Sunday, December 12, 2010

Please stop and pray

Words cannot express what I have been thinking, feeling, and processing over the last few days.  We know a family, the Harrison's, who have twin baby girls (20 months old), and Evie Grace went to be with Jesus on Thursday morning.  I can't even imagine what the Harrison's are going through.  I try to...I have bent my heart to Jesus, begging Him to be so tangible to them right now as they walk through this horrific time. Even in prayer, sometimes I just can't find the words.  I know and am trusting that the Holy Spirit is interceding for them.  I am trusting in God's Word and His character.  I cannot get this sweet family off of my mind.  I think about a lot of things that are hard and painful, and I cannot wrap my little human brain around them.  One thing that has stuck out to me over the last few days is my yearning for heaven.  Oh how beautiful to see all things new.  When all promises are fulfilled.  When there is true shalom.  When there is no more sin, and we see our Savior for all that He is.  Until then, I will continue to seek God with all that I am, even when things don't make sense.

Please keep the Harrison's in your prayers...Alicia, Jonathan, and twin sister Ramsey.

Here is their family blog:  www.threedoodles.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good Morning!

Oh, dear!  Olivia is definitely my early riser.  She has woken up at 4:30 for the day many times.  We don't let her get up then, but she can read or play quietly in her room or the playroom when we know she really isn't going to go back to sleep.  I also love early mornings, so usually I am up reading, and she is doing something in another room until breakfast time.

Well, this particular morning, I come around the corner and this is how I found her:



Oh, I hope the details show up on this, but this is not my computer, so I had to get the picture on in a different way.  Anyway, she was wearing a purple princess crown that she made on her 3rd bday, pink and black butterfly wings, a sleeveless blue princess velour top, a random dress up skirt, pink camo slippers,  and a clear backpack as a "purse" with TONS of jewelry in it.  I turned the corner, and she just looked at me so normally, and said, "Hi."  What?  It is 5:30 am.  LOVE THIS KID!  She keeps me rollin!

My precious girl!

My sweet littlest girl got her first haircut!!  I have actually been begging for this for a long time, because the poor thing has had quite the mullet.  Her daddy wanted to let it grow to see if it would get past that awkward stage.  Well, it did grow out...but it was still a mullet...just a longer one.  Nice.

He finally caved and let me take her to get it cut, and it is so precious!  He even agreed!  Here are some pics: before, during, and after.  Excuse the quality, they were the only ones I had! :)


see:  a long mullet.  Business in the front, party in the back, as they would say (whoever "they" are!).  Sorry, Elle.  And, yes, that is me trying to back away to avoid any picture that day!





Sweet Monica (cutting her hair)!  When I got there, I told her she was cutting Eliana's hair today and she said, "I'm so excited!"  My response: "I am glad YOU are!"  

Anyone who knows my sweet girl knows she loves to say "NO!" to anything and everything.  I knew this would be a battle.  Sure enough, I take a couple of steps towards Monica's chair, and she starts in: "No, Mommy, No, Mommy, No!!!!!"  The screaming begins!

Anyone who knows my sweet girl knows her love of sweets.  Monica gave her a candy cane, and won her over.  She ended up doing great!  

Here she is right after the haircut:




You can't tell a lot from the picture, but it is adorable!

Bye-Bye, Mullet!

December #'s!

We got our December numbers from our agency this week!

Here they are!
Girls list: 69
Boys list: 47
Siblings: 34


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In honor of the last day of November...

I am going to post our November numbers!!  Ha!  (We get them in the beginning of the month...) For anyone who is keeping up, maybe this will just make you extra-excited because it will look like we jumped a lot in just one week! :)

So, here you go:
On the girls list we are 75
On the boys list we are 48
On the siblings list we are 41

This has been such a sweet journey for us this far, and I am so thankful that the Lord has led us here...on a journey to pick up the newest little Crenshaw in Ethiopia.  We pray for protection so often, and just wonder what he/she is doing right now.  As we sit around the Christmas tree reading a verse for the Advent season, is he/she being read to?  As we kiss our kids goodnight and snuggle with them while we read, is he/she being cuddled and rocked?  As we eat and talk around the dinner table each night, is he/she getting regular meals?  We think about him/her all the time...and we can't wait to go to Ethiopia!!!


Here are some things from the last month...

Eliana turned TWO!  I still can't believe it!  She wanted a Minnie Mouse birthday party, so we had a little family get together at the park.  Here she is opening presents and then her Minnie Mouse birthday cake!
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I am on a different computer tonight, so I can't figure out how to get these pictures positioned right!


We headed to Knoxville  a few weeks ago to see family and take Austin to his first UT football game!  It was awesome!  Here is a picture of all the cousins, and then us at the game!


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(LOVE those sweet nephews!)



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The next weekend we headed to Newbern to have an early Thanksgiving!  We had a great time at Mema's and then Aunt Blair hosted us for Thanksgiving dinner!

Here is a picture of Aunt Blair and Baby Joey (!!!) with our girls:


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We had a great Thanksgiving in Memphis, and my grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins all came up from AL.  I have no idea why I don't have any pictures, but it was a sweet time!

We closed the weekend with some Christmas decorating!  Here are the kids in front of the tree:


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 Shew!  How is that for a November recap!?!   I will post our numbers in a few days when we get them!! :)



                                        

Friday, October 15, 2010

New numbers

It has been a while since we got these numbers, but I have been terrible at keeping up on here.
So...OCTOBER NUMBERS:

Girl list: 84
Boy list: 60
Siblings list: 51

I am so thankful so many referrals have gone out!  It seems like now that the courts have opened back up, there has been a lot of movement!  More kiddos going to their forever families!  :)

Here is a picture of my sweet Eliana thinking that she is as big as her brother and sister (don't worry...she was only pretending...I don't really let her ride in a booster!)




And, they opened up a "Greenline" in Memphis!  It is awesome!  A paved path for bikers, runners, walkers, etc...all through the city of Memphis.  One of the entrances is in our neighborhood, so we enjoyed that with Nana, Pa, Uncle C, Aunt K,  and the cousins last weekend! :



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

long overdue...

Woo-hoo!  I am back with some great news!  We are OFFICIALLY ON THE WAITLIST for our child(ren)!!!!!


I am so excited!  All of the paperwork that we worked on and waited on...complete...in the hands of our awesome adoption agency! So, that means that we got "official" numbers.  Our numbers are:

On the girl list: 94
On the boy list: 66
On the sibling list: 54

YAY!  We are on all of the lists, and approved for ages 0-18 months.  Some families are obviously only on the girl list or only on the boy list, or only on the sibling list.  Some are on all of them. So, if a 4 year old boy is at our orphanage in Ethiopia, he will be referred to a family who is approved for that age in their home study.  People with numbers 1-25 might not be open to an older child.  Let's say number 26 is...then number 26 will receive the referral for that little boy.  So, they don't always go in order and MANY factors effect it: age parameters, special needs, etc.  If they give out 2 girl referrals, we could move forward on all the lists if those families are on all of the lists.  Does that make sense?  I know it is kind of confusing!

So, now what am I doing??  I am working on getting off our USCIS application tomorrow.  Basically, this allows our child to get a visa to come into the United States.  I am also working on grant applications!

I have one complete and sent in and 2 more are in the works! I just need to pause right here and say how amazed I am at what God has provided for us financially thus far:
We have raised over $14,000 from all of you AMAZING, GENEROUS people out there!!!!!!!!  That is so amazing to me!  It has been an incredible journey with the Lord to see Him provide through so many...some strangers!...for this sweet life!  I would guess that we are about halfway there!!  I am not sure the exact total, because it has changed with the now-required two trips.  So, that is 5 plane tickets instead of 3, etc. I need to work on those numbers so I can get a realistic picture.

I will keep you updated on the grants and all of the movement on the lists!

Here is a picture of the kids before we mailed off the dossier:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

precious song

I came across this sweet song, and it brought much needed encouragement to me today.  Sweet to think about for ourselves and also a sweet refreshing perspective for parenting.



Here are the words:
Long before you drew your first breath,
the dream was coming true

God wanted to give a gift to the world,
so he wrapped it up in you

Every step that you've taken,
every move that you make is part of his plan

You were meant to be touching the lives that you've touched
And meant to be here making this world so much more than it would be without you in it
You were meant to be bringing the gifts you bring

And singing the songs you've been given to sing
You were perfectly, wonderfully, beautifully meant to be
You were meant to be

Long before you took your first walk
and stumbled to the ground
God started telling the story of you
to the angels gathered round
Every failure and victory, and everything in between,
it's all in his hands

You were meant to be touching the lives that you've touched
And meant to be here making this world so much more than it would be without you in it
You were meant to be bringing the gifts you bring
And singing the songs you've been given to sing
You were perfectly, wonderfully, beautifully meant to be
You were meant to be

You are, you are, you are meant to be

For every breath that you're taking, and every move that you make

It's a meaningful life you've been given, so live it well

Monday, August 23, 2010

SO VERY EYE-OPENING!!

Oh my goodness...
I clicked on this blog that I follow of an AMAZING girl in Uganda, and saw this image:

I was sitting with Austin and just couldn't believe what I saw.  That sweet woman is 23 years old.  And weighs less than my 6 year old son.  He was wondering what all the "oh my goodness, oh my goodness" was about so he starting looking at it with me.  He said, "That makes me feel so weird, mom."  Yes, it does.  For so many reasons:  you want to do SOMEthing, you want to know her story, you want to share what we have, you wonder why we have what we have and other people don't, you want to know how she feels, you want to shower her with love through the computer screen, it makes you angry, sad, fearful that she will die, and just "heavy" in general.  It is so sad.  I just wanted to share to keep us reminded that there is so much that we don't think about day in and day out that is happening around the world.  So sobering.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

going backwards??

So, I was so excited to post that last update, because I felt like we were SUPER close to getting on the waitlist.  Well, they say to expect the unexpected with adoptions, right? 

One of the things that our awesome agency (AGCI) tells us to look for on all of our documents that are notarized (almost every piece of paperwork in the dossier) is that the notary's name matches their signature.  Sometimes people are in the habit of signing their nickname or whatever.  So...I got everything notarized.  Checked the signature...yep!  Matches the stamp!  I take it downtown where parking is crazy with my 3 sweet, young kiddos to get a document (just one!) county certified.  We play all kinds of whispering games to keep quiet while we wait and wait and wait. To hear the news, "I am so sorry, Ma'am, we have a problem.  The notary applied to be a notary with the name Missy.  Her stamp says Myronette.  We cannot certify this." Apparently to certify it (I had no clue) they go back and get their paperwork that was filed to be a notary and make sure they are legit.

WHAT??  I just looked at him with a blank stare I am sure, and thought through all of the documents that have been notarized by the SAME GIRL.  All but a few in our dossier.  That means we have to redo all of them.  Wow.  So, we head out the door, and I am feeling so defeated.  I thought that that was the last of all of the paperwork.

So, we get in the car, and I am just reminded by the Lord that HE is in control.  HE designed our family.  HE knows who we will get the opportunity to love, care for, and raise on earth.  And even this little detail has so much to do with that.  Because of Missy's application...because we got her to notarize most of our things...we will have a different child.  God is THAT SOVEREIGN! That is amazing to me. 

I press on, being faithful to complete the paperwork and work hard on it...jumping through all of the hoops that we need to to make it to our little one in Ethiopia...and trusting God in His plan and timing all the while.

Now, back to paperwork since the kiddos are sleeping peacefully!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

another update!

A few posts ago, I updated where we were in the dossier preparation.   Here is what we had left, and now what we have crossed out (yes, I added one...):

  • Get some documents notarized (we are doing that this afternoon!)
  • Get our power of attorney county and state certified
  • Application letter (telling Ethiopia why we want to adopt)
  • 2 more online classes for adoptive parent training
  • take pictures of our house
  • once it is reviewed....make 3 copies!  That is IT!
  • Get last letter of recommendation notarized

So...I am getting the power of attorney county certified today and sending it off to get state certified.  Maybe I will clean the house and take pictures tonight!

Our home study is being revised just a little right now, but is basically approved by our adoption agency.  That will also go into our dossier.

It really has been so much easier than I thought!  Thank you, Lord!  It just took walking through it for it all to make sense.  There are just certain things that were intimidating, I think.  I can remember when I was in high school going to a college, looking at how huge it was, and thinking, "How do they even know what to do or where to go.  This is huge! The professors expect so much out of you, you have to figure out how a meal plan works, what each professor wants, where to buy books without a car, etc, etc, etc."  I felt like that with this paperwork. When I first started, I didn't know really what a dossier was...I had heard it tossed around, and knew that is was a bunch of paperwork.  But, I didn't know the difference between that and the home study, and when you do what.  I didn't have a clue as to what I should do first, what took more time to get back, what to send where, etc. Walking through this process has been an honor.  I have loved learning more about adoption and not feeling on the "outskirts" trying to look in.  It has been an honor to "chase" after our child and trust God for His sovereign timing in our family.  What a HUGE blessing!  I praise the Lord for His hand in all of this, and giving us this amazing journey!  This is only the very beginning of it unfolding!

Florida!

Brian got the awesome opportunity to go serve in Haiti last month, and the kids and I headed to Florida to visit Chad, Karen, and the kiddos!  We had so much fun!  We got to go to the pool, the beach, hang out with cousins, live their "normal" life with them, going to the Y, etc.  Brian met up with us after his amazing trip, and we had a few extra days of vacationing with him, too!  Here are some pictures from our time:

Ha!  We got these things from the dollar bin at Target, and they thought they were the coolest!!  Too funny!  So, here was naptime in the car!:



Time at the pool!  Em and Lil'C are incredible swimmers!  It was really fun to watch them!


Eliana wanted to join in the goggle fun:




Beach time!:






Every Friday night on the island, they have live music around this little pond area... here is Uncle Chad and Eliana having a little conversation and eating popcorn:


Some chill time for all the cousins... (can you tell who lives at the beach!?! :) )



on the way home, Eliana wanted to wear the little eye things!!  She looked hilarious!:



Thank you, Woelke's, for an awesome time!!!  We CANNOT WAIT for you to be here in just a week!

The Carrolls

My dear friend, Ashleigh, and her hubby brought home their fourth child, who was adopted from Ethiopia.  Here are our kiddos and theirs (minus Jones :( ) playing while we were talking about what their parents were doing in Ethiopia that day:



The girls LOVE each other!!

And, the boys do, too!  Of course, they were doing manly things like building a house or something...


Here are the Carrolls coming HOME with Abigail!!!!!!   I am so excited for them!  It has been such a privilege to watch them walk through both of their adoptions! Here is a whole CREW waiting to meet her!


And...here is the first time everyone saw them!:



Charis was SO PRECIOUS...wanting to hold her hand the whole time.  She seriously would not let go of her new sister's hand the whole time I saw her!

So, so sweet...a daddy and his two girls!:


Ugh!  I just love this family so much!  Welcome home, Abigail! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Angels Rejoicing!!!!!!

I am super excited tonight!!!!  Our sweet Olivia gave her life to Christ!  The angels are still probably throwing a party!!  It makes me awe-filled when I think of our stories of how God woos us, saves us, has patience with us, and loves us!

Here was our tonight...normal day, normal turned up noses at our dinner: chicken pot pie, normal squeals of delight at some ice cream for dessert, normal bathtime...you get the picture...

Personally, I have been begging the Lord for some not-so-normal for a little while now. My "normal" can be trying to do things on my own, not relying on God, not having a passionate prayerlife, etc.  Nothing in me wants normal.  I want to be radically sold out for Christ.  Radically trusting Him.  Radically submitted and a source of support and encouragement for my sweet husband. Radically loving and patient with my children.  I can do nothing without him.  Sure, I can do "behavior modification" for myself or my children, but I do not want that at all.  I want what He wants.  He is an amazing God.  I have been wrestling through  that lately and trying to be aware of my self-reliance when I fall into that. 

So anyway (that was for you, Carrie!), back to our "normal" night...Olivia was pestering Austin trying to beat him to the stool to brush their teeth.  I hear them bickering as I give Eliana a breathing treatment.  Austin is trying to be patient with her and then comes in to me..."Mom, didn't you say for me to brush my teeth first and then help Olivia??"  Yes..."Olivia, come here, please..."

Olivia (as precious and free spirited and joyful as she is!!!) has had a bit of a new normal lately:  SIN.  She has been trying to antagonize, disobey, annoy her siblings to get a reaction, struggling with a lot of fear, etc.  Well, I sat there on the floor in Eliana's room, and just prayed to myself, "Lord, I have no idea what to do.  You need to help me.  This is so frustrating. (this has been happening a lot and obviously we haven't solved the problem)."  Well, I just started talking about sin, and how hard it has been for her lately, and then talked about how she had power over that if she gives her life to Jesus and trusts him for the forgiveness of her sins and relies on Him for her strength in that...

We just talked about the gospel...what it really meant that Jesus died for her sins...what it means to be forgiven...what it means to live to glorify God.  I told her (very seriously, b/c she tends to almost never be serious!) that this was the biggest decision she would ever make...she said she wanted to be a Christian, and wanted to pray with me! So, we did!  Sweet little her...oh, it brings tears just typing this!  She prayed so seriously and was SO EXCITED to be a Christian!  Daddy was gone, so we called him, and then she wanted to send out some texts to share her life change!

Here is a picture of my sweet girl...and my sister in Christ:


Father God, thank you so much for such a great, miraculous night.  Your grace is amazing to me.  Only through you, we can have peace, joy, love, forgiveness, kindness, repentance.  Thank you that Olivia is a Christ-follower!  I pray that she would follow you passionately and whole-heartedly ALL the days of her life.  I pray that she would obey you not out of obligation, but out of love.  I pray that she would have a deep relationship with you and that in the overflow of that, she would love others well and show them who you are. Thank you that tonight, she is a NEW creation!  I love you, sweet Jesus!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Knoxville Crenshaws!

I wanted to catch up and post some pics of our sweet time with the Knoxville Crenshaws!  We had a great time!

My nephews are super sweet, and it was great to get to be around them!  My kids had a ball with them, and there were plenty of tears when they left!!!

Mimi and Pops came in town one day to hang out with the whole gang!  Fun memories!  Here are some pics:

One day Becky and I took the kids to "My Big Backyard."  It was so much fun!  The two biggest boys were in the top of the house, and here they are peeking out!  I have no idea how they fit up there??:



When Mimi and Pops came, we enjoyed some time outside...had a Star Wars (of course!) pinata, played baggo, ate popsicles, and had great fellowship!

Babies in diapers with popsicles...priceless!  Gotta love summer days!




I can't believe we got a picture with Mimi, Pops, all the grandkids, and everyone is smiling!!!! (well, maybe not Eliana...)

One day, Brian and Brent took the biggest boys to a fishing rodeo!  They had so much fun, and caught some HUGE fish! (and all on their own!!...the dads could only help bait the hook and put the fish in the net after they reeled it in!!)  Austin actually won a bike for catching the biggest fish!  We were so excited for him!!

Here are the fishermen:


What a fun time we had! 

Making Progress!!!

Everyone has been asking for an adoption update...here it is!  YAY!

Okay, I am SO CLOSE to having ALL of our paperwork done!!!  I must say that when I first got started, it was all just overwhelming.  I had heard from almost everyone that there were mountains of paperwork involved in an international adoption.  So, I had some weeks that I was just paralyzed, and didn't do anything!  With life and three other kiddos, I felt like I had to "stop" everything and turn on paperwork.  Then, right when I would get going, someone would wake up from a nap or dinner would need cooking or whatever. I say all of that to say that there were a few times that I just sat down to knock some things out.  And...it wasn't that bad!!  At all!!!  If I could do it all over again, I would not be so intimidated to be paralyzed in it.  I think it would go quicker.  I realized (after I was done and looking at it) that I could just do one paper at a time...that was okay...just put it in the "completed" pile and check it off.  Sometimes I feel like I wouldn't make any progress if I did it that way.  I guess I am too "high-closure!"

Anyway, here is what I have been working on:
  • 4 online classes for adoptive parent training completed!
  • adoptive parent training handbook completed!
  • the home study is completed...it just needs to be revised a little and sent off for approval!
  • all birth certificates and our marriage license are in!
  • My passport renewal has been ordered!
  • We have all had physicals and gotten our medical forms notarized!
  • Our criminal check is done!
  • Our employment verification letters are done!
  • All of our letters of recommendation are done!
  • Our financial statement is done!
  • Our power of attorney is done!
  • Our post adoption commitment letter is done!
Still have left to do:
  • Get some documents notarized (we are doing that this afternoon!)
  • Get our power of attorney state certified
  • Application letter (telling Ethiopia why we want to adopt)
  • 2 more online classes for adoptive parent training
  • take pictures of our house
  • once it is reviewed....make 3 copies!  That is IT!
I CAN'T WAIT TO BE WAITING!!!!!!!!!  I think about that sweet child so much! 


As far as finances goes...we have raised $14, 024!!!!!!!  WOW!!!  Thank you, God!!!!!  We have truly been brought to tears at this provision from the Lord!  So much sacrificial giving...thank you all SO MUCH!

I need to number-crunch, but with the two trips that are now required, I think we need about $12,000 more.  Do your thing, God!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SUMMER!!!!

I LOVE SUMMER!!!  AHHH!!!!  Love it!!!  No real schedule, time to relax and play, road trips, time with cousins, time with friends, fun activities, pool time, flowers, warm sun, fresh cut grass...LOVE IT!

We are excited about our time together as a family with Austin out of school.  I have some projects on the list of "to-dos," but really just trying to enjoy the "moments!"  Along with summer comes some arguing with siblings for sure, so we are focusing on some new rules and trying to seek the Lord to change hearts!  (We all need more of Him and less of us!  Amen?...we need to put others above ourselves and respond in humility...amen?) So, you can pray for all of us about that!  I do NOT want behavior modification in out kids (or in us!), I want heart change...a deeper understanding of the gospel and God's grace and love.

Anyway, here are some fun pictures from our summer so far:

I am not kidding that we were so desperate for a pool a few weeks ago that this is what we used:  

(Liv and ES)


I can't believe they thought this was fun...or that they thought it was a pool...I guess it is the little things!


Having a ball at the pool!  I LOVE those big grins! 


Here is some family fun at Putt-Putt:

(Nana and Austin riding gocarts)


(Daddy and Livi)

(Nana and Pa with the kids on the bumper boats!)

(Eliana had fun watching!!)


After some fun at the pool, Austin decided he wanted to lay down on his towel.  His little sis cuddled right up, and Olivia was soon to follow!  It was too cute, I had to capture it!


Happy Summer! 














Sunday, May 30, 2010

Another big day!!!

It has been a party week for the Crenshaws!  This is our first experience with end of the year school parties!  We had so much fun!  Austin's teachers helped them make class t-shirts with a self-portait of all of his classmates...they were super cute!  Everyone wore them to a bowling party to celebrate a great kindergarten year! Here is a picture:

I am so thankful!  What a great year!  Thank you especially to Mrs. Lindsey and Mrs. Perry!

One to the birthdays...
We got to celebrate my sweet hubby with the family with his favorite: pizza and heath bar cake!  Yum! Here are some cute pictures:

Brian blowing out his pretend candles...




And Olivia trying to make sure he is surprised with his present:


We love you so much, Brian!  You are an amazing leader of our family....thank you for all you do!

And last, here are some pictures from Olivia's birthday party.  We had so much fun!  She wanted an Ariel theme, so we had all kinds of water fun...slip-n-slide, pools, and games.   We love you, sweet girl!  It was so much fun to celebrate you!



(Above): some of the kids ready to slip-n-slide!
(Below):  Mr. John made Daddy do the "Pin the flowers on Ariel" since it was his birthday, too!  It was so funny!


Liv with Mommy and Daddy about to blow out candles:



Eliana "reading"...ha! :


Just having a conversation with Jones:


On her new bike!:


Happy Birthday, Brian and Olivia!