Thursday, November 29, 2012


Today may go down as the best Thankful Thursday ever. 

There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.
-The National Adoption Center
And somehow, by the grace that can only be given by an unfailingly gracious God, another little one has found their way into our family. 
Stunned?  We certainly were.  There's a little bit of a backstory but I'll get to that later.  Little A is almost 16 months old with beautiful brown eyes, gorgeous lashes and one of the sweetest faces you'll ever see. 
We are so thankful, so blessed and jus astounded by God's overwhelming goodness.  
More to come about Little A and how he found us but for now, I think I'll go back to looking at pictures of our sweet darling boy. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What to Give Wednesday (Part 7)

Want a meaningful gift for the hardest-to-shop-for person in your life? 

A gift that continues to give well after Christmas is over, a gift that builds relationships, gives hope and shares the gift that Jesus' birth gives us all?  

Sounds good, doesn't it? 

And it's easy.  Now in my opinion, that is the best combination!

World Vision:

We sponsor through World Vision.  Last year, I gifted Matt with a sponsorship of a little boy named James in honor of his dad.  Matt definitely qualifies as the hard-to-shop-for person because he wants nothing!   So a child sponsorship was a way to fulfill my desire to give him a gift while not gifting him something he wouldn't want.  Through out the year we've written to James, received a picture, a note from him and a progress report from school. 

For $35 a month, not only do you have the opportunity to build a relationship with a child, you also ensure this child has access to clean water, nutritious food medical care, education and spiritual development. 

Compassion International

Compassion International is an organization much like World Vision.  I know a lot of people who sponsor through Compassion and love it!  For $38 a month you're providing a child with everything they need to grow, develop and learn as well as letting them know someone cares for them. 

Children International
For $25 a month your sponsorship will provide a child with emergency food (as needed), medical and dental car, educational support, family assistance, clothes, shoes and more.  Like World Vision and Compassion International this organization does so much more than child sponsorship.  Children International works to improve living conditions of children and families who live in poverty through clean water initiatives, income and work generating problems, etc.

Hope for the Hopeless

A sponsorship through Hope for the Hopeless provides a child in Ethiopia with food, clothing, education, medical care and other basic necessities to life.  Your sponsorship also helps to support the family and community your sponsored child lives in.  For $30 a month, about $1 a day, you can change the life of a child forever. 

What do you think?  Have someone who is impossible to buy for but would appreciate a gift that matters, a gift that gives rather than accumulates in their closet?  I'm thinking that one of these sponsorships would be a great gift for them!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:15-17
From our family,
to yours we want to wish you a very
thank-filled Thanksgiving)
(and evidently I've reached my photo limit here on blogspot so no pictures until I figure out what to do - what a 1st world problem to have)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Notre Dame

Going to Paris was an experience of a life time. 
Seeing the sites and experiencing the culture
riding the metro,
walking through the city,
eating eclaires and palmiers from every corner bakery we stumbled upon.
Like I said... experience of a lifetime.
Our first full day there we made a quick trip to the Eiffel Tower, saw the massive crowds and scooted down to the docks on the Sienne River to ride a boat to see the Notre Dame. 
Visiting Notre Dame and walking through the cathedral, examining the art and sculptures, marveling at the stain glass, lighting candles and seeing the flickering of others candles was amazing.  Truly surreal.  Walking into the cathedral, I felt bombarded with emotions.  The millions of prayers petitioned within those walls; the hope, faith and desperation amidst those prayers had an almost tangible presence.  The prayers I murmured as I walked along seemed more powerful as they reverberated around the other prayers being offered up.  It was an emotional, spiritual and pretty much indescribable visit.  
I took a slew of pictures and they do absolutely no justice to the splendor of the Notre Dame.  Here's a few:
West Front of the Notre Dame

North Rose Window - depicting the New Testamen
South Rose Window - depicting the Old Testament

West Rose Window

Interesting facts about the Notre Dame:
~The Notre Dame stands on the site of Paris' first Christian church.
~ It's the most popular monument in Paris, and all of France with an estimated 13 million visitors each year.
~ Notre Dame is still an active Catholic church, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics around the world and a focal point for religious events for all of France
~ Construction began in 1163 and was mostly completed by 1220 (it seems crazy to me how something so magnificent was made without the use of modern construction tools).

If I had to recommend one place to go in Paris (of the places we visited), with absolutely no reservation my answer would be here.  From the Gothic architecture to the historical significance(Napoleon, Joan of Arc, etc) to the religious and spiritual importance of the cathedral and all it entails, it truly is no wonder it is the most visited landmark in France. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Last Tuesday

Last Tuesday marked 14 months on the wait list as well as our USCIS fingerprinting update appointment. 

Our fingerprinting appointment was smooth, you know, after I realized the appointment was not at the same place as our initial appointment and we  needed to leave earlier than anticipated.  There are so many horror stories about USCIS fingerprinting in the adoption world and I am happy to say each of our appointments have been great. 

Hitting the 14 month mark on the wait list was just as uneventful as the fingerprinting appointment.  I didn't even realize that it was the 13th until I was getting ready for bed.  In hindsight that's probably a good thing; I find I become a little sullen and sad as I realize another month has gone by in our wait with very little movement forward.  Perhaps I should lose track of the date more often [Smile]. 

On the upside of all this waiting, one day it will end.  And just like the day I first held Gabriel; all the waiting, all the hard stuff and all the tears will melt away into the fierce love formed when a parents holds their child for the first time. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Gabe is obsessed, and I mean obsessed, with his cardboard brick blocks.  I would imagine on a normal day we spend a minimum of an hour playing and learning (counting, colors, shapes, cause and effect, etc) with them.   Building towers, knocking down towers and using the blocks as dominoes are our favorite activities.  A lot more fun was added when Gabe figured out he could use his pull and go truck to knock down the block towers and dominoes. 
I'm thinking the addition of the truck is going to bring a lot more block playing hours to our days. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What to Give Wednesday (Part 6)

Better Life Bags

After moving (purposefully) with her family to a low income area in Detroit, Rebecca began her business from the desire to create a diaper bag for her new son.  What resulted was a local company hiring 1st generation immigrant women to sew bags designed by Rebecca but personalized by the women buying them. 

From their website:
"We hire women, who otherwise cannot get jobs, to work for BLB. We rent them a sewing machine and tools while teaching them a skill set that allows them to become a primary or secondary provider in their families. Most of these women are first generation immigrants from countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Yemen, so we are also able to provide them with much needed fellowship and friendship as we visit their homes to deliver fabric and pick up orders."

However, Better Life Bags is not just helping women in their local community, they are helping women all over the world through  10% of every sale is donated to and given to a low income entrepreneur in a developing country. 

E-Reader Case

Super Cute!

Saving up for this one!  Love it!

I thought this one was really fun.  As a family we are trying to buy more items local, fair trade or that help others so when I googled fair trade toys I was surprised to see Lego's come up!  Lego's is part of the United Nations Global Compact and there are many different regulations they must adhere too. 

From their website:
"As the first in the toy industry to join Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan's Global Compact initiative in 2003, the LEGO Group was taking a natural next step in the process of social commitment that is so deeply rooted in the company. Adoption of the Global Compact also reflected an urge to behave decently and to assume a share of the responsibility for helping to solve the major issues facing the world in such areas as human rights, labour standards, the environment and the fight against corruption." 

So, go out.... buy Lego' a Fair Trade company and indulge a child's creativity.

Lots of Harry Potter options in Lego's too!

Monday, November 12, 2012

2 Minutes

Ever need a few minutes to gather your thoughts?  With Matt at the Heat vs Rockets game this evening, I needed an inventive way to get a few minutes to myself and put Gabe's clean sheets on his bed. 
The Solution?

Dinosaur Train in his tent!
Gabe thought this was the best thing ever.  And I made his bed, loaded the dishwasher and made hot chocolate in peace all by myself!  It only lasted about 7 minutes but I'm adding it to my list of activities-when-mommy-needs-two-minutes-alone!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Gabe's new hat is ready for the cold,
we're waiting for our house to be sold,
hold back your hysteria,
Gabe's moving back to Elyria!
Yesterday, Matt accepted a promotion that will be bringing our family back to Ohio.  He'll work out of Youngstown but we'll move back to our house in Elyria... the house we left just 18 short months ago.  We were so not expecting this and are excited and oh-so-grateful for the opprotunity to move back home and raise Gabe and his siblings with our families close by.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday Vol. 3

Today was one of those days that reminded me dreams can come true.
When I was waiting to become a mom, I spent too much time thinking about all the special things I would do with our children once they came into our family.  Christmas, apple-picking, family picnics, beach trips and baseball games made up some of those thoughts.  But it was other special things, every day situations made just that much more delightful because I would be accompanied by a little one.  Early morning walks, late night cuddles, reading together, story time... the list was a mile long...
Today I am thankful for being able to do ordinary things with Gabe.  I want to celebrate the ordinary, because it's in these moments that I'm reminded of just how extraordinary my life is.
Today after therapy, Gabe and I headed off to lunch.  A lunch date with the sweetest boy imaginable.  An answered prayer.  A dream come true.  I am so thankful for moments like these.  Because in moments like these I can't help but thank God for making my dream of motherhood come true in this blond haired, blue eyed little miracle. 

 No Panera lunch date at Memorial City is complete without a train ride through the mall. 

I love, love, love this sweet boy and spending every day with him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What to Give Wednesday (Part 5)

This post is all about gifts for the feet and gifts for the feet that give back.


If you know me, you know of my love for TOMS.  I wear them just about every day of the week and love to spread my TOMS love to my family and friends.  

For every pair of TOMS purchased, they give a pair of shoes to a child in need.  Whether it be a delivery of shoes to students in an inner city school in Chicago or a shoe drop in a third world country, TOMS wants all children to have shoes to protect their feet.

Mustache Tom's! 

Some added incentives:
~TOM's is offering free shipping through the end of the year. 
~ For every pair of shoes you buy now through November 10, TOM's will donate $5 to Save the Children ($10 for every pair of eye glasses).

Sole Hope
From their website:
"A group of passionate, committed people who are putting closed toed shoes on African children, one pair at a time. It all started with a chance encounter with a YouTube video--a video that broke our hearts, took us WAY out of our comfort zones, and lead us to Uganda.
Along the way, we realized we could not only help African children, but we could help African men and women by teaching them a simple trade—how to make shoes. And so we began. Then we realized we could teach others—homeless, unemployed, recovering addicts, and nonprofits—how to make shoes, so they could earn a decent living and raise funds for their causes. So Sole Hope is touching lives in the U.S. and Africa, and we’re only getting started!"
Sole Hope is working to give people a better life from Ashville North Carolina to Uganda Africa. 
Check out their shop here:

Sole Hope has a really unique experience on their website as well.  It's called a Shoe-Cutting Party.  It's pretty simple; you get  together with some of your friends and then, following the patterns Sole Hope sends in the package, you cut material in the shape needed for the fabric to be sewn into shoes.  The fabric will make it's way to Uganda where they will be sewn into shoes.

To have a Shoe-Cutting party you buy a package based on number of people attending your party and inside the package is everything you need to have a memorable shoe-cutting party.  Everything except for the material, which they give you instructions and information on how and where to get the proper fabric.  Set up the party any way you like, ask for a $10 donation from all attendees (which covers the shipment of the fabric) and then party and cut away!  This sounds like a lot of fun to me.

ShoeRevolt & sole Rebels

A friend introduced me to both of these organizations:

" is like no other online shoe boutique you have visited before; we are a family, a league of shoe styling girlfriends fighting together for one goal. The goal is simple, to kick sex trafficking to the curb with every shoe purchase."

Sole Rebels is a fair trade company based in Addis Abba.  Sole Rebel's is fair trade, puts it's workers first; paying them livable wages and teaching them a trade that is sustainable for the future. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I voted.  They had already run out of stickers by 9:45. 

Gabe played at the Children's Museum.

Gabe was not happy when the little girl climbed in the back!

I started listening to Christmas music on the car ride home from the Children's Museum.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip milkshakes are now available at Chick-fil-A.  We didn't stop but just seeing the sign out front filled me with momentary giddiness. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday 2012

17 years ago President Clinton designated November as National Adoption/Orphan Awareness month. 
Nine years ago the Christian Alliance for Orphans joined with Every Orphan's Hope to create Orphan Sunday.  Today, November 4, marks orphan Sunday.

This year's Orphan Sunday video being shown in churches, community centers and homes all over the world today:

Did you watch it?  Did it make you want to do something to help the orphan, to ensure each and every child knows they are loved by a mom and dad, a family, God?

Not sure yet?  I understand it's easy to look past the orphan crisis when it doesn't affect you personally.  It's easy to skim over verses in the Bible that don't apply to you.  I do it, we all do it.  But it doesn't make it okay. 

Four years ago I was made aware of Orphan Sunday.  I knew the world had a lot of orphans, Matt and I were at the end of our home study phase of the foster-adopt program and growing up I always knew I wanted to adopt.  But I didn't realize the severity of the problem.  I grew up with a mom and dad and never once had to wonder if they loved me, if they would provide for me.  An estimated 163 million orphans worldwide do not have that luxury.

After Gabriel came home, Matt and I continued to feel God's leading to adopt again, internationally this time.  We chose an agency, applied and began the process to bring home the little one we're currently waiting for.

Up late one night I found this video by Eric Lundy:

Watching this video, even now, evokes so many strong emotions.  I believe the Depraved Indifference video needs to be shown at every Orphan Sunday, in homes where our children are cared for and loved, at Life Groups and Bible studies....

Have you watched it?  Still not sure that God wants you to care for the fatherless? 

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.  -Psalm 68:5

He executed justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner giving to him food and clothing  -Deuteronomy 10:18

Asher shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; neither will we say any more to work of our hands,  Ye are our gods; for in the the fatherless find mercy.  -Hosea 14:3

But do you see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.  -Psalm 10:14

To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that the man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.  -Psalm 10:18

Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.  -Exodus 22:22

And my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and you wives shall become widows and your children fatherless   -Exodus 22:24

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,
and the writers who keep writing oppression,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that the widows may be their spoil,
and that they make the fatherless their prey.   -Isaiah 10:14

 So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty.  -Malachi 3:5

We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows.   -Lamentations 5:3

Cursed by anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, that fatherless and the widow.  And all the people shall say Amen.  -Deuteronomy 27:19 

Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves.  Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts.  They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widows cause does not come to them.  -Isiah 1:23

They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless.  -Psalm 94:6

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right.  Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed.  Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed blood in his place.   -Jeremiah 22:3 

because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him.  -Job 29:12
Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.  -Zechariah 7:10
Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives. Your widows too can trust in me.  -Jeremiah 49:11
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.   -Psalm 82:13
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.  -Isaiah 1:17
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.   -James 1:27
20 verses regarding the orphans in the Bible and there are plenty more! 
So two videos, 20 scripture verses.... what's my point? 
My point is simple.
God commands us to care for the orphans.  And by caring for the orphans, I don't mean adoption.  While adoption is a wonderful way to live out God's redemptive love for us, not everyone is called to adopt.  And adoption is not the answer for the orphan crisis (more on that, later)
We are the answer. 

How that looks is different for everyone but there is something for everyone to do.  Foster children, join an orphan ministry, shop fair trade products that benefit orphans, volunteer at your local pregnancy crisis center or with a big brother/ big sister program, join Feed the Children and help provide food for hungry children or donate to Water Missions International and help provide clean water to 3rd world countries.   There are so many options, we all just need to join together and do something. 

One of my favorite Bible verses is Micah 6:8.  It may not specifically mention caring for the orphans but for me, this verse couldn't be any more clear. 

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

October Numbers

Boys List: 55 ( no movement)
Girls List: 71 ( down 1)
Siblings List: 29 (up 3 - families expanded their parameters)

Discouraged.  Impatient.  Sad.  Confused.  Desperate.

Yet still clinging on to hope.  Lots and lots of hope.  And faith. 

But if you see me and ask about our adoption, the wait or our numbers, please understand that if I stumble through my words or my eyes well with tears, it's not because you said something wrong or I don't want to talk about it.  I do want to talk about it and I love talking about it.  It's just that it's hard.  Really, really hard. 

Despite it being hard, we know God is faithful. 
While we can't yet understand the reason's why it's taking so long, we know that one day, just as it was when Gabe came home, the tears, the fears and the hurt will all be worth it. 

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm,
for God can be trusted to keep his promise."
- Hebrews 10:23

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy 30th Birthday to the Greatest!

The greatest husband, friend and confident a girl could ask for and the greatest daddy a little boy could want!
From Gabe: 
Happy birthday, to the worlds best daddy! 
I love you and can't wait to play basketball jones and westle with you tonight to celebrate!
From me:
Happy birthday, Matt! I used to think it was so corny when women would say their husband was their best friend.  But now I understand.  Thank you for holding my hand through all the ups, downs and craziness that we've encountered through these first 9 birthdays we've celebrated together.  I love you more today than yesterday and would do it all over again!  Happy birthday older man!