Friday, November 21, 2008

Need vs. God's Will

There are days when I hate the whole adoption process. You know, the days when you want to close your eyes and click your heels together 3X and say: "There's no place like my imaginary world. There's no place like my imaginary world." And suddenly you find yourself in the midst of that world of soft edges and perfect color. A world where everything flows just right and is perfect. Perfect decisions, perfect people, perfect situations. A perfection that requires little from you because you are perfect too.

I'm having one of those days when I hate the adoption process. It's one of those days when I wish I was waking up in my imaginary world, but instead am faced with NEED. How do you handle it?

How do you handle seeing a need so great that it is hard to even look at it? Even worse, how do you handle it when you finally do look and realize that you meeting that need is contrary to God's will? Need vs. God's is hard to deal with...but even harder when it deals with human life.

I am struggling...struggling with the knowledge that God is probably telling me to step away from faces filled with some of the deepest need I have seen because it is not His will for us. I am struggling not to feel like I am abandoning these faces. I'm trying so hard to remind myself that I am leaving them in Palm of His hand. But it doesn't help...because I am struggling with the pain of their NEED and the knowledge that I could meet it if I chose. But how do you choose to meet a need contrary to God's will? And are you really meeting that need if you do?

There are days when I hate the whole adoption process...I'm having one of those days.

Friday, November 14, 2008

HIV Adoptions: Oh Yes You Can!

This is a great short video that talks about the realities of adopting HIV positive children. As we look towards our future adoption from Uganda and the possibility that one of our children may have this condition...we want all of our friends and family to be educated on what that means. This video is a great starting point. Take a few minutes if you can and watch it.
(once it opens up the page for you, click on the link to watch the whole episode)

Carolyn Twietmeyer called her husband at work one day and said she found the children they were supposed to adopt, and one of them is HIV positive. Kiel Twietmeyer didn’t really know how to respond. After about two weeks of contemplation the couple decided they had to go to Ethiopia to adopt the three siblings orphaned by AIDS. Before leaving to come home to the U.S., Carolyn took her son to visit his friends at the orphanage. It was during this visit that she met Selah, also orphaned by AIDS and living with stage four AIDS. Today, as the newest Twietmeyer child, Selah’s health has significantly improved with the help of antiretroviral drugs, a dose of hope, and lots of love from a blended family.

The idea of adopting a child with HIV isn’t rare. Margaret Fleming, founder of Adoption Link and Chances By Choice, an adoption agency for HIV/AIDS orphans, says there are many parents desiring to adopt a child with HIV. Today with the advancement of antiretroviral medications the lifespan of a child living with HIV has greatly increased. Mary Austin, an RN and adoption advocate with the agency says the virus is often times more manageable than diabetes. Margaret has adopted three children with HIV and Mary has adopted one child with HIV.

The United Nations reports there are 14 million AIDS orphans worldwide. 22 million people have died from AIDS with 74% of that population living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paperwork Party!

Well, yesterday we took another major step forward in our Ugandan adoption. We had put it on hold for a season because it was looking like we would be welcoming 2 orphans from the US into our family. Thankfully, extended family members of these two dear children stepped up and took them under their wings. So we're now back to walking through this amazing, challenging process.

I was finally able to finish all the paperwork for our international homestudy and mail it into the agency. Now we wait for them to contact us later this week and set up a time to meet with our social worker to finalize the homestudy. We're both excited about this and nervous as well.

I think the money has begun to feel more daunting to us lately. It has kept me up the last several nights. I lay awake trying to brainstorm ways to supplement our income without leaving Boo or over-extending our family life. (which is arguably already over-extended) I felt myself getting more and more despondent over the situation. In fact, I started to question if we were even supposed to do this. Was I pushing something on our family that God didn't want?

The Major has been my rock through this whole time. He has not wavered once in his desire to see this through nor has his faith wavered that God will provide for us to bring these new recruits home to our arms. I'm so thankful for this man of God I am following. He is so wise and teaches me everyday about trusting God to do what He said He would.

So, we've moved forward...after praying together over the paperwork, we sent it away with all the hope, fear, and excitement that encompasses each step of an international adoption. May the Lord show Himself faithful on behalf of orphans worldwide!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Two for ONE! (Part 2)

Pvt Boo's first birthday celebration finished off with a bang this weekend. We were able to have a small party at our home with family and friends from the area. It was supposed to be a butterfly tea party...but our state decided to have 85 degree weather in November. So, with the help of my most awesome mother-in-law, Grandma G, we punted and had butterfly punch instead with lots of "tea" snacks. The weather was gorgeous and once again we just sat amazed at the blessing of our daughter and the impact of her life already on those around her.

One interesting note...our daughter hated opening presents. We thought that with all the ripping of paper and magazines that happens around our house these days, she would really be into it. We were very wrong! After trying several times to get her interested she started to cry. So, cousin Jameson came to the rescue and opened them all for her. His observation when he was done: "This is the happiest day of my life." Who knew opening gifts for someone else could bring such immense joy?!

Hope you enjoy the following pictures. Alot of these are for the many family members who were unable to be there with us. We love you and thought of you often!

Our Little Butterfly

The "tea" table

Butterfly cupcakes again...a little different style this time

Devouring her cupcake...she knew what to do this time.

The end result...she was totally covered!

In her Hanbok
(This is in honor of our dear friends in Korea. We had Boo participate in a ceremony they do on the first birthday called Dol Jan Chee. The child has several items placed in front of them and chooses one that is supposed to signify their life later on. Not sure if you can tell from this picture, but Boo chose a book on the ground first and then the money. The love of books I can help with, but she must have a rich uncle somewhere...cause the money won't be coming from us.)

Two for ONE! (Part 1) I know I am so behind in blogging, but life has been extremely full lately. On October 29th we celebrated Pvt Boo's 1st birthday. It's so incredible to think that it has already been a year since we brought our little 4.5lbs girl home. She is now a healthy, active toddler who is getting into everything!

Because of scheduling conflicts, Boo got to have not just one, but two parties for her birthday. The first one was on her birthday and we had the added blessing of being able to celebrate it with her other mom: Miss D. We all had so much fun loving on our girl and being able to meet Miss D's dad and Boo's grandfather: Grandpa C. She wasn't sure about her birthday cupcake at first, but soon realized how delicious it really was. It didn't take long for her to devour it.

Here are a few pictures from our time that evening:

Miss D & Pvt Boo

Boo's butterfly cupcake tower

Totally enthralled with her cupcake

Grandpa C meeting Boo for the first time

Our beautiful gift from God!

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

12 Months of Pure Joy!

I know I've been remiss in blogging. Life has been crazy with traveling, etc. I do have several posts waiting in the wings which I hope to get up here soon. For now, this post will have to do. I am amazed at how fast time has flown and that my little girl is now 1. Hope you enjoy this look at the last 12 months.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Fun (?)

Last weekend I took Pvt Boo to the pumpkin patch with our local MOMS group. One of my dear friends and Boo's partner in crime, Mr. J, joined us for the adventure. Let's just say the day was a flop...and it wasn't the little ones' fault either. They were perfect gems.

I don't know about you, but when I think of October and going to the pumpkin patch memories of a brisk day with cool air and the delicious smell of fall soil fill my mind. Hot apple cider and hay stuck in your shorts and hair from the hay ride and rolling down the hay slide. Yeah...not one of those things happened.

The day was extremely HOT! No crisp fall air here. We did get a hay ride...without hay. (?) So, I guess technically it was just a ride. Oh and did I mention it was HOT and dusty?! We saw a few farm animals. Boo was too hot to be remotely interested in them...although Mr. J thought the baby chicks looked yummy enough to eat. When we finally got to the section where we could pick our pumkins both kids and the adults were so hot and thirsty that we quickly chose our souveniers, took a few pictures, and unanimously decided to head back home to air conditioning and iced tea. We enjoyed the rest of the day hanging out and watching the kids play together. They both were extremely happy to be out of the heat...and so were we!

Maybe someday I introduce Boo to a real pumpkin patch experience complete with hot apple cider and real hay! Here are some of the pictures we got that day:
Ready for an adventure

Moms & Kids on the hayless hay ride

Mr. J was totally ready to eat the baby chick! Yum!

They are so cute...but so hot. Poor dears!

Boo is clapping (are we done yet) while Mr J tries to see if her pumpkins is better than his.

Kisses for Momma!

This photo cracks me up! Between the look on Boo's face and Mr. J eating the sign, it totally depicts the day and our experience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where does time go?

On September 29th, Pvt Boo turned 11 months. I really don't know where the time has gone. I've been pretty nostalgic lately as I've been realizing more and more that my baby isn't a baby any more. She's really coming in to her own lately and is turning into a little girl.

This month she started getting more and more independent. She plays on her own happily for long periods of time. I love to watch her interact with her toys and babble at them. I only wish I knew what she was telling them. She is also pulling herself up on everything! I have a feeling she'll be walking by the end of the year. She is such a happy and joyful child. Her smile just melts our hearts and constantly reminds us of the joy God must feel towards us...His children.

We are in the midst of planning her first birthday party with her Mom and extended family. It will be the first time that Boo will get to meet her biological cousins and aunts and uncles. Part of me is extremely nervous, the other part is thankful and excited. I want Boo to always know how deeply she is loved, not only by us, but also by her other family. Love placed her in our arms and Love is what continues to hold her and support her. Please pray for our time with her extended family, that God would give us grace and wisdom as we learn how to walk in an open adoption.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of Pvt Boo from last month. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It only took us a year and a half since coming to LA, but we FINALLY found a church! I'm so excited and for the first time in a long time...I'm feeling fed spiritually. I know our main focus in attending church shouldn't be for our own selfish needs, but coming off the missionfield battered and bruised, I'm in need of some serious healing. New City has already helped me to begin the process to wholeness.

It takes us about 30 minutes to get to church each Sunday, but it is worth every minute of the drive. NCC is a brand new church in downtown LA and their focus is to bring together people of every walk, culture, and ethnicity. It looks a lot like I envision heaven...just on a smaller scale. As soon as you walk in the door, you are covered in love from those around you. There is a vulnerability amongst the members that encourages honesty and realness.

NCC is a hospital. They are welcoming in sinners of every walk and lovingly tending their wounds. They don't compromise on truth though. Their love of all people doesn't equal acceptance of sin. They don't ignore the disease that is killing each person walking into their midst, but make sure that they are aware of what is truly making them sick and then seek to bring them to the healing table of the Great Physician.

Sitting in the NCC is uncomfortable sometimes for those who are used to normal evangelical churches...but we like that we're being stretched. It is good for a weekly reminder of why Jesus came to this earth in the first place. I don't think He or the disciples were comfortable with all the sick and maimed people that came around Him either. But He welcomed them, loved them, fed them, and ultimately for many, healed them. What better example to follow than this?!

If you're ever in the LA area on a Sunday...we'd love to have you join us! You will be loved and challenged...and more importantly meet Jesus amongst "the least of these."

You can check out more about the church here:

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Mother...

"A mother is likened unto a mountain spring that nourishes the tree at its root, but one who mothers another's child is likened unto a water that rises into a cloud and goes a long distance to nourish a lone tree in the desert."
~The Talmud~

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sesame Street, Sickness, and Sewing

WARNING: This is a very random post. There is no rhyme or reason to what is shared below...simply a post of the random things of life in our home.

Well, our home was recently hit with unknown sickness. Poor Boo got hit the hardest with an extremely high fever and small tummy upset. She was so pitiful. This was her first time being sick and she really was an easy patient. She drank her activated charcoal which quickly took care of the tummy problem. The fever has been a whole different story. It just keeps hanging on. Boo is a trooper though and dutifully takes her meds while watching copious amounts of Sesame Street. Since there are only a few songs that she likes and that we approve of...the Major and I have caught ourselves singing them throughout the day. Suffice it to say, we can now count to four while singing about chickens, penguins, and monsters.

Here are some pictures of our sweet sick girl:

Drinking her activated charcoal

Such a sweet face!

Resting on Daddy's chest...her favorite place

Watching Sesame Street on Mommy & Daddy's bed

One other random thing that I am totally stoked sewing table! I was perusing Craigslist last week as I normally do and came across a beautiful desk that would fit perfectly in our room and work as my sewing table. We got it for steal and now my sewing machine has it's own little corner and I can actually use it to my heart's delight! I can't wait to get started since I have several projects waiting for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seeing Jesus

Every once in a while I'll have a moment where the Lord just steps in out of the blue and opens my eyes about something. I confess, it is not as often as I would like...I think some of that is my own fault for not being more aware of His presence and the multitude of lessons He has all around me. For some strange reason though, I got it this time. I heard and I am still pondering. And just to make sure I got it...He set me up with an experience last night that just emphasized what He has been saying to me. Bear with me as I try to explain it all.

I just finished reading Ted Dekker's Circle trilogy: Black, Red, & White. It's a great trilogy to read if you have the time. Anyway, one of the challenges in the book was a struggle between those in "the Circle" to see Christ's Bride in people of "the Horde". The Horde is stricken with a disease that makes them smell horribly and causes their skin to turn white and fall off. Not a pretty picture. One character in particular goes through a struggle to convince the others that their view of the Horde is wrong...they should be seeing them through the eyes of Christ as part of the Bride He is trying to woo. I won't tell you the end of the story, but I will say I was convicted that too often I allow myself to be put off by the outward appearance of those I come in contact with. I only see their "disease". I rarely view them the way Christ does. It was hard to admit to myself that in this way, I was acting very Pharisaicle. (is that a word?)

As I pondered that the last week, the Lord brought in His second lesson and it dealt with our adoption. As we initially discussed our openness to specific children and medical issues that they might have, we looked at it from a very practical view point. We're missionaries and probably won't have the ability to handle some of the special needs children like those who are HIV+ It made reasonable sense at the time. Then God...stepped in and questioned me. Why was I willing to accept any child with any challenge He might send me via my womb, but I was so quickly setting boundaries on the children He wanted to bring us via adoption? It was a smack in the face. We hadn't really taken time to ask Him what His opinion was in this situation. We just assumed He would see it our way. So, I tentatively asked Him what He thought...

"Whatever you do to the least of do to ME."

It broke my heart and even as I write this brings tears to my eyes. How did I miss Him so easily?! He was standing there in front of me all the time. Those children are His bride just like me and even more powerful...those children are my opportunity to serve Jesus. As I open my heart to them and their pain, I am opening my heart to Jesus, to embrace HIS heart and HIS pain. What an honor! I was floored. The next day, I discussed what I had been shown with the Major and we have begun a season of prayer to discern how the Lord wants us to move forward and what openness HE wants us to have...not necessarily what openness we're comfortable with.

But what about the practical side??? Yes, I can hear some of you asking that with great concern in your voices. I asked Him the same thing...and His response silenced me.

"Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Light."

He assured me He would provide. If I gave birth to a child with diabetes,there would be no doubt that we would find a way to provide the needed medicine and care wherever we were in the world...why should it be any different with a child that comes to us through adoption? God withholds NOTHING from us who have come into His family through His children, why would we act any different?

The final lesson came via an experience we had last night. We had taken a crew of the cadets contra-dancing for the first time. For those of you who haven't gone before, contra-dancing seems to draw in some pretty interesting characters...people who most of us would probably never talk to or avoid at all costs. Word got around quickly that we were from a Christian University and I was very aware of the huge witnessing opportunity the cadets had that evening. As the evening progressed, I was very disappointed in their actions. In fact, I was so disappointed that for the first time, I pulled the group aside and gave them a very harsh chastisement. They were to be Christ that night...and their actions were more like Pharisees. Where was the humility? Where was the principle of seeing past the outside? Where was Jesus? Jesus not only hung around with weird people, but HE reached out and touched the most diseased. They had not left the scent of Christ...but of judgmentalism and arrogance.

As I drove home alone that night thinking about what I had just said to the cadets, my heart became soft again as I realized I wasn't alone in the car. Jesus sat next to me with a small smile on His face.

"You're getting it daughter."

"Am I, Lord? I know what you're telling me and yet I'm still nervous. I'm still afraid to reach out and touch them. I know I will when the time comes, but I'm afraid I won't do it in love, but only out of duty and obedience to You."

What He said to me next nearly broke me right there in the car:
"You will feel love, my daughter....because you will be touching ME!"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

10 Months of Joy!

Pvt Boo just recently turned 10 months and we are amazed at how fast the time has flown by. She has changed so much from the little preemie we brought home almost a year ago. She was such a serious little baby and is turning into a joyful child whose miles light up the whole room. She is now crawling all over the place and pulling herself up on everything. She babbles alot and is definitely trying to communicate with us. She loves her Daddy and goes crazy the minute he walks in the door. We so grateful for her presence in our lives and love watching her grow into a godly woman.

We've been in touch with Boo's mom and are starting to plan her first birthday party. After alot of prayer, I decided to allow her mom to do most of the planning. In our discussions it has become really obvious that this is extremely important to her. I want this to be not only a good memory for her, but also for Boo to look back on. We won't always be in proximity to her mom and I want them to build as many moments together as possible. It will also provide a great introduction to the extended family. I am nervous about meeting them all, but I'm trusting the Lord to go ahead of us and use this time to give us more insight into Boo's history and another set of family members to love. Keep praying for this...Open Adoptions are so unique and each one is its own set of unchartered waters. I am learning as I go and praying like crazy that our decisions not only honor God, but are healthy for all parties involved.

Here are some updated pictures of Pvt Boo for those who are far away:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Paper Chase...

Well, we finally received all the necessary paperwork needed to begin our next adoption. I am always amazed at the sheer volume of things that need to be filled out, copied, ordered, and notarized. It is moments like this that I am grateful that God has blessed me with a level of organization and a husband who is also extremely organized.

Speaking of the Major...I am watching him through the window trying to study Greek and Hebrew while keeping an eye on Pvt Boo playing in her baby pool. Not sure if he's having success or not. She seems to be splashing him too much and keeping his attention. He's such an awesome Daddy!

OK...back to topic. Paper chasing. It's quite an exercise in patience and planning. It is also loads of fun for those of us who love to check off lists. I get excited when I'm able to add one more piece of paper to the pile and check it off the cover page. Once you have the whole pile assembled, there is a huge sense of accomplishment and joy as you realize what a major step you've just made towards your children.

We actually have 2 different stacks of papers that I have to assemble. One is for our new homestudy and the other is our dossier for Uganda. The homestudy paperwork isn't new to us and is actually moving along fairly quickly. There isn't nearly as much needed this time around as we did for Pvt Boo. The dossier, however, is a totally different story. Goodness! we have quite a ways to go on that one, but thankfully some of the stuff overlaps and it too shouldn't take too awefully long to complete.

Timing is everything for us right now. Our goal is to have our paperwork finished and sent to Uganda by the first part of April 2009. This would have us traveling sometime in May or June to bring our kids home.

For those of you who have asked about the process, it goes something like this:
  1. Complete Homestudy (the end of December)
  2. Submit I-600A to Homeland Security to get permission to bring the kids home. We should receive an answer from them in 60-90 days.
  3. Submit dossier to Uganda government and NGO. (Beginning of April)
  4. Once our dossier is approved, we will receive a referral (picture, names, and description of the children we're adopting) This usually only takes 1-2wks.
  5. Upon acceptance of the referral from us, they will submit the paperwork and should have a court date for us in less than 1 month.
  6. We scurry to buy tickets and head to Uganda to get our kids. The Major will have to be with me for at least the first week. I will then stay another 2-3weeks more finishing paperwork with both the Ugandan government and also the American embassy.
  7. Bring our children home for good and officially adopt them here in the States. (we are only given legal guardianship of this children while in Uganda. The adoption does not take place until we return to the States.)

So, that's a quick update/overview of where we are in the overall process. Keep in mind this is Africa and anything can happen. It will be an adventure and we are truly looking forward to it! Thanks for all the encouraging words and support.

Live Brave!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Beads & Braids

I know it's been too long since I last wrote on here. Things got a little crazy around here and we also had the awesome privilege of having a dear college friend and her fiance come visit us from the east coast. We had way too much fun and their presence was such an encouragement to me personally. Just so all my friends back home know...I miss you tremendously!

So, I thought I'd do a little mommy bragging this post. I have a few more meaningful posts waiting in the wings, but this one's just pure bragging.

Pvt Boo's hair has really thinned from losing alot of her baby hair, but it is starting to grow out again. I was really struggling with what to do on the back of her head because although it was of it were really long. So I decided to try my hand at beading. My first try looked ok and Boo actually did really well with sitting mostly still for me.
Now, that I had figured out how easy it really was to do, I thought I'd try again and focus a bit more on what I was doing. After several rounds of Sesame Street, we ended up with an awesome set. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how this one came out. She looked so cheerful and I got alot of comments from people when we'd go out in public. Here it is:
I also found a wrap for her hair at night. I wasn't sure how she would do with it, but she kept it on really well and it has made a huge difference in the softness of her hair. It has also done a great job of keeping the styling from coming out. My African Queen:

I just redid her braids and beads in Camo colors for the Major's big opening weekend at the University ROTC program. I'll post those pics later. Suffice it to say, she is the star of the show in her camo braids and ACU jumper.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pearls of Africa

Many of you have asked about the latest adoption adventure we're involved in now. Since we have made it official as of yesterday, I thought I would jot a quick note today about how God brought us to this point.

The Major and I have begun the process to adopt a sibling group of 3 children under the age of 7yrs from Uganda, Africa. I know, I probably think we're crazy. That's the usual response we get from people. Or we hear "Are you sure you can handle that?" To be honest, no, I don't know if I can handle it and we probably are crazy, but Love makes you act that way sometimes.

Even while we were courting, the Major and I discussed our desire for a big family and how adoption would be a part of that equation. When God closed my womb we realized that we had been given an incredible opportunity to impact children's lives from around the world who may never know what the word "family" means. As the time approached to finalized Shiloh's adoption we began to discuss our next addition to the family. We both wanted to go international this time. The Major wanted to focus on war orphans and I wanted to bring home a sibling group since they usually had a harder time being adopted. As we began to pray for God to guide us to where...Rwanda was placed on hearts. After doing a ton of research and making connections, the door to Rwanda shut. We were confused and not sure where to go from there. We had felt pretty sure that we were supposed to focus on that area of the world. We went back to God and asked again.

Within a few weeks, we had 3 totally different people mention Uganda to us. I did some research and was horrified at the situation going on in that country. I found myself angry that our media was so blatantly ignoring this country and grieved at the suffering of my brothers and sisters there. If you want more information check out: & And you can read the book: Girl Soldier by McDonnell & Akallo

The Major and I became really excited about this possibility, but were once again confused and frustrated when we found out that the government requires you to live in Uganda for 3 years before you can adopt. Then God stepped in and put us in touch with an organization here in our area that is working with an NGO group in Uganda to facilitate adoptions. As we emailed back and forth, we began to realize that God was throwing open this door and it was an amazing opportunity to adopt from a country with real needs where very few people were willing to go.

Yesterday, we met face to face with the head of the agency we are working with and handed in our first round of paperwork officially starting the process. It will take some time, but we are excited and trust that God will provide everything we need emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially for this adventure.

I will keep you all posted on each step of the journey. Hopefully, I'll get some time in a later post to explain exactly how the process will go, so you can be praying with us through each step. Thank you all again for your love and support of us through this. We look forward to meeting the African children God has chosen for our family!

Live Brave & Love Crazy!! =)