Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blissfully Unaware

This time last year we were cruising the Caribbean
 with our friends, completely unaware that God was about to flip
our world upside down with a journey of adoption from Ethiopia! 
Ever read something and thought to yourself, "Man, I wish I could write that well! That's exactly what I would say... except it wouldn't sound nearly as cool!"?

Here's just that .... a post by Heather Hendrick that I read the other day and can't seem to get off my mind. I feel like while her story is different than mine, the overall gist of it screams my heart and what I wish I could put into words!

So instead of trying to put my own twist on the same thought (and not doing it nearly enough justice)... I'll just let you read her post and simply say, "Agreed!".

But just in case you don't venture over to her blog to read it for yourself (which I simply think would be a shame), let me leave you with her well put wish for all for 2011- that again, I couldn't have worded better and is my wish for all that read our blog as well...

In this moment...
Blissfully unaware that we would ever adopt our second child
OR that we would experience God's presence in our lives
like never before... I'm learning to LOVE the unexpected!
For this upcoming 2011: 

"May it be unexpected. Richly and wildly unexpected. May God write fantastic words into your story this year. Words that would terrify you if you heard them today... words He is powerful enough to speak into existence and powerful enough to sustain." 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Exalting Our Inability

I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our savior! We sure did! From family visits from Grams (Joshua's mom) and Uncle James (his brother), to time spent with my whole side of the family that lives near by, we were able to be with the ones we love, and truly remember why we celebrate His birth every year! This was the year that Jude fell in love with Christmas and all the excitement that comes with it! He loved singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and he also loved that because it was a "really BIG birthday celebration" that a whole bunch of gifts were included! He's totally at the age (3 1/2) where the pure joy of getting a present can hardly be kept inside him, he dances (like he's about to pee his pants) and jumps around as a means of letting some of the excitement out. As a parent, it is such fun to see his eyes light up and I noticed at the end of day, my cheeks hurt from constantly smiling- because it's impossible not to! Here's our sweet boy, Jude, opening up his present from Uncle James...

And while there's no video of me squealing in excitement over the gifts I received, I sure felt a lot like Jude! Joshua got me an "I" for Isa for my necklace that I wear all the time that has two "J"'s on it already. I'm not much of a jewelry girl but when I saw this Waxing Poetic stuff at a boutique in downtown McKinney a couple years ago, I fell in love with their signet charms. So two years ago Joshua got me the little "j" for Jude on mothers day and then he got me the big "J" for Joshua on my birthday and now I'll have a little "i" to go with it! My whole lil family around my neck at all times!

He also got me the book Radical by David Platt which we started reading on Christmas Eve (I read out loud to Joshua while he wrapped all of Jude's little stocking stuffers- a good set up if you ask me) and we  could hardly put it down! We're over half way through it already and I have highlighted almost the entire thing! An excellent read if you ask me that I would highly recommend to believers and non-believers alike! Time and time again I'll read something and pause to look at Joshua and we both just shake our heads in amazement that this book totally reminds us of where we're at in our lives right now in this whole adoption process!

"God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined. And in the end, he makes much of his own name."

The above quote pretty much sums up the Helms family adoption journey so far! We clearly are out of our comfort zones... He clearly is in His! But strangely, there is a peace about our lives and our inability to accomplish so many aspects of this adoption like we've never experienced before! The past 6 months of our lives, God sure has been making much of his own name!

"The question for us, then, is whether we trust in his power. And the problem for us is that in our culture we are tempted at every turn to trust in our own power instead. So the challenge for us is to live in such a way that we are radically dependent on and desperate for the power that only God can provide."

I would challenge you to live in such a way that you are desperate for God, seeking His will for your life, and trusting that He is able! Our lives have been rocked by this dependancy on Him and we wouldn't have it any other way! This Christmas we were reminded of the humbling truth that God came down to where we are as a vulnerable baby and that He doesn't wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he came to us... as Jesus. Because in our own ability, we never would be able to get to God- we are desperately in need of a savior, Christ!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A great video

Merry Christmas all! They showed this video tonight at our Christmas Eve "Eve" service.... thought it was pretty creative and spot on for how the announcement of His coming would look in today's time...  Happy Birthday Jesus!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Battle of the Bands Success!

I don't have much time to write right now, seeing as how there is socializing to be done because Jude's bud, Uncle James (Joshua's brother), just flew in today for a Christmas visit - but I wanted to give ya'll a quick update on last night! (Read the post below if you're unsure to what I'm talking about). 
The Battle of the Bands- Christmas Edition, hosted by McKinney High School's Club 2412, was a hit! We were able to raise just under $600 to go towards the $700 goal of sponsoring one child for an entire year through Project 61 to help a kiddo get out of the trash dump in Korah! One more small fundraising event and we've got that sponsorship in the bag!
I sat there last night in the back of the venue with a smile on my face- so proud of my hubs and so proud of all the students who showed up to give of their time and talent! From the kids who are part of Club 2412 who put so much of their time and energy (and baking skills) into hosting the event, to the kids who were in the bands and gave up their Friday night to play for us, to all the students that came out in support of the night and bought tickets... the room was filled with youth that desired to make a difference in a child's life over in Ethiopia!
We had such fun and look forward to making this an annual event!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proud of my hubby!

I'd just like to take a minute and brag on my hubby. Truthfully, I have a lot to brag on him for- he's a pretty amazing man, I mean- he puts up with me, so that in itself says a lot!

Ever since we began this journey of adoption, God has worked on both Joshua and I's hearts in different ways, yet with the same end result... our heart being broken more and more for the things that break His. Joshua, being a guy, tends to not be nearly as emotional as me and would lean more towards seeing the factual side of orphan care. "There's a problem, it needs to be fixed, what are we going to do?"- type outlook.  I'm grateful for this, because we balance each other out- if he were wired like me, we'd both be a big ball of dramatic tears that never got any sleep because we'd lay in bed worrying about everything all night long. I can get so wrapped up in watching a "gotcha day" video (here's a classic one that gets me every time!) that my throat will physically ache from fighting back tears (and why I fight 'em I don't know, because they ALWAYS come anyway) and I'll walk out of the computer room with red splotches all around my eyes. I swear I torture myself, but I can't stop watching! Truth be told, Joshua tends to walk away when I'm watching an emotional video, because unlike me, he'd rather not cry.

Well, several months back, I suckered him into watching this video about Project 61 and the work they were doing in Korah (a trash dump outside of Addis Abba, Ethiopia). Joshua stood behind me watching this while I sat in the computer chair and as I turned around after the video was done playing to look at him, his eyes were filled with tears (as were mine- a given!). Classic Joshua style, he came up with a solution!

As most of you know, Joshua teaches AP World History at McKinney High School. We have been blessed and amazed to see how the youth of today truly desire to make a difference and do good around the world. We personally have been blessed by students of his in our journey to Isa and have simply been in awe of their creativity, generosity, and heart!  So Joshua got to thinking...

He decided to start and sponsor a club through MHS called 2412 (named after Proverbs 24:12 "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."). The goal of the club was to gather students who were passionate about orphan care and to help sponsor at least one child from Korah through Project 61. Well this Friday night, Club 2412 is hosting it's first big fundraiser event, Battle of the Bands- Christmas Edition! There will be 7 bands from MHS that will playing great Christmas music and tickets are only $5 each- with 100% of ticket sales going towards sponsoring a sweet kiddo! We're hoping and praying that all 150 tickets sell which would cover the cost of one child's sponsorship for an entire year! The prep work for this night has been entirely student lead and I think they'd agree, quite the learning experience of all that goes into hosting an event. They've done a great job of going around to different restaurants and asking for donations for desserts and refreshments that we can offer during the night and they've been busy this week selling tickets during their lunch hour- and I'm confident that it's all going to turn out great!  If you're local and you'd like to come, we'd LOVE it! Shoot me an email and I can set aside some tickets for you! I would be so grateful if you'd be willing to say a little prayer for the night as well, that #1. all the tickets would sell, and #2. that God would use this night in big ways in those who are coming and possibly move more hearts to take action and love as Christ calls us to!

All this to say, I'm so proud of my hubs for thinking of a creative way to make a difference! Not only will a needy child be sponsored and given hope, but several of his high school students are able to make an eternal impact too and hopefully continue living a life of making a difference in this world! I'm so grateful to serve along side of this man!

The video that inspired Joshua to take action:

Ordinary Hero~ A day in the trash dump in Ethiopia from Kelly Putty on Vimeo.

And here's another video on Korah...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Journey so far

We are in the process of applying for a Matching Grant from Lifeong for Orphans. One of the things it asks for in our application is our "Adoption Journey". I just finished writing it up tonight and thought, while many of you already know our story, there still might be some of you that don't. So here it is... 

Adoption Journey:

I guess our adoption journey technically began back at the end of April ’10. Joshua and I were just finishing up a study with our small group from church called “Becoming a Good Samaritan” by Michael R. Seaton. The study had really been tugging on our heartstrings with the simple truth that we had heard our entire lives of Loving God and Loving Others… but for some reason it resonated on a deeper level with us this time. It was about this same time too when talk of baby #2 started to surface and if we were going to start trying again or not, but there had NEVER been mention of adoption before. Not because we were against it, simply because it just never had crossed our minds. I loved being pregnant with Jude and quite honestly was looking forward to pregnancy again. BUT God showed up with different plans and our hearts were un-expectantly burdened… heavily… for adoption! It took us both completely off guard! So we began to pray, “God, if this is from You and this is what You’re asking of us, make it clear!”. And boy did He! Scripture after scripture (that we had never even really noticed before) confirmed God’s heart beat for the orphans. And it became crystal clear that if we were going to love God and love others well, then what better way than to love a child who needs a mommy and daddy!

The short of it all is that we decided to step out in faith, sometimes in fear, and be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading. This was, and is, completely uncharted territory for the both of us and has been God-lead from day one. We have desperately sought His guidance and have watched Him show off in ways we could have never imagined. From the beginning the financial aspect of it all quite honestly freaked us out! I’m a stay at home mom and Joshua is a teacher, which speaks for itself! Our budget is tight, there’s no wiggle room for setting aside chunks of money! We knew that to the outside world (and even to us at times) it would seem crazy to be taking on such a huge financial commitment. BUT we knew that God was saying, “Do this, and trust ME”, so here we are! In just the past 6 months God has blown us away at providing over $16k to meet every fee we have had due at the exact time we’ve needed it! He is providing through generous people and circumstances and opportunities to accomplish His work and we are humbled and in awe of how He’s orchestrated it all! We truly feel like as long as we do our part and bust our booties to think of every creative avenue possible for us to fund bringing our baby home, than He’ll bless us for our efforts. There is no doubt that God’s name is all over this journey, and our prayer is that we will tell His story well in the process, giving Him all the glory!

We let go of any agenda we had for how this process was going to unfold from the very beginning- because that’s just it… it was NEVER our story to write; it’s always been a story God was writing. We’re just along for the ride. Oh the freedom in letting go of our plans and hanging onto His! What a far better story He offers than we could ever come up with! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Conversation with Jude

Today, while in the car running errands with Jude, we had a conversation about Isa that went a little something like this:

Me: " Oh Jude, I meant to tell you... a girl that used to work for mommy before you were even born got a hold of us the other day out of the blue and said she wanted to help us bring Isa home! She's helping by being super generous! God is so good at providing every thing we need, isn't he?" (Another God story I'll share later as it continues to unfold)
Jude: "Yep!" said enthusiastically. Then a pause... "Wait, before I was born?" (As if he just realized life existed before he joined us)
This is where the conversation took a turn from what I originally intended and centered on the "before you were born comment". 
Me: "Yes Jude, before you were born. Mommy and Daddy use to work at that camp we've told you about, remember?"
Jude: "Yeah, when you were a lifeguard, but I wasn't with you." (I'm hoping he doesn't think we left him behind or something?!)
Me: "Yep, and then once we moved here to TX, you were born! And then life as you know it has been happening ever since!"
Jude: "Oh." said in his thinking tone. Another long pause..."Isa isn't born yet, that's why he's not with us?" He's overheard us talk about that before, so I'm guessing that's why he asked this.
Me: "You're probably right bud. But we can still pray for him while he's growing inside his birth-mommy's belly, and we can pray for her! And we can pray that he comes home really soon after he's born!"
Jude: "But you're going to be his mommy and daddy is going to be his daddy and I'm going to be his big brother, right?"
Me: "Yes. Sometimes birth-mommies can't keep their babies for different reasons. We don't know yet why Isa's birth-mommy can't keep him. Maybe she's sick, or maybe she doesn't have enough food or water to take care of him. But for whatever reason, Isa is going to need a family, and we're it!"
Jude: "So she's sharing Isa with us because she's so nice?" said in the sweetest voice ever.
Me: "That's exactly right bud! She is sharing because she loves Isa enough to give him hope and a future"
Jude: "I like her."
Me: "Me too."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Normal Love

We just finished up a wonderful visit with Joshua's mom, better known as "Grams", this past weekend. She was able to come in from Atlanta to celebrate Christmas a little early with us. I'm so thankful that Jude has so many loving family members in his life and has the blessing of growing up with them surrounding him! Grams loves on him, plays with him, bakes with him, buys him fun things, and does what all grandparents do- lavishes her love on him! I can't wait for the day that Isa will experience this kind of love too! Jude thinks it's completely "normal" to be loved on so much. He knows, and frankly expects, that Bubba (my mom) will act excited every time when he shows her one of his new super hero toys and that she'll kiss his cheeks, hug him, and love on him... every time!  He assumes that everyone has a Papa (my dad) who let's them play their guitars and jump on the couch when they visit, it's just a given. Jude also thinks the norm is to hang out with his aunt and cousin almost every day! He pretty much considers Aunt Phoebe as his second mama, and Jake, his very best friend (but he'll always add when asked, "Jake's my cousin too!")... and that's completely normal to him! Jude was disappointed this morning when he realized he missed "Unca" Scott dropping off Jake for the day. "Mom! Who dropped Jakey off this morning?!" Me, "Uncle Scott did bud, but you were still sleeping." Jude, "Aww, mom! (in a teenage attitude tone)... I didn't get to see him! Wake me up next time!". Then, in a couple weeks we'll have "Unca" James (Joshua's brother) coming in town from Atlanta for a visit as well. And while Jude hasn't spent a ton of time with James (due to distance), mark my words that I'm confident the house will be loud, full of boy noises,  and fun play time between the three boys all being under one roof! Again, the love that surrounds this kiddo is what is normal to him and I'm am oh so grateful that he thinks it is! But the truth of the matter is, Isa won't experience this kind of love until we bring him home. So many orphans around the world will never experience this kind of "normal love"! The sad truth is, this Christmas, millions of children around the world, will feel unloved and unwanted. Not having a single person (while Jude has a swarm of people who love him) that they can think of that loves them! Ugh, it makes me so sad to think about. 

BUT... we can make a difference! God's plan was for His people to rise up and father the fatherless! We're His plan! Let's show some love on these kids that don't know what "normal love" looks like! Maybe it's sponsoring a child, maybe it's looking into adoption... but whatever it is, cover it in prayer and I'm confident that God will lead the way and bless you for it! He's sure blessed us for stepping out of our comfort zone and saying we'll love a babe who needs a home! 

We've had this song on by Toby Mac on an old school WOW cd for years and I just happened to really "hear" the words this season while decorating the tree, LOVE it! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Other Side of the Story...

One of the strangest things about this adoption process for me so far has been the whole idea that there is a story taking place on the other side of the world that I know NOTHING about, but has EVERYTHING to do with me! The story of my child and how he's eventually going to make his way into our family! The story of how God is preparing individual's hearts, protecting a birth mom and her womb, showing her hope in a hopeless situation, providing the daily nutrients in a place where food is so sparse, and simply orchestrating a million tiny details that we may never see in order for Isa to specifically be OUR son!

The only thing I have to compare it to is being pregnant with Jude, and in that, I knew how the story was unfolding almost to a tee. He was growing inside of me, I could feel him kick, I could see on an ultrasound each month of how much he grew, I could hear his heartbeat. But with Isa, I have NO IDEA how he's doing, I can speculate that his birth mom is probably pregnant with him right now- but I have no idea how far along she is. From the instant I found out I was pregnant with Jude I read up on every stinking book that would tell me exactly what was happening to him at each stage of my pregnancy, what I should and shouldn't eat, and how I could take better care of myself in order to ensure his well being!

I think we're all inclined to be "out of sight, out of mind" type people- but I can't afford to be that way with this, this is my son! It's quite possibly the hardest and scariest thing ever to feel as though I have absolutely NO CONTROL over the life of my child.  But that's just it, I'm not completely powerless! I HAVE PRAYER! So while I desperately wish this whole adoption journey was being filmed like a movie where I could see both sides of the story coming together, it's not going to happen that way. So I've been taken to a new level in my prayer life, and I'm thankful for it. I figure if I can have an ounce of positive influence over the life of Isa before I wrap my arms around him, then I'll sure as heck pray my heart out!

My prayers lately have been this:

That his birth mom would have supportive people (hopefully family) surrounding her.
That she would have a friend she could confide in that would love her and encourage her.
That she would daily find hope and peace in a her situation and know that God already has plans for her unborn child and it's not worth giving up!
That she would have plenty of food each day and warm shelter at night.
That she would have a healthy and safe labor and delivery.
That Isa would get the proper nutrients and love needed each day to be healthy.
That once she decides to relinquish her rights as his mother, that he would quickly make his way to Hannah's Hope and spend minimal (if no time at all) in a government run orphanage. (There's no such thing as a "good" government run orphanage). Hannah's Hope is wonderful and the quicker he can arrive there, the better care he'll receive.
That ultimately God's hand would be all over this story!

I'm so thankful for a God who is big enough to move mountains, yet personal enough to hear little ole' Hilary's prayers! I know He is at work right now over in Ethiopia and while I don't know what that looks like, I know that I can pour my heart out in prayer and trust that He hears me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I feel like this...

I feel like this picture captures how I feel so well! There's life as I know it now- being a mama to Jude, then there's the life to come of being a mama to Isa as well, and that life seems so far off! I know in the grand scheme of things this wait won't be that long. But right now, today, it seems pretty distant- and truthfully sometimes hard to even imagine.  My daily prayer is that God would use this time to prepare me to the exact mom that Isa will need! It's hard to wrap my mind around what life will look like once the day finally comes where we'll bring him home. But I trust entirely that it'll be in His perfect timing! Truth be told, I'm thankful for this wait time, because each day I fall more in love with the idea of being a mama to two. I trust that God is at work in me and around me, and that in time, Isa won't seem so far away! I'm thankful for the work that God is doing in our lives as we wait for Isa to join our family! Maybe next Thanksgiving we'll be praising God for the sweet face of Isa joining our family! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Purchase Your Own Adoption Countdown Kit!!!

Have you finally finished the paper chase of your dossier and been given your oh so desired number on the wait list?! As a fellow adopting mama I know the joy of watching our number drop each month and being that much closer to seeing the face of our babe! What better way to countdown then to tangibly see your official number each month on an Adoption Countdown Wall!  After making a countdown for our family in hopes of helping our 3 year old better understand the wait for his brother, other people showed some interest in having one as well! So as a way to fundraise for our adoption, we've decided to make them and sell them as a little fundraiser in helping us bring our sweet Isa home! 100% of the proceeds will go towards our adoption fund!

If you're interested in getting your very own countdown kit for your family but want to get a better idea of what the finished product looks like, check out two that I made for my sweet blog friends Kelly Jo and Alison. There are three "looks"to choose from. For a girl we have a chocolate brown Africa (or country of your choice) with light pink numbers, and for a boy we have a light blue Africa (or country of your choice) with chocolate brown numbers. If you're on both the girl and boy lists we have a gender neutral option, a red Africa with light blue numbers. Simply pick the kit option below that suits you best!:

  • Kit Option "Crafty":  If your crafty and wanting to put together your own countdown, and would just like me to send you the customized PDF/template of your specific country and list of numbers, I can do that! You can then cut them out yourself and creatively hang it however your crafty self pleases!                                                                                            Cost of template $15
  • Kit Option "You Cut It": We will mail you the countdown kit that will include:  Sheets of card stock with your customized country and listed numbers printed out, measured and cut ribbon to tie the numbers onto twine, and one long piece of twine that will hold all your numbers. The "catch" is... YOU get the job of cutting out all your Africa's (or country of your choice) and hole punching them... and you save my little hands some cutting work!                                                                                                                                        Cost of "You Cut It" kit: $30
  • Kit Option "You Hang It": We will mail you everything you need ready to go! This kit includes: Your customized country with numbers already cut out and hole punched for you, pre-measured and cut ribbon to tie the numbers onto twine, and one long piece of twine that will hold your numbers. All you need to do is pick your wall and hang it up!                                                   Cost of "You Hang It" kit: $40

To place an order simply email me at  Let me know your official wait list number and the country you're adopting from, as well as what color scheme you want to go with (boy or girl). Specify what kit option you desire along with your mailing address. To make a payment you can either do so by using the PayPal "donate here" button on the right hand side under "Several Ways to Help" or you can mail me a check. I will start putting your order together as soon as payment is received.
Thanks so much for your support in helping us bring Isa home and we look forward to counting down with you!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Sweet Friends Giving Thanks Giveaway!

Okay friends and family! One of my sweet, funny, creative, orphan loving, blog friends, Lara, is hosting a Giving Thanks Giveaway fundraiser for her adoption and you need to check it out! Time is ticking seeing as it only goes until Nov. 22nd- So go on... check it out! I'm super serious when I say that there is some AWESOME items to win and it would be well worth your while to buy a slice of pie and help bring her baby home! Their journey to their child is near and dear to my heart seeing as we're right in the thick of this together! She's just a couple spots ahead of us on the boy wait list and I oh so hope to be able to travel together with her family one day to bring our babies home! I'm thankful for a community of adopting families through this crazy blog world and even though I've never "met" Lara I can wholeheartedly say that she's great and I look forward to the day I can hang with her in person!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And His Name Is....

Well, after much thought and back and forth discussions, Joshua and I have settled on the first name of our baby boy! Ahhh! I feel like in announcing his name, it makes him all the more real! But before I let you in on what that name is, I'd like to add here that the game plan is to wait and see what birth name he is given and then incorporate at least part of it as his middle name. We think it's important for him to have a little bit of his heritage in his name just as we hope to share with him his culture and roots of where he was born as he gets older.

There's a lot of pressure in picking out the name of your kid! I mean, after all, they're going to have this name for the rest of their life! Figuring out the perfect combo of unique, but not weird, trendy, but not overly common, is a bit of a challenge! And as much as we'd all like to say that we don't care about other's opinions.... we all desperately want people to say "Awww, what a great name, I love it!" (This is when I struggle with the people pleaser in me for sure! So if you hate his name, please just don't tell me!) And throw in the mix the importance of wanting a name that has a great meaning... and sheesh, we're lucky we settled on a name at all!

So here it is... drum roll please..... Our little guys name will be Isa (pronounced "Eesa").

Isa Helms! Isa is a variant of Isaac (Hebrew) and Isaiah (Hebrew), and the meaning of Isa is "laughter; salvation of God; the Lord helps me".

Oh how I love this meaning!

I feel the need to share a little background as to why we settled on Isa as his name. Joshua and I had been throwing names back and forth to each other for quite some time, unable to agree on one- surprise, surprise! My sister knows a gal that is married to a man from Africa with the name Isa, so she had thrown that name out there to me in passing conversation. I liked it... it was an African name that I could actually pronounce AND that I could spell for that matter! I brought it up to Joshua and he was a bit wishy washy at first- but then when we looked up the meaning- we both agreed that the meaning was pretty darn cool, I mean how can you not like "laughter; salvation of God; the Lord helps me"!?. Without being a 100% settled on it, we weren't sharing with people that it was the name we were leaning towards. But I was falling more and more in love with the name as I would write it on every little scrap paper I had around the house, while on hold with the cable company or just sitting at the computer desk. (After all, every girl knows you need to like writing the name out, just like before you were married you'd happily write out your soon-to-be married last name just to look at it!). I thought it sounded good with his brother's name Jude too... like, "This is Jude's little brother, Isa". When we would ask Jude if he wanted his brother's name to be Isa, he'd say "Yeah, Jude and Isa... it's good!". Hearing Jude's sweet voice say Isa could have sold me on the name alone!

So... here's the really cool part that sealed the deal!
A gal from my women's bible study approached me a couple weeks ago one Tuesday morning after class. She said, "I'm really nervous to talk to you about something"... which made me really nervous that she was nervous- but I said "Don't be nervous, what is it?!" (Geesh, I just said nervous way too many times in one sentence!). She proceeded to tell me how a couple weeks ago she woke up in the middle of the night and felt like the Holy Spirit said, "His name is Isaac, this is MY story". A little confused she was like "What God?", but that was all she heard, "His name is Isaac, this is MY story". All she really knew for certain was that this wasn't a message intended for her but that she felt the burden on her heart to share it with ME! So here's a gal who has NO IDEA that the name Isa (variant of Isaac) is written on every stinking scrap piece of paper around my house, and that it is the ONE name that both Joshua and I were in agreement on because we LOVED the meaning- so when I started getting teary as she was telling me this, I quickly had to let her know how crazy this was! You see she was nervous to talk to me because she didn't want me to think she was crazy... I didn't think she was crazy AT ALL, I just once again thought God was crazy for all the ways He's worked in every detail for this story! Isn't that so like Him though? God is crazy! He's crazy about His children... so why I'm always taken back at His involvement in the tiny details of this journey?!  I shouldn't be- He's crazy about Isa, even more than we are (Which seems hard to fathom sometimes)!

So yep, that sealed the deal! I figured if God is waking up other people in the middle of the night letting them know what our kid's name is going to be, then we might as well go with it! (o; And thank goodness for this dear friend that was willing to go out on a limb and be obedient to share with me the burden that the Holy Spirit had clearly put on her heart... our son's name! I can't even tell you how this whole journey has truly made me realize the importance in being obedient to the Holy Spirit's nudges in life- from the get go of this adoption we have been blessed by other's who have followed through to do or say what they feel like God is leading them to do! May I be so bold to listen and be obedient to the nudge of God as well!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jude Man

Today my Jude man and I made a quick trip to the Credit Union and from there ran to the post office to mail off our I-600A form application with a check ($830) that included both the application fee and our biometrics fee to the USCIS.  I sure hope I filled everything out right and included all supporting documents that were needed- I get so nervous reading government gargin that it starts to make me doubt that I can read at all! I re-read through all the paperwork like 10 times and then had Joshua read through it and make sure I didn't miss anything obvious, so I think we're good to go! Now we'll just wait to hear back from them with our biometrics fingerprint appointment and hopefully our I-171H Notice of Favorable Determination form! I'm not sure how long the wait normally is?

Okay, so my little partner in crime, Jude, just brings so much stinking joy to my life! Do you ever just have those moments where you look at your kid and seriously wish you could give them the world?! He just makes being a mama easy and a joy! (I say that, completely acknowledging that on certain "crap days" I would totally disagree with that statement and probably laugh at it!)... But as a whole, he's just the most tender-hearted kiddo that genuinely seeks to do right, that it makes loving him pretty darn easy! After running to the post office, we ran into Ross real quick and as we walked past the kids clothes isle, Jude saw this shirt that had Iron Man on it. Jude is seriously crazy about anything Super Hero and his eyes immediately lit up! I'm currently working with him on the whole "You don't get something just because you want it, when you want it, thing"... and he's doing surprisingly well with it, normally responding with "I know mama, I'm just lookin'". But today I took a look at Jude and his sweet eyes and then saw that the super hero shirts were just $4.99, so I thought, what the heck- I'll get it for him! He proudly carried it around the store the rest of the time we were there and when I went to check out it rang up for $7.99 instead. Ugh! The whole reason I was cool with getting it was because in my mind $4.99 seemed like a good deal- but not $7.99! (Side Note: I HATE spending money on kid's clothes because A. they don't wear them long enough at all to make you feel like you're getting your money's worth and B. there's barely any material anyway that it seems stupid to pay a lot for such a little article of clothing!). So in the moment of being annoyed with the price difference I just decided it wasn't worth getting the shirt and kindly told the gal behind the counter that I'd pass on the shirt. Well Jude didn't hear this conversation, so on the way out to the car he's excitedly saying "Mom, mom! Can I see my shirt?!". My heart immediately sank because I knew that I was totally about to discourage his little super hero heart! I told him that I needed to talk to him when we got to the car about the shirt and so he quickly climbed into his car seat and looked at me in anticipation. Me: "Jude, you know how I thought the shirt was on sale and was a good deal? Well, it turns out that it cost more than I thought and so I didn't end up buying it. Sometimes things like this happen." Jude's eyes fill with tears, not tantrum tears, real disappointment tears, slight quiver of the chin tears. And he seriously responds, "It's okay mama, my feelings aren't hurt. It's okay, I understand, it was expensive, right?" as he blinks back the tears. Talk about feeling horrible about a $3 savings!!!! I seriously got teary eyed myself because I felt so bad! Well, any time Jude sees me cry, he gets super sensitive and concerned, and so then he was like "Why are you sad mama?! I'm okay, my feelings aren't hurt, don't cry mama! Maybe we can find a cheap Iron Man shirt at another store?". How sweet is this?! Such a tender heart! I'll tell you what, this whole mom thing is a fine balance of trying to teach your kiddo to value what they have and not be a spoiled brat while truly desiring to give your child the world out of love! I still don't know if the "right thing" should have been to go back in there and buy him the shirt or not- and I didn't. All I know is that I'm grateful for a kid who cuts me some slack and let's me know "I didn't hurt his feelings" when I know I really did. Sigh. LOVE HIM!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Show Hope

So I thought the paper chasing was over once I turned in our dossier, but I was mistaken! The grant application process also requires a bit of paper chasing as well- that of which I'll gladly do if it helps bring our kiddo home! I mailed off our Show Hope grant application today and prayed God's blessings on it as I handed it over to the lady at the post office. Ultimately I have peace that as long as we do our part in pursuing every avenue possible for funding that God will show up, just as He has so far. That being said, I still hope and pray that at least one of these grants gets approved!

That leaves me with one more grant application to tackle, Lifesong's Both Hands grant (one for the widow, one for the orphan). The game plan is to start working on that next week.
This weeks my goal is to finish up our USCIS paperwork and get it mailed off. We're marking one thing off the list at time!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


SERIOUSLY?! Can you believe that we jumped from being number 71 on the wait list on Oct. 25th to NOW being number 59 on the November boys wait list?! This makes a mama's heart awfully happy!!! This could also have the potential to make a mama's heart get her hopes up that each month is going to drop this fast! So... while this was a super great month of matching babes with their forever families I'm not banking on this kind of movement every month. ALTHOUGH, it would be awesome if it kept up this way! 12 spots a month would put us getting our referral in 6 months!!! Sigh... oh how that would be wonderful!

The truth of the matter is that there is no easy pattern to follow for the amount of referrals that go out every month. There are so many factors that go into the process. So here's the gist of what I know (fellow AGCI mama's, correct me if I'm wrong here)... Hannah's Hope can only take about 50 kids at a time. Even when a child is referred to a family, it doesn't mean that a spot automatically opens up for another kid to move into HH.  It's still months before that referred child is actually leaving HH and on their way home. For instance the blessed families who just received referrals this past month will not travel for their first court date until mid-January (they don't return with their child at this time). After this trip, the families will return home for about  4-6 weeks and then fly back to Ethiopia for their second trip, their Embassy date, and at that point bring their precious baby home with them.  It's my understanding that until there is a space opened up for another child to enter, referrals may slow down a bit. What I'm unsure of is how many families there are ahead of us that are just about to travel for their 2nd trip and pick up their kids and how many spots that will open up for new kids to arrive at Hannah's Hope and be referred to the families on the wait list.

I am a part of an AGCI Ethiopia list serve that our agency has set up and it's such a blessing to be in touch with fellow families that are in the same process as us! We can follow families that are number 1 on the list and could get "the call" any day now and cheer them on when they do get that long awaited referral! We also connect with those that are just a spot ahead or behind us, truly making a connection with them hoping that maybe we'll travel together when it's our turn to go get our babies! It's such fun and a true encouragement to see God's involvement in every detail of each families story! I'm learning more and more about the process by following along on this list serve to each phase the families ahead of me are in.

So here's to a GREAT month of October and to our new November number 59!!!! Hoping that number just keeps dropping!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Worthy of the Prize

We are blessed to be one of 18 adopting families that Worthy of the Prize has partnered with to help raise funds for our adoption! Today through Sunday Worthy of the Prize is hosting an Adoption Auction that will benefit the 18 families it supports! Check it out and help spread the word!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trucking Right Along...

First off, we'd just like to thank everyone again for your involvement and support in our photo shoot raffle over the past month! We are so excited that our dear friends, Gwen and Dustin, won the drawing and think it perfect timing for a photo session for their family, with a little baby girl due just around the corner! Be sure to check out the video posted on the blog entry below of the drawing! When all was said and done we were able to raise $395 to go towards our adoption fund! We would like to specifically thank Liz at Still Moments Photography for thinking creatively and generously in helping us fundraise to bring our baby boy home! Liz, it speaks volumes of your character and heart for taking on a crazy family you didn't know to support their process of adoption just because you felt lead to! Joshua and I are blessed to have met you and partner with you in this journey! 
Side Note... I forgot to mention we got this for completing our dossier!

The next thing on our agenda to take care of is our USCIS Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. (Sounds like a lot of important mumbo jumbo doesn't it?!) IF you're wondering what purpose it serves, as was I, according to the USCIS website, it's "To classify an alien orphan who either is, or will be, adopted by a U.S. citizen as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen to allow the child to enter the United States." (So yeah, I'd say it's important stuff!) The filling fee for this application is $670 and then it's $80 per person (Joshua and I) for biometrics. The good news is, WE ALREADY HAVE THAT IN SAVINGS (thanks to our last yard sale and raffle)! Wahoo! So as soon as I can get on this, I'll get it mailed out and then we'll wait to hear back, hopefully with an approval, and we'll receive our I-171H, Notice of Favorable Determination form! I'll keep you posted when I get that sent out. 

I've also been working on two of the three grant applications we are applying for! The Room for One More Child application was all online and I already sent that out last week and will just have to wait to hear back from them. I'm still working on gathering all the documents needed for the application for a  Show Hope grant. I've submitted the online portion of the application and have 30 days to gather the remaining required documents and send them in, in order for the application to be reviewed.  We're praying that no matter the outcome, if we receive any grant money or not, that ultimately these organizations would be blessed for all they do to help adopting families! We trust that God knows the remaining financial need to be met and that He's going to provide for it one way or another. We just want to do our part in pursuing every avenue possible to make that happen! 

I thought this was fitting picture for the title to this blog entry (o; 
We have come so far in the past five months in tackling this financial hurdle! God has been so faithful to provide in some awesome, unique, creative, and unimaginable ways! God has used so many of YOU and we have already raised over $15,000! This is just crazy amazing to me!!!!  The remaining amount of funds we'll have to come up with are the fee due upon acceptance of our referral, which is $4,500, and our travel expenses for the two trips (budgeting for airfare to cost $8k total + travel expenses = $10k?). For those of you who have traveled to Ethiopia, let me know if that sounds about right? The good news is, we have time to come up with these expenses! While our wait time is somewhat up in the air, it's probably fair to say we have at least a year before our referral. So we plan on continuing to fundraise, praying that if it's God's will we receive some grant money, and trust, trust, trust- that He funds His callings! 

So that's where we're at for now! Continuing to be amazed at His goodness and faithfulness! P.S. we're still waiting to hear our official wait list number for November, but I'll be sure to share as soon as we hear!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wait List Count Down Wall

When I was so excited last week to get our wait list number I starting dancing around singing "We're 71, we're 71!", Jude joined in the excitement too and started saying "Yay, my brother is coming home!". I cringed a little and said "Oh no bud, we have a while until he comes home still... when our number gets to ONE then it we'll be super close to your brother coming home!".

I then saw on another adopting families blog that they had down a countdown thing of their wait list numbers and thought I'd totally copy the great idea. I figured if Jude could see the number going down that might help a little. So the game plan is every month that we get our new, lower, wait list number, we'll flip over the numbers that are no longer "us". Jude and I will put a heart on the sides of the cards that we flipped representing another child that was placed with their forever family. I can't wait to stare at three lines full of hearts rather then numbers! And then when we get our referral, we'll be able to put a heart on the back of the #1 card representing OUR babe being placed with us as his forever family! 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

From Yard Sale to Tornado to Date Night

 In the midst of the excitement of getting on the wait list, I almost forgot to post about our #2 Adoption Yard Sale last weekend!

This go around we had the remaining items from our previous yard sale, which wasn't much honestly, along with several things from random neighbors we had never met before. (Let me explain...Yes we literally drove around our neighborhood a couple weekends before our sale to other garage sales that were coming to an end,  and as we saw people loading up the items they didn't sell, to take to Good Will or wherever, we sheepishly asked if they'd be willing to give it to us instead... apparently we have no shame. Our sweet neighbor let us borrow his truck and we kindly offered to take the remaining items off their hands. People  were surprisingly willing to hand over their stuff if it meant one less trip for them!) All that to say, the above picture is what we were able to come up with before the sale on Saturday- so an entire garage full of quite possibly the most random stuff ever!

We once again woke up bright and early to get things set up in time for those crazy early bird garage sale goers. (I highly recommend doing this if you are planning a yard sale yourself... we make a good chunk of money on the crew that comes at like 6:45am-7:00am- it's well worth an early set up!) Here's what it looked like at 5AM all pulled out of the garage. It's a bit strange to be out and about that early in the morning setting stuff up in the dark. As Joshua and I were slowing pulling stuff out of the garage our neighbors one by one started coming out in the morning dark to help! How awesome is that?! From neighbors letting us borrow tables to set things on, to neighbors helping set stuff up and work the sale- we truly are blessed with a great cul-de-sac full of kind hearted folks! Thank you so much!

The day was a mixture of on and off again rain, just enough to make you nervous that it was about to downpour at any moment. We lucked out though and managed to stay pretty dry and still have a decent turn out despite the dreary day. Just like the last yard sale the crowd seemed to die off around 11:30am - 12:00pm and the sky was looking a bit angry, so we thought it best to maybe call it a day and start making some trips to the Good Will with our remaining stuff. While Joshua was gone dropping off a load of things at the GW I was pulling stuff into the garage as the wind started to pick up. I noticed it started getting pretty stinking dark in the garage and glanced up outside as Joshua was pulling back into the driveway. He jumped out of the car and motioned for us to get a move on it! "There are some nasty looking clouds Hil and we're about to get hit with this storm! We gotta bust bootie and get this stuff in the garage quick!". As we're hustling to drag the remaining stuff in, I hear the dreaded eery sound of the tornado siren go off! Ugh, if you know me at all, you know that I HATE tornados and will always be the first one in the closet when the sirens go off hugging tight to my babe and pup (oh and my cell phone too because I make calls to the rest of my family to make sure they're taking cover- no one seems to be nearly as concerned as me though, although they'll thank me one day when one actually touches down! Yes I get made fun of for this.). I pause, mid-move of a table we're caring in, and give Joshua my scared eyes, but then glance back outside and see there is still junk to be pulled in. I quickly became brave (yes, you should be proud of me), toned out the sirens and did some serious speed moving! We literally drug the last item in as the torrential downpour let loose! We quickly closed the garage door and I hurried myself to the TV to check out the tornado warning for our county. I should add here that in the middle of the hustle and bustle of bringing everything in, both my mom and sister called me (a bit of role reversal here when it comes to storm calls) because they knew that we were totally about to get hit hard. I called them back once inside to proudly let them know we got everything in the nick of time! For those of you concerned if our home blew away... it did not. Why does TX sound the stupid sirens all the time if there isn't a tornado on the ground? Don't they know it stresses a girl out?!
Okay, enough tornado talk, sorry... onto more important things! So grand total from the day was right at $600! For a dreary half day of yard selling it- I thought that was pretty darn good! We have since taken all the remaining clothes and furniture to some families we know that could really use them- so it worked out great for all!
We were able to end the day on a GREAT note! It was Joshua and I's SIX year anniversary, and while having a yard sale is super romantic, we figured we should go on a date to top off the day! Joshua had gotten a gift card for the movies from my sis and Scott for his birthday, and then the day of the sale, our amazing next door neighbors generously gave us a gift card to Maggiano's! Yay for free, really nice, date nights! So we got all cleaned up from being nasty sweaty and rained on, handed the Jude man over to my sis, who graciously offered to babysit, and went out for a relaxing night, just the two of us! What a great six years it has been! Nothing beats being married to a man who I know I can glorify God more by being with than without! I'm so grateful to share an adventure of pursuing God's call on our lives with this incredible man!