Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Trees of Glory!!!

I am copying and pasting this blog entry in order to help raise funds for this project. Please read below.....


So, here it is. Your big chance to join with me and the folks at Children's Hopechest to impact the lives of 84 needy kids in Ethiopia.

~A shocking statistic. Americans spend 450 BILLION dollars year after year after year buying stuff each Christmas. Usually, the stuff purchased is a luxury item and often it is forgotten by the new year. This year, we have the opportunity to give gifts that matter and have an ongoing impact.

Trees of Glory needs funding to construct a barn to house 5 cows. The cows will graze the land that is at risk of being taken back by the government, thereby fulfilling the land use requirement and protecting the land. Remember, this land is a vital piece of property at TOG as it separates the school from an existing well. It's a pretty simple solution to the problem. One that doesn't sound very heroic. But, for people who struggle just to survive, this is an insurmountable hurdle and it will make a big difference for them.

That's where you and I come in. For just $1100, Hopechest can purchase the supplies needed to construct the barn. Hopechest has estimated the cost of each cow to be about $900. So, for about $5600, the land at Trees of Glory will be protected. This project will not only protect the land, but it will also provide a sustainable food source and good source of protein from the cows' milk and give the care point a potential income source.

While $5600 may sound like a lot, let's break that down a bit. Like I said, I'm not sure how many people read this blog, but even if just 10 blog readers made the commitment to pass this information on and worked to raise a tenth of the money needed, that would only be $560 per blogger. You wouldn't be committing to giving that much money, just to spreading the word, advocating for these kids and inspiring others to give a gift that really matters this year. If your blog reached 10 people who committed to spreading the word and encouraging donations, the need would be met if each of those bloggers raised just $56 each. So you see, if we all work together, the larger sum becomes much more manageable.

So what I'm really hoping is that at least 10 of my blog readers will respond and commit to advocating for these kids over the next month through your blogs, emails and/or facebook pages so we can get this money raised ASAP for Trees of Glory.

So here's how the fundraiser works. We're calling this fundraiser "Christmas Trees of Glory" because we want you to look at your Christmas lists this year in a different light. Think about your part of that 450 billion that Americans will collectively spend on Christmas gifts in 2010. Now this year, instead of going to Target or Toys R Us, do some of your shopping online by making a donation (of any amount) to the Trees of Glory Livestock Fund (all donations will be given directly through Hopechest's secure website).

You will then receive a gift card like the one pictured below (designs may vary slightly) and an envelope for each of the donations that you make. So, if you want to make a $5 donation for 5 of the people on your gift list (think teachers, co-workers, relatives, friends...), you'll donate $25 to Hopechest and then email me at to let me know that you've made a donation (that way we can track the donations and make sure they are allocated properly to the livestock fund). Also include your address and the number of gift cards/envelopes that you need and we'll mail them off to you. The back of the card will briefly detail how your gift will impact the lives of the kids at TOG.

Pretty simple right?

To review:
Make a donation at / (go to the site, click on the orange GIVE button on the far right side at the top of the home page)

Under "Gift Information," click on "choose a fund" and select "designated gifts"

Then write in your gift amount (if you're giving gift cards to more than one person, just add up the total amount to be given and write it in the blank, then when you email me, just clarify the number of total gift cards needed-that will save you from having to make multiple donations)

Then (this is the important part) under the "notes field" be sure to add in the Trees of Glory Livestock Fund code which is "ET2119000 LIVESTOCK."

Finally, add in your info and follow the prompts to complete your donation.

Once you complete your donation, send me an email at jirvin79@gmail .com with your donation amount, your mailing address and the number of gift cards that you need and we'll send it out to you within the next few days. So that we are able to get the cards to you before Christmas, please make all donations prior to December 18th. If we have not met our goal by then, we will continue fundraising through other avenues, but the gift cards will no longer be sent.

I know that's a lot of information all at once. If you have any questions, please email me.

I'd also love for you to send me a comment if you are planning on posting this information on your blog or other outlet just so I can have an idea of who's participating. Feel free to copy any information posted here and encourage your blog readers to post it on their blogs so that we can reach as many readers as possible.

You can be creative in your advocating and even do other fundraisers of your own (ie. bake sales, garage sales, raffles....) to raise funds. The goal is to raise all of the funds. How we do it makes no difference.

I've been praying about this fund raiser for several weeks and my biggest prayer is that God will work in amazing ways and that all glory will be His.

Happy Blogging!!

Let's be the hope for these kids this Christmas!!!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Teunis Adoption T-Shirt Fundraiser starts TODAY!!!!

We are so excited to announce that our family has been selected by Wild OliveTees to be a featured family for an adoption fundraiser. How this works is, between 11/19 and 12/20 you can purchase Adoption T-Shirts at Wild Olive Tees and enter the coupon code TEUNIS1119.
They keep track of our sales and at the end of the fundraiser, they send us a check towards adoption funds. YAY!!!!
I dont know if any of you are familiar with this company, but their shirts are
wonderful, beautiful quality and such sweet designs with coordinating sacriptures. Please check it out by clicking the button here on the blog just to the right. These shirts make great holiday gifts too. Please help us spread the word!!!!!

As far as updates on our adoption status and where we are at, our homestudy is now in the hands of the state of Illinois and I am hopeful that the next few weeks will provide a little bit of movement. In the
meantime, we have this fundraiser and the holidays to focus on. I look forward to updating again very soon with SOME news of any kind. The next steps are so close and yet we cant take them just quite yet. Please pray for an extra measure of patience for me. I seem to get stuck between excitment and anxiousness and I am really trying to stay completely focused on God's timing in all of this.

All our love, Steve and Jennifer

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally an update!!!!!

I have been hesitant to post updates here, as there hadn't really been any...and now there are a couple, so here I am.

1~We were finally able to meet our new social worker, who has finished our homestudy. YAY!!!! Last Thursday the 22nd, she came to our home and had lunch with us. We spent some wonderful time getting to know one another. She is wonderful, and after meeting her, I am just so glad that she is in place to ride out the rest of this journey with us. I was pretty down and dissappointed and scared, quite frankly, when I found out that such a huge change (our initial social worker who completed all of the homestudy visits, quit before he wrote our report) was happening in the middle of our homestudy. It was a real exercise for me to not completely loose it and to keep reminding myself that God is in control and He is directing all the steps of this entire process. Then we met her....I just want to say..... I love her. She is awesome and thorough and fabulous. I feel in such good hands with her. It is so clear to see He had this all planned out all along.  So now our homestudy is in the approval stage and just about ready to join the pile of other waiting papers resting up for the journey to Ethiopia.

2~Last Tuesday, the 19th, I ventured downtown Chicago to the Sec of State office to get two very important documents certified. These two papers are vital parts of our dossier. So, I made the drive and navigated my way through the busy city streets and parked on the 9th floor of a parking garage, walked two blocks and up to the 10th floor to the office that would certify my documnets. All was going great. Not even a line. I filled out my form and approached the window, the girl behind the window told me it would be 4 $. AWESOME!!!  Then........she informed me that they could not certify my documents. Our dossier cover sheet was worded in a way that she said was not appropriate. I explained to her how this is form is issued by the State Department and this is exactly how it needs to be for them. She insited that it was wrong and that I was going to have to contact them and get a different form. She was not very pleasant either.  I will tell you, I about broke down crying right there. But I opted to put on a smile instead and remind myself that God has this, ALL of this. So I went home and did some investigating. I called our family coordinator and she was puzzled and even tried calling that office herself, same story. The odd thing is, other families from Illinois have taken this very same sheet to the very same office and had NO ISSUE. So I decided to part with these documents and send them off to the Sec Of State office in Springfield with a cover letter telling them what I needed and a check for 4 $, and TA- DA........TODAY, I recieved the documents back, certified and perfectly ready to head over to Ethiopia. I dont know what the issue was with the lady at that office downtown, she was downright rude to me and apperantly misinformed. I guess God just didnt want her involved in our paperwork...and that is just fine with me. Again, I was scared and frustrated and nervous about the next step, but again...He led the way, I followed, and all turned out perfectly.

So now, we just wait on this homestudy approval, hopefully it wont be too long. I know this much for sure, it wont be one second sooner or later that He sees fit. That I can totally trust in and rest with. This journey is just beginning and I know that there will be bumps in the road. I am just so grateful to have The Very Best Navigator in the universe, steering us and leading the way. Leading the way to the perfect baby girl He has for us.

3~ And Last but not least...on October 20th 2010, Zachary became a teenager. 13 years have flown by. WOW, I have 2 teenagers and a baby on the way. I am beyond blessed!!!!

Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for comforting me and helping me to keep my eyes focused on You and Your plan for our lives instead of being derailed by the roadblocks of life. This adoption journey is such an awesome experience and one that I am so grateful for You guiding us to. I pray Father, that You will continue to illuminate this path for us to see clearly the direction You have for us. I pray that You will continue to go before us and pave the way for the rest of this journey. I pray for Your Blessings on any and all people who are in any way involved in this process for us. The staff here in the states and over in Ethiopia. I pray for blessings and protection over our little girl's birth mother and father and whatever situations they are facing and enduring that contribute to the decision they make, to give this child up in order for us to love her and raise her. I thank You Father, for all of the friends and family You have provided for us, to encourage us and love us and celebrate with us along the way. My heart is overwhelmed with Love for You, and  I am so excited to watch and discover how You unfold the rest of this story in miraculous ways. Thank You for blessing me with fabulous teenage boys and for their hearts to being open and receptive to You. They are the joy of my life and I cant wait to see the big brothers they become to one sweet little sister!!!
In Jesus Precious Name~Amen

Monday, September 20, 2010

A journal entry........

Well there is still no real news to report regarding our little darling. I heard on Friday from our social worker and she said she hopes to have our homestudy report complete by mid-October. That is really it for the news. Well and the other part......we are REQUESTING A GIRL!!!! We were originally not going to specify a gender, but as we have been talking and dreaming and excitedly planning on this and that....we decided to put our request before God. We earnestly prayed for His blessing on our hope for a little girl. Things just started to happen and be shown to us that it is in fact OK to request a girl. So we are. And we are naming her Nevaeh Lee ( pronounced NEV-A-YA). Lee is Steve's middle name and then we will keep her Ethiopian name as her second middle name.

I look forward to having more to report next time. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and encouragement and excitment for us.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homestudy and more tales of summer 2010

I know it has been a while since I have updated the goings on for all things Teunis.I will start by saying that although we wrapped up our adoption homestudy on July1, we are still waiting on the finished report to send off to America World and then to the state of Illinois, so that we can move onto the next waiting phase of this wonderful journey. Part of the reason for the wait, is that our social worker is quitting the agency and he is now handing off our homestudy to someone new, by the way....someone we have never met. Although this is not supposed to be casue for alarm, it kind of has me feeling a bit anxious. I am trying to keep it under control, I know God is in this and He isnt going to allow for one more delay than He sees necessary and that makes me breathe a bit eassier.
We have spent the summer making some fun memories. I fell in love with Shipshewanna Indiana ( a sweet little Amish community and a real treasure of a place). Steve and I spent his birthday weekend in July there. S-L-O-W pace doesnt even come close to describing it.

We moved the kids bedrooms around and gave Zack's new room a makeover, baby's room will be next. I have spent alot of time reading. Lots of time on the porch swing.
We did some swing dancing on the wharf in Mystic Ct, as we caravanned with several friends on a road trip out to CBC (Christian Believers Conference.... in Boston. I have been learning to crochet and spending more time cooking and baking.
I guess you might say, I have been making an attemp at being more dileberate in my enjoying the sweet little moments and not getting so caught up in the busy-ness of life.I guess that thought is captured well in the theme song for my summer...America Honey ( I fell in love with that song this summer, it will forever represent  Summer 2010 to me).  

So as school gets back into full swing now, and football season is upon us....Here comes school concerts and crowded calendars and soon enough the snow will start to fly......I am so grateful for the sweet days of summer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Promises Of God

Watching all of this coverage of the Gulf Coast tugs at our heart, we just discovered this sweet place over Spring Break. We fell in love with it there. We decided very quickly that this was a new Teunis tradition. It was while we were enjoying this gem of a place and unwinding from life, that we decided to add to our family and ultimately to adopt. We so enjoyed our time there, and left for our drive back home, anxiously anticipating our next trip back. We are wondering now, will it ever be the same? Just look at this pristine beach. This world is so full of bad news and disappointment and hurt and devastation, that it is even more and more important to keep our eyes fixed on The Promises of God!!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Garage Sale was a SUCCESS!!!!!!!!

Well, I have to say......the donation garage sale was a smashing success. We had such a great turn out and the rain didnt 'rain on our parade' one bit. We had one good down-pour and our garage was packed with people during the little storm. We found that most everyone was really interested in our story and the adoption journey we are on. We had many discussions about the worldwide orphan crisis and the incredible need out there. We spoke with many people about our church and faith in our lives. It was a very blessed success. We raised quite a substantial little start for the 'Baby Teunis' fund.

In the midst of all of the goings on, I recieved an update on the next fundraiser to come, the t-shirt fundraiser. More on that coming in the next couple weeks. We also are finished with all of the paperwork stuff now, and we are moving towards the immigration form phase, next. Then the long wait begins....That's all for now!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adoption process update

Tomorrow is the big day.We are having our adoption fundraiser garage sale. No items are priced, everything is donation only. We are hoping the weather holds out and that the newspaper ad and the craigslist ad show some fruitage!!!! I cant wait to post on the success!

Today we had our second homestudy visit. All is moving along and now we just wait for our third and final visit, which is July 1. We are hopeful that by the end of July our report will be complete and ready to submit to the state of Illinois. We know there is alot of waiting ahead of us, we are so ok with that, we are just excited to be moving forward, even if it is baby steps. We know that each one, each day brings us one day closer to our little sweet baby Teunis.

Monday, June 7, 2010

                                                                   Isaiah 43:5-7

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the East and gather you from the West. I will say to the North, 'Give them up!' and to the South, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summers Comin....

Summer temps are here finally. School is out at the end of this week. The kids are all buzzing around with the sweet anticipation of summer break. Camps are soon upon us. Drivers Ed for the first time...we just got a trampoline, so there will be lots of bouncing going on. Looking forward to summer fun, makes me stop to remember what summers were to me as a child. My birthday is in the summer, right by the 4th of July, so I always loved that. My fondest memories were of being in Indiana. One of my first years going there, I guess I was about 11... I learned how to play Canasta and from then on...I loved spending long summer evenings playing cards. I learned that I ws terrified of thunnderstorms ( not so much anymmore), those were all new to this California girl. I fell in-love with the Grease movies and learned every word to every song....Swinging on the porch swing...water balloon fights. There was a small-town theater company called The Nettle Creek Players, they used to put on about 4 musicals every summer and it was my mission to see them all. What a blast....I learned to love musicals from those summers. The real show started after the nightly performance though, as the players were all housed, dorm style, in the house right next to my grandmothers. This made for lots of entertainment. Me and my sweet friend would spend evenings running from one window to the next spying on all of their partying. Then there was the summer we decided to only speak in pig-latin, oh boy....what fun memories.

I hope the kids enjoy summer in ways beyond late night XBOX gaming. I want to encourage them to make lifelong memories that will make them smile and laugh for years to come. I look forward to posting our summer adventures and silly tales. It is time for life to slow down a bit. Maybe I will teach them Canasta......

Saturday, May 22, 2010

'Thank You for the cross Lord, Thank You for the price You paid....bearing all my sin and shame, in love You came and gave amazing grace. Thank You for this love Lord, thank You for the nail pierced-hands, washed me in Your cleansing flow now all I know....Your forgivness and embrace.'

Worthy is The Lamb. Thank You Lord for sending Your Precious One for me. The more I think back to how I never knew you as a child, the more I can fully see Your Power in the calling on my life. I am so grateful for that. I am daily in awe at the evidence of You working in my life from the very beginning. Today is one of those days when my heart aches for not having grown up in a household that spoke your name in love instead of in vain. I know that there is nothing I can do about that, but I just love You so much that it stings to think that I spent 25 years not knowing You. It is this thought that keeps me searching for you daily and energizes me to make sure I do all I can so that my children know You. Thank You for them Lord. Thank You that among all of the names I can be called, frined, wife, daughter, sister, aunt Jen....that mother is one too. I have dreamed my whole life of nurturing babies and even though my babies are not babies any more....thank You for making their hearts sensetive enough to still allow me to baby them from time to time. Thank You for the opportunity that You are providing for me and Steve to bring another little one into our family.

While there are those who have broken my trust and broken my heart, It only makes me long for You more. I am asking Lord for You to bless those who curse me. Please Lord give me the wisdom and desire to shine even brighter in order for them to see You in me. Also Lord help me to know when to keep myself from harm emotionally by the lies and deciet of those who dont know the errors of their ways. Protect our family Lord, from the evil intent of this world.

I love You Lord.

In Jesus Name~ Amen

Friday, May 21, 2010

Father, Thank You for the ability You have given me through Your Son Jesus Christ to come to You in prayer. Thank You for designing my heart and my ears and eyes to be open to You.

I am mindful of those in my life who are struggling with different issues and illnesses and family issues and just life. I ask that you protect my dear friends from the enemy's arrows this day and provide them with strength and courage and Your wisdom for making important decisions. You have blessed me beyond measure with such dear friends and it is my honor to bring them to You in their times of distress.

I ask Your forgiveness where I fall short, and for Your continuing Grace that I may become stronger each day. Protect me Lord from the things and people and matters of this life that can so easily distract me from the path You have set before me. Help me to stay strong and focused and at the ready to serve, when those opportunities arise. Help me to be open and aware of how You are leading my life this day.

I am so grateful for Your provisions in my life, for the way You guide and lead our family and have blessed us with opportunities to show You in our lives. I ask that You continue to keep a hedge of protection around us and our children, including the new little one out there that we dont know yet. I ask for Your continued blessing on Steves job and his efforts in working so hard and balancing all that he does. We love You Lord ~ In Jesus Name....Amen
Application to America World 4/10/2010

Acceptance from America World 4/22/2010

Finger Printed for FBI and Illinois 5/6/2010

First Home Study Visit 5/10/2010

Physicals completed 5/17 and 18/2010

First Garage Sale for Adoption Fund 6/3 and 4/2010

All Paperwork for Dossier is officially aquired, now we wait for Homestudy Completion 6/7/2010

Second Homestudy Done. FBI Clearances are back. 6/11/2010

Final Homestudy done. now we wait for our Homestudy report so we can move to the next step. 7/1/2010

Sent our Application I-600 A  to immigration service. Cannot complete this process until the homestudy report is ready. 7/12/2010

Still waiting on that darn Homestudy 8/29/2010

Today we met our new social worker . She has completed our HomeStudy and it shall be VERY SOON for this process to be done. 10/21/2010

State Certified Documents returned to us. 10/27/2010

Homestudy approved by the state of Illinois 11/29/2010

Homestudy sent off to USCIS 12/6/2010


Final Fingerprints for USCIS Jan 3rd 2010 (our dossier is now ready and waiting for the last and final addition of our USCIS approval  then we can send it off)

Recieved our I-171h from Homeland Security. We are good to go. Sent off our dossier to AWAA. 1/10/11

Dossier approved , now we wait for our official DTE date. 1/11/11

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Things are all lining up!!!!

Well....we completed our physicals today. All bloodwork is in and papers are on Doc's desk. It seems so odd that things are just ticking along and no hurdles thus far. I am so grateful and also very mindful that the hurdles can be just around the next corner. But for now, I am just going to rejoice in the fact that things are all lining up. I am going to wrap up the last of the paperwork by the end of the week and by then our medical stuff should be back in and then.... we will just have to get all the papers in order, wait for reports and such that are still out(finger prints,background checks),and then complete our last 2 home visits.

Im starting to allow myself to dream...........

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our disappointments are God's appointments

This has been quite a day. As a matter of fact, today has been one of those days that went in a totally different direction that I had planned. Not that I really had any fantastic plans, but I just did not expect that He had something HUGE for me to do today. But He did and I am so grateful that I recognized the need and made time to answer His call.

In preparing for this adoption I have really taken notice of how God is using this prep work for His work on my heart. I have had to, and been moved to, examine things that I normally wouldn't, very closely. Maybe as part of our Home Study or maybe because I have had conversations with people who don't really quite understand what we are doing or why. In any case, I have been reminded of how God has led me and made himself known to me. Of how and why I have made the choices I have made and how those choices didn't really make much sense at the time, but they make perfect sense now. How God makes perfect sense of our nonsense when we simply let Him be The Leader of our life. My life has had many disappointments, but I am convinced that those disappointments were preparing me, all along, for this God Appointment. All of my life lessons have pointed me directly to Him. The more in-love I fall with Him, the more my heart wants to please Him and seek Him and do for Him.

Thank You God for transforming my ways to your ways and my disappointments to Your Appointments. Thank You for loving me and guiding me before I even knew You. Thank You for giving me eyes to see and for designing my heart to follow your lead.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First home study visit down. We are making good progress and looking forward to wrapping up the paperwork portion. I know we are a ways out, but it's so awesome to feel a bit of progress and to dream about our new little baby Teunis.

Mothers Day was sweet. We spent a nice lunch out after church with granny and then Steve and Rick and Zack all went with me to see the new movie/documentary "BABIES". Wow, what an eye opener that was. I am so grateful that God placed me in the USA. Its amazing to see what little ones endure as just normal in other countries, and yet we wouldnt even have our pets living in such conditions. I went to this movie expecting warm and fuzzies and actually hid my eyes for some parts. Im a wimp I guess.

Now we are off to dance practice. With our medal ball performance behind us, we are going to be working on fun stuff now.

Back to the grind.........

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunny Days and Sunny Ways

Today we got our first home visit officially booked....YAY!!!! Next Monday the 10th. We know the delays will inevitably come, but so far things are humming along.

As I was growing up, I always dreamed of babies. I always wanted babies. However, adoption never crossed my mind I have to say. I have never really known anyone personally who adopted either. So this whole process is quite new territory. I find it extrordinary, that with all of the longing in my heart to share baby experiences with Steve, God has blessed us beyond my wildest dreams by not only allowing us to experience baby things together, but that it is a whole new experience for both of us altogether, through adoption. It's so wonderful to feel God's hand in our lives and I am so grateful for His leading and His timing and His perfect way.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Teunis's Now and Forever

We took an evening off, away from the paperwork and did a little waltz.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We are officially on the paper chase

ALL of the documents we need to proceed arrived today. All the agency paperwork and all of the home study paperwork. I will be busy for a while, just sorting it all out is a chore. That is to be expected though, it probably seems more overwhelming than it actually will turn out to be.

Today I made our physical appointments and tomorrow is our first fingerprint day. We know this process will take time and that God is in control every step of the way. We are so excited, this is such a wonderful adventure.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coming Soon...

Favorite Quotes

'Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can' ~ John Wesley

'Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn't grow under my heart, but in it.' ~ Anonymous

'Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but Im afraid God might ask me the same question.' ~ Anonymous

'All the blessings we enjoy are divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.' ~John Clavin

Facts on Ethiopia

~There are an estimated 6 million orphans in Ethiopia, a country of 82 million. (U.N. Dispatch News)

~Gross National Income per Capita(World Bank 2008)

Switzerland $ 55,510
U.S. $ 47,930
Japan $ 38,130
U.K $ 46,040
Mexico $ 9,990
Egypt $ 1,800
India $ 1,040
Bangladesh $ 520
Keya $ 730
Ethiopia $ 280

~Infant mortality rate
77 deaths/1,000 live births

~Life expectancy at birth
total population: 49.03 years
male: 47.86 years
female: 50.24 year (2006 est.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Our Decision to Adopt.

Our hearts have been on a journey to this place for longer than we have known. Once God revealed this to us, we just knew without a doubt that our hearts and our family were created for this.

God has blessed our family beyond measure. Honestly, it would seem that we have it all. We have a wonderful love story, we have 4 healthy children. A beautiful home in a wonderful, safe Midwestern community, A successful business. God has led us as we have have triumphed through our own personal heartbreak and He held the wheel that helped us navigate our children through the stress and adjustment of a blended family. We have laughed and cried and prayed our way to this wonderful place of peace in our lives. It would seem strange perhaps then, that we would each feel this longing for something more. Not in a way of needing something else, not discontentment....but that God might HAVE something else for us? An opportunity to serve, to enrich, to bless, to be blessed? Maybe any of those, maybe all of them, maybe more that we can even imagine.

I have always loved babies. Anyone who has known me for even a nano-second knows this. Adding a little one to our life is something I have dreamed of and at the same time have known would not happen. I have spent the sweet six years of our marriage trying to come to terms with the fact that my baby days are over. There are times I would even try and convince myself that we were actually better off NOT having another child, a 'love child'. After all, our children are all wonderful and healthy and happy and bright and fun and most of all....INDEPENDENT. We are almost freeeee. I must be nuts to want to do this all over again. Steve would certainly be nuts for doing it over again, considering the age he has on me ;-) I convinced myself that what I really had longed for was the chance to experience babies with Steve. I really felt like I had gotten to the bottom of what I thought my heart was longing for. After all, I had , in times of great bravery, mentioned this possibility to Steve and although he never came right out and said NO WAY....He was never really jazzed about the idea. I wouldn't want him to go along with it for my sake, so each time...I dropped it and went to God and asked Him to please take this from me again. I love God. I love the way I can take my every thought to Him and be comforted by knowing He gets me. He made me after one gets me like Him. I feel such sweet comfort and safety in just sitting in silence with Him. This topic sent me to Him many, many times. So I knew He knew my heart and my longing and my regret at not sharing this dream with my husband. So I prayed that He would help me and give my heart peace with no more babies. Every now and again though, when I was sure this was dealt with......It kept coming up. Maybe from one of the kids mentioning 'It would be fun to have a little brother or sister' and then I would inevitably say...'well, ask dad' and dad would say ' It would be kind of nice to have a little girl around, Ill admit that'. Then my heart would set to dreaming again. I would have to ask, often with tears just near the surface...'Why do you say things like that? Are you maybe a little bit serious?'

What I didn't know, was my husband had been carrying around some of his own thoughts of us sharing this experience together. So a few months back when this topic came up again. He leveled with me and explained that he had been thinking about it a lot more lately and couldn't really put his finger on it, but that life is about more than all he thought it was before. He is done chasing a career and focusing on building his net worth and preparing a nest egg. He doesn't define himself that way anymore. He told me that he knew he was getting older and people would think it crazy, but If I wanted a baby...lets do it. He kind of liked the idea of taking everything he has learned and trying to be an even better father this time around. He feels like his priorities are in a better place. Maybe he had some of his own baby dreams.

I was SHOCKED. I thought for sure he was giving me a few days to let it all sink in and yet secretly hoping I would come to the conclusion that it wasn't really a great idea after all. But he kept bringing it up, even suggesting names. It was kind of starting to scare me. SERIOUSLY?????? COULD IT BE?????

I started to really try and get my mind around, what this change would really bring for us. I quickly discovered that having a baby around doesn't scare me, toddlers, don't scare me, teenagers ( well they do a little) but we are doing it. We have GREAT kids and chances are, we would have another great kid. Doesn't scare me. I prayed and asked God to help me see clearly. He knew my related really. I'm over 35 and everyone knows the risks. Steve would have to have 'a reversal' and that added another element of un-known to the so many other un-knowns. That was the part I really could not get past. I even mentioned to Steve, if we could be guaranteed a no-problem, safe pregnancy, that would happen quickly and prove 'the reversal' worked....I would so do it. But I couldn't get past the risks. Even though they are not out of this world risks, I couldn't get past them as much as I wanted this. It just didn't feel right. Again and again, things were being shown to me that re-affirmed the things that concerned me. I was really ready to shut this down once and for all. As much as I wanted this, it just wasn't sitting right with me.

I have learned in my life how to seek and watch for God's leading and this was no exception. Something just wasn't right.

Then one night, Steve wanted to read me something from this book he was reading. Now, Steve has never been much of a reader, other than business related things and Stock News, but I knew he had really plugged into this book and it was changing the way he looked at his life and his values and the way he had always done things. This book had stirred him. He wanted to share this with me. It had moved him so much, that he had to collect himself before he could read it to me. It was about an orphan.

Where I have always had a heart for the needy and the poor and down-trodden, I never really considered adoption because A- we were done with having more kids right? And B- if we were to have more kids, why not have one of our own? I always wanted a baby. I didn't realize that you can get a baby through these foreign adoptions, I figured they were all older and hard to actually get. When the Haitian earthquake happened, I saw that maybe there was a possibility, but a slight one. After some quick research I discovered the Haitian option was off the table for us anyway because we haven't been married for 10 years. Different countries have all of their own requirements and this was one of Haitis. That story really caught our attention though, like for so many, and we both talked about how we would take them all in if we could. This was not a surprising thought process for me....I am wired like this, I always have been (right dad? )What did surprise me though, was the spark I saw in Steve.

Was God using this time in our lives; Steve's quest for more meaning in his life and my yearning for a child of our own, and the worldwide plight of orphans now on the world stage to show us that maybe this was for us?

We did some research and a lot of praying and felt incredibly led to Ethiopia. I don't know if I can explain it, but it has clearly been a leading. This is not an easy process, it is not a fast process. The more we read, the more questions we asked, the more need we discovered, the more we realized.....maybe God has a miracle in store for our family on the other side of the world. Maybe it is in the experiences we will encounter, maybe it is in the journey, maybe it is in the witness, maybe it is a love like we have never known we had to give, or receive. Maybe it is getting closer to God than we could have ever imagined in this life. Maybe this is His call and maybe He is using the cry of my heart, to fulfill a need and the cry of another heart, on the other side of the world. My longing for a baby may or may not be in Gods plan. Maybe it will be a young toddler or even older. A little girl to add to our brood of boys, may or may not be in Gods plan. Maybe our boys are going to be used by God to help guide and lead and love a younger brother. We have opened up our hearts to whatever it is God has waiting for us. He knows how He designed our hearts for helping and serving and He knows how to use us where He needs us and He knows where He is leading us. We also know how beautifully He can bring all of these things full circle. He alone can take the cry of my heart and the need of a child and serve a bigger purpose than ever could have been imagined in my baby dreams. So now.....we wait and pray and follow.

The beauty of all of this, is we have been so blessed with our children. We know the experience of having our own children. The fact that they are healthy and happy and know Christ is like cake, dessert at the end of the day. Adding to our already awesome family through the miracle of adoption is just like.... EXTRA FROSTING!!!!!!