Friday, August 30, 2013

The Last Thankful List... for now

A week ago, I committed to posting 50 things that I am thankful for right now. Some days it was easier than others. It's been a hard week in a lot of ways. Health stuff. Adoption stuff. Business stuff. If struggles make you stronger, God is helping us pack on some muscle right now! After a good workout you should always give your body the protein and nutrients that it need to rebuild. For our spiritual muscles, I believe the "protein" is scripture. Here are 10 verses that I am thankful for. I'm using this as my final list this week. I'm sure I'm not the only one who needs to just hear His Word right now.

  1. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  2. Be not forgetful of hospitality, for by it some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2
  3. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Galatians 6:9
  4. To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22 
  5. Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap mercy; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.  Hosea 10:12
  6. He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. Deuteronomy 32:4
  7. He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, He who turns dawn into darkness, and treads the high place of the earth - The LORD God almighty is his name. Amos 4:13
  8. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and Glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17
  9. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:14
  10. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquity; The chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

If you aren't on a mobile device, you can see our fund raising thermometer has changed a bit.

The total we have figured up that the adoption will cost is about $37,000. We listed $35,000 because it was a neater number. Now, it is down to $15,000 for the amount total needed. How? Well, we got a loan for the 20k. Do I want more debt? Nope. Do people get loans like that everyday for cars? Yep, I used to sell the cars to them. We felt this was what we needed to do.

You all have helped us raise $4,887 since the beginning of June! Amazing! We don't have a travel date yet, but our hopes are to leave between late October and mid November. We have app. 7 to 11 weeks to raise the last ten grand before we fly 24 hours to Entebbe to meet and then bring home Margaret, Joel, and Kenneth! We are all pretty excited :)

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grant questions, Raffle, and Thankful List #4

I'm in adoption grant mode right now. One grant mailed out today. One waiting on a letter from our agency. Two being filled out when I'm not chasing kids around. One waiting for me to answer a question I just can't answer as easily as I want...

"Congratulations on your upcoming adoption! Welcome to (grant foundation) and thank you for your recent application.
For families adopting out of birth order or for those that marked their application that they were unsure, (grant foundation) asks that you email us and give us your perspective on this. You may also include it in your essay. (Grant foundation) proceeds cautiously with these types of applications as we learn more about the decision to adopt out of birth order. Some families flourish while others struggle when adopting out of birth order. As an organization, we pray over the information that has been given by our families and ask for God's direction before granting money. As part of our application process, it is required that families adopting out of birth order (or are unsure) must respond to this either via email or in their essay."

I've had this question in my inbox since yesterday. After answering gobs of questions for the adoption application, the home study, the other grants, and people around me, I am having a hard time answering calmly with my passion dialed back when I want to scream. I feel like I'm sitting on the stand in a courtroom and attorneys are taking turns ripping into each part of my life while the national TV crews blast it to the world. Tax returns. Pay stubs. Checking account balance. Monthly expenses. Net worth. Number of children. Church. Pastor. Personal testimony. Personal references. Statement of faith. Adoption testimony. Photos of our family. Photos of our home. Ahhhhhhhh! I understand most of the questions. I do. This question about birth order just messes with my brain. 

God said to. That's the answer I want to give, but I know they want more than that. So here it goes. I'm going to flush out my idea here. 

Possible reply...

Thank you so much for considering our family for this grant! We just started this process in May and hope to travel in October. This would be a huge help since we have not had the year or more we expected to raise funds. 

As far as the decision to adopt out of birth order, we do not feel it was our decision. God laid it on our hearts years ago that we would adopt a sibling group. We waited and prayed... and waited and prayed... and waited for Him to say go ahead. When He did say go, not only did He send us to a sibling group in Uganda that was waiting (not in our plan), but, also, to a sibling group that didn't follow birth order. We understand your concern and appreciate the fact that you are willing to consider something that you do not thing is ideal. The more we have sat and discussed your email, the more we are determined that God would rather Margaret, Joel, and Kenneth be adopted together and out of normal birth order by the family He is sending than have them stay orphans. Our new family will be Trinity 11, Emma 9, Margaret 9, Joel 6, Azriel 6, Kenneth 4, and Titus 4.

Our complete sibling group will allow the middles to stay middles, the youngs to stay youngs, and the elders to stay elders as they have been for the last four years of their lives. The responsibilities and privileges for the three oldest girls will be the same and mostly equal depending on ability. It is an important part of our family dynamic to make sure that each child realizes they are loved and needed each and every day. The two middles will be under the supervision of Matt, myself, and the elders while they get the opportunity to take on roles they deem "bigger" in our family. The younger ones will be my personal buddies, bug killers, lunch water fillers, and so much more. 

Our bios say each day how much they miss the siblings that they haven't even met. Our house is prepared. Sure. More importantly though, God has prepared our hearts, our children's hearts, our extended family's hearts, and our friend's hearts for these three to be here. Will it be hard? Absolutely, but I know adoption is close to His heart, that He doesn't always do it in birth order, and He makes it work each time He brings His children together as a complete family at church.

Again, thank you for this opportunity and your heart for orphans. If you have any follow up questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!


Hopefully that explains well enough why we are going against the norm of adopting in birth order.

A raffle for the hunters or archers in your life.
We are raffling off this bow with the multi-line scope package! Raffle will end September 30th as long as we have sold our minimum of 200 tickets. Just in time for archery season on October 5th and, hopefully, just in time for us to start our packing for Uganda.
Raffle tickets
1 for $10
3 for $25
 Thankful list #4
  1. For my husband's heart for the fatherless
  2. For the opportunity to grow our family
  3. For God adopting us first
  4. For the big table that He provided to fit all 9 of us around 3 times a day
  5. For grants, raffles, and fund raising
  6. For the Holy Spirit
  7. For the nine children I have had the opportunity to love before meeting
  8. For the fun of shopping for court clothes
  9. For the prayers of all of you 
  10. For His perfect timing
Trinity brought me this after hearing Matt and I talking about the grants and all the adoption stuff. She's right.  "GOD'S UNENDING LOVE HAS HELPED US THROUGH OUR ADOPTION"

234 pieces left to sponsor! This is something that will be a part of our family forever :) Thank you!

Monday, August 26, 2013


"Ssatu" is three in Luganda. I couldn't find "list", but I'm trying to learn a little. 

List #3 (21 to 30)

My Homestead List

1.    Ten gallons of water to fill,
2.    Nine times minimum saying "good morning... get moving",
3.    Eight neighbors tolerating,
4.    Seven chickens laying,
5.    Six rabbits for eating,
6.    Five sets of hands helping,
7.    Four quails egg making,
8.    Three girls a-milking,
9.    Two dairy goats,
10.  And one big backyard to keep them all in.

I'm a dork. Yep. That probably took more effort than it was worth! :)


We hit 50 shirts and $300 raised already with the t-shirts!
People are starting to use the link to buy. Yay :)
I am doing three grant applications TODAY. Pray for my brain!
I am doing three or four batches of soap this week.
We have Ugandan Vanilla Extract for sale!
264 Puzzle pieces are sponsored! (Picture to follow soooon)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

List #2

Should this be labeled numbers 1 to 10 or 11 to 20?

I am thankful...
1/11     that God heals.
2/12     for Trinity's desire to still cuddle on the sofa even though she is almost as tall as me.
3/13     for our appointment with USCIS to get fingerprinted on the 10th.
4/14     that my husband has outstanding parents love and care for us so.
5/15     that even though Titus is rough and rowdy, he also still cries during movies.
6/16     for a the freedom to go to church today.
7/17     for an amazing church and church family. Love our Calvary Chapel!
8/18     that we now have a picture of Kenneth smiling :)
9/19     for shoes.
10/20   that my future trip to Uganda has required me to purchase long skirts that I will actually wear.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Yesterday, I had a rotten attitude. I knew it. Surely everyone around me knew it. I was having a hard time being nice. Being thankful. Be patient. That afternoon, I picked up a box of crackers at the store and someone had placed a $1 off coupon under it. I had to smile. I know that they didn't put it there for me. Maybe they just didn't want it to go to waste. Maybe they had two, but didn't need two. Maybe the placed it under there and said a quick prayer for the crazy lady person who would find it. I'm going to lean toward the "left it with a prayer" scenario because I need a shove in a new direction and I got it.

Side note. I have never been one to like a list. Any list. Grocery list. Checklist. Homework list. Cleaning list.

It was then while I was standing in Target that I decided I needed to list 50 things I'm thankful for over the next week. I'm a numbers person and decided that if I could post 5 of the next 7 days then I would only have to do 10 at a time. So here it goes in no particular order...

Thankful List #1  8/22/13

1.     My God that cared enough to make a way to make me His own.
2.     The way Azriel curls up by me and kisses me on the cheek simply because she loves me.
3.     People who leave coupons for those of us who need them, but don't clip them.
4.     Movie nights where we all enjoy the show.
5.     Coffee.
6.     How Emma distracts me from what I'm doing and forgives me for not being distracted by her each time she comes to me.
7.     My griddle. It's big enough to cook for the whole family.
8.     My parents. If you know my parents, you know there isn't enough room to type about why.
9.     Naps. Not that they happen often, but when they do I'm soooo thankful.
10.   Grocery stores near by. I don't like list so a second trip is usually necessary.

That wasn't so bad!


We are still plugging away at the last bits of paperwork, fundraising, figuring out what clothes size to buy, and more for the adoption. The kids spreading out around the house to do school has been a welcome break from all of those things. Thankfully, the family has stayed safe and healthy through all the clean up after the storm even though the clean up is beginning to be an irritant to me. Our friends and family have been great through it all and have even helped with the fundraising side of things when I just couldn't do anymore. Thank you. You know who you are.

A few new fundraisers!

Hope you click back over to see the other 4 list this week. I'd love to hear some of the things you are thankful for throughout the week too! We can encourage each other :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dossier, Back to (Home)school, and 13 years of Marriage

The Dossier and a REALLY big check was sent out and arrived safely in NM yesterday!

For those that have not put this lovely packet of paperwork together, I'll fill you in on the fun...

  1. Original Home Study
  2. Copy of marriage certificate
  3. Copy of adoptive parents birth certificates
  4. Original physicals signed by the doctor
  5. Original police and FBI checks
  6. Proof of financial stability (taxes/bank statements) 
  7. Pictures of family, major rooms in the house, exterior of home, and yard
  8. Copy of photo page of passports
  9. I-171H (We didn't have this, but will send it off as soon as we do!)

We also sent off the paperwork for our home equity loan too. Once we get that, then we will only need to raise about $10,000 to cover the rest of our expenses. Not that we don't hope to raise more, but God knows every dime we need. No need to worry! :)

Back to (Home)School was last week!

There were lots of tears, frustration, and raised voices unfortunately... and then there was the kids' reaction! We love school. Really. We do. It still is hard to "go back" to that routine after taking the summer off and that's why we normally do it year around. This summer, with all the adoption stuff and gym stuff and house stuff, we took a break from the formal education part and just had fun.

This week is going much better. Yes, it is only Tuesday. Yes, I am being optimistic. No, I don't need a reality check. Our list are being checked off before dinner and in some cases before lunch. We are listening to The Hobbit as we eat and imagining each scene. Children are curled up with kindles reading while others are doing solution problems and geometry. It is sooooo nice! I'm trying to plan and then still be flexible knowing that hopefully SOON the number of kids to teach will be increased by 3.

13 years of Marriage were completed and celebrated in the Williams' house on the 19th!

Not to brag, but I have the most amazing husband. Ever. No really. E-v-e-r. He can be sarcastic and lack the seriousness that I sometimes think I need want, but his ability to make me smile, the kids smile, and just plain brighten our days when he is at home is fantastic. He is willing to set aside those things that he desires to follow God's plan even he doesn't completely understand it. I could go on and on (ask any of my close friends!)

I think you would have told me way back when what our life would be like now, I would have laughed, been shocked, and then probably gotten mad. This was not my plan.

"You will be a stay-at-home mom who home schools your four children while you care for one more. Plus, you are waiting to bring home three from Uganda. You still live in Mechanicsville, but you own goats, chickens, quail, rabbits, and just one small/medium dog."

No way. I wanted to run a company while my two kids went to school and played sports just like I did. I wanted to live in the country in North Carolina. I wanted to take cool vacations like a safari in Africa. I wanted to what I thought was the American Dream... minus the white fence.

I'm thankful that God not only knew what I needed, but He placed the desire in me to go and do these crazy things that are the complete opposite of what I would have chosen... and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

The top left is a few crafts the girls made for us for our anniversary. 
The top right is a globe that Emma bought for us at a yard sale.
The bottom left is a puzzle that Trinity made for us with cute instructions that include "Hug when finished."
The bottom right is us.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fundraising Update

$1142 raised this weekend! $100 of that is toward the puzzle fundraiser and the rest was from the yard sale, carnival, soap/vanilla extract, and donation jars!! $4,242 is the new total on the fundraising thermometer.

I can't thank you all enough for your support!

Prayer request...

For the health and well being of our whole family!

Favor with USCIS as we just received notice this afternoon that our I600a is being looked at now.

We are waiting on our Home Equity loan paperwork from America's Christian Credit Union so we can close and pay the $10,500 due the end of this week beginning of next week.

I am attempting to fill out as many grant applications as I can. It's a lot to do and even if we are awarded some of them, our money will be due before the checks get to the agency.

I am trying to get up the nerve to shoot our own adoption story video. This is the video I would like to submit to Give1Save1 to help raise funds and to ACCU for their $500 adoption grant.

That I am diligent with time to achieve as much as possible each day.

Thanks everyone!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I wanted to write this last night while the day was fresh on my mind, but since I had no power, I curled up in bed and slept beside Azriel.

Saturday was the Dinomite Daycare Gives Back: Yardsale & Karnival for Kids. What an amazing blessing this event was to our family! I'm not talking about the money either. Though the over $900 before we even attempt to do a second sale in Mechanicsville is amazing, Stephanie, her family, my family, all the friends, & the community that came, showed me that we are surrounded by people who care about us and the lonely children all over the world! People sacrificed their time and energy to share their abilities and money for the children who came for and the ones who are coming home soon. One day, with my friend's permission, I hope to share the story of how two high school friends and basketball teammates reconnected after 15+ years that led to a major connection of our families and this past Saturday's carnival. It's totally a God thing!

Have you ever heard that saying... When Satan gets to my name on the list, I don't want him to check no threat ? I love it, but sometimes I wish getting the threat check didn't mean attacks. I'm blogging on my phone because we have no power. We have no power because after the yard sale/carnival a storm (a major one apparently! ) came through Mechanicsville before we even got home. Trees down. Carport leaning and with part of a massive branch through and crumpling it. Roof dented and leaking from another huge branch. Power lines pulled down between the house and garage. Pool area is a disaster. But.

We are safe. Our neighbors had a branch crash through into their master bedroom without injury. Friends had limbs down but no major damage. My parents had a roof leak and limbs down. All fixable. Praise God.

For those that know me well, my response to situations like this tends to be calculated on the outside with anger, frustration, and tears or yelling lurking right below the surface. Not so much yesterday. God has and is blessing us more than we deserve or could ask for. Free publicity in the papers. No rain at the morning event. People showed up and bought stuff. Two families checked on our house and animals before we got home. Did I mention we are all safe? Family and friends showed up to help clean up and many more offered! Parents brought us hot food for dinner. When our generator wouldn't start, friends showed up to help and when it still wouldn't start other friends and our neighbors offered their generators so we wouldn't lose all our food. Family and friends invited us into their homes. Side note. Wonder if they'll do that when it's nine of us? ;) Our church family is fixing our generator at church. Praise God!

While cleaning out the pool. Before these offers of kindness. Before I knew if we'd be able to stay home and save our food. While thinking about the cost to fix the storm damage. Feet and body exhausted from a day starting at 5am. I walked around inside the pool fully dressed in the clothes I'd worn to the carnival while trying to get the branches and leaves and debris out because somebody needed to do it. I wanted to fuss at someone. I wanted to yell that my kids weren't working hard enough to help. But God allowed my heart and then my mouth to sing instead.

Thank you oh my Father...For giving us your Son... and leaving your Spirit... til the work on earth is done. 

How long since I had heard that song by Keith Green? I couldn't say. In fact I sang it slightly different as I stirred up and scooped out the junk from the pool bottom. But singing that over and over and over reminded me that He had already provided everything I'll ever need. Himself. 

There is a redeemer. 

The carnival and yardsale.
our home

When I crawled in bed, the words of the song had been stolen away from my mind. I could not remember the tune. I knew the artist. I knew it was thanking Him. I used the little bit of battery on my phone left to find the lyrics. I knew if I forgot that quickly that God wanted me to remember.  

How else do I know He wanted me to remember? 

He gave me the first item for our memorial box. A stretched out but not broken caribeaner keychain I stepped on in the pool while singing. Good is good to me. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I have become slightly obsessed (well, maybe a wee bit more than slightly) with putting "Uganda" plus other words into Google (or Vimeo or YouTube) to read, see, and hear everything to connect with where our new kids are right now. Around midnight last night, I came across this...

My kids are there. Right there. In that exact place. And then I begin to read about how the director and his family are pouring themselves into the lives of our children, pregnant women, people with vision issues, and the whole community while hosting short term missionaries.

"After waiting out a 3 hour rain, we visited (the orphanage.) Most of the team were deeply moved to see about 30 kids lying quietly and still on a tarp over a concrete floor for their nap. After nap time, when we returned from a time of door to door evangelism, they sang songs for us." --- Missions Team (Dr. Bonner) August 2013 ---

Words escape me. After sleeping on a tarp on a concrete floor they gave the Lord and the missions team what they have... their voices.

My heart aches and my eyes blur. I squirm in my seat uncomfortable with my current comfort.

I have been asked, always with kind words and a please at the end, to send the first payment to the orphanage as soon as possible for weeks now. I can't. I don't have it. And now after reading the reports. After hearing how they were told they had to find a new house in which to place the children. After knowing that they are still constructing the building where they live. And yet still they sing with joy to bless those God brought into their lives! How I wish I could sell all I have and send it to them.

Happiness only comes from things that happen, but joy. Joy comes from a spirit overflowing with the love of a Savior. My eyes may fill with tears as I miss them. My chest may tighten when I think of the days we must wait to get there. My head pounds. My knees get weak. But my God is still God. He reigns over VA and over Uganda. He cares for them and for me. He is my joy and the lifter of my head.

We thank you today as you share in our struggle, in our "uncomfortableness", in our praise reports, and in our JOY! I ask for your continued support. Please support us in prayer and by sharing our story and any other way you feel led.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Empty Seats

Ever since we purchased an additional table for our dining room, the empty seats have been filled only sporadically. Sometimes for just an evening when family or friends stop by for a meal. Sometimes for a full day when our kids have friends over. Sometimes when our missionary friends from Ireland stay for a week or so. Their absence this morning brought on the statement by Trinity that our house is now too quiet. I agree.

We like the seats filled and our home full of laughter, the noise of children running around, and the echoes of conversation. In fact, as I type this 6 children roam the hallways trying to find a hidden flashlight while the "Gorgon" tries to catch them and one more sits by my side. They soon after plan to head outside and make a movie featuring our goats. I love the madness of it all and I try to enjoy each minute, but...

But I have sent a large portion of my heart and mind half way around the world and 7 hours ahead. Three of my children didn't get a big hug this morning before settling in to a big breakfast around our table. Three of my children didn't get a kiss goodbye before their Daddy went off to Snap Fitness for the day. Three of my children are so far away that I can't peek in on them to see if they are okay. I can't hold them when they feel alone. I can't pick them up to comfort them when they fall down. They don't get to relax in the security of our family. They are missing out on the fun of our summer break. Three of my children are heading to bed right now yet another night without their parents tucking them in with bedtime prayers. And it hurts. 

I read somewhere that being pregnant is so very different from being in the midst of adoption. At first this statement bothered me. I get it now. I don't get to carry Margaret, Joel, and Kenneth around and feel them kick and move so that I know that they are okay. I can't make sure they are getting the proper nutrition their growing bodies need. I don't have a "due date". I just continue to fill out paperwork, fund raise, wait, and, most importantly, pray for those empty seats to be filled as soon as possible.

Today, our "Empty Seat" family photo and our story were featured in the local paper. In fact, some of you reading this may be at our blog for the very first time because of that article! We have been humbled to see so many people step forward, pray for us, and walk this journey with us. I encourage you to check out our adoption story and fundraisers (including a link to the Kids Karnival and Yard Sale this Saturday the 10th!!) for more about who we are and how you can make a difference in the life of a few orphans. 

Have you adopted? Do you have some advice? A word of encouragement? Something you would like to share with us?  I'd love to hear from you! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


We are so thankful that in the midst of this adoption we were still able to go on a family vacation!  My parents invited all the kids to come to Myrtle Beach  and stay for free in condos. That means a full kitchen to save money by fixing food and no need to spend money on activities with five pools, two lazy rivers, and the ocean at the back door. Also, family and friends took care of all our animals for no cost. I am amazed and blessed.

The conversation has gone to all our kids being here next time quite often. Buddy system. Sleeping arrangements. How to hang up 9 bathing suits to dry... paracord was the conclusion.

Time to go ride the waves without Margaret,  Joel, & Kenneth for the last few times. :)