Thursday, February 28, 2013

Step By Step


Sooo... Laura has been a maniacal prayer warrior ever since she started reading this Circle Maker book. it's nuts, scary and extra cool all at once.

Well - last week she started praying with confidence - not asking God - but praying with confidence - that we WOULD be submitted to court on Friday of last week. She was certain it would happen - absolutely sure of it. Her prayer life has gotten that confident. Well - Friday came and went. And then so did the weekend and then this week started.

Then yesterday we got this email from our agency program director:

"I just wanted to let you all know that your case was filed with the Ethiopian Courts on February 22, 2013! We will now wait for a preliminary court date to be assigned. Exciting times... I’ll let you know as soon as I hear."
Yeah - you read it right - February 22 was last Friday. I was desperately trying to contact Laura but she was in a bible study - she had gotten the email on her phone and said the tears just started streaming (luckily the lights were out she said).

God hears us people. He WANTS to hear from us. And He confirms it time and time and time again. Why do we doubt Him? (i am asking myself that...)

To top it off - a couple hours later we heard from her again and they already had a preliminary court date assigned - April 17th, 2013. For those who aren't clear on this whole convoluted, drawn out process - let's just say the next step is in motion! Now we wait and pray...


We celebrate all of the steps... but we're ready to have this one behind us!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#1 Little Brother


Somebody is READY to have her brother home...

Some of our friends gave us an early gift of some cool clothes for him and this morning Meron said to me:

"Daddy - wanna see the clothes for my brother? You know... your son?"
It was the sweetest thing ever. She is excited. She then proceeded to hold all the clothes, comment on how soft they were and say "He's gonna love this!" to every piece.

Thanks guys for the super kind gifts! And thanks Meron - for the super sweet fashion show!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Outshining The Moon


It was getting dusk as we finished up our run the other night and I kept pointing the moon out to Mebbie as we skirted through the trees. It was big. And bright. And cool looking.

I tried to capture it but failed.... cuz I'm a poopy photographer.


But I did capture something BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL . Another one of God's awesome creations on display that night. And she made the moon seem dim in comparison.

Keep on shining Mebbie!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hoffman Shake


We do a ton of Hoffman Shaking 'round these parts!

Dance With Us!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Burpee Buddies


Today's workout came with some buddies (free of charge) - these two hit the football field with me for some good ole' exercise.

They toed the line with me and jumped right in as we started off with Burpees and then went to 100 yard sprints, crunches and push ups. And then repeat.

A few observations... Meron is REALLY fast. Mebbie is all about endurance. Exercise is more fun with these two.

Eventually Meron made her way to the bleachers under this excuse:

"You guys need somebody to cheer you on from way up there!"
But Mebbie... oh man... Mebbie. She stayed the course. More Burpees, more sprints... she was incredible.


This was the "after workout" picture... still smiling!

Next we ran Meron home to hang out with mommy and Mebbie hopped in the B.O.B. and let me push her four miles through the woods. Up and down hills. Over bumps. Past 37 deer (that was really cool).


Super thankful today for girls who wanna exercise with their dad - let's do it more often girls!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

God's Miracles


Laura said it best tonight during family prayer when she said:

"God, thank you for letting us hang out with one of your little miracles today..."
Our friends' little boy had to have brain surgery earlier this week. Yeah - you read that right... brain surgery. He had it Tuesday and was home yesterday. Medical capabilities never cease to amaze me.

The girls had been praying a lot for him and we were excited to take a meal and welcome them home today.

When we got there - he was outside with his family, dressed in a Batman outfit. Love it! By the time we were leaving he was rocking green and black striped pajama bottoms and a tool belt talking about:
"Check out my real tools! In my real tool box!"
In other words - he was just being a kid hanging out with other kids.

The girls had a bunch of questions tonight about it but mostly we were just praising God for neurosurgeons, medical zaniness and a family who chose to faithfully trust God and bring Him glory via their attitudes during a pretty scary time.

It was an honor and privilege to pray for you guys! Thank you for your passionate witness!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fear, Prayer and Our Protector


Last night we got the girls down and Laura and I actually stopped to talk to each other when this little bugger came running back in to our room with a fearful look on her face.

Laura scooped her up and after we peeled Meron's head outta Laura's shoulder we got her to tell us what was up. She said:

"Every time I close my eyes there's people coming out of the ground and trying to get me. I have to throw my animals at them..."
And she buried her head back in the shoulder. She was legitimately scared.

So we did what we do... we stopped, circled up and prayed. We prayed that God would protect her, give her peace, make her feel His comfort, know His love...

Then it was time to head back to her room - on the way - head still buried in Laura's neck, I said "Hey Meron - Genesis 26:24" and from her muffled spot I heard her recite:
"Fear not; for I am with thee..."
It's moments like this that I am SO glad we have started early tucking scripture away in her heart. She seemed comforted by it...

The we got to her room. Her bright pink, comfy room...


She pointed out the things that scared her (window, closet) and I walked the entire room praying over the whole thing - praying for security and safety and protection in the name of Jesus. I explained to her how safe she was and showed her the locks on the window. Then Laura prayed and Meron wanted to pray too - she prayed this simple but heartfelt prayer:
"God... thank you for protecting me. In Jesus name... amen."
I assured her I woud check on her many times and she managed to crash asleep in the next few minutes. I kept my promise and checked on her and prayed over her about 5 more times that night.

As I was winding up the night - I had an unsettled feeling. It stayed with me as I showered and prepped for the next day. I checked on her again - she was fine but I was still unsettled. It was only when I too prayed that I understood that feeling... God was translating for me. I truly felt like satan was yelling at us last night - telling us how much he hates our family. I wasn't scared of it - I felt like God just wanted us to know that.

And I guess I get it. We make no bones about where we find our hope. We know our Savior and we try desperately to bring Him glory whenever we can. We fight for the least of these and try to be a light wherever we can. We fail at it a lot. But I think we get close enough to right just enough to make satan hate us. And he is low enough to go after our kids' hearts and spirits.

But I won't have it. Not in our house. I don't mean to provoke him, but I also won't back down from him. So we prayed and prayed and we really drove home to Meron that she can come get us and she should if she is scared but she has the same power we do - the power of the risen Christ in her - to rebuke those scary feelings and surround herself with the armor of God.

And I think she is getting it. Today at nap time Laura told me she came back out and said:
"Mommy - can you come pray over my window again?"
Of course Laura did. And Meron slept like a baby.

We'll never stop praying Meron. Never...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Olympic Dreaming


Meron started a new gymnastics class not too long ago and she is LOVING it!

Getting prepped for 2024 Olympics...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Eats


The girls were caught brushing up on some traditional Ethiopian recipes for when little brother gets home!

Thanks Team Radicchi for the great books!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Smiles All Around


The circus with your Poppaw and Grandma Judy will do that!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Resilience


Meron took a little tumble over the weekend where she didn't get her hands down in time and instead used her face to catch her body.

Yeah. Ouch. There were some tears and some pain - but it was short-lived. And man - it just got me thinking about the resilience these kids display! I mean - she's 48 hours out from the fall and sure - she's showing some black and blue now - but dang if they don't heal almost magically.

If that was me I'd be nursing a grapefruit-sized egg on my noggin for days.

God's cool the way He built us.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How The Weekend Ends


Our weekend wrapped up Sunday night with these two cuties cheesin' for the camera...


And this one passed out on the floor in front of them!

Weekends with my crew are my absolute favorite thing ever!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Zechariah Yohannes


We wish like crazy we could introduce ya to our little guy's picture - cuz my man is super cool. But the least we can do is introduce ya to his name...

Zechariah Yohannes Hoffman. That's our dude. We can't wait til he's here for some good old fashioned Camp Hoffman group hugging.


I love his name. It has a couple meanings. One is "God has remembered." And we really feel like He did remember our desire for a son - what seems like forever ago now. But He remembers Brighton more than we do - even as we said we were open to whomever God had picked out for this family (boy or girl) - this crazy God of ours sent us a son. We love His details.

It is also John the Baptist's dad's name and I LOVE that he had a little chat with Gabriel back in the day:

"Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son... He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.'"
Another meaning (for Yohannes, a traditional Ethiopian name for several of their Emperors) is "God is gracious." And this we know to be true for sure...


The girls have his picture posted all over the place and have been praying for their brother by name now. Meron even has three of them taped to her door and she told us just today that she "kisses each one every time I leave the room."

Can't wait to hug ya homey! You are ALREADY a joy and a delight to many of us...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thriving


Sometimes things are cruising along so well we tend to forget how far we've come and how well our little children that we prayed so feverishly for are doing. Remember this picture? I do. I couldn't get her sad eyes out of my mind. And that's why we started praying like maniacs...


Look at this girl now. It's downright amazing. She is growing, learning, playing, loving... she is THRIVING.

Keep on thriving Mebbie! You wear "thriving" well baby girl!

We're all so proud of you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spreadin' The Love


Last weekend - with the help of Granny and mommy and Aunt Connie...


The girls made something like 100+ hand-made valentine cards.


Then - this morning - after a breakfast of heart-shaped chicken biscuits...


We headed to a local nursing home to hand them out to as many residents as we could!


The girls were incredible - and Mebbie was especially awesome. It was so cool to watch her pour her compassionate little heart out to each and every person she got to talk to. She'd look each of them right in the eyes and say "Happy Valentine's Day!" and then give them the sweetest hug ever.

I tell you people - the joy in the room was palpable.


We've been blessed to parent them - we get to experience them every single day and I TREASURE that. One of my favorite things to do is to share the joy that they are with others.

Thanks girls for literally being the hands, the feet and the SMILES of God today!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

She's a Thief


I don't know where she has it. Her pocket? In a shoe? Back of her closet? Under the couch? Under the bed? I dunno...

But she has my heart somewhere.

56 months ago to the day - she was placed in our arms like a Holy ointment to some hearts that were HURTING. And what'd she do? She went and stole it from me.

Today I met her and Mebbie and Laura at Target and she caught sight of me and came sprinting - all the way down an entire aisle and just threw herself into my arms screaming:

"DADDY!"
We did our spin and then scooped up her sister trailing right behind her. Then I shook her a bit - but my heart didn't fall out.

She's got it somewhere. And I can't think of a better keeper.

Daddy loves ya Meron!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thoughts and Prayers for Brother


To say the girls are excited about a baby brother is an understatement.

They can't wait!

Tonight they dropped some thoughts and prayers for their next little partner in crime...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rat-A-Tat-Tat


They disappeared in to the bathroom with those ominous words:

"Don't come in here daddy... it's a SURPRISE!"
Uh.... [GULP]. That always makes ya nervous.


They emerged about 10 minutes later with some fresh "ink" all over...


Even on the bottoms of the feet!


And they rocked 'em everywhere they went today... love my little TOUGH TATTED GIRLS!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

And All Was Right Again...


These two and their beautiful mommy got home tonight after being gone since THURSDAY MORNING! I didn't think it'd be a big deal but whoa - this house was way too quiet.

Tonight - as it filled back up with the sounds of giggling, running, playing - the smell of dinner cooking for a whole family and not some cold sandwich for myself - the sight of Clay Bear trying to hide from two teasing monsters that he secretly missed a TON... I realized how ridiculously rich I am. Beyond measure, people.

Thank you God for safe travels and bringing this house back to life tonight.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Come Home!


Clay Bear misses ya girls! He says I don't play with him enough and for you guys to COME HOME!

A few days with the girls not around makes for deep conversations with the dog...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bathing Him In It


Prayer. We believe in it 'round these parts. Got lots of stories to validate that belief...

It's nice to have two more crazy powerful prayer warriors in the house this time around to bathe LH4 in it with us. We won't stop little man. We won't stop.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Giddy


They haven't stopped smiling since last Friday!

Get ready to make some room in there for a brother girls!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thank God It's a Boy!


Cuz that right there folks... that right there is one week of clothes from two girls...


And it exhausts this mommy. It wipes her out... I mean - look at her! About 30 seconds after this picture she passed out face down in a freshly folded pile of underwear. She's spent!


But that ain't stopping these two crazies from changing outfits a couple times a day!

So for mommy's sake... Thank You God... for bringing us a boy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

His People


We've been blessed to be part of small but growing group over the past year that is focused on praying for, advocating for and getting involved in orphan care, adoption and the families in the process. We meet monthly and pray, share stories, challenges and anything else that can help each other along the way. Tonight - these guys and many more blessed us immensely.


First off - there were balloons! In Ethiopia's flag colors! Ask Meron - that's considered a blessing people!

We kicked the meeting off getting to share what God has been up to the past few days and then we got to share LH4's pictures with everybody.


That's cool and all - but then - well then His people did what we have come to see as one of our favorite things to do. This group circled up around us and prayed their guts out for us. They dropped incredibly awesome, heart-felt, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led prayers for us as a family, for our son in Ethiopia, for his losses, for his heart, for the process, for the caregivers and for everybody and everything involved.

You guys simply don't know how much we needed this, how much we cherished this and how much it meant to us. Thank you 1,000x over.


And thanks to our good buddy Sophs - we got our first ever "full family portrait." Thank you so much friend!

Prayer matters people. Surround yourself with people who are willing to do it with you. It's a game changer.


live in the metro-Atlanta area and have a heart that wants to get involved with adoption and orphans and widow care? Come check out A.C.T. 24:14 on Facebook and we'd LOVE to have ya at the next meeting!

Monday, February 4, 2013

How The Walls Came Tumbling Down

okay - here's what went down around these parts over the last couple weeks that culminated in us staring at our son's awesome little face over the weekend! sorry - it may run a little long - but we don't wanna forget it - cuz God is nutty!


About 3 weeks ago an opportunity started to kinda take shape for our family. On paper - this opportunity was AWESOME. Heck - in words and on paper and everything in between it seemed AWESOME.

And last Tuesday it all came to a head with a phone call - we were looking at a job offer for a Director Level position at Wheaton College. Do I need to mention that is a super reputable spot? Cold? Yes, but super reputable nonetheless. So here we sat on a Tuesday - some of the most indecisive people you'll ever meet - with Wheaton needing an answer by Friday.



We did the only thing we know to do in these kind of moments. We prayed our faces off. We reached out to our real-deal prayer warriors and got them praying for us. Laura had just started an awesome book about prayer called "The Circle Maker" and it seemed we had found our current Jericho. Her friend Tamara, who was doing the study with her, told her she "needed to pray like her life depended on it." So we gathered up the wagons and started circling our Jericho. I ain't gonna lie - it got ugly at times.

There were tears. There was begging God for discernment and clarity. There was fear. Lots and lots of fear. We were waffling back and forth like a couple of politicians with our feet held to the fire. One minute we were all in - next minute there was no way we could pick up and move 750 miles away from our friends and everything else that was comfortable to us. How would we afford two mortgage payments if our house didn't sell? We told God we were gonna make sure He knew it was up to Him - but He was still being silent. And Friday was fast approaching.

We were getting sick over this decision. Literally. One doctor's appointment later for dizzy spells and shortness of breath determined our anxiety was high. We needed to land somewhere and we needed to feel right about it. As we waffled around like some flip-floppity pancakes - one thing kept coming back to mind. While visiting Wheaton we were asked, "What would stop you from coming here?" and with zero hesitation the answer was a resounding:
"If it would disrupt our adoption in any way that would stop us..."
Laura had already reached out to our agency to see what this would mean. What impact would a cross-country move have on us? We knew we'd have to shell out some cash for homestudy updates and stuff - but what else was at play? Truthfully - our paperwork had JUST made it to Ethiopia like 3 weeks ago so the way we saw it we had TONS of time to figure it all out. Our agency said they would let us know by Friday what the impact would be.

Thursday night I went for a 7.5 mile run in the HARD down-pouring rain. No headphones. Just me, my mind, God and the rain. I needed it. I needed Him to wash over me. I came home feeling super confident in Him.

Friday morning came. Decision day. We were feeling good. We still had to see how this would impact the adoption but we felt good. Laura headed to the YMCA and hopped on the same elliptical she had used the day before - but for some strange reason the TV wasn't working. She told me she felt God saying He wanted to spend time with her so she exercised to Pandora's Passion City Worship station and prayed her mind out. She scooped up the girls early and headed out to take the call from our agency while she was driving. Our agency was late calling and she ended up in a Target parking lot to take the call. God has something with parking lots and us... but He had started to make some noise and break His silence.

Skip over to me now - at work and my cell phone rings. It's Laura and she says
"Hey - they wanna do a conference call with you and me and the Director of the program."
I'm thinking - geesh, the director? This must be a bigger deal than I thought. And I was also thinking "can't they just tell you? why do they need me to be on the conference call too?"

Five minutes later my phone rings and I am on the call with Laura and the director and we hear:
"I have a little wrench to throw in to your decision... last night a referral came in for you guys."
I am certain she said a whole lot of other things but I could barely hear her for the walls that were coming crashing down around me. Here it was - Friday - the decision day - we had decided in faith to move forward with this massively scarey thing but had to see if it would impede our adoption and God shows up at the last second. RIGHT. ON. TIME.

And the beauty of it all - to make sure He left us no room to wiggle - God used something He has used to communicate to us as a family for some time now and the very same thing He used to save us all when He sent us His son - ADOPTION. He left us with no room to doubt.



The decision was made. And 10 minutes later we were staring into the beautiful eyes of our son. The weight of stress washed away almost immediately. We knew what we had to do - like we told the agency Director - we don't say "no" to referrals. It's just not how we roll. The risks were too high that something could delay or even disrupt the adoption if we were to move now. So God was keeping us still. And we were okay with it.



So there ya have it. And though we feel 100% at peace with our decisions - and we are OVER THE MOON excited to be growing as a family way faster than we thought we would - I can't help but wonder and be intrigued by faith. What does it look like? Does it look like walking away from something that the world would tell you is an incredibly good thing? Or does it look like jumping in blindly and going from there? I think it can look both ways. The determining factor - here at least - was insane amounts of prayer and a God who showed up in His perfect timing.

Now - let's go get little brother home!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Daddy Daughter Date Night - Part III


This was our third time to do Chick Fil-A's "Daddy Daughter Date Night..." and I was definitely blessed with the most beautiful dates in the whole place!


The girls love these - and it's one of a very FEW things I will dress up for with zero complaining...


Yummy meals... great conversations... even desserts!


Not to mention a cow dressed like a princess! HELLO!


These date nights just keep getting better!