Counting my blessings

So, as a stay at home mom, there are always a million things to do. Manage four kids, manage the house, cook, drive little people around … you get the picture. I need to tell you about how I honestly felt true joy as I plowed through the tasks of the day. Take a look.

*I did 5 loads of laundry. That means that God has provided my family with clothing.

*I did 3 loads of dishes. That means God has provided my family with an abundance of food.

*I dusted. That means God has provided a home for my family.

*I cleaned up mud from the floor. That means God gave us a warm day and a safe place for my kids to run around and play.

Do you see where I’m going? We get so weighed down by the day-to-day that we forget to see what we have been given. Our lives are so richly blessed and we so often forget to give God the glory for the everyday stuff. We are quick to praise him when something big happens, but what would it be like if we praised him for the stuff we take for granted?

I am thankful that my eyes were open today. However, my heart breaks for those without. Tonight, I feel compelled to pray for those in need. That they would know they are loved.  Would you join me in prayer tonight? Before you fall asleep, would you just ask God to fill their hearts with comfort and love?

Oh, and don’t forget to thank God for all he has given you!


To every season

We knelt by the window, Abby and I. As she stood on my lap gazing at the lights on the porch, something in my heart stirred. She looked at the lights, she looked at me. She looked at the lights, she looked at me. Eyes full of wonder and a smile on her face. And then, she turned to me and laid her head on my shoulder and let out an “ahhh.” We sat like that for a few moments and then she popped her head back up and stared out at the lights against the dark night. As we shared this moment I cried quietly.

You see, I couldn’t help but go back to a year ago. The season of waiting. Waiting on the Lord to see our daughter. Wondering who she was, what were her circumstances, was she born, was she hungry, was her family hurting with their decision? Just before Christmas last year, it was almost unbearable. But as I look back at that season I see so clearly why my heart was hurting. God put that there because of what she was going through. To make me look back and realize how far she has come, how far we have come. I am thankful for a God who cares, who heals.

I like this new season. Seeing Abby grow and thrive. Seeing her brothers and sister love on her and the bond they have created with her. It feels like a good season. It is full of challenges, but it is good.

As I look back over the past year I can’t help but wonder what comes next. I am waiting as patient as I can to see God’s plan. I think about Abby here with us and my heart breaks for those left behind. God has broken my heart for the orphan and I pray every day that he reveals to me what I am supposed to do. It’s hard to wait. But it is just another season. Oh, how I love the changing of the seasons.


A glimpse into my thoughts

How is everything going? How is Abby adjusting? How are the other kids? How is it with four kids?

Here are the  questions I hear a lot now. You’d think I would get tired of answering again and again, but I don’t. I love telling people how we are doing. I love telling people how amazing God is in the details of our journey. I love that after all the years spent talking about adopting and staring at other adoptive families and wondering what our family would look like, we are now that family. Seriously, it is so surreal to me.

Every night before going to bed, we always check on the kids, cover them up, give them kisses. The other night after checking on the big kids I had come to Abby. As I peered over the side of the crib at that sweet face and fuzzy hair, I found myself crying. She has blessed our lives already.

So many emotions come out when you come home with your adopted child. So much joy, so much love, so much gratitude, so much that is good. But, there is this other side, the side that is so sad for her loss, so sad for her family, so sad for all the orphans of the world wanting to find families. I am so grateful for the gift of Abby, so thankful that God chose us, but I will never forget her birth family and the sacrifice her parents made. I will continue to pray for them.

On a much lighter note, Abby is adjusting really well. She is so happy and playful. She adores her brothers and sister just as they do her. The big kids seem to be doing just fine with our new family dynamic but we are keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they are not feeling left out or not as important. The four kid thing … well … let’s just say that it adds a new level of excitement to our house. It is very busy, never a dull moment, and the house is not so well cared for – but hey, the kids sure are! Life with four is a good kind of crazy and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Where has the time gone?

Wow, it has been too long since our last post, so I thought I’d give you a quick update. It has been almost three weeks since we arrived home with our precious Abby.  We have tried to keep her home as much as possible to start creating that bond with her. We do venture out with the Baby Bjorn on and take a stroll around the block. She loves being outside.

Abby’s stats:

*Feedings – She takes a six-ounce bottle every three hours. The kids call her the “milkaholic.” That is what was written on the bib she was wearing when we saw her at Hannah’s Hope (despite being marked as lactose intolerant on the paperwork). They also laugh at the way she does her “milk dance” when she sees her bottle. She flails her arms and legs and starts smacking her lips. It is so cute.

*Routine – She wakes, eats, plays around then sleeps for about 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat.

*Nighttime – She gets up one or two times a night for a quick snack and then falls right back to sleep. I know it would be so great if she slept through the night, but I don’t mind getting an extra chance to snuggle her sweetness.

*Personality – You might be wondering if a five-month-old really has a personality. Well she does, and it is so fun. She is happy and full of smiles. Her siblings can get her to laugh by talking to her or being silly for her. She is quite ticklish. She is now starting to really like to grab onto her toys. We are just so in awe of her sweet, fun personality.

*Teething – Yes, this is happening. Not fun. Working on the bottom front teeth. I can’t wait to see that smile.

*Weight – She has more chins now that we are home. Seriously, she is getting some good rolls! And those cheeks, oh my!

I find that she has made me a better mom. I am cherishing all my kids in a new way. Hannah, Elliot and Logan are just amazing with Abby. They love to talk to her and get her to smile.  They have grown up so much. They are so in love with their sister.

It is really amazing how God knits our families together. Our journey had some bumps in it that were hard to work through at times but God has truly blessed us and I know why he called us to this place. My heart is so full of joy and I give all praise to God.


I love surprises

I do love a happy surprise and did I ever get one this week. My sweet neighbors threw me a celebration. It all started a little over a week ago when my friend Stephanie so casually invited me over to do coffee over spring break. Sounded simple enough. She is a social butterfly and always opening up her home, so I didn’t think anything of it. In fact, I was looking forward to it all week. Thinking that it would be just the right thing to do on the last weekday of spring break. So the day before, she called to confirm that I was in fact going to be there. In retrospect, a bit fishy if you ask me, but honestly, my mind is in a zillion different places at one time so I didn’t give it a thought.

Now, Friday morning comes and I get all decked out in my cute Africa shirt from Whitney. The phone rings and Stephanie asked if I could bring over coffee creamer. Sure, no problem. Then she tells me she is just finishing feeding the baby so could I give her ten minutes. That should have given it away. She normally doesn’t care about that, but again, the mind all over the place thing.

Ten minutes passes and the kids hop on their bikes and we make the two-minute walk.  I see a van, a stroller, nothing out of the ordinary. Go to the door, go in and SURPRISE – my neighbors were all there to celebrate. Food, decorations, gifts … what a treat!

The coolest gift was a team effort.  My friend Kendra’s parents lived in Ethiopia several years ago.  When Kendra heard our story she asked if they would give something to us that they had brought back from their time in Ethiopia. So cool, right?! It gets better. Stephanie went around to the neighbor kids and traced their handprints on colored paper, cut them out and stapled them to colorful straws and turned them into a sweet bouquet to welcome our baby girl into the neighborhood. How cool is that?!!

Of course, I cried.  All these hands, all to welcome our daughter.

To say that I was touched by this would be an understatement.  Every time I look at that vase I am flooded with emotion.  Not just because of what my neighbor friends did for me but because what it shows me. That we are completely embraced by our community, friends, family. That our journey has touched others. That baby girl is so loved and we haven’t even held her in our arms. I am so humbled by this journey, that God would call on us to follow him in this way. That others show us so much compassion. We are blessed.


Out of the hospital

We found out on Tuesday that baby girl was out of the hospital. They said they are glad to have her back and that she is so happy and playful. She has recovered from severe pneumonia, thank goodness!

We also received updated pictures. Oh my word. She is not the tiny baby girl who was in the referral pictures in February. Oh no, she is pure CHUNK and I can’t wait to kiss those cheeks.  Let me tell ya, they are oh so kissable. I have actually requested that they double-check the measurements we were given last week because she looks like she weighs more than what we were told in the update.

So, the countdown continues. We have the crib assembled now in our room. The kids helped us clean it up and get it ready. We have all of our help in place to manage our kids. We have a call out to anyone in the area that might want to donate a can of soy formula or a package of diapers to add to our donations. Our daughter, Hannah, is collecting friendship bracelets to give to the older kids who are waiting for adoption. We are making progress on plans, but we are down to the wire now.

I will not get too stressed or too anxious about the details. I rely on my God to give me peace and comfort. Okay, so feel free to ask me next week if I’m freaking out. And if I am, remind me of this, please.

Much love to all of you!


So much

So much to be thankful for, so much to do, so much to pack, so much to plan, just … so …  much.

First, we did receive this update today:

Baby girl is still in the hospital, but she is doing a lot better. We hope that she will be discharged soon, sometime in the next couple of days. We are told that it was severe pneumonia and it takes a long time to feel well in infants. Today, all day she has not been on oxygen. And she has been feeding normally. So will for sure update you as soon as anything new comes up or/and when she gets discharged.

That helped to ease some major anxiety.  Jesse and I have not been having the best dreams the past few nights and I think it was because we had not received an update before the weekend. So today we are thankful for baby girl being on the mend.

So much to do, yes. We leave very soon and there is a lot to organize before then. Just making the lists and getting things crossed off is crazy. Not to mention getting our house in order for all the amazing people who have stepped up to help us. I haven’t even finalized the details for our people who are sacrificing their time to be with our kids at home. See what I mean?!

I wan’t so much to spend quality time with my awesome kiddos at home. I don’t want to get so caught up in the preparation for leaving that I don’t take to be in the moment with them. Their lives are about to change and I want to cherish everything with them.

So, there you have it. So much.


Sick baby

Well, we got the phone call that no parent wants to receive, especially if it’s about your baby who is on the other side of the world. Sweet baby A is in the hospital. She was taken in Thursday night for rapid breathing and reduced feeding during the night. Friday we received word that she seemed okay and was being treated with IV antibiotics for severe infection including pneumonia. On a good note, they said she was back to eating normal.

It is such a hard place to be emotionally. We just want to be with her and hold her and advocate for her care. We were comforted by the fact that one of her “special mothers” has been with her the whole time at the hospital. Last night I broke down crying. How do I thank this woman who is caring for our daughter when I can’t? How do I thank her for staying by her side while she is so sick? I want her to know how special she is to us for being by her side when we can’t be there. I am so thankful for the care A is getting over there.

Many of my friends from our agency’s Yahoo group have sent us emails. They told us their stories about when they got the call about their babies. One family had six-week-old twins, one family had twins that were only four and six pounds. How they were sick, but got better. How they were so well cared for by their special mothers. How sometimes treating pneumonia is just like treating a bad chest cold and that they take the kids to the hospital because they know they can’t give them the best care they need. All of these wonderful people gave beautiful words of encouragement and shared their stories. Thank you for reaching out to us.

I want to thank all of you for lifting her up in prayer. Thank you for all of your encouraging words to Jesse and me.  It’s a hard place to be, but God has given us such peace to know that he is taking care of her.


Tentative travel dates

Oh my, I am in a daze. We just received word that we have tentative travel dates. We were told to look for tickets, but not pay for them just yet.  All I know is that soon, very soon, she will be in our arms.

We are making lists, lists about our lists, our transition plan for what it will look like when we bring her home, etc. What a fun and dizzying time this is.

Adoption is such a roller coaster of emotions. I can remember how heavy my heart was just a few short months ago. But God is faithful and brings such beauty and joy out of pain. Oh how grateful I am for that. So I sit here with a smile on my face and a heart full of praise for the news that she will be coming home to us soon.

Will you join us in prayer that the dates are confirmed quickly, that our plans for our kids line up and that we travel safely to bring our love home? We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are so thankful for all of you.


Answered prayer

WE PASSED COURT!!!!! Yes, I am still in awe at our news and we found out on Monday. We are officially the parents of four children. Hertstein, party of six. I love that!

This was a major milestone in bringing baby A home. For those who don’t know, when you pass court in Ethiopia, the child then officially becomes yours. The majority of families do not pass on their first attempt, but we did. Not only on our first attempt, but one day shy of four weeks after receiving our referral phone call.

What’s the next step? We wait for our embassy date to be assigned in Ethiopia. That’s the date we plan our travel around. We are hoping to go near the end of April.

Thank you to all who were praying for us. You held us high as we waited in anticipation to hear the news. Our God is good, all the time, even in the wait.