Monday, July 25, 2011

The Prayers of a Little Girl

I just had some really sweet time with my girl. Chad had a meeting tonight so it was just the two of us for family worship. Ava got out her small New Testament and said that she wanted to read the Bible story tonight. I settled in for an interesting story and I wasn't disappointed!

She literally talked for 5 minutes while barely taking a breath. It was a story about Peter and the other "bisciples" going on a car ride with Jesus. It started raining, but thankfully Jesus had an umbrella. They had to take a car to Heaven because it was too hard to walk. Then some robbers came and fought with Peter and he got some bobos. Then Jesus healed him. There were lots of other details in there that were hard to catch, but she was passionate as she shared the story. I somehow kept a straight face and just praised God that He is stirring a desire and love for the Word of God in my little girl . . . even if there is a little fiction thrown in! :)

As we went into our prayer time things got a bit more serious. She wanted to pray for her little brother in Ethiopia, but for the first time really started asking some questions. I answered the easy ones . . . Where is he? Where will he sleep? Can I hold him? She even demonstrated how she would hold him and pat his bottom if he was tired and crying!

Then she asked if his mommy and daddy would bring him to us. I explained that we would go get him and bring him home. She asked if his mommy and daddy would come here too. I explained that for some reason, his mommy and daddy wouldn't be able to take care of him and that God had called us to be his new mommy and daddy.

She frowned, thought for a few seconds, and then said, "I want him to stay with his mommy and daddy." Heartbreaking. It didn't come out in a jealous "I don't want him here" way, but with an uneasiness about him leaving his mommy and daddy.

I had never really thought about having to explain the reality of an orphan to Ava. She was so upset at the thought of him not being with his parents. It makes sense because she can't imagine Chad and I not being here to care for her. I felt in a new way the reality that the joy of adoption always comes out of the pain and trauma of loss. As young as she is, even Ava realizes that this shouldn't be. Orphans shouldn't exist. No child should be without a mommy and daddy.

What if we all realized this and allowed it to transform our lives? I was able to assure Ava that we would take good care of her little brother and would be his new forever family, but there are millions of orphans who don't have that hope. Is God calling you to step out in faith and do something about it?

I cherish moments like tonight, but I know it is going to get hard. Please pray that we will have wisdom to explain the adoption process to Ava (and eventually Grayson). I don't want to shy away from the harsh realities because my prayer is that those very things will draw our kids to surrender their lives to the only One who can truly rescue and save the lost, broken and orphaned.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Price stickers, random stuff and lemonade

We just finished with the mother of all yard sales. That is an exaggeration, but it was pretty big and we are completely exhausted so it seems accurate to us!

We've been collecting donations for over a month so our house has pretty much been a chaotic mess for too long. Our usually neat and clean dining room looked like this until Friday . . .

From the advice of several friends, we decided to have a 2 day sale. Chad wasn't excited about the idea, but boy is he glad he listened! We had SO many people come on Friday, mostly people on their way to work. We even had a lady driving a garbage truck get out and shop until she got in trouble for stopping. We seriously didn't stop from 5 am until noon, but it was so worth it!

As we began the adoption process, we determined to not just think about our story, but to do all we could to raise awareness to others about the plight of orphans. I made signs to display at our sale with statistics about orphans, which ended up raising awareness and also made great conversation starters. We were able share many times that we were adopting because we ourselves had been adopted through Jesus Christ!

Our friend, Chase Rogers, called a few weeks ago and said that he would love to get all the stuff to help Ava have her first lemonade stand at the sale. (Ladies . . . he's a great one!) Ava was so incredibly cute and definitely in her element. A lady came to the sale and Ava walked straight up to her and said, "Do you have any money?" We all cracked up and I told Ava to instead ask if they want any lemonade. Ava tried again and the lady asked her how much it cost. Ava said, "Six hundred dollars!" We all fell out laughing and thankfully the lady was a good sport! She said we'd make good money if Ava was in charge of the sale!

Honestly, I went in to the yard sale with really low expectations. We had a lot of great stuff, but I was really afraid that people wouldn't come. We just prayed that God would send people and that He would be glorified. He did and we pray that He was!

Our grand total was $1700! You read that right and we can't believe it either! We are absolutely blown away at how God has provided! So many friends helped make it all happen (Mandi, Jenny, Chase, Jeremy, Dave, Justin, Ryan, Leigh Ann, Liz, Tim) and we are incredibly thankful for all their hard work! Thanks as well to all our friends who came to shop, gave generously, helped spread the word and prayed for this fundraising event.

On Friday, our friend Anna Palmer came by with her little boy Eli Tariku that was adopted from Ethiopia. This was my first chance to meet Eli since he got home almost 4 months ago. I can't tell you how precious it was to look at that sweet little boy as I was working to bring my own son home. There were tons of people around so I choked back tears and put on a smile, but my heart was so full of love and anticipation of my son being in my arms one day. I can't wait for that day to come!

I'll leave you with a funny picture from today. Chase pointed out that Chad the perfect combo for a man . . . a comfy chair, a TV in front of him, a grill for good cooking and a toilet only a step away!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Adoption T-shirt!!

Thanks to our amazing friend, Boyd Guy (check out his website here), we have the perfect shirt to help us spread awareness about God's heart for the orphan and raise funds to bring our little one home. The design will be large on the front of the dark grey t-shirt.

Just in case you wondered, we know the verse we are using isn't speaking about physical orphans. John 14:18 is about Jesus promising that the Holy Spirit would come . . . the Living God dwelling within you . . . the sign that you are a son instead of an orphan.

We chose this verse because the reality that we are adopted through Jesus is the foundation and fuel for us to pursue adoption. We hope that as people wear our shirt they will have the chance to tell our story and to raise awareness about the plight of orphans all over the world. But more importantly we hope that wearing our shirt will give people a unique opportunity to tell their own adoption story . . . going from an orphan to a son or daughter of the King through faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Our prayer is that one day we will see and be able to tell our son how God used his status as an orphan and adoption into our family to draw people to eternal life and adoption in Christ! What a great day that will be!

Details . . .

Our shirt will be sold for $20 and comes in sizes Small to XX Large. Again, the design will be large on the front of a dark grey t-shirt. We are pre-ordering shirts so we know what sizes and how many to have printed.

If you would like a shirt, please comment on the blog, facebook or email me at I need to know the size and how many you would like to purchase. You can pay through PayPal on the blog or send a check directly. You don't have to pay until we have the shirts to deliver, but you are welcome to and we will get your shirt to you as soon as the order comes in.


8th Anniversary Celebration!

Yesterday was our 8th anniversary! Hard to believe it has been 8 years since we began this crazy adventure together!

We typically don't do a lot to celebrate our anniversary besides just going out to a nice dinner. This year, however, we decided to change things up!

While we were on our trip last week, Chad had an epiphany about holidays we celebrate. Typically we have parties for birthdays, which is great, but there is really no work involved in what you are celebrating. It is basically . . . "Glad you lived another year!" On the other hand, most people do far less for their anniversary, which is one holiday that deserves some major celebrating. Marriage takes a lot of work and another year isn't guaranteed, especially in our culture today. We have a huge celebration for the wedding and then don't usually throw a party again until you hit 25 years. :)

As we talked about this, we decided that we wanted to really celebrate that we've made it another year and reflect upon what God has taught us and how He has blessed us. We want our kids to grow up maybe not remembering our birthdays, but definitely knowing our anniversary and the importance we place on the commitment of marriage.

So we threw ourselves a little anniversary party! We invited a small group of friends over for dinner to help us celebrate. We have been friends with these people since before Katrina . . . that is still how things are measured here in NOLA. :) We were all in seminary together, we have served Christ together at Edgewater, we made great memories together before we started having kids and now we enjoy the madness of parenthood together! We've walked with each other through times of joy as well as some pretty tough times. We've gone from no kids to 8 kids and two of us in the process of adoption.

I say all that because the history we have together is what made our celebration last night so special. We told funny marriage stories (my favorite is our 2nd anniversary when I met Matthew McCononaughey!) as our kids ran wild all around us. We shared wisdom with each other that we've learned in our years of marriage and parenting.

The most precious time of the night for us was when our incredible friends gathered around, laid their hands on us, and prayed for our marriage, our kids, and our ministry. We were so humbled and grateful to have them intercede on our behalf, to thank God for His work in our lives, to pray for our journey to get our son in Africa, and to ask God to continue to make us look more like Him.

At one point Ava came out of her room where all the kids were playing. She whispered to Chad, "What are you doing?" Chad told her that they were praying for us. Then, in her dress up clothes and big yellow hat, Ava knelt down, put her hand on her Daddy's knee and prayed with us for a few minutes. Absolutely priceless.

This is why we felt led to have this anniversary party. We want our kids to see us celebrating marriage, praying with our friends, honoring Christ with all we do. This is the legacy we desire to give to them. The night couldn't have been a more perfect way to celebrate 8 years together!

I thought I'd put some pictures on here from our years together. Unfortunately we didn't get a digital camera until 2006 and we don't have a scanner. :) So there are no old school pics.

This is when we went to Houma and fed gators . . . the craziest thing I've ever done!

Going to Drago's on our 3rd anniversary.

We gutted a house on the first anniversary of Katrina and I found this newspaper on the front porch. Katrina was such a hard, but growing time for us.

Christmas picture 2006.

We did college ministry with international students from UNO.

Our first SAINTS game!

August 9, 2007 . . . The day we found out we were pregnant the first time. I had a miscarriage a month later, which is the hardest thing we have ever endured. We know we'll meet our sweet Ashton one day!

December 20, 2007 . . . we found out I was pregnant again!

Family of 3! Ava was born on September 1, 2008 during Hurricane Gustav. We evacuated to Shreveport to have her. God healed Ava of her heart condition . . . our miracle baby!

Ava's 1st birthday!

April 2009 . . . Ava's going to be a BIG sister!

Chad and I on our first mission trip together to East Asia in June 2009.

Belly pics!

Family of 4! Our sweet Grayson was born December 12, 2010.

Grayson's baby dedication at Edgewater in May 2011. We are so blessed!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Ache

It has begun. I feel an ache in my heart for my son. Instead of feeling like he will one day be added to our family, I feel like he is already a part of our family and is missing. I think about him throughout the day, wishing he was experiencing that moment with us, wondering what life will be like with him, imagining him interacting with Ava and Grayson.

It is such a strange feeling because since he has to be at least one year younger than Grayson, the reality is that he isn't even born yet. Still, I think of him as a little one waiting for us to bring him home. I pray for his birth mother . . . for her health, for her safety, for her heart.

Tonight was the third night in a row that Ava has prayed the same prayer during family worship. She prays, "God, I just want Mommy and Daddy to go get my brother from Africa. I want them to go over the ocean."

I can't tell you how priceless it is to hear my sweet girl pray for her little brother. She has wholeheartedly embraced him and is ready for us to bring him home . . . NOW! I love those prayers, but at the same time I wonder how my heart will handle hearing that prayer for two years or however long this process takes. If the ache is this strong at the beginning, how will I make it through this journey?

It is hard to envision the road we are on, but I know the answer . . .

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:22-26

I'm going to go pray myself to sleep. Prayers of going over that ocean to the son I ache for. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rice Night!

We have been actively looking for ways to save money for our adoption as well as ways to raise awareness in our lives and in the lives of others about the plight of the orphan.

We have a creative idea that accomplishes both . . . Rice Night! One night a week we will be having rice for dinner. Just rice. Yep . . . just rice. :)

Since we will be eating rice frequently and the fact that I usually get rice too done or not done enough, I bought an inexpensive rice cooker. I'm excited to have fluffy rice for once! I also bought short grain brown rice from Whole Foods because it will be much better for us than white rice and I like the texture of short grain a lot better than long grain.

First Baptist New Orleans encouraged their members to do a rice night during World Hunger month last year and I thought it was a great idea. You eat only rice because that is what many people in our world eat for a meal, often their only meal of the day. You take the money you would have spent on fixing a regular dinner and give that to support the alleviation of world hunger.

We will be eating rice on Monday nights. Each month we will put $20 from our normal food budget into our adoption fund and will spend time in prayer for the hungry around the world, especially for the people of Ethiopia, our son's birth country.

Remember some of the statistics that led us to adopt from Ethiopia:
  • Malnutrition is the underlying cause of more than half of all child deaths.
  • Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa.
  • The majority of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
  • 1 out of every 10 children will die before their 1st birthday.

We've been trying to give people creative ways to partner with us in our adoption journey. Would you consider having a rice night? We would be honored if friends and family would make this commitment with us . . . praying once a week for the hungry, for Ethiopia, for our son and giving to our adoption fund the money you save by eating rice.

I know that idea might seem crazy and would probably take people WAY out of their comfort zone, but is that really a bad thing? Anything that takes our focus off us and puts it on the "least of these" that God cares so much about is a good thing. You might be thinking "I could just send you $20 a month and skip the whole rice thing." We are appreciative of any support, but when something is a sacrifice, such as a normal well balanced tasty meal, the way God will use that to bless others and also refine your heart is a blessing that you wouldn't want to miss.

God has been using this adoption to refine our family in many ways. It has been intense, but we have experienced such joy and have grown closer to the Lord and each other in the process. I would wish nothing less for you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Waiting for Daddy

Ava loves her Daddy. Ever since she was really little, Ava has loved to watch out the window for Daddy to come home. She squeals with joy as she sees his car turn onto our street. She is ready to race out the door to him as soon as I open it for her. Those times have been so sweet for all of us. This picture is one of my all-time favorites as I captured that moment of anticipation.

We've been on a trip the last 9 days so she has gotten tons of time with him and savored every minute.

Today brought on Daddy Detox. :( She was really upset when he left for work and couldn't understand why he couldn't just stay home to play with her. Pretty precious and makes Chad feel good, but I'm the one left with the meltdown after he closes the door!

Ava took a really long nap today so when she woke up at 4:45 pm asking for Daddy, I told her that she only had to wait 15 minutes for him to get home. She immediately said she wanted to go look out the window to watch for him to arrive. 15 minutes at the window in toddler time is like an eternity so I suggested that we do a few things and then go to the window with only 5 minutes to wait. Nope. Not having it. She was adamant that we watch for him NOW. Nothing else was going to come between her seeing him arrive home.

We sat outside on the front step and had this conversation:

Ava: Where is my Daddy?
Me: He is at work, but will be home soon. We have to wait for him.
Ava: Why do we have to wait?
Me: Because it isn't time yet, but it he'll be here soon. We'll be so excited when we see him come.
Ava: I'm so excited to wait for Daddy (As she is literally bouncing around with excitement).

As we waited, God whispered to my heart. Are you waiting and watching with excitement for Me to come? Does your life demonstrate that you love me, are incredibly excited for my return and that living to glorify Me as you wait is your purpose and mission?

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we WAIT for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ . . ." Titus 2:11-13

I love when God uses my kiddos to speak right to my heart. I'm praying that my life will be lived with great anticipation of Christ's return!

A current picture of my little girl and her Daddy!