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Getting dossier ready and gettin’ ready for Fall!

I was so happy to get our dossier folder last weekend…and even happier to see that we really have everything about 90% done with it! The only thing we lack…well, is what we have lined up for Tuesday (our labwork) and our final homestudy interview Monday after next…and pictures, pictures, pictures. We have to take pictures of our home—and the challenge will be photographing CLEAN rooms;). We had clean up time yesterday in the playroom…so I snagged¬†a few pictures while it was in rare form for our dossier. The playroom in the basement…our KIDZONE where lots of fun happens…(you can double click on any image to see it HUGE…okay, looks like I should have vacuum before taking pictures! Ahhhh…I don’t think the Ethiopian courts will care! Can’t wait to have another little one playing in this room!)

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You can’t really see…but my favorite is Laney’s pink kitchen and her Southern Living Home potrack:)…
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Parker got that train set when he was just 2. And my dad made Laney’s wooden doll house for her 3rd birthday. We use a shoe door storage (Container Store) to store all Laney’s Barbie dolls.
These Barbies are all from the 80’s…90% anyway…I love yard sales:) Never hit ’em up…but stopped at one full of Barbies one day and Laney racked up.
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I made this magnet/chalk board (below) for Parker when he was just one. It is a great teaching tool and I store all our themed magnets in a box labeled in the cubbies. The farm magnets seem to be the current theme hitting the board…(magnet/chalk paint sold at Home Depot and painted on a 20×24 board)
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This tree house makes me laugh every time I see it. My kids love playing with it, but it was a nightmare to put together…and there is a great Santa story that goes with it…note to self–put things together weeks before the holidays…not the night before. This baby had to be exchanged after the fact and this one finally came to us closer to January. I learned my lesson:)
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Tammy and Jimmy Dugger - October 10, 2009 - 10:11 am

They all turned out great!!! I thought Parker was going to go with the "cowboy" pirate? I guess after looking at that magazine he decided a pirate one would be better. ūüôā

Kristi J - October 10, 2009 - 12:11 pm

so cute…I did this last year (but we bought them instead of making them) AND we stuck a Lucy Lane in the mix DREAMING about our new baby..and so funny to look at it now WHEN she's home with us..yayyyy…you'll be there so soon ūüôā kristi

3 Blessings - October 10, 2009 - 2:10 pm

Love the scarecrow! We had our final homestudy appt. Friday and I took all of our house pictures before she arrived ūüôā Our homestudy report should be done Wednesday and then our Dossier should be done by Friday! We are so excited. Since you guys are going to be on the same time frame as us…I bet we will travel together to get our sweet babies!!! How cool is that thought?

Are These Kids All Yours? - October 10, 2009 - 3:21 pm

Love the scarecrow- I think a baby one would be cute ūüôā Hey, you are almost there! Yeah!!!

Anonymous - October 10, 2009 - 7:08 pm

Love the scarecrows. Luke did too! Called you today. Call me when you have some time! ūüôā Time….I know – HA!
Love you!


Today…I’m starting my day with tears praising my heavenly Father for His goodness! Do you REALIZE how much HE loves the orphans of the world?! Jesus loves the little children…ALL the children of the world! Not one of His does He forget…and these He loves so much to give them life…to give them a family AGAIN…and today I am rejoicing as the Lord has placed THREE children just yesterday with their forever families!!!

Two older boys who have been waiting for a very long time…please pray for the family persuing them that the Lord will pave a way and the hoop jumping will be expedited…you can read about this here…

And a precious family that we’ve gotten to know through our agency…they’ve just been waiting 5 months…yes, I said 5 months people! I did just fine reading this referral story until I saw the baby’s name. It reminded me that GOD is over OUR adoption…that He has a baby CHOSEN just for OUR family…and it makes me ever more on task to jump through the hoops with perserverance so we can bring our baby home and love him forever! Read this amazing referral story here:

What beautiful encounters with God today!!! How will you encounter God today? Look for Him…wait for Him…seek Him…because He is there…and He is waiting for you…HIS child…and HE LOVES YOU so much that He would never leave you alone…when you come to Him, He offers to adopt you as His son or daughter…and through His Son we are offered abundant life…and a life living for Him—is lemme tell ya, a WILD ride—but a ride that is worth living! My hands are in the air and I’m riding this roller coaster for Him!

Are These Kids All Yours? - October 10, 2009 - 9:30 am

AMEN to that- seen both of these stories and my heart is singing as well!!!! Praise God!

Our weekend in Columbia…

Yes, we zipped everyday to the adoption conference in Franklin…but we stayed with our sweet family in Columbia. I’ve been doing online training courses…and needed a little break…a blog that is light and makes me smile…

Here is Parker and Laney-Lu playing with cousin Tom. Tom has been Parker’s hero since Parker learned to walk. He named his first teddy bear Tom. In fact, he has named every stuffed animal in our house Tom. Tom’s a senior and I’m a little sad myself that he is growing up. I couldn’t be more thankful that Parker looks up to a man of such noble character–and I can’t believe on October 30th he plays his LAST football game of his high school career!

I could just gobble this guy up…I mean–what 18 year old will sit and play Batman with two preschoolers?! SO sweet!
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Then, just before we left–and even with a few sprinkles…Uncle Buck had to take P and L for little ride…
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Uncle Buck is Richard’s dad’s brother. He is like a grandfather to my children. They ADORE this man…and the tractor is just icing on the cake.
This next picture makes my heart smile…
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You might say these two have had a special bond since the beginning of P’s little life. I have pictures of Parker at 3 months cuddling up to Uncle Buck…and 5 years later pictures like this are just as sweet! How thankful we are for family!!!
The Young Crew…well, just some of us (maybe next time I can jump in a few;).
Ben made it up for the visit…and the newly married Lucy and Matt…Parker and Laney were both in their wedding in June–Lucy and I were plotting and planning our next visit well before we left.
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And I can’t be MORE thankful for how SUPPORTIVE and ENCOURAGING they all are about our adoption! We are SO BLESSED to have these people as FAMILY!
…still trying to tie up some loose ends with our homestudy–not too bad though for starting¬†our homestudy¬†mid September. Our labwork is on the 13th along with Richard’s physical. Our final family interview/home walk through in Monday, October 19th. I spoke with the FBI¬†in West Virginia today (can you believe I actually got a voice on the phone!) and they said our fingerprint clearance was mailed out on¬†Wednesday so it should be back to us any day.¬†We are continuing to work on our dossier…and I was¬†waiting to¬†be almost done with our home study before sending our 600A in to receive¬†our 171—so we may¬†actually be able to send¬†that in and have all our end completed by the end of October.¬†My goal was to have our dossier submitted by Frank’s 1st¬†birthday (November 1st)…looks like goals are good to have—but Thanksgiving may be a¬†bit more realistic…and that will just be¬†one more thing for us to be thankful for!
Another thing I am thankful for…AMAZING AGCI families on our agencies listserv who walk you through this process, support you and love on along the way! How thankful I am that we chose AGCI with…and these families are the icing on the cake!
Kristi J - October 8, 2009 - 10:19 pm

what great pics…so wish we could have gone…ok, so i know i read where you said you were coming back around these parts…we need to make the next trip work stay on me…and we'll make it work out, yay, kj

Amy - October 9, 2009 - 7:38 am

We are in the same boat. I had a goal of mid-october but things are delayed and so we wait! I am still hoping for end of October but I need to be more realistic. Are you guys hoping for a specific gender? Anyway, good luck – looks like we'll be going through this process together ūüôā

The Young Family - October 9, 2009 - 8:06 am

We didn't make a gender preference…completely open here…so we're guessing we'll get a boy b/c that list is shorter. We are just so excited either way! I'm with you…the sooner the better but I know a lot of waiting with the hoop jumping is ahead!

"Somebody’s gonna be uncomfortable…"

Richard and I just got back from an incredible weekend conference in Franklin, TN – Together for Adoption. We were able to participate in several breakout sessions–one of our favorites and reasons for going was the session called “Transracial Adoption & the Multi-Ethnic Family of God”. I couldn’t possible highlight all the “WOWS” from this session in a blog, but there were a few pearls that I’ll be holding on to for the rest of my life as we have made the decision to have a transracial family through adoption. One quote used in the seminar was taken from an article by Jen Graves’s piece “Black Kids in White Houses: On Race, Silence, and the Changing American Family”:

“Part of the geniune appeal of transracial adoption, it’s true, is its potential to transform culture. “I often think about transracial adoption as a grand social experiment,” writes John Raible, one of the first mixed-race children adopted to a white family in teh 1960s and something of a spokesperson on the topic.

Even so, children shouldn’t be the day laborers on the job, says Chad Goller-Sojourner. Would you want your children to be the test cases in a grand social experiment?

“What I’d ask parents is, are you willing to be the uncomfortable one?” goller-Sojourner says. This is how he’d question a prospective parent if he were a social worker. “Because somebody’s gonna be uncomfortable, and it seems the burden is on you. You have to be the uncomfortable one.”

He means that if white parents of black children, for instance, don’t live in black neighborhoods, join black churches, have black friends, and send their children to significantly mixed-race schools, then at least they should cross the thresholds into black barbershops even though its awkward, or drive out of their way to shop at grocery stores in black neighborhoods. Parents should be careful to raise their children to live in this world, not the one they wish existed.”

(end quote)

Jason Kovacs, the director of ministry development for ABBA Fund led this particular breakout, and I believe there is such value in this piece he pulled out to share with us. It wasn’t written from a Christian perspective, but much more for a world view–and I think it is something every parent raising children of a different race should consider. Granted, as believers we are adopting because we feel called to rescue these children and give them a family–yet there are so many unknowns about the effects this will have on our child/children down the road…so although we aren’t “participating for experiment sake” we are still responsible for being a white family raising a black man to function successfully in our culture and society…one day on his own without his white parents to protect him and show why he may not “get” his own culture.

Richard and I have made the decision to adopt a baby from Ethiopia and once he is here he will become African American I guess you could say. Where will he fit in? If he never attends a black church, will he feel comfortable in a black church later when his wife and children beg him to take them to one instead of where he feels comfortable? What could this do to his future marriage and family? When racial awareness really sets in after age 10 and he begins the difficult teenage years and struggles with his identity, would Richard and I have done our part to help him connect with his culture of origin and prepare him to be a strong black man in our own society?

Richard and I chose Ethiopia for several reasons—yet we could not move forward without the commitment of others to help us (it takes a village) and determination to raise a strong black man (instead of just a stinkin’ cute little boy with a picture perfert fussy little fro). We commit to make regular trips to Africa—which we have already been doing for 2 years through our Wiphan Care Ministry. We are partnering with our¬†biological children’s godparents who happpen to be black¬†for advice along the way—praise God that the Lord has¬†paired us with a couple,¬†the Murrays,¬†who are already some of our bestfriends to partner with us. My friend made the commit one time how¬†big a task it was to raise a¬†strong, godly¬†black man in our culture with too few role¬†models to look up to. Well, if it’s a¬†difficult task for them—Richard and I¬†are definitely going to have to remain proactive.¬†

All of our future decisions will be made in light of being a transracial family—and we will all make sacrifices to do our best to create a “bi-culture” environment in our home. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to always be fun. (And there may be fun things that I don’t always get to be the one to take him to…like the black circus for example [seriously doubt my son is going to want me to be the one to take him! Don’t know what that is? Well, if you are adopting a black child and raising him in our culture…you might want to find out and have someone else teach him how to shake his booty before the lions come out!) And it’s not going to always be comfortable—but if somebody’s gonna be uncomfortable, I think it should be me.


To read Graves full article, visit:


Calm my Anxious Heart (and help me stay focused on the main thing)

For most everyone (especially photographers), this is the busiest time of year. And for me–it’s very easy to become overwhelmed especially when I’ve already cut back the days I will work (Tues/Sat)¬†in an attempt¬†to ¬†focus more on my first jobs as a wife and mommy.¬†I’ve let some extra things creep in¬†(sessions and in the midst of being overbooked I have been so busy and said yes to more¬†people than I normally would…my¬†church for example¬†has asked me to help¬†photograph,¬†frame and redecorate their halls!) I’ve justified more¬†work to save up for our adoption and all the paperwork and errands for our adoption have also required more of my time…I’ve felt a little—well, that’s an understatement…actually I’ve felt VERY overwhelmed lately. Jean Fleming¬† in her book “Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World” says…

“As we seek to focus life, a formidable problem becomes apparent. Life loses focus without any effort, determination, or decision on our part. The process of living, day in and day out, tends to dilute and divert focus. We become so busy that we have no time to consider HOW we live…”

Here’s a healthy¬†exercise that Jean recommends to help maintain focus…helping you keep the main thing…the main thing!¬†She imagines a tree where the trunk represents her relationship with Christ. The limbs are the major areas of God-given responsibility (wife, mommy, etc).The branches are the activities and opportunities of life (these things should flow out of your responsibilities). Some times the activities multiply obscurring the trunk and limbs. When this happens, you can feel trapped! Jean says “I must go beyond defining life by activities. I must focus not on the branches, but on the trunk and the limbs. I do what I do because of Jesus and His claim on my life. I don’t do what I don’t do for the same reason.”

AMEN! I need to focus on that latter part…I DON’T DO WHAT I DON’T DO FOR THE SAME REASON! Amen! Amen! Now, I need to get some q-tips, clean out my ears and say it again so I really get it!

Living with focus means pruning your overcrowded tree. Feeling overwhelmed?¬†Taking on too much? Time to prune.¬†And a beautiful, fruitful tree some times has to be pruned a couple of times each year. For severely crazy trees like myself—we need to prune monthly. Yes…I’m a special case;).¬†I feel like I’m not only overgrown but also holding one too many¬†birdnests…and there’s bird poop everywhere. Ok, let’s not take this illustration overboard Andrea;). Seriously, I feel like I might be a special case right now.¬†FOCUS–Evaluate all of the limbs and see what is causing some limbs to weigh so heavy to cause your branches to not thrive and go in the direction they should…and if you look hard enough you’ll notice limbs (and maybe even nests;) that don’t belong there at all.¬†Then prune–and set new direction.

Today I had WAY too much to do—and guess what? It’s still undone. But a tree needed to be pruned before I could go further. Here is my unpruned tree…sadly it is full of tasks relating to work and it is neglecting the other branches…and even my sacred trunk!

When I evaluate my tree—what I’m feeling my time with right now—it does not line up with my trunk or my limbs. My branches are all wrong. WAAAA! (I hate being wrong!) My limbs are filling days with keeping up with work and making room for more work. My tree is saying “my work is more important than my relationship with Christ, my husband and my children”. This is NOT what I want my tree to look like or what I want to say! I don’t FEELthat—and I hate that my illustration is saying that…OK, ok, ok—let me “justify” my tree by saying that I just want to work to raise money for our adoption.¬†ERRRR!¬†Sorry¬†Andrea…no justifying that one. PRUNE.¬†What my tree also says is “I think I can do¬†provide rather than God can provide”. It also says, “I am trusting myself to come up with what we need rather than God to come up with what we need.” Time to do some pruning. My intentions are good, but I’ve got it all wrong…and good intentions don’t get you anywhere when the things that matter are neglected. Getting the shears out…and time to do some painful pruning.
my tree
What am I thinking most about? How am I spending most of my time? Honestly, I am thinking only about editing, ordering and how I’m going to get it all done. How will it all get done? When will the government mail us back our FBI fingerprinting clearance? How am I going to find time to take all the online courses? Ekkk…had to cancel 2 sessions today due to weather…where will I reschedule them??? Time to sloooow down—and the first step for me is to commit to not book another session for 2009. Nope. Not ONE more. I have to trust the LORD to meet all my needs. I WILL trust the Lord to meet all my needs! It may require a longer wait. It may not be in my timing! And it may be agains my will. But not MY WILL be done but the Lord’s! In the process of¬†getting it all wrong, I am¬†neglecting the branches that the Lord has entrusted to me—my God-given roles of being a wife, mom, having a ministry with others and for now—a job (but a part time only 2 session a week job.)
Our limbs (how we REALLY spend our time, who we really make time for, etc) will reflect what we really believe about our trunk and how seriously we take the well being of the roles of our branches. Time to prune to make these things reflect one another. If someone asks me to do something–I need to do a mental check of my pruned tree before committing. I also need to say, “I need to check and see if that’s possible tonight, can I get back to you tomorrow?” The Bible instructs us in Phillipians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Pray about it—and give an answer to others after you have prayed about it. I’M PREACHIN’ TO THE CHOIR HERE PEOPLE…completely for my own soul to hear…this is all for me to process and pruning is just what is in order for today!
My pruned tree to help me focus…
pruned tree
This new tree is pruned and in order. It will not please everyone—but it will please those who matter most to me. It may hurt some people’s feelings if I can’t do something, fit another client in and it may not produce the money I think I need for our adoption…but it will produce fruit. The Lord will provide the rest.

wow, this really spoke to me! I need to do some major pruning in my life, and the whole thinking about it before just answering "yes" to a new responsibility. (My parents and friends tell me to start pracicing a gently "no thanks" a lot) I sure appreciate you sharing what you learned, gotta go make a tree… ūüôā

Are These Kids All Yours? - October 6, 2009 - 5:12 pm

WOW- love that!!! I need to do some pruning myself!!! Thank you for that powerful reminder.

Kim - October 7, 2009 - 6:53 am

Oh how this post and the images spot to me!
Thank you!
Blessings from Hong Kong,

amy - October 7, 2009 - 7:21 am

Bless you sweet friend for being vulnerable ūüôā God is teaching me to trust him for fulfillment and not my ways of doing good here and there…still on this journey of pruning but it is beyond freeing! I'm learning to see the beauty of resting in HIM!! Right now I am basking in staying a passionate wife to Ken, and being a voice for Sophie and Cole while serving others. xoxo

Loraena - June 5, 2010 - 1:42 am

I found your blog through Shawnda’s post of your video and wow, I love it! This tree exercise is ingenious. I’ll be doing it soon!