Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Entertaining Chats...

I thought I would share just a couple of my latest chats with Jude as of late, enjoy! 

We drove by a field fire off of a nearby interstate the other day, and after Jude noticed the smoke, with a concerned tone....

Jude: Mom, what caused that fire?!
Me: I don't know bud, but I'm guessing it's because the grass is really dry from the lack of rain, so it probably caught on fire a lot easier.
Jude: Well mom, the grass won't burn... God lives inside the grass. (said very matter of fact)
Me: (chuckle) No, Jude- God doesn't live inside the grass. He made the grass, but he doesn't live inside it.
Jude: Uhm mom... Remember Moses and the bush! (with a "duh" attitude) The leaves didn't burn on the bush because God lived inside of it! Remember?
Me: Oh my goodness Jude, you crack me up! Yes, I remember. But that wasn't normal. Moses was surprised to see that the bush wasn't burning because that's not the way fire normally works.
Jude: Well, I'm just saying, God could be in that fire. He could mom, just don't argue with me.
Me: Sigh... sure Jude, whatever you say (as I shake my head at this entire conversation!) 
We haven't read this bible story in weeks- but the kid is memorizing his entire Jesus Storybook Bible... I mean, he LOVES it!

While eating breakfast several weeks ago...
Jude: Mom, I love this toast, the stuff that is gooey on the inside is soooo good!
Me: Yeah, that's the cinnamon and sugar, it's good stuff! 
Jude: Yeah, the cinnamon and sugar are like the same thing, just in different forms.
Me: Uhm, yeah- kinda I guess. 
Then he leaned in and whispered to me, as if he were telling me a secret, "It's like God and Jesus, mom- they're the same thing... just in different forms!"... 
How crazy is that?! I swear he has a direct connection with God! 

That same day we were driving in the car talking about when he grows up and "has a family of his own"... to which he informed me he DOESN'T want a family of his own, he wants to "live with mommy and daddy FOREVER!". I told him that just because he gets married and has his own family, it doesn't make him not our family- it just means that we ADD to our family. So then he says totally matter of factly, "So, I'll say... Wife, come to my home?" ... I laughed and said, "Sure, she can come to our home- but don't call her wife, call her by her name"- ha! He sat there in the backseat for awhile quietly with the wheels turning, and then all the sudden says, "Mom, I think I'm going to be SO nervous when I get older!" I said, "For what bud?" and he said, "To get a wife!... I'm nervous just thinking about it!".... Cracks me up! What a goof!

And last but not least, today, Jude hurried over to me this morning with a worried expression and his Hulk action figure in hand...

Jude: Mom, look! Hulk doesn't have any freckles on his nose like me! How am I going to be Incredible Hulk when I grow up?!

Oh how the thoughts of a 4 year old keep me entertained! There is no greater joy than being a mama! 

Monday, August 22, 2011



I feel like your brother in this picture, staring off into the distance, hoping, waiting, and day dreaming about YOU.  Sigh... I'm thinking about you today Isa! I think about you every day. I wonder what you'll look like. I wonder about your little personality. I wonder what you'll feel like in my arms the very first time I hold you. I wonder what your sweet cry sounds like. I wonder what your skin smells like. I imagine the first time I look into your eyes and how in that moment, everything will make sense. All the waiting will make sense, because you'll finally be in my arms. I can hardly contain my smile as I think about that day. My thoughts are consumed with what your story is. I'm already broken over your circumstances, even though I don't know what they are. I am praying for you in this very moment. I am praying that God Himself is with you, and protecting you, and loving you, and providing for you. I miss you, and I don't even know you yet. I love you Isa, and your daddy and I are coming for you, I promise. We are doing our best to patiently wait on the Lord's timing and we are trusting that God is still at work preparing the way for you to come home, it's just not time yet, He's still putting pieces of the puzzle together.  I don't know if you're born yet or if you're a couple months old- but I do know that God has instilled a love for you in our hearts that runs deep and compels us to want to fight for you. A God given love. You are worth fighting for, you are important, you are God's child and He values YOU. God is using YOU in big ways in your mommy and daddy's life, to transform us, and refine us, and grow us, and challenge us to desire God's dream for our lives more than our own! You are part of God's dream in our life. We are not the same because of YOU. Thank you Isa. I can't wait to hear your laughter in the other room and kiss you goodnight after snuggles in bed. I pray that you feel my love in this moment, even as I sit here in Texas as you are in Ethiopia. Your mama loves you!
Thinking about you today sweet boy,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

John Eldredge and my Hubby

If you know my husband at all, you've probably discovered that he is quite possibly the biggest John Eldredge fan ever! No joke, I'm pretty sure he references the book Wild at Heart at least once a month... and please keep in mind, he read the book like over 7 years ago! Don't get me wrong, I love Joshua's enthusiasm (it's a bit comical at times) but regardless, I too think that most of what Elredge writes about is pretty spot on. Joshua's love for the "whole wild at heart" thing shouldn't come as a surprise really- it's right up his alley! His childhood years were spent immersed in being a boy scout and let's not forget to mention the fact that the two of us met at a high adventure youth camp! Joshua is all boy and all adventure!

That being said, one of the many reason I love my husband is this... he's all about raising Jude (and Isa) to grow up and be men who know the importance of seeking the incredible story God has for them. Joshua often talks about how one day when the boys are around 12 or so, how he can't wait to take each one of them on a "coming of age" trip. As father and son they'll set out on a crazy (nerve-racking for mama) outdoorsy sort of trip where he can just spend quality time with them and talk over the big things that life throws at them, all the while exploring in God's beautiful creation. Joshua is a father who's heart genuinely wants to teach his boys about the love of our Father and guide them as they discover glimpses of who Jesus really is. I am so grateful to be married to a man who longs to teach our children about their true purpose of simply loving God and loving others well.

Bare with me, I have a point in sharing with you my husband's zest for John Eldredge. You see, once a month we get these newsletters from Ransomed Heart Ministries (Surprise! You guessed it, headed up by John Eldredge!). Normally, if I'm honest- I don't read the letters, I just hand them off to the hubs since it's kinda "his thing". Yesterday however, I had him read it out loud to me as we were relaxing in our living room after putting Jude to bed for the night. As Joshua was reading, I found myself in awe of my Jesus once again! The truth that John shared about the humility of Jesus, captured my heart!  So much so in fact, that I wanted to share with ya'll! (Did I too just get sucked into the John Eldridge fan club?!)

Here we go, Enjoy! (I'm starting mid-letter):

.... Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient... (Philippians 2)

"Humbled himself?"

Humility hardly begins to describe the Incarnation.

That's like saying it would be a humble thing for you to become a goldfish, to live in the bowl, in a fishy world, trying to help those other fishies become something more like Phoenixes. It boggles the mind. The eternal Son of God, "Light of light, very God of very God... one substance with the Father," spent nine months developing in Mary's uterus. Jesus passed through her birth canal. He had to learn to walk. The Word of God had to learn to talk. He who calls the stars by name had to learn the names of everything, just as you did. "This is a cup. Can you say cup? Cuuup." For ages upon ages, his generous hand fed every creature on earth; now it is he that has to be fed, spoon fed, drooling most of it down his chin like any other toddler. The Son of God doesn't even know how to tie his shoes. Someone had to teach him how to tie those sandals John the Baptist said none of us were worthy to untie. "The rabbit goes around the tree and down through the hole... like that. Now you try it." Picture seven year old Jesus in the shop out back, learning form Joseph how to use a hammer and saw. He who hung galaxies in such perfect poise, like a hundred billion mobiles, has to be shown how to nail two boards together.

I take my shoes off. The humility of this is beyond words.

Remember- Jesus wasn't faking it when he took on his humanity. Think of the implications. He who never tires, never slumbers accepted the need for sleep. Every night. How deep was the exhaustion that kept him dozing right through the gale, waves crashing over the boat? Jesus ate, every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner; he needed to. He had to trim his toenails. He who clothes the lilies of the field with greater glory than Solomon's splendor had to do his laundry, squatting riverside, rinsing the dust from his worn garments like any other peasant.

What about the humility of simply getting from here to there by means of walking?

We read that Jesus "left Judea and went back once more to Galilee" and don't pause to wonder--- how far was that? More than one hundred and twenty miles. A four to five day journey on foot, pushing sunup to sundown. When was the last time you walked four days straight? We pass right over phrases like, "Jesus went up to Jerusalem" as though it happened quick as we read it, like he ran across the street for a quart of milk. Bethany to Cana is roughly seventy miles; back down to Jerusalem is another forty-five plus. Jesus is making these trips all the time. He who once rode "on the wings of the wind" is now getting around only as fast as his two sore feet will carry him. Hours and hours, for days and months upon end, just... walking.

God--who is in all places at all times--has to get from one place to another like a guy who can't even come up with bus fare. The beauty of this is enough to make me weep.

The more we discover Jesus for who he really is--freed from the religious veils, all the goofy images--the more we will fall in love with him! And the more we will experience him for ourselves, which is the best hope of all...... by John Eldridge

Good stuff, right?!?! Thought provoking. Just wanted to share! (o;

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fam Photo's

With Joshua headed back to school we've been getting his classroom set up for the new year- and as everyone knows (well at least I think most women would agree), it wouldn't be complete without some cute new family photos for his desk! So I thought this weekend was as good as any to head out and snap a couple of the three of us! Another good excuse for some new pics is the fact that Jude is growing like a weed these days and our last family photos have him lookin' a bit "babyish". Which he'll quickly tell you, he is no more! Seriously, he is such a little man these days both in looks and in conversation! I can't tell you often I shake my head in amazement at how grown up he is! I'll have to share about some of our recent conversations in a later post, I have a deep thinker on my hands for sure! 
While taking these pictures, I've gotta admit, I can't help but have my thoughts go to next year, wondering if maybe just maybe our family picture will look a little different?! My heart desperately hopes to have little Isa on my hip and Jude by my side, in next years classroom photos! This mama's prayers are often for a child on the other side of the world that I know nothing about and how I can't wait to stare into this his face and know that this wait was so worth it! 

So for now, because we already consider Isa part of the family, it wouldn't be complete to not somehow include him in the photo, here below is our creative attempt of making sure he is apart! (o; 

Here are some other's from the weekend that we took too! I was excited to find two new fun locations for photo's while driving around! I'm always on the look out for potential photo opportunities and was thrilled to find both the tracks and the old barn super close to home! It's the little things that make this girl happy! (o; Hope you like 'em! 

Growing up fast!
My little peanut butter, I could just eat him up! 
Mama and her boy
The hubs and I. Celebrating 7 years of marriage this October- I'm a lucky gal!
Our lil fam
The oh so many faces of Jude! Cracks me up!
Jude was thrilled to walk on the train tracks!
Jude's all proud of himself for being up on the fence
Baby blues staring off at something
The three of us, soon to be FOUR of us! 

So... there you have it! Glad I have a flexible husband that is cool with getting drug around to random spots to take pictures and lucky I have a boy that is used to having a camera propped up on a tripod and smiling while waiting for a timer to go off! (o;

Much love, Hil

Friday, August 5, 2011

Africa oh Africa... you consume our thoughts!

For those who haven't seen the video that my hubs put together of his life changing trip to Uganda... here you have it! My man has officially been home for one week now and it's still the buzz of conversation that consumes us! Unknowingly, we manage to bring almost anything and everything back around to Africa, which to outsiders probably gets super annoying- but thankfully we're both equally (dorky) and passionate about how God is stirring our hearts- so we loose ourselves in chat about how the desire to go continues to weigh heavy on us!  I pray it always consumes our conversations and even more so, our lives! We continue to pray over what it really looks like to "risk the ocean, it's only grace"... more and more, I'm convinced it looks far different then what the world says it should look like.  We are confident that God is equipping us, and growing us, and stretching us, for MORE. Funny how almost a year and half ago we were certain that saying yes to adoption was the biggest leap of faith ever... little did we know the snowball affect it would have on our souls! I love that our journey to Isa is far bigger then we could have ever imagined! I can't wait to tell Isa one day of all the ways God transformed our hearts as we began this adoption adventure! I love how one cautious, and even skeptical "YES" to God's call, can leave you begging for more of His will in your life! A sweet friend of mine, Gwen, once said- "I suck at being God, He does the job so much better!"... and it's true! When we say "YES" to His story and let go of our own.... watch out, A-MAZ-ING things are about to happen!

At this point, obviously our main focus is to get our sweet boy Isa home! This is still going to take some time, so we're doing our best to be patient. That being said, I'll unashamedly admit how my "request" to God continues to be that hopefully, just maybe, with my fingers crossed, a whole heckava lot of wishful thinking, and maybe some extra prayers from sweet friends like yourselves (wink, wink), that perhaps we'll have a referral around Christmas time or shortly thereafter (and yes, I'm holding loosely to this desire....kinda, sorta!) It's not until after Isa is home and we're well adjusted as a family, confident that he is well attached to us as his mom and dad, that we'll be able to act on this burden to move to Africa. I don't know what that timeframe looks like- I'm giving it to God and trusting that we'll know when the time is right for our family. For today however, we trust that God is planting seeds and opening our eyes to places He is so evidently at work. We trust that He will lead the way. Joshua knows for certain he fell in love with the amazing ministry, Amazima while he was there in Uganda. He loves what they're all about, he sees God moving there, and he feels in his gut that it's a ministry we could potentially be involved in one day.... now whether we actually ever are or not, I have no idea! For all I know, by the time we're in a place that we can actually go- there may not be a need at Amazima for us. All I know is that Joshua experienced a little slice of what heaven is like while he was there, his heart beat fast, and he was drawn to ways this ministry was so obviously the hands and feet of Christ to hundreds of children! So... we are choosing to make mental note of that at this point and are committed to earnestly pray blessings on this incredible ministry! Who knows how it'll unfold?!

Going back to my previously mentioned point of how it's going to take some time to get Isa home, I wanted to keep you in the loop with the latest happenings that contribute to the wait. Today actually marked the beginning of the "rainy season" in Ethiopia and the courts actually close and will stay closed for about 2 months. To better explain, here is the court closure Q&A that our agency sent out just in case this intrigues you (which unless you're interested adopting from Ethiopia, I'm guessing not, but here you have it anyway)...

Court Closure Q&A

Q: When do the Courts close?
A: The Court closure occurs each year for approximately 2 months in August and September. The actual dates of closure and reopening vary from year to year.
Q: When do we find out when the Courts close?
A: The dates for this year’s closure have not been released. Typically, we do not receive advance notification of when the closure is to begin and end, but our staff at Hannah’s Hope do notify our office as soon as possible after they hear word.
Q: Why do the Courts close?
A: Many refer to this time of year in Ethiopia as “rainy season.” It is definitely true that Ethiopia experiences a good amount of rain during this time of the year and it can make getting to work a bit tricky at times. However, we can also look at the Courts closing for a recess period as the staff’s opportunity for a vacation.
Q: Do the Courts still accept new cases and issue court appointments during the closure?
A: Every year is different in exactly how the Courts operate during the closure/recess period. In some years, they have been completely shut down. In other years, the Courts accepted new cases into their “cue” then once they reopened, court appointments were issued. Even last year, we were able to submit new cases and received a few court appointment notices, but the appointments were not set to occur until October. Unfortunately, it is not clear how the Courts will operate or not operate during this year’s closure, but our staff will continue to submit new cases until the Courts no longer accept them.
Q: Is MOWA also closed during the period of time the Courts are closed?
A: The Federal Courts of Addis Ababa and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) are separate government offices, though they must work in partnership to complete adoption cases. MOWA does not typically close while the Courts are closed. We are hoping that given that MOWA is supposedly processing around 10 cases a day, they will continue to review cases and issue opinion letters to the Courts during this court closure period. Historically, though, we have seen that the motivation of MOWA to process cases and issue letters during the court closure has been low, since the Courts were not open to process the cases.
Q: Will the Courts process MOWA opinion letters that are issued during the closure?
A: It is not clear at this time if, during this court closure, the Courts will process the letters from MOWA for cases that have already completed court appointments. It is our hope that these letters will continue to be processed so pending cases can be approved, but again, right now there is no clarity on this.
Q: Can families still travel for the second trip and complete a visa appointment with the US Embassy to bring their child(ren) home during the closure?
A: _You bet! The visa appointment is conducted at the US Embassy, which is part of the US government. The Embassy has historically been open and processing cases and visas during the time the Courts are closed. We have seen times in the past where the Embassy processes fewer cases during the closure time, but the US Embassy holds complete jurisdiction over its processing of cases.
Q: Can children still be assigned and admitted into Hannah’s Hope then referred to their forever families during the Court closure?
A: Yes, children can still come into Hannah’s Hope through government-licensed orphanages and referred to adoptive families while the Courts are on recess. One thing to keep in mind is that a great deal of investigation and follow up work must go into each child’s history before a child can be referred, and this can slow things down a bit at the front end of a child’s process. Overall, there is never a set or average number of children who will come into Hannah’s Hope and/or referred to their forever families in any given month, and August and September are no exception.

So.... that about does it! As always, we're grateful for your prayers and love!