Two years ago today, we met the prettiest little girl in the world, on a porch in Africa.
There is no car, no house, no promotion, no Facebook status that can compare to the joy of meeting God in the exact place where He asked you to be. 
I want a life full of these moments.  Full of listening and going.  Full of the evidence of a great, big God at work in my small life.
This one is for the locals...

We are hosting an Adoption Q&A at Linton First Christian Church at 1pm on Saturday, February 23rd.  (That's this Saturday!)

This is our first big community outreach event and we are all very excited.  (And nervous.)  We are trying our best to get the word out, and we really hope that we have a big turnout.  Here's a little bit of what you can expect...

Christie and Adam Derloshon from Love Is... Ethiopia are coming down from Indianapolis to share about their mission work in Ethiopia.

Susan Neal from Greene County DCS is coming to talk about the needs of local children and foster care.

Julie VanHoose-Wells from Greater Love Adoption Decision in Evansville, IN is coming to talk about private domestic adoption. 

We'll also have a panel of adoptive parents and adult adoptees to answer your questions about what adoption is really like.  

So, if you're a local person and you are at all interested in learning more about adoption or orphan care, please come out!  It's free.  We'll have free child care and good food.  It's just a great opportunity to learn more about adoption, foster care, and caring for children in need.  

If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me an email.
I can list at least ten different blog posts that I want to write and we have 18 unfinished posts in our drafts folder right now.  But the time to write and finish a post just hasn't been there.

One reason is that David's van fundraiser really took up a lot of time.  As soon as the campaign finished on January 4th, we went right to organizing and mailing out perks.  There were a lot of them.  And I just finally got the last ones in the mail last week.  I'm really sorry to the guy who claimed coffee back at Thanksgiving and probably just got it in the mail today.  I hope you really enjoy it... 
The other reason we seem to have less time now...
Let me share with you a typical morning with Willow.  Now I'm going to share about last Tuesday, because it was just barely warm enough that we could go outside and I took a lot of pictures.  I'm sharing this particular day only because I have pictures, but don't think for a minute that this day was extraordinary.  Oh no.  This is how mornings go now.  It doesn't matter if we're inside, outside, at home, in a store, anywhere... it always goes something like this.

River was riding his "big tricycle" down the driveway (some people call them bicycles, he's calls it a big tricycle) and Willow was chasing him.  I moved to catch her and my cell phone fell out of my pocket and the screen shattered.  (It stopped ringing months ago when I dropped it in a cup of coffee, so this wasn't a huge loss.)

River rode up and down the sidewalk.  Willow went from trying to take the neighbors basketball, to walking in front of the big tricycle, to running into a big, cold puddle of dirty water in the road.  After my patience wore thin I decided we were going to the back yard.  
They played so well together and Willow had so much fun.  But she also ate three handfuls of potting soil and stuck her arms and face into a bucket of water.  From the hose.  In January.  
When I had had all of the fun I could handle... we went inside to get Willow a bath.  While I fixed the bath water, she took the wind-up teddy bear that my mom bought for her future grandchildren on her way home from our wedding, and Willow swished his head in the toilet. 
Finally, she got into a nice warm bath... in her safety seat, of course.  
Life with Willow is busy.  Thank the Lord she sleeps so well at night and takes a nap every afternoon, because every single moment she is awake she is moving.  She and River are completely different, and yet they are the perfect compliment to each other.  They love each other so much.

Whenever anyone asks us how things are going, I always end up saying, "She's crazy!"  Because she is crazy, and we're crazy about her.  She is all good things wrapped up in one beautiful, high speed, 25 pound package.  I am so thankful that we found each other.  Our family would have never been complete without her.  She was the missing piece.  She always was.  We are honored to be the ones to scrape the potting soil off her tongue and to whisk her out of the path of speedy, big tricycles.  

She had a good family in Ethiopia.  They were strong, and smart, and they love her very much.  Now, with their permission, we get to be the family in the second act of her short life.  We have been blessed.  We will try to cherish every blessed, crazy, exhausting minute.

I hope to post again really soon.  But in case I don't, you'll know why.  I promise this blog won't die out like many do.  I have so much more to say!  Someday, there will be time to say it all.   
One year ago today, we finally got THE CALL for our referral.  The this-is-who-your-daughter-will-be call.

The call only came about a year later than we were expecting.  It was a miserable wait.  At the time it was the longest anyone had ever waited for a referral with our agency.  

Typically with a referral they call one parent and then conference call in the other parent and to tell them the news together.  When we were waiting we would hear exciting stories of other people referrals-  Couples who happened to be in the car together when the call came, one family was in Disney World when their call came!  Sometimes families had prefect timing for their big day, but with our luck that didn't seem likely.  We just wanted a CALL, whenever, wherever!

We had gotten our travel vaccines earlier in the week and on that Thursday, January 19th, Logan wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home from work.  I was also home that day and Logan's mom had called to see if she could pick up River on her way home from school.  So about 3:30 River left with Meme.  

This was literally the first and only time in our seventeen months of waiting that Logan and I were home together, during business hours, and without River.

I sat down at the computer to talk to a friend who was also waiting for a referral.  She was upset, because AWAA had just called her for a reason other than a referral.  Let me tell you... when you are waiting for that referral call and AWAAs phone number (which you've either programmed into your phone or memorized months ago) shows up on  your phone, you get real excited real fast.  And to have that phone ring and not get a referral is... well, I can't imagine anything more disappointing.

So I stood up from the computer and walked into the living room and I said to Logan, "Christina just got a call from AWAA and it wasn't a referral.  If that phone rings and it's them and it isn't a referral... I am going to kill someone."

And the phone rang.

And yes my dear sweet daughter, those are the last words that mommy said before she heard your name.  

Caitlin, our family coordinator, told us that her name was Teemar and she was three months old.  And she emailed us these pictures.  
And we almost died we were so happy.

We had a previously prepared list of people to call in case of referral and we started making our calls.  First though, we brought River home and showed him his baby sister for the first time.  He was a little bit miffed that he had to leave Meme's early, but otherwise he was pretty excited.  He hung her picture over his bed that night.

Then our immediate family came over and then more family and friends.  And pizza was ordered.  And we all sat around staring at her picture.  And talking about her like we knew her.  A friend and adoptive momma named Kim who had just returned from Ethiopia called me that night to say that she'd met and held Teemar!  Kim said, "She's just a little peanut." And I yelled to everyone in the room, "Kim says she's a little peanut!"  

By the end of the night we knew she was beautiful, from her pictures, but also from the pictures we had decided that she was smart, and so happy, she probably never even cried, and just surely the greatest baby ever.

Mercifully, that night we did not know that it would be another six long months before she would be home with us.  We were able to enjoy every blessed second to our referral day.  It was amazing.  I wouldn't change a thing.  We had our prefect timing after all.  And we had our perfect girl.  

Families waiting for referrals for a healthy young child with our agency have now been waiting more than two years.  And although we fully understand that the wait is necessary for an ethical adoption of an infant or toddler, the wait is hard.  So please keep those families in your prayers.  

On the flip side, our agency currently has twenty-two children on their waiting list who are just waiting for a family.  These children are 1 - 8 years old with special needs and healthy children and sibling sets over 8 years old.  They are ready to be adopted immediately.  As hard as it is to be a family waiting for a child, I can't imagine how many times harder it is to be a child waiting for a family.  The Mowen Family recently shared their son Jacob's story about waiting for a family and you can read his story here

Please keep those children waiting for families in your prayers.
It's too soon to put into words how we feel.  
The campaign not only met, but exceeded, the goal by $3,000.  
When David told us that God would take care of him... he was right.  
He did.  
In forty hours, the campaign for a van for David will be over.  Tomorrow, we'll finally see.

Right now, the total stands at $10,575.  111 people have already contributed.   If you read through the comments on the site, you'll get a feeling for the kind of man David is.  We cared enough about him to create the campaign, but 111 other people are making the dream a reality.  

The campaign is featured on the main page of the Indiegogo site today.  Of hundreds of campaigns David's is currently one of the ten most popular on the entire site.

I know that however this ends, David's life will be better for it.  In July he told us that God would take care of him... and He has.  In the form of one hundred and eleven people so far.  

To join us visit...
This poor blog has been sorely neglected this month.

We've been enjoying finally having both of our kids home this year.  For the past two Christmases we've been waiting for a referral.  (The first Christmas believing that it could happen quickly and the second Christmas wondering if it would ever happen.)

And River has been sick.  A lot of people have been sick lately, but whatever River has is dragging on.  He's not eating.  He spends all day watching Curious George and drinking water.  He just isn't himself.  He's losing weight.  We've already been to the doctor twice and we're going again after Christmas.  We'd appreciate prayers that he would just get better.

Willow is doing great.  She's walking and she's into everything.  Especially the Christmas tree.  She learned how to say "No," because she hears it 50 times a day when she rips ornaments off the tree.  She's saying more words every day.  She's more snuggly than ever before.  She's sleeping through the night (thank you JESUS!) and as long as she gets to sleep on her schedule and her teeth aren't hurting... she is incredibly happy and easy-going.  We've had so much fun with her this month.

When we came home with her and the adoption "journey" was finally over, we kind of wondered what we would do next.  Things had been exciting for a long time- although not necessarily a good kind of exciting for a while- but we just wondered what we'd do next.  

It seems like every week a new opportunity is presenting itself.  Right now, I don't know how we're going to have the time or money to do all of the things that we could do in 2013.   

There is a small group of mommies trying to bring the Welcoming Angels program to Indiana.  We'd love to do this and bring an older child from Ethiopia to live in our home for four weeks.   The idea is to expose the child to a loving family and expose your family, friends and church to older child adoption.  A win-win.  The children would be in Indiana from the end of May to the end of June.  The children would be adoptable, and if they aren't adopted by someone they meet while they're here they go onto the waiting child list with AWAA.  So they would find a family one way or another.  

There is an opportunity to go to Belize in August with our church.  We would be able to work in a new orphanage there. 

We are in touch with a contact in Ethiopia right now who is helping us to learn more about the government orphanage and real ways that we can help there.  They are on the verge of losing the only nurse they have and we'd like to make sure they can keep her.  And we're looking into other big-impact, long-term ways that we can improve the conditions for the children who are stuck there.  I don't know where we are headed, but I know this will be a big focus for us next year.

And of course... we're already thinking ahead to Wade baby #3.  Where will he or she come from?  And when?  River says that he wants two more babies- a brother and a sister.  And he wants them to come from my belly.  He and I are not on the same page about this.  

I wonder a year from now, looking back on this, how these things will have worked out?  

Right now, we're focusing on the final days of the I Drive Ethiopia campaign for our friend David.  Over $6,000 has been raised to help him to purchase a van.  In the US $6,000 would buy a van... but unfortunately vehicles are much more expensive in Ethiopia (I believe vehicle tax is 200%).  We're hoping to raise $15,000 to buy a 20-year-old van, so that David can start his own business.  You can help by contributing and/or sharing the campaign on Facebook or Twitter.  See the campaign here:  I Drive Ethiopia.

So that is probably it until after Christmas.  We have presents to wrap, movies to watch, Christmas lights to drive past and finally a little bit of snow to play in. 

Merry Christmas! 
This year we're trying to do as much of our Christmas shopping as we can locally and with organizations that support causes we care about.  Honestly, it's a little harder to do than it should be.  

Through my searches I've found a few good sites I'd like to recommend for those of you out there who might be trying to do the same.  

But first of all, let me toot my own horn.  

Look at this awesome picture I took!  At least I think I remember taking it, I guess it could have been Logan... or even Yonas... but I was definitely present when this picture was taken...
This awesome picture I took... is in a calendar!  Yeah.  How cool is that?  And you can order that calendar from our great friends the Hurleys on their new site: Amharic Blessings.  All of the items are made in Ethiopia and all of the proceeds support two awesome organizations currently working in Ethiopia (including Bring Love In). We're ordering the music DVD for Willow for Christmas and the blue scarf for me, because it's awesome.  

Side Note: The Hurleys happen to have the most beautiful boy, Samuel, who is also from Harar and is exactly Willow's age.  Samuel and Willow would have ridden in the van together from Harar to Addis Ababa- right past the scene in this picture.  

So please check out Amharic Blessings!  

Here are a few other sites I've enjoyed (and might be orderings some Christmas gifts from) this year...