Sunday, July 31, 2011

Adventures in Uganda: First impressions

  • ---------------------
    2/2012  Due to the nature of adoption in Uganda (and, frankly, the occasional craziness of the Ugandan adoptive community), I chose not to share any details about our adoption while we were still in process. But because this blog is the story of our lives... I want to go back and fill in those empty spaces.
    This is the first message I sent after arriving at our babies home, and after meeting Micah Marvin for the first time, on Sunday 7/31/2011.
    I'm HERE!
    Hi Friends!
    Thank you all so much for your precious words and encouragement and prayers!! I see that Matt sent out a message that I'm here and met our little M. He is a CUTIE. I am thankful for the sweetness of our first moments, I'll treasure that memory (especially the fact that - since the kids are dressed from a stack of clothes, whatever is on top - he was wearing a pink and purple flowered shirt. :D)

    I was very weepy and emotional my first night - it was harder than I expected to arrive here alone. But I've settled in, and made good friends with some of the other volunteers at our babies home. There is one American girl, the rest are Canadian, British and Dutch, and they've been delightful to me, helping me learn the ropes (and bringing me to the internet cafe this morning.)

    Meet with our lawyer later today - and probably get to postpone my first boda ride, since the meeting is late enough that it wouldn't be safe (...or it would be EVEN LESS SAFE than the very unsafe-ness it is anyway. :D)

    Would you pray...
    ...for my heart. The kids here are very well taken care of, but you can see how starved they all are for personal attention. They compete to get on my lap, yesterday I had 6 kids climbing all over me, with M right in the middle trying to push everyone else off.
    ...for our legal process. The reality that the end of this journey is unsure is really in my face, now that I've seen our little M. Pray that I'd trust the Lord no matter what, and not live in fear.
    ...for extra capacity to love and serve, and wisdom as I interact today with the babies home administrator and our lawyer.

    LOVE YOU ALL !!!!


    Writing on 2/28/2012... I am just sure that somewhere, in something I sent, I more fully described my first meeting with Micah Marvin. But I either can't find it or was just too jetlaggged and overwhelmed to describe it. So I'm going to share what I remember now - amazingly with Micah Marvin now sitting next to me as MINE.

    I spent the first night in Uganda with my friend Brooke's cousins, Jesse and Amy. I woke up the first morning feeling absolutely horrible - I'm really surprised that I didn't throw up, because it felt imminent all morning. I went back to sleep while they all went to church - it was Sunday, July 31. I woke up feeling MUCH better, and we went to the Nakumatt Oasis (a place I'd later be very familiar with) for lunch. Then Amy drove me over to the babies home. We met Joel, the guesthouse manager (who is wonderful), and got me all settled in. Then we walked over to the babies home to meet Marvin. I was completely in a daze. It was before 3pm, and the kids were all asleep. Amy introduced me and told the Mamas that our family was hoping to adopt Marvin. The Mamas all clapped, hugged and kissed me, and told me I was very welcome. And they all called me "Mama Marvin", which I loved. Then they woke Marvin up and brought him to me - I felt bad that they'd woken him up, I didn't realize it was nap time. He was very sleepy and groggy, though, so he came right to me, and buried his head in my neck, nuzzling in. And Amy & I both cried.

    I don't fool myself... he probably nuzzled into any neck offered to him when he first woke up back then. BUT I will say that to this day, this is still the first thing he wants to do when he wakes up. We call it "Micah's spot", and he nuzzles in there several times a day. Thankful that while I wasn't the only one then, I'm the only one now!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I was struck by something this morning.

This girl – who didn’t learn to pray until she was 19 (and is still learning)…. And who didn’t have a Mama who knew how to pray for her….

…is praying for a little boy who has had no Mama to pray for him.

…will teach him to pray, as she’s teaching her other boys to pray.

…is now being prayed for by her own Mama, who has learned to pray. And her step-mama, and her mamas-in-law.

…And is getting the MOST PRECIOUS messages from friends near and far, in response to her plea for prayer. Little guy (and his Mama-to-be) are being prayed for by Mamas, Grand-mamas, and girls with darling Mama-hearts, a world away from him.

The Lord is growing my heart.

My word for the day (and likely this entire season): ABUNDANCE.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Why is adoption so expensive?

Things to think about if you’re considering adoption…

Our thoughts and experience with raising support for adoption…

Since I’m answering questions I’ve gotten about adoption, I thought I’d take one whole post for the #1 question we get – both from those who are actually considering adoption themselves, but also just from the curious.

Why is adoption so expensive?

I think this is a really valid question, but it’s complicated. And underneath it is the assumption that it’s so expensive because somebody, somewhere is greedy and taking advantage. While that’s not necessarily UNtrue, I also don’t think it’s usually the case.

Most international adoptions through agencies are going to run between $20 and $30 thousand, depending on where you’re adopting from and what is required. 

In many cases, an agency is going to be required for the process – either by law, or because having someone on the ground who speaks the language, knows the culture, and does all of the paperwork is necessary. That means people, and jobs, and I don’t think it’s wrong that those people are making a living. It’s awfully nice to have an expert on your side, but expertise costs money.

Going the route we are – independent adoption from our babies home (which doesn’t work with agencies) – we are doing a lot of the legwork. And since Ug*ndan government is English (U was a Britsh colony), we don’t need translation. But there are still many people doing work for us. Our US Social worker… Our U attorney… Our US attorney…

The biggest chunk of change required for international adoption is the airfare. That was the focus of our support raising – we figured if we can get the flights covered, that gets us so much closer to the end goal. We’re hoping and praying that our final cost would be $12,000 - $16,000. We’re expecting that our airfare would be $6,000, which is half/almost half of the total cost.

Other than airfare, the cost of adoption is mostly nickels and dimes – little things that add up (some not so little….)

In case anyone’s interested, here’s what we’ve paid so far:

$1200   Home Study (Done by a US Social worker, who meets with your family 3-4 times and does all kinds of background work and writes up a long and detailed report, which must meet US Government standards in order to be approved.) This varies – we ended up with one of the cheapest options available to us in Lincoln. And we LOVE our social worker, she was amazingly helpful in preparing us for adoption.

~$200ish Adoption Training Any home study agency is going to require you to do some training to prepare to be adoptive parents. We did online classes, but I’ve also checked out a ton of books from the library which have been very helpful.

$100 - 200 FBI Fingerprinting (I can’t remember how much this costs, but for your home study, you have to have a background check to make sure you don’t have a criminal record or any child abuse allegations in your history.)

~$100 each Passports

$200 Shipping our home study to U. Our Babies Home required that we send a copy of our paperwork to them ahead of time before we could be approved in their program. We sent it Fed Ex because we heard from many friends that it was the only reliable way to ship – and we didn’t want to risk it getting lost.

$960 USCIS Once our home study was complete, we had to file it with Homeland Security and be fingerprinted by them. This is for our approval to immigrate a child to the US. The fee covers the whole process, but we’ve only done one form. The other form will be filled out after we receive legal guardianship in U, when we file for little guy’s visa to bring him home.

?? Immunizations. The actual cost of these can be $200 or more… but mine were mostly covered by our insurance (praise the Lord!) We’ll see if Matt’s are covered when he has to get them in a month or so…

$2,000ish Airfare to U. We’re hoping that when we make the second trip (both of us), the prices will be significantly lower – I’m traveling at the most expensive time of year. We are praying we’ll have enough advance notice on our court date to be able to get a good deal. But there are no guarantees.

And our estimates of what’s coming…

$300 + $750 Guest House Our guest house will cost us $20/night and includes breakfast and dinner. It will be $300 for my upcoming trip, the second trip will be longer and both of us for at least part of the time. This money goes directly to our Babies Home. It’s a great deal and goes to a great cause.

$3,000 Airfare for second trip

$4-5,000 Ug*ndan attorney  I’m not sure yet how much our attorney will cost – it depends on how much background work our case requires. Our attorney is doing a LOT for us – she will investigate our boy’s background, run newspaper ads making sure there are no living relatives wishing to raise/claim him, prepare his passport, and file countless papers and affidavits (it’s really a LOT), in addition to appearing on our behalf in court. We are very thankful for our Ug*ndan attorney (and for the entire court system there, who have demonstrated a real desire to work in children’s best interests.)

???? US Attorney Our process will require us to finalize our adoption here in the states. In Nebraska, we can’t do that until little guy has been home for 6 months. We have had 3 friends who are attorneys offer to do this for us at cost (court fees only, which will be a couple hundred dollars), praise the Lord for that.

???? Post placement reports. Our social worker will come out and visit us 2 or 3 times after little guy is home. This is required by the US government, and also by Ug*anda, to make sure that little guy is adjusting well to our family and that being with us is really in his best interest. I can’t remember how much these reports cost, maybe $150-200?

We’ll also have costs involved with travel– food during the day, medical exams for little guy, cab/driver costs for getting around town, visas for all of us etc. We’re asked to do a going away party for the Babies Home on our last day there with Little Guy, and we’ll give gifts to all of the mamas and Babies Home workers.

Plus there is the stuff that’s not a part of adoption, just generally the cost of having another child… For us the biggest thing is bunk beds (which Matt’s planning to build for T & little guy) and some storage/furniture for the boys’ room. We have most everything clothes/toys-wise that we need – although we’ll probably get little guy a few new things so he doesn’t come home to only hand me downs (although if I know our family, the little guy will come home to more than enough gifts to call his own!)

So… the bottom line of all of this: Whether you’re going with an agency or not, I don’t think anyone is getting rich off of adoption. It’s just an expensive process – and in many ways, it should be. People should be CAREFUL, and anyone involved in adoption should know what they’re doing, and be paid a fair wage for it.

Adventures in Uganda: What we prayed for

Due to the nature of adoption in Uganda (and, frankly, the occasional craziness of the Ugandan adoptive community), I chose not to share any details about our adoption while we were still in process. But because this blog is the story of our lives... I want to go back and fill in those empty spaces.

To see all of my adventures in Uganda (or at least the ones I've posted so far), click on the "Ugandan Adventures" tag at the bottom of this post.

I had a private facebook group, open only to (in real life) friends and family, that I updated almost every day. I am so thankful for the record of all those moments. I process life by writing, and sharing my daily life and struggles in Uganda helped me - being so far from my life and family - to feel connected. I am also thankful for this process of looking back on what I wrote - God's hand on me/us is so obvious, and the answered prayer is EVERYWHERE. He is good.

I'm backdating these... Today is 2/28/2012. But I'm dating this for the day it was written, 7/25/2011, one week before I left on my first trip to Uganda. On that trip, I spent 2 weeks at the babies home with Micah Marvin (in another of the first pictures we received of him, above), loving on him and serving all the babies and staff. I met with our lawyers and got our legal process started. And then I came home to wait. Thankful to be where I am today and not there. :)  This first entry is my (long and wordy) list of things we were praying for that trip.

Shortly after sending this message... I got a call from my dad that he was diagnosed with colon cancer. So that added a giant request to my (already long) list. You'll see mention of that in future messages/posts.


Thank you so much for your sweet words and encouragement, and especially for your willingness to join me on this journey. I am overwhelmed.

I don't want to return the favor by overwhelming you all with 8 billion requests, so I'm going to try to give general categories rather than a ton of specifics (although I'm praying about a TON of specifics!)

#1 For my own heart and walk with the Lord. Before I was married, I traveled a lot (mostly on my own, at least on the traveling part of things), and it was always such a sweet time with the Lord. I feel like whenever I leave the country, I hear from Him and see Him more clearly... I would LOVE to really see Him in new ways on this trip.

My own prayer for myself (not just for the trip, but this summer and thinking forward to the fall) has been abandonment to His goodness, fearlessness, and that I would live in His shadow - overshadowed by Him, in the shadow of the cross, and shadowed so that people see Him, not me.

#2 Speaking of fearlessness.... Please pray for my safety. I am not worried about traveling alone - there's nothing unsafe about it - but I am going into unknowns. Pray for safe travel to and from Ug, and also within the country. The preferred mode of transport is motorcycle taxis (meaning....I sit on the back of a motorcycle/motorbike; They are called "Boda bodas") I am not a fan of this concept, and have never been willing to even ride on my brother-in-law's motorcycle. But now I guess I'll be riding with strangers? I have the names of good and reputable, trustworthy drivers, and also the option to take cabs if necessary (but it takes longer and is more expensive.)

While you are praying for my travel, you might also pray specifically that I'd make all my flights... I'm connecting through Brussels (which is awesome, because I've never been there), where I have a 1 1/2 hour layover. I've since learned that there's only one flight between Belgium/Uganda every other day. So if I miss that flight, I'll get the opportunity of hanging out in Belgium for a couple of days. Awesome, except I really want to go to Uganda...

#3 Please pray that I would be a blessing to our little guy, all of the babies at the home, the "mamas" who care for all the babies, the staff and administration and other volunteers and adoptive families. I want to go as a servant and as a learner - of people, of Ugandan culture, of our little guy so I can begin to see who God is making him to be. I'm praying for good health and stamina, that I would be selfless and undistracted by my own junk. I learned a long time ago that I was blessed to be a blessing, and that's never felt truer than this exact situation - what a BLESSING it is to go and BLESS.

#4 Would you pray for our legal process? I'll meet with my attorney (if you'd like to pray for her by name, it is Dorah) and turn over about 20 lbs worth of notarized papers. She will then get little guy's file from the baby home, and begin working on his case, double checking all of the facts, talking to any living relatives, etc. After she has everything ready, she will file with the Ugandan courts and we'll be assigned a judge.

Please pray for our judge. We are expecting that God is in charge of which judge we get assigned to, and that if little guy is meant to be ours, the Lord will work all of that out - if things don't work out that way, we will GRIEVE, but we will trust Him.

That ends kind of on a heavy note... but we are asking God to give us His heart, and so we can't be blind to know that might include some breaking!

But I am SO EXCITED...excited to put my hands in His, to be in a place of dependence, to have an adventure with Him. I'm excited to be the "now" me - a wife and mom from Lincoln, NE, getting to relive what was one of the highlights of the "yesterday" me, serving and traveling internationally. I'm excited to be reminded that the Lord is as real on the other side of the planet as He is here, and that His church and His people are THERE. He is so so good to me!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Raising Support for Adoption (part 2)

Part 1 (where we stood financially entering this process) is here…
We entered our adoption unsure of how we felt about raising support for adoption.
On the one hand… We have several friends who have completed adoptions, and in most cases, they did not raise support. One friend intended to do a fundraiser for the airfare portion, but had family members who were strongly opposed, and so they didn’t. I know that the Lord provided for them – either through short term loans (and the federal tax credit, which will not be a help to our family, since we have pastoral tax exemptions already), gifts from family, or just making more money than we do.
On the other hand… We have continued to receive confirmation from the Lord that this is His path for us, despite it being way more than we can afford.
And we both have been on mission trips for which we raised support – Matt served at an inner city ministry in LA in college, and I’ve traveled the world with Campus Crusade (CRU!) and Grace Bible Church.
Actually, it was a mission trip that got us seriously on the road toward adoption in the first place. 2 1/2 years ago, I talked to Matt about taking Luke on a trip to Zambia with Camp Life, a trip my dear friend Susie has been on for 4 summers now. Matt and I were discussing how we’d feel comfortable raising support for me, but would want to pay for Luke, since he’d (at 9) be there more for the experience himself than to serve. At the time it would have cost us $4,000 each. As I considered this and prayed through it, it occurred to me that if God provided $8,000 for our family, I didn’t want to spend it serving orphans for a few weeks in the summer – I wanted to actually bring one HOME.
We’ve gotten mostly VERY positive response to our fundraising efforts – many people even contacted us asking how they could help before we had done anything other than our dessert benefit.
We’ve decided to do a combination of things… We had a big fundraising party – a benefit concert here in town for local friends. I’ve been making and selling things through my Estsy shop. We’ve raised some through our Just Love Coffee shop. I have a couple of other ideas that I’m waiting on – to see if we’ll need them or not: designing and selling t-shirts; making a cookbook of family recipes; selling Ugandan crafts (they have some awesome bead necklaces that I’m in love with; I’m planning on buying some and bring them back to sell as a fundraiser.)
Because so many of our friends and family live outside of town, we did decide to send out a prayer/fundraising letter (which we mostly sent to folks who live outside of Lincoln and may not have known that we’re in this process). We’ve had a wonderful response to this, and are SO THANKFUL to be covered in prayer. I seriously waffled on whether or not to send out our letter – I wrote it a full month and a half before getting up the courage to mail it (at which time so much had happened that I had to mostly re-write it).
But as I waffled…. I got prayer/support letters from 8 of our friends who were spending the summer in Spain with our college group. And update letters from all of the missionaries that we support. And new support letters from friends who are soon leaving on Stint with Cru. PLUS I got facebook messages from several friends telling me that God had put our family on their heart, and wanting our address because they wanted to give toward our adoption. By the fourth message, I figured…. “OK, Lord, I get it!”
The main thing that was holding me back was knowing that some of the folks receiving our letters would think we’re crazy or obnoxious or asking for a handout. And I don’t want to make decisions based on fear of what people think.
We have gotten some negative feedback, and some questions, which I thought I’d address here.
The first is how we can ask/expect others to help with adoption when everyone has babies and manages to do it on their own. I have a hard time responding to this – because I want to be polite, but I don’t know how to politely point out that most people DO have help. They have insurance. And the average adoption costs between $20 – 30K (we’re expecting ours to be significantly less than that, praise the Lord). I don’t know anyone who’s paid $20,ooo for the birth of their biological children.
My favorite response to this came from some friends of ours who were asked this question by mutual friends – how can those Meyers ask for money? These sweet friends said, “Well, we don’t think of it as giving the Meyers money. We think about getting to be a part of giving a child a family.” AMEN.
Secondly, I think there are just a lot of people who think raising support = asking for a handout. Because of my Cru background, I’ve never seen it that way. My philosophy is:
  • I’m not making you give or expecting anything of you… You can always say no. I’m not going back over my list seeing who responded or didn’t.
  • When we sent out our letters, I genuinely meant it when I said the main thing we need is prayer. The money is secondary.
  • I’m not asking for you to give me money. Nor am I asking for help with something I could accomplish myself. I’m telling friends the adventure the Lord has us on and inviting them to join Him and us.
Support raising has been hard and very humbling (but in a different way than I expected.)
But I can not WAIT to tell our little guy that this is his story. That he went from having little to no family to having HUNDREDS of people love him enough to be a part of bringing him HOME. Many of those people were motivated by the gospel – and I know they are praying God’s best for him, that he’d grow up to be a man of God and a blessing to his birth culture and his adoptive culture.
And I’ve been so touched and feel so loved by the Lord through this whole process.
We have received gifts from our sweet families – siblings, generous aunts and uncles, plus both of our parents have given toward bringing their grandboy home, and pray for him regularly.
We have received precious gifts from friends with BIG hearts for adoption: One family who adopted domestically and made money on their adoption – a fact which always made them uncomfortable, so they passed that on to us. Another family who were in the process of adopting and got pregnant. Rather than sit on that money, they gave a portion of it to us.
We’ve received gifts from families who told us their kids had been working to earn extra to give toward our adoption (tears!)
We’ve received gifts from former students and students’ parents, telling us they are thankful to be able to bless our family, since our ministry was a blessing to them (more tears!)
We’ve received small gifts and large gifts,  gifts from friends we see regularly, and from friends we haven’t seen in years, from every stage of both of our lives. And all of them are precious to us.
So when I say it’s humbling… this is what I mean. I was a little embarrassed to send out letters at first, and to be so “out there” with our fundraising.  But the real humbling is much deeper than that – the humility of seeing others’ generosity, and wanting to be more generous myself. The humility of people’s love and support of our family – and wanting to be a supportive and generous friend myself. The humility of realizing my own pride, and that I could have missed out on seeing all that God could do because I didn’t want anyone to think I’m crazy.
So if you’re considering adoption… I’d say be ready to work hard and learn a lot about yourself. Be ready to cut back and budget and say no to LOTS of things you’d like to say yes to. But I’d also say that God funds what He loves. And He loves setting the lonely in families.
We’re well over halfway what we think our final cost will be… And we’ve had just what we needed each step of the way – including my upcoming trip. PRAISE the GOOD LORD.

Here's another adoptive mommy's knowing others along this journey!

Coming soon… Because I get asked about it so much, I think I’ll address the question “Why is adoption so expensive?”

Raising Support for Adoption (part 1)

As we have worked toward bringing our little guy home, I have heard from so many friends who are also thinking and praying about adoption. Since the financial side of things is so often the biggest obstacle for people, I thought I’d share here some of what I’ve learned through this process.
When we first started praying seriously about adopting (almost 2 years ago), we had some money saved up, but also some financial commitments we felt like we needed to get out from under. Primarily, we owned a rental house that Matt bought with some life insurance money after Julie went to be with the Lord. With the market being what it was/is… and with the continual reminders that our ministry lifestyle does not lend itself well to being landlords… we decided we needed and wanted to sell the rental. At the time, I was not at all sure that God was calling us to adopt – I just knew we were called to get involved some how in caring for orphans. But I was also SURE that selling the rental was the right and wise thing to do. We expected it to be the first step toward our adoption, and even to provide financially for our adoption in some way.
But then… It didn’t sell. And we hadn’t found new renters, since we didn’t want to rent it while it was for sale. The rent usually paid the mortgage on that house, so while it was empty, we paid both mortgages ourselves, which ate through our savings pretty quickly.
As fall approached – and winter, which here in Nebraska is not prime house selling season – we began to run out of money. So this first step toward our adoption felt like a step backwards.
And then our furnace/AC died. Which is not something you can mess with in the Midwest. So now rather than having money set aside for a possible adoption, we’re pretty deep in the hole.
I was tempted to despair, be bitter and discouraged.  But I’d committed to receive everything on the path to adoption as from the Lord’s hand. So this wasn’t what I expected or would have chosen, but it was the Lord.
I have heard from MANY other adoptive and seeking-to-adopt families who had similar things happen. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for our family, I think the Lord wanted us in a place of complete dependence upon Him.
When we began to sense that He wanted us to move forward – with nothing to offer other than a willingness to work really hard and budget like crazy – we both knew it would grow our faith.
But I don’t think I realized how much… It has been SO ENCOURAGING to watch the Lord provide for us. Every family’s journey is different in this – and we’re not done yet.
But the rental did sell. After we took the step of faith to begin the adoption process…and without having to leave it rent-less for any amount of time. We did lose money on it, but not much considering how easy the sale was (and less than we likely would have lost leaving it empty for many months trying to find a buyer.)
And each step of this journey we’ve had exactly what we needed.
I’ll share more about our thoughts on fundraising in part 2…

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Considering adoption?

It has been such a delight to me through the process of our adoption to hear from so many friends who are considering adoption and/or feeling called in some way to care for orphans. I thought I’d share over the next week or so some of what I’ve learned, for the sake of those who are considering these things.

Obviously…I’m not an expert, and we’re only halfway through our own adoption.

First: I’d really encourage you to do your research on the different options: domestic adoption (especially trans-racial, which tends to be the highest domestic need), adoption from foster care (or just straight foster care, which is an AMAZING opportunity, if it’s a fit for your family), and international adoption.

I am super excited that the Lord is moving so many families toward adoption and care for the widow and the orphan. Obviously if you’re considering adoption as an option for your family, you need to consider what the best fit is for your family.

BUT it is also very important to consider where the areas of greatest needs are. Many many families enter adoption looking for a healthy as-young-as-possible infant (girls are most popular right now). While that’s totally understandable, of the 147 million children orphaned world-wide, a very very small number of them are healthy infants. And healthy infants are often very adoptable within their own culture and country – and if it is at all possible for a child to remain in their culture and country, they should.

If you feel the Lord is calling you toward adoption, will you pray about special needs adoption? Toddler or older-child adoption? Adoption from the US Foster Care System? HIV + Adoption?

Of course there are challenges inherent in each of these paths that may be avoided by adopting a healthy infant. But if God is calling you, He will equip you for whatever challenges you find along the way.

I’m sharing this because as I was praying about adoption, I read SO MANY blogs and personal accounts of adoption. But it wasn’t until we actually began this process that I discovered this hard reality in the international adoption world: Most of the adoptable orphans in the world are older or have special needs. And most families entering the adoption process are looking for a healthy baby (often a healthy baby girl.) This creates a supply and demand problem and many of the ethical issues with international adoption – and when we’re talking about children formed in the image of God, we shouldn’t be talking about supply and demand.

I hope this doesn’t come across as judgmental or pushy…  And I certainly don’t mean to communicate that it’s wrong to adopt a healthy baby girl. With one exception, ALL of my close friends who have adopted internationally brought home girls, and all but one of those girls was a baby (and relatively healthy). And every one of those girls desperately needed a family, I praise God He brought (is bringing) them home to my friends.

And in the interest of full disclosure, it’s not like our family chose the hardest, scariest road. But we did pray and consider all of the above options...and ended up feeling led to a toddler boy in Ug*nda. But there’s a LARGE part of my heart that thinks I may have an older child – a 7 or 8 year old daughter – out there somewhere. Matt? Is not convinced… :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sweet Land of Liberty

I LOVE the 4th of July! Both celebrating the freedom and safety, and the blessing of living in a beautiful country…. and having a day of family and food and fun. We’re at my in-laws, with a friend from the college group, my {awesome} sister-in-law and her family, and one of Betsy’s friends, whose husband is out of town. Mama Sara is cooking up some ribs for us, and we have homemade ice cream firming up in the freezer. I just forbid myself from eating another bite of the many dips we brought – don’t want to be full before dinner even gets here!!

All in all, it’s been a day full of fun.

DSC_9030 I made the boys some shirts… I made Tobin’s earlier in the week and he wore it for the city’s celebration and fireworks over the weekend (and is wearing it again today!) I followed the tutorial at Little Bit Funky, and think it came out so cute.

I wasn’t planning on making one for Luke, because the design I made for Tobin seemed too young for an 11 year old. But Luke was kind of offended and felt left out.  Especially since I used the baseball material left over from the curtains in Luke’s room.

DSC_9031 But since Luke seemed to really want one, he and I brainstormed a design that he thought was cool. I did reverse appliqué with the same baseball material. I think it came out awesome, and Luke wants me to make him more – a Vikings one, a Husker one, etc. I used a t-shirt I’d bought for another project (for him) but never got around to. It’s a soft shirt, so Luke loves it. It’s also a v-neck, so Matt says I’m turning him metrosexual. LOL.


Cute boys.

We also put on all of the 4th of July tattoos I’d made, and they were a HIT.

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Here’s Tobin sitting on top of Grammie’s ice cream maker as Anna churns. Matt & Betsy sat on this same ice cream maker when they were the kids’ age.


Sara made vanilla, and we made a recipe I found for dark chocolate ice cream. Can’t wait to try that! We went for a more modern version than the sit and crank…


And after a yummy dinner and dessert… we have LOADS of fireworks.


Having grown up in Texas (where fireworks have been illegal in all the cities I’ve lived in), lighting your own fireworks still feels kind of perilous. But the kids sure enjoy it. And sparklers are fun at any age!!

Have a wonderful Independence Day – Happy Fourth of July!!

And with my red white and blue, I also have my Ugandan bead necklace on… because now America is not the only “land that I love.” :)

Just Love Coffee

For all of you coffee drinkers out there… We have signed up to fundraise through Just Love Coffee. They are a company out of Tennessee – founded by a man with a background in coffee and a heart for adoption. It’s all free trade certified, and we ordered a sampler so we could make sure we knew what we’re selling. DELICIOUS.

For every bag of coffee you buy, $5 will go toward our adoption fund. Click the picture below to go to our Just Love Coffee Site:

Just Love Logo

This week, if you order 3 bags of coffee, you’ll get a free t-shirt. (you know…for those of you who like free things :D)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cars 2 (and other blessings…)

I’m feeling a little overflowing right now. On top of working and saving for our adoption, SO MANY FRIENDS AND FAMILY have given us such generous gifts! I am so humbled by people’s generosity. It’s totally worth it to our family to work and scrimp and save in order to bring our little guy home and see one more of “the lonely” be set in a family. After all, it’s our family, we get the best end of the deal! But that so many would give generously (many of them scrimping and saving in order to do so) so that we can have the privilege of being little guy’s family sooner rather than later? Amazing to me.

So I’m already feeling swamped by God’s goodness through people. And determined to remember as I head to a place where I’m likely to see more material poverty than I’m used to (although also a place of great beauty, and spiritual richness!), that life is not found in THINGS.

So it’s somewhat an embarrassment of riches that we’ve also received some things we were planning on scrimping – as gifts or for free.

My sister decided to get an iPad and is giving me her Kindle (which will be awfully nice to have on the 35 hour trip I’ll be making soon.)

And my mom got me a new die cutting machine for my birthday, which I’ll hopefully be able to use for Nebraskaree Designs. That came with 2 free packets of tattoo paper – which you can use with the Silhouette, or just with your color printer.

And on top of all of that… my {awesome} sister in law got on Wal-Mart’s facebook page, played some Mater game, and won us 4 free tickets to see the new Cars movie. We had decided we’d probably have to wait on the DVD for that one (even though Tobin – and to a lesser extent, Luke - DESPERATELY wanted to see it.) Free = awesome. Thanks Wal-Mart! And much more, thanks Betsy!

I got the tattoo paper a few days before we were able to see the movie, so we broke it out in honor of the big event.

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The boys (especially the little one) were thrilled, and I definitely got some cool mom points for this one.

We have a bunch ready to use for the 4th of July, plus Tobin and I went searching for any pictures he & Luke would like. So we have some Buzz & Woody, some Kung Fu Panda 2 (Tobin loves Tigress… or Tygwiss, as he calls her :D), plus some pretty awesome flaming baseballs. 1 free pack down, 1 to go!

p.s. Some of the {Christian} reviews had mentioned that there’s some violence/perilous scenes in the movie. Tobin (who thinks Curious George is kind of stressful) wasn’t scared at all. He liked all of the races and the action. It wasn’t as heartwarming as the first one (but we practically have that memorized…), but we all loved it, and thought it was really funny.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vacation: Cabin time

After Matt and Luke hiked Twin Sisters, they needed a relaxing afternoon. So after they rested, we drove up Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Pass. We were hoping to get out and walk around, but the visitor center was closed and the whole place was buried in snow. Plus our gas light went on halfway up (meaning we’d barely make it down), and Tobin had to go to the bathroom. So we went on down. :)

But we did stop to get a picture by one of the giant banks of snow (I stayed in the car…steep mountain roads + snow = no thanks.)

Then we had a relaxing night at the cabin. Matt built a fire (which we’ve never done before – it’s significantly colder in June than in July, when we’re usually there.)

We always do a puzzle, usually one at the cabin. This year we brought one to leave at the cabin and just got it finished the morning we left:

We praise the LORD for the provision of this cabin, and for this week together as a family. Matt is never more relaxed than when we’re there – away from cel phones, TVs, video games, and all of the schedule of daily life.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Vacation: Fun City

So… What Matt & I like best about vacationing in Estes Park is the family time and being in such a beautiful place, spending so much time outside in the mountains.
What the boys like best is: Fun City. Tobin asked every day when we were going to the race car place. Good thing it’s cheap, because they LOVE IT.
Bumper cars…

A giant carpet slide...

And go carts!!

Look how happy Luke is to get out in front of me!

Competitive? Yes.

We usually say no to mini-golf, since we can do that at home (and there’s a cheaper place down the street). But this time we did the slide and realized because it was raining off and on, the slide was wet, and so less fun than usual. So we told the boys we could play a game. They love mini-golf!
(I didn’t play because I don’t like mini-golf enough for it to be worth the price to play.) So I took pictures, making it possible to capture this awesome moment:

Luke got a hole in one. :) (Matt still won the game…to Luke’s dismay. Tobin was just happy hitting the ball around…though he wasn’t fond of the last hole, which took his ball for good!)