Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mission Trip: Day #3


Today we arrive in Kigali, Rwanda after a brief layover in Ethiopia. We'll be meeting up with Jane (our guide), checking in to our hotel, resting a bit after a LONG journey and then having a team dinner with our friend Jean Claude where we will get to hear his story

Our prayers?

  • rested bodies and minds
  • easy transfer in Ethiopia
  • no problems with customs in Rwanda
  • health (long travel can wear ya down)
  • Spirit-filled fellowship at dinner as we prepare for the days ahead
Thank you so much for coming on this trip with us through the most important part of it all - PRAYER.

THEY WILL KNOW US BY OUR LOVE.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mission Trip: Day #2


Today is the big travel day. We all convene as a team on Dulles aiport in Washington D.C. for an 11:15 a.m. flight to Addis Ababba.

Our prayers?

  • Safe travels for this LONG flight
  • All luggage makes it with no issues or extra charges (we've already been hit by this one)
  • divine interruptions with those who cross our paths
  • Continued strengthening of ur hearts and minds
Thank you so much for coming on this trip with us through the most important part of it all - PRAYER.

THEY WILL KNOW US BY OUR LOVE.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mission Trip: Day #1


For the first time since we went to bring Meron home - Laura and I will be stepping foot back on African soil together... this time - to lead a short term team of 28 people to Rwanda and Ethiopia. We've been blessed to have everything fall in place with the girls hanging with granny, good friends staying at our house and time off from work.

So - if you're the praying type - we'll have our itinerary here for each day and you can help us pray this thing into success!

DAY 1
Today kicks off with 10 of the team members making their way to Washington D.C. Ethiopian airlines flies out of Dulles airport and some team member's domestic flights couldn't get them there the day of the flight in time - so we get to spend an evening together before we head out in the morning.

Our prayers?

  • Safe travels for those making their way to D.C.
  • All luggage makes it with no issues or extra charges
  • Great bonding evening for those team members who are together
  • Peaceful evening for those other team members finishing up packing and telling those they love goodbye
  • For God to already be working in the hearts of not only the team members but also all of the individuals we will interact with during our short time in Africa.
Thank you so much for coming on this trip with us through the most important part of the trip - PRAYER.

THEY WILL KNOW US BY OUR LOVE.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hanging With My Girls


Had a strong day of hanging with my girls today - from Chick Fil A to Yogli - we hit all our favorite spots and then acted totally goofy right up til lights out.

Gonna miss them HARD the next few days...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sleepover


My sleepover buddy for the night...

It's a rare, rare, rare thing for this to happen (her crashing with us) - but since we're gonna be apart for a while here - it was way worth it.

Sleepover in her room... best thing ever.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Afternoon Jet Fuel


Today one of my co-worker friends sent home two of his delicious birthday cupcakes for the girls.

Super nice of him. Also... super evil.

Those things were super rich, super sweet and super delicious. It was like putting jet fuel in a moped and redlining that thing for a few hours.

10:15... they finally went to bed.

Thanks Michael. Your generosity exhausted me!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now Playing...


There is NEVER a shortage of "shows" around this place...


I mean - it's pretty much a daily thing.


Meron rocking out on the guitar...


Mebrate throwing down some crazy dance moves. Or vice versa...


Truth be told though... I'm a season ticket holder. And I attend every show.

Wouldn't have it any other way. Keep on rockin' girls!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crazy Fits Right In With Crazy


We had the honor and the privilege last week to play host to a super cool family that we absolutely adore. We were able to break bread with them, chat, watch the kids immediately get along and play and just be real with each other.

There's something about hanging out with like-minded people that is refreshing and simple. Our only beef is that it simply wasn't long enough. Before we knew it, they were out the door on the way to get some rest before heading up north to their home.

These guys are so much like us - totally wish we lived closer - I know we would be doing life together...

Thanks guys for the excellent visit!


See what I mean? Crazy fits right in with crazy! For sure...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rite Of Passage

I feel like we had one tonight. A rite of passage. Bath time came around and Meron convinced me to let this happen...

Her first "by herself, all alone" shower. I felt like she grew up 20 years in one fell swoop.

The only saving grace? The entire time I was peppered from the inside of the closed shower stall with questions like:

"What do I do?"
"Just stand under the water, lather up, rinse, repeat..."
"What does 'repeat' mean?"
"Do it again."
"It's getting in my eyes!"
"Keep 'em shut or don't look right at it!"
"What if I slip and fall?"
"Just hold on to the rail and be super careful... you got this..."
"I'm taking a big girl shower!"
"I know girl - Daddy is super proud of you!"
"Daddy. Don't go anywhere. You stay right there."
"I'm not going anywhere Meron...

And she did it. She lathered up, rinsed, repeated. Shut the water off, got all dried off by herself. She went and got all "big girl" on me for a second.

This is far from the new bath time routine though. Mainly because I love giving the girls their baths. Even if we speed through them at the speed of light - I LOVE that time to bond with them and take care of them.

But tonight - I let that go. And it was was well worth it to see the joy on her little face as she grew up for a split second.

Lather, rinse, repeat, Meron. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

One Of Those Days


Today was one of those days man... I could go into detail, but let's just summarize it with some old school Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince lyrics:

"Have you ever in your life experienced a day,
where nothing at all seems to go your way?

No matter how hard you try to get out of the rut,
you just could not break the string of bad luck;

A day where Murphy's law takes over your life,
and you just can't seem to do a darn thing right

And when the day was over you just had to say,
you said man it's just one of those days"
Yep. That was today.

Broken down cars, no way to work, tow trucks, throw up... yep. No fun.

But God's still on His throne. And I'm still stupid blessed.

Looking forward to tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sharpie Pride


If you can ignore the fingerprint smudges on our TV in the background for a second and focus in on Meron's choice of neckwear for the day... you will see a miniature pink Sharpie on a string.

If you know me - you KNOW this makes me beam with pride!

Rock the Sharpie girl. ROCK THE SHARPIE!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prayer Matters

I know I posted about the awesome outpouring of formula and love yesterday from a local church - but our friend Kelly, who goes to that church, sent us this pic tonight (which I didn't even know was taken) and I wanna cement this memory for us so bear with me...


After all 3 services were over and the sanctuary was emptied, we went back in to load up the formula. But I was really adamant about praying over it as a family so we circled up and put our hands on it...

Meron wanted to know:

"Why do we have to put our hands on it?"
"Because we want to call on God in us and ask Him to bless this stuff," I responded.

That seemed to suffice because they proceeded to rattle off some of the most beautiful prayers ever for safety, for the babies in Africa and good ole Mebrate even prayed for a "bigger car to carry it all."

Thanks Kelly - for capturing this moment for us. I LOVE that God gives us opportunities to grow with our children like this. In our household - we pray a lot.

Cuz prayer matters.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Big Fat Pile of Blessings


We had the privilege of spending Father's Day at a church in our own backyard that has come up beside us and just gone nuts in support of what we try to do.

They raised a bunch of money. And collected a bunch of formula. And we are humbled and grateful. Thank you SO MUCH First Baptist Church of Powder Springs.

You guys are saving lives...

P.S. - watching the girls pray over this formula - for it's safe delivery - for the babies who would receive it - and giving thanks for it... well, that was possibly the best thing these ears and eyes have heard and seen in a long time.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Things of Today

Here are just a few things from today that reassured my "daddy" status around these parts:

  • door flung open an hour before alarm set to go off - little feet clamored in and climbed into bed, kicking me like 6x in the process
  • wiped butts and noses - multiple times...
  • got RUNNING HUGS from 2 awesome girls and the drawing below:

  • got K-cups and a new shirt... in a princess gift bag!
  • got ridiculous amounts of kisses, smiles and hugs...
  • multiple "I love you daddy!" and "Happy Father's Day daddy!" secrets whispered in my ears...
  • got this little note:

  • stood before a church congregation and tried to control my emotions while thanking them for their abundance of generosity - while being encouraged by Mebrate - whom I was holding...
  • did the same thing at the next service - this time holding Meron...
  • held hands with my girls as they prayed REAL PRAYERS over the formula provided by that church - prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for safe delivery of it.
  • took ALL 3 of my girls for a ride in the trailer on the John Deere through the neighborhood! Yee Haw!
  • Thought about Brighton. A lot.
  • Exhausted - I skipped our sunday nap to run to the store to get some medicine for the girls - the allergies were kicking!
  • watched my girls play their little hearts out with some like-minded friends in for a visit...
  • put on pajamas and tucked in sleepy little heads...

I wouldn't trade a SECOND of it. I am blessed beyond measure and made into a better man, daddy, husband and person because of these kids.

Thankful. Just thankful...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Some Friends


Sometimes we have friends that we don't get to see for a real long time.

Then we see them again. And it's like no time has passed at all (except for magically growing kids)...

We had dinner with some of those friends tonight - thanks guys for the visit!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Three Amigos


It wasn't always this way. But they're a solid gang now...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Day The Healing Started

4 years ago today my best friend in the world and I got on a plane and headed to Ethiopia. We had a lot of baggage - and it wasn't all suitcases.

We were hurting. After a few tumultuous years - we were just beat down and our hearts felt broken. A few things had gotten a good grip on us.

Things like infertility. An insane slowdown in adoptions from China (where our paperwork was sitting). Things like our son dying before we could get him home from Africa.

We got off the plane excited but nervous. Confident but terrified. Happy but broken. We went directly to visit Brighton's grave and had our hearts shredded in person. That was tough. Super tough.

Then we drove a short distance to an overcrowded orphanage and with little to no pomp or circumstance a nanny wandered in and handed us... MERON!


It was as if God had placed an IV directly into our hearts as we coud literally feel ourselves starting to heal. He had been behind us all along - hadn't He? He had our backs... He knew what He was about to do when He had positioned this whole thing. And now we knew it.

He had given us Meron when we needed her most and He gave her us when she needed us most. That's what we always tell her!


We became a family INSTANTLY! And from that day forward an incredible healing took place (and still is) in our hearts. We grew stronger as a family, in our marriage, in our relationship with God. We grew confident in Him. He had shown His faith and love to us and we couldn't shut up about it.

Today - we celebrated. We spent a LOT of time hugging that girl, telling her about her "gotcha day" and showing her tons of pictures. We had us some Christian chicken for lunch and some awesome friends who were there and knew what this day was treated the girls to some ice cream. Meron was starting to dig this day. A lot.

I even got the opportunity to talk to her seriosuly about the reality of her in our lives - about the hurt her mommy and daddy had in their hearts and how God used her to heal it. I actually think she undestood some of it too...


We capped the night off with a Yogli Mogli visit - cuz honestly - it's not a celebration without some Yogli... and before we dug in to our yogurt, Mebrate prayed this precious prayer:

"God... i just wanna thank you for my family and for my mommy and daddy coming to Africa to pick me up and pick up Meron. And I wanna thank you for Meron's gotcha day too. And mine coming soon. In Jesus name. Amen."
Amen is right Mebbie. Amen is right.


Meron - you were a light when we desperately needed light in our dark and broken world. And you haven't stopped shining since...

WE LOVE YOU BABY GIRL!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Carnival Rockstars


The girls are having a blast at our church's VBS this week called "Carnival."

Today - they went as "rockstars" according to Meron.

Lil' posers...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Adjusting


You'd be hard pressed to know that less than a year ago she was living in an orphanage.

God's done great work in her (and us). She's adjusting...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Georgia Lost Some Good Ones

Let me tell ya a little story - about this really cool family we had "met" online and loved - they had the best attitude and we're always upbeat and funny. Then - to our surprise - they moved to GA!

We hung out and frolicked in the sun, splashing in kiddie pools and enjoying lime and grape freeze pops together...

Awesome isn't it? Except... wait... none of that happened. Well - they did move to GA. See...?


But then us - in our awesomely stupid busy and lazy splendor - never took the time to hang out, have fun, connect, break bread. All the stuff we SHOULD have done.


We missed out on these two - who look like they could be long lost relatives - getting to know each other better.


We missed out on great photo opportunities like this...

But mostly - we missed out on an incredible opportunity to cultivate a friendship with some people I KNOW we would have gotten along perfectly with.

Guys - it goes without saying we totally regret not making this connection earlier - like NOT 10 days before you leave to go back to Washington state.

But here's where I am gonna live on this one - God is sovereign and way bigger than us - and I believe we met online and in person for a reason. So find a Sugar Shack equivalent in Seattle cuz we're coming for a visit (preferably when I can do some snowboarding!)...


Teabo Tribe - thanks for being a really cool, really down-to-earth example of God's love. We mean this... we're gonna miss ya.

Georgia is losing some good ones in the next few weeks.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Blessed Daddy


It was date night. Me. My oldest girl. Dinner. And a movie. And we were pumped.

I mean seriously - it doesn't get much better than dinner conversation with a wacko 4 year old and a long awaited showing of "Polka Dot, Polka Dot, Polka Dot Afro!" (as Meron thought the movie was called).


I wanna spoil her. Open doors for her. Treat her like a lady. Talk to her. Listen to her. Respect her and appreciate her. Show her how it's done so in the end - when she's out in the real world she'll accept nothing less. Nothing short of what she deserves.

I go in to these date nights with all those intentions. And I pray like crazy that they stick...


But in the end - I think I am the one reaping all the benefits.

Trust me... it's not lost on me. I am one stupid-blessed daddy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Their Guys

Usually - when the girls crash on the couch for some rest time and a Doc McStuffins or something - they ask "Can we bring our guys?"

The answer is always "yes" and they come out with one or two stuffed animals.


Today was a LITTLE different.


Today - they brought 'em ALL...


Every last one of those guys I think...


Truth is... I love it as much as they do!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Still Got 'Em


Big Eyes - still alive and kickin'!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Twinkle Toes


Guess who started taking ballet? And wait... it ain't just one set of twinkle toes...


It's two sets.

As much as I would have LOVED for them to rock their Converse as their dance shoes - they had real ballet slippers. This was just their "get us there cuz it's raining" footwear.


Man - they couldn't be happier. Me either.

Their happiness is contagious around these parts...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh, I Got My Eye On You...


Yep... she does.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pink Flamingo


20 Years


20 years ago today - on a hot humid Georgia night - I walked across a stage on a football field and was handed my high school diploma. Woo hoo! My yahoo friends in GA and I gathered in a corner of the field and tossed our hats and made a bunch of noise. It was a night to celebrate and that was what I was planning on doing. I made it home to a house full of people... and that's when things changed.

There was a phone call for me - a friend in Pennsylvania. I was assuming it was one of my best friends calling to congratulate me. See - I had moved to GA my freshman year in high school. I then spent every summer in PA hanging with my friends there - we wrote letters, called, etc. Never lost touch. I had super great sets of best friends in both GA and PA. I knew their graduation was the next day and I figured that surely this was one of them calling to say "Congrats man! You did it!"

Except that it wasn't.

Rather it was a phone call ABOUT one of my very best friends, Tye. That's him in the picture the girls are holding up there.

It seemed Tye and his girlfriend Lisa had been in a wreck. A bad one. Coming back from getting clothes for graduation, they had been hit by a truck. Things weren't good. Both Tye and Lisa were in bad bad shape. My night of fun and excitement didn't matter any more. Things started slowly tipping upside down...

Tye and I had been the best of friends for a while. He lived right by my grandma - and I spent a lot of time there. When I'd get up early and not wanna be at my house - I'd pedal it down to Tye's and wake him up (that fool could sleep!).


We played baseball together. We rode motorcycles together. We ran in fear and panic from his brother together. He was as goofy as anybody i ever knew and one talented athlete to boot. But now... that night - things were going all wrong.

I remember being SO MAD at God - a God I didn't even acknowledge or care about - I had the nerve to be SO MAD at Him. One of my very best friends heard the news and came to the house that night. He had become a Christian a year or so earlier and we had't really hung out much since (I wasn't the best influence for him for sure...). But he was there. I remember that clearly.

The next few days were a blur. In a matter of a few days, I went from graduation euphoria to carrying my best friend's casket at his funeral. I watched my other best friends grow up over night - delivering incredible speeches at Tye's graveside. I will never, ever forget those few days as we just spent time remembering Tye and trying desperately to cling to some semblance of our childhood that seemed to have disappeared in a blink of the eye.

I spent a lot of time out at Tye's grave. It's a gorgeous stone, a beautiful plot, always perfectly maintained by his family. Something about the smell of the countryside, the silence, the peacefulness... it is always nice there.


20 years Tye. 20 incredibly long and incredibly short years. There's so much you would have been down with - so much we would have done together, I just know it. I'm a different dude now man... you might not even recognize me...

I told my girls about you this week. They would have LOVED you and I am pretty sure you would have dug them.

That picture the girls are holding up there - your dad sent that to me shortly after the funeral with some incredibly kind words written on it. It hangs in my office at home and honestly - not too many days pass where I don't glance at it and think about ya.

I never would have said it back then - while you were here - cuz I was a tough guy and all of that - but I love ya Tye. You were WAY more than a friend - you were a brother. I wish you were still here.

20 years gone. But not forgotten.