Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just a thought....

Sometimes I think of good blog post ideas when I am falling asleep. I run through topics, pictures, etc... It probably comes from excessive blogging (back in the IM days, when I would think as I was falling asleep I would also picture myself typing...I was a speed demon typer in my mind)...anyways...totally not the point.

So I think about awesome blog ideas when falling asleep, right?

Last night I had a good one...I remember thinking that.

But I was too tired to get up and write it...And now I can't remember what it was about.

But I remember it was good.

It probably would have blown your mind.

Just thought you should know.....


P.S. Due to my recent obsession with  enthusiasm for the Pioneer Woman, I now think I need a good blog nickname for J....Pioneer Woman calls her husband "Marlboro Man" due to his dirty, sweaty, rough cowboy-rancher "Don't-take-no-crap-from-no-one" physique.......I feel like I need some term of endearment, too, but I have trouble coming up with something clever....What do you think?

Hahaha..I love this guy...Not quite the rustic cowboy-rancher Marlboro Man...but I love him...This picture makes me giggle....He totally was tired of my picture-taking antics...but he put on a good show, just the same =)

Til next time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This is who I am....

So, I have said before that I am nothing, if not passionate....about life, about God, about my career, and about...well just about anything I like or think I MIGHT like someday. I have a very obvious obsession er...."passion" that I was recently told I should blog about in the name of true transparency... So in an effort to please my fans..okay ONE fan..Fine, person who occasionally reads my blog when she clicks on the link by accident, I am going to reveal my deep-seated passion.

That's right....JEWELRY. Costume jewelry to be exact. I can't get enough of the stuff (obviously)...The girls at the "Dollar Jewelry Galore" know my name..embarrassing but true, I have even had to cut back on my trips since I had gotten to the point of keeping up with their shipment dates..and that was creepy, even for someone like me. 

I have been known to change my jewelry multiple times a day, just to "complete" a LOOK or give something PERSONALITY..I have gym jewelry, work jewelry, concert jewelry, jeans and t-shirt jewelry, evening out jewelry, and lots and lots of miscellaneous everyday jewelry.

This is who I am.

Yesterday, I would have told you I was simply a "big earrings" girl, but after doing inventory, I think that would be unfair to my comprehensive necklace and bracelet collections to simply call myself  an "earring" girl, when I am obviously so much more than that (although earrings are still my favorite--don't tell my bulky green necklace, we've had some good times together)

I am also an eternal optimist.

That's right...These are stragglers. Favorites at one time, that have lost a partner, but are ones I can't bear to get rid of because of my hope that the partner will appear someday. This is the true audacity of hope, people...trusting that an earring will come back. Faith in action my friends.....Much like Abraham, however, I have yet to see the fruit (yah, so what if I compared myself  and my search for prodigal earrings to the father of many nations....get over it)

This is REALLY who I am.

I also thought this might be a good opportunity to show you some of my more important pieces...
*Disclaimer (since I am sure someone will notice): my wedding rings are, of course, my most important pieces--however because they are typically on my finger and not in my jewelry box, I forgot to add them to this display. So I am telling you now, they are beautiful and meaningful and I love them.... blah blah blah..

This must be how celebrities feel when they win an Oscar and the press eats them alive for forgetting to thank their spouse. Whew.....it's exhausting.

Left to right: Heart necklace, cream necklace, flip-flop anklet, gold chain, class ring

Heart necklace: My husband's family (whom I love dearly) is country. And when I say "country" what I really mean is COUNTRY (yee-haw), so imagine my surprise when, the first year J and I were married, I had a small jewelry box under the Christmas Tree with "from Lou and DANNY" written on it..exactly like that. Story goes: My in-laws were Christmas shopping in Branson, when my father-in-law (above mentioned COUNTRY father-in-law) tells my MIL that they need to stop in a jewelry store to get me a necklace since I "loved jewelry so much" (observant fellow that he is...). After THREE jewelry stores in various outlet malls, he finds this heart necklace and decides that this is the right one for me. Touching, isn't it?? It certainly was for me. I wear this necklace often, and when I do, I think of my COUNTRY FIL stepping completely out of his element just to find me the perfect necklace...It means a lot me. It's very special.

Cream necklace: I don't even know what the stones are, but a few birthdays ago I got this necklace and a great (albeit smaller) pair of amethyst earrings for my birthday from my Mom and Steven. I think the necklace is supposed to enhance well-being, whatever it is...I don't know if it does that, but I know that I remember feeling so special when it was given to me, and thinking that I was really lucky to have family that loved me. I don't wear it often, because I am afraid of losing it or it breaking, and I would rather always have it and use it on special occasions than the alternative....But it's special nonetheless.

Flip-flop anklet: I should preface this by saying that I have never actually worn this. I have unusually thick ankles...like tree trunks...hateful people call them "cankles"...Okay, I call them that too but they're mine so it's different...It's just mean when you do it. Anyways, back to the anklet, it was given to my as a "gift" when I was maid of honor in a friend's wedding. It really didn't seem like a big deal then, in fact I don't even know for sure that she picked them out (she had a lot of "helpers" in her wedding) but now, when I look at this pretty blue flip-flop anklet that I have never and will never be able to wear, I remember her wedding day, and jumping in my car to go to the grocery store when the florist brought a ridiculous bouquet and all she wanted was three long-stem white roses....I remember the joy of watching a friend make a life-long commitment to the love of her life, I remember being hot and sweaty at the reception in my 18th century style dress...and that makes the anklet special. cheap, useless, but special.

**I should also note, in the name of transparency, that all  I gave my bridesmaids were candy necklaces (another passion for another post on another day) which we promptly used as garters....which we also forgot about until hours later--- into the reception-- when it came time for the garter toss and all I had on my leg was a melted, sticky candy necklace...that a high school boy from church caught...there is even a picture of a disgusted A.K. holding an even more disgusting looking candy necklace wondering why God would punish him in such a strange way--another proud moment of mine immortalized forever in photo...So while my friend left a memory on my heart which I can always be reminded of through her gift, all I left my bridesmaids were stained and sticky legs, disgusting-looking candy necklaces that could no longer be eaten and a sense of humiliation on my behalf as the aforementioned events unfolded....I''m not proud of those moments but...

This is most definitely who I am....

Gold chain: Recently my childhood BFF and I chose to drag our husbands along on a week-long cruise vacation..Sure, it was a great romantic getaway, but I think we both just wanted a chance to relive our "joined at the (much skinnier) hip* days. We took pictures, laid out by the pool, stayed up past our bedtimes, ate way too much....and got these "BFF" bracelets and anklets (sized to fit even the most cankle of ankles) and it just is special. We have had many, and I do mean MANY BFF necklaces over our 15 + year friendship but not in some time, so these were really special. Special because it reminds me of her and our life-long friendship, and also because it fits (which is nice)..I rarely wear it because it's a little big and, unless I am wearing sandals, it gets right at that point where my shoe meets my ankle--very uncomfortable--and if I were to lose it, there would no longer be two halves to our friendship chains....that would be tragic.

Class ring: I just want to say, if it weren't completely inappropriate at my age, I would still wear this ring every day. EVERY. DAY. I love this ring, I love everything about, from the starburst aquamarine stone, to the cross and megaphone on each side to it's lovely engraving..It's just a beautiful ring. It doesn't even represent the happiest, or most free time in my life...maybe for me, it's a reminder of how far I have come (pss..I NEVER wore jewelry in high school..and I mean NEVER..except for THIS ONE ring) and how much I have learned about who I really am..and while I am certainly not the same girl who designed what would signify her high school career with that ring, I would still say those are the best representations of who I have grown into, and I am proud of that....

The box is special too..The box was purchased during my trip to Brazzaville, Congo. I love that box...It's handcrafted and beautiful. And maybe someday, it will be my daughter's....

So  I might have a crazy obsession with all things gaudy with regard to jewelry and I may have a problem with regard to my constant trips to the Dollar Jewelry Galore, but I love my jewelry (ALL of it), I love that I can wear it proudly (whether it's really in style or not..pshh..style schmyle) and I love who I am.....so, since you asked...

This imperfect, hopefully-not-finished-becoming-who-I-end-up-being, loudmouth, jewelry-wearing fool, is happy with who I am......

Til next time,

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Our Way...

Well, we did it! This morning, we turned in application part II....talked a lot about the next couple of steps (Home Study, USCIS, Dossier)....asked a lot of questions, especially about the new rumors that Ethiopia is going to start requiring 2 trips....and left with an nervous excitement to get on with the process!!! I am learning that, adoption---international adoption specifically but probably ALL adoptions--are much like trying to fly somewhere....it's a lot of "hurry up and wait" cycles!

So about those questions.....for those interested in adoption or simply praying for ours, the rumors are true....Ethiopia is going to start requiring that the families be present for the court date...which means that, in it's current condition, it will require two trips to finalize the adoption...*enter major sad face here* I have mixed feelings about this but I trust God to make a way and we will lean on Him as we go through the process. Below I have listed some of the reasons WHY ET is going this direction AND why this adds some stress to the process

Why ET is going to start requiring 2 trips:
1. Currently families are not present for the court hearing that grants guardianship. They get as much medical and familial history as can be mustered in country, make a decision from 1000 miles away, and are technically guardians of the children before they ever actually travel to get him/her/them. This presents a number of problems, 1. If there has been an omission on the child's file--the parents could be in for a surprise when they go to pick up their child (whom they have custody of but have never met at this point). 2. The court is granting this custody without the parents there saying "yes, we agree that we want this child" so IF there is any corruption and/or "bait and switch" tactics, nobody is aware and the ET government allows the attorney to act on behalf of the parents...... 

2.  47 children have been "adopted" and left in ET after the families traveled and changed their minds in-country. Now, I am not condemning...I can't imagine what it takes to make a decision like that, what those parents are emotionally going through to say "This child isn't what I thought I was getting nor what I am prepared to care for"....I can only pray that God keeps his hand on our process so that I never get to know first-hand what those families are going through when they decide to leave those children in that country..We all know, that 1 child left in an institution is 1 child too many so 47 is certainly cause for concern.......Not to mention the fact that (see #1) the family already has guardianship--meaning that that child is not available for adoption again until all of the bureaucracy of dissolving the adoption can be take care of...

Why this is difficult for families:
1.  Because it takes so long to have the birth certificates,  visas and passports transferred, there are SEVERAL weeks between court and when the child can travel home...meaning that families must take 2 trips to ET to complete the process...Financially--that means 2 different times off work--two different flight/travel costs--two different times of flight exhaustion....the financial cost alone is enough to make families cringe (both parents MUST travel both times)..Thank God (he always knows what he is doing) that we decided to do this before having any other children in the home..Can you imagine having to leave them home twice?? OR TAKE them twice??? Two trips is definitely stressful...

2.  I can't imagine the heartbreak that I will feel as I board a plane back to the U.S. knowing that I have left my child in an institution for weeks or even a few months longer...Don't get me wrong, I thank God that the orphanages Dillon works with have great caretakers who love on those babies as much as possible...But...I am mommy...I don't want to meet him/her, love on them, pray for them, sing to them...and then LEAVE them there....Oh Jesus, give me strength.... Give all the mommies and daddies who have to board a plane without their children strength....

But, really, this two trip thing isn't unusual...in fact most countries require two trips (one of the reasons ET has been so appealing was that they did NOT)...but we are praying that as they begin to transition their processes--which we don't blame them for changing (you do remember 47 children were adopted and left, right??)--that they consider speeding up the time it takes to convert the birth certificates and passports..If they could get THAT lag time to 5-7 days, then families could make 1 two or three week trip (doesn't minimize the time off work but does lower travel costs significantly) to ET and would NOT have to leave their baby there between trips but instead would get more time to learn about the child's birth land, love on him/her in their own country, visit with caretakers, any birth family, etc...and when they board the plane home, have their baby with them...Doesn't that sound like a MUCH better plan (P.S. This is how China works currently)??  I think so, too!!! Infrastructure changes are key!

Anyways, we were told to go ahead and plan and prepare for two trips..We are praying that in the next year the processes become efficient enough to warrant just ONE trip but even if it's two, we continue to lean on God!

Thank you for your prayers--We will keep you updated!

Til Next Time,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The List

Monday morning, we will turn in our Application Part II for our Ethiopian Adoption...next step (if we are approved) is to complete the home-study! I have mentioned on here, before, the amount of paperwork we had to collect for this piece (which is minimal compared to the Dossier)..and thought, as I was neatly arranging it all to turn in, that you guys might like a glimpse of all our hard work =)

The pile of paperwork---before I arranged them into their prospective folders

Arranging paperwork into piles (picture sets are to the left)

Paperwork neatly separated and arranged nicely into the folder

And FINALLY, we are done with this step!

Okay, I think we are READY for Monday!!!

Til next time,

I'm Forgiven!

So, I used to pray something when I knew I had made a mistake, hurt someone, said something out of line, etc...I would always pray that God would take away the memories--that no longer would I even remember that I had made those mistakes...and He never did?! I thought it made perfect sense, if I am clean--if my sins have been washed away, then why not also wash away the memories?

But I still remember. I remember the smallest things, and I remember the "big ones". I never FORGOT my sins...

Over the past few mornings, I have woken up singing a line of this Sanctus Real song, "Forgiven" which basically says "I don't have to carry the weight of who I've been--Cause I'm forgiven". I kind of liked the song, I had heard it a few times on the radio, and it was catchy at least...but no massive revelations..and then for some reason, I would wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning singing that line...okay, so in the world of signs from God, I am OBVIOUSLY slow--no, I didn't pray about it right then. I thought "Wow, what a sweet thought" and I went back to sleep! (I did mention that it was before sunrise, right?????). But it happened again this morning (after sunrise) and during my prayer time, I started asking God, "What do you want me to "get" from this song?? Why am I singing it ALL the time??"

God began to show me that, in the realm of FORGIVENESS, it was never about "forgetting" your mistakes and shortcomings..but rather it was about understanding that even with those mistakes and shortcomings, that God said "I WANT her"....Sure, the devil probably countered with "Haven't you seen all her screw-ups, she's a wreck who can't watch her tongue, she'll never be perfect" and I can only imagine, with total devotion in His eyes, God saying "I don't care. I WANT her and I will do anything for her. I would even DIE for her". 

Our forgiveness isn't about us getting a "do-over" with regard to our memories and history. If we forgot all we had ever done, every mistake we had ever made, how much less would forgiveness mean? I mean, if I could look back at my life and see no mistakes...I might think I was perfect...then WHY would I need a perfect Savior? But I do. Because I know where I've been. "But here, in your arms, I know what I am--I'm forgiven!"

It's not about looking perfect. Not to the rest of the world, and not to yourself. It's about knowing that, even with those imperfections..that you don't have to carry the weight of who you've been. Cause you're FORGIVEN!

I've been listening to the song over and over this morning...soaking in this revelation. It's so clear. God may not let you forget, but Satan doesn't want you to LET GO...So, today, let go of your shortcomings and sins, and even when you are reminded of the places you have been, remind yourself of your forgiveness too...because you may NEVER forget and that's okay..If you forgot the power of your sins, you might also forget the power of His forgiveness.

I have determined that, if remembering my sins also allows me to be reminded of His forgiveness...then I will always remember them with joy! The grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God are far more powerful than the power of the enemy to hold me down with the mistakes I have made. So, next time you feel beat down by the enemy with the weight of your past, dance and shout, because the strength of God's forgiveness is bigger than satan's reminders!

Sanctus Real: Forgiven

Well the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I’m reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just wont let me forget

In this life

I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am


I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
Cause I’m forgiven

My mistakes are running through my mind

And I’ll relive my days, in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry

In this life

I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

I’m forgiven

I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
Cause I’m forgiven

When I don't fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere

When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ ‘cause

I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
Cause I’m forgiven!!

Til next time,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I wonder what that means....

I have always been fascinated with words. Meanings of words, origins of words, names. any word, really, and I find myself realizing which words are most common in my vocabulary and what message those words send to others...Do I use the words in their intended form? Do I minimize the significance?...e.g. I used to say things like "killer awesome" to describe something as especially great...until I lost a friend to a real "killer". Then the significance of the word became incredibly clear to me...and made me think...what other words have I lost significance of? 

Adorable: (adj) \ə-ˈdr-ə-bəl\
1. Worthy of being  adored.

When I think of the word "adorable", God isn't the first thing that comes to my mind, although when I read the definition of the word- He is....In fact, the first TWO things that come to mind when I think of the word "adorable" are children and puppies...what a far cry from the Creator of the Universe!! Like most things, we "adapt" the meanings and significance of words to fit what we want them to be...."Love" for instance means "To hold dear or cherish; To like or desire actively : take pleasure in; To thrive in"   and yet still we LOVE pizza, we LOVE the movies, we LOVE clothing...Yes, we LOVE our families, God, and important activities (which is the intended meaning) but haven't we lost, somewhere, the significance of the word?? And there are so many more examples: Awesome, Wicked, Hate, Killer....the list goes on and on...

You may be asking here, "What is the point, Ashley?"
The point is this: God is the one who is worthy of our adoration, He is the one who's 'Adorable'...and yet, He--Creator of the universe, Alpha and Omega, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords-- adores US.

That's right. We are worthy of nothing, sinners saved by grace; messed up, failing and filthy humans who have only ever earned death, and yet He came. Gave His life. For us. Why? Because he adores us.

Adore: (transition verb)  \ə-ˈdr\
1. To regard with loving admiration and devotion
2. To be very fond of
 Before you ever agreed to give him your life, before you understood the cost of his gift, before you were ever EVEN born...God adored you.

Song of Solomon 4:9(b) says "You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eye"
And if that isn't adoration, I don't know what is...So when you use that word, even in its most insignificant context, remember that one One who is truly "adorable" has chosen YOU to adore. 

Next time you feel like you are walking alone on your journey, when you feel lonely, hurting, cast away and persecuted...Remember, that He adores you....  

Til' next time,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I am considering changing the look of my blog soon...so don't be alarmed if it appears to be "Under Construction"...I am just searching for the perfect one! =)



I have been asked these questions so many times: 
Why Ethiopia? 
Why NOT America? 
Why Adoption at all? 
Why Now? 

And, while I know every adoptive family gets asked these questions...and I have never been offended by such questions...for some strange reason, I felt the need to answer them (in bulk at least---I have never shied away from answering them in one-on-one conversations)....

1. Why Adoption? 
     Well, put simply: James 1:27.   
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." 
     We believe that, as Christians, we have a call to care for the orphans....and trust me, if you spent anytime at ALL learning about how many orphans there truly are,  it would break your heart.   As adopted children ourselves, we knew it was part of our personal heritage to adopt. As Christians---adopted into God's family, remember?--we are ALL called and it is part of ALL our heritages. Children don't need perfect or rich parents...they need praying, loving, protecting parents.....They need parents who will train them up in the way of the Lord, protecting their destinies and purpose until they are able to care for it themselves....Those are the ONLY qualifications---making a LOT more of us qualified than we thought! My challenge to everyone is to seek God about His plan for your family or better yet, seek Him about His plan for His children--because it's difficult to turn down the call of God when you realize there are children at stake!

2. Why Ethiopia instead of America? 
     There ARE many orphans in America that need families... and I pray every day that each and every orphan finds a loving, Christian household to be raised in...we simply know what we have been called to do this time. And that was Africa. We knew all along that we would adopt--though we hadn't seriously prayed about God's will or timing concerning that. Then we took a 2 week trip to Africa. That changed us. Here was this beautiful continent with such beautiful people, living in worse conditions than our farm animals in America (and we all know what kind of fuss gets made over their conditions!). So we began praying "Why God? Why do we have this pull to Africa? Why does it feel like our hearts were left there?" and we began researching ...countries...orphans...adoptions. God began to reveal His plan for our family in a real way...in a way that makes the slow, lengthy process that much more frustrating. I don't know about you, but when I get a word from God, I just want to take that document and present it as a "pass" through the bureaucracy that we crawl through in the natural to get there!!!! 

    I wanted to share with you just a glimpse of what we found...Here are some facts that touched us and began to break our hearts as we researched:

  • [Cool stat.] Ethiopia  is the only African country to have never been colonized. Christianity dates back to the time of the Apostles (approx 42 A.D.), even mentioned in the Bible!
  • ET has a lower life expectancy at birth than the average of the LEAST developed countries, with only 42.5 years.
  • One in ten children die before their first birthday.
  • Ethiopia ranked 20th in 2004 in the under-five mortality rank (which includes countries currently at war--ET btw, is not.)
  • Malnutrition is the leading cause of more than half of all deaths among children younger than five.
  • More than 80,000 children die from malaria each year (treated mosquito nets cost less than $10)
  • Diarrhea currently accounts for over 20% of under-five mortality rate...Only 20% of all people have access to safe drinking water.
  • The country is home to OVER four million orphans, or 12 percent of all children. More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS
  • There are estimates of approximately 5 million additional    "street" children who have, either not been identified as orphans, or have left the system.
  • 38% of children (0-5) are underweight for their age.
  • 3/4 of the population live on less than $1/day

    So, while there is need in America...and someday, I may be posting about our domestic adoption....God had a plan for us, that was set in motion long before that trip to Africa..and that plan, for today at least, is international adoption. 

3. Why Now?   
     We never intended to embark on such a difficult and LONG path as our FIRST parenthood experience (remember this is more like being a pregnant ELEPHANT)...BUT GOD. We trust God to make a way where there seems to be no way, and we trust that this is His plan, and that the child that we are destined to protect, love, cherish, nurture, and raise up...was created to be in our family. We intend to teach all of our children about Africa, especially Ethiopia, and hope that THAT culture (or, for that matter,  the cultures of any of our children's birth countries) isn't just  part of our child who was adopted from there, but becomes part of our entire family's heritage...regardless of where they were born.

    So, I hope that answers any questions people have and, honestly, I pray it puts a burning desire inside of you to, in some way, care for the orphans...of America, of Africa, of anywhere really...They are ALL God's children. I pray that adoption becomes more of a choice than a last resort, and that families all over this very comfortable, free, nation would pursue the honor of being part of a child's life....Because in the end, parenthood--birth or adoption--isn't about us anyways...it's all about them.



     So, I know there are several people out there who have been waiting for an update...and honestly, I have purposely been waiting to give one. It's been such a stressful past few months  that I decided early on not to give any updates until we had everything turned in (for the adoption application) and I was finished with Corporate Finance...Well, neither of those two things are true yet---but I am SOOO close that I decided to go ahead and break my own vow. So, for those of you interested.....here is your update =)

     Adoption: I have firmly determined that if anyone wanting to procreate had to go through the application process that we have to go through to adopt...our country would NOT have a teenage pregnancy issue! Its been so stressful and the truth is---this process is NOTHING compared to the Dossier...*shudders* I don't even want to THINK about that yet! Just to turn in our second application (not even APPROVED to adopt yet) we had to locate, fill out, and turn in the following: 
  • 4 page Adoption Application
  • Special Care Checklist where we were to mark what conditions (and to what degree) we were okay with in our child...out of a list of over 100 conditions (Shout out to my mom for creating a 28 PAGE description list for some of the more confusing ones)
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage License (If anyone knows the Gutters from Galvin(?) OK--we received theirs first and had to send off again for ours...grr..State of AR Dept of Vitals!!!)
  • 5 recommendation letters (thank you-you know who you are)
  • Guardianship Affidavit
  • Proof of health insurance that covers pre-existing conditions
  • Proof of employment- notarized, signed in blue ink, etc. (almost stopped the whole process)
  • Health Examination Forms-sent directly from our Dr. complete with blood work (sympathy vote here, please)
  • 2 set of photos including 4 posed family photos in Sunday style clothes, pictures of each room of the house excluding bathrooms, and of course front and back of home
  • Personal autobiographies (4-5 pages typed)
  • Past 3 years taxes
  • Past 5 years income/salary statements 
  • Certificate of finances and statement of financial condition (including past three bank statements) 

and did I mention that most things had to be notarized and that two copies of everything must be turned in with the originals....

I should post a picture of all this paperwork....all I can think is "What else could they POSSIBLY need for the Dossier?" 

*shudders again*

     BUT-we are FINALLY through! Scheduled to turn everything in on Monday morning and then we wait for approval to start the Home Study process...At which point, I will begin soliciting help from some of you (ahem...you know if you are close enough....) to:
  • paint our office (future guest room), 
  • clean out current guest room (future Baby Smith's room) 
  • paint some shelves that have been patiently waiting for me to finish them! Who's in?!?!?! =) 

Don't worry...I plan to pay a service to come deep-clean my house before the home visits, so I wont make you scrub floors and bathtubs!! 

Wow.....who would have ever thought it was this strenuous! I mean, I understand that they want to make sure we are in the right condition to bring a child into our family...but with 4.5 MILLION orphans in Ethiopia...how can making the process this difficult and long be in the best interest of the children??  I just pray that our process goes quickly and that God protects our child until we can get to him/her and bring them home......... 

In the future (okay-today), I plan to post some of the statistics about Ethiopia.....If you truly believe the Word of God and have ever read James 1:27, then I don't know how any believer could NOT prayerfully consider adoption...there are SO many children all over the world..who need parents who love them...not wealthy aristocrats, or overwhelmingly successful parents...not PERFECT parents, just loving parents...parents who care about their destiny, who will comfort and protect them, and who can show them just a glimpse of Gods love for them....that is the truth of caring for orphans......God never intended for any child to grow up alone and unloved.....

      Okay, I guess you can tell my feelings on that...so I will move on. for now. at least...

     How is school going, you ask?? Well, I haven't failed out yet, I haven't been admitted into the psych ward (although I am sure I am close) and I am JUST ABOUT halfway there....It IS possible that I have put too much on my plate this time...I do still have the normal stresses of goals at work, church, home....BUT I find that I work best under pressure (which is why I am blogging instead of writing my paper on the Return on Investment of Post-secondary Education) and I am confident that I will finish...March 2011...I will present my capstone to the board...and then sleep....unless it's time to get Baby Smith, in which case---I won't be sleeping for a while =/    
     And if all else fails...I plan to use and abuse Nana and Papa with their new grandchild to catch up on rest (and maybe a tan) 

Just kidding..........;-)

     Other than that, life is good. Busy, chaotic, and overwhelming at times...but God is always so good to his children and I have already begun seeing the blessings being poured out in areas of my life that He alone could help in! We are looking forward to the next steps and always appreciate the support and prayers of our friends and family!

Til next time,