Monday, December 29, 2008

More Pictures...and Caleb's first visit to the doctor (not planned!)

We are home safe, sound, and very exhausted, praise the Lord! Caleb did very well on the 16 hour plane ride from Dubai to Atlanta, sleeping about half the time. He was a trooper. Zack was so sick though and went to the back of the plane to lay down. Thankfully he is feeling better now, but that was an absolutely miserable experience for him! We do not want to fly again anytime soon!

When we got to the airport we had a great homecoming with our families and the Bowmans, including a newsperson from a local news channel. She did a quick interview with us and it was on the local news! Here is a link to the story:
There is only one misquote....we didn't spend 80 hours in the air, thank the Lord! That would be really tough!

Caleb did very well meeting our parents and by the end of the visit would even let them hold him, which made them all so happy. He slept very well last night but this morning was very fussy, wouldn't take a bottle, threw up, and felt hot to the touch. So, we made our first doctor visit. The poor guy was diagnosed with pneuomnia, thankfully, we caught it early! He has slept most of the day, so hopefully he will feel better soon.

Here are a few more pics.....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thoughts From Rebecca on the week.....And a Few Pictures :)

First of all, we have been reunited in the Dubai airport!! Praise the Lord! But, Zack's ear is hurting dreadfully, and we think he may have even ruptured his ear drum…Caleb is so tired….I am dirty, with formula, baby food, pee and probably poop on me somewhere…….it will be a long trip back to the USA…we haven't even boarded the plane yet….please pray! I would just love to be able to snap my fingers and be home!


Anyway, as you have probably noticed, we have been missing in action the last few days as the internet connection in Ethiopia was so very slow that you could barely check an email! So, posting to the blog was just not possible! I am so sorry, as I desperately wanted to be able to document each day of our journey…and what a journey it was! So, this is what I started typing last night…….and finished here in the airport in Dubai…..

All the other families have just left for the airport- I can't believe it is already time to leave. We will be leaving soon….tomorrow morning. I felt led to come and type my feelings as the families left, as it seems that they have all finally came to the surface.


This has truly been the trip of a lifetime in so many ways. Of course, the main way our lives have been changed by this trip is that we now have a son! More on this later! Other ways….we have seen how people live thousands of miles away and learned to appreciate other cultures, as well as our own. The Ethiopian culture is different from ours in so many ways, but the kindness and hospitable nature of the Ethiopian people can reach through cultural boundaries and touch your heart! We saw this especially through the nannies that took care of our children, through our wonderful -I seriously can not say enough about - guide, Robel, who took such good care of us and without whom our trip would have been so much more difficult….we love you Robel!! I could go on and on, our housekeeper, the room service staff, the doorman….they were all wonderful and will be missed. In a time when politeness and consideration is often lost in the business and hustle and bustle of life, the Ethiopian people were a breath of fresh air, and we could all learn from their way of life. We had a wonderful time getting to know them and their country and we hope to visit again…….


A more difficult lesson came in the extreme poverty which can be encountered at any moment, with a glance in any direction in the city. I honestly don't think I have been able to process seeing people laying in the streets and sidewalks, children knocking on the car windows anytime the car came to a stop, begging for whatever they can get, houses (if you can call them that) made of mud and old rusty pieces of tin as far as the eye can see, roads hardly fit for driving… is truly something that can not be fathomed, as

I find myself saying, how can I help Lord, how can I help? It is so overwhelming! I think he is telling me, don't forget this, don't forget how some people live. Take this back with you, and make a difference. Yet despite this poverty, hope and faith remains in this beautiful country. The country is beautiful and the Lord's handiwork is evident in it. The mountains are outstanding!


The families we met this week have made such an imprint on our hearts as well! They are each so precious and we loved spending this week with them. They ministered to us each in a unique way and we could not have imagined spending this special time with any more wonderful families. As I mentioned above, seeing them leave this evening helped to bring the week and everything we experienced to the forefront. I truly had to hold back my tears as they drove away from the hotel because I know I would just lose it! We miss them already.


Finally…..MEETING OUR SON!!! Obviously words can not describe this meeting or the days that followed. It was unlike anything we have ever experienced, both wonderful and trying. Wonderful in that God has blessed us with such a beautiful, fun, smart, funny (he will crack you up!!) loving and amazing little boy, all through the miracle of adoption. Trying in that we have never been parents, and suddenly we are parents of a one year old little boy who is deeply grieving his home, his nannies and friends, all in the midst of  being in a county that is not familiar to us in so many ways.  There were times when all three of us were crying. Thankfully,  Lord sustained us, gave us grace and mercy, and therefore we were able to give Caleb the same. It has been amazing to see how he has changed in just the last few days – he is a true blessing!! We are getting to know him more and more and he is doing the same with us…it is so much fun!!!! We are so thankful, and can't to get him home and into a normal routine. I have attached just a few pictures of the first day we met Caleb….of course, as soon as I am able, I will post lots more…….


We should be home in Kentucky in about 20 hours….wow…that seems like a long time!! See you in the USA!!


Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

What a Crazy Day!

From Zack:
ike ans
I beliebe this is my thrid official post to the blog in three years.  Rebecca takes quality control seriously!  Well, Rebecca and I are separated.  It's a very long story, but the short of it is, she is with Caleb in the comfy part of the airport and I am stuck with the bags outside.  In order to take advantage of the generous donation of Airline miles by Mike and Sherry Smith, we had to book two separate flights.  One from the US to Dubai and another from Dubai to Ethiopia.  This forces us to claim our checked baggage, exit the airport and then check in again.  This was no problem on the way to Ethiopia, before we had Caleb, because we are US citizens and we do not need a visa to visit Dubai.  So we together we claimed our baggage exited the airport and checked them again for the second leg of the trip.  However on the return trip we could not all exit together, because Caleb is not yet a US citizen (he will be after his re-adoption in the US).  Dubai requires a visa for Ethiopians except for transit passengers.  Because we have two separate flights we are not transit passengers in Dubai.  They told us one of us would have to claim our baggage, exit the aiport and then check them again for second leg, while the other stayed with Caleb in the comfy airport.  No big deal right?  I would get the bags and reunite with Rebecca and Caleb in only a few minutes...right?  Well, not exactly.  We have a layover of about 8 hours in Dubai, and the check-in gate doesn't open until 5 hour before the flight.  That's right, 5 hours apart and I have all the bags except for the baby bag.  No knowing we'd be apart for that long, I didn't think to leave Rebecca some money for food or duty free shopping or whatever, and she didn't eat much all day.  I hope she likes enfamil.  Just kidding sweetie.  I begged, and pleaded with customer service, the security officers and I tried to call Delta.  Their office didn't answer.  I located their office here in the Dubai airport and there was a sign on the door saying their office hours were from 1:00 to 17:00 daily.  I had just missed them.  So we're stuck and we can't communicate for another 3 and a half hours and Rebecca has Caleb but no money for anything.  I'm going to keep trying to check in early, and I'm not eating anything until we're back together.  Rebecca, I hope you have found a way to check your email.  Send me a message.  I love you and I love Caleb. 
More to come soon!
Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our First Full Day in Ethiopia

Today was our first full day in Addis. We both slept well last night, though we did wake up around 4am when the Muslim prayers began being played over the city speakers. These continued for a couple hours, so I don't think we ever really were able to go back to sleep. Around 8:30 am or so we went to the restaurant here in our hotel for breakfast. We ate with the Stager family from Washington. Zack had an omelet and I just had toast and jelly with tea.


At 10 am we all met in the lobby to go to church. Robel, our fantastic guide took us to his church, the International Evangelical Church (IEC). It was about 30 minutes from our hotel. The church building was a very nice facility. There were probably around 450 people there for service. The service was very much like what we would think of as a contemporary service, with a praise and worship team, drama, and a main message. The biggest difference in this service and what you would find in an America service (and much better in my opinion) was the amazing diversity! At one point, the praise team was made up of people from 7 different countries! Now that is how church should be! It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. We truly enjoyed the service and we were so thankful Robel took all of us.


Church lasted almost two hours, so after church it was time for lunch. We ate at the Lime Tree Restaurant. Zack and I shared a pizza- it was different than pizza in the US, but very, very good! Zack also tried a macchiato- I took a sip- it was very strong, even too strong for Zack's liking! But not bad….


After lunch we stopped at a small grocery store to stock up on bottled water as you CAN NOT even get a sip of the water here in your mouth! We also bought some juice- it is very good here!


One thing that really stands out to me about Ethiopia is the sheer amount of people that are always out and about and in the middle of the streets. The driving is probably like most foreign countries in terms of the chaos. What adds to it here is that people are always out in the streets! I thought we were going to hit them many times!


And our course, the poverty is immense, there are shacks made from tin and mud everywhere, and it is very common to see people just laying by the side of the roads. The saddest thing is to see the children everywhere- many will come up to your van when you are stopped and beg for whatever you will give them. It is very hard to tell them no. I can understand now how it would not be uncommon for someone to abandon a baby here- it is not like the USA. I am so thankful that we can help on child (Caleb) but it does break my heart as we can't help them all…..


So, tomorrow is the big day!! We are all so excited and many times throughout the day we have found ourselves talking about our children! We have all waited so long for this day, and it is going to be here in less than 24 hours! It still seems like it can't be real. Please continue to pray for us- we feel great, and so far show no signs of getting sick! Zack is a little more tired today and beginning to feel the altitude, but other than that, we are great! We know tomorrow will be an emotional day, so please pray for us and Caleb on that front too….Of course, we will try to post pictures asap, but the connection is very slow here…That's all for now!



Saturday, December 20, 2008

We Have Arrived in we sleep

We arrived in Ethiopia around 8:30 am today. Our flight was a little late coming in, but we made it! It was also very interesting….more about that later….


We ended up not being able to rent a room in Dubai Airport, because it took us quite a while to get through customs, claim our baggage, etc. Then, it took us even longer to figure out exactly where our gate for our Ethiopian Air flight would be. The terminals in Dubai are not connected, so you have to go outside the airport to get to some of the other terminals. Once we found the gate, we realized we couldn't check in until around 1:00 am, so we had some time to kill. We went upstairs and sat in the food court, tried to sleep, etc. Finally it was time for us to check in for our flight to Ethiopia… that was an experience. First of all, it was a huge guess as to which side of the giant room (where the gates for Ethiopian air were) you needed to be on, because they wouldn't put the ET air emblem up on the screen. When they finally did put it on the screen, it was like a mass exodus of people with little airport carts…they were everywhere!! They will run over you, trust me!! They didn't care if they bumped you….there was luggage going everywhere….crazy! So, we get in line, then all of a sudden, the screen goes blank and everyone and all those little airport carts make a mass exodus for the other side of the room, because they changed the location!  I should also mention that there are no lane or aisle markers…you make your own! These factors, combined with the fact that we were the only white people in this whole part of the airport made our checking in experience very interesting. We ended up being close to the front of the line whey they finally decided exactly where they were going to let us check in. Many people tried to cut in front of us, and we ended up letting this one guy- he was persistent. This upset a lady across from us in line, and this lady and this guy ended up getting into a major argument! It was interesting. She was upset with him for cutting line, to say the least.


Once we finally made it past this part of the process, we were able to go into the main concourse of the airport. It was really beautiful! Very elaborately decorated and very modern. One thing that was really funny was that instead of sitting in the chairs while waiting for your plane to board, almost everyone, even grown men in business suits, were laying in the floor sleeping.


I said that our flight to Ethiopia was interesting…..and a little unnerving. Though we have tried to be as unbiased as possible, every now and then we have felt a little uncomfortable on this trip as we have been immersed into a culture that is very unfamiliar to us. While we were sitting in the boarding area, we noticed a group of about 7 older men of Middle Eastern descent, all fully dressed in traditional Muslim apparel. They stuck out about as much as we did among the other African people J. Even though you have to pass through passport control and security before you can enter this part of the airport, we noticed an airport official detained them again as we were boarding the plan. He asked to look through their passports and other documents. They were then allowed to board the plane. They all sat in the front of the plane, and we sat right behind them. About twenty minutes after we were up in the air, a couple of the men got up to use the restroom at the same time. Then when they came back, a couple of the others got up, and they repeated this pattern until they all had been to the bathroom. Zack was asleep while this was going on, but I admit, I was getting a little nervous. Then, a couple of them went to the front of the plane to where the flight attendants hang out. I couldn't see them, but I could see the flight attendants, and they had a confused look on their face. Now my heart started to beat a little faster….what is going on? They came back to their seats after a little bit, and I started to calm down. That is until one of the men, directly across from us, stood up in the front of the airplane and began speaking a prayer very loudly. Now I was sweating and Zack was too……This lasted for about a couple of minutes (very intense minutes) then this man sat back down. One the of flight attendants came over to us and told us the men were  being very "provocative" and that she had tried to ask them to be considerate of others, but they refused. We told her it was no problem, please let them do whatever they needed! Then they all got up and went to the front of the plane. We now have figured that the crew had allowed them to go to first class to continue their prayers, as I don't think there was a single person up there. Of course we didn't figure this out until a while later, so at the time, this made us very nervous again. We also realized that this man's prayers came right before sunrise, or agpar in the Muslim faith.


Well, obviously, we made it safely to Ethiopia, and looking back our apprehension seems maybe a little silly and maybe prejudiced, but I can tell you, we were truly frightened for a few moments…... It was a good experience for us, as it caused us to think about what the minority cultures in our country must experience quite often. Before we got off the plane, one of the gentlemen actually struck up conversation with Zack- he was very friendly and interested in our American views.


Once at the airport in Addis, we made it through customs just fine, and after waiting about an hour or so, our driver came and we arrived here at the Addis View Hotel. It is very nice, and our room is great! It has a seating area, a wet bar, and a very nice bathroom and bedroom. It is now around 7pm here- we slept almost all day! We probably won't do much tonight, just eat dinner, watch a DVD, and sleep some more! We feel good…. I (Rebecca) am a little dizzy (most likely a combination of the flight and the altitude here in Addis). Overall, we are doing great! The Ethiopian people are so very hospitable and kind.


Tomorrow we will meet the other families and go to church, and maybe shopping. As Zack just said, "We want to go get Caleb!" but that will have to wait until Monday….

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Friday, December 19, 2008

We are in Dubai!

We made it to Dubai! Our flight was very uneventful, though very long! The food was very yummy :)
We did have a little scare in Atlanta, however. We were getting ready to board our flight to Dubai, and Zack couldn't find his passport! The last time he knew he had it was in the airport in Lexington! We searched frantically, but could not find it! Thankfully, we made color copies of our passports. He took this to the staff person, and they located his passport....somehow it had fallen out between exiting the airplane and walking to our gate. The only problem was it was about a half mile away (Atlanta is a huge airport)! The airport staff said he would really have to hurry to make the flight! I started praying!
I waited behind with our luggage. They made the final boarding call, and I didn't know what to do....Zack still wasn't back! I went ahead and checked in, and waiting nervously behind the gate....finally, Zack appeared! I was so thankful! I didn't want to make the trip without him!
We have quite a long layover here in Dubai...we don't leave until 4:30 am and it is almost 8pm here. Thankfully they have rooms here in the airport that you can rent by the hour. So, we are going to take a little nap, a shower, etc. The airport is very modern and Americanized, though we are definitely the minority here. It has already been a very cool experience!
Next stop....Ethiopia!

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Testing, Testing....

Okay, so if this cmes through on the blog, I have figured out how to post via email.....which is what we must do while in Ethiopia!!!
The other families in our travel group are: Burk, Stager, Witter and Sloninger. Their blogs can be found with the other families in the links to the right....beside each families name it should say "traveling buddies"!!
We are leaving tomorrow afternoon, and should arrive in Dubai Friday evening....which will really be Friday morning/afternoon here in the US. Hopefully I can post when we arrive in Dubai!!
Please pray for safe travels and for smooth transitions between airports....see you in Ethiopia!!

Referral Received 7/29/08!!
Traveling to Ethiopia December 18-28

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We are Really Going!!!

We are actually going to Ethiopia. I think it is starting to sink in. Ahh!!
To be honest, we weren't sure if we were going or not until this morning around 9:45 am when my brave and wonderful husband made a two and a half hour trek through the snow and ice to Louisville to give the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services Office a visit. Yes, we still had not received our updated approval and were not sure if we were going to get it in time! Major stress!

We had not really been that successful with our appointments at USCIS in the past, but had prayed for favor today as we had to have an approval in order to travel in two days to meet our son. Zack left very early this morning for his 9:20 appointment. The roads were not good, and we really weren't sure if he was even going to be able to make it. I stayed here to work and I was feeling so nervous for is a very nervous experience going to this office, trust me! You are really at the mercy of someone else! Anyway, Zack called me around 9:45 and said, "Guess what?" I knew he had gotten our approval when I heard his voice! He said he just walked up to the window, explained our situation, and a few minutes later the lady came back with THE PAPER! Praise the Lord! Once again, he has shown himself faithful! We are so thankful...we are really going!

The reality of being parents for the first time is also starting to sink in...we have realized...we do not know what we are doing! Everyone has assured us this is a very normal feeling, so we hope they are right! We enjoyed this past weekend as we really didn't do too much, which was nice. We reflected on how much God has blessed us and our marriage over these last four and a half years and were awed by his love and care for us. We also realized that in a week or so our lives would never be the an awesome way, but still, never the same. We look forward to experiencing all that God has for us and our son. Praise you Lord, for being such a wonderful Father. May we strive to raise our son to love you more than anything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some New Pics of Caleb

This morning I received some new pictures of Caleb from a family that just returned from Ethiopia! He melts our hearts more and more each day! We are so thankful that it won't be too much longer before we will be holding him in our arms!




Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thank You Lord, We Have Passed Court!!!

It is our great privilege to introduce you all to our son, Caleb Samuel Caldwell!! We will be spending Christmas with him in Ethiopia! We will be traveling to meet him December 21-27!! We are so thankful, and at the same time there is a sense of sadness for the families who did not receive good news. Please keep them all in your prayers...We love you Kulp, Semlow, Joner and Savage families....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Court Date is December 4th.....

We were just notified that our court date is December in tomorrow! We are relieved to know why we had not heard any news, and also nervous all over again as we wait for news tomorrow! Please continue praying! We feel hopeful and we are at peace, though soooo excited to hear if we will be bringing our son home before Christmas!!

If you want to know how to pray specifically- please pray that the Ministry of Womens Affairs (MOWA) will deliver our paperwork in time and with all the necessary paperwork. Please pray that the judge and other staff in the court will be fair and just. Please pray for the 8 families who most likely will have their court hearing tomorrow: Sloninger, Stager, Burk, Witter, Joner, Tenant, Savage, and Sparr families.

God is mighty and his plans can not be thawrted. We are resting in him!

Hope to share good news with you all tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not Sure What to Think....Update!

Well, we are not sure exactly what is going on, other than we did not hear a word today....So, we shall start the wait all over tomorrow. I have to tell you, it is exhausting, mentally and physically, but the Lord will sustain us while we wait.

Unfortunately, a few families did hear something and it was not good news. The Semlow and Kulp families did not pass court today. They are looking at new tentative travel dates for the first week in February. They are heartbroken....I know how they feel, but to think they must wait two more months is almost too much to handle.....Please keep these precious families and their children in your prayers. Also, the Sparr family was told that certain circumstances must come together for them to be able to travel as scheduled, so pray for them as well.

We will let you know as soon as we hear something- keep praying!

UPDATE- We have come to the conclusion that we must have been told the wrong court date....our travel dates are still the same as far as we know, and will be as long as we pass court. So, that means our court date must be Thursday or, once again..keep praying!

Monday, December 1, 2008

We Wait with Expectation.....

We had a great weekend with our family and friends (got to see both :) And we topped it off by taking a group of youth from our church to see some great Christian bands last night....What is Thanksgiving/Christmas without TobyMac?? He is still so awesome after all these years :)

So, yes, tomorrow is the big day. I will be honest, it is hard for me to concentrate on much else right now! Not sure how the sleeping will go tonight either. As we lay in bed tonight, thousands of miles away our court case will be heard. When we wake up tomorrow morning, our case will have most likely already been decided. We will know sometime tomorrow if our waiting has come to an end and we finally get to meet Caleb, or if the waiting will continue. Please pray for all the necessary paperwork to be in the proper place, as this seems to be the major roadblock when families do not pass court. We look forward to sharing joyous news with you tomorrow, as well as introducing you to our son!

As I was sitting in church yesterday morning, I was reminded that many years ago there were also people waiting for a special baby to arrive. This group of people had been waiting much longer than we had for this special child. Waiting with hope, and expectation, for the one who would be their Messiah. Father, thank you for sending your son to earth, to be our Savior and Redeemer. What hope we have because of your great sacrifice and love for us.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One Week and Counting.....

So, today marks one week until our court! I have been a bundle of nerves and excitement this week, and probably will continue to be until we hear something next Tuesday!! I have asked the Lord over and again for his provision on Tuesday not only for us, but for the other ten (I believe this is the right number) families as well. What a sweet and precious Christmas we will have with our blessed children home for Christmas with us...please Lord, may it be so!

I have also faced the tremendous fear that I have of not passing court. I have confessed it to the Lord, and asked him to take it from me. I have asked him to strengthen my faith so that my only hope may be in him- nothing else. That is such a challenge for me, I admit it! It is a challenge to balance the overwhelming love you have for your child and the yearning you have for him to be with you with the knowledge that God is in control. Slowly, but surely, God is teaching me!

In terms of our paperwork issue (totally seperate from passing court), I have still not heard back from the USCIS caseworker who had emailed me, but I did get a call from Senator McConnell's office yesterday. They asked me some more details about our specific situation, and they said, "We'll see if we can't get this paperwork expited for you." Yipppee!! They actually will be speaking to the "big dogs" at USCIS, so all I can say is, keep praying!

There is a song by Addison Road that I just love. It is called "Hope Now". The words of this song describe exactly how we are feeling right now!! Hope you enjoy it....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Please Pray!! - UPDATE #2

We received some very unexpected news about our paperwork today- It is a long story, but basically, we had to have two addendums added to our homestudy for an age change and change of address. These were done in October and send to USCIS, and we thought everything was fine, until today, when our social worker notified us that she had heard from USCIS and everything was not fine. Apparently USCIS may have a new policy in place that requires the home study to be redone completely when an addendum is added. If this is the case, we could be looking at an entire new home study, which most likely will mean a new approval from USCIS. As you can tell, this is all very up in the air, but we should know more tomorrow. At any rate, this is very bad news as we are scheduled to travel in about three weeks, and we must have a new approval by then. Our heads are spinning right now, as we don't know what to think! Please keep the folks at USCIS in your prayers, as we are asking God to give them and us mercy in this situation. I will update the blog as soon as I know something. Just Pray!!

UPDATE- Tomorrow we will be picking up our updated homestudy in Lexington, then traveling to meet with USCIS in Louisville. We will give them our updated paperwork and hopefully have a chance to speak with them about our situation. Oh, and Senator McConnell is also having someone from his office give USCIS a call to urge them to process our case quickly! I truly feel at peace with the situation, and we both want to thank everyone for their prayers! Though there is no guarantee yet that our approval will arrive before December 12, which is when we are scheduled to travel if we pass court, we have a peace that the Lord is going to take care of this situation.

UPDATE #2- We made it to USCIS in Louisville with all the required paperwork but....they said they could not accept it from us, that it had to come from the agency!! It was not good, as I burst into tears right there in the immigration office in front of everyone :) So, we drove back to Lexington to the agency, and they were not happy either. They said they just had a family a month ago in the same situation and USCIS accepted their paperwork directly from the, not sure what happened. We put all the paperwork in a Fed-Ex envelope, and USCIS should get it first thing Monday morning. The good news- our case worker at USCIS did email me last night, and I was able to email him back assuring him he would have the paperwork Monday. I also asked him directly if there was any way that we could get our approval in time for us to, we shall see. Please, just keep praying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things....

So, this weekend I had the chance to do a few of my favorite football, and decorate for Christmas! Here is a look at our weekend in photos....
UK vs.Vandy....brrr.....
There are actually little snowflakes on our just can't see them ;)

This is our living room's just a little guy:)

Zack putting the lights on the "big tree"....He is great at doing the lights!


Working on Caleb's tree....

Pooh "helped" for a while....

But it was just too tiring for him :)

In the end, I decided to use a paper chain I had made a while back :) Merry Christmas Caleb! We hope you like your Christmas tree!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Celebrate Adoption!

Today we had the second annual Celebrate Adoption! This event offers those interested in adoption the chance to meet with international, domestic and foster care agencies and other adoption related groups, as well as the opportunity to speak with adoptive parents about the process of adoption.

Okay, so I have to tell you how all this kind of got started. Last October I was sitting at my desk at work, and a lady I have never met walked in and asked what we had available in November. Well, we didn't have any space available. She asked if we knew of anywhere else where they could hold an adoption fair.....I looked up in amazement....what? Well, around this time Zack and I, along with my parents had really been trying to get something going at our church in terms of an adoption ministry, but just hadn't been able to get anything going. So, when I heard that this lady, who I had never met, was interested in holding an adoption fair, I got excited :) We talked, a few days later Zack and I had dinner with Sherri and Mike and met their beautiful family, and the rest is history :) We held the first adoption fair a month later, and now Mike & Sherri have established JMS Ministries- a Christ Centered Adoption Ministry. They are an amazing family, and God is doing amazing things through them!!

This year's Celebrate Adoption was extra special to me because my parents were awarded the "Adoption Advocate of the Year" award. I was able to record a short video for them and in it I spoke of the blessing they have been in my life, as well as the way in which they have relentlessly advocated for adoption. They had no idea about the video or the award, so it was a great surprise!! Congrats mom and deserve it!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Tomorrow we have the amazing privilege to vote for the President of the United States, among other positions. I hope we all will take advantage of this opportunity. I also pray that we would search not only our hearts, but the heart of God as we decide whom to vote for. I have not passed along many emails or other info that I have received this election season, but when I saw this video it seemed to sum up much of what all those other emails had to say. Just click on the link to view the video. It was produced by the Catholic church, and they have done a wonderful job in sharing an important message with all Christians and the world. May God lead and guide our nation as we seek to honor Him with our choices.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Renewed Spirit and Steadfast Hope....

What a range of emotions we have experienced these last few days! Tuesday was a truly tough day for us, and we thank God for all the support and encouragement we received from our family, friends, and our wonderful Yahoo Group (YG). The Lord used them in our lives in a wonderful way and we are so very grateful. We are also grateful for the renewed spirit and steadfast hope that He has given us during this (hopefully) final journey of our adoption process. Honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it until mid-December. Thankfully, my sweet, Godly husband helped me to refocus on God's faithfulness, and God was just that....faithful! Even Tuesday night we could sense a renewed presence of the Lord in our lives and we went to sleep in peace....undoubtedly this only came from Him! Sure, we still feel a twinge of disappointment in our hearts every now and then, but we are thankful for how this experience has strengthened our faith and reminded us that our hope should only be in the Lord our God. That's a tough lesson to learn :)

So, the exciting news! We have a HUGE travel group!! Well, I say exciting, but actually it is bittersweet. Unfortunately, our large travel group is due to the fact that other families also did not pass court. Not only this, but families who received their referrals a little later than us and were to travel before Christmas most likely will now not travel until after Christmas, which is very, very tough news to swallow. Our travel group now consists of the following families: Sloninger, Stager, Witter, Joner, Tenant, Savage and Sparr families. We are praying that each and every one of these families will be rejoicing on December 2 when we all pass court!! Please, be praying!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

News About Our Court Date

Friends and Family,

We have bad news to share about our court date. It was this morning. Everything was in place for Caleb's paperwork, except that there are two children in the transition home with Caleb's Ethiopian name, Bedlu. The approval letter for the other child was sent, and when the judge recognized this, he did not approve our case.

Our new court date is December 2. If we pass, we will travel on Dec. 13th.

The irony in all this is that in some weird way I felt like God was preparing us for this news. I didn't want to believe it, but I just felt it. I am reading a Bible study right now by Kay Arthur, "Lord, Only You Can Change Me". In my study, just last night, I read these words: "Listen, my friend, as difficult as it might be to receive right now, you ought to open your arms and welcome anything that will break you, that will bend your knees, that will bring you to utter destitution before your God."

As I read that last night, I thought, "The one thing that would do that to me would be if we didn't get to go get Caleb when we were scheduled to..."

Also, the song that I was going to play on our video to introduce Caleb to everyone is "Be Still and Know" by Steven Curtis Chapman. The lyrics say:

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still
Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still; Be speechless
Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know he is our Father
Come rest your head upon his breast
Listen to the rhythm of his unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still, Be still

So, that is what we will do, for the next several weeks. Though we don't know why or how this could have happened....we will be still, and know that He is God.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Erin & Court This Week!!!

We had a great time this weekend in North Carolina spending time with Zack's
step-grandmother and celebrating Erin's (Zack's sister) 30th birthday!
Evelyn, Erin, Zack, Micah, Me, Punky & Mark
The Girls :)

Happy Birthday Erin!!

This coming week we have court! We do not know which day, we just know it is this week. Please be praying for us, the Juvinall family, and the Armstrong family (our travel buddies :) As long as we pass court, we will travel on the tentative dates we were given, November 15-21st. I have been trying very hard to not be anxious or worry about our court date, and to rest in God's provisions for our family. I will admit, it has been tough! If we do not pass court for some reason, the chances that we would get to bring home Caleb before Christmas are very, very slim. This would be very difficult for our family to not have him home for Christmas.
This morning our pastor used a text from Luke that really spoke to me.... "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Luke 12:25
Isn't this true!! I know that worry is no good, and that God doesn't want me to worry. And really, I have no need to! I know that God is in control and that he is holding my entire family in his hands! I am thankful that we have such a caring and loving God. He loves us more than we can imagine!
I will be sure to let you know anything at all we hear about court!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Preparing for Caleb's Arrival...Baby Shower!!!

The cute and very yummy!
Our " charm" cake....

With my sister-in-law Micah, and Frances and Jessica, my great friends The grandparents (minus my dad...he was a little late:)
Pulling the charm out of our charm cake.

This was a very special moment and we did this just with our family.

The charm....
A little of the chaos after the shower :)
The awesome red wagon Caleb got isn't in here....but it is sooo cool!!!
Caleb, you have a new pal waiting for you!

Today we had Caleb's baby shower! What a wonderful and special day. The shower began with a very special time of blessings. Blessing were read from the Bible by friends and family. The blessings were for Caleb and us. It was such a precious experience as we heard promises from God's word for our family. Next we all enjoyed very yummy food and cake, and finally we opened lots and lots of gifts!! Thank to everyone for their generosity! We are blessed! A very special thank you to my mom and mother-in-law (or as she says, mother-in-love, which I think is very sweet :) They worked so hard, and I had a great time with them this weekend. Caleb is going to have a couple of great grandma's!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Okay people, just got an email earlier today....they have moved us up a week! That's right, our new travel dates are:

November 15-21!!

Praise the Lord!! We will get to meet Caleb (if we pass court) a week earlier, and avoid all the Thanksgiving airline craziness!!

So, we are def. thinking our court date must be the last week in October!!

Also, it seems that all the families with court dates this week have passed!! Congrats Britton, Laughner, Hammond & Nunez families! Now go check out those beautiful babies!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We'll Be Spending Thanksgiving in Ethiopia!!

Well, looks like we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Ethiopia style! That's right, our tentative travel dates are November 21-28!! I have to admit, I was a bit shocked by the actual dates, as there is quite a gap between the previous travel group and ours (the other group will leave November 1st), but we are very excited to know when we most likely will travel, and to know that Caleb will be with us by Thanksgiving!

Of course, there is always the chance that we will not pass court. We really believe this will not happen, as Caleb was abandoned, as compared to being relinquished, so the paperwork is simplified. Also, our agency has worked very hard in making sure that all the documents needed will be in place. I shudder to think about what will happen if we don't pass, as I don't see anyway possible of bringing Caleb home before Christmas if that were to happen. So, please be praying!

Given our travel dates, we estimate that our court date should be the first week In November, as in the week of November 3-7. It could be earlier, however, we just don't know. But, the first week in November is our best guess.

Thanks for all the prayers, and keep them coming!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No News Yet....

Still no news on tentative travel dates....maybe later this week? I admit, I have had trouble focusing on "everyday life things" while waiting to find out this news.....this part of the wait is not so fun....well, I guess no part has been fun, but it has been beneficial, I know. God has taught us, despite our resistance, how to begin to rest totally in him...not in updates, travel dates, etc.....just in Him! I have a feeling that this is one of those lessons that you have to be reminded of, or even relearn throughout life. Thankfully, his mercies are new each morning.

The group of families leaving November 1st for Ethiopia have been told that their court dates are this week, but do not know when. How exciting! We are praying for all of them to pass so that they may be united with their children as planned. I can't imagine how much trouble I will have focusing once I know our "court week"!!!

I am also very sad to tell you that another precious child in Ethiopia with our agency has passed away from pneumonia. Please keep the Forrest family in your prayers as they deal with the loss of their daughter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Travel Call & Families Passing Court!

Yesterday we had a second conference call regarding travel to Ethiopia. During the course of the call, we found out some more information about what our time in Ethiopia will look like. Most importantly, we were told that Monday we will be emailed our tentative travel dates! This is what we have been waiting for!!!

One area of concern that was brought up during the call was the fact that there is a formula shortage in Ethiopia. Our family coordinator told us that the transitional home in Ethiopia is fine, but one of the orphanages where many of the babies come from is running very this point, they only have maybe two weeks of formula left! Many of the families, including ours, are going to send over cans of formula with the families who will be leaving to pick up their children on October 25th. If you feel led to help, please email me ( and I will be glad to tell you how you can help! Also, please keep the entire country of Ethiopia in your prayers. The economic situation there is not good, and this effects everyone, but hits the children extra hard. Costs have risen tremendously, and times are tough. Imagine the economic situation here and multiply that by 100....

Also, an update on families passing court. Congrats to the Lusse, Redfern, Wempe, and Schmidt families as they all successfully passed court on October 8th!! Be sure to check out their blogs (links to the right) to see their adorable children! Unfortunately, due to new regulations that were not fully disclosed to agencies, the VanWetten, Hutchinson, and Wistrom families did not pass court. Basically, if the child has been relinquished, it will no longer suffice for the birthparents to be present to give their testimony. A letter must also be present, and this letter was not present for these families, as our agency was not made aware of these new regulations. They will now to wait around one month before their case can be heard again. Please pray for these families...I can't imagine how their hearts must be hurting as they wait to unite with their children!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What we Know, and What we Don't Know....

Wow! I just realized it has been a while since I posted. We have been super, super busy with events at church, graduate class, updating our fingerprints with USCIS, and lots of other things!

Well, first of all, the courts in Ethiopia opened about a week early, which is great news! Tomorrow is the first round of court dates for some of our AWAA families, so please keep them in your prayers!

We did hear some news about travel at the end of last week. Unfortunately, we will not be traveling with the November 1st-8th travel group. We had thought for sure that we would most likely be traveling with this group based on the information that we had heard and observed, but it was not to be. Last weekend was a little tough in light of that new information, but I think we are over the disappointment now, and we are definitely looking forward to finding out when we will travel and who our travel buddies will be :) We are speculating that our travel dates could be November 8th-November 15th or November 15th-November 22nd....of course we are praying for the earlier dates :)

We have another conference call regarding travel coming up on Thursday, so we should know more then. We also received an update on Caleb last week....he seems to be doing great and is healthy, strong, and interacting with all his buddies in the transition home. Oh, and he is getting more hair! He may have a full head of hair when we meet him :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Weekend in Photos....

This was our "camping cabin" very cute and cozy :)
The view from our cabin.....not bad :)

Quite possibly the nicest bathhouse I have ever seen.....

The inside of the nicest bathhouse I have ever seen....

Day One....Great Smoky of many beautiful trails.....

We were being adventurous...this was a little "off" the trail

Day two....

I really didn't mean to get into the river (trust me, the water was freezing), but the rocks were pretty slick and I just kind of slid right in :)