Sunday, December 7, 2014

A few photos.

I have followed the journey of so many adoptive families. It always did my heart good during our adoption to hear the stories from decision to the adoption being completed! Some days though, I just needed to see photographs of beautiful brown skin Ugandan kids happy with their new families.

I'd like to do some video of my kids too.
If you have any questions for any of our kids (or Matt and I), please feel free to comment or email me. I think this would be a good way for all of us to talk about things and hear what people want to know! 

These are for you future parents of children from this beautiful nation.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

John is 6!

John's birthday was one of our first seconds. He turned 6 mid November :)
On his birthday last year, we were swimming at a lodge in northern Uganda!

This is his first celebration with Williams as his last name and his first surrounded by his new family.

 A superhero. A mini muscle man. A cuddler.  A cutie. An artist.

His smile has charmed many... including this momma.

 He loves to eat and is always willing to try new things.
Spicy food? Not a problem. He's tough.

 He is stoic. 
Emotional and physical pain don't show on his brave face.
Our dentist was amazed!

 He loves a story with hero and can spew off Marvel facts as if he has been watching the movies for years. His current favorite hero is Falcon.

When he gets excited (like when he got this bike!) his Ugandan accent is so strong you have to have him repeat his joyful thanks multiple times... The first two times to understand him and all the repeats past that because his voice is so darn cute.

The name John Terry was passed to him from his grandfather in Uganda.
John means "God is gracious."
Terry means "powerful." 
My prayer for him is that he realizes the grace that Jesus has shown him and that he draws his strength and power from the Lord.

Happy 6th Birthday!!


For those that don't know, John has struggled to make deep connections.
The pain and loss he has survived in his short life has caused him to not respond to situations the same way a typical 6 year old does.

It is one thing to read in books about these types of things, but it is another to love someone who must fight to love you back and chooses not to fight for that often. BUT.

But I trust that the more of God's word he hears... the more love he feels from his core family and extended family... the more times he messes up and I react with grace and calm (pray for me about this)... the more he realizes that we aren't going anywhere...

That notes like this will show up on my kitchen counter more often. 


That note, my friends, is a huge leap forward. Many steps back have happened since.
It doesn't matter though.
 I have this piece of paper that his hands stuffed into an envelope just for me. 

He has grown. 
Both emotionally and physically. 
I am thankful for this time to sit here and reflect back on what the Lord has done for him...
 on what the Lord has done for us!!!

This fit over his hand a year ago!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


So... I'm a slacker. Not really. Actually, the reason I haven't posted about the birthday from September and the one from the beginning of October is the lack of slacking that I have been doing. We have decided to try to sell our house and buy a house (or houses) with my folks on some land. Getting a house ready for sale after an adoption, the sale of one of our business locations, an adoption finalization, and melting together as a family isn't as easy as I thought. Silly me.


Trinity turned 13!!

I have a teenager. Which is impossible. I can't be that old. 

A reader. A dancer. A baker. A teacher. A daughter of the Most High.

Her Daddy would carry her anywhere... even if she is almost is tall as her Mama now!


 Trinity is a hard worker. Up early to fix breakfast. 
Always willing to help a sibling get their room cleaned up and organized.

 Her hands are consistently reaching out to help another... or reaching out for a dance partner. Have I mentioned the girl can dance?!?

 "I've been picking before. Let my brothers enjoy it this time." 
Real quote. It's just who she is. She's a little momma already and that is what she hopes to be!

 The smile on her face is a reflection of the joy she has in her heart thanks to her Heavenly Father.
Her name points to the Trinity as does her life.

 I am so proud of you sweet girl! You are a born leader with a kind heart.
God truly blessed me when He gave you to me.


James turned 10!

That was quick! No. Seriously. 

 A goofball. A climber. A fighter. A "helicopter" pilot. A music man.

James is willing to pull his weight during times of hard work. 
He is also ready to cuddle a little one that needs an extra hug.

He loves funny movies and any excuse to laugh.
Just ask him about the Minions or the Croods!!

He has a very serious side and is a deep thinker. 
The conversations about the Bible and life I've had with him have blown me away.

Thankfully, the grown up side and the kid side of him live happily together making our lives with him in it so very enjoyable. James really does brighten up our day!

He has two names. His "baba" gave him the name Isaac which means laughter.
He lives up to that name for sure!!! The name he chose after coming home with us was James. It's his Daddy's name. James means supplanter or "one who takes the place of another." 
Jesus did that for him. His daddy did that for his "baba." He did that as he became the oldest son in our family.

 I am so blessed to have been chosen by God to be your second momma! Your compassion for all, your prayers, and your love for the Lord amaze me. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Many thoughts

It's well past midnight. The date is now October 5th. I sat in the chair for hours with an empty page opened on my laptop. Now, I type on my cell phone while laying in bed. Sleep eludes me.

My emotions have been all over the place lately. The adoption has been final for a week!! We are all Williams :) The kids are all doing well... Except on the days that they aren't. I've come to terms with the fact that my children, especially the ones who have had past trauma, will act years younger than their age or years older than their age and these two behaviors may only be moments apart. I'm not much different than them. Mine is more internalized.

I think about today and I am struggling with emotions on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. I want to have complete joy and I want to be focused on the celebration of James' Tenth Birthday and first birthday with us! I really am so thankful for the fun we've had fellowshipping, playing, and pumpkin picking with friends as we celebrate our sweet boy this weekend. The struggle comes as I think about the moment coming as I wake in the morning. In fact, it's why I'm struggling to fall asleep. When I wake, my Time hop App is going to tell me what was happening each year for the last five years on this date in my life. I don't need it to tell me one year ago. It was one of the hardest moments in my life.

A simple email requesting me to call the director of our adoption agency became a conversation about our three children going home to their village. My heart broke. My logical mind took over and said all the right things. My well trained spiritual brain began to fall back on verses and sermons and statements from people of faith who I've witnessed go through struggle. My eyes hurt from all the tears. My heart ached for my husband and my bios and me. This day in our family history. This day. It hurts. I can hear the words. I feel them flowing painfully out of my mouth as I share the news. It still feels fresh... Though I know it's not. In my heart, I'm a mom of nine. I pray for those sweet ones. For their future. For their safety. For them to feel His love.

I pray tonight as I fall asleep for joy in the morning. One year ago today was James' 9th birthday. He and John were in the orphanage. They had no idea it was his birthday. They had no clue that their photos were being opened by the family that would bring them home. Last year on this very day, Azriel stated boldly that the boys in that photo were her brothers... She was right. James says he got a family for his birthday last year. He's right. I hear that though and remember that first he had to lose everything to be my son. As I put him to bed, I prayed with him and over him and for him and thanked God for his momma and his whole family and I stood there in the doorway of his room wanting to go over and hold him and cry over his loss and tell him how much I love his momma and his baba and his brothers for the impact they made on his life. I want to sit with him in the pain of his loss, but at that moment even after praying out loud and thanking God for his family in Uganda and thanking God for his mom, he smiled up at me from his bed just seconds after my amen and said, "Goodnight, Mommy... I love you!" Such joy in our story! God's fingerprints all over this page in our family history.

I know God meant for these boys to be ours. I trust Him. I know His ways are better. Does it lessen the pain of the loss to know the facts. No. Not in the least for me. It does make it pain with a purpose... And for those that know me that is how I describe the pain of natural birth with each of my four bios. It hurts. Pain with a purpose though. This day last year was one of many painful contractions during my labor for James and John. I can close my eyes and remember this pain with the same peace as I remember the pain from my first four.

In the morning when I rise, I will be thankful for this day that my sweet Lord and savior has made. I will rejoice. I will ask for an extra dose of His presence for our family as we celebrate and as we give thanks for the sweet story He has written with bitter ink.

The full soul loathes an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Proverbs 27:7

Monday, July 28, 2014

Can I find the words?

I type this up and delete it. I type it up with different wording and delete it again.

As a society, we have become brave with our words as long as we are hiding behind a screen while sitting on our sofas. We press the keys on keyboard hard and with passion. We use capital letters as we tear apart the idea of someone we've never even met. I'm not immune to the false sense of protection of the digital versus the in the flesh real live conversation. But.

...but today I wrestle with my words.

I want them to be kind and strong. Bold and careful. Loving and straight forward.

I'm going to attempt to share my heart. Can you please attempt to see it as that?


I've been asked many questions. I've had many discussions. I've not given the calm well thought out answer to the friend that I'd never want to hurt or offend. I've left conversations mouth shut not sure how to explain without becoming overly passionate or emotional. Most of the conversations start with something like one of these...

"When were you called to adopt?"
"How did you know which one to get?"
"Aren't you concerned for your other children? You don't know those boys."
"Why did you adopt when you already had four kids of your own?"
"You don't think everyone should adopt, do you?"
"I just can't see myself doing that."

I could go on and on and on. (Am I right adoptive mamas and daddies??)

Strangers. Friends. Fellow believers. Family. They all have questions, comments, and looks. I've been trying to come up with answers that are kind, but that convey my heart. Here are the verbal answers and a look in to my thoughts.

1. "When were you called to adopt?"

We knew God was leading us to adopt before we even had Titus. 

I didn't adopt because I couldn't have kids. Adoption has been the plan. It's God's plan for all of us.
2. "The boys evened out your family! 3 boys. 3 girls."

Neat how the number is even for now, but that wasn't our goal.

We didn't adopt to fill a void.

3. "I've never felt called to adoption."

"We aren't all called to adopt, but we are commanded to visit the orphan in their time of need!"
 I say it and cringe because I don't believe it with all my heart. I say it because it is what we say.  

I'm not saying you should adopt, but go and love on some kids and see if you don't want to adopt 40. Also, I wasn't "called" to be a mom. God placed that desire in my heart from a young age. I asked my 12 year old if she ever prays to be called to be a mom. She said, "No. I pray for my future husband and that I can be a good wife and mom. I don't think we are called to be moms. God just makes us moms."  EXACTLY! I didn't wonder if being a mom was a calling I was going to have. I knew God wanted that for me. I didn't sit back and say to my husband that we should wait to be called to "be" with one another to conceive, but I did pray for the little one that I hoped to conceive in the same way I prayed for the little one that I knew He'd place in my arms at the orphanage instead of the hospital. Same thing. I know some will disagree, but this is where I am. It is the same. God placed a desire in me to be a mom of many... Not a mom to many biological children that look like me and share a common ancestry. I don't care about a common ancestry. I care that we have a common family now with our adoptive Daddy.... Our Father in heaven! Oh, that each of my children would accept the gift of adoption as sons and daughters of the King!
4. "How did you know which one to get?"

We prayed that God would place them in front of us and He did.

They aren't puppies. These are my children. God guided our hearts and the hearts of our children to these boys who are my now my sons.

5. "Did you know you'd love them?"

Of course!!

I didn't ever think about whether I'd love the ones that came to me through biology. Do you think shared DNA equals love? I don't share DNA with my husband! I knew God was giving them to me. Period. I never wondered if I'd love the ones that came to me through adoption. I knew that Christ loved me first and that, in turn, I would love the blessings He placed in my arms.

6. "Aren't you concerned for your other children? You don't know those boys."

We pray for God's protection and His guidance for each of our kids.

Are you kidding me?!? I'm concerned about ALL my children. All six. I didn't know any of them before I met them. My four bios are sinners too you know!

7. "Why did you adopt when you already had four kids of your own?"

I had room in the van. Wink.

Children are a blessing. a heritage. a gift. The more children in my home the more children I get to share the love of Christ with!

8. "You don't think everyone should adopt, do you?"

See answer in number 3 above.

9. "I just can't see myself doing that."

See answer in number 3 above.

10. "Isn't having so many overwhelming?"

Yes, but worth every second. So so so so so very worth it.

Some days I want to pull the covers over my head and pretend it is still night and that I don't have over a dozen eggs and a stack of pancakes to cook. I don't want to say that and you say no to adoption because it is hard so I don't mention this or the late nights kneeling beside the bed of my children until after midnight assuring them that I do love them. I want you to say yes to adoption in spite of it being hard because what's really hard is knowing that there are kids that don't have a mom pulling the covers over their head to hide for five more minutes. What's really hard is hearing stories of my nine year old taking care of his two younger siblings from sun up to sun down while his dad and brothers worked even if he was sick and how scary it was to go to bed before they got home and how he would tell his brother to stop crying so no one would hear they were alone. What's hard is knowing the fear, the hunger, the sadness, the pain, and the lack of hope that millions of sweet boys and girls go to bed with every night. They pull the covers up to hide from the thought of another day alone, another day in an orphanage, another day stuck in a crib with no one around to love on them, another day of crying and no mommy to hold them until the hurt in their heart subsides. THAT is hard. What's hard is that I can see them. I can see their sweet feet in shoes that fit for the first time. I can see their joyful smile as they get a small gift. I hear their voices singing in my head. I feel their hand sneaking in to mine when I'm not even looking. And that is hard. It's hard because I desire to love each one. I desire to sit by their bed and pray for them as they drift off to sleep. I long to give them good morning hugs and kisses. I can imagine filling their plates full of yummy food. I smile at the thought of hearing them join in to "Sing unto the Lord a new song!" like James and Azriel did as they filled waters at dinner yesterday. 


Do for one what you wish you could do for many!
Brothers eating peaches :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I will celebrate.

I typed the title of this post and now all I can do is sing in my head...

I will celebrate
Sing unto the Lord
I will sing to Him a new song

That has nothing to do with this post. That's just a glimpse in to how this brain of mine works.



One morning, many many months ago, Matt and I woke up in a room with our new sons. Isaac (now going by his middle name of James) and John Terry (now just John) pretended to be asleep long after they actually woke up. I gave them some clothes to pick from and they quickly got dressed once this mamma left the room. They are no longer shy. at. all. John's 5T clothes were big. He came to us in 24 months clothes because he was so skinny. Then, there was Isaac James. The clothes he wore were ones I had bought and been given for Joel. Joel (7) was one of the two boys from the first sibling set we had been matched to. They fit James who had on paper just turned six. After seeing his muscle build and seeing his abilities combined with the way he carried himself, I guessed he was nine. Matt said seven or probably eight. Both of us knew that he was not six. (See our Uganda pictures here)

Fast forward to last week and the first dentist appointment in the good ol' US of A. Our dentist is great. His techs are great. Matt told them our desire to see if while they were looking at x-rays etc if they could please give us a better idea of age. John - 5 years old. Spot on. James - 9 by the x-rays or 10 by visual examination of molars. Not spot on... Off by 3 to 4 YEARS!

I just want to mention here that his age doesn't matter to us. We had been approved for children up to 10 years old because we were willing to go up to that age in a sibling group. We wanted to know for his sake.

When Matt got home from the dentist, I didn't react in the way I wish I would have.

"I'm 10!" James said as he grinned with excitement. All I could say was "wow." When I got the whole story of x-rays, molars, and the like, I was for sure I wanted him to be 9 and not 10. My reasons were both selfish and logical.

He doesn't behave like he is 10.
He is so short that people may not believe he is 10.
He is only doing 1st grade work and I don't know if I can help him to graduate with his peers if he is 10.
He'd switch classes at church.
I'm not ready for him to be 10.
He would drive before Emma!!

Speaking of Emma. She took it pretty hard that we might let him be ten years old. She has always been "second in command" and was concerned she would loose her position and responsibility in the family. After explaining that James would have to earn those things just like she did, she was okay. I was not. Thankfully, Matt, James, and I all ended up on the same page with this...

James is 9!!!

We celebrated and encouraged him that skipping a few years isn't such a bad thing.

6...7...8...9 Made with love by his siblings.

Waiting to blow out his first candle to celebrate his "I know how old I am" day!




We sang for his 9th and he was a bit embarrassed.

Grandma will help us find his face.

9 years old. James, we love you and can't believe how fast you went from six years old to nine years old!! :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The lines have been drawn.

I haven't blogged as much lately. Not for a lack of having something to say or share. Not because I'm too busy. Though, I have been busy with my crew, our car breaking down (twice), selling one of our business locations, with schooling, replacing a hard drive only to find out the optical drive isn't reading the recovery disk, a Tough Mudder, with parenting, a homeschool convention, a birthday party or four, and celebrating Father's Day. That's life.

And in between all those things, I have been encouraged and discouraged... full of joy and down... lonely in a room full of people and had my heart filled up with just a few people around.

I have so much I think you'd like to hear, but first I need to know where the line is. What line? The imaginary line made up by people (that may or may not exist) to tell me how much of my life I'm allowed to share.  The line that is the border between protecting my family and trusting that our story is not ours to keep and alone learn from.

I think of the Bible stories. What if the details had not been shared?

Adam and Eve were in the garden. They had to leave the garden.

A big flood was coming. God told Noah to build an ark. His family got in. When it was over, he saw a pretty rainbow.

Sampson was strong. Then, he was weak. Then, he was strong.

Jonah traveled by fish to Nineveh.

Joshua defeated Jericho. 

David was a king.

The details make the story! The mistakes. The heartaches. The joys. The triumphs. The sin. The shame. The promises. The glory. The gritty details that none of us would want shared with everyone for thousands of years after we died.

Okay. I have delayed enough. I say all that to say that I am going to share what I feel led to share. How you take it and what you think about how much I tell is beyond my control. Frankly, I'm not here to do what the world says to do... their imaginary lines won't hold me back. Not anymore.


It's been 7.5 months since the first time I hugged them. I loved them before that. Much like I loved all the others before I held them in my arms the first time. Since that day in November, I have been asked many times how we are doing and how the boys are doing and how all the kids are doing together. I typically answer "well" and I mean it. Well.

I look around and see struggles that others have endured or are enduring. My struggle is less so that means I'm doing well? I'm lifting and carrying two 50lb weights and that lady is carrying two 100lb weights. We both have our hands full. We both are struggling. Hers is a heavier load. For. Sure. But knowing that doesn't take the weight away from me. It is still hard. That's where I am right now. Struggling. I'm of good cheer. I know "it could be worse." I know that this is a season. But it's stinkin' hot during this season and I'm smiling with sweat stinging my eyes.

We have death because of sin. We have orphans because of death. We have two boys that we call sons because they were once orphans. I won't ever forget that. Pain and loss was a part of their lives before they entered our family. I'm not their only mother. My husband is not their only father. My children are not their only siblings. Virginia is not their only home. Our experiences with them are not their only memories. These facts are the things that race through my mind as they attempt to show love and attach or as they act out in disobedience and push away. These facts are what I try to use as a filter to how I react. I know I see them as I my own now... How? Because I don't treat them like I do your kids. I give much more grace and mercy to your kids. I'm not proud of that. It's just a fact.

I have questioned more and more lately not how I look at them, but how they look at me. I would love to say that I know they love me and like me and are happy to have me as their momma. I do see that side sometimes... and then that look in their eyes for me fades as they put up their wall again.

I made suntan lotion and one of the boys pushed it off the table on to the floor on purpose. When I asked him why, he wouldn't answer. I rambled off a bunch of possible reasons and asked my other son if I had done that to something he made how would he feel and he said, "I would think you don't like me." The boy who had done the offense then said to me, "I don't like you." Ouch. Is it how he feels or is it him repeating? Either way, it hit me and I responded the only way I knew how.

...I'm sorry you don't like mommy, BUT I'm going to love you and show you in every way I can...

and then I told him how I try to show him I love him

... I know you have people and places that you miss. I know you have stories that you haven't shared with me yet. I'm here to listen. I'm here to talk. ...

and then I didn't talk

I waited

I listened

and the son that I hadn't even been talking to began to share with me new stories and his true emotions

and then today he wouldn't look me in the eyes again

That's how we are doing. This family that God placed together is trying to follow our new house rules and we have hope because God is good all the time and All the time God is good.

Current House Rules:

Do Good.
Be honest.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Made at home!

Being a family of 8 is great, but it is also really expensive!

In our medium sized crew, we have at least three different skin types and four different hair types. That is a lot of "types" to buy for when we go to the store. I'm trying to make some products at home and begin to switch our family to more natural things all at the same time.

I plan to continue to post on this blog that started out just being about our adoption of two sweet Ugandan boys. Now the topics will include our adoption, transracial adoption, homeschooling, our backyard "farm",  the products we make at home and their recipes, and the craziness of life as we live it!

Some of you are still using our link to buy things from Amazon. Thank you! That money goes directly into our adoption account that is paying the almost $20,000 loan for our adoption. I have also set up an store as a place for you to easily find the products we use to make our homemade soaps, lotions, sunscreen, and more!!

Goat milk soap. Lotion bar. Sunscreen. Hair oil.

Check it out!! OUR STORE ... I think it has everything we used except our raw goat milk :)

We made the sunscreen today and I didn't take any pictures of the process. I will next time! I really needed to find something that didn't make me cringe every time I put it on my children. I found something, but I couldn't buy it and put food on the table. Seriously. Have you seen the price on the "safe" stuff??? Craziness.

Here is what we did instead after looking at more recipes for sunscreen than I would like to admit.

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional. This is what I made. I'll update you on whether this works!

Olive oil                           1 cup
Coconut oil                      3/4 cup
Vitamin E oil                   1 tablespoon
Shea butter                       1/4 cup (or a smidge more!)
Non-nano Zinc Oxide      4 tablespoons

1. Placed a stainless steal bowl on top of a pan of water. Turned heat to medium-high.


1. Place a jar in a pan of water. Turn heat to medium-high.

2. Put olive oil, coconut oil, and Vitamin E oil together in jar/bowl.

3. As it warmed, mixed well occasionally.

4. After 4-5 minutes, added shea butter and mixed vigorously until it was incorporated. I have a stick blender that I use for soaps and lotions only. If you don't, you should :) or you can make it in the jar and just put the top on and shake it. Take the top off when not shaking.

5. Put on a "mask." You don't want to breathe in the zinc oxide. I don't know why. All the other people say to do this. I pulled my shirt up over my nose and mouth and hoped for the best.

6. Measured out the zinc oxide and mixed it into the oils.

7. Poured it in to desired container.

8. Patted myself on the back. "You just saved a ton of money AND made a safe 25ish SPF sunscreen for your family!"

My mix is thin. I'm hoping once it cools to be able to put it in a quality spray bottle. Not sure that will work. It may clog. If you want it to be more of a cream, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup beeswax to the beginning mix. I had it on hand, but chose not to go for a thicker sunscreen.

Let me know if you make it and how it works for you!

Remember, this is just something I threw together based on the basics of other recipes and the oils that work well with our skin at our house.

Have a blessed week!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What's it mean??

"What's it mean?" is a question I get to hear from James. He
was formally Isaac, but he wanted his daddy's name... everyone together now... AWE!

What's it mean "hop" ?
What's it mean "silverware"  ?
What's it mean "thunder" ?

If you have heard my boy speak, you know his accent makes this even cuter than reading it in a blog post. The boys have been home for three months and we got our first hug six months ago. It seems like so much longer that I've known them, but like I was in Uganda yesterday. I say all this because on their three month anniversary home I got a "What's it mean?" question that I wasn't ready for...

What's it mean "I love you" ?

I immediately looked up and then butchered his language saying ng'kwaagala nyo. I love you a lot. He laughed at my attempt to speak Luganda. This exchange did not answer his question. He knew the translation, but he didn't understand "love." James told me how he didn't hear it used growing up. We must seem crazy then. I tell my kids I love them hundreds of times a day... and I sign it to them when they glance over at me or bike past the window. My kids all reply and smile and James knows it is good, but what is it. Love.

As a mom, my heart was broken and determined at the same time. My boy. My son. He can't explain love. This is my opportunity. I try to show love. I say love. I act love when I don't feel love. Now, I can put a definition to love. The pressure to explain it well was on me. I said something along the lines of...

Love is when the other person means so much to you that you don't matter anymore. If a car was about to hit you, I would rush to get you to safety even if it meant that I would be hurt. If we didn't have enough food, I wouldn't eat so that you could. If you needed clothes and I need clothes, I would buy yours first. You being safe and happy and healthy and cared for is what makes me happy. The best example of love though is Jesus. He gave His life for us because He knew that we would make lots of bad choices because we are sinners. He gave His life so we could be with Him forever.

... I don't know if that was the right answer or a good answer or the answer he needed. I don't know if he gets it. It really doesn't matter if he completely understands right now, because this momma is going to show him over and over and over and over again for as long as the Lord allows it.

Happy Mother's Day!!

I am so very thankful for my mom. I am so very thankful for my mother-in-law.

I am also very thankful that they understand that my brain is working differently this year on Mother's Day.

Tomorrow, I will be celebrating my mom along with Matt's mom and my children will be celebrating me, but I will have someone else on my mind too.

I have a photo of her. Her beautiful brown skin. Her amazing smile. Full of life. She gave life to NINE children before her time on earth was through. Eight boys and one girl. Her willingness to allow her body to bring forth so many little lives is the only reason that I now can mother James and John. Our sons. Her sons and now mine.

Tomorrow, I celebrate her. I am so very thankful for her.

Tonight, I will pray and thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me four times with opportunity to carry children naturally in my womb. It was one of my favorite times in my life :) Trinity, Emma, Azriel, and Titus are the natural fruit of our marriage. What a blessing each one is to me!!!  I will also thank Him for asking Matt and I to go and love James and John. Two boys who had to lose their mom, be given to us by their biological father, and move to the other side of the world to make me a mom of six. I cannot imagine my life without them. They bring me such joy! 

I love being a momma to each one of my children!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I didn't even ask...

I have followed the stories of a friend of mine for a long time now as she chronicles celebrating kindness. In fact, her blog's title is Celebrate Kindness... and that is exactly what I am doing today.

Over the past 31 years of my life, I have been the recipient of innumerable Random Acts of Kindness. Today, we received TWO from complete strangers and I didn't even leave my yard.

It's Saturday. Time to keep the school books in the cubbies and get outside to weed the garden, love on our animals, and clean up the yard. Matt started on the yard last night and the lawn mower was making an awful sound. One of the three blades was broken. Nice. This is just how are week has gone.

I was told I still can't lift over 10 pounds for two more weeks. The car broke down and may need a new engine. Health insurance issues... still. 5 of us are sick. Keys are lost. Kids arguing. And on and on.

Thankfully, Matt was able to get to the hardware store before they closed so he could change out the blade this morning, finish our yard, and get my parents yard done. We finished all our normal morning chores and breakfast before getting to work. I was in the back with kids and Matt was up front with the mower. Random Act of Kindness One came walking into our backyard. My kids let her in. We live our lives with an open door policy and encourage our kids to be hospitable. Our back neighbor, whom we have never met in the 4.5 years we've lived here, came bearing a gift of banana pudding with vanilla wafers and whip cream. One. of. my. favorites. Y'all (that's it... I've officially lost my yankee card) what you don't know is if she hadn't brought this I would have had no afternoon snack for my kids. I haven't been to the store because of the colds and the not lifting thing. I swear I feed my kids :)

I didn't know how difficult the rest of the day was going to be. It's 4 o'clock and Matt still doesn't have the lawnmower done. He's been to the store twice to get some new tools to get the lawnmower running right. I'm so proud of him. He has kept pushing through with a great attitude. We had everything we needed, but it still couldn't get one of the bolts to budge. Then drives up Random Act of Kindness Two. He rolls down his window to ask if this is where the yard sale was today. Nope. Not us. I figured he'd back out and head on his way. But then. "Can I help?" You have got to be kidding me. Not only did this guy offer to use his impact wrench to take off the broken blade and bolt, he helped load up the deck and gave us a tip on where to get some of the stuff we need for much cheaper.

I didn't even ask for God to send someone with snack because I didn't know I wouldn't have a chance to go to the store today. I didn't even ask God to send someone who had the right tools to fix the lawnmower because I thought we had what we needed. He just led these people to do these RAKs for us because as my Heavenly Father he cares for me. I'm in awe. I'm so thankful.


Emma turned TEN a few weeks ago!

She has her daddy's eyes and her Father's eyes... and his heart and His heart... 
His compassion and His love for all people. 

We joke that she sometimes goes to "space camp" in her head, but I think she is daydreaming about her amazing plans in the future.

She is loving, kind, a gentle leader, and a softy.

She isn't one to rush and is always willing to stop and smell the flowers.

Her name is short for Emmanuel meaning "With us is God!"

We love you, Emma!! You bring so much joy to our lives by just being you!
Happy birthday!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blogging on Give1Save1

Not sure how many of you know, but I became a blogger for Give1Save1 a little bit ago. Matt always complained that I didn't have a hobby, but I'm not sure this is what he was thinking ;)

Each week that is my week to blog and do the Facebook page for the family of the week is a special week, but this week I had a first. An blogger turned author has decided to give the Cartwright family (my family this week!) 20% of the proceeds of the sale of her book for today only!!

Here was my post on the other blog about the book...

I've been looking forward to today for days now. Fridays are great and this one is pretty special.

 Author and blogger, Kelli Hays, has decided to generously donate 20% of the proceeds of the sale of her new book all day today!! Isn't that an amazing gift to our family of the week!

In her own words...

I'm honored to be able to play a part in getting Annabelle home to Brooke and Jeremy. Brooke and I have been friends since high school and I'm amazed at her faith in saying "yes" to adoption. It is my prayer that this book is a blessing to those who are enduring hard times, or are helping a loved one get through a difficult journey.

 The book is His Grace is Enough: Looking for God's comfort in times of trial. I decided that I couldn't write about the book without reading it... so that is just what I did yesterday and I can't wait to read it again.

We've all been there. A loss. A sickness. A betrayal. A door slammed in your face. A situation that you know is completely beyond your control and you feel helpless. You cry out to God. You start quoting His word.

LORD! You are the Great Physician. You are my every present help in time of need. You are sovereign. You are my Helper. God... I know you can do all things. Why won't you fix this? Where are you? What's the purpose of this suffering?!?

His Grace is Enough: Looking for God's comfort in times of trail is a book I'd recommend having on your Kindle for those times when you need a quick reminder of how modern day followers of Christ have handled their walks through the desert.

 Thank you, Kelli, for being willing to help support our family of the week! They have broken the $1,000 mark ... Let's see if we can hit $1,500 or MORE!

 Donate directly to the family of the week HERE.
Buy the book HERE.
Check out Kelli's blog HERE.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

A heart for the Lord. A heart for Uganda.

All of Azriel's presents for her 7th birthday involved the family and that showed her heart for us. A concert for all of us. Walkie talkies for all of us. It was so special and I am so proud of her. Now, It's Emma's turn.

Emma turns 10 in just 5 days. I don't know what most 10 year olds are asking to receive for their birthdays, but I know my girl is peculiar in her request... and that is just the way I like it.

Emma wants just three things. She wants a sleepover with two of her friends so they can bake a cake together. She has requested a poker night with her Gramps. She wants to sponsor a little girl in Uganda!!

There are TONS of sponsorship programs. Most of them are outstanding. It would have been hard for me to point her toward a specific organization if God hadn't placed one right in front of our faces.

On the plane ride home from Uganda when Matt was finally able to bring Isaac and John home, he met Kris. I don't know how their conversation went. I know they talked about her adoption and Uganda and our Ugandan adoption of our sons and her Ugandan daughter and on and on. Then, thankfully, she connected with me on Facebook. Those of you who know me know that this is the best way to get to know me. I'm not one to strike up a conversation on an airplane like my husband does, but I can social media with the best of them! A simple friend request has become a friendship. A common love for the same children and people. A desire to help the least of these through adoption, BUT not just through adoption. Kris is also the Associate Field Director with Deaf Child Hope International and helps finds sponsors for children at Boanerges Deaf Initiative in Uganda. I knew JUST who to contact when Emma made the decision to sponsor a child instead of getting "things" for her birthday!!

Today, I contacted Kris to see if there were any girls 9 or younger available to sponsor (Emma's criteria.) Very quickly she responded back with a little girls picture. She's maybe 5 or 6 and only been at the school since January. She is quiet, withdrawn, and had no language at all when she arrived at BDI, but is slowly opening up and learning to sign. Her name is Allen (pronounce eye-lean) and she is the girl that Emma has committed to sponsoring. Her photos will grace the walls of Emma's room. Emma's hope is that one day, Lord willing, that she will be able to visit Uganda, the country that stole her heart, to meet Allen, the little girl God has placed on her heart.

It is going to cost Emma (remember... she's 10!) $360 to sponsor Allen for a year. She has $120 from us in lieu of her presents. So, she needs to raise $240 more to cover food, medical, and school for a full 12 months. We know God will show up big to provide!

Updated total... Emma now has $255! Only $105 to go!!
Praise Him!

UPDATE #2... Fully funded in less than TWO DAYS!!!!

If you want to help Emma with her sponsorship, you can donate through our Paypal link above!

If you or one of your children would like to sponsor a child at BDI, you can email Kris! Find her contact information HERE.