Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sometimes I Wonder........

Sometimes I wonder why God has called our family over and over out of our comfort zone.
When Nick and I got married, I can tell you we couldn't have even dreamed up our life if we had tried to.
I always wanted to have at least 3 kids growing up and we were blessed with 3 babies in just under 4 years. My dreams came true! 
Then the call to adopt and we embarked on a journey that would totally change our lives.  
Each time, we rather blindly stepped out adopting first siblings when we only initially thought it would be one, then an older child just 8 months later, followed by sweet little Eli, each time not knowing what we were really getting in to nor having all of the finances to complete the adoptions, but clearly knowing that it was indeed God's plan.
Each time God has equipped us and amazed us with his faithfulness to always meet our needs and provide just enough, just in time.
The fun part has been seeing how and who he uses to accomplish his plans.  Each time we've raised money for missions, adoptions, water wells or orphanage supplies, God has used countless friends and family and even strangers to come alongside of us and meet the needs.
Another thing that we have noticed is that every time (and I do mean every time) that we have said "yes," even when a "no" would be easier, we have faced challenges.  It's like they come out of the woodwork. From household floods and emergency surgeries, job changes and broken stuff, we have been bombarded with little challenges (and a few big).
This mission trip is no exception.
 Because this trip came about rather unexpectedly and with little time to prepare, we are once again trusting God for the finances to be able to make it a reality.  And ever since Nick and Hermela have committed to the trip, little things just seem to come up.  So far, I ran over our main water line in the yard, our pool pump now makes a super loud noise and we're just waiting for that to go out, our work van needed new tires, and on Monday, in just one day, the kids broke Colton's school chair (which I was able to fix), then Eli poured a cup of water on one of our new school computers taking it out of commission permanently, and just as I was heading out to get some fresh air in the backyard, I heard a crash as one of my little athletes accidently swung and broke another window during his impromptu batting practice.  Not to mention work stuff has been crazy and life has just been coming at us fast.
While, none of these things are really all that bad, when you're in them and it all seems to pile up at once, you sometimes start to wonder how adding an 11 day trip out of the country in the middle of the crazy seemed like a good idea.
When we get to this point, one of us usually realizes, "man, we're under attack."
 We also realize that this must be a pretty awesome mission and that God must have some pretty awesome plans.
On this trip, Nick and Hermela and the other team members will begin the process of forming relationships with the 100 kids that are currently in need of sponsorship at I Care for the Nations.
That's 100 lives that God is going to use to join hearts across oceans.
100 lives that will affect countless others in the future.
The possibilities of how God is going to use this trip and this care point to transform the lives of these 100 kids are limitless.  Perhaps even more exciting is how the lives of those who will one day sponsor them will be changed.
It is exponential and it is worth it!
So we press on, trusting that God's plans are always better than our own and remembering that he is faithful and able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.
It has been an awesome road so far and I do hope that God will continue to call us to things that are bigger than ourselves for his glory.

 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Thumbs Up for 20%

After one week of fundraising, Hermela and Nick have raised 20% of their goal!

This is awesome and right on track. With only about 4 more weeks until they leave, that means they'll need to raise an additional 20% each week until they go.

That's cutting it a little close, I know. Usually, one would plan and save for months and months for a trip like this. But, this opportunity came up quickly,  so we are in power fundraising mode.

We are so thankful to all who are praying (keep it up!) And for those who have donated.  We even had a friend have a lemonade stand over the weekend and several friends donate to our upcoming yard sale (if you have extra junk, send it our way ;-).

Can't wait to see how God will continue to use this trip for his glory!

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.
 John 1:16

Monday, July 14, 2014

Exciting News.........Ethiopia Bound!!!!

This girl is preparing for a "dream come true" mission trip back to her birth country of Ethiopia in just over 5 weeks!

going to get her passport

Our church has formed a new partnership with a Children's HopeChest supported care point called "I Care for the Nations" in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We have always planned on taking our kids back to Ethiopia at some point, we just didn't know exactly when that would be.  When this opportunity was presented to us about a month ago, Nick and I prayed about it and quickly decided that we didn't want to miss this opportunity.  We decided that because I just went to Ethiopia in February, Nick should go this time (although I'm dying to go back and be on this trip).  He felt like Hermela was the child he should take with him and she is thrilled!

It doesn't get much better than this!

  Our very own church forming a partnership to care for orphaned and vulnerable children in our favorite place of Ethiopia and working with one of our favorite organization, Children's HopeChest (to read more about Children's Hopechest go to or click on my blog posts tagged "trees of glory).

 It's the perfect storm!

My heart is overflowing!

Hermela has been hard at work getting support letters together, applying for her passport and getting travel shots to prepare for the big trip.

Rahel volunteered to help with the many letters detailing the upcoming trip and how others can join in (coming to a mailbox near you :-).

So what does it take to send two people on a mission trip to Ethiopia for 10 days?

Aside from arranging time off and changing schedules and the above mentioned activities, I have to be honest, it takes a lot of money.

About $6000!

It's just expensive to fly to Ethiopia, no way around that!  This time of year, tickets run between $1800-$2200 a piece.

Add in the cost of meals, guest house accommodations, ground transportation, translators/guides and mission project expenses and you can see how it all adds up.

So my question is, is it really worth it to spend so much money on a 10 day trip?

My whole hearted response to this is ABSOLUTLEY!

The relationships that are established on these trips are essential to ministry.

It's easy to hear about children in need, feel sad, and then go about your day.

It's nearly impossible to spend days with precious children swarming you, seeing their smiles, hearing their little laughs, taking in their often heartbreaking stories, and then return home and do nothing.

Once you know their names and have seen their faces and held their little hands, you are compelled to act.

It literally keeps me up at night wondering what else can be done to make a difference.

So I ask again, what does it take to make a trip like this happen?

It takes lots of people coming together for the sake of others.

We cannot financially do this on our own, but we are trusting fully in God’s ability to fund this.

As David Platt says, “What can we spare?” and “What will it take?” are two radically different questions.  We are tempted to settle for throwing our scraps to the poor-our “spare time” and our “spare money.”  What would happen if we stopped asking how much we could spare, and started asking how much it will take?
So we are prepared to once again fundraise for the cause of children in need.  We will have a yard sale (not my favorite thing), Nick will take on side jobs, we'll save our pennies, and most importantly, we'll pray and trust God for his provisions.

We prayed over the support letters just before we dropped them in the mailbox.  We know that God's story is bigger than just our family.  By joining Hermela and Nick in prayer, you will have an opportunity to journey with them and impact the children at I Care.  Additionally, your financial contributions will make this trip a reality and make a difference in many lives for years to come. 
When God's people come together, there is no limit to what He will do.
I've seen it happen over and over again!

If you'd like to give towards this trip, you can click the donate button at the top left side of this page to donate via paypal.  Every penny goes directly towards this mission trip.

You can also send check's payable to our church or give online at our church's website (email me at for details).

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen
Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Baseball, Baseball and More Baseball

That about sums up our summer so far.

Our baseball circuit started off with Colton's T-ball team winning their first tournament in Lakeland!


Eli was happy to take care of the trophy for the team!

After that little warm up tournament, it was off to Sarasota for the State qualifier.

Grandad and SC Gee Gee made it down for a game.  Three generations of baseball.

The boys went undefeated, won their bracket and had the best record of the tournament to qualify for the State tournament.

They celebrated with a victory jump in the hotel pool.

The State Championship was held in beautiful Palm Beach.  We took advantage of it and spent the day at one of my favorite beaches.

I love this beach and it's rocky tide pools.

The kids had a blast looking for shells and little critters.

Then it was back to the field for the big games.  Our friends and my mom came up to see our game on the 4th of July, but all games ended up getting rained out.

These troopers drove back up again on Sunday and finally got to see what they'd been waiting for......some awesome baseball!

Our team played great and made it into the championship game!

This is Colton warming up for his first swing of the big game.

We were the visiting team and knew we would have to get up in the score early.  Things went according to plans and we were up 9 to 2 at the bottom of the 2nd inning.  We were steadily getting the work done and playing great.  Then the skies opened up and rain delayed the game.

Play resumed, but momentum had shifted.......we scored 2 in the 3rd making the score 11 to 2.

Then it happened, they shut us down 1, 2, 3 and then scored 2  runs in the bottom of the 4th making the score 11 to 4.  We were still up with some wiggle room, but not for long.

We got 1 more run in the 5th and entered the bottom of the inning knowing that if we held them, we would win and not even have to play the 6th inning.

To keep things exciting, the other team scored 5 runs in one of our ugliest defensive innings bringing the score to 12 to 9......this was getting a little scary.

We get up to bat in the 6th hoping to widen the gap, but the other team made three great plays in a row taking us into the bottom of the 6th.

In the bottom of the 6th, they scored a run bringing us to 12 to 10.  Two outs later, they have a man on 2nd and 3rd.  Their batter steps up to the plate and we all hold our breaths..............hit to the first base man, he fields it, then bobbles briefly before recovering and beating the runner to the base.

Team Extreme wins, team Extreme wins!!!!

Doesn't get more exciting than that!

Our little T-ballers are 6U Babe Ruth State Champions!

So much fun!

Great coaches, great players, great parents, siblings, families and fans!
The Team Extreme experience was awesome.
Congratulations to all!

Especially these two!

And now for the off season (yeah!!!!!!!!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Baseball and a Birthday

June was packed FULL of baseball.  I'll start off by highlighting Caleb's all star season.
His team decided to go all RENEGADE on us and get mowhawks in preparation for the tournament.
Caleb gave us a good show in the first game, pitching like a champ!

The loyal fan club was there in full force and Colton even got in on the action as the official team bat boy.

We had special guests join us.  Granny Pat (great-grandma) and grandad came
along with FL Gee Gee and Paw Paw (not pictured) to cheer Caleb on.

Granny Pat got in on the hair action in between games. We had such a great time with her!

Then more spectating as we watched the boys win all 4 of their bracket games to come out on top.
Unfortunately, the team would fall in the playoffs after a stomach virus took down 3 players and 2 parents the morning of our first big game.  Bummer, but the boys played great otherwise and had a blast!

Eli thought he should have a mowhawk just like big brother.

Colton also followed in Caleb's mowhawk foot steps before his big tournament (more on that later)

June is birthday month for another special girl in the house.
Meron turned 8 and 8 is great!

Meron is a funny, generally happy girl who always has something to say (I mean ALWAYS :-)
She's got rhythm, a great laugh and is a fantastic big sister to Eli.
She's quick to forgive, has a kind heart and we know God has big plans for this little girl!

Happy 8th Birthday Meron!!!!
We love you!