Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day...4???

Can't keep track now of what day it is!

We had an eventful day!  We got picked up at 8:30 to head to court.  It was an adventurous ride that wasn't agreeing with Brian's stomach! Poor guy, he felt so sick!  After driving through a lot of Addis, we picked up the man who was sort of representing us...in the court room with us.  We went to the court then and walked up a bunch of stairs which is way harder than you think at this high altitude :)  and waited in the courtroom area for about an hour.

Our orphanage was called, and we went in to where the judge was.  We were asked many questions like, "Do you have other kids?  Do they know you are adopting?  Are you around others who have adopted?  Have you received training?  Have you learned about Ethiopian culture?  Have you met your child? Do you realize that this is FINAL after everything is cleared?"  Yes, yes, yes, yes...!!!!!!

She then said that our daughter's case was complete and everything was FINALIZED!  AHHH...music to my ears!  Thank you, Jesus!  We were so thrilled!!!! It was really just the sweetest feeling to hear that. There could have been a number of things that could have led us to not passing, so I was SO VERY thankful to the Lord!!

From there, we went to a market to shop a little and then to an Italian restaurant.  It was good, but what we loved was the art that was there!  Local artists who sell in a "gallery" that is the restaurant.  There were some really cool things.

We came back to the hotel for 45 minutes or so and then got to go back to Hannah's Hope!  We had a lot of fun!  We played soccer, colored, played with her baby, sang songs, and played ball.  Precious time.  She cried when we took her from her room to play outside, but she was fine after a couple of minutes.  She even gave me a kiss goodbye!!!!  :)

Tonight we are getting a GOOD night's rest and waking up to pack and spend the day with our little girl before we head back home.  Our flight leaves at 11 pm or something like that, and then we will be back home Thursday afternoon.  Pray for our goodbyes if you think about it.  I am sure our little one will be JUST FINE...Mommy might not be! :)

WE PASSED COURT!!!!!

I am so thankful to tell you that we passed court today!!!!!  Those were such sweet words to hear..."We have all of your paperwork, and your file is complete.  Everything is finalized."  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Yahoo!!!!  That means according to Ethiopia, our daughter is a Crenshaw!  Now we just have to go through the US Embassy, and we are hoping that we will be back in this amazing country in a month!  There is no guarantee for that...there could still be red tape in that process, but we are hoping!


Thank you for praying!  Just wanted to update before we head back to Hannah's Hope to see our daughter for a bit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 3...

Here is a picture from last night's traditional Ethiopian dinner...

Instead of using utensils, they use a bread that you can unroll and tear off, and then you scoop up the food with it and eat it!



And here is the picture of a "coffee ceremony" that is common here.  They pop popcorn, roast the coffee beans right there with you, and then ground them and brew it.  They bring it out with incense burning.


Today we went to see our daughter first thing.  It was a great time!  She continues to warm up more and more to us.  Still clinging to her "special mommies" and all things familiar, of course!  Definitely to be expected.  Her favorite things today were listening to music, playing with her baby doll, playing ball, and "cleaning" my arm with a wipe!  She still loves peek-a-boo and gets really giggly! It is the most precious sound!  And her voice...LOVE her little voice!  It is so cute!

We also got to go to the orphanage where she was very briefly before Hannah's Hope.  We wanted to bring a gift to them, so we bought them a goat on the way there with another family that is here.  It was quite the experience!  Haggling the cost, picking the goat, and then bringing him to the orphanage.  It is quite the memory to have!  Here is a picture with one of our friends from Hannah's Hope who drives us everywhere...


Tomorrow is our court date!!!!  We leave first thing in the morning!  Please pray that we pass court!!!  We were told to expect that we won't, but there have been some other families passing, so maybe they are all caught up on paperwork!  We will see!  Praying for great news tomorrow!



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Meeting Our Daughter

Oh my goodness...I don't have all the words (probably never will!) to describe today!  I REALLY wish that I could put her picture on here so you guys could see just how precious she is!  But...soon enough!  As soon as we get her on the second trip, we can!

So... We didn't know quite what to expect and really didn't want to have any expectations for how our little girl (sorry...can't post her name either) would respond to us when we saw her for the first time.  We just prayed.  Prayed for her little heart that is probably so confused.  Only God can give her a peace about what is happening in her life.  Only God can know what all is going on in her little mind.  Her eyes show a lot...she is so curious, and apprehensive, too.

She was very unsure of us at the beginning.  I praise God that she is VERY loved and attached to her special mommies...one in particular.  It was precious to see their bond.  I longed for her to trust us...to know that we will always love her.  But as a child of God, I respond the same way she did.  Trusting the things that I KNOW and that are tangible.  God is so trustworthy, but I had to learn that.  I had to learn that He really is who He says He is.  He really will do what He says He will do. And, I am still learning those things! So, today, I am drawn to the Lord more...to TRUST Him more.  As I try to put myself in my little girls shoes and imagine what it is like to go through the things that she has gone through and the loss that she has experienced, I long for her to rest in our arms...I long to be Christ to her.  I want her to know that our God is a Redeemer.  And, I am so glad that she didn't trust us right away...that she doesn't give it away freely.

This trip has also left me amazed at the beauty of God's creation.  Watching people in the airport  from so many different places, all looking so different...so beautiful!  God is so creative!

It has also left me amazed at God's presence in all of our lives.  We are all doing different things, going different places.  Some suffering, some worrying, some thankful, some angry, some unjust, some fighting on behalf of injustice, some sick, some healed, some joyful, and some with deep pain.  He is there.  Through it all.  He knows it all, and He is with us.  That has been amazing for me to ponder.

So we got to hang out with our little girl for a good while this morning, and towards the end, she interacted with us more and more. We got to go back in the afternoon, and God gave us some sweet moments of smiles and even laughter and fun times playing together.  We got to see her little personality some while we just watched her interact.  She is just so precious.  So helpful and loving to the other kiddos.

This evening we got to go to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant and it was so much fun!  Singing, dancing, and I even liked some of the food!  :)

Tomorrow we get to spend most of the day with our little girl!  I can't wait to get to know her some more!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

YAHOO!!!!!

Hello from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!!!!!  We are SO THANKFUL to be here and in our hotel room!!  God was so good to give us smooth flights...only one time we had an hour delay, but it all worked out GREAT!

Here we are about to head out of town!  The car all packed with 3 tubs of donations and a checked bag for us, too!  Thank you to all who donated to our transitional home!  They will be so blessed by everything!



Here are some other pictures from the airport and on the way! :)

Below is us going from NJ to Frankfurt, Germany.  It was so weird to be flying through time zones and totally missing a significant number of hours!  The darker part is where it was night, and then we were flying into the lighter part, which was daytime.


In Frankfurt, I needed some caffine! 


Last leg of the trip!!:


Getting so close....


And...we are HERE!  



We met up with a super sweet couple who are also adopting through our agency, so they got our picture when we got in!  

When we arrived in Addis, we were welcomed with a three hour wait to get our travel visa!  Shew!!  There is a HUGE conference in town that starts tomorrow, so it was a bit crazy at the airport!  But, we made it!  Our sweet driver said he waited 4 hours for us!  

I look exhausted in those pictures, and I am...so I am headed to get some rest before we meet our little one! :)  CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!



Sunday, November 27, 2011

God's is so faithful!

Just wanted to update everyone and give glory to God that He provided ALL of the rest of the funding that we needed to go get our little girl!! We received an incredible matching grant from Brittany's Hope, and the auction that I posted about was a huge success!  the people that bought items were able to have it doubled through that grant! :)  I have to be honest and say that when you first see the amount of money it takes to adopt, and then look at your bank account...and see the large discrepancies there, it can be daunting!  We asked the Lord to provide and trusted Him to do just that!  We have been so privileged to get to see first hand God provide for His children.  It has been so amazing!!!  He has used individual donors, a yard sale, a grant, and an auction to bring our daughter home! We have been so blessed by the generosity of family, friends, and complete strangers!  There are so many people who are bringing this little girl home...not just us!  And, words cannot even express how grateful we are!

I am so thankful that our kids are beginning to learn this lesson, too.  Last week at church, they were talking about God's faithfulness and I think they asked the kids to tell about how God has been faithful in their lives.  This is what Austin did...


(If you can't see it, it says, "Breaking News!!  God is faithful because He led the Israelites across the sea.  Last year I was waiting for my sister to come to my house.  But I waited some more, and now it is 12 days!)  He meant it was 12 days (now 5!!) till we traveled for court.  Sadly, we still have to wait another month or two till she gets to come home.

Oh my goodness, how this blessed me!!  Thank you, Lord, for showing your faithfulness (not only to us, but to our children as well!) through this process!

That was last week at church.  This week, I stayed home with everyone in their PJs.  The girls have been sick this week, and there is still a lingering cough that I didn't want to pass around to friends! :)

So, here we are...



Making sugar cookies!  :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Want a preview??

Just wanted to tell you that you can go to my husband's blog to see some preview pictures of some of the art that will be featured at the auction TOMORROW NIGHT! :)

Here is the link:

briancrenshaw.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

AUCTION!!!!!

Come one, come all!!!!  We are having an auction (featuring many paintings from my amazingly talented husband, as well as many other donated items!!!) to raise the remainder of the money that we need to travel (twice!) to go get our little girl from Ethiopia!

Some sweet friends of ours are hosting this special event, and we are so excited!  Please tell ANYone that is interested in art, auctions, orphan care, or just a date night!  It is this coming Saturday night, November 12!  See the invitation below!

If you are unable to make it, please pray for the night and that God would bring people and it would be a blessing to others, as well as our family as we prepare to leave!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Want to help me??

When we go to Ethiopia, we will bring some big tub containers of donations for the transitional home (Hannah's Hope) that our daughter is in.  It is a fabulous place with a wonderful staff who love all of the kids there really, really well.

One reason why they are able to provide for the children's needs so well is because of the donations that families bring over when they come.

We would love for anyone to be able to be involved in helping with donations!

I would love to be able to provide  for Hannah's Hope so they can continue to do what they are doing so well...caring for these sweet children!  Here is a list that our agency sent out with "urgent needs" just last week.


1.      Diapers (all sizes)
2.      Soy-based Formula
3.      Shoes and Clothing for Older Children (new or like-new)
4.      Shampoos, Conditioners, and Lotions for Older Children
5.      10-20 three-ring binders (2-3 inch)
6.      Cold medications for older children and adults
7.      Amoxicillin for all ages (250mg or 400mg)
8.      Whole Organic Flaxseed
9.      Slash Pocket Folders 
10.  Laptops, specifically one for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Mekelle, Tigray
11.  2-3 Pairs of Reading Glasses from CVS (actual prescription strength not known)

Here are some things that were mentioned that are on-going needs:

1. Baby Wipes
2. Bibs
3. Hand Sanitizer
4. Kleenex
5. Infant and Children's vitamins
6. Avent Bottles
7. Desitin (diaper rash cream)
8. age appropriate development toys for infants and toddlers
9. Blow up balls/outside toys
10. Sidewalk chalk
11. Bubbles
12. Children's DVDs or CDs
13. Men's and Women's deodorant
14. Good quality electric shaver
15. rechargeable camping lanterns (for when electricity is out)
16. Twin sheets (mainly flats) in children's patterns and colors (solid or print)


If you would like to help us with any of these items, please feel free to drop them off at my house at any time!  
If we aren't here, you can leave it on the porch!   You can email me, too, and I can pick them up!  Thank you, 
Thank you, thank you!!!

BIG WEEK!

This week was fabulous!!  WE GOT OUR COURT DATE!!!!!!  We will be heading to see our daughter in 33 days!  December 2!  We are so thankful to have gotten this news.  We got our referral on September 21, and then our court date on October 25(almost 5 weeks later).

After we return from court, it is usually 2 months until a family can travel back to pick up their child.  So, we are thinking that by Valentine's Day, we will have her home.  Of course, sometimes it is much longer than that, and we are praying it is even shorter than that!

We are so thankful that in less than five weeks, we will be able to meet our daughter!  We have many lists to check off between now and then, and it is going to be so much fun!  Packing, getting our daughter's room ready, getting shots (not so fun), gathering donations for Hannah's Hope (where our daughter lives now), and so much more!

We went out to eat to celebrate.  If you know us, you know we love Mexican, of course!  We don't love Ethiopian food (yet)!  So, our celebration night included one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.  I had to show you this picture...

Austin took a bite out a chip and then looked at it and said, "Look!  It is Africa!"  :)



We were so excited to get that phone call that we could book our flights to see our daughter!!!  When I picked Austin up from school, I told him I got a very important phone call that day.  He immediately said, "WE GOT A COURT DATE FOR ETHIOPIA!" (Actually he said his little sister's name that I wish I could post!!! :) )

Other fun stuff:

Pumpkin Carving!!  Even better...this time next year our little girl (Lord willing!) will be carving pumpkins with us! :)

(our precious, joyful Olivia!)

(Daddy and Austin working on his little pumpkin he picked out!)

We also got to go to the pumpkin patch with the Carrolls again this year!  We try to make that a tradition!  Here are the kiddos at the growth chart there:


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Next Steps!

We are so thankful for all of the love and support of everyone on our journey to bring home our little girl!  So many people are asking what comes next, so I thought I would pass along the next steps to you here.

In Ethiopia, they are translating our documents and information and combining it with the information of our little girl to make one file. It will be submitted it to the courts to get a court date.  The courts have been closed for the last two months because of rainy season.  They close every year for August and September.  They just reopened TODAY!!!  We are hoping to hear about our scheduled court date SOON! :)

After we pass court, we will be submitted to the US Embassy.  Our Embassy appointment is the final step.  We will take one trip for about a week for the court date, and then usually about 2 months later, we will return to Ethiopia for another week (Embassy).  On that trip, we can bring our little girl home.

We are hoping to travel sometime in December for our first trip (court), and then bring her home in February or March.  One thing that our social worker was very clear on was that this court/Embassy process is VERY unpredictable. You just never know what is going to happen with the court system, extra paperwork or research that they might require, etc.  We are praying for no bumps in the road!

So...prayer requests:


  • Our little girl's safety, health, and adjustment in a different place.  I can't even imagine the things that she is thinking/feeling right now.  I am sure she is so confused.  There will be so much that she has to grieve:  the loss of her family, friends, culture... all things known to her.  Please just pray that God will comfort her little heart as only He can!
  • Pray for our family to be prepared for this change...for wisdom for us in parenting each one of our kids and preparing their hearts for their little sister!  They are so excited!
  • Pray for us to pass court quickly and without any problems.
  • Finances!  We are hoping to hear back this week from a grant we applied for to help with all of the travel costs.  It is a matching grant, and we are going to have an art sale to raise money for it!  more to come on that later...


Thanks for praying for us!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

THE CALL!!!!!

The amazing call that changed everything!  Adoption can be compared to pregnancy in some different ways...everyone likes to joke that people are "paper pregnant" when they are working on their adoption paperwork.  Well, the night we got THE CALL!!!  can be compared to looking at our positive pregnancy test.  Everything changes.  But, you don't even know what will change!  You don't know what is in store, but you could not be more excited!  You just jump around the room in amazement!

September 21, 2011.  Just before 5:00 pm.  Brian came home a little early because he was wanting to spend time with us as he had to go back to work that night after the kids went to bed.

(sidenote:  Earlier that morning, I had emailed our case worker ("B") with our agency, AGCI, to see of we could extend our age parameters to 0-28 months so that we wouldn't have to redo our homestudy (again!!) as Eliana got older.  Our agency typically stays in birth order, and the adopted child must be 10 months younger than your youngest child...essentially, however a birth could happen "naturally" in your family is how they get their parameters.  They feel that all of the children adjust better that way. )


So, I was bathing the girls and Brian came upstairs and said "B" called on your phone.  Then she called on my phone.  She needs to talk to us tonight.  I was completely NOT thinking our referral...at first I didn't even know he was talking about our case worker!!  Then, he clarified..."B" from All God's Children...

Then, I knew!!!  I started crying and saying, "THIS IS IT!!!!  THIS IS IT!!!!  IT IS OUR REFERRAL!!!!!!"  Brian wasn't so sure.  He told me to not freak out, that she probably was just responding to my email.  I was insistent!  I said, " Brian!  She would NEVER call on YOUR phone for that!!  I know this is it!!!"  He said, " Well, call her!"

She picked up the phone right away and said that she got my email (I am calmly saying, "Oh, yes...good..." And then!  She said, "But I REALLY want to talk to you about a LITTLE GIRL!!!!"  Oh, melt my heart!  I couldn't wait to hear every detail!  We both got on the phone and she went through all of the details that she knew of.  We put on a movie for the kids to distract them, and we asked our case worker every question we could think of!  She really wanted us to talk through her age (she is 28 months), as she is older than they originally wanted our parameters to be, and get back with her the next day.

We already knew we wanted to move forward!  I think I asked Brian 500 times that night, "Oh my goodness, what are you feeling right now!?!"  We sat down to eat about 20 minutes after we got off the phone.  We wanted to all look at her pictures together as a family (Our case worker went over all of her info, but then she puts it all together on an email with her pictures and sends it when you get off the phone.  They know we wouldn't hear a word she was saying if we could stare at her beautiful pictures the whole time!).  The kids are so excited and they talk about her all the time.  This morning Olivia made up a song about how we are "going to the airport to pick up _(my little sister!)__" They pray for her all the time, showed their classes her picture, and we talk about what she is doing at whatever time of day it is!

So, we pull up that email with her pictures...oh, melt my heart...we look through the first few, and then there is one that looks like she is looking in our eyes, ready for us to bring her to her forever home!  I still think about that moment and tears just well up in my eyes.  Our daughter.  She is amazing, and I don't even know her yet.

There are so many "God details" in all of it...

  • her name and what it means and means to us (We can't share her name or her picture until she is legally ours...sorry!!  But if you see us, stop us and ask and we will show you in person!  We can't put anything on the internet, though.) 
  • the age parameters and that I had JUST asked for "up to 28 months" that morning. She is 28 months.  Our case worker said, " I just had to laugh when I read that email!" 
  • The fact that Brian is a twin and has  experience with twins and how to encourage and give them separate identities (Because of Eliana's age compared to our newest little girl, they call that "artificial twinning").  
  • A couple of weeks after we decided to move forward in pursuing adoption (2009), she was born!
  • some significant dates in her life and what we were doing at the time

Well, the next day we had planned to go to Nashville (just Brian and I) to go to a conference that ShowHope was doing with Dr. Karyn Purvis.  It was incredible.  I admire her so much, and I love all of her research, studies, books, videos, and conferences!  She has researched and speaks/teaches on parenting children who "come from hard places."  Another post for another day, but it is incredible information.

So, we headed off for what Brian refers to as "The Amazing Race," adoption edition in Nashville!  We had some time-sensitive phone calls to make and reports to write up on our daughter and her transition to our family.  The first part of the day, we were in and out of the conference taking phone calls and heading to office stores to print, fax, etc!  It was hilarious looking back!

It was a sweet time filled with so much excitement! We canNOT wait to meet our sweet girl! Just before I started writing this post, I looked back over a little bit of our adoption journey.  Trusting in God's perfect will and sovereignty, and sifting through all of the unknowns.  Assuming we would get a referral right away, and wondering why we didn't.  I know that God already knew this little girl would be a Crenshaw.  He has orchestrated every step of her life and ours.  Hard times and good times...He knew they would all happen.  Any other time we would have gotten a referral, it wouldn't be HER.  I can't wait to let all of you meet her!!

Since I can't show yall a picture of her, I will leave you with one from last week.  We went to the beach, and it was a sweet time to get away as a family (my parents got to come, too!), have fun, relax a bit after a crazy couple of weeks, and connect!  But, we missed her so much. So, I will leave you with this:


I will post all of the "next steps" and prayer requests soon!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer

The rest of our summer was fun-filled!!

I got to go to camp with the students at our church for the first time!!  I have never gotten to go because of the ages of our kiddos, but we decided that with another Crenshaw coming soon (hopefully!), this was the summer to go!  It was God's sweet sovereignty because when we first started leading the youth group, the now 12th graders were then 7th graders.  These 7th grade girls were in my Bible study before I had more babies and stopped leading a group, so I got to experience their last camp as a high schooler.  It was really neat to see how the Lord has grown them.  They are amazing young women!!

Here are some camp pics:

Our precious room:


Here are the girls:


And the guys:



There were so many really powerful moments that week where God moved in the students' and leaders' hearts.  Towards the end of the week, our incredible camp pastor, Ricky Jenkins, talked about "dreams," and how we all have God-given dreams and to not lose sight of those things.  He talked about the older we get, our dreams go from a passionate "God use me to........" to "it would be nice if God would...." He asked Brian and I to share some dreams that God has placed on our hearts.  We shared about adoption and what God has done to teach us more about Himself and those in need.  We shared about how we would love to see more orphans placed in their "forever families" and also see light shed on the truth of the HIV crisis around the world.  Afterwards, we were presented with over $400 for our adoption raised by the students and staff that week.  This was so powerful...so amazing to me. I was "ugly crying" knowing that this group of believers (who did not bring "extra" money to camp!!!) rallied together and gave to our family.  I am still so humbled and so honored and so blessed.  Their generosity is amazing to me.  They are a huge part in bringing this little one home.
Moving on, now that I am ugly crying again just thinking about it...

So, while we were at camp, our kiddos were back home with Nana and Pa, and by the looks on their faces, I am sure you can see just how much they were missing us...


Treat for the day...BombPops!!


Making homemade ice cream!


My parents are so thoughtful...they even brought them to go serve others by cutting down fallen limbs from a storm!

Nana taught her to tie her shoes!!  YAY!!!!


Going to see Winnie the Pooh!


Yummy breakfast treat:  Donuts!


Bowling!

We are so blessed to have them in such great, loving, hands!! :)



We also got to spend some quality time with some of the Knoxville Crenshaw cousins!  Here they are at the sprinkler park together:



Mimi and Pops came in so everyone could be together!  Here they are with all of the grandkids (minus Luke :(   ):




A definite low-light from my summer...my dear friend Christy moved away.  Definitely excited about what God is doing in their life and very sad to see them move away. Love you, Christy, and I am so thankful for you!



We got to hang out with this litttle guy for a weekend while his parents were away:


We kept thinking all weekend that he could be the same age as the newest Crenshaw!  It was fun to watch the kids play "big brother/sister!"



One more thing we did this summer:  



PAPERWORK!!  Our home study had to be updated, so we started the paper chase again.  I am so glad to have that behind us again.  Maybe we won't have to update it again before we go to Ethiopia!!  


Praying, praying for that call to come SOON! 





Friday, May 27, 2011

Birthday season!

I am just so ecstatic that school is out!  Along with that comes birthday season at our house!  We have many birthdays back to back.

Today we celebrated our precious Olivia.  Oh, what joy she brings to our family!  She  is FULL of life, joy, emotions, and spunk!  I love it!  She reminds me to not be so serious in life.  She reminds me to take a little breath and lay down for "just one more song..." or "one more back-rub..." or "one more prayer..." I am so thankful to the Lord for giving us such a healthy, happy girl.

She loves "Tangled," so we had a "Tangled" birthday party today to celebrate her turning five!

Here are some pictures:



Here is the cake table:





Here is pin the hair on Rapunzel:





The birthday girl coloring one of the coloring sheets:



A mini-Rapunzel!  Liv didn't want to wear her dress for the party, so her little sis GLADLY wore it!


We were making Pascal (the chameleon from the movie) party blowers:


I loved getting to celebrate Olivia with one of her favorite things.  It makes me want to grasp with all of my heart how God celebrates me.  He made me.  He loves me.  He knows my favorite things, too... I love that.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Birthday Video

I was going through old videos and pictures and I thought this was so cute!  When we celebrated Austin's birthday at Mema's house in Newbern with the Crenshaw side of the family, Mimi got some trick candles!  It was too funny!  Sweet Austin was such a great sport!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My SEVEN year old!!

A couple of weeks ago, we got to celebrate this guy turning seven!:



What a cutie!

I am so thankful for so much about him, but one of the things I love the most is his tender heart.  God has given him compassion for others and a sensitive spirit for Him.  He brings such joy to our family!

The apple not falling far from the tree, he wanted a "painting party!"  (I am not the artist...my sweet hubby is!  More on that later...)

It was so much fun!  He had his cousins there and his buddies from school, and each one got to paint a canvas to bring home as their party favor.  They did a great job!

Here is his cake:


Surrounding the cake are little cake balls ("paint balls!")  It made a LOT, so I put all the extras in little paint cans:


They were yummy!



Here are the kiddos painting away:





And, Eliana looking at all of the finished products:


It was a great time of celebrating our little guy!  God has blessed us so much through him!

God is so faithful!

Of course the title of this is a given...as believers in Christ, we all know this to be true.  But, we all experience it in different ways and the "freshness" of this truth in different depths.

My heart is FILLED with thankfulness!  I don't know how to put it all into words, but I truly got to experience a miracle last weekend.  We had a yard sale that we were preparing for for a long time to raise money for our adoption. We had a TON of people donate a TON of things for it!  We got to see the generosity of the Lord through the body of Christ in a tangible way.  People not only donated their things, but their time and service to help us sort, gather, bake, set up, organize, sell, and clean up!

There were three families in this thing together, and we all were blown away by what God did!

To recap:

  • Thursday was set up day!  We had two storage units FILLED, plus things at each of our houses and a storage place at an office!  We rented a UHaul and got it all there (after almost 12 hrs of moving!).
  • We had an unbelievable location!  We have some friends that live at a very busy intersection and they let us use their yard!  How generous!  Their whole house/yard were taken over!
  • We were not going to sell anything on Thursday...just spend the day organizing and setting up.  BUT...the Lord had other plans!  People saw things coming and they started stopping and buying!  At the end of the day, we had raised $3,000!!!!!!  WHAT?!?  We didn't even remember anything that sold!  We looked out into the yard and it was still FULL!!!!
  • Friday morning came bright and early!  It rained through the night, so everything was wet.  We were sad, but people kept coming and not one person even mentioned that things were wet or complained! WHAT??!?
  • My sweet friend Kristin (who was one of the families doing the yard sale with us) said that God used the rain to remind her that it is all about what HE was going to do with this...not about our (wet) stuff, the weather, or anything else.  Amen!
  • At the end of Friday, I think that we had a total of around $8,000!!
  • Saturday brought some more rain around lunchtime.  We covered everything up and hoped that it would stop soon.  People continued to come and were shopping under the plastic covers.  WHAT??!?
  • At the end of Saturday, we were overwhelmed with emotion, exhausted, and SO VERY THANKFUL for what God had done.  It felt like we were in the New Testament but instead of fish and loaves, we were seeing "stuff" and "money" just multiply.  It was amazing.  Truly.
  • A sweet Ethiopian man came!!!  He told us pieces about the Ethiopian community here in Memphis, and even the Ethiopian church that he goes to!  I can't wait to meet more people from the country our child is from.  What a cool way to keep parts of their heritage!
  • God used this yard sale to provide for other people in need, too, whether it was a flood victim or a family in need of a carseat, or an encouraging word.  It was really sweet to watch.
  • In all, the total from the yard sale was $11,200.  Again...WHAT??!?  Who raises over $11,000 at a yard sale?!?  Thank you, Jesus!  And...we still had stuff to help two other families get started on gathering for their yard sale next month to raise money for their adoptions!  And, when I say stuff, I mean truckloads!
  • My sweet friend Wendy (also one of the families doing the yard sale!) sent us an email the week before saying to pray, pray, pray...the theme: beauty from ashes.  Wow...did God ever bring beauty from ashes!  People donating what they thought was their "junk," to raise SERIOUS funds to bring kiddos home to their forever families.  THAT is beauty!  
I can't say how thankful we are for the part that SO MANY people played in this!  From designing fliers to donating stuff to working with us that weekend to (most importantly) pray for God to show Himself faithful in raising a huge sum for us. So...THANK YOU!!

Here is a picture of us at the end of Saturday....with God's provision! 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh, the Emotions!

The emotions in this "adventure" are so unpredictable and all-over-the-page!  I am continually seeing that God is the only constant to trust in.  Not the next call from our case worker.  Not the next email about what is going on in Ethiopia.  Not the upcoming date that I have thought we would "for sure get a referral by!"

****Sidenote: yes, I play these little games in my head!  Before we got on the list in September, I dreamed that we got a referral the same day.  That day came and went.  No referral.  I thought FOR SURE by the end of 2010.  That day came and went.  No referral.  Maybe on the same day that my sweet niece is born!  That day came and went.  No referral.  Here we are almost in April....You get the picture. ****

Literally the other day, I was talking to our case worker and she was asking how we were doing with the wait.  My answer was, "Trusting in God's sovereignty, AND very surprised that it has been this long."

We are surprised.

And we are trusting.

We have already seen ways that we can understand that this wait was "best" for us.  Eliana understands so much more now, and could quickly take to the role of "big sister." It will be an easier transition for us and our newest little one because the other kids are older. I know we will see the biggest reasons when we actually see and meet our child.  It will be THAT SPECIFIC child that God has had for us.  If we would have gotten a referral 5 months ago, it would have been a different child.

Some other things that I keep reminding myself of:

  • We felt very led to Ethiopia 
  • We felt very led to our agency
  • We trust our agency very much
  • We felt very led to the  "Positively Chosen" program
In light of all of that, today is HARD.  I keep thinking, if HIV/AIDS is such a crisis, why have we been waiting since September for our little one to be placed in our family?  There are TONS of children in need of a family, in need of medicine for HIV.  So, why?  I know the answer to that.  And, it seems like a pat answer.  And sometimes it is or can be.  But, when I let is sink deep in my heart, there is freedom and rest. The answer: God is sovereign.

This morning for whatever reason, I was just frustrated.  I went to work out and just listened to worship music.  I was reminded that God is God alone. He truly is on His throne.  He is trustworthy.  He has a plan.  

So, I am trusting in that.  I really do trust Him.  And I want to give Him every ounce of who He made me to be.  

Please pray that God would pave the road from where our child is in Ethiopia to our agency's transitional home.  That is all that He needs to do!  It seems so simple!  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SPRING CLEANING??

I am totally motivated to start CLEANING OUT!  Are you??

We are having a HUGE yard sale with another family to raise money for our adoptions on May 6 and 7.  We would LOVE all the stuff that you are trying to get rid of!  We are making it EASY...we will come pick it up!  Big or small items, we don't care. We have access to a trailer to come and get the big things from you!

Please give me a call or email me and tell me when you want me to come and pick it up!

This will be a HUGE help in bringing these children home!!!   Thank you!!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Little Encouragement

We haven't heard a TON of facts about everything that is going on with adoptions in Ethiopia, but what we have heard has been encouraging (that is a relative term..."more encouraging than our original fears" is what I should say!).

Tonight we got an email that said that MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) is now going to allow 20 finalizations/day instead of 5.  They used to process 50/day, so there will still be a delay, but it is better than 5!

Through all of this, I have been reminded that God loves all of these children way more than I could even imagine loving them.  HE is protecting them, HE is providing for them, and so we are begging HIM to make a way to put them in families.  A couple of friends have reminded me of the spiritual warfare in it.  Satan wants nothing more than for these children to remain orphaned. Hungry. Lacking trust for anyone, including God. Hurting. Sick. And God wants to put the lonely in families!  He wants to heal their bodies and hearts!  He is using His children to do this, and the enemy wants a hand in it, too.

Where does this leave our hearts?

Honestly, (I know this isn't the case for everyone on an adoption journey) we have felt since the beginning of this journey that this is about a specific Crenshaw child (or possibly more) that we are fighting for.  Although we want to advocate for all orphans and love and serve them well, we believe that every step of this path has been towards a specific child.  So, it isn't about Ethiopia.  It isn't about the HIV/AIDS crisis.  These are important, and God used them to direct us to our child.  But for us it is about that child.  Precious face and circumstances are unknown to us right now, but we are going to fight to bring him/her home.  We are going to persevere through whatever stands in our way and beg God to remove the barriers.  It actually empowers us in a way to press on even more.

I will update more when I know more!

And on to our March numbers....we got our new numbers today, too!  There is still movement, even in all of this craziness!
Girl List: 50
Boy List: 37
Siblings List: 26

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Trusting and Expecting

What a roller coaster of a week!


Below is a statement about what is going on in the Ethiopian program.  It has been hard to process it all, not knowing what is truth, what are rumors, and what could eventually come to pass.  We have been waiting for word from our agency.  We have been wondering if and when we will get to meet and bring home our child.

Above everything, it has made me take God at His Word:  He cares for orphans.  It breaks my heart to know that there could be SO MANY orphans left with little food or medical care unnecessarily. We have been asking God to give our agency leaders, the leaders of the program in Ethiopia, and all of the agencies advocating for orphan wisdom in the action steps to take.  We are trusting Him to move on behalf of ALL of these little ones. We serve an amazing God, and we are trusting Him in a way we have never had to trust Him before...for our little one across the globe in the midst of all of these uncertainties.

WE NEED YOU TO HELP BE A VOICE FOR THESE MILLIONS OF ORPHANS!  And it is easy...

PLEASE read below and take a couple of seconds to sign the petition.  We need MANY more to sign it by the weekend!



March 7, 2011

Statement on the Pending Reduction of Intercountry Adoption in Ethiopia

Last week the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs announced their intention to reduce intercountry adoptions by 90% beginning March 10, 2011. The Ministry’s plan for a dramatic reduction is apparently based on two primary issues; 1) the assumption that corruption in intercountry adoption is systemic and rampant and 2) the Ministry’s resources should be focused on the children for whom intercountry adoption is not an option. Without further announcements by the Government of Ethiopia, it is our understanding that the Ministry’s plan will be initiated this week.

The Ministry’s plan is a tragic, unnecessary and disproportionate reaction to concerns of isolated abuses in the adoption process and fails to reflect the overwhelmingly positive, ethical and legal services provided to children and families through intercountry adoption. Rather than eliminate the right of Ethiopian children to a permanent family, we encourage the Ministry to accept the partnerships offered by governments, NGOs, and foundations. Such partnerships could increase the Ministry’s capacity to regulate service providers and further ensure ethical adoptions.

The Ministry’s plan, which calls for the processing of only five adoption cases per work day, will result not only in systemic and lasting damage to a large sector of social services, but will have an immediate impact on the lives and futures of children. Moving from over 4,000 adoptions per year to less than 500 will result in thousands of children languishing in under-regulated and poorly resourced institutions for years. For those children who are currently institutionalized and legally available for adoption, the Ministry’s plan will increase their time languishing in institutions for up to 7-years.

Joint Council respectfully urges the Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs to reconsider their plan and to partner with governments, NGOs and foundations to achieve their goals and avoid the coming tragedy for children and families.

You Can Make A Difference...PLEASE:

  • Click here to sign the petition now.
  • Forward this to your friends, family, church, small group, Facebook, Twitter, etc.


    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Why Ethiopia?

    First off, thank you all for your sweet words over the last couple of weeks!  You are all so encouraging! 

    I have been longing for our little one lately.  So many questions flood through my mind: Is he/she born?  Well?  Loved on? On his/her way to our orphanage? Being fed and clothed? Is the next Crenshaw going to be a boy  or a girl?

    I love answering questions about adoption, and our journey specifically.  It just reminds me of God's specific plan to bring our child home.  Each detail of the story was a way that God lit the path for us to walk on to go get our child!

    One of the questions we are asked sometimes is "Why Ethiopia?"  That is just a part of the story that God has for us and our family.  I love this video, though...so I wanted to share it (thanks, Alison!)


    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    An Amazing Gift

    I am always amazed at what God is showing us through this adoption process.  He has opened our eyes to more of His heart for His people, the abandoned, the poor, the body of Christ, the widows, the scared and lonely, His heart for US, His sovereignty...I could go on and on.

    We are so excited that our agency, All God's Children International, has started a new program called "Positively Chosen."  They have seen the great need for orphans who test positive for HIV to be adopted and given the medical care that they need that they cannot receive in their country.  There are so many stigma's attached to this virus, but the fact is that it is not the deadly virus that it was perceived to be in the 80's.  It is actually only transmitted through 4 fluids: blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breastmilk.  The main ways of transmitting the virus is through unprotected sex, breastfeeding your baby, and sharing needles.  It is NOT transmitted through daily living (sharing hugs, kisses, cups, utensils, being sneezed on, pooped on, peed on or thrown up on). Actually, there has never been a case where HIV was accidentally "caught" within the home.

    With the right medications, this virus is completely manageable...even more so than diabetes. Can you believe that?!?  HIV is more manageable than diabetes!  The hard part of this is that it is very manageable HERE but not at all in less privileged countries.  So, here, a child could be on proper medications and live a "normal" life.  In Ethiopia, a child with HIV would likely die by the age of 2.  Wow.  I can't even wrap my brain around that. We are so thankful for the new information and teaching regarding HIV.

    We are so thankful to be a part of this new program with our agency.  It is very new, and they have not matched any referrals with families yet, but they are working hard to get the information out there that they have families who will adopt a child who tests positive for HIV.  So, we don't exactly know how this will play out from here.  The "waitlist numbers" look a little different for us.  We could get a referral any day...or MONTHS down the road.  We have no idea. We do know God is sovereignly orchestrating things behind the scenes. We are excited to meet our child and excited to see what the future holds.

    I am sure there are many questions mulling around in people's heads as they read this:
    * How did you make this decision?
    * Are you fearful for the health of the children you already have?
    * Does this put people we are around at risk?
    * What are the medications and how do they work?
    * Are the medications always effective?
    * Will this create a financial burden?
    * What is the life expectancy of this child?
    * How will this effect the child/our entire family socially?
    * Does this speed up or slow down the process?
    *Can this child still be sick?

    We will be happy to answer these and other questions, and engage in whatever conversations you want to have regarding this adoption, so leave comments with questions if you have them. There will be a follow up post on many questions that we have been asked along they way, and new ones that arise.

    With that background information, we received an amazing gift a few weeks ago...
    "Aunt Karen" writes poems for each of our children for the thoughts she has and the prayers she prays for them.  They are priceless to all of us.

    A few weeks ago, Karen gave us this poem that she wrote for our adopted child.  It is precious.

    "Positively Chosen"
    Sweet baby unknown to us by face and by name,
    Have you cried your first cry or is God still knitting your frame?

    Is someone showering you with kisses and tending to your needs?
    As we pray for your protection from harm and evil deeds?

    Are you a girl or a boy and who gave you life?
    Has your body known health or only great strife?

    Well, we don’t know your story as its been written thus far
    but we certainly know you belong to us wherever you are

    ...

    We were called by the Lord to be a family to you
    to choose you and love you all your days through

    To seek justice and defend the cause and the case
    To father the fatherless as an extension of grace (Isaiah 1:17)

    So may you never feel unwanted because of your start
    but always know that you were ours, conceived in our heart

    ...

    May your bonds be loosed, and your yoke be broken
    May you be set free from oppression, such as God has promised and spoken

    It is our bread you will share, such that your hunger will flee
    But may you come to feast on The Bread of Life, who died to set you free

    It is our house you will live in, providing shelter and a home
    But may you enter into His kingdom for eternity to roam

    It is our clothes that will cover you, your nakedness unseen
    But may His robe be placed upon you, your filthy rags be made clean

    May His light break forth within you like a new and radiant morn
    May His healing spring up speedily, and may to new life you be born
    May His righteousness go before you as you walk the life He planned
    May your rear guard be His glory, as in eternal life you stand.
    (Isaiah 58)