Friday, July 31, 2015

Bangs and Beards


"Normal" has never been a word we've used to describe this goofball.

Tonight she was running around with a swimming skirt on her head talking about:

"Look at my bangs and beard!"
See what I mean?

Then she asked... "Can I do a sassy photo?"


And... voila.

Sassy bangs and beard.

Stay nutty Meron... STAY NUTTY!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bow Wow Wow


When we decided it was time to get some canine companions back in the camp - and we prayed about it long and hard - we knew it was right...

I just didn't know or expect it to be THIS right.

I mean first - we get the most amazing dogs from the most amazing family to join the fam.

Then - the kids bond immediately and actually do things like play with them every day, feed them, pick up after them, etc.

It's actually a little fairy tale dreamy...


Meron saw me snapping a pic of Mebbie and Cider and said:

"Oh no! That's my baby! That's my BAY-BEE!!"
and then insisted on some pictures with her too...

Those two right there are one and the same man...


Of course Meron tries to equally spread the love so our elder stateswomen, Autumn, got some loving and some pictures as well...

Bow wow wow.

Thanks God for bringing us the dopest two dogs anybody could've asked for!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Well... That Was Fast!


Wave goodbye - because guess what?

Summer is on the way out the door!

Not the season itself - that actually hangs around for a bit more - but the days of:

"What are we gonna do?"
and
"I'm bored..."
and
"Can we watch TV?"
are DONE in 4 days.

That's right folks - the female portion of the goofball gang heads back to school on Monday - and today we got to go meet their teachers, sign 100 forms and drop off some supplies.

We're so stoked that Mebbie got Meron's teacher from last year because Mrs. Cole is dope and we love her. And from what we hear - Meron's new second grade teacher is awesome as well!

And I know of another little goofball who would give anything to be going with his sisters...


And while his hair may look like it belongs in the 5th grade... my man Z-Dogg is 2 years away from kindergarten.

Back to home-school with Mommy on Monday for you Zechie!

"Back to school... back to school...
to prove to dad that I'm not a fool.

I got my lunch packed up. My boots tied tight,
I hope I don't get in a fight!

Ohhhh! Back to school. Back to school..."


[P.S. Meron's ankle is fine up there. It was a sleep injury. Don't ask...]

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

From The Same Mold


These two right here - are the very best of friends...

And I swear - when God made them - he popped them outta the same mold made for twins - just forgot to make one a human or one a dog.

They're crazy friendly, full of energy and neither likes to wear shoes.

They both go full bore and play hard and crash even harder.

And they both have a TON OF LOVE for each other...


That's right Meron - your twin is a canine.

You be her opposable thumbs and she'll be your wagging booty!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Captain Sudsy Budsy Head


Sometimes... all you need is a good laugh from Captain Sudsy Budsy Head - our bath-time super hero.


Because the dude can keep ya in stitches - no matter what kind of day ya had!


Heck - sometimes I think he even keeps himself in stitches...


Who knows... but I do know this...

With Captain Sudsy Budsy Head around - it's smiles for everybody!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why Do You Do That?


Every now and then we get the question...

""Why do you guys do that? Live life so openly on that blog of yours?"
And hey - look - I get it. For the record - it wasn't gonna be like this.

When we started blogging back in like 2007 - I remember telling Laura "I am not gonna be one of those crazy bloggers..."

The plan was to keep friends and family updated on the adoption. That was really it.

But over the years - as our family has grown and been challenged in particular areas and we've chosen to write about it here - we've watched the blog morph in to this neat and effective extension of our family ministry.

We've met people we consider great friends for no other reason than this blog. We've seen our daily ongoing prayer of "being a family that can impact the world for HIS glory" come to life several times as we hear from random unknown people about something on the blog that just clicked with them and how they relate to God.

And honestly - those times alone make the blogging effort worth it.

And maybe - just maybe - I've turned into one of those crazy bloggers.

Just a little bit...


But truthfully... I'm okay with it.

Yes - we live our lives wide open. I mean... come on - we're SAFE about it. We're not nutty and stupid (in our minds at least).

And at times it can be odd - like the time I was in an elevator in a hotel in Washington D.C. and the person kept staring at me only to say:
"Do you have a daughter with really big hair? I think I read your blog..."
Or the time that Laura and I were chased down by woman in the Atlanta Airport yelling:
"Excuse me! Excuse me! Are you Meron's mom?"
Sure - those times can feel a little odd (okay a LOT odd)...

But we believe the most compelling stories are the ones that are thrown out there in all their gory detail. Be it movies, music or any other form of storytelling - I think as humans we are most drawn to the ones that feel the realest.

And the past 2 weeks or so have just driven that truth home to me.

On July 9th - after we had heard from some doctors about some scary stuff and things were starting to look a little unknown, scary and unpredictable... I remember looking at Laura and saying "You know we have to write about all of this, don't you?"

She didn't miss a beat when she said "Yep!" and thus was born the post that kinda started it all - "Our Warriorship."

And the reaction to that post is what has had me just in awe and thinking about what compels people to pray and read and be concerned.

I mean - SO MANY PEOPLE reached out to us with encouraging words, kind thoughts and actions and heartfelt prayers lifted to Him on our behalf.

It was stunning, humbling and remarkable.

And they didn't stop over the next couple weeks - rather they just increased!

And then there was the outcome of it all which just solidified what we already knew and believed about prayer and His people coming to Him.

Prayer works.

Real stories compel people to relate - and once you relate it's hard to not want to be involved - and a LOT of times that involvement looks like prayer.

And - Christian brother and sister to Christian brother and sister type of influence is one thing... but we heard from several people over the past few weeks who flat out admitted they struggle with Jesus (or don't know Him at all), they struggle with faith and they were finding something about our situation (or the way we shared the whole story) compelling to them.

Wait... what?

Well... THAT makes writing this stuff - the big and the small of our lives and how we handle it, how we seek Him in it and how we try with everything we got to bring Him glory in it - THAT makes it absolutely worth it by itself.


When Jesus climbed up on that cross, died a bloody death for you and me and then filled our hearts with Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit - He didn't do it so we could take our bright light of Him and hide it under a bushel...

NO!

He wanted us to go and make some noise in His name!

So come on!

As much as we love sharing the good, the bad and the ugly... the big, the small and the nonsensical... I think we like HEARING a good authentic and real story even more.

So don't leave us hanging... WHAT'S YOUR STORY?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Slight Interruption


We interrupt our recent programming to bring you this cute kid...


And this sweet, sweet girl..


And of course this girl rolling with some Ethiopian pride!

Three kids who are really, really happy to have mommy out of the woods and on the way to full healing.

We'll return to regular programming once the cute subsides...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!


Seems like such a simple two words when held up against the mountain of prayers sent up for Laura and our family these past couple weeks.

"Thank you."

Tiny. Simple. Almost empty in comparison.

But it's what we have to offer - with hopes we'll never have to return the favor but promises that we will should it be necessary.


The prayers of you guys - friends, family, people we don't know... people close by and those far, far away...

Those prayers were so POWERFUL.

And man did they ever work...


It was knowing you guys were praying that bolstered our faith... caused us to lean in to Him even harder.

Held us up.

Strengthened us.

Gave us the confidence we needed...

To head straight into this craziness with expectant attitudes.

And then.... then this THING goes down.

And all we know how to do is point back at Him.

He hears prayers. He HEARD yours and mine.

And He moved on our behalf.


We believe that we get to sit here hugging on this girl tonight with no long-term fears because of the way you went to our Father for us.

Thank you seems like such a simple two words.... but... THANK YOU.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Believe in Miracles, I Don't Believe in Magic...


It was 12:30 AM and I was in the shower staring at the water circling down the drain.

Laura and I were set to get up at 4:00 AM to leave the house by 4:45 for her early morning surgery check in.

But I couldn't sleep. Heck - i hadn't really slept in like a week or more it seemed.

I felt like I needed to talk to God one more time and the water of a shower has always helped wash out the noise of the world and allow me to connect my heart to His ear.

About 6 hours earlier - Laura and I had come to grips with what looked like the pretty imminent removal of a portion of her colon due to that mass, that tumor, that stupid thing that was causing the issue and had caused me to miss sleep for close to two weeks. The scope she had done that day showed a swollen appendix entrance indicating something going on back there.

And here's the deal... we were cool with it. We had given it over to God... declared His will was best and we were ready to move forward.

But if I've picked up on anything about God - it's that He sent His son to be relational. And at 12:30 that night - I felt like checking in on my relationship with Him.

Let me pause and just state this - while I believe fully and with my entire being in the power of prayer - I will never pretend to even remotely understand the ups and downs and wheres and whys and hows that God puts in place when He hears them from us.

I mean... we prayed for Brighton to be healed and live. Instead he died. Meron got sick in Ethiopia before coming home - we prayed the same things - she lived. Both things - his death and her life - had a profound impact and influence on our lives. I still do not understand His ways - but believe He has our hearts and eternity in mind at all times.

So as I slid to my knees with water spraying around me, I prayed to Him with all I had:

"God... No.

Please, no.

I am strong enough in You to do this and I promise You whatever the outcome is we will point every single thing at You... but please God... no.

No cancer. No removal of her intestine. Ya know what God - how about NO TUMOR?

Lord... as always with our family - we seek Your will in this - but I just wanted You to know my heart. Your will wins and You get all the glory.

In Jesus' name... AMEN."
It was short, it was simple, but it was breathed through tears and straight from the core of my heart.

4 hours later - our amazing friend showed up to stay with the kids at our house way too early - and Laura and I drove off towards the hospital - sort of in silence as we marveled at how when you live on the plains - you can see the sun rising even at 4:50 in the morning.

He was peaking over the horizon at us already. More proof He was awake and at it WAY before we were...


After check in - things got a little nutty. Like I said - we were both at such peace with this. His will was gonna win - and we thought it best to be on His side - so we were so comfortable with things.

And honestly - there were HUNDREDS of prayers being lifted for Laura and our family from nearly every corner of the globe.

Something about that brings an unbelievable amount of peace in the face of adversity.

So you end up with things like this picture - and Laura's request of "Make sure and get me pointing my toe..."

Ya see why I love this girl? Maybe ya get a glimpse into why my wandering mind was fathoming scenarios that simply wouldn't work. I need her.


Then it was selfie time to send a bunch of them to her mom...


And a big girl princess hat shot that we texted to the goofball gang at home.

But then it got a little serious. Several nurses were in the room and they were about to roll her out when she said, "Tymm - will you pray for me?"


Zero hesitation.

My mind had been re-playing this prayer that somebody had posted in a comment either on Facebook or our blog recently. It said something to the effect of "God - let the surgeons go in there and see that the Great Physician has gone before them. Let there be nothing there..."

At that moment - before she was wheeled off to be put under - THAT is what my heart was screaming to pray.

But sometimes we have to let our heart and mind get together and summon up some courage and trust - and lean into His will.

So instead, I prayed:
"Lord - thank you for this day. Please be with each and every one of the nurses, techs and surgery team members. Please be with Dr. Delano.

Lord - we want there to be nothing in there - but more than that we want Your will to be done. We believe Your ways are better than ours - and we defer to your will.

In Jesus' name.

Amen."
I kinda sorta kept it together... sorta.

She said "I love you.." - we high-fived - and they rolled her out the hall and off to surgery at 7:28 am.

AND NOW - LET THE WAITING BEGIN

I headed out to the waiting room where my plan was to log on and try to do some work.

Ha. Who was I kidding? I could barely breath - let alone focus on work.

So instead I sat and tried to make my way through the hundreds - I mean HUNDREDS - of prayers being sent via text, email, Facebook, etc.

So many prayers. So many people storming the gates of Heaven on her behalf. So many people baring their hearts to Him saying - "let there be nothing there."

At 8:50 AM - I felt a presence beside me - I had kinda zoned out reading prayers.

I looked up and it was Dr. Delano standing there.

I outwardly played it cool while inside my mind was FREAKING OUT...
"Why is he here already?"

"I thought he booked the OR for 3 hours...?"

"What's happening?"
He sat down, looked at me and said:
"There was nothing there."
Wait... what? Did I just hear him correctly?

He went on to say:
"Her appendix was fine. I took it out cuz she doesn't need it. She looked great in there - nothing to see. I didn't touch her intestine.

That thing we all saw? I THINK it was a left over kidney. I pulled a urologist in and we took it out and sent it to pathology. We'll know later this week - but she looked great.

Gonna keep her overnight but she should be good."
I shook his hand and thanked him - but that was about all I could get out.

My chest was tightening and I couldn't believe this - I had the most bizarre feeling in my heart and mind of "I heard You. I heard them all."

Prayer matters people. It MATTERS. Because - here is what we had been looking at the last week and a half or so...
  • A very physical pain that sent Laura to the doctor...
  • A "that's not appendicitis" from the doctor
  • An ultrasound that revealed a relatively big mass/tumor
  • A CT Scan that confirmed the abnormality that the ultrasound had shown
  • An overnight oncology consultation to tell Laura "Don't get on that plane to Ethiopia!"
  • Days of paranoid waiting
  • A surgical consult with words like "cancer" and "stages" and "lymph nodes" and "colon removal"
  • A colonoscopy that revealed a clearly swollen entrance to the unhealthy appendix where the mass was thought to be
  • Massive amounts of prayer on Laura's behalf
All culminating in a surgery that showed "nothing there."

I called Laura's mom because I didn't want her to see it on social media somewhere... i ALMOST kept it together on the phone with her.

Then I let what felt like the entire world know and asked everybody to not stop now because what comes next are prayers of praise and thanksgiving!

I couldn't even begin to keep up with the flood of messages and praises being thrown around all over.

The nurse from the operating room called me in the waiting room and said "Everything went great - she will be in room 901 in 10 minutes..."

You know where I was heading...

When I got up there - Laura was looking ROUGH. PALE and in a LOT of pain - she was gripping a puke bag and trying to keep her eyes open.

I couldn't hold back - in her grogginess - I told her everything Doc D. had told me. I am not sure what all she heard.

But let me show you how else God was at work - going before us and setting the stage.

When I walked in - her post-op nurse was in there.


That's her right there - Miyuki is her name.

She looked up at me and said: "You guys look so familiar to me..."

I just kinda ignored it. I mean - We've only been here a year and some change - and honestly I think with the beard and the bald head I get mixed up with other bald-headed beardos.

As Laura started to come to - we started sharing with Miuyki how this whole thing with its cancerous undertones and urgency had stopped Laura from leading a trip to Africa.

"Oh really?" Miyui asked. "Where in Africa?"

"ETHIOPIA" (of course) Laura shared.

Miyuki looked up and said "Really? My friend just got back from a trip to Ethiopia!"

"Uh... who is your friend?" was our next logical question...

"Mandy... she is my next door neighbor," Miyuki said.

Ohhh you mean the same Mandy who went on the Brighton Their World trip and who our kids stayed with during the surgical consult...

Why yes she did mean that Mandy... ONLY GOD.

Only God would provide us with a super friendly, super connected to us already post-op nurse to ease any kind of fear, pain or uncomfort we may have been having.

Miyuki - we truly believe you were orchestrated by God to be where you were this week. Thank you for being such an amazing nurse and awesome person!


Finally - Laura dozed off - and to be honest - I just sat and watched my best friend sleep for a while.

The what-ifs and what-coulda-beens running through m head.

But instead - I get to have my far better half at full health with me for longer... and it's a direct result of the INSANE AMOUNTS OF PRAYERS you guys threw up to Him on our behalf.

Thank you just doesn't seem adequate


Finally - I had to slide out and relieve our incredible friend from goofball gang duty at our house.

Thank you guys SO MUCH for sacrificing an entire day so I could be with Laura through this whole thing.

Means more than you could ever know.


Then - these guys showed up with a meal - ready to go!

You guys have no idea how much your selfless acts mean to us... and how much you're pointing at Him in them!


Finally - i got to share the AMAZING news withe goofball gang and get them down to see their mommy that they were desperately missing.

And that crazy Mommy was already up taking the walks they said she needed to take to get outta there at the earliest possible time!


And i KNOW FOR A FACT that her goofballs getting down to see her made her absolute day!

Best medicine she could have received.


This morning - I got the honor of picking her up and getting her home!

What had started out as a fearful list of unknowns including a pretty good week or more in the hospital had turned in to a miraculous bunch of "nothing" and a 24 hour hospital stay.

Only God.


Another incredible friend showed up with another amazing meal this afternoon.

Then it was off to get her some pain meds filled so we could be looking at this...


REST!

As physically challenging as a scope through the stomach is - I think we're all kinda spent from the mental challenge this whole thing had become.

Seeing her home - in her bed - sleeping peacefully - was the best gift I could have ever received.


And this gal and her family took our entire goofball gang from like 1:00 until 7:30 today so Laura could get set up and comfortable and get some rest.

They played with them all day and took them to Chick Fil A for dinner.

Incredible, incredible people!

Oh... and that girl? That's Miyuki's neighbor Mandy.

And she has become quite the amazing friend to Laura - with a big fat servant's heart that is just awesome to watch!


I don't know what God is up to. I don't know why He chose this route for us or why He chose the outcome He did.

But I do know this - He cares about prayer.

And you guys who prayed for us - for Laura - for me - for our kids... you guys have given me a hope and confidence in humanity i never thought I could have.

I'm still wrestling with the majority of this in my head - the hows, whys, etc.

But from where I sit... we saw a miracle.

Thank each and everyone of you for being part of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Praise God!


Today was the craziest day. So much to remember - so much to record.

God's stories are the absolute best to share. And I am gonna.

But I've been up for like 22 hours, I'm mentally spent and right now... all I can muster is "PRAISE GOD!"

Huge thanks to everybody who has been praying for our family.

We are humbled by your willingness to walk with us...

Full story coming soon... but now... SLEEP.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Half-Way Out Of The Woods...


We are so blessed to have multiple families ready and willing and able to take our goofball gang in at the drop of a dime - so we're able to spread the crazy around and give families time to recover from our crew...

This morning - we dropped the guys off to hang out with some of their great friends - and we were back off to the hospital again.

Big, huge thanks to these families - you have no idea the amount of stress, fear and worry you are simply lifting right off of our shoulders.

Some how, some way - we will find a way to say THANKS.


Once we got down there - they moved pretty quickly and had Laura all decked out in a dope gown before we knew it.

As you can see - she was fiercely trying to keep up with all of the INCREDIBLE PRAYERS flying our way from all over this planet.

It's been overwhelming, humbling and has meant more than most of ya will probably ever know...

Soon the nurses, techs and anesthesiologist came in and chatted with us and kind of gave us some idea of what to expect...


Wait... what? That camera is going where?

We made fast friends with all of the amazing staff we came in touch with - and pretty soon everybody was laughing, talking about Zombies, humidity, snakes and shark attacks!

Quite the diversion. Big, big ups to the staff here man. They were amazing.

When it was time for Laura to roll out - they took me over to a nearby waiting room so my mind could wander all over the place.

And wander it did. Until the nurse leaned in and said: "There she is! Come on!"


Of course I snapped a pic with my phone as soon as I saw her

Right after this picture the nurses started shaking her awake - which was working until she became fascinated with her fingers and thought the nurses and I were the kids asking to go to the pool.

Gotta love sleepy drugs!

The anesthesiologist looked at me and said "I'm not supposed to say - but man it looked all good!"

I felt like 6 trillion pounds were lifted off my shoulders.

Next in was Dr. Delano - the guy I have been praying for without ceasing since I met him.


He had some fun pictures with him and he walked me and a very out-of-it Laura through them all.

There was one small polyp he removed and will have biopsied - very normal he said.

Entrance to appendix was visible and pretty swollen - definitely something going on in there.

Everything else looked good - and most importantly - NO CANCER IN THE COLON.

I repeat - no cancer in the colon!

This was a specific prayer request and we are beyond thrilled that His will for this was what it was.

Huge thanks for everybody who has been beating down the gates of Heaven on Laura's behalf.

Don't stop yet guys - we're only about half-way out of those woods now!


We had some good talks with Dr. Delano and we know what to expect tomorrow morning now.

Truthfully - cuz we wanna be all kinds of truthful with you guys - we are expecting him to remove at least some of the large intestine tomorrow. Laura asked him a good question - she said:

"If it was your wife - what would you do?"
He said honestly - if it looks "scary" when he gets a visual on it - he would take a portion of the intestine - and that's what he'd do on his wife too.

We so appreciate his candor and honesty - cuz now we know how to pray!

We also appreciated him saying Laura could eat a sandwich and some soup!


She hadn't eaten since Sunday evening - so after scooping the goofballs - we hit Panera for some soup and sandwiches.

Then it was home to get ready for an early bedtime - because Laura and I are up at 4:00 am and heading out at 4:45 to the hospital.

We spent a good chunk of the evening just reading prayers, messages, texts, comments and voicemails being sent her way.

You guys.... I mean... I am a guy who writes a lot of words and I got NOTHING.

So, so humbled by the actions of people all across the globe. Just so... humbled.

We know our big thing isn't your big thing. It's not lost on us that you guys have taken actual, real time to set aside and pray, reach out, share prayers, encouragement and inspiration.

It's not lost at all on us.

It's been amazing. And has been the thing that has sustained us.

Tonight - not too long ago - we received this message from some people who have their own big things going on:
"Father, You are the Hoffmans' refuge and fortress.

You give Your angels charge over Laura to defend and preserve and watch over her in all ways. They are camped around this precious family.

You are their confidence, firm and strong. Your Holy Spirit lives in Laura's body and You will set her free and make her wholly healed, we believe it and claim it, through Jesus.

Thank You even now, that You hear us and will bring her into full health, for Your glory and for the benefit of these precious ones who call her momma and wife.

God, we pray for Your peace to cover like a blanket, for Your presence to be physically felt in each one of the Hoffmans. Thank You for being the God who heals.

In Jesus' victorious name I pray, Amen!"
Tears are streaming even as I read it again. Laura came out from packing up for tomorrow when she got it and was just as awestruck as I was.

You guys really have no idea what your words and actions have meant...


So - as we closed up the night tonight - we did what we have done so many times - but tonight it felt a little bit holier.

Lots of praises for today's results - lots of praises for God - who daily blows us away with His love, mercy, grace and faithfulness to us.

And expectant prayers for tomorrow - that whatever it is He hands us - we will find the strength in Him to point back at Him loudly, proudly and make sure He is boldly glorified as much as we can.

Tomorrow is tomorrow... tonight I am still praising Him for the today that was today.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pre-Op Day


"Hey Meron - wanna go hang with your fun friends or would ya rather come to the hospital with mommy and daddy for mommy's pre-op meeting?"

The answer was kind of a given and the goofball gang got to hang out with some of their coolest friends that they absolutely adore.

Meron did say:

"I think I'll stay and hang out with our friends - cuz you guys will come home and tell me everything... right?"
She's our little 25 year old 7 year old.

The pre-op went off without a hitch. Other than this "THING" Laura has going on - she is downright healthy!

Simple meeting where they basically just told us what to expect the morning of.

Next... it was time for Mommy to prep for tomorrows... uh... "procedure"


Let's just say - they needed mommy's tank on empty tomorrow.

This seemed like a procedure best done without an audience... so the goofballs and I escaped across the street for a chilly evening swim.


Spirits were high tonight. From everybody in the house - dogs included!

That's a full on testament to the amount of prayers being poured out for Laura.

Big huge thanks to everybody who is watching kids, lending a hand or saying prayers on our behalf...

You guys are all amazing and "Thank You" simply doesn't seem enough.

But thank you anyways. Thank you very, very much...