Our Story

Our Story
We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands.
~ Kristi Larson ~

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!
~ Fleur Conkling Heylinger ~
Adoption is not the call to have the perfect, rosy family. It is the CALL to Give LOVE, MERCY, and PATIENCE.



Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Glimpse at Our Year!

This year has brought so many unexpected changes to our family!  I thought it would be neat to document our journey with some words and pictures of our beautiful family along the way!

JANUARY
~ Josh and I got to go to Marriage Retreat for the first time ever! SO much fun!
~ Hubby got lots of hunting in - these are the only pics from January I could find!

FEBRUARY
~ Noah turned 6! (My Neice turned 8!)
~ We went to McCall on our annual trip with the Krohn Family


MARCH
~ Leah Turned 4!
~ My Brother Got Married
~ Jarod did some Wrestling
~ Josh popped the Question - "What would you think about adopting a little girl?!" 

 

APRIL
~ Jarod Turned 8!
~ God helped us decide to grow our famiy through Adoption!

 

MAY
~ Started Home Study with New Beginnings
~ Got Accepted to the Ethiopia Program with America World - Started Dossier
~ Celebrated our NINE year Anniversary
~ Noah Graduated from Kindergarten
~ Went fishing for Memorial Day

 

JUNE
~ Finalized Home Study
~ Worked on Dossier
~ Went Camping
~ Everhart Family Reunion
~ Jarod Broke His Arm!!

 


JULY
~ Hosted the BIGGEST Yard Sale EVER - Raised $5800
~ Grandma Everhart went to be with Jesus in HEAVEN


AUGUST
~ Went Camping
~Officially DTE - Dossier to Ethiopia
~ Back to School - Mom 4th Grade, Jarod 3rd Grade, Noah 1st Grade

 

SEPTEMBER
~ 1st Catfishing Trip
~ Daddy Got a Bull Elk
~ 1 Month DTE and Waiting


OCTOBER
~ Fun with Friends at the Corn Maze
~ Flag Football
~ Pumpkin Carving
~ Watched African Children's Choir
~ Worked an Adoption booth at the Stephen Curtis Chapman concert
~ 2 Months DTE and Waiting

 

NOVEMBER
~ Jarod went with Daddy Hunting
~ Thanksgiving w/ Family
~ Noah got to go to his FIRST BSU Game
~ 3 Months DTE and Waiting

 

DECEMBER
~ Fun Christmas Time with Friends and Family
~ 4 Months DTE and STILL Waiting
 

We know and trust that God's plan is perfect and He knew what this last year would hold! 
He also knows each and every memory that this coming year will bring!
We are hoping and praying that 2012 will bring more smiling faces into our home!

We got a beautiful new picture frame from the in-laws for Christmas - I am hoping to have new faces to fill it with in the coming months!  But what I love about it is the quote that is on it - it seems so perfect to explain the journey we have been on this last year and the hope we having for 2012!

"LIFE TAKES US TO UNEXPECTED PLACES.....LOVE BRINGS US HOME!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

4 MONTHS and Counting


We are so very excited to be celebrating being DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia) for 4 months!!  We were originally told that our wait could be 5-8 months, most likely the shorter end of that timeframe due to the fact that we are requesting a toddler.  Referrals have slowed down a ton and it is always difficult to estimate what the wait might be - it honestly could be NEXT week or another 6 months!  It is all so unknown but....we are rejoicing to be another month closer to seeing our sweet daughter's face!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Awesome T's

So we finally decided to take the plunge and do a T-shirt fundraiser!  I was a little nervous and had no clue how to even begin designing a tshirt!  But the internet is an amazing source of information and resources!  Found a great site with a user friendly design program!  I think they turned out GREAT!  We will probably be ordering sometime by the end of the week!  Let us know if you are interested by either posting a comment here or messaging me on facebook!  I'm not sure with the holiday rush how reliable or quick the postal service is so not sure when they will be in but I will for sure keep you posted!  I will have a paypal up and running in the next couple days.  You can submit your payment through paypal and just list the sizes you need in the memo section...OR...you can always drop a check into the mail!  Message me if you need my address.  Payment is due before we will deliver - as I'm sure you understand!

Adult shirts are $15 and Kid shirts are $12.
There is an additional charge for shipping of $3 for 1 shirt or $5 for 2 or more.

Men's Shirt
"He is...Father to the Fatherless"
($15 plus shipping)

Women's Shirt
"He Gives.....Hope to the Hopeless"
($15 plus shipping)

Kid's Shirt
"I'm a.....Child of God"
($12 plus shipping)



Thanks everyone for supporting our family!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Big Brother's Excitement

Since we decided to adopt, the kids have been really excited but in really different ways!  Leah is excited to have a sister to play dollies with!  Noah is excited to have more kids to play with - he hopes we get a sibling group of 3 - he said he's praying for there to be 6 kids in our family.  Jarod says he is excited but he has also responded the same as he does with everything else - he has been VERY reserved.   He doesn't do change well and is old enough to know that we are going through a LOT of change.  Since we decided to take the kids with us on our first trip over to Ethiopia, Jarod has seemed a little bit more excited.  He talks about Ethiopia more and he prays for her often.  This evening the kids were drawing and writing in their notebooks.  Jarod told me that he wrote Naomi a letter!  Reading it brought tears to my eyes!  His simple excitement says it all!  We LOVE you Naomi!  We can't wait to bring you home and to see your sweet face!  We are anxiously awaiting the phone call that will bring us your picture!  Jarod is going to be your protector and your confidant!  He loves you very much and is VERY excited to be YOUR Big Brother!



Christmas in HIS Arms

My sweet cousin Sharee heard this song and posted it on my facebook page.  She said when she heard it she thought of Naomi and me.  I tear up every time I listen to it!

TRUSTING that God will hold my daughter in His arms this Christmas!
HOPING to have her home to hold next Christmas!
THANKFUL for the baby who came so long ago to change the world...FOR ME!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finding Contentment

Ever since we started down this path of adding on to our family - my mind and heart has been CONSUMED with the change and future that is to come.  I have found it hard to focus on much of anything because my mind is already busily trying to process and think through all that is going on with the adoption.  During the "Paper Chasing" my mind was checking off what needed done, what documents we were still waiting on, where all the $ was going to come from, what notaries were open at what times, etc.  I busied my hands and my mind with filling out forms and checking things off.

Once we became DTE I wasn't really sure what to do with myself.  There was NOTHING I could do - no papers to sign, no appointments to make, no files to update.  The waiting began but my mind didn't rest.  Constant overanalyzing - how many families are ahead of us, what referrals were being given out, did we request the right age group, where is all the $ gonna come from - consumed my mind.

Over the last 3 1/2 months since we have been DTE, I have had a difficult time really getting into much - my mind isn't really into my work, or my church, or even Christmas.  I usually am the one BEGGING my husband to let me put up Christmas decorations!  This year - I don't really care - I let the kids do it all and didn't even freak out when the tree wasn't perfectly centered or spaced just right.  I have realized that these things have lost their flare and their meaning to me because my heart and mind isn't here - it is focused halfway across the world on a little girl that I've never even seen.

Over the last week or so, as my heart has been empty and aching for my daughter - God revealed to me the joy and blessing that is right in front of me!  My kids have been super cuddly and lovey lately!  They might just be sucking up because they are SUPER excited to get to travel to Ethiopia with us - but I think it has been more than that.  I think God is allowing me to see the blessings that are in my life - instead of wishing away the days until we get to Naomi.  Jarod even crawled up in my lap the other day and just wanted to cuddle with me and let me rub his back - this NEVER happens!  Leah says, "I love you Mommy!" with a sticky kiss and a soft pat on my arm!  Noah is my love bug and always has loves for his Mama!

I have heard God's still small whisper calm my heart and tell me "Be Still!  Be content with where I have you.  Trust me to take care of everything.  I've got this."  I have felt a renewed sense of purpose in my classroom as I focus on the students that I can make a difference for in the here and now.  I am excited to get invested in our church family.  I am excited to be content to spend the evening cuddling with my kiddos and my honey!

Am I SUPER excited to see our daughter's face for the first time?  ABSOLUTELY

Will I go CRAZY, yelling and screaming, crying and rejoicing when we get to go meet her?  OF COURSE!

Will I try to be content and live EACH day in the MOMENT - allowing God to use me in the HERE and NOW to make a difference for HIS glory? I WILL DO MY BEST!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All In

Do you ever feel like sometimes God asks you to do things and you say "Ok God, I will do some of that."  He asks you to step out on faith and you are willing to step out just enough - as long as it is still comfortable.  Nothing radical or life changing, just the minimal so that you can claim obediance?

Through this adoption journey I am learning just how much I did this very thing.  Pray on other people's behalf who were being called to go through a radical and faith growing experience.  Give support and encouragement to others that were willing to go and spread God's love.  Give my support while keeping my comortable and controlled life.

All of that has changed!  I can tell you the moment that God began to shake my life and turn my type A - likes to control everything - hyperventilate if there is even a hint of change - life upside down!  God took hold of my life and told me - I am NOT done with you yet!  Really He said - I'm only JUST beginning! 

It is amazing as I look back over the last 8 months - I am in awe.  Each new step that God takes us on, drawing us closer to Him, giving us glimpses of His heart - Each step feels like that is what we are on this journey to learn, only to find out we don't know anything yet.  We aren't even CLOSE to the finish line of faith building and God revealing lessons.

First ~ God calls us to adopt - and through my husband no less which drives this control freak mama crazy that God used him and not me...but thankful none the less!

Second ~ God led us to Ethiopia - where we are falling more and more in love with the country and we haven't even been there.  God has put a passion in our hearts that is beyond anything that I could describe.

Third ~ God asks us to be open to a sibling group!  As I have explained before, we most likely will receive just our daughter - but you never know what God has planned.  If God asked us to be open to a sibling group strictly for obediance - then we will obey!  If God asked us to be open to a sibling group because our kids are out there waiting for us - then bring it on!  (Once again, God used my husband to urge our hearts toward siblings - drives my control crazy mind up a wall - but SO very thankful I have a husband that is listening to God's will for our lives!)

The Latest Urging - After talking to several families who have traveled recently and doing some talking ourselves - we have decided to take our children with us on our first trip over to Ethiopia! Yes - you heard correctly - we are VOLUNTARILY taking 3 children under the age of 9, halfway across the world, to a country we've never been to!  I get stressed packing my children to take them on a 4 day camping trip - and now I'm choosing to pack them up, put them on an endless flight, to a foreign country with crazy drivers and interesting cuisine. 

WHY in the WORLD would we make this choice?  Josh and I have been so blown away by this experience so far - God has shown us so much about His heart and His people along the way.  Our children have been changed too!  They look at the world differently and you can tell by the way that they pray.  They used to pray that they would have a fun day and sleep good - which they still do.  But now their prayers include "keep everyone in the world safe and healthy", "help people know that the real reason for Christmas is you Jesus", "help sister know that we love her and that you do to Jesus"!

God is molding and shaping our children to love Him and His people.  God is teaching us that this is not just about adding another child to our family.  This journey is about God moving His people, toward His heart.  We want to allow our children the life-changing experience of traveling with us on this amazing journey!  I want to watch my children interact and play with one another - all 4 (or so) of them!  I want to have my children experience the Ethiopian culture and get a glimpse of their sister's heritage.  I want my children to step away from the me-centered society that we live in and get a chance to love on their sister and other children of God!

Will it be hard at times - YES!  Will there be stress and chaos - I GUARANTEE IT!  Will God provide patience, and love, and guidance, and safety, and a LIFE-CHANGING experience for US ALL - You BETCHA!

I keep thinking that I have surrended to God's will for my life.  Then He brings a still small whisper - a gentle nudging - a simple direction - of where He wants to take me!  I am learning that I can not ARRIVE at God's will for my life - but I can be OPEN to His will for my life!  I am learning to say - Yes God...wherever and whatever...I'm ALL IN!

~ With God's Love and Blessing ~
The Krohn Family

(While the decision to travel with our children is a blessing and we are very excited, it will be adding quite a bit of expense to our already daunting adoption budget.  If you feel led to support our efforts please see the giving link on the sidebar.)
May God bless you while He moves you closer to Him!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prayer in the Waiting

It has been a while since I've posted.  I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging - writing has been a form of therapy for me during the wait.  It helps me reflect and keep my mind and heart on God's plan for our family. 

There is not much news but I wanted to blog and ask you to continue to pray for our family while we wait in our journey.  Several of you have asked how things are going and when we expect to hear anything or when we expect to move forward in the process.  I can tell you WHOLE HEARTEDLY that I would love to know when I will see my sweet daughter's face - when I will be able to hold her!  But the reality is that we have NO IDEA!  Since we are adopting an older child, not a baby, the expected wait time is entirely unknown.  Like I told my boss "It is like a never-ending pregnancy with no due date!". 

I can guarantee you that the wait will be worth it!  I can also guarantee that we CANNOT walk this journey alone!  We have been leaning on God and also on our amazing friends and family who have offered us love and support.  Please continue to pray for our daughter or children, wherever they might be, until God decides to bring them home!

With God's Love and Blessing
~ The Krohn Family ~

Saturday, November 19, 2011

~ THANKFUL ~

Today marks 3 months since we submitted our paperwork  to Ethiopia and officially became DTE(Dossier to Ethiopia).  This date marks the day we officially got in LINE to bring our sweet little girl home!  It has been 8 months since my husband blew me away with the concept of adoption and I can't imagine spending this year ANY differently than we have.  It has been a busy, crazy, eye opening 8 months and I have been thankful for every minute of the journey!

In honor of Thanksgiving this coming week I wanted to take some time to reflect on this last year and all the things I am thankful we have gotten to experience -

~ I AM THANKFUL FOR ~

TEARS OF COMPASSION ~ God's heart breaks for HIS people and I am thankful He has allowed us a glimpse of compassion, tears, and love for HIS people!

HUGS ~ I have LOVED getting great big hugs from my kids each and every day!  I can't wait to GIVE hugs to the kids that God is bringing into our family!

AMAZING DONATIONS ~ We were overwhelmed with donations and support for our yard sale this summer to help raise $ to bring our daughter home!  I can NOT say THANK YOU enough to all the people who donated items, time, blood, and sweat to help us pull off what I believe is the LARGEST yard sale in history!  We made $5800 and I couldn't have done it without all of you!

NEW FRIENDS AND OLD ~ I have been thankful for all the new friends that I have met on our adoption journey!  Being able to chat on yahoo and follow their blogs, I have come to love and appreciate these families as they journey to bring their children home!  I have learned to cheer them on and lift them up in prayer - it makes our wait a little easier when we are able to celebrate with others!  I am SO thankful for the hugs, love, prayer, and support that ALL my friends have given me over the last year.  From a listening ear for me to rant and rave, to a shoulder to cry on when the journey gets overwhelming!  Words cannot express what you mean to me and the joy that I feel when I am around you!  It is truly a BLESSING to have you in my life!

KIDS ~ I have been overwhelmed this year by how AMAZING my kids are!  They are growing up into beautiful creatures of God and their personalities are starting to shine through!  Jarod is getting so grown up and independent and I have had to learn to give him room to make his own decisions.  Noah is a crack up and loves to be the center of it all.  His jokes are hilarious and I love how he makes me laugh!  Sweet Leah is getting so big and isn't my baby anymore, but a young girl growing into her own.  She loves to learn and play with her big brothers.  I love in the evenings when I get cuddle time with any one of my children!  Sweet Naomi has touched my heart in ways I never knew existed - and I have never even met or seen her!  I am excited to see how God unfolds her journey and brings her into our family!

FAMILY ~ I am so very thankful for our family!  Without our families supporting, encouraging, and praying for us - this adoption journey would be MUCH more difficult!  We are blessed with amazing family that has allowed us to grow and make decisions for our family and they are right beside us cheering us on!  Thanks Fam - we would be nothing without you!

UNENDING LOVE ~ I have been made VERY aware of God's unending love over this last year!  He loved me enough, our family enough, to not leave us where we were.  To not leave us in our complacency and comfort.  He loved us enough and our children enough to move our hearts and teach us amazing and new things.  Thank you GOD for moving us closer to your heart!  He's NOT done with US yet!

LIFE-CHANGING LESSONS ~ As I look back over the last year one thing that comes BLAZING to mind is that my LIFE will NEVER be the SAME!  I will never look at my children the same way.  I will never look at $ the same way.  I will never look at the world in the same way.  I have a new passion and vision for HOW we can do GOD's work while here on earth!  I'm not sure where God will take us - but for the first time - I am willing to follow God's still small voice - Wherever that may lead!

"Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, THANK Him for all He has done.  If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ"
~ Philippians 4:6-7 ~

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Blessing in the Giving

'Tis the season to shop 'til you drop and eat 'til your button pops off your pants!  It is also the season for giving and reflecting on life, family, friends.   My sweet cousin asked us the other day if we were going to be doing some sort of holiday fundraising or financial awareness for our adoption.  I told her that we are definately doing holidays a litte bit differently this year - scaling back and focusing on family and the world around us.  But - I don't expect everyone to take our approach for the holidays.  Also, I mentioned to her that we have yet to ask outright for financial support.  We know that God is providing for this adoption and we have been so blessed with prayer support and donations for the yard sale.  We've had a hard time asking for financial support when we know times are tough for so many people.

She gently reminded me that around the holiday season we tend to feel compassion and love for those around us and often feel led to reach out and give.  She told me that often people want to give and help support but sometimes they don't know how to help.  She also said that sometimes people feel blessed by being able to give to others.

With these words fresh on my heart and the holidays quickly approaching I am going to give you some advice.  I would love it if each and every one of you spent time this holiday season reflecting on what you have to give to Christ and His Kingdom.  How can you show His love this holiday season? 

Maybe it is taking a meal to the old man who lives up the road who lost his wife this last year.

Maybe it is helping a single mom pack her groceries to her car while she does her best to take care of the screaming children that are hovering around her ankles.

Maybe it is taking your children to a shelter to stand along side them and serve those less fortunate. 

Maybe it is kneeling before God and asking Him how you can better serve His kingdom....scary or not. 

Maybe it is filling a shoebox for a child on the other side of the world or buying presents for an angel that you got from a tree.

Maybe - it is sponsoring a family that is following God's plan to bring some sweet children home from Ethiopia - if this is the case then you can find a link under "Giving" that will direct you to online giving or my email to contact me and I can send you the forms to mail in directly.

Whatever God has planned for you this holiday season - May He bless you in the Giving!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Movin' on DOWN the list - AGAIN

This journey is such an emotional roller coaster.  I felt so incredibly encouraged on my last post.  God gave me moments all throughout the day that made it easy to smile and know He is in charge.  Well, yesterday, the emotions turned.  I found out about 2 families that slipped into the DTE list above us, in our same age range.  One family is new to the chat group, so they've really always been above us in line - we just didn't know about them.  The other family changed their request to be open up through a 3 1/2 yr old girl.  This is the way it goes...this is why we tell ourself that the list is NOT all inclusive...it is not ENTIRELY accurate....and it IS ever-changing!

No matter where my emotions are on the roller coaster - I will choose to still LOOK UP!  God is STILL in CHARGE!  God still knows which little girl is meant for our family and I choose to TRUST Him!  It is easy for my head to know all of these truths - sometimes it is hard for my heart to feel them!

New DTE #s: #6 for a 3 yr old, #3 for a 4 yr old

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Looking Up!

Today has been a good day!  God has a way of bringing you just what you need even before you even know that you need it!  I have spent the last couple days crying through Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to See.  It is an amazing story about God's grace and faithfulness through the good and the bad!  I can't imagine the pain and the heartache that the Chapman family has gone through and pray that I never have to walk that journey of sorrow.  Their strength and resolve to cling to Christ is amazing.  One of her chapters she talks about taking a walk on the beach.  She is looking down at her feet and feeling heartbroken and confused.  She felt God tell her to look up.  As she did she realized that the clouds had cleared and God had painted a beautiful ocean scene that only the creator of the universe can create.  God was telling her to look up - to keep her eyes on Him and He would give her glimpses of His glory.  I feel like today - God has allowed me to LOOK UP and has encouraged me in unexpected ways!

This afternoon I was able to sit down at my computer and listen in on our adoption agencies monthly conference call that took place yesterday.  As I listened, I heard that there ARE children still in need of families!  There ARE children that need loving homes and Mamas and Daddies to hold them!  Even in the slow downs and quiet God is still at work!  Paperwork - Paperwork - Paperwork....this is the hold up!  I was encouraged more than I have been in a while and felt at peace that there are sweet children that God has planned for some amazing families.  I am SO excited to see how God orchestrates it all for His glory!  Keep praying for these families!  This was my first LOOKING UP of the day!  Thank you God for peace in the waiting!

I got home with my boys to greet daddy and precious Leah!  I pulled in and got the mail which I don't think we'd picked up from the post office all week!  The box was overflowing!  There was a brown manila envelope from the African Children's Choir.  I tore it open-I was excited to see what was inside because a couple weeks ago when we went to their concert we signed up to sponsor a child.  I was a little disappointed when I opened it up and found their promo magazine - the same one we got at the concert.  I flipped it open to some papers in the middle and found a letter addressed to us thanking us for sponsoring a child.  I said - out loud even - "What's with this?  Where is the cute litte picture of the kid we sponsored?"  It was said with disappointment and sadness.  No sooner than the words were out of my mouth, I moved the thank you letter and looked into a set of beautiful brown eyes!  Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked into the face of a handsome young boy who we get the privelege to sponsor and pray for!  He is 8 years old - RIGHT between my boys' ages - and he is in 1st grade - SAME as Noah!  We are encouraged to write to him and he will write back!  I am excited to watch the boys interact and take part in this amazing opportunity.  I ask that you please join us in praying for this young boy who will grow up to be an amazing man of God.  Pray that our family will be blessed through the relationship that we will be able to build with him as he and my boys grow up together!  His name is Mark and he is from Uganda!  This was my second LOOKING UP of the day!  Thank you God for your reminder that children are a blessing!

I put the mail aside and we went out to dinner as a fam before daddy had to head to work.  We had a pleasant dinner visiting and chatting about life.  As we got in the car to come home, I pulled out my phone and got on the yahoo chat group for families adopting from our agency's Ethiopian program.  As the page loaded a wide smile crossed my face and I think I even gasped a little out of surprise.  There had been a family post about receiving a referral today!  It has been so quiet lately and hardly ANY referrals have been given out!  It gets so sad waiting and watching nothing happen!  It doesn't even have to happen for me - even though I can't wait until it does!  It has been such a blessing getting to rejoice and lift up other families in their journey!  Their referral was a breath of fresh air to keep everyone holding on for a little while longer.  This was my third LOOKING UP of the day!  Thank you God for allowing us GLIMPSES of what is to come!

I will continue to do my best to LOOK UP to God for direction, for guidance, for love, for support, for protection, for comfort, for _______ (whatever else I will so desperately need Him for)!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ephesians

Ephesians is one of my MOST favorite books of the Bible.  It is full of love and grace and encouragement!  As I sat in Sunday school and read through this passage for our lesson - I think it may be a new theme verse for my life.  One of the questions brought up during discussion was,  out of the verses what are you in need of right now in your life!  As I looked over each verse, there was no way to choose - I need all of it!

"When I think of the WISDOM and scope of God's PLAN, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 

I pray that from His glorious, UNLIMITED resources he will give you MIGHTY inner STRENGTH through his Holy Spirit. 

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at HOME in your HEARTS as you TRUST in Him. 

May your roots go down DEEP into the soil of God's marvelous LOVE.

And may you have the power to UNDERSTAND, as all God's people should, how WIDE, how LONG, how HIGH, and how DEEP his LOVE really is. 

May you experience the LOVE of Christ, though it is SO great you will NEVER fully UNDERSTAND it.

Then you will be FILLED with the fulness of LIFE and POWER that comes from GOD

Now GLORY be to GOD!

By HIS mighty POWER at work WITHIN us, HE is ABLE to accomplish INFINITELY more than WE
would ever DARE to ask or HOPE."

Ephesians 3:14-20

Hope this touches your heart in some way this week!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome Fall!

Leaves blowing off trees, pumpkins on the front porch, chili and hot cocoa to warm the soul!  I decided with fall upon us that I would add some warm and neutral colors to the blog!  I also thought that since we may end up with not just our daughter, I should make our blog a little more neutral - sorry purple and pinks!  If we get just Naomi's referral or we get some sisters - I'll girl it back up again!  I felt the water cascading over the rocks was perfect.  Rocks are changed and shaped over time as water flows over their surface, smoothing and molding them into new images.  I am learning early on in this journey that we are the rocks and God is slowly cascading His love over us, molding and shaping us into who He wants us to be.  It isn't always easy - and I know the road ahead of us is going to be difficult and full of bumps and unknowns.  I know that we may feel like we're pushed to the bottom of the stream and forgotten about.  We may feel like we are in the midst of the rapids and getting pushed this way and that with no clear direction.  I also know that our time in the stream is unknown.  God chooses to pluck some out of the water sooner than others and I don't yet know what God has planned for our family.  What I do know is that I will choose to believe and trust in God - when we are at the bottom of the stream or in the midst of the rapids, when we are floating along peacefully taking in the scenery or being tossed about in a storm - I will choose to believe that God is the WATER...He is ALWAYS with us, surrounding us, molding us, comforting us!

Please continue to pray for our family as God is molding and shaping us through our adoptiong journey!

Fun Pumpkin Pics to Add to the Fall Fun!

Leah's Beautiful Butterflies

Noah's Spooky Bats

Jarod's Grinnin' Jack-o-Lantern


Pumpkins All Lit Up

Excited to hopefully have a few more pumpkins to grace our front step next year,
at least one more anyway!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ever Changing

One thing that I learned very early on in our adoption process is that things are ever changing.  The "normal" expectation for referrals, court dates, embassy - are always so unknown and completely different depending on what family you talk to.  Every family has their own story, based on their own time frame, based on God's journey that He took them on. 

Our adoption journey has been amazing so far and God has already taught us so much!  He's opened our eyes up to the world and His people.  He has shown us that if we are willing, he will take us places we never thought we would go, and I'm not just talking about going to Africa!  I'm talking about the journey that He's taking our hearts on, our lives, our family, our outlook on life.  I can honestly say that God has spoken to us so deeply and clearly that I can say with absolute faith that we will NEVER be the same again!  We will NEVER look at the world in the same way!  He had bigger plans for our family than we had for ourselves and He is slowly revealing that plan to us.

Part of God's plan for our family is to bring our daughter home from Ethiopia!  We do not know when that will be or who she even is but we DO know that God does.  He knows every hair on her head and has been there beside her to wipe away every tear she has shed.  God has been revealing and changing our hearts on this process and a couple of months ago we felt like God was asking us not to put Him in a box, not to limit His plans for our family.  We felt like God was asking us to not only adopt our daughter, but also to be open to a sibling group.  God's plans are ever changing - He waits for you to get comfortable with a new decision, only to prompt you to step out in faith once again and follow His leading.  We made the decision to be open to a sibling group back in August, even before our Dossier was sent to Ethiopia.  We were told by our family coordinator that sibling groups are not as common as an individual referral so we would more likely just receive our daughter.  We know that God knows and we are trusting Him to bring us our child or children, whatever that may look like.  We feel that God asked us to be open to sibling groups - He may have just wanted us to be obediant and we might just get our daughter - or  - He may have our children out there waiting for us and He needed us to be open to them.  Either way we will receive a 3-4 yr. old girl, either in a sibling group of 2-3 children ranging from 18 mon. to 7 yrs, or by herself - whichever is available first!

We have kept the sibling portion of our decision pretty quiet due to the fact that it most likely won't happen.  Lately, however, we felt like we should share this change that God has led us on.  We know that many of you are praying for our family and our adoption process.  You are lifting up our daughter in your prayers and praying with us that God would bring her home to us soon.  We feel like we need prayer, for whatever God has planned for our family. 

I just posted a couple of days ago under our Adoption Timeline where we are on the DTE LIST - this list is the make shift list that the families have put together to see where we are in our wait. For fun, I posted where we are on the sibling group list- just to see if anyone would notice - LOL :).  The only person who noticed was my mother-in-law and that was with some prompting on my part.  Since posting a couple of days ago, the list has already changed.  It is important to remind you (and myself) that the list is not accurate and complete.  Not ALL families are included in the list, it only has the families that have chosen to participate in the yahoo chat group.  Also, families can change their request at anytime which can rearrange where everyone is on the list.  This is what has happened in our case, so instead of moving up the list, we have taken a small step back.  We are #4 for a 3 yr old girl, #2 for a 4 yr old girl, and #6 for a sibling group.  Most all of the families ahead of us are not requesting EXACTLY what we are, so they could receive something completely different than what we are requesting.  But the families that I have down as ahead of us are eligible for a 3-4 yr old girl so we have to consider ourselves behind them in line.

Please continue to lift our family up in prayer as we walk on this path that God has layed out before us.  Please pray that we would continue to draw close to Him for strength and that we would be obediant to His calling for our family.  Pray for our biological children, that God would prepare their hearts and minds to accept the changes that are coming.  Please pray for our child/children who's lives are going to change drastically in the months to come.  Pray that God would begin preparing their hearts to join our family and pray that God will comfort and keep them safe in His arms.

God is our rock when everything around us is EVER CHANGING!

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalms 18:2

Monday, October 24, 2011

Courageous

Went to see the movie "Courageous" with some amazing friends!  Inspiring movie about men standing up to the challenge to be Godly husbands and fathers, to live life with integrity and COURAGE! 


So blessed to have an amazing husband who gives his all to his family and who loves God with all of his heart!  Love you babe!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet Music from Sweet Kids from Halfway Around the World

We got the opportunity to watch the African Children's Choir perform this morning.  This agency has been doing amazing, life changing work for a couple decades. I was surprised by the flood of emotion that overtook me as I first heard and then saw the sweet faces of the children as they ran and danced up onto the stage. 



The director that was with the choir was a past choir member who was able to do amazing things with his life thanks to the opportunities that the program and sponsorships provided.  He graduated with a bachelor's in business and is using his talents to help his country back home.  He presented the children with the preface that all of the children are 7,8,or 9 year olds and have either lost their mother, father, or both.  These children needed a chance to shine and African Children's Choir has given that opportunity.  Their faces beamed and their hearts shined as they sang about God's love.




One of my favorite parts of the concert was when each child came up to the microphone, introduced themselves, and said what they want to be when they grow up.  Their future dreams ranged from pilots to nurses to doctors to teachers to vets to cardiologists to pastors.  The tears snuck back into the corners of my eyes knowing that these children have the opportunity to hope and aspire for a future.

Their faces are beautiful but it is not as amazing as their voices...enjoy the sweet music from sweet kids from halfway around the world...

African Children's Choir - He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

African Children's Choir - Can Dance - Common Game Played in African Villages

African Children's Choir - This Little Light of Mine


Another reminder of how God is doing amazing things in Africa!  Can't wait to show the video to our sweet daughter - and hopefully take her to watch them next time they come into town!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2 Months DOWN!

Life has been crazy to say the least and I haven't even had time to think straight.  There doesn't seem to be an end to the busy schedule in the near future either, with conferences on the horizon!  A few things in the schedule have been by choice - but oh so needed for my soul!  We went back to the Africa church a week or so ago!  It was even more amazing than the first time we visited.  I took my mother-in-law and Aunt Becci with us and it was a moving and inspiring service.  We found out that evening that the African Children's Choir was coming to town next Sunday!  Oh SO excited to go see the beautiful children and hear their amazing music!  My brother and I reminisced back to our childhood when the African Children's Choir came to our church.  It was something that has stayed with me as an amazing experience and I'm excited to take my children!  Josh and I also get the opportunity this coming week to work a booth for our adoption agency, America World Adoption Association, at Steven Curtis Chapman's concert.  We have loved working with our agency and are excited to share our adoption journey with other families.  The exciting part is that we get VIP passes to the pre-show and we get tickets into the concert, when we aren't supposed to be manning the booth that is!  I don't think I've been to a concert since I was in high school - and it was Steven Curtis Chapman back then too - HAHA!  So incredibly excited to see what God has planned in the near future as he places us in each of these situations!

The title of today's post is 2 months DOWN!  We submitted our Dossier(paperwork) to Ethiopia 2 months ago yesterday!  It has flown by and seems like just yesterday I was driving to the UPS store to ship off the paperwork that had consumed my life all summer.  God has blessed me with a busy schedule to keep my mind off of the fact that I am still waiting!  He has blessed me with "meeting" some amazing families in our AWAA(America World Adoption Association) Family Chat Group.  He has allowed me to pray for and focus on the needs of these families that have been waiting longer, stuck in court closure, struggling through embassy investigations, receiving emails saying their kids are sick - AGAIN - and there is nothing the families can do but pray from afar that God would be with their children, that God would be with their paperwork, that God would be with their process, that God would unite thier Families SOON!  I want more than anything to receive a phone call tomorrow afternoon with a referral - is it going to happen - most likely not - but maybe!  I want more than anything for God to do BIG things in Ethiopia and MOVE some Mountains for some amazing families that need to hear a Word from the ALMIGHTY!  Can it be done?  ONLY with God - IT WILL BE DONE!

So - with the Steven Curtis Chapman concert in our near future - I will leave you with a word from him!


Our Love will bring them home - IN GOD'S PERFECT TIMING!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Faces of Joy!

It has been a while since we updated the kids' pictures.  I like to take posed individual pics of the kids at least once a year!  I loved their enthusiasm and their willingness to strike a pose!  Here's the final product!







Flag football has also been consuming ALL of our free time - Go PATRIOTS and JETS!





LOVE - LOVE - LOVE my Collage Program....can you tell!?!?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Trust in the Lord

Our agency posted today on our Ethiopia facebook page...

“Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:4 NLT

Most of you know that courts in Ethiopia have been closed since the first week of August and are due to open up this week.  It has been a long and quiet time for many families stuck in the midst of court closure.  A few families are waiting for a recommendation letter from the courts to submit to Embassy in order to bring their children home.  Some families are waiting to get clearance from Embassy to travel and pick up their children and bring them home to their forever families! Other families have received referrals in the quiet of court closure and are waiting to receive a court date so they can make their first trip over and hold their children for the first time.  There are yet others who are waiting for a referral.  Not just waiting a month or so, like us, but these families have been waiting for over a year.  Waiting and hoping each time the phone rings that it is their family coordinator with news of a referral.

The mood in many families is a sense of yearning and exhaustion.  Many families have asked for prayer - that God would give them strength when they don't feel like they have any left.  For peace and comfort in the continued wait.  I am asking you to lift up these families with me.  God has an amazing plan and everything needs to be in place for each family to receive the children that God designed for them.  It is so hard for us to see and understand God's timing - but I know that it is perfect and I will choose to believe and Trust in the Lord.

I know the day will come when I will be sick of waiting - I am already there most days...even though I know I have a long and difficult wait ahead.  I ache for Naomi and want more than anything to hold her in my arms and tell her everything is going to be ok - that her Mama is here now!  In the midst of the waiting I am  choosing to spend my time in prayer - and I ask that you join me in lifting up our process.  Instead of trying to figure out what scenario may bring us our daughter and trying to predict when a referral may come - I have been spending my time on my knees!   I have been praying for every hand that has a part in bringing our daughter home.  I pray for the doctors, the nannies, the orphonage workers, the court officials and clerks, our family coordinator, the embassy officials and clerks!  I pray for every piece of documentation that is involved in bringing Naomi home to us - the homestudy, the Dossier, the medical forms, the referral forms, the legal papers, any orphonage papers, the approvals and recommendations from court, the embassy papers, her visa.  I know that I have NO control over all of these things - but I KNOW that God does.  I TRUST that God will safeguard each aspect of our adoption and bring our family together - whatever that may look like - I will TRUST IN THE LORD!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Movin' On UP!

So excited to have courts opening back up!  There has been a lot of talk today with families getting their court dates for mid-November.  Referrals are starting to pick up again too, after being quiet for close to 3 weeks - after the whopping 17 referrals back in August! 

So excited to see today that we moved up the Referral Wait List again!  We are techinically ranked #4 - BUT - 2 of the families don't match directly with our request - SO - we are sitting in #2!!!  The family that is ahead of us matches up to us only if there is a 3 yr. old. referral.  If there is a 4 yr. old - we just might be next - YAY!!!

I try to remind myself that this list is not complete - it only includes the families that are part of the chat group!  But regardless - we are moving closer to seeing our sweet daughter's face!

Please continue to pray for our sweet daughter!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We Predict, We do NOT Schedule

The message at church this morning was all about "hope".  It was about being hopeful with the knowledge of what God HAS done, what God has promised TO do in the future, and what God IS doing currently in our lives.  There was one part of the sermon that truly hit home.  The pastor was giving an analogy of a geyser in Yellowstone National Park.  It is bigger and grander than Old Faithful - but it is not very faithful.  You have to wait and wait and even then the geyser is unpredictable.  The pastor said that once the geyser went off it was well worth the wait.  The message next to the geyser said "We predict, we do not schedule!".  This is exactly what God asks of us.  God promises lots of things, but not always in our timing.  We are commanded to put our hope in Him, but we cannot schedule Him - GOD IS GOD!  His timing is perfect.

Many people have been checking in and asking how our adoption is going.  I just keep telling them that we are just waiting.  The wait for an infant girl is close to 18 months.  The wait for an infant boy is a little less than that.  The wait for a toddler is undecided and unpredictable.  We were originally told the wait would be 5-8 months - probably the shorter end of that because of the age we are requesting.  The tentative family list has us down as #5 on the age category that we are requesting.  Out of those 4 families before us, some are requesting boys, or sibling groups, or a 3 yr. old but not a 4yr old.  It makes my mind spin trying to figure out when we could receive a beautiful picture of our sweet daughter. 

I have complete hope that God knows exactly where our daughter is.

I have complete hope that God will keep her in His arms until we can hold her in ours.

I have complete hope that God will guide us and be with us while we wait.

I have complete hope that God is in control.

I am reminded that WE CAN PREDICT, BUT WE DO NOT SCHEDULE!

So with God's perfect timing and plan in mind...

"I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in Him.  May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."  ~ Romans 15:13

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sweet Blessings!

As I sat in church yesterday amidst the beautiful African music, my daughter Leah crawled into my lap and asked me to read her Bible to her.  Like most 4 year olds, her Bible is more like a child's picture book and not a whole lot like scripture.  I was trying to listen and participate in the service but Leah was adimant for my attention.  She opened it up, grabbed my cheeks and said "Read it Mommy".  As I looked at the sparkly pink pages of "The Sweetest Story Bible - Sweet thoughts and sweet words for little girls" I read:

The Lord your God is with you.

He is mighty enough to save you.

He will take great delight in you.

The quietness of His love will calm you down.

He will sing with joy because of you.

Zepheniah 3:17

It was Leah's gentle hands upon my cheeks turning my eyes to the page but it was God's gentle guidance leading me to a word from Him. 

I need God with me more than ever as I ponder and wait on His timing. 

He is ohhhh sooo mighty.

It is hard to believe that He takes delight in me - a gentle reminder. 

His love is in the quiet, the still small whisper of reassurance, the warmth to know that He is in control, that He knows best.

He sings with joy because of me - when I should be singing with joy because of HIM!

I hold fast to the truth of scripture that this verse was meant just as much for Naomi as it was for Leah and I on that day!

Sweet girl - God is with you!

Sweet girl - He will save you  - I pray now for your salvation!

Sweet girl - He takes GREAT delight in you!

Sweet girl - His love will meet you in the quiet and give you calm and peace!

Sweet girl - He sings for joy because of YOU!

Heavenly Father I come to you on this day with your words on my heart.  Be with my baby girl as she is so far awayHold her and be with her!  Draw her close to you and never let her go!  I pray for her salvation, that in the midst of her life you would make yourself known to her.  Continue to make yourself known to me, through the still small voice, the gently touch, the persistent nudging to do more, to love more, to give more, to see others through your eyes!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Glimpse

The kids and I were given an opportunity to get a glimpse tonight - the first glimpse we got was a glimpse of being the minority, as Naomi will feel often once she gets home.  We got the opportunity to attend a church service at a local church that is made up of mostly African people.  There were families from several different African countries and some caucasians as well.  We arrived a little bit early to find that we were the only fair skinned people in the room.  There were lots of stares and glances our direction.  They were followed with hesitant smiles and kind eyes - but I'm sure they were wondering if we were in the right place.  I never felt so aware of my daughter's fair skin and bright red hair.  As we waited for church to start - there was someone at the front of the room leading prayer - I say leading prayer because everyone was praying.  Not only was everyone praying but they were praying loudly, all at the same time, and most of them not in English.  My kids couldn't help but sit and stare.  They were translating the speaker's prayers into English so we kind of knew what was going on.  As we got closer to service starting the pew started filling up and we weren't the only white people in the crowd anymore - a handful more showed up. 

The music began and it was amazing.  We were given a glimpse into the beauty and grace of African music.  Most of the music was in Swahili and when they sang verses in English it was hard to understand through the accent.  But the music was beautiful - it lifted my spirits!  I prayed that my daughter would be surrounded by such beauty, such rhythm, such awe inspiring praises to God.  They invited all the new people up front to introduce us and then prayed over us.  It was amazing standing in the front of a group of complete strangers, from Africa none the less.  They said that they would pray over us and that God would know what needs we had and where our lives needed touched.  As I held my daughter Leah in my arms and felt them lay hands on her head and heard the sweet words of prayer over my children and my family, I knew God was holding Naomi up in that place.  I knew that He was watching over her and holding her in His arms, just like I was holding Leah.  The sweet prayers were as much for my children here as they were for her there. 

The kids got bored after a while and started getting whiny and fidgety - the service was pretty long lasting a little over 2 hours.  All in all it was a wonderful experience and I have no doubt that we will return.  It was a glimpse into the culture and heritage that our daughter is a part of, that we are now a part of, that God is a part of.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Melkam Addis Amet

September 11, 2011 is the start to a new year in Ethiopia - Melkham Addis Amet or Happy New Year! Their celebration is known as Enkutatashe. Today ushers in the start of 2004 in Ethiopia! 



Here is some interesting info about the Ethiopian Calendar!

Ethiopia still retains the Julian calendar, in which the year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days and 6 days in leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar from January to September and 7 years behind between September 11 and January 8.

Enkutatash means the "gift of jewels". When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her bolts by replenishing her treasury with inku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since this early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside.


It is bitter sweet celebrating the start of another year in my daughter's home country, while we remember the day that shook America to the core 10 years ago.  So, as I say Melkham Addis Amet, I also say WE REMEMBER and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

God Found Us You

My dear sweet friend, Chandra (Home with Aidrea for a couple months now), got Naomi and me a book to read together once she gets home.  It brought tears to my eyes and made me yearn for the day I can hold Naomi in my lap and read it to her. A small glimpse into the conversation we will have one day about the prayers and tears that led her to her forever home.  Thanks Chan - Love ya and thanks for letting me love on your sweet daughter while I wait for mine!

God Found Us You  -     
        By: Lisa Tawn Bergren
    
    
        Illustrated By: Laura J. Bryant



When a little fox cub climbs into bed, he asks his mom about how he came to live with her. As she tucks him in, she tells the miraculous story of his arrival---and assures him that he made her "the happiest mama in the world." A tenderly told tale that captures the blessings of adoption.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor of Love

A fellow waiting family suggested that we spend Labor Day weekend remembering the Labor of Love that is bringing us our children.  We were encouraged to pray for our daughter's birth family.  As I pondered the double sided emotion that adoption brings, it made me sit back and examine the emotional journey that will bring her to us.  As I sit anxiously awaiting a phone call informing me that my daughter's picture is awaiting, a mother somewhere is thinking of her daughter that she gave up.  A daughter that she loved dearly but wanted to have a better life.  If life circumstance had only been different, maybe she would still be holding her sweet daughter in her arms and tucking her in at night.  As I await the picture of her sweet face, I hold fast to the truth that I will get to look into her beloved eyes for the rest of her life.  There is a young woman somewhere that will only get to hold on to the memories of her daughter's smile.  Adoption is a two sided journey - joy and elation for the adoptive family and sacrifice and hope from the birth family.  I prayed for my daughter's family a lot this weekend.  For her mom and dad, any siblings or grandparents that may be missing her joyful face.  I pray today that God would intervene in their lives and draw them to Him.  That they would grow to know God's grace and accept His salvation.  That my daughter could see her family again, at Heaven's gate.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to School!

Well, we survived our first week back to school.  Noah gets to go all day this year now that he is in First Grade.  It is a lot of work for such a little one - he fell asleep every day on our way home from school.  Jarod is all grown up and in third grade now.  He walks around with such a different confidence and maturity these days.  Leah loves going to preschool at Monica and was so excited to get homework to work on each night.  She is working on writing the letters in her name.  It is so sweet to watch the boys sit and help her do her work.  I've got a great group of students and I'm excited to see where the year takes us!  Other than being thoroughly exhausted each night - this week was a success.  A few pics of the first day of school!


I can't wait to add one more smiling face to the mix - we're comin' sweetheart!

On The List!

I was anxious and excited to get our Dossier submitted and find out where we are on "the list".  Several blogs that I have been following have a countdown list for families once they are DTE.  They get monthly updates of where they are - such as Infant Girl #23 - so families know how many families are ahead of them and can see their file move up the list with each months update.  As you know we were DTE last week 8/19/2011!!  I waited for the email with where we were on "the list" but it never came.  I contacted our family coordinator and asked her if our agency had such a list.  She said due to confidentiality reasons and unknowns in international adoption they do not have an agency list - SAD!  I was so looking forward to seeing where we were.  She did mention, however, that we have a yahoo chat group for families from our agency and they have taken it upon themselves to start their own list!

I joined the group on Friday morning but was at work all day so I wasn't able to go look around and see what all they had.  It has turned out to be a great resource and am excited to get to meet so many families.  They have packing lists for your travel over, info on air travel and currency, and lots more.  It is so great to get info and advice from families that have been there and that are going through the same journey as us.  I finally found the document that I was looking for - "The List"!!  They have it broken down into different categories(infant girl, infant boy, sibling groups/twins, 12+ girl, 12+ boy, etc.)  We are requesting a girl 3-4 years old so we fall under the 3 and older category.  I looked over the list and noticed that boy and girl requests were both in this category.  I counted the families on the list that were girls and there were only 5!!  That would make us #6 - SO EXCITING!  I messaged the person in charge of adding new families and gave her our specifics so that we could get on the list!  Now, it is important to mention that not ALL families from AWAA(Our Agency) are on the Yahoo chat group so the list isn't 100% accurate - but it is close!  I checked the list when I got home last night and was excited to see our names were on there!  We were listed at #6!!  I went to bed excited to be chatting with fellow families - some awaiting referral, some in homestudy, some awaiting court approval, some awaiting their embassy appt., and some who are home with their children!  I woke up this morning and it dawned on me that we should have been #6 out of just the girls, but there had been boy requests on there too.  I got back on this morning and took a look!  When we were added to the list, they also updated a couple referrals that had been given yesterday!  Also, originally I counted all the families and didn't pay attention to their DTE - a couple of them are within the last 2 weeks(After us!).  So, what I am trying to say is that we are techinically #6 on the list - but with only GIRL requestes included - we are #4!!!!

It is hard to guess how long the wait will be with children that are older.  They either have them available or they don't.  I am settling in for the wait and keeping my mind and heart at peace knowing that our Heavenly Father knows where our daughter is and when she will make it to us.  He knew her even before she took her first breath and long before she came into our hearts.  He will protect her and guide her and keep her safe while we are apart.  So excited to be at this point!  So excited to be on this journey!  God has taught us so much so far and I'm excited to see where He takes us next!