same church as us and have adopted a little girl from China. They so graciously open their home on the first friday of every month and host a support group of sorts for anyone in the China adoption process - from folks about to travel to folks who are just considering an adoption from China.

Tonight's meeting was great as usual. It's a pretty informal get together where we can talk with others who are dealing with the same issues we are and get some encouragement, inspiration and confidence from other folks in the same boat. Tonight we went around and reintroduced ourselves and told where we were in the process. I say "we" but Laura did the talking - she's the PR person for us on this journey. I just do the writing.

One couple is just about to travel in the next 3 weeks or so. That is an exciting place to be and I can not wait for that time to come - in the meantime we will use this wait as a positive time in our lives. We will never have these 2 years again and we both want to make sure and make the most out of this time God has given us before our baby comes home.

There were plenty of good stories and plenty of things we need to pray about with one couple stuck in the review room - I can only imagine what it must be like to make it that far, to be that close and then to hit a hurdle like the review room needing more info. But all of this stuff is in God's hands right now and even though we want it on our timeline we really know it isn't within our control.

Another couple was just recently back and they had their daughter with them tonight - she was adorable. She could wave like crazy and gave great high-fives. If you know me, I am all about the high-fives so I was first in line. When I saw her and saw how perfect she was, I can't help but imagine Laura and I with our new addition to the family. This couple was so happy and so proud of their child - it was great for us to see them and to see their joy.

As usual, I left First Friday feeling rejuvenated - pumped back up about this seemingly never-ending wait we have ahead of us. God bless the Chapman's for doing what they do - when we can leave and feel a little more inspired, a little less alone and a little more comforted than we did coming in - than you know that it is a good thing they are doing. I look forward to the stories & encouragement from our next meeting.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

End of Paperwork!

Praise Jesus! Our China paperwork is done! I truly have tears in my eyes right now! Tymm turned the final document in today. In about 9 days it will be FedEx'ed to China. China will then take approximately 4-6 weeks to log us in. Then we will have an official "logged in date" aka "LID". This is the date you go by when they match you will your baby.

They are currently matching those with an October 2005 log in date.

As Tymm says it, we are now in our 2nd trimester! And I haven't gained one pound!!

Love and thanks to you all for your support and prayers during this "paperchasing" time.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Govt. Offices, Chains & Parking

So today I spent a good portion of the day driving. What else is new in metro-Atlanta, right? I started my sunshiney Monday off standing in line at the post office. Why were all of these people at the post office on a Monday morning at 8:30 AM? Weird. Well, I was there too so maybe "weird" applies to me as well.

Typical of how things have been going for us, a lady came and plucked me out of the line and said "I can take you over here at the store." Thank you nice lady. Pretty cool. I was content with waiting but I was more content with not waiting - so she made me happy.

One money order and a pre-paid Overnight Express USPS envelope later and I was off to the CCAI office. I met with the amazing Jaime and we "checked in" our dossier - everything expect for the 797 which still needed to be sealed. After she helped me pick out the photos to use (avoiding the one where I looked "startled") we checked in all of the documents. It was official - our dossier was out of our hands and in to the trustworthy hands of CCAI. Man, that feels really - really good.

Now it was back on the road and head to GA Tech. I picked up Laura, aka Jackie Bauer (she's in love with 24 now - rock on!), and we headed downtown to find the county clerk's office. It was at this point that sweaty palms, fingernail sensitivity, pelvic discomfort, and heart palpitations set in. Why? Because parking in Atlanta STINKS thats why. Now I know why i work from home. Very rarely can I not find parking space in my own driveway. We finally found some parking and after a long out of the way walk led by our friendly tour guide Tymm (which was just a ploy to spend more time with Jackie Bauer) we made it to the court house - only to be told that my wallet wasn't allowed in. The chain that keeps my wallet from slipping out of my pocket while riding the motorcycle is apparently considered dangerous. So there I stood with my letter from Homeland Security clearing me to bring a foreign child in to my heart, home and country but my wallet wasn't allowed in the courthouse. It kinda struck me as funny.

So my wallet got to hang out with the nice security guards out front while we went inside. $2 and one rubber stamp later we were on our way to the Secretary of State's office (after I reclaimed my wallet). After a trip back to the car to get Laura's license so she could get in to the building, we made it to the 11th floor to get that final state seal we needed. $10, a cover letter and a fancy blue folder later and we were done for the day!

I dropped Jackie Bauer (Laura) back at CTU (GA Tech) so she could continue to fight crime (coordinate classes) and I continued my journey on to the UPS store. 3 sets of copies had to be made - no problem once I got the stupid machine to recognize the paper as 8.5x11 instead of A4. I don't even know what A4 means. Sounds like BattleShip. Got everything the way it needed to be (these consulates are pretty particular) and paid for the next day delivery. The pleasant young lady at the counter assured me "it's there tomorrow or your shipping charges are refunded." Well guess what UPS - I'll be watching you. We're watching all the pennies these days - so I'll be watching you and hoping for a flat tire on that brown truck.

So that's where we stand. Our package is GUARANTEED to be at the Houston Consulate by 3:00 PM tomorrow. As soon as it is back I make a few more copies and turn it in to CCAI - and at that point our dossier is 100% out of our hands and in to the critical review process.

Friday, February 9, 2007

2 Hours Later

Okay - so now I feel bad about that little "Thanks GA" comment I made down there - because when I ran down to the mailbox today - guess what was there? That's right - a non-descript plain white envelope from the Homeland Security office with our coveted 797 form!! WooHoo!! Monday I will run that sucker to the offices it needs to go to here in GA and we'll get it shipped out to Houston!!

China Dossier Done (minus the 171)

Wow - we are going to be turning in our Dossier to CCAI next Tuesday - minus the 171H (Thanks GA - we love ya). It's a little overwhleming to think about tracking all that paperwork down and getting it all sealed - but it feels really good to be getting ready to hand that part off. Check out the package below...