The Garrisons

Follow our journey on adoption #3 for child #8!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

For THIS child I have prayed....

So, we've been home for 11 days, and I'm just NOW getting to updating this poor, neglected blog.   Mostly because by the time I put it all on FB and send pics to our families, I feel like I'm done, but I think there are 1 or 2 of you who still check this for it is!
Our time in Ethiopia meeting  Samuel was wonderful....we passed court which was the primary reason for the trip, and so we are thrilled to introduce our son to you!
Here is our first look at him...We had arrived in Ethiopia on Monday morning....we'd been up a long time, but this little guy was totally worth it!

 Getting my hands on him...he's so, so tiny!
(Check out his on-backwards pants...they are 3-6 month pants that fit like capris - ha!)
So happy to be together!
 He's going to fit right in around here...he's fun, energetic, and just a little bit ornery!

 I have no idea what this face is about, but hey - we're all together!
 He's B.U.S.Y.
 Playing hide and seek...he loves to engage in throwing balls (or anything else), or any kind of game.

 Samuel and  Daddy.

 Whatchoo talkin' bout?
 Gettin' some love from one of the nannies...
He LOVES ball.   Loves it.
We are missing our boy, but trying to keep busy while we wait for him to come home....that's not too hard with 7 other kids at home.    We are anticipating about a 3 month wait to bring him home.  It seems so long, but Nathan reminded me that in the big picture of his life, it's just a snippet of time.    

Friday, November 9, 2012

Going to meet our boy!!

Yep - that's right!  We're leaving tomorrow to go meet Samuel!!    We are so excited!

On Sunday evening, we received an email from our agency rep telling us that we had a court date on November 14...which meant we needed to be in country by the 12th...which meant we had to leave THIS WEEKEND!   Craziness.    This adoption has certainly not happened on the time frame we thought it would - it's left our heads spinning a bit (or at least mine!).   Don't get me wrong - we are thrilled - but with international adoption it's usually much longer than you'd hope - hardly ever quicker than you expect!

So, this week has been a flurry of making arrangements for the kids (Thanks, Mom!), running the endless errands that seem to accompany a trip like this,  packing, and just our usual schedule with 7 kids! 

We would appreciate your prayers for our family this week.  I always struggle with leaving the kids...something about getting on a plane to fly 8000 miles away and leaving 7 of my children behind goes against every maternal instinct I have!  I know they will be fine,'s just hard to leave them behind.

If you feel so inclined to pray for us, we would appreciate prayers for:
  • Sweet Samuel...that his heart would be prepared to meet us, and that he would adjust quickly to his new surroundings at the transition home.  This is where he will stay until we can bring him home in a few months.
  • Safe & smooth travels for us...and for good health (no altitude sickness this time!)
  • Our children at home...that the littles would feel secure and have a good time while we are gone.  For our bigs that they would handle extra responsibility well and have a great week.
  • For everyone playing a part in caring for our kids.
  • For God to use this trip to further change our lives - open our eyes - give us a heart for the things of his heart.  

 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east 
and gather you from the west.
Isaiah 43:5

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Our family has been chosen to receive a $2500 MATCHING GRANT from Lifesong for Orphans!!

Can you help us meet our goal?   Your $10 becomes $20 or your $25 becomes $50!!

This gift of a grant came at just the right time as our family awaits hearing of our court date in Ethiopia and the date we will make our first trip!  (SOON!)  We need to raise the funds for our first trip, and possibly second.    We have many expenses left in this adoption - two trips to Ethiopia (about $11,000), a referral fee which is $8500 alone, $1200 more in agency fees, our post placement reports, etc.

It is humbling to put this out there, but we need your help.   When we started this adoption, I told Nathan that I would not fund raise...we had done it before, and I didn't want people to get sick of us.   However, after I saw sweet Samuel's face and we are faced with all of these expenses, I realize that it's not about us, but about bringing him HOME...and about giving you an opportunity to be a part.

Thank you for ANY part you can play!  We are so appreciative!!


Monday, October 22, 2012

It's a BOY!!

For this child I have prayed,
And the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.
1 Samuel 1:27

We have a referral!!!   We are excited to announce our referral for a precious little boy!   We knew time was approaching for our referral, but the call came as such a surprise!    (We were actually watching the vice presidential was a welcome diversion!)   He just turned 2 years old, although we all agree that he looks younger and smaller, so we'll see how things unfold.  In any case, he is adorable!

We were stumped for a short time on a boy's name.   I had chosen a girl's name that I just love - Selah - not because I was wishing for a girl, but just because I love that name.   So, it took us a little time to figure out what to name the little guy.    One day I was praying specifically about his name, and the verse that popped into my head was the one above - 1 Samuel 1:27.   It seemed perfect - Samuel.   Such a sweet name, and such a beautiful reminder of God's faithfulness in blessing us with this son.

We are hoping to be submitted to court in the next couple of weeks and will wait for a court date to be given.    We can't wait to travel to Ethiopia and meet Samuel in person!  Unfortunately, he will not come home with us the first trip.  BOO.   If it weren't for little things like school, work, and airfare for 9 people, I'd just move us all to Ethiopia for the few months between our two trips, but unfortunately that's not a possibility.   Again I say, BOO.

The kids are excited, and the little boys talk often about being big brothers and all that they will teach Samuel (you can pray for me on that one...I'm a little afraid of what they might teach him!).    We are planning his room, taking out the little boys' outgrown clothes to pass down, and having fun preparing for his homecoming.

We would appreciate your prayers for him as we wait, for his little heart and all that he's endured in his young life.   Please pray for our family as we prepare and for the adjustment to come.  We would also love prayers for financial provision to complete this adoption...we have not fundraised (except for a Facebook blitz) this time, and are hoping not to as we don't want friends and family to tire of us.  However, there is a very real need.   We've applied for a few grants, and are hoping to hear from them before our first trip.

We're so glad to share our news with you!    We'll keep you posted!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God is good.

My heart is full.   My God is good.   And my words are inadequate to express it to you all.

This post isn't about adoption - although because our family is in our third adoption process, the story will include adoption.   This post is about what happens when you take a scary leap of obedience and do whatever it is God is calling you to do.   For us, adoption.  For you, I don't know.

There is no way I could ever recount all the instances of God's faithfulness in our lives, but lately, I've been so overwhelmed by his goodness and provision.    Four years ago, we started our first adoption process, and while we felt clearly led there and were excited, it was SCARY.   So many questions...what will this look like?   how will we afford it?   how will it affect our at home kids?   how will we afford it?  (oh, did I mention that one already...?)    What we found in the process of following God - despite the questions - was the JOY of obedience and his miraculous provision.   It was a faith stretching journey, but one that proved to us over and over again that he will completely provide, especially when the idea was his in the first place.   The finances - check.   The first real international travel experience (I hated the idea of leaving our kids!) - check.   The adjustment with a new one at home - check.   The positive impact on our kids - check.    The blessing of our Elijah - BIG check.    God is so, so good.

Our second adoption was easier to decide to go ahead with because of what we had experienced the first time....but this time God called us to add THREE children to our family.   Once again, he blew us away by providing.  By far his greatest provision has been in the adjustment to adding that many family members at once.   Friends, I will not gloss over this one.  It was HARD for me.  I love, love these kids, but it's not easy to attach to that many children at once.  It was hard emotionally, financially, logistically, and so on.  If I'm honest, I will tell you that some of this is still a work in progress.    But God is amazingly faithful, and has helped me navigate the most difficult of emotions and times.   God is so good.

So, now we are find ourselves in round 3.   Once again, there are many questions - but we now walk with a fuller faith and an assurance of God's faithfulness that comes through witnessing his hand in your life.    He is once again proving himself faithful.    Let me give you a few examples...

Nathan and I really don't know how this adoption and all of it's related expenses are going to be taken care of.  It's a lot.  Frankly, we're depleted with 7 kids already, and back to back adoptions.   I have applied for some grants, but have not heard much back yet.    We have an adoption related expense due this week that is just under 3G.   Unfortunately, we don't have that lying around, so our plan was to use our home equity line of credit.  Blech.   I hate that.   I felt sick to my stomach about it, but knew it was really the only option we had.   Yesterday, I went to get the mail.....and yep, you guessed it.   A check from a grant (that had never even acknowledged receipt of our application) for THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.   Yes - that's right - the day before we needed it, the money came in almost the exact amount we needed!!  

Coincidence...?  I think not.   God is good!

Oh - we also got our I171H that day, too.   (for those of you who don't speak adoptionese - this is a VERY important form from the US Immigration Dept that allows you to bring another child home).

God  has also blown is away in the area of Nathan's work.    He works so, so hard to support all of us, and we love him for it!  He works full time at a local hospital as a physical therapist, and then also contracts himself out to see patients at nursing homes in surrounding communities.   That contract work plays an important role in our finances.  Over the summer, he was given a pay cut with the company he did the most contract work for.  Major bummer for us.  So, my hubby, being the resourceful breadwinner he is, began to make other contacts.  Can I just tell you that God has more than provided what he was going to lose!   AMAZING.  God is good!
Just today, we had a gentleman come work on our house.  As we got to talking, I found out that he and his wife have taken in four foster children (to make seven children total - just like us) into their home and are planning on adopting them.   We shared experiences, and he opened up about how difficult it had been.   I was able to encourage him, and I think he found comfort in just knowing someone else had walked in similar shoes.   Before he left, he told me that he felt like God had brought him to our house today to hear what he needed to hear.

Coincidence...?  I think not.   God provided me the opportunity to share what he was doing in our life and encourage another.  He's so good!

I could ramble on with story after story about times just like these that God has provided for us.  But here's the take home message - If you are walking in his will, God WILL provide.  Not sometimes.   Not every now and then.   ALL OF THE TIME.     I shake my head when I realize the crazy faith journey we would have missed if we hadn't said yes to what God had for us four years ago.   All of the ways I would have missed him working, and the joy I would not have experienced.

Maybe it's not adoption God is calling you to...maybe it's something else that feels scary and crazy.  I hope you will find encouragement in this, and not let your fears keep you from saying YES.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. 
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
There is absolutely nothing to fear about tomorrow; for God is already there.
Psalm 91:4

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to school & a quick adoption update

Haley - The girl who made me a momma...16 and a junior in high school.   

Hayden - Freshman in high school!!  Love this sweet boy.

Emma - 13 years old, 8th grade.   Spunky and sweet - keeps life fun!

Grace - 2nd grade.   So proud of her progress & kind compassionate heart.
Aleigha is in 1st grade!   Smart and sweet - can't  believe how she's grown!

Solomon - Tender hearted and our most curious child - still home with mom!
Elijah - His way or the high way. :)  Leader through and through!  - 3 1/2

We've started the school year and are off to a good start!   We're enjoying the routine that the school year brings, although I'm always a little sad to see the kids go back to school.   Five of them are off to school every morning and the boys stay home with me.  We keep busy, go to Bible study on Tuesdays, and they go to Grandma and Grandpa Garrison's on Wednesdays (this is SUCH  blessing!). 

On the adoption front, we are waiting for a referral!  Our dossier is in Ethiopia, and we will be matched with one child, either gender, younger than the boys.  We are approved for ages 0-4, but have requested that the child be younger than our boys, who are currently 3 and 3 1/2.   So, who knows!  We get lots of questions from friends about how long we will wait, why wait times are different for different families, etc.  The answer is not has to do with what agency you are using, how many orphanages they receive referrals from, how many families are waiting with that agency, special needs you are open to, ages requested, etc.  Each adoption journey is so unique, you really can't compare. 

We've (well I've) filled out lots of adoption grant applications...we're hoping this will be the ticket to not have to do as much fund raising.  We anticipate having to do some, and are praying that the adoption tax credit is extended, but really crossing our fingers for some grant money.   Most of them have said they'll let us know by the end of November.  

Other than that, we are keeping busy with the kids, watching Hayden run cross country, church activities, and just every day life.   We are blessed for sure, and anxious to see who God will add to this brood below!  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

$8 for our Eighth!

When we decided to go forward with our 3rd adoption process (8th child, 5th adopted child), we knew that the financial part of this would be tough.  We are trusting God to provide what we need to complete what He's called us to.   So, it is with humility  that we are asking you to partner with us to help bring our precious child home from Ethiopia.   

Fund raising might be my least favorite part of adoption.....However, because we are excited to bring our child home, and because we cannot cover the expenses alone, and because we have some bigger adoption fees due soon...we come to you with this:

Can you give $8 to help bring our eighth child home??

We are asking that you GIVE $8 towards the cost of bringing our child home.
(We do not yet know who they are.)
AND - THIS IS IMPORTANT - We are asking that you SHARE this blog post with friends, family, on Facebook, and ask others to give and share as well.  

We are so grateful to those of you who are willing to partner with us in this way - We really cannot do it without you!!  We need your help in both giving AND sharing!!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Why are we adopting...again??!

  • We do it for the glamour.   I want to be just like Angelina Jolie.
  • My husband makes a lot of money and we don't know what else to do with it.
  • We "really love children."   We don't ever want a moment to ourselves, so we fill our home with more and more children!
  • We are trying to punish our older children by making them share everything, and having to sacrifice things like Disney World and the latest technological gadget.
  • We enjoy going places and having people question us about the biological relation of our children...which ones are our real children, and which ones are "really" related.  
  • We are near perfect parents.  You should really be more like us.
  • It makes for great Christmas card photos.
  • We really want our own reality show.
  • Big vans are SO COOL to drive.   We feel like rock stars in ours!
  • We get bored easily.

Of course you can see that this list is a little snarky, and maybe a tad sarcastic.   But for real, these are things people ask us about.  That and, "Haven't you figured out what causes that?"....which makes no sense to us when talking about adoption.   Maybe we should just answer "poverty,disease, death, and loss of family". 

In all honesty, it's not my heart to make light of people's sincere genuine questions about why we would choose to adopt again.   A lot of the time, though, I find myself having difficulty formulating an answer that keeps the conversation light, or even does justice to the weight of the reasons why.   And most of the things I feel like I've already said at some point in my blog anyway.    But for those inquiring minds who still want to know, I'll give you our list - Our real list, the one that reveals our hearts, and we think the heart of God.

  • God commands us to.   He doesn't necessarily command everyone to adopt, but he DOES command every believer to play a role in caring for the orphan.   For us, we strongly believe - no, we KNOW - that that means adoption, at least for this season in our lives.   We've surrendered our family to God's will for us, and want him to lead us in what that looks like.  That means letting him decide our family size...not what "makes sense" to us or anyone else.

  • There is legitimate need.   Orphan statistics vary, as it is a very difficult thing to put a number on, but estimates range from 133 - 163 MILLION children.    Those children are NOT all adoptable, but the ones who are deserve a home.    The ones who aren't deserve the body of Christ to rise up and be part of providing holistic long-term solutions to the orphan crisis.  ALL of these children deserve to be cared for in some way. 

  • We do love being parents.   We never imagined when we said  "I do" 20 years ago that we would have 8 children - NEVER.   (I just hoped I could talk Nathan into more than two!)   We know we are not perfect parents - far from it sometimes - but we do love our children, and strive to do what is right by love them, teach them, provide security, encouragement, and tell them of God's great love for us.   Being parents is the single greatest privilege we have on this earth.  We do not take it lightly, and know that our children are among our greatest blessings.   We know that our 8th child will also be a blessing, just as the first seven are.

  • We never adopted because of what it could teach our 'at home' children, but the lessons and conversations that have come from it are invaluable.   We have watched our older children mature, experience God's provision, and grow in their faith in ways they never would have if we hadn't stepped out to adopt.  We have all had to learn to sacrifice more, wait our turn, and put others first. 

  • There is a little one half way around the world with no family to call their own.   They are living in an orphanage with many other mommy and daddy to tuck them in, to teach them about Jesus, to kiss their boo boos, or wipe their tears.   If our decision to adopt - no matter how crazy it may seem - changes the life of that little one...isn't it worth it??  We think so.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our BIG news!!

Yep - you guessed it!
The Garrison family is growing again!!

 We are so excited to tell you that the Garrisons are adopting from Ethiopia again!!   We are just as excited about our eighth child as we were the first!

We have come to this decision through much consideration, discussion, and prayer.   When there are 9 people in a family already, there is a lot to sort through and think about.    When we first started talking about this several weeks ago, I will admit I had many reservations.   Was this the responsible thing to do?   Should we stretch ourselves (in every way) even more?    It was overwhelming to sort through all of the concerns we needed to consider.    I wrestled through many conversations with God, and finally wrote out a list for Him of why I thought, just possibly, He had the wrong family for this gig. After my "reasons", you can see the responses I found as I took them to scripture.  It went a little something like this:

  • We already have seven children.  Maybe it's just too much.   Maybe I can't handle it.
          "I am still not all I should be, but am focusing my energies on this one thing:   Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us up to heaven."  Phil. 3:13

"For I can do everything with the help of  CHRIST who gives me the strength I need."
Phil. 4:13

  • Most of the time I do not feel like an adequate mother to the children I have. 
"Your heavenly father already knows all of your needs and will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern."
Matthew 6:  32-33
"Do not be afraid,  for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.   I will strengthen you.  I will help you.   I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
 Isaiah 41:10

  • I am getting too old for this.  :)
 (This is all relative, and I certainly know I'm not elderly, but I am older than I thought I would be when I was adding children to our family!)

I was reminded of Abraham (Genesis 21), who waited for his long awaited Isaac to come at a very old age.  (But I hope I won't be doing this when I am 100)
"Even in old age they will still produce fruit...they will remain vital and green."
Psalm 92:14

  • Finances.
In 1 Kings 17, Elijah asks a widow to share her water and bread.   She has no extra, but she shares anyway and God provides abundantly and continually...all from one act of obedience.
"So, I tell you, do not worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food, drink, or clothes...."
Matthew 6:25
"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?'  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs."
Matthew 6: 31-32

Do you notice anything about all of these reasons?   Do you notice that they are all about ME?   I've focused on what is comfortable for ME, what's easier for ME.   Hmm.....didn't find many verses telling me to put my concerns first, or to take the easy road.   But, I did find these verses:

"The LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

"Children are a gift from the Lord,   they are a reward from Him."
Psalm 127:3

And so, if I'm honest, I wrestled with all of this.   I wrestled with complete surrender.    I stood in church one Sunday singing these words...
So I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,
In awe of the One who gave it all.
So I'll stand my soul Lord to YOU surrendered,
All I am is YOURS.
...and I wondered if I really meant them...?   And so, my friends, I've given it all to Him.   All of the fear.   All of the anxiousness (not that it doesn't creep back in and I have to give it over again).   All of my selfishness that doesn't want to do the paperwork or other hard parts of adoption.   All of my pride that REALLY doesn't want to fund raise again.    My concerns over my at-home children.   It's all HIS.
So...that leaves me in THIS place...this place of expecting....this place of excitement about what God is going to do in our family....this place of anticipating the gift of another child!   Once I got myself out of the way, I was able to focus on the blessing of adding to our family, and we can't wait for that part!
We've prayed through birth order and decided it is best for our children at home to bring a child home that is younger than the boys, and preserve the birth order.   So, we are requesting a referral for a child younger than they are. (Solomon turns 3 this week).
Please pray for us...for all to go smoothly, for God's provision for our adoption, and for our child in Ethiopia and their birth parents. 

Here we go again!!!



Monday, February 13, 2012

Reflections of a Year

This is our first family picture about a week after we were all home together last February. We were on our way to church as a family of nine for the first time. As I look back at that, I remember the challenges of not being able to understand one another and the exhaustion...and yes, of course the relief of all being home together.

365 days have passed since our newest three joined our forever family...never to be taken back to an orphanage, and never to go to bed without a family. We've marveled at God's goodness this year as we reflect back on how He has made us a family, and the work He's done in our lives.

Has it been worth it? YES. A million times yes...

Has it been hard? Absolutely.

I think back to where we were a year ago and can hardly believe these are the same children, or that we are the same family. Except I know that we aren't the same family. We are so very different now...woven together in a way only God could have designed.

Overall, our adjustment into a family of nine has been a good one. We haven't had any of the 'major adoption issues' you may read RAD, no serious attachment or behavior problems, and no one emotionally falling apart. We've counted our blessings many times for this, as we have watched other families struggle, and had done our homework on the possible challenges that come with older child adoption. So, before I acknowledge any hard things about the last year, I must first clearly state and give thanks for the good things.

April 2011

That being is GOOD to be on this side of the first year. While it was good, it wasn't easy. Adjusting to three new people in a family - that don't speak English and have suffered much loss - isn't easy. Managing the needs of new kids while not overlooking the needs of the four that have been there isn't easy. Most of the time it left me questioning my parenting skills and feeling like not enough for anyone. I wasn't sleeping well and making all kinds of crazy mistakes. The gajillions of doctor appointments, blood draws, stool samples, and prescriptions don't exactly fit into the glamorous fairy tale notion some people have of adoption. This for me, at least in the first few months, was among one of the most wearing things to deal with.

I look back and laugh (and sometimes want to cry) at how difficult it was to communicate. We were blessed with sweet, sweet kids...their dispositions are so sweet and easy...but there is only so much you can communicate with hand gestures and charades. I knew there were hurts in their hearts and most likely confusion, and there was absolutely no way to get to those. You just function through the day to day routine and hold on until language is good enough that you CAN communicate. I have to wonder what in the world they thought was going on. I would point, talk loud, use simple words, and demonstrate all day long. They had to wonder what the crazy white lady was doing more than once.

And if adoptive parents are honest, they will tell you that attachment work is exhausting. It's hard work to nurture broken children, have them close nearly all the time, and learn to function as family when you've come together as literal strangers. Attachment doesn't happen overnight. It's a labor of love and will come more easily with some children than others. I often had guilt over the fact that it seemed easier to bond with one child over another, but it's just the way it is....Children are people with their own distinct personalities, habits, and hurts that they bring to the table. Just as we don't "click" with everyone we meet the same way, it is the same for children...adopted or not. Attaching with three children at once poses a whole other challenge, and I've found that you must learn to extend grace to both yourself and your children as you find your way. We are still doing the attachment dance with all of our children, but praise God, can say that all of those relationships are developing as they should and all are headed in the right direction. We trust God to begin this good work He's started in us and continue to bond us as family.

A year later, things certainly feel more natural and relaxed around here. This just feels like 'who we are'. (I often forget why people might be staring when we're all at Target together...WHAT?? I have 7 kids and 4 of them don't look like me. What's the big deal?) We have our routines and routine is good. The kids have picked up language really well, and while we still definitely have our misunderstandings (and constant vocab lessons), communication is pretty good, which helps tremendously with bonding. Everyone is more comfortable around here, and I am sleeping through the night. Only after I began sleeping well again (probably last fall) did I realize how the stress was affecting my rest.

Grace and Aleigha are both in school, and we marvel at what they have learned. From non-English speakers to readers in a year is pretty amazing, we think. Grace is in first grade, and Aleigha is in Kindergarten. Grace obviously has the hardest job of skipping ahead to first grade without any prior schooling, but her age and development demand that she be there. She's a hard worker, loves to learn, and has a great attitude. We were blessed with both of the girls' incredible teachers, and are so proud of the progress they are both making. Solomon (our own little Curious George) has done well as well...talking our ear off and into anything imaginable. He's a sweet spirited little guy with a contagious smile and infectious laugh.

November 2011

I could not talk about this last year without telling you how incredibly proud I am of my 3 big kids. I struggle to find adequate words to express how amazing they've been through all of this. Can you imagine how their life has changed? How they've had to share everything in their life...their home, their parents...everything. I have marveled at how they've done it and have to be honest that I don't think I would have done as well at their age. They have accepted their new siblings and all of the changes so graciously. God has given them each a heart for missions and orphans, and I can't wait to see what they do with that. I know that this is all His doing in their lives.

I love my husband even more now after almost 20 years of marriage and experiencing all of this together. He's been my rock, my cheerleader, our very hard working provider, and a great father to all of the kids. I certainly loved and respected him before, but seeing him love these once fatherless children has made me love and respect him on a whole new level. Real Jesus-loving men step up for the fatherless. We are all so lucky to have him.

I've learned much about myself...not all of it good, but I'm being refined for sure. This is both the most difficult and most rewarding parenting season I've ever been in. Sometimes the refining is a little painful, but I know I will come out better for it on the other side. My life has been enriched through this experience and these new relationships in my life. Both the lessons and the blessings to be had are many.

God has proven Himself faithful time and time again. He never ceases to amaze me. He has provided in many ways and given us the privilege of raising these beautiful children. People often ask us how we do it, and the truth is, we don't. He does. He has blessed us with this family and continues to bless us and provide for us at every turn. It is HE who deserves any glory this story deserves. We are simply grateful that He chose us to be a part.

December 2011

"O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them."
Isaiah 25:1