Friday, December 2, 2011

It's been a while, but we have been busy......

Here is the video from our Both Hands Project. There is still time to donate if you would like and it is tax deductible. Follow this link:

It was truly an awesome day and an awesome experience. Check it out.

We will also be making our final t-shirt order (if we reach the minimum) & coffee order next week (orders must be in on 12-7 or before). Shirts are $15 & coffee is $13. You can view the shirts here: Noelle & Heart of Africa shirts

Just send us an e-mail or let us know. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On time God

Who knew that the adoption journey would be filled with so many ups and downs.  There are times that I feel so unworthy of this cause.  Why me?  There are plenty of other people out there with good hearts and/or big bank accounts.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God put adoption in mine and Jason's hearts but as time and circumstances have past I have felt my own faith waiver.  In January, I felt like I was standing on the mountain top as donations and pledges came in...We starting selling Noelle t-shirts. We were going along with full wind in our sails.  But anyone that has been on the pathway of adoption knows that there can be a lot of "hurry up and wait moments".  I knew that God promised to provide, but as I looked at the credit card bill adding up, I started letting doubt and discouragement fill my heart.  Oh how I can relate to Peter...I'm good at getting out of the boat just can't seem to stay on top of the water.  Lately I have dreaded people's questions about the adoption.  I didn't have any news to share and when people would ask, it was just a reminder that we still had a long way to go both financially and legally.  This morning my sister-in-law asked if there was any news and i began to cry saying sometimes it feels like it's never going to happen.  I came home and asked Jason to call the agency to check on the status again although he just emailed them last Thursday.  I was feeling hopeless.  Just like Peter I was taking my eyes off Jesus and was beginning to look at the waves crashing.  I thank God for his patience and loving kindness toward my failings and I'm so grateful that His mercies are new every morning. We know that God is rarely early and never late, but always just in time.  I checked the mail as I was leaving to pick up Cora and saw that we had received a letter from Show Hope.  I called Jason back and said I think we should open this together.  I wasn't ready to take another blow without moral support (note: we had already been denied by another grant organization).  Jason and I prayed a simple prayer as we opened the letter asking God to help us receive whatever he had in store for us and to trust in His promise to provide.  We opened the letter to find that we had been approved for a grant.  It's not enough to cover the whole adoption by a long shot, but is a step in the right direction.  Thanks be to God for his faithfulness and for the hope that he exchanges for my doubt.  He knew just what I needed and when.  

Lord, help me to trust you more.  You display your glory everyday.  Help me not to miss it!

He "bestows on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair."  Isaiah 61:3

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July

Hi All,
Jessica and I will be set up at the Fourth of July Celebration in Etowah tomorrow. We will have all three t-shirt designs for sale and will be taking orders for any color you want that we do not have "in stock". We will also be distributing information on the issues affecting the Congo through Part of the Enough Project.

If you have purchased a shirt from us, we would love for you to send us a picture of yourself wearing it or wear it tomorrow, come by the booth, and we will take the picture for you. We hope to gather all these pictures and make a collage for Noelle to give her one day (probably when she is a little older) to show her all the people who were a part of her adoption.

Process Update: Our dossier is all but complete. We had our fingerprinting last Friday and once we receive our approval from USCIS it should be ready to send to the DR Congo for their government to review. Also, we were denied for our first grant request but we are awaiting word from two others and will be applying for a fourth this week. We appreciate everyone's prayers.  Once we receive our official referral, we will continue our last half of '90 Days for Noelle'.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Status Update

Status Update:
Well, I know it has been a long time and I apologize. We have been completely swamped with life the last couple of months. For some reason I assumed that we had a spare five minutes in our daily routine and have returned to school full time. Things are starting to calm down a little, now that Jessica is out for the summer. Her schedule has opened up a lot and I am starting to balance out the school schedule.
Now about the adoption process. We are making progress:
  • We are currently working on our dossier. This is a package of documents that has been requested by the Congolese government. We should have all of these accumulated in the next couple of weeks with the exception of our USCIS approval (I will mention that in another bullet).               **If anyone is a notary in our area and would be willing to swing by my work to notarize something, it would be greatly appreciated**                  **Also, if anyone knows a way to get a notarized proof of residence, let me know. We are having a little trouble here as well.**
  • We have applied to USCIS (U.S. Customs & Immigration Service) and they have received our application. We are awaiting our appointment to go to Atlanta to have our fingerprints taken. This approval will be what determines how long it takes to submit our dossier.
  • The DR Congo is now requiring copies of our passports to go with the dossier, so we have sent to have Jessica's updated.
  • We are still awaiting word on grant approval. Please pray that we receive favor.
  • The t-shirt fund raiser has been going great and if you want one, please let me know. We are going to have a booth at the Etowah 4th of July. We will be selling t-shirts and have information raising awareness about the issues affecting the DR Congo.
  • Also, we have started a couple of adoption auctions on eBay. Check them out if you are interested. eBay Adoption Auctions

Thank you for all of your prayers. We are getting very close to the point to getting our referral of Noelle. Once we get the referral, we will complete our 90 Days for Noelle devotional. We truly appreciate all the support we have received and we will try and do better about keeping everyone update about what is going on.

1 Peter 5:9-11

9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Website & Fundraising

Hi All,
 We have created a website to expand beyond the capabilities of the blog. We will still continue the blog but have added the website for additional information. You can now check out to stay connected with our adoption journey. Also, we are beginning our first fund raiser. International adoption is VERY expensive. The cost of agency fees, governmental fees, travel, and etc. are almost overwhelming, but we know that God will provide. We are selling adoption themed Simply Love t-shirts (thanks, Kari). Since we are the first family adopting from the DR Congo to use the Simply Love trademark, Kari from named the DRC design 'Noelle'. The name Noelle actually shows up on the shirt beside the country shape. (You can see the DRC designs on the website) There are 3 different designs to choose from and the shirts look awesome. We are very excited about this. Every penny of the sales of these shirts and any donations will go toward our adoption fees and travel expenses. Jessica and I are advocates for sponsorship of children in other countries. In fact, we currently sponsor two children, one from India and one from the Philippines. It is a wonderful thing, but what is sad is that we will never get to meet these children or see the difference we made in their lives. By supporting our adoption, you will see the fruit of your giving when you meet Noelle for the first time. On the website, choose the link 'SUPPORT OUR CAUSE' for more information. Also, we will be able to apply for grants very soon to help in our expenses so please pray that we find favor with these foundations.

**Also, thank you to all of you who are helping us with our fundraiser. It means more than you know. If you would like to help, let me know and I will get you a brochure with an order form to pass around.** 

In His Service,
This design is called 'The Heart of Africa' - for ladies only

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The least of these...."

The following is taken from an email sent by a missionary to some fellow DRC adoptive parents-to-be earlier this month. Check out their website & blog at It is concerning the the Pygmy people of the Congo. Being at the bottom of the list in the 2nd poorest country in the world is a tough place to be, but these are God's children as we all are and He loves us all the same.

“The least of these My brethren…The least of these My brethren… The least of these My brethren.
I believe the least of these My brethren is an unborn Pygmy girl in the Efe tribe of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I do not know her name yet.  According to my research, she has a one in three chance of surviving to five.  She will be pregnant by eight (yes, eight) years old.  If she does not die in childbirth (less than a 1 in 16 chance), she may live between 16 and 24 years (average life expectancy).  In her life she will be subject to rape, murder and cannibalism from rebel armies; HIV and other diseases, malnutrition, parasites.  She will probably grow to only about 4’6”; become a slave or underpaid worker to the surrounding taller people groups; never receive an education; never have an ID (not officially exist); and, never hear the gospel.
Except for the height of this as yet unborn Pygmy girl, can I make a difference?  Can I go there and change what would be her life. Yes.  I leave on Monday (Feb 14).
Why am I drawn to this particular, as yet unborn and unnamed child in this particular tribe? Because, the Lord has called me to the “LEAST of these My brethren” and “further north” and to go “lower still”.  He tells me this over and over and over.  It keeps me focused.
I know of no other people so low.  According to the Pygmy Fund, ‘The Ituri Forest EfĂ© pygmies occupy less than 1% of the land preserved for African wildlife. Their numbers have been reduced over the past 75 years from 35,000 to about 3,000 individuals. ”. “Pygmies are the most ancient surviving human race”.  Over a century ago, there were millions. They are subjected to enslavement and endangered by the destruction of the pristine Congo forest on which their lives depend”. “To this day, there are places where entire pygmy families are naked because they have no clothing”.  Jean Francois Mombia said, “Hunting has become almost impossible, because the animals have become rare, having fled the noise of machinery used by the loggers,” and “Pygmy hunters are often forced to walk for a week before finding game, while their families starve.”
John the Baptist said, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
And James said, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”.  James 2:15-17
“Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, governor of Orientale Province, said “…only two out of 1,000 pygmies had access to education”. Marc Mali, of the Pelican Centre NGO, said, “Girls and women are often raped or used as sexual slaves, and they do not resist for fear of being killed,” Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN’s Indigenous People’s Forum that during the Congo Civil War, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighboring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs (“the erasers”) who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation. Both sides of the war regarded them as “subhuman” and some say their flesh can confer magical powers.  In the Republic of Congo, where Pygmies make up 5 to 10% of the population, many Pygmies live as slaves to Bantu masters.
That is why I want to go to help an unborn Pygmy girl in the Efe tribe of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   If you pray and support me, I can do more.  Either way, I am leaving on Monday, February 14, 2011.”

The missionary serves with Iris Ministries in Africa. Please keep him in your prayers as he reaches out to these hurting people. Thank you Adam & Jen for allowing me to share this and God bless you on your journey.

Monday, February 14, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 45

**This will be our last '90 days' post for a little while. Jessica & I decided, because the process is so long we thought it would be best to break it up and take a hiatus. We will continue our '90 Day' prayer focus once we reach another major milestone in the process such as sending in our dossier or once we receive a referral or something along those lines. We will still be making posts regularly but not as part of the '90 Days for Noelle'. We actually will be starting something later this week that you can find out about on the blog, and if you would like to get involved with our adoption, we have some ways to do so. So stay tuned.**

Well, a while back I posted at how I have been amazed by the response we have received from our blog. I am still amazed! Since we began the prayer focus on New Years Day we have had over 4500 different visitors from at least 14 different countries (I can only view the top 10)! For my small mind, those are big numbers. I hope that our blog has been a blessing to you all and that you have learned a little about adoption. I hope that through our posts, that maybe you have looked at yourself and your walk with Christ a little differently. That maybe you see you are part of something bigger and that you become inspired to do something "extravagant" for God. (Thanks, Scott) But most of all, our purpose is for Noelle and we hope that you continue to keep her in your prayers everyday. Today is Valentine's Day. A day to express your love to each other. I have told Jessica I love her, and Cora that I love her, but I have not told Noelle yet so here goes.... Noelle, I love you very much. WE love you very much. I can't wait until the day I can hold you in my arms and tell you that I love you more than you will ever know. Happy Valentines Day, Noelle.

Lord, thank You for loving us like no other and thank You for giving us the ability to love others. We love you Father and we ask You to send our love to Noelle this Valentine's Day. You are love. We praise You for what You are doing in all of our lives. In Your name we pray. Amen.

1 Corinthians 13:13

 13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 44

My pastor's sermon today was about extravagant love.  He began his sermon with a story of a pastor who had a bus ministry and was knocking on doors one day to invite people to church.  At a house three miles from the church, he encountered a young boy.  The pastor asked if the parents were home to which the boy responded that his parents take the weekend off while he watches his little brother.  The pastor told the boys about Jesus and they wanted to go to church the next Sunday.  While at church the eldest boy noticed that they were passing around a plate that people were putting money in.  He didn't have anything to give and felt distraught when the plate passed him by.  After the plate was a few rows back, he got up and asked to see the plate again.  He sat it on the ground and stood in it saying that he didn't have anything to give but himself.  Pastor Scott followed the story with John 12:1-12 which tells of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with oil, washing them with her tears, and drying them with her hair.  He talked about our praise having worth.  You are the only one that can give your praise.  I contemplated this a long time today.  I think we all struggle with self worth thinking that we have nothing to give or thinking that what we have is not good enough.  We find our identity in our past sins, hurts, scars.  We have them all boxed up in a "safe" place, but God wants all of us.  As I was at the alter, I kept thinking... "God all I have is broken pieces."  "My righteousness is filthy rags."  "Like the little boy, I don't have anything to give but myself."  I felt like God spoke to me and said that's all I want.  God is the only one that can give us worth because he created us. He paid a high price for us by giving his son to die in our place.  He asks us to cast all our anxieties on him because he cares for us.  He doesn't want us to hold on to old stuff because He wants to make all things new.  God wants us to submit to him and only when we truly surrender do we find peace in our souls.  If I give everything to this great, big God then I don't have to worry or fear because I know He can handle it.  I always wanted someone in my life just to tell me that everything was going to be is.

Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

Father, Thank you for faithfulness and  loving kindness.  Your mercy is new every morning.  I praise you for all you have done in my life.  I know that you are at work, preparing me for Noelle.  Continue to make me into the mosaic that you would have me be.  I  love You. Amen.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 43

When I woke up this morning I thought I smelled smoke.  I instantly dismissed it because I always think I smell something.  Jason says I'm like a bloodhound that can smell things from miles away.  As I was washing the dishes, I started hearing sirens and looking out the window I saw a guy directing the firetruck.  I immediately went to look out the back door and saw the neighbors house engulfed in flames.  I panicked because I knew there were at least three young children that lived in the house.  I literally hit my knees on the kitchen floor and prayed for life!  I got Cora dressed and we walked around the block.  Lots of people were standing around watching the firefighters, but I didn't see any sign of children nor ambulances.  Finally I spotted a group of people huddled around watching the house beside a car with the three boys inside.  I was relieved to know that no one was hurt, but felt convicted that I didn't recognize my own neighbor by sight.  I have lived in my house for almost ten years and know that they have lived behind us for at least three.  I have realized many truths today.  1). Stuff is stuff.  Nothing is more important than life.  Yes, it's devastating to lose everything you have, but I can't even imagine if one of those boys had not made it out of the fire.  2). It's a shame that we don't do nice things for the people that live close to us until "something like this happens".  In relation to adoption matters, people talk about how expensive adoption is.  I think to myself... No, it's not cheap, but I could either use the money God's blessed us with to buy more stuff, perhaps a new car, or choose to use it for a meaningful life.  We may not have a crisis in our backyard everyday but there is a crisis going on for someone everyday.  Choose to do something that has purpose.

Mark 12:30,31
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Lord, Thank You for keeping your hand over my neighbors today and for helping my eyes to be opened to your truth.  Set us free from the mundane. Give us real purpose and passion for You. We love You. Amen.

Friday, February 11, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 42

I have been asked a few times about an earlier post I made, so i thought i would give a little more information about it. This is a frequent question, "For a country with $24 billion dollars worth of natural resources, why are they the second poorest country in the world?" I think the following video will explain one of the factors a little better than I can. Don't worry, this is not a "cry your eyes out video", but it is very serious. Fix this problem and we could cut back on Kleenex usage from other videos I've seen about the DRC.

Our Noelle is in the Congo and we want her home as soon as possible, but when we take action to reduce the human rights violations taking place there we help to save the "Noelle's" of the future. Orphans are one of the by-products of these mineral conflicts. "No one is asking that you boycott anything, simply that you express a desire to the manufacturers of your electronic goods that you would like to buy a conflict free product when it becomes available". It is easy to do and progress is being made. If you would like more information on this subject, check out

1 Corinthians 10:26

26The Scriptures say, "The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord." 

God, we pray for the strife in the Congo. We pray that those funding and fueling the conflicts cease. That companies cleanse themselves and that the well runs dry for those that have evil intentions. We pray that ethical practices be used when conducting business in the Congo and that the people cry out to you, Father. Bless those who are taking responsibility to do what is right. In Your name we pray. Amen. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 41

On the phone with my mom tonight we were discussing my nephew's growth spurt and his soon need for a new car seat.  His current one had been Cora's and I was quick to offer another hand-me-down for Logan.  My mom chimed in saying, "it won't be long until you will need this little one back for Noelle".  The conversation continued with my mom and I talking about Noelle's name.  Mom had been telling a lady that she worked with named Noelle that her new granddaughter was going to have her name.  It felt so reassuring as my mom naturally spoke of her grandchild to be.  I have read endearing testimonies, but also horror stories of family reactions in various books and articles.  I am blessed to have the assurance that my little one will be loved and accepted in our family.

Colossians 2:2
2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.

Lord, We thank You for your blessing of peace and assurance.  You were rejected so that we would be accepted.   We praise You for your unfailing love and mercy.  Knit us together in unity, Father.  We love You.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 40

We finished our last Hague class today. All we need now is the certificate and our part of the homestudy will be finished. We will just have to wait for the actual homestudy document to be completed by our social worker. The classes were not difficult but very informative and usually leave me thinking. Our final class was on being a "conspicuous family". So, what does it mean to be conspicuous? It means that your family stands out. It means that your family is different. The class was referring to our child having a different ethnicity than Jessica and I do. But I want us to be a "conspicuous family" in a different way as well. I want us to stand out as a Christian family. As we discussed tonight while studying 'Crazy Love', we don't want to be lukewarm. We want to be sure we are doing all that God wants us to do and we want to raise our children to love God as we do. When people give us those extra long looks because we are conspicuous. When they stare because they see we have different colored skin from each other. I hope they see our love for each other and when they look away, they don't remember the physical differences we have, but remember us as being a very "conspicuous" Christian family.

Psalm 4:3
But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The LORD will hear when I call to Him.

Lord, let us be a family noticed because we love and serve You. When people say things to us that could be hurtful, let us always respond as You would have us to. Let our children learn from us as we honor You. In Your name we pray. Amen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 39

Well today has been an encouragement. We have been pondering over a decision in our adoption and today, God opened doors for us. Thank you so much for the prayers we have received because today we saw answers. This is a very hard post for us because we can't say what we want to. I will elaborate more in the future but for now all I can say is... thank you. The day started with struggles and less than encouraging words from others about our adoption, but at 5:00 I received a call that gave us the "sign" we were looking for. On top of that, we received information that confirmed to us that God had shown up during that same call. It is so funny how God handles us when we face things in our lives. We look for answers, exhausting all of our human means, trying to make something happen. While all the time all we really need to do is to slow down, step back, and let God handle it. Twice in the past week or so I have talked with other Christians about problems in their lives and told them, "it will happen in God's time". I think God gave me these words to say so that I could hear it myself. I know it's another short one but, if I keep talking I will say too much. Thank you for all of your prayers.

Jeremiah 33:2,3
2 “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Father God, we thank You for hearing our prayers. We praise You for showing up in our times of need. We love You, Father. Thank You for leading us in this adoption. We depend on You for all things and above all we give You thanks. Amen.

Monday, February 7, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 38

Well, I am exhausted tonight and don't really know why, but I know I need to get some sleep so I will be short. As I think about sleep, I think of Noelle in an orphanage. I wonder what the conditions are. I wonder how crowded it may be. I wonder what kind of "bed" she is in...Recently, I was doing some research on the DRC and found a picture online from Life magazine of some toddlers sleeping in a Congolese orphanage and I wanted to share it with you. I can imagine my Noelle laying there and it breaks my heart....    Goodnight, Noelle.


Proverbs 3:24 

24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
   when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 

God, as we lay down to sleep tonight, we pray for Noelle's rest. We ask that her sleep be sweet. That all the children in her orphanage rest with peace. You are peace and we love You, Father. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 37

Cora came home from school this week with a drawing she had made.  The picture consisted of five people so I asked her who they were.  I figured her daddy and I would be in it or maybe her nana as usual.  Cora started on the right naming her best friends, Jude and Lyla, then came to Lyla's baby brother, Blaine.  Next was Cora.  I asked who was on the left. Cora (with that duh look on her face) said "Noelle".  A lot of people ask me how Cora is handling the adoption.  Well...I would say just fine.  Noelle is already a part of our daily lives in prayer and conversation.  We think of her daily and ask God to keep her safe.  We anticipate her homecoming, longing to lavish her with hugs and kisses from mommy and daddy.  And I know that Cora looks forward to being the "big sister".

Psalm 86:4
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
   for I put my trust in you. 

Lord, We trust you to bring Noelle home to us.  Grant us peace along the journey.  Help us to not grow weary, but to wait on You.  We love You and praise your name.  Amen.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 36

Tonight is one of those nights of the year that Cora gets super excited about. Tonight is the annual 'Daddy Daughter Dance'. She has been talking about it all week. In fact, as soon as we got home yesterday, she had me in the closet pulling out every tie I own (which isn't that many) so she could pick the "perfect" one. This is one of those events I look forward to being able to share with Noelle as well. It will probably be a couple of years before she will be ready and old enough to go though. Cora is really starting to warm up to the idea of getting a baby sister, but she has had some "concerned" questions this week in regards to the dance. She asked, "Will you still take me to the Daddy Daughter Dance when Noelle gets here?" I told her of course I will. I will just have to go to two of them, one with Noelle and one with her. (they have 3 or 4 on the same weekend) Now, all of Cora's life she has always said, "I get to go first because I am the youngest". This time she thought about it and replied, "Well I have to go first because I will be the oldest". I said we will work it out. I have to admit, I think I enjoy the dance as much as she does if not more so. I know that these moments spent with my girls will be over before I know it and I want to cherish each one. Now time to get ready, I have a date.

Psalm 127:3-5

  3-5 Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
      the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
   Like a warrior's fistful of arrows
      are the children of a vigorous youth.
   Oh, how blessed are you parents,
      with your quivers full of children!
   Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; 

Thank you God for the blessing of children. To be able to shape and mold their lives and raise them as You would have us to. We know that children hold a special place in Your heart because of all the references of them in Your word. Father, let these moments we share with our children bind us together in Your Love. In Your name. Amen.

Friday, February 4, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 35

We are making a big decision about our adoption agency right now. We know that God has his hand on us and that there are different paths that will ultimately bring Noelle home. We are trying to figure out which direction we should go. Please pray for our direction and that we correctly discern the information we receive. I want to post a verse from the song 'Lead Me' by Sanctus Real.

"So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?"

Psalm 25:4-5

 4 Show me your ways, LORD,
   teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in you all day long.

Heavenly Father, We know that You will guide us in the way you would have us to go. Speak to our spirits so that we may have peace in our hearts. We pray that we hear Your voice and only seek to please You. We love You in all that we do. Amen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 34

When we blog about Noelle, we usually talk about her current state or when we get her home. I want to talk briefly about her future. We have both mentioned about the classes we are currently taking and how they discuss common health and emotional issues associated with adoption. When she arrives home, she will probably have a few set backs, but we know our God is bigger than that. We believe she will be blessed and overcome anything that this world may say would hold her back. She will not only catch up, but even pass up. I believe she will do great things....I know she will do great things. Recently, at a church gathering, my cousin was in visiting. I don't see him very often because he lives an hour away. He is a good Christian man, but he hasn't always been that way. He has had some issues in his past, but all that is in his past. I love his testimony and he is a blessing to me. Anyway, back to my point, he approached us and said that he had heard about our adoption and that he thinks it's great. Then he said something that really stuck with me. He said, "She may just be the next Billy Graham to Africa". That's when I realized, I don't just need to pray for her in the "now" or in the "next day", but also way on down the road, deep into her future.

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

God, tonight we pray for our Noelle. We pray not only for her well being now, her current protection, and her safe trip home, but we pray for her entire life. That in her future You continue to bless her and that she will do great things for You. We pray this in Your holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 33

The recurring theme for today seems to be "Daddy". Let me explain. I am currently reading the book, 'Wild at Heart' by John Eldridge. It is about what it means to be a manly Christian, and of course talks about the roles and influence of fathers. Then at church tonight, the topic of "daddy" came up. We are currently doing a series on 'Crazy Love' by Francis Chan. We talked about the love of the Father for us. Scott (my brother & pastor) talked about our dad and how we were so blessed to have an awesome dad. I know other people have great dad's, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they are not as great as mine....Anyway, I digress. One of the study questions presented tonight was, "Do you remember when you "got it"? When you first realized you loved God with all heart, mind, and soul?" I thought about this for a few moments and realized mine. I will condense it for you. It was the day Cora was born. Jessica had a rough pregnancy and was 10 days over due. She was having contractions, so off we go to the hospital. From the time we walked in the door until Cora was born was a whirlwind. They took vitals and discovered neither Cora or Jessica was doing very good. In just minutes they had rushed Jessica back for an emergency C-section. Everything happened so fast it was constant chaos, nurses running everywhere, machines beeping, then.......silence. They were gone and I was left standing in a hospital room, all alone. All kinds of thoughts were running through my mind. All I knew to do was start praying. As I prayed, I began to feel peace. I began to feel God's love. I heard God speak to my spirit and say, "It's time to be Daddy". That was my "got it" moment. I knew to be the father I needed to be, I had to love God with everything within me. I want to be the the best husband and father I can be. I know I am/will be responsible for three (at least) beautiful girls. I want Cora and Noelle to be able to say one day that they can understand their Heavenly Father's love because of their Earthly father's example.

1 John 3:1

 1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …

Dear Lord, thank You for loving us as our father. I pray that you lead me as the father of our household and to be strong in You. Let me be an example of Your love to Cora and Noelle and all of my children. I pray they see Your love through me and do great things for You. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 32

Thank you for all the prayers concerning our in-home visit as part of our homestudy today.  Everything went smoothly.  Cora even offered to be the official tour guide spending the most time showing off her bedroom and play room.  Our social worker, Janet, talked about our capacity to grow inside our house.  It was heartwarming to think of our house filled with children and as I showed Noelle's room to be, I was excited about the changes to come.  The house is clean and everything is in its place.  Now we can relax...well for a moment.  We just have a few small tasks to accomplish before our homestudy is complete (my medical form and our Hague adoption courses).  Continue to remember us in your prayers as we have some important decisions to make over the next few weeks.

Psalm 5:12
12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
         With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Lord, Thank You for your favor, your peace, and your many blessings.   You truly surround us like a mother hen covers her young with feathers.  You are everything that we need.  We love You and praise Your name.  Amen.

Monday, January 31, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 31

We have our in-home visit tomorrow afternoon. Let me explain, as part of the homestudy, a social worker must come and inspect your home. As you could guess, this could be a little nerve wrecking especially for the Mom of the house. I would think that most women would find it a little unnerving to have someone come into your home to deem it "appropriate" to accommodate a child. Jessica has done great. We have spent a great deal of time this weekend cleaning..."really" cleaning and when we get home tonight from work, we will continue in it some more. I will say that this added motivation has been a good thing and progress has been made. For example, I have been working on the office and discovered last night we have a desk in there. That's great! With all the adoption paperwork we have, we could really use the workspace. I am sure the home visit will go fine. We have a terrific case worker and I know it won't be all that bad. I don't think she will give the house the old "white glove" test at least. She will mostly be looking for safety hazards. All joking aside, it is a very important part of our homestudy and please be in prayer as we complete this. Now back to cleaning......

Colossians 3:23

23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

God, be with us today as we work to have our home approved for Noelle. Let us keep focused the reasons for our tasks and that we honor You in all that we do. Let us not grow weary but be strong until completion. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 30

I wonder what the Garden of Eden really looked like? We know that Adam and Eve had the perfect life in the garden. It was the perfect place. All the food they wanted to eat, probably at any time. I'm sure they never worried about being too hot or too cold. Basically, they were rich beyond measure. We look down on them because they messed up so bad. I mean really, is it that hard to follow the rules? They had it made. Maybe that was part of their problem. They had it too easy. Now let's fast forward......The Garden of Eden is long gone. There is sin rampant in this world. This is the world today. If you were to sit back and look at it, what country would look most like Eden? Warm homes, soft beds, 24 hour fast food on every corner. Sound familiar? The U.S. may be as close to Eden as anywhere on Earth and those living in it still cannot follow God's simple rules. Maybe its because we also have it too easy. We see massive revivals breakout all over the world in countries that are so poor, why not here? They rely on God because He is all they have. While we have been lulled to sleep in thinking we don't need God because we have so much. When this world is over, and we are face to face with God, whose shoes would you rather be in? I know this may sound a little harsh and I don't want it to come across preachy or self righteous, but I just want it to get you to think. Think about what you have and what you have been blessed with. We have to remember that everything that we "have" has been given to us by God and we have been asked to be good stewards with it. I guess this is a subject I have been hung up on lately, but as I think about my daughter, and possibly her living hurts. It's these reasons we pray for her daily and ask that you do also. These reasons are also why I bring up these questions and leave you with this one. Are we using all that we have been given in the ways God really wants us to?

Psalm 85:6-7

6 Will you not revive us again,
   that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
   and grant us your salvation. 

Dear Lord, I pray for revival in our nation. That we may seek You and be the people that You would have us to be. Thank You for the many blessings You have given us. We pray that we become the stewards You would have us to be to end hunger and poverty in this world. So that we may change the lives of the "Noelle's" all over the world. We love You Father and thank You for all You have given us. Amen.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 29

I wanted to write tonight about a special blessing that we received a few weeks ago. A dear friend of mine made a blanket for Noelle that was covered in peanut butter and jelly sandwich pattern on one side and pink on the other.  She included such a beautiful message of love and encouragement that I want to share her letter written to us.

"I made this for your daughter.  I wanted her to have something to come home with that tells a story.  I found this fabric and fell in love with it, but wondered how it could apply to your situation.  Then it hit me: your family will be as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Though very different elements, textures, and tastes, you all contribute something to the flavor of your family.  The family in which God made you to be.  You may not look alike and some may not know that you are family, but God made Noelle to be your child. The fragrance of God's love and the person you will raise her to be will be the proof of this.  Through this adoption process, I hope that seeing this blanket will encourage you, excite you, and remind you that God is in control.  Like this blanket may He wrap you in His love and peace. When things become uncertain, may He protect your hearts and your Noelle throughout this process.  Let it remind you that though it may take awhile, your baby is coming home.  I love you all and can not wait to met Noelle and to see her grow into a beautiful young woman."

Hebrews 6:10,11
10 …he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.

Lord, Thank You for providing encouragement just when we need it most.  Bless those who bless us a hundred fold.  We give You glory, honor, and praise.  In Your name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 28

Last night I gave three reasons why we chose to adopt a girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I commented that we like to say that the DRC chose us.  When we started researching about international adoption, we were overwhelmed by the number of orphans and the countries that they dwell in throughout the world.  We thought to ourselves, "Where on Earth is our daughter?".  We prayed for clarity in choosing our country and wished that God would just speak to us in an audible voice "This is the country!".  One night we read an article that was part of an information packet from one of the adoption agencies that we were considering at the time. The article was written by a couple that had been in the same dilemma as we were.  They talked about how certain countries eliminate themselves due to certain restrictions on age, income, martial status, etc.  Jason and I were open to any country, but every country was not open to us.  We didn't have a high enough net worth for China.  We had not been married long enough for Haiti. Some countries required travel times that were not feasible for our family (Uganda insists on a 4 week in-country stay). Other doors were closed based on our own preferences for example Peru and Costa Rica do not adopt children under the age of two.  We believe that God has spoken to us through the desires of our heart and has carved a path for us to follow.

Psalm 119:105 
 105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Lord, Thank You for Your guidance and for the light that You shine in our hearts.  Illuminate Your will so we may follow it all the days of our lives.   We praise You for Your ever presence, Lord.  In Your name, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 27

The number one question that I am asked about Noelle is "How old will she be?".  It's strange to respond "I don't know...somewhere between 0 to 12 months".  Then comes the explanation that when adopting internationally you specify the gender and age range of the child you "want".  There are many reasons that Jason and I decided to adopt a girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo from that age range.  (1) We "chose" a girl for obvious reasons like I still have every stitch of clothing that Cora has worn up to this point. (2) I like to say that the DRC chose us (will expound in an upcoming post). (3) Almost all adoption agencies suggest that adoptive parents follow the birth order of their biological children.  As you have been reading, our daughter Cora is four years old.  Cora was a big factor in choosing our age range.  We knew that she would also have a bonding process to go through with her little sister.  If we adopted a toddler we thought that it could possibly complicate the relationship building between Cora and Noelle.  I believe that I mentioned in a previous post the two main concerns Cora had with this adoption.  She wanted to know if we would still love her and would the baby try to play with her toys (surprisingly in that order since at Thanksgiving, Cora listed toys as the thing she was the most thankful for).  All three of us are adopting Noelle.  We will each share a unique bond with her.  As I see children everyday, I think about how old Noelle is at this moment and long to pick her up in my arms and carry her home.

Psalm 105:43
43 He brought out His people with joy,
         His chosen ones with gladness.

Lord, Thank You for wanting a special relationship with us and for choosing to bring us out of this world.  Be with us as we wait for our Noelle to come home.  Give us grace to be patient as we await the joy to come.  We praise and glorify Your name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 26

I have been networking with other families currently adopting or that have adopted from the DRC lately. A lot of them have blogs as well. The new blog I was reading this morning had the following video posted on it. (thanks, Jolene)  I should probably give a warning that some of the images in the slide show are hard to see, BUT I AM NOT GOING TO. These images are real and this is the world that we live in RIGHT NOW. But I will say this, WARNING!! If you watch these slides, listen to the words of this song, and have read/are reading 'Crazy Love', and fully commit to Christ, this could completely change your life as you know it. For our post today, I want this video to say it all.



Matthew 18:14

 14"So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Heavenly Father, Let us respond to the call You specifically gave to us in Your word, to take care of the widows and orphans. Let us be moved with compassion to do something extraordinary for Your glory. We pray that You be with the children of the DRC and all of Africa, including our Noelle. We love You, Father. Amen

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 25

I am currently reading the book 'Wild at Heart' by John Eldridge. I have had this book for sometime but have never finished it. In the book, Eldridge writes about how man was created in the wilderness, not in the garden. I am an outdoors kind of guy myself, so its easy for me to relate to stuff like hiking, canoeing, and camping in wilderness areas. My mind wanders off to the DRC. I think about the vast jungle and the great Congo River. I would love to see the natural beauty of that country. From there, I think about not only the natural beauty in the Congo but also its natural resources. God has blessed the DRC with an abundance of natural resources, but sadly because of so much of man's greed and corruption, they have never been able to tap into these resources. In an article on by Paul Trustfull, he write "The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a vast country with high agricultural potential. It is rich in natural resources, with an estimated $24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of raw mineral ores, including the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. For many years, the DRC has suffered from extreme poverty pitted against extreme wealth." The DRC is currently the second poorest country on Earth. It saddens me to think how many lives in the DRC could be so different if not for the sins of man and it is the children who suffer the most.

Proverbs 10:2,3

 2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
   but righteousness delivers from death.

 3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry,
   but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

God, we thank you for having a place to live where we don't worry about our next meal or have a constant threat of random violence. We pray for the country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We pray for peace in that country and a spiritual revival to sweep their land. That they cry out to You and wisely use what You have provided for them. So they may prosper for the sake of their innocent children. We pray that every orphanage in the DRC is emptied as a result of Your blessings. In Your name we pray. Amen

Monday, January 24, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 24

As part of the homestudy process, each parent is interviewed separately. Today I went to Chattanooga and had my interview. Jessica will be interviewed during the home visit probably next week. It went very well. Janet, our social worker, said we were doing great on our paper chase and we only have the in-home visit and Jessica's medical form left to complete. Janet is awesome. She has adopted internationally twice and is very easy to work with and talk to. It is good to know we have someone working with us that can really relate to us. Sometimes you meet people and know the moment you speak to them, God has placed them in your path. I feel that way with her. That is an update on the process. I don't have anything deep to share tonight, stirring information about the DRC, or any major drama to discuss, just peace, and that is a good thing. It is just good to know that God is there and feel His peace. I have heard it said before that when you don't know how to pray, pray for peace.

Job 22:21

21Acquaint now yourself with Him [agree with God and show yourself to be conformed to His will] and be at peace; by that [you shall prosper and great] good shall come to you.

God, I thank You for this journey we are on. I thank You for those we meet that You have placed in our path of adoption. Lord, we thank You for the peace You have given us tonight and we pray for peace throughout the process. We pray that You give Noelle and her birth mother peace tonight as well. We love You and thank you for all you do. Amen

Sunday, January 23, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 23

Some have criticized our intentions so I want to be completely transparent with our motives for adoption.  Jason and I have a beautiful little girl, Cora, who is four years old. I always wanted my children close together because my brother and I are five years apart.  When Cora was two, we found out we were having a second child who was due in May.  Perfect timing...I'll have the whole summer off to spend with the baby just like I did with Cora.  Then the unexpected happened when on my 28th birthday, I miscarried.  We were devastated. We had already had an ultrasound and heard the baby's heartbeat.  We didn't know if the baby was a boy or girl.  I named the baby Judah Storm.  Judah means praise and I chose Storm because God saw me through, with the grace to praise Him even in the storm. The doctor advised for us to wait three months before trying again.  We did and immediately became pregnant.  One week after finding out the "good news" we received another blow.  I was angry at everyone...God, myself, every pregnant woman I saw.  I couldn't comprehend what God was thinking.  How could he bless the womb of so many people, some that do drugs while pregnant or abuse their children and not bless mine.  This time Jason and I decided to wait longer.  My body and mind needed to heal.  When we thought that the timing was right, we decided to try again.  All of a sudden my body went cycle wouldn't regulate.  I was going to the OB/GYN every month trying to figure out what was wrong so we could fix it.  One afternoon after coming home from getting blood work, I was sitting in the car crying, praying, wanting to cuss, just plain frustrated.  Why were there so many "road blocks"?  I felt like all I could see were "dead end" signs.  The doctor starting talking about fertility drugs and I couldn't find any peace.  Jason and I had thought about adoption before Cora was even born.  We started opening up dialog with each other about it.  As we researched and prayed, I starting feeling peace.  Those once "road blocks" turned into "detour" signs.  I knew that God had placed the desire to have more children in my heart, but it wasn't in the way that I thought it would be.  The Lord says in Isaiah, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways  my ways.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  God has an ultimate plan for my life.  He has brought me through some painful experiences, but I choose to trust him and praise him regardless.  Why do people choose to adopt and why are there children to be adopted?  I think that circumstances lead to both, but God makes a path to lead us to each other.

Father, I want You to have all the glory in my life.  I am nothing without You.  I thank you that You have carved a path in my heart for Noelle.  We will be an answer to each others prayers.  Thank you, Lord, for trusting us to do Your will to take up the cause of the fatherless.  It's worth it all.  I love you, Father. Amen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 22

We just got back from Atlanta after visiting with some of Jessica's family today. While there, we visited the International Farmer's Market on Buford Highway. I could spend hours in there. They carry foods from everywhere. Asian foods (especially Korean), Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, West Africa, India, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Eastern Europe. As you can imagine the clientele match the selections, and this place was packed. I am sure if you stood in one place for five, minutes you would have heard at least 6 or 7 different languages. I slipped out my phone and took some pictures at the meat counter of all the people calling out their orders. Seeing all these people of different nationalities in one place reminded me of a song. "Jesus Loves the Little Children". I know this seems a little corny, but its what ran through my mind. There are a lot of different versions of the song, but one of Cora's favorite books has my favorite version in it.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Most all of us know this song by heart. But in this version, it doesn't stop with just the mention of the color of their skin, but the other verses point out the different backgrounds. The verses that follow are about how Jesus loves the farmland children, mountain children, cold land children, and even the small town children. Cora recognizes her self as a small town child. In all these different verses, one thing is clear, Jesus loves the little children of the world. Children with homes or without are all loved by Him.
Mark 10:13-15 
 13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us. We thank you for the many blessing You have given us. We pray for all the children in this world who do not have a place to call home. We pray for Noelle to quickly be united with us. We pray they all find a home. We pray that they feel Your love and come to know Your love. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 21, 2011

90 Days for Noelle - Day 21

The other night while I was bathing Cora, she wanted to know what her first words were.  This sparked conversation between her daddy and me as to whether Cora's first words were actually "mama" or "dada".  Cora interjects, "what do you think Noelle's first words will be?"  I explain that depending on how old Noelle is when she comes home, she may actually be making a variety of French, Swahili, or Lingala sounds. I am currently using a computer program to learn French, setting aside an hour after school each day to practice.  Right now I'm learning colors and animals.  I can't really figure out how knowing "the red fish" in French will help me while in the Democratic Republic of Congo but you never know. Besides for travel purposes, I am striving to learn portions of these languages so that I can soothe Noelle when she comes home because it will be a strange place to her.  I have heard other stories of moms learning lullabies in the native language of their adopted children so that they can hear something familiar. I hope to retain enough so that I can continue to teach Noelle.  I don't want Noelle to lose a connection with her birthplace and culture. Language learning is a powerful thing.  It bridges communication between cultures and connects people personally.  It's awesome to think that God speaks every language, none are foreign to Him.  He hears me when I pray in English.  He hears my step-mom when she prays in Korean.  He hears my friend in Mexico when he prays in Spanish.  The list goes on and on.  The key is that God hears us when we pray and whether we live in the United States, Iraq, or China...he speaks back to us in the language of our heart.

Psalm 66: 19,20
19 But certainly God has heard me;
         He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
 20 Blessed be God,
         Who has not turned away my prayer,
         Nor His mercy from me!

Lord, thank you for hearing me when I pray, cry, complain, laugh.... Thank you for never leaving me nor forsaking me. I praise you for your faithfulness, for your mercy that is new every morning.  Grant me strength and wisdom as I seek knowledge and understanding.  You know all things, Father.  I love you.  Amen.