Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ring Pop!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Here I Come!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Intensity


With looks this intense you would think one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse had just trotted in to our living room - but no... it was only this:


Meron has seen it 3,762,293 times. This was Laura's first time. Both were equally sucked in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

She Healed My Heart


Laura's mom is one cool person. Better known around here as "Granny" - she has always been so supportive of everything we have tried to do. And she loves the heck out of her grandkids.

Since the beginning of the year she has done a daily devotional - she actually writes it (she's a great writer) and sends it out to a list of people and she hasn't missed a day yet.

On Saturday, her study was around Romans 8:22-39 and she talked about a time of sorrow in our lives when she was at a loss as to how to pray for us. It was during this time, when we lost our boy Brighton, that the Holy Spirit interceded on her behalf - knowing her heart and taking her hearts prayers to God for her.

Laura's response to that particular email was awesome. It's below and I love her for her honesty, transparency and open heart around this sensitive subject. I believe it's partially how we heal.

"I am just reading yesterday's devotion today, and am moved to tears. I am so thankful for the story God has unfolded in mine and Tymm's life. I can honestly say that I am thankful we did not conceive, God removed our desires and replaced them with broken hearts for the orphans and the poor. We are honored to be the parents of a former orphan. We wish every person could feel the joy of adoption.

All of you, have been incredibly supportive of "Brighton Their World" and God's mission through us to bring food and comfort to the most vulnerable of this world. I was able to hold, kiss and even feed one of His most precious while in Ethiopia 3 weeks ago. I will never forget that little girl's face and the healing she brought me while I fed her. I was never able to hold Brighton, cuddle him, kiss him and tell him about God's promises and love. God was giving me my chance to give this to another baby on my very first day in my favorite country in the world.

I most likely will never know what will come of her life, but I do know, that her chances are not good for physical survival. See, this little baby not only has no mommy and daddy, but she is HIV+. At 2 months old, she is struggling to live.

As I held her, with tears pouring down my face, I told her how God loves her, how she is the daughter of the King and He is enthralled with her beauty. When I laid her down in her bed and I told her again how much Jesus loves her...her eyes met mine and seemed to say, "I know."

Right there in that moment, in the infant room of that orphanage, Jesus made His presence known. I cradled His tiniest and weakest...and she healed my heart."

I am heading back to Ethiopia (and Rwanda!) in December - and the awesome teammate of Laura's that went with her to visit Brighton's grave is coming on my team too and she has already offered to help me get there to visit.

Thank God for healing in ways like this - ways we would never imagine. God's ways are so different than anything we could ever dream up. That's kinda why He's God and we're... well, we're not.

And things just wouldn't be right without a dose of Meron - so here she is with her Granny...

Thanks Granny for always supporting us, loving us, praying for us and being one heck of a good model for us all!

Monday, July 26, 2010

6 Months of Praying


Today marks our 6 month anniversary of getting on the wait list to bring home LH3. It's been 6 months of praying and finding peace in God as we wait for Him to bring the newest Hoffman to a house that is very excited to have her.


Meron is doing great with the idea of it so far - she gets pretty excited when we talk about her. Though... it may be because she has some weird preconceptions of what is going to be happening.

When you ask her where her baby sister is and what is she doing, she responds:

"In Africa! Packing up my toys to bring to me!"
We are trying to be still and let God be God - but we are super anxious to meet you LH3!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cute As A Button


New jammies. Grainy picture. Really cute subject!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Milo!


Meron's buddy Milo celebrated birthday #3 today - we love this guy!


Meron and Mommy go walking with Milo and his Mommy every week and Meron just adores him. And no - it's not strictly cuz he's a Yankees fan (though it helps!).


At one point I tried to get Meron to point to the back of Milo's shirt since it said "Jeter" and had his #2 on there - instead she tried to push Spuds Lightyear up his shirt. Sorry Milo - she can be a weirdo!


Milo's best gift of the afternoon? All the ladies to himself! No other little guys meant Milo had his own little "Bachelor" show going on!

Hope you had a HAPPY BIRTHDAY Milo! It was a blessing to hang with ya on your special day - we plan on celebrating many many more with you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thank You So Much For Saving Us


Tonight as Meron was wrapping up her prayer before bedtime, she added in a little something she has yet to say. She had already prayed for her cousins and family and talked to God about her baby sister in Africa, when she said this:

"And thank you so much for saving us. In Jesus name. Amen."
I know, I know. She's modeling what she sees and hears in us... or is she?

Several times she has modeled to us what a child's simple and beautiful relationship with God is like. She taught me about God's love and faithfulness. She shared with me God's heart and plan for the least of His. And tonight she reminded us just how much God loves children.

Not the allegorical, symbolical children of you and me as adult "children" of God. But actual children. Kids. Young ones.

Matthew 18:1-6 says this:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Kinda sums it up, no? God loves kids. God cares about kids in a great way. He cares about their future and how they are led.

And I also believe He hears them and speaks to them loudly and clearly. Their young minds have less "world time" which makes for a clearer, more open path for God's simple truths to come through.

My prayer tonight is a simple echo of my clear-minded daughter's prayer: "Thank you so much for saving us."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Birds of a Feather...


I don't think words can really convey the love Meron has for her cousins. She LOVES them.

But with her cousin Will... it moves past love and heads straight towards obsession. I mean - in the interest of full disclosure - I should state that he is, indeed, the "child whisperer."

Kids LOVE him.

Is it the flat-billed baseball cap, slightly tilted? Maybe. Is it the fact that he's a Yankees fan? Probably. Or is it the fact that he has a zest for life and is just one crazy, fun dude? Most likely.

Whatever it is, Will - we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being such a good friend to Meron - we know it can get crazy sometimes but you just keep on loving her - and we love ya for it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Heart Is In Korah


Hello, friends...
I want to thank each one of you for your thoughts and prayers while I was in Africa. My biggest prayer was for God to open my eyes to anything He wanted me to see more clearly. He surely did that...

I come home with a, once again, crushed heart for not only the orphans of Africa, but for the poorest of the poor in Ethiopia. As you know, we spent two days in Korah. My life will never be the same.

Let me tell you a few facts about Korah:

  • Korah in Amharic means "cursed".
  • 75 years ago the Ethiopian government moved everyone with leprosy to this area of Addis Ababa.
  • Approximately 100,000 people live in the slums of Korah - the "outcasts" of society.
  • The city dump is located in Korah.
  • The people, both adults and children, spend their days digging through the dump searching for anything to eat or sell.
  • God is alive and well in Korah thanks to Pastor Sammy Liben and Project 61 Ministries. They have started an education sponsorship program for the children of Korah.
From the smell of the mountains of trash, to the feel of the mud between my toes, to the tiniest of hands slipping into mine as I walked down the mud filled streets, to the desperate cries of a woman who just lost her husband to AIDS and she is now dying, too, while her 3 children watch... God is in Korah -- and so is my heart.

Just recalling these things, tears sting my eyes - not because I feel sorry for these people - but because I feel sorry for us. You see, in Korah, children dig through the trash for food, they live in shacks smaller than my cube at work with dirt floors and no beds, there are widows, orphans, and the poor and needy, but yet there is joy on many of the faces. Joy that most Americans do not possess. Why is that? We are so caught up in our material "needs" and dreams of a "richer" life, yet we have no joy.


Here is one brief encounter I had in Korah. We went on a few home visits. When I say "home", I am talking 5x7 shacks with dirt floors, no electricity, no beds, no running water - just a small box, basically. We walked through the gate of one area where there were a few of these homes. The mud so thick that my shoes were sinking with each step. Children were running up to me, grabbing my hands, hugging me, smiling, laughing, and wanting their picture taken.


When I walked in, sitting on the ground was a man and a woman. A small child sat in the woman's lap. The man was shaving his wife's head. She was clearly sick and he was caring for her the best way he could. I stopped, motioned to ask them if I could take their picture. I snapped the picture and showed them. Their laughter was contagious. Their smiles infectious. I could not help but laugh too, and telling them over and over how beautiful they are. They loved seeing their pictures -- and in the midst of a dark moment in this woman's life, they found joy in each other when looking at their picture. I have not been able to get them out of my head since that day. Their love was so evident for each other. I am praying for this family...


God literally took me to one of the poorest places on earth, only to show me some of His greatest riches - the "least" of these. Oh, how He loves them... and Jesus says that someday the least shall be first! I am excited to see the day when that happens. When the people of Korah will be first in line with their King.

As I walked through Korah and reflect on it now, I am reminded of Psalms 40:1-3
"I waited patiently for the LORD;
              he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
              out of the mud and mire;
              he set my feet on a rock
              and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
              a hymn of praise to our God.
              Many will see and fear
              and put their trust in the LORD."
May God hear the cries at Korah and lift them up... thank you for letting me share.

Please consider sponsoring one of the beautiful children of Korah. Go to www.p61.org for more info or post your questions here.

More to come, I promise. I have so much to process. My heart and soul are turned upside down.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

Meron and her cousins Ansley and Will got to experience their first ever major league baseball game today. It's a shame it wasn't the Yankees - but it was a game nonetheless!


We had a long day that was church - straight home to change and head back out. "Napping" was not part of our schedule. She started out strong...


But caved pretty quick on a full belly and hot humid air...

After a short nap she was rejuvenated and ready to have fun again.

It was a great first game for anybody full of a ton of hits, multiple home-runs, a grand slam and great weather. Thanks Mathii for the great suggestion!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Get Well Soon!

Ms. Jacqueline is our favorite Publix baker. She is so kind to us all the time and is always ready with a hug, a kiss and not one, but TWO cookies for Meron. It's always a treat to see her.

So when we found out she was having surgery and wouldn't be back until September... we were bummed! And then Meron decided she wanted to make her a get well card.

So we colored and drew for a while...

Until we were happy with the outcome.

Then we took it up to our Publix so they could make sure it got to her. We miss you a ton Ms. Jacqueline - please get better soon!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Family Visit Round #2


Some of our favorite people are coming in to town for a visit. Camp Hoffman is one of their first stops.

Meron is SUPER EXCITED...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Girl After Daddy's Heart

Meron and Daddy are gonna ride the Baja 1000 some time in our lives. I just know we are!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wet and Wild!

I swear - we need to do a check for gills on this girl! She LOVES to swim. Tonight we hung out with our good friends Chad, Shera, Indie, Cooper and Aven.


Swimming. Pizza. More swimming. Splashing. Jumping. Yelling.

Tons of fun! Thanks guys for the invite!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oceans of Justice


Can you imagine Jesus visiting your church on any given Sunday and then filling out a comment card to drop in the offering bucket? Would it look like this?

If I had written this you best believe people would be all over me - calling me out, telling me to leave the church alone. Quit being so judgmental. Quit being so crazy. Quit being so radical.

Luckily, Amos, the first biblical prophet whose words were ever recorded in a book said it before I could. Whew.

Check it out: Amos Speaks God's Truth! He dropped this knowledge in like 750 BC - and it's still relevant today. Talk about a timeless statement. Amos was bringing it!

What are you doing to bring about oceans of justice? What about rivers of fairness?

Wii With Will


Meron adores her cousin Will and couldn't get enough "hang time" with him - hopefully he enjoyed it as much as she did (if that's possible!)...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reunited and it Feels So Good!

Saturday Laura was tired. I was tired. Clay and Peanut were even tired. Only one not tired in the house...? MERON. We packed up and headed for a little 2.5 mile walk on the trails to try to wake us up or tire her out. I don't think either worked.

But we did manage to try out some goofy faces. Yep - family is back together!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 14: Mommy on a Mission



First off - I want to thank each and everyone of you guys for the prayers, for the financial support, for letting your hearts be moved to support a child living in a dump and for just being all around cool people! This whole thing could not have been pulled off without the incredible support we have - we owe a LOT to you guys. So thank you!

"I DIDN'T SHUT MY EYES..."
Yesterday morning almost right after I dropped Meron off at school I got a phone call from Laura - she was in DC!! Woo hoo! That whole "over the ocean for a long long time" part was over! She had a pretty good layover there but they had a lot to do with clearing customs and rechecking baggage - not to mention some pretty teary goodbyes to some team members that would be flying elsewhere from there. I headed back home and tried to squeeze a days worth of work into about 4 hours - needless to say the morning FLEW by for me.

On the way to pick up Meron I grabbed some balloons (Meron's request) and then swung by her school. Kalesha had hooked me up AGAIN with a some tight braids that looked awesome. Meron looked a little sleepy since I had to come get her while they were napping. Her awesome teacher, Ms. Patsy, had brought her a drink and some fruit chews for the ride to the airport. In the car I asked Meron "Did you take a nap?" and her response was the sweetest thing ever. She said:

"I didn't shut my eyes because I was too cited to see my mommy..."
I absolutely love this girl's heart! So we cruised on over to the airport - when we were about 5 minutes from the parking lot we got a text from Laura saying they had just landed. Perfect timing. We grabbed our balloons and headed to wait at the top of the escalators. Of course - as luck would have it - while we were crouched down waiting at the top, Meron whispered in my ear "I have to go pee pee!" - so off we ran - me toting my camera, 4 balloons and my daughter. As we did the deed (with Meron trying to peek under the stall at the DUDE next to us) my phone rang - Laura was at baggage claim!

We headed out of the restroom and took about 10 steps before we saw a teary-eyed Laura heading our way. Meron broke in to a HUGE smile and said "Mommy!" and just reached for her. It was beautiful. She literally leaped in to Laura's arms and she cupped Laura's cheeks with both hands and just gazed into her eyes. It was an awesome site and privilege to watch these two be reunited!

After grabbing Laura's luggage and saying a few goodbyes we were out! We went home, dropped luggage and headed to Christian Chicken. The day before Meron had said to me "Daddy - when my mommy comes home can I go to Chick Fil A with my mommy and my daddy?" How do you deny that? When we got home - all I really wanted to do was look at some of Laura's pictures on the TV - but God must be preparing us for other things - our electricity went out at 8:00 and was out until well past midnight. So we all crashed early. I think I heard the house exhale a sigh of relief! This old house was a home again - mommy was back with us!

ADESSE UPDATE
First off - you guys are an incredibly generous bunch of warriors! After today's mail delivery we are past 3 years of sponsorship and quickly heading towards 4! What a blessing to see the hearts of you guys and to be a tiny little part of helping facilitate getting a young girl out of a terrible situation. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Now the funny part - I knew at the beginning I was slaughtering her name (which is terrible but I wanted to get her story out to you guys ASAP)... so I *think* I have her name now - I am going to blame a crazy delay on the phone call when Laura and I talked - but her name is Ababhjila. I am pretty sure that is correct. If I am wrong again I will let you know!! I have seen her gorgeous picture and as soon as we confirm everything and get things rolling - we will share everything we can! Your generosity is going to change a life. Marinate on that for a second when you're falling asleep tonight! That's BIG!


ON THE HOMEFRONT
Ya know what - all is good here! We're tired. We're weary. We're all emotionally spent and trying to figure out what's next. But we are healthy, happy and blessed beyond measure.

If I've said it once, I have said it a billion times - YOU GUYS ARE INCREDIBLE. We're thankful beyond words to have you in our life. God bless all of you.