Friday, November 30, 2018

These Three...


Meron couldn't stop laughing during one of their "shows" - and when I asked her why she said it was because I was making THIS face at her!


Zechie claimed the face to be more like this...


While Mebbie declared it to be more along these lines.

Whatever MY face was... I'll tell ya this much...

These three keep me LAUGHING!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Brother - Sister - Friend


Man... I love the relationship these two have...

I mean - don't get me wrong - they ARE brother and sister so they occasionally go at it...

But they really do love each other a lot!


And I see it in Z-Dogg too... the influence of his sister.

His empathy... his compassion... his love... shoot - even his artwork!

And I just love watching them grow up together!

Stay friends forever, guys!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

An Elf, a Dog, a Tree and a Flag


In between shots on the "zElf" tonight - Autumn wandered onto the set and just sat down...

I hit the remote shutter button cuz I loved the look of the stuff in the frame...

Z-Dogg as a tired elf...

Goofy Autumn the Golden...

Our Jesse tree...

And my favorite wooden Ethiopian flag in the background.

Just a snapshot of the crazy that goes down in the crib...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thank you SOOOOOO Much!


What do you think has this dude smiling as big as he is right here?


Would you believe it's as something as simple as this little piece of material?


Ever since getting his glasses, Z-Dogg has been having some challenges with keeping them on his head.

Whether it be during sports, gym class, recess or really just bending over or looking down...

Little man's glasses were flying off his head!

And we were terrible parents - always talking about "I really need to get him a strap to keep those on!"

Finally - I did some searching - and after not being able to find 'em at the first 3 stores I went to - I eventually tracked down a sports strap for glasses!


Man... you would have thought I came waltzing in the door with a cure for cancer!

After I fit them on his head and got him situated - he jumped around - looking down - and realized his glasses weren't going anywhere!

Dude sprinted at me - flung his arms around my neck - and started screaming:

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you SOOOOO much daddy!"

Something that seemed so tiny to me - was monumental and GIGANTIC to him!

I just hate that it took me so long to help him out with something so seemingly simple but was really HUGE in nature!

Zechie - here's to a billion more days of not looking for your glasses in the snow!

Monday, November 26, 2018

That Time of Year


The kid in me LOVES this time of year...

It's got me wishing for snow storms, cancelled school days, hot chocolate, cookies...

All the good stuff from this time of year!

No matter how old ya are - it's super hard to not get caught up in the excitement of the trees, the decorations, the elves, the fun...

Like Z-Dogg with the Jesse tree... I'm staring at the season with high expectations cuz let's be honest...

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

All That And Then Some


Defiant... strong-willed...

Ambitious... fearless...

Obedient... disobedient...

Loving... loyal...

Compassionate... empathetic...

Funny... annoying...

Caring... selfish...

Helpful...apathetic...

Sneaky... truthful...

Athletic... clumsy...

I could go on and on and on... cuz dude is all that and then some!

And I love him for every bit of it!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

They Rock... and They Roll!


The turkey had settled, the pumpkin pie was being prepped - and the goofballs were downstairs practicing to put on "a show!"


There was Mebbie on guitar and backing vocals...


There was Z-Dogg - or "ANIMAL" - on the drum kit (and lil dude was killing it!)...


And of course the Meronator was lead singer - front and center!


I absolutely love that these guys will still go downstairs - allow their imagination to run wild - practice for like HOURS...

And then put on a show for us!

They even had "VIP Tickets" for us with front row seats and they had a raffle that Laura won off of her ticket number!

They got the whole "band self-promotion" thing down pat!

Goofballs... believe in yourself - and never stop creating and performing!

Friday, November 23, 2018

He Makes Beautiful Things...


Ten years ago today - a DECADE AGO - God chose to breathe life into one of His most astounding creations ever... and with that decision - He gave life to Mebrate Saidah Hoffman!

And He certainly made a beautiful thing!

There's so much more to say about the ten years the Earth has had Mebbie on it - and I totally look forward to writing that after we spend Monday together as she cashed in her "skip school to hang with Daddy and Mommy" coupon.

But for now - after a pizza dinner out with friends, a dance party, a photo shoot, cake and ice cream, presents and now a movie while we patiently wait for the sleepover party to call it a night - I think I will call it a night!

Happy Birthday, Mebbie! This past decade is truly better because you were in it!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Gratitude


Truthfully - I start and end each and every day with prayers of thankfulness to the One and Only Creator... so I don't need a day based on selectively remembered historic events to help ecourage me to be grateful.

But real talk... I'll take any day to gather as a family, eat good food and share time together while talking about our gratefulness!

Today I am thankful for kids who take it upon themselves to write notes to each family member filled with words of love and encouragement - and then to place them at the table which they had covered in paper and left pencils for us to write or draw out our thankfulness.

I'm thankful for a roof over our heads...

Grateful for vehicles to get us where we need to be...


I'm thankful for this entire crew...

Thankful for the Holy Spirit intervention on behalf of our kids...

Thankful for the freedoms we have to lean on our Heavenly Father...


I'm thankful for food and other resources He has so generously given us...

I'm thankful for time together as a family...

I'm thankful for no travel this year and safely staying put...


I'm thankful for silliness and goofiness and downright wild senses of humor!

And this is just a tiny little sampling of my thanks... I think i could go on forever listing them.


Oh yeah... and it looks like this guys is back!

I suppose I am thankful for that too...

Stay grateful!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hooping With Friends


This little dude is loving this fall season of basketball and I'm loving watching the sport really start to click in with him...


And it's even more fun when ya show up and find out you're playing against one of your friends from school!

AND... ya get to guard each other!


It was super cute to see them both when they looked up and realized they were playing each other!


And at the end... a game is just a game - but friends are something more!

Way to hoop it up guys!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sense of Humor Kicking ALL the Way In...


This dude's sense of humor has been turned up to 11 recently!


He is all the way goofy... all of the time!


And man... it is HARD to not lose it... i think it's part of his master plan to keep us laughing through the growing up phase!

Z-Dogg... stay goofy... you're GOOD at it!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mebbie Strong


Ya know what you're looking at in that photo up there?

That's "Mebbie Strong" right there, people!

I love this girl's fierce tenacity and warriorship.

She came up to me tonight and told me about an interaction she had last week on the playground.

A young white girl walked up to her at recess and said:

"Hey Mebbie... did you know that Nike disrespects the military and the flag?"
Mebbie - not being one to back down - decided to lean in instead and engaged with this girl - who she definitely considers a friend.

She explained WHY Colin Kaepernick and others are peacefully protesting and that it was never disrespectful at all - that certain members of the media, leadership and the general public want to make it out to be but it's not.

And then she asked her friend:
"Did you know he lost his job for standing strong for what he believes in?"
She said her friend seemed a bit stunned and just responded with,
"Oh... no I didn't. I just think it's disrespectful because that's just what my mom told me."
See... what's going on at home makes its way to the playground - every time.

The good AND the bad.

The positive in all of this?

Mebbie and I had about 20 minutes of GREAT conversation that was able to help equip her for future playground discussions!

We talked about the disproportionate stats around police brutality and race, we talked about stereotypes and biases, we talked about why that little girl came right up to HER and not somebody else...

We talked about Colin Kaepernick consulting with the military to see what was the best way to go about executing a peaceful protest and we talked about others in sports who were backing him and supporting the causes he believed in.

We talked about Jemel Roberson as a very recent example of bias and snap judgement against young black men that ends in DEATH.

We talked about her brother - a young black male on the come up - and how I pray every day for his future.

We talked about righteous indignation and what that means for us and what it meant to Jesus.

We also talked about where our family stands and the "friends" we've lost because of that.

Her wheels were turning - I could see it - when she said:
"I'm gonna give her more of the background now that I know more."
And this daddy was BEAMING with pride.


Ya know what Mebbie does EXCEPTIONALLY WELL too?

She delivers "Mebbie Strong" with so much love, so much empathy, so much compassion...

It looks like the above picture and you can't help but feel her bright light shining even as you receive her hard truths!

Mebbie - you keep doing what God built you to do girl... speak TRUTH in LOVE... and know that this daddy ALWAYS has your back!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Just One Of My Reasons


This little guy I'm holding right here?

He's just ONE of the reasons we stand where we stand (and kneel where we kneel).

And hear me - I don't expect everybody to understand and I don't fault you if you don't.

If you don't lay down at night and wake up in the morning thinking about how to raise a young black man in a country that has repeatedly stated and shown that the value of his life is less than his white peers... if you don't lose sleep and tears over that kind of mess...

Then I don't expect you to get it.

I got friends who don't get it.

Family who doesn't understand.

I've watched churches and schools not get it.

I've seen business and entire communities not understanding...


But see... I hold the reasons for my support super close to my heart.

Like I said - You don't have to understand... and I don't think any less if you don't.

But when you attack the man, the mission and the method from a place of inability to relate... ya speak way louder about yourself than anything else.

Proudly standing, kneeling and fighting for what's right until we see the change my kids - and millions of others across this country - deserve.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

You Are Like a Warrior Mommy...


I am telling you - and this isn't parental bias either - little humans like Mebbie don't come along every day.

They just don't... and they are super special.

I got home from my freezing cold run tonight and found this fairly long letter written out on the counter.

I could tell by the look on Laura's face it was something special and good - and she said "Go ahead.. read it..."

So I did...


It said:

Dear Mommy,

I just want you to know that you are an amazing superstar! You make me smile every day. You are a super mommy! You save the day!

Even the small things like hugging me or saying how my day was. Also, you let me do your hair and give me feedback on my homework. I don't know what I would do without you.

Most kids don't know how hard their moms work. You are by far the best mommy in the world! Also, you are like a warrior mommy. You take trips to Ethiopia and you are one of the most brave people I have met. You drove to the hospital when your elbow was broken!

You have made a huge impact on my life. You teach me how to be kind, caring and helpful. And... you are a super math mommy! You do math on Brighton Academy work and you help with our math homework!

For these reasons and more I think you are the best mommy on earth!
Wow!!!


I asked Mebbie what made her want to write this out and she said:
"Well - I saw Mommy vacuuming while we were just hanging out and watching TV and it made me think about how hard she works for us..."
Mebbie - I KNOW you touched your mommy's heart DEEPLY tonight with this letter!

As a guy who LOVES to write and hopes to always be able to be open, authentic, transparent and real... DADDY IS IMPRESSED!

Never, ever lose your heart and spirit Mebbie - you are a special gift to this fallen world!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mommy Snuggles


Mommy snuggles... this little dude loves them the most!

Your mommy loves ya Z-Dogg!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Got Coffee?


Okay... so you love coffee, right?

And...

You REALLY love coffee from Ethiopia, right?

And on top of that - you LOVE helping kids eat a nutritious holiday celebration meal... right?

Well guess what... YOU'RE IN LUCK!

We can help you do both!


Brighton Their World is kicking off their annual Christmas meal fundraiser this week... and as usual - nerves kicked in - we even tossed around not doing it - the mouths at the school have doubled since our last meal... but what's that say about my faith in our God?

So - we're all the way in and we're believing it's gonna get fully funded. We are doubling the number of people we are feeding - up to 1100 students, staff and family members!

The meal costs $4 per head and will be served in January to all Brighton Academy families and staff... so between now and then we need to raise $4,400!

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE COFFEE, TYMM?

I know... right? Here ya go... for every $100 donation we will send you a bag of this fantastic Ethiopian coffee we got from a roaster in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Who knows - we may toss a few other things in there too...

Wanna partner up with us? It's super easy!

Just go to our Brighton Their World PayPal page and enter your donation amount. In the notes to seller type "Christmas".
And that's it! For every $100 we'll get a bag of these incredible Ethiopian Coffee beans out the door to you ASAP.


Even "Sleepy Z-Dogg" got in on the action!

So don't wonder where you're getting your coffee from this month - cuz we've got your back!
Just go to our Brighton Their World PayPal page and enter your donation amount. In the notes to seller type "Christmas".
Let's drink coffee and feed some kids and their families!

And remember - it just takes a LITTLE to change a LOT!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Homework... Library Style!


Our crew has always been pretty darn good at doing their homework... with as much as they got going on - they kinda have to!

But today Laura decided to try a new tactic - and right after picking them up at school they drove straight to our local library to camp out and do their homework.

And they LOVED it!

Z-Dogg pointed at his head and then tapped his temple while saying:

"It was so much easier to concentrate there..."
They all got all their work done and had time to walk around and each pick out a book to check out!

And Laura even checked out this massive reading program for Zechie.. a literal suitcase full of reading help!

Guys... Aunt Wendy the Librarian would be super proud!

We gotta remember this great resource exists right down the road from us!

Local library for the win!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

He Makes Beautiful Things...


Our God knows how to make some incredibly beautiful things...

there is no doubt about it!


And those mountain are pretty nice looking too!

Meron - you are a BEAUTIFUL daughter of THE King!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Me and My Homie


God is so sovereign... so in control.

When He breathed life into me 45 years ago this past Friday... and then - 38 years later - ON THE SAME DAY - decided to breathe life into Z-Dogg...

He knew exactly what He was doing!


And what an amazing gift He gave me.

We both LOVE the fact that we share the same birthday - that God had foreseen our lives together and gave us this day to share.


I love this little dude with every fiber of my being... and I am so thankful for the gift of his life and the gift that he is to me.

Being a daddy to Z-Dogg is one of my truest joys in life!

Lord... hold him close and keep him safe so that we can celebrate a bunch more birthdays together!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Smiley Faces, Hearts and World Adoption Day


I know I'm a hair late to this - but I had to process it a bit.

World Adoption Day was this past Friday (November 9th) - a day set aside to celebrate family and raise awareness for adoption.

And anybody who knows me knows I am ALL about that!

But the movement calls for folks to rally on social media with a smiley face drawn on their hand and to spread awareness through that and a hash tag.

And that had me feeling some sort of way...


Because if I'm honest - the smiley face is just a piece of the bigger picture.

In reality... it kinda starts right here.


Adoption starts with loss. With trauma. With pain.

With tears. With lost identity and hard questions.

It starts with separation...

It starts with HEARTBREAK.


And as much as we like to romanticize it and make it seem like love fixes it all... the fact is - it doesn't always work that way.

Matter of fact...

It rarely works that way.


What comes next is definitely loving...

And talking. And sharing. And crying.

And praying. And understanding. And listening. And trusting.

And learning. And unlearning. And growing. And strengthening.

And eventually... maybe... some HEALING.


And then... THEN comes some smiley faces!


And laughter. And joy. And hugging.

And loving. And continual learning. And more trusting.

And answers. And comfort. And found identities.

And SMILEY FACES galore!


See... I KNOW my kids' stories.

I know them well... and they're not ALL smiles.

And I have far too many friends who said "Okay, God..." and jumped in only to find themselves walking really hard, really painful, really challenging paths for me to be able to reduce the awareness and celebration to a single SMILEY FACE.

Nope - I think it is ALL THREE things that make up the awareness we need to be pushing.

The brokenness, the healing and the eventual redemption that can lead to smiles.


I've always said - from day one - that God intended for us to be with our original families - but a fallen world full of fallen circumstances often gets in the way of that... and that's where God steps in with His solution.

Adoption to me is God's Holy and Redeeming Solution to a fallen world's problematic transgressions.

I know this much for sure... it hasn't always been easy around here - it certainly hasn't always been smiles... but to know He is smack in the middle of it with us has been nothing short of amazing and He has grown us ALL in the process.

ADOPTION... hard, painful, overwhelming at times... but SO SO worth it!