Plumpin' Up Some Babies!

Due to the recent famine in Ethiopia, our agency's baby orphanage (The Wanna House) was flooded with over 70 babies at the beginning of the year! Many of these babies were coming into care very malnourished, underweight, and sick. We have mentioned several times the desperate situation going on and had the joy of sending supplies, as well as seeing some of our dear friends who aren't even adopting, sending supplies too! What an encouragement!

And now, a GREAT addition to the baby care at the orphanage... something called "Plumpy Nut." Many babies in developing countries are dying due to the lack of milk, vitamins, and nutrients their little bodies need. Reporter Anderson Cooper says
Mothers in these villages can't produce enough milk themselves and can't afford to buy it. Even if they could, they can't store it -- there’s no electricity, so no refrigeration. Powdered milk is useless because most villagers don't have clean water. Plumpynut was designed to overcome all these obstacles.
Babies in other countries don't have peanut allergy issues as we do here for some reason. At first, that was a concern among many adoptive parents, but we quickly found out a peanut allergy is very rare in the developing world. You've gotta check out this video. It's amazing! We are so thankful our agency is able to provide plumpy nut for the babies in care. They have seen remarkable improvements in many of the babies and toddlers. There are some babies who are even difficult to recognize now after filling out from the good nutrition! They look totally different! It brings tears to my eyes!

(I stole this title from a bloggin' friend).


Waiting for Another Monday...

Well, here we are... waiting for yet another Monday. It's been two weeks now since we've been told, "you are so close!" Families with their dossiers sent the same day as us for baby boys have already gotten their referrals. So we are next for a healthy infant boy under 6 months! Wahoo!! I'm trying to keep busy and this past week I've had tons of work to do for grad. school. I've relaxed a little on the phone ringing. Now when it rings, I don't expect it to be AAI, so maybe when it is, I will be utterly surprised! But I will say there have been several times where I've heard "phantom phone calls." I stop and think, "Is that my phone? Where is it?" The TV will be on, or music, and I swear I hear my ringtone in the mix. Haha. I even had a dream that AAI called and I kept trying to accept the call and my phone wouldn't let me. The panic I felt in my dream was like the panic you feel when you are trying to run away but you can't. I've been up and down in these two weeks of really waiting, but overall, God has filled my heart with peace and contentment...especially the last several days.

In the meantime, I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite pictures of my nephew Manny (and a few others) who was born in Guatemala and came home on August 26, 2005. This moment is forever engrained in my mind and I will never forget the first time I saw that little face in person. He still makes this same exact expression at his now big boy age of four! Here he is when they first came out of the airplane, all snuggled in the mayan wrap. Sooo cute.

Here's the first time Grandma held Manny. (When I was opening this picture to put it on here, it came up really big, and you could see the lady at the desk in the background. She had a huge smile on her face. There was quite the crowd there to welcome our little guy home).

Manny shortly after coming home. He loooves the bathtub!

Manny all grown up! Wow.. already four!


Starting a Legacy

Happy Birthday to me! So I turned 26 yesterday, March 14th! Whoa. It's funny because I know I am not old, but 26 just feels like I'm "getting old." 25 was such a good number... still seemed young and full of life, although I'll still say I'm both, but 26 just seems like a boring sounding number. Haha. Anyway... it was a good day! Jon got me a flip mino HD camcorder. I loooove it. It's cute and small and super easy to use. It'll be really handy for me to use when the baby is home and just keep in my purse or whatever. We went out for dinner and then had cake and ice cream with some friends.

It's crazy to think how different our lives are this year than last year, when I turned 25. We have been growing and changing in so many ways, really ready to embrace this new stage of life as parents, and discovering where and how God would have us serve in full-time ministry. I wish I had words to describe things. Last year at this time, we weren't interested in having children yet. We've always wanted children, just not right then. Jon was in seminary full-time and I was working. So that was our main reason for waiting to start our family. Then we decided to adopt first as a means to begin our family. Ever since embarking on this INCREDIBLE journey, crazy, awesome, and amazing things have changed with us, and are happening with us. Again, I feel like I can't put it into words. We have such a desire to leave a legacy, to have fruitful children, not just multiply in number, but to send out children into the world who love Jesus and care for people. We have been soaking up the goodness of God's Word, and have been especially enjoying the book of Proverbs. To attempt to sum things up with words, I will share a part of a letter Jon wrote to me a few weeks ago...
I pray that God would give us a clear and sure vision for our lives together. That we would have a God-given, sanctified vision for our family. That we would think not only of our children or even grandchildren, but that we would be looking five generations ahead. I pray that our sons and daughters might come to know Jesus at an early age and that they might pursue His ends on this earth. I pray especially that our sons will be devoted to God and lead people toward Christ, possibly in vocational ministry. I pray that our daughters will marry godly men who love and serve Jesus. I pray that our children will be fruitful on this earth and that our domain on this earth would be changed completely by and for Jesus Christ.
Our view of family hasn't changed, but a lot of how we will play those things out with our family day to day has changed. We are completely excited. We want a big family that loves Jesus and is fruitful for God's kingdom!

Speaking of building our family... here we come upon another Monday, another week. We thought last week would be the week! We know we're in the next group. But no referrals went out last week, and we were told Friday night that referrals will probably go out this week. So the same news again, but hopefully we'll have THE NEWS to share this week. So off to bed I go, another week of sleepless nights! I am surprised how mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting it is to wait on the edge of going crazy to see my baby's face and hear his name. Wow.

Praying this is our week!!!


The Crown of Her Husband

"The wife of noble character is her husband's crown"
Proverbs 12:4

We live in a time when royalty is merely a display of tradition, and lacking any significant power. Regality is merely understood through movies and ancient stories. However, a time once was when kings maintained full authority, and either led a nation with wickedness into despair or with righteousness into blessing.

The man who wrote the statement above was King Solomon - the richest, wisest, and most prominent king in the first millennium B.C.E. This world-renowned king had everything imaginable to marvel in, to display his glory with, and to pronounce his unparalleled greatness
against all others. Yet, his greatest display, his most cherished possession, his most important jewel was his "wife of noble character." She was a beauty worth more than all his riches, and a companion to be displayed as a model of character for his entire life. A righteous king, and any honorable husband for that matter, pursues any opportunity he receives to display his lovely and trustworthy wife.

Though I am not wise or rich like King Solomon, the "wife of noble character" is my crown, and I will proudly put her on display for our children to bless (Proverbs 31:28).


Still Waiting...

Still waiting... it's mid-week and no phone call yet telling of us our little boy! We're so close it makes me want to scream! They hand out referrals in order of the days people sent in their paperwork. Our day (December 3, s008) is NEXT! However, we aren't the only family who sent their paperwork on that day. We got an email from our agency saying more referrals will probably go out towards the end of the week. So our BIG question?? ARE WE IN THAT BATCH?!?!?! We are PRAYING that enough baby files are completed so that our little guy is in that batch of referrals this week. Monday was really difficult for some reason, Tuesday and today, I have been feeling very peaceful (although it feels like that's changing as I type because I realize tomorrow will be here in no time)! Referrals were sent out last week on Thursday! I have had my phone right by my side all day at school. I feel like a crazy person. I even take it with me to the bathroom! I am DYING to see that 360 area code on my phone. Every time my phone rings, my heart drops, then I grab it, and see that's it's just Jon or a concerned friend or two wondering about our referral. Although I'm extremely glad for their calls, my heart has to recover for a few seconds before I can even answer! I turn 26 this Saturday and a referral this week would be the most incredible birthday gift ever!


25 Reasons Why i Love my Wife

I don't post on OUR blog very often. For some reason, Rachael doesn't refer to this as HER blog like everything else in our life!! Surprising. My favorite quote early in our marriage from the mouth of my children's mother: "What's yours in mine, and what's mine is mine." She of course, was joking, but it's funny (that's the joke part) how she still needs help with her car, her camera, her bed, her house. It's a good thing I'm such a nice guy (and humble too).

Because of my wife and all the joy and light she brings into my life, I wanted to write 25 lovely/amazing/inspiring items about my bride:

Numero Uno...She is beautiful ALL OVER. And I'm talking purely external beauty here. I'm not gonna lie, this is the first thing I noticed before asking her out in college. She has this crazy awesome brown curly hair, and matching brown eyes. Her petite frame is perfect for my height i.e. she is tiny and nestles right into my body. She is "fit as a fiddle" (don't exactly know what that means but heard it once and it sounds sexy). She has these cute little ears that ... I'll just stop where I started with her ears, because it only goes downhill (in anatomical direction), and this is a public blog. (If your curiosity is piqued, read Song of Solomon chapter 4 in the Bible.)

Two - She likes shoes. She picks out cute shoes. I love her shoes.

3) She's better than most dudes in pole-vaulting!!! She wasn't just a "I-can't-do-anything-else-so-maybe-I'll-try-pole-vault" athlete. No, she was strictly assigned to vault because of her skill, and subsequently was a 5-time All-American athlete, winning numerous Div-I events. And the kicker is...she never touched a pole in high school! Ridiculous.

Quattro...Rachael does this "sick" exercise at the gym where she raises her straightened legs so that her toes touch the very bar she is hanging from! And all of this after she has cranked out about 30 pull-ups. Dudes in my high school couldn't even do 1 pull-up (sad), and I can't touch my toes!

5) The Sugar Loves (Ray) has such a connection with our son and we haven't even seen his face yet. It amazes me how her heart longs for our baby boy.

Six - She does this thing while getting ready in front of the mirror when she kind of pushes up the back of her hair while pursing her lips. It's so subtle and cute. Love it.

7...She let me get Macy, our dog.

Ocho: Rachael never complains that she doesn't have new clothes to where. I know that as a girl she would love to have stylish clothes, but she is very frugal with what we have.

Nine: She types faster than Pam Beasley

10) Mercy/Encouragement is her spiritual gift. Rachael feels deeply for people, on their behalf, even when they are doing destructive things in their own life and don't care. Rachael writes so many people with notes of encouragement, and I usually don't know about it until somebody says, "Tell your wife that her note was so encouraging." And I'm like, "Oh, I didn't know she wrote you anything, but I'll tell her you were blessed by it." She loves encouraging people.

'leven - Saturday mornings belong to me and Macy because Ray sleeps in 'til 'bout 'leven. In fact, she slept until 4 p.m. on the day of our first date! She deserves it though, because she gets up at Dawn's crack every weekday.

12...She will be the best Mommy in the world. She's so creative and passionate.

13) If she doesn't like something, she'll tell you. I appreciate frankness because life is too short to pretend.

ForTeen: Even though it's weird that I entertain myself by myself, she lets me have fun without chiding me for it. And sometimes she joins in by singing vibrato to some commercial's lyrics (like Subway's "Five Dollar Foot Longs"). Hilarious.

15) Rachael is organized and tidy. She likes the house to be clean, not a clean freak though...thank goodness.

Sixteen...She has such a sensitive heart. She thinks that our dog has feelings. Macy takes advantage of this, because while she doesn't have feelings, she does have a brain. And she knows
that she can exert her will over my wife's. The hierarchy of authority in our house according to Macy: Boss - Jon, Second-in-Command - Macy, Bottom of the Totem Pole - Rachael.

17. She has three automotive categories: car, truck, motorcycle. If you asked her what kind of vehicle she drives, she'd likely say "a blue car."

18) She lets Macy sleep in the bed if I gave her a bath earlier that day.

Nineteen: She loves Jesus more than me. This makes her love for me more real, substantial, and deep.

20. Because of her love for Jesus, she has a heart that longs to be good Mommy.

21. She loves people more than anybody I have ever met, and longs for them to know Jesus.

Twenty-two: She has a heart for orphan children that beats in tune with God's heart.

23) She is not afraid to go ANYWHERE if that's where God leads...ANYWHERE.

TWenty-Four...When she says something that she knows is funny, she tries to hold the laughter in, but it inevitably comes gushing out in a matter of seconds. I love that.

25. Simply put...she's the Sugar Loves.


Stalking My Phone Has Officially BEGUN!!!

I am officially freakin' out and the actual phone stalking has begun!!! I logged onto our adoption group tonight to find incredible news! Four baby boy referrals went out today! That's three more than they originally anticipated for this week. They had still been in November dossiers (remember they hand out referrals in order of when you sent your dossiers), and I knew girls who had their dossier sent Nov. 14th and 21st. Well, they got their referrals and I was ecstatic. But then, when I clicked on one of the referral announcements, I saw that one of the referrals that went out today was for a family whose dossier was sent DECEMBER 1st!!! I saw that and just started to cry. I can't explain the flood of emotions... excited, anxious, a severe longing to see his little face! Jon was sitting on the other couch, very confused as to why I suddenly started to cry. Then when I said the last referral out was December 1st he totally got it! Holy smokes we are only two days away from that! (That doesn't mean two days away from referral though). So what does this mean? It means we are sooo close! The adoption world can be crazy and unpredictable, so the time between December 1st and December 3rd can be weeks, but it can also be days. So just to be sure, my phone will be by my side every second next week!!!! How on earth am I going to sleep tonight? My stomach is FULL of BUTTERFLIES!!!!


Our 3 Month Update!

Wow...I can't believe we have arrived at our 3 month mark on the waiting list. These last three months have gone by faster than I thought! We got our update from our agency on our process and where we stand at this point. Before I share, let me explain a few things so it makes more sense.
Our referral is when we find out which baby is ours! We get his picture and all his info! The dossier is the compilation of all our paperwork that gets sent to Ethiopia. Once that is sent, we are officially on the waiting list. The date our dossier was sent was December 3, 2008. They give referrals out in order based on your gender and age request and the date your dossier was sent. So, for example, we would get a referral before someone who had their dossier sent on say, December 10th for a baby boy. So here's the latest news from our agency!!!!

You are getting closer (How I've waited to hear those words!) We expect to make at least one referral of an infant boy this week. That will bring us to within one referral of starting on December dossiers. There were a couple of dossiers sent on the first day of December and then at least three that went on the same date that yours did.
When that happens, all things being equal and babies healthy, we look to the
family whose application was filed earliest first. Since you did your
dossier so quickly, others may have filed applications before yours. When
the time comes we will check that out. So, you are close, but not there
Sooo....that's where it stands right now. Again, I am amazed at the peace that God has placed in my heart. I cannot wait to be our baby's mommy and I know that God loves him way more than we ever could, so at that, I rest knowing that all is well. We are praying for a March referral so that our chances are higher of getting through court before it closes in August. Please pray with us!!