Monday, December 5, 2011

Need an affordable Christmas gift idea???...

I am finally following through and posting pictures of the Ugandan bead necklaces we are selling in the ornament globes.
Aren't they pretty?  They have some white tinsel on the bottom of the globe, which is hard to see in this picture.  The top of the ornament comes right off so you can simply pull the necklace out after Christmas to wear it!  I also have some with the bow smaller, not as a hanger.  We are selling these ornaments for $30.  They would make a fun teacher gift and also great for an ornament exchange!

We can wrap them up for you like this!

We also have lots of the necklaces on their own for $25.  They all come with a tag that tells the story of the woman that make these beads. These women were making a living through prostitution or picking trash, but Amazima Ministries has helped them form a community and taught them this trade.  They now make a sustainable income making the necklaces.  147 Million Orphans purchases the necklaces from the women and helps sell them all over the world.  They have a special ministry to adoptive families like ours, helping us use these necklaces to raise funds to help us make our adoption possible.  So a portion of your purchase goes back to the women that make the necklaces and the rest goes to our adoption fund.

We have also found another pretty way to display the necklaces like this:

You can purchase these for $28.  We also are selling these starfish ornaments for $8.  

When we first decided to adopt we remembered the story of the man that was walking on the beach and saw hundreds of starfish washed up on shore and he saw a little boy throwing them back into the ocean one by one.  The man told the little boy that he might as well stop because it didn't matter and he wasn't going to save enough of the starfish.  But the little boy continued and said, "It matters to this one!"

That seems to sum up the way we feel about James 1:27 and our role as believers in fulfilling the call to help the widows and the orphans.  We can't adopt or help ALL the 147 million orphans.  But we can do what we ARE ABLE to do.  That might be adopt one, or sponsor a Compassion child or send an Operation Christmas Child shoebox or help with an adoption yard sale or cut the grass for a widow or buy a necklace or ornament....but it is still making a difference for one.  We are called to do for one what we wish we could do for all.

The starfish ornament also comes with a card attached that shares the story of the little boy and the starfish.  They can be hung on a tree or displayed for Christmas.

These really do make fun, unique gifts that have a story, a purpose and an opportunity to give back.  Let me know if you are interested in buying one!  You can email me at or leave a comment below!  Thank you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Update!! - Finally:)

There has been so much going on that honestly I am a little overwhelmed at where to begin.  At the end of this you may actually feel like nothing has really changed but in the world of adoption sometimes you go one step forward and three steps back, yet that is at least movement, which is progress!

Shannon and Lee Burris helped us have another yard sale, which went great!  Many of our friends and home group peeps chipped in to donate and work and we made over $800!  We are so thankful!  I also was blessed to be able to have a booth at the She Event at the Civic Center two weekends ago and sold our Ugandan necklaces from 147 Million Orphans.  We sold 40 necklaces but have lots more so please contact me if you are interested in purchasing some for Christmas presents.  I will post pictures hopefully tomorrow because we also have put some of the necklaces in pretty clear globes and are selling them for $25 as ornaments with bows on them.  You can hang them on the tree and/or take the necklace out to wear them.  They would work great for an ornament exchange or just a beautiful way to give the necklaces as a gift in a festive fashion.  We will also wrap them up for you.  I know you need a picture so I'll post those tomorrow:)

We also have been in the process of resubmitting the financial portion of our home study to be reapproved because of Mark's job change.  In the midst of submitting that paperwork in a round about way we became aware of some new children that came into care at the orphanage from which we are adopting.  A sibling group of three came into care in mid-October. Mark and I separately could not get them off of our minds and through prayer and conversation decided to inquire about them.  We weren't sure if we could be approved to adopt three.  Fairly quickly we were approved by our home study agency for three and then submitted our home study with the revisions to the financial forms as well as changing our request from approval for two children to approval for three.  That paperwork has gone through DSS hands and is now being processed through USCIS which is Immigration.  We are finishing up a few more items that need to be submitted so our dossier will be complete.  Once we receive our I71-C, which is Immigration approval, then we will send that on to our agency and they will send our completed dossier to Uganda and we will be considered paper ready, or ready for our referral.

So this is where things become complicated:)  We received an email a few days ago explaining that because of the heightened awareness of unethical adoptions the Embassy and the judges are being extremely cautious about awarding legal guardianship to adoptive families.  Our agency's desire is to make sure that each adoption is ethical and very thorough in attempting to track down Ugandan family members that might be able to and be willing to adopt the children at the Tender Hearts Babies Home.

So we did make it clear to our agency that we would like to be considered for a referral for this sibling group of three.  They can make absolutely no promises or guarantees.  They cannot discuss the children in any detail until they are ready to make our referral.  We understand that.  For all the children that are in their care they have to advertise in newspapers and on radio stations about these children in an attempt to track down family members.  They need to do this repeatedly over a six month period.  It will also take around six months to make sure the children medically are where they need to be to be considered adoptable.

So the discouraging thing is the reality that even if these little ones are one day called to be Chapmans, it will be at least six months before we are even offered their referral.  However, at least we have a little more of a rough and tentative timeline.  If we do receive their referral and accept it the lawyer then submits our file for a court date.  Then once we receive a court date we go to Uganda with the very real possibility of being over there for at least 4-6 weeks.  So we settle back into the pray and wait mode.  We do still have some footwork to do in finalizing some paperwork, but for the most part we need to sit back and watch Jesus work all this stuff out.

We are so thankful for the way you all encourage us by asking about the process and praying for us!  Thank you for understanding when we seem a little discouraged with the wait.  And please forgive us if at times we seem unenthusiastic when we talk about it!  It just is hard waiting at times!  We know the Lord is working even when we don't see it and we also rest in the fact that He has a plan and His ways are not our ways!

We try not to talk at length about these kinds of details with the boys because the waiting is a hard concept for them too.  We still may only receive a referral for one child, or two...or it may end up being three.  Until we have more concrete details we simply pray for our little ones together daily and ask for eyes of faith.  We have such an amazing community of people that we know are praying for us and watching to see what the Lord will do through this process.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More on the Big Reveal

Vanessa Brown is our sweet friend that nominated us for our makeover.  She recently blogged here about the experience and included some more pictures and a fun video of the big reveal when the boys were shown their new room.  I hope you take the time to check it out and leave her some comment love.  She is amazing and we are so thankful for all she did to make it happen for us.  She is a busy mom of three little ones and a pastor's wife so she sacrificed so much time and energy on our behalf and we are blessed!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Big Reveal

We are so amazed and blown away about what God did in our home through our incredible friends this week.  They so selflessly and tirelessly served us and the result is beautiful:) Lauren Mendenhall is the talented and wonderful designer that gave her time and talents to this project.  She posted some of her thoughts and pictures of the before and after on her blog.  So check out Amen Life + Style Inspired Design blog.

**I do have to add a slight addendum to Lauren's blog post.  We do NOT have our referral yet.  We have requested two children with the younger hopefully being a girl.  The babies home from which we are adopting normally only takes children up to 3 years of age.  So in planning the room Lauren did plan for an infant girl and a toddler boy.  We do pray that we will have our referral by the end of the year but the timing is certainly the Lord's!  But praise Jesus we are now ready, ready, ready for both of them:)**

I will post a link to Leading and Loving It when Vanessa posts about her perspective as well.  And soon I will post more on our thoughts.  I am pretty consumed with trying to move back into the two rooms.  It is requiring lots of organizing, shifting, dumping and rearranging.  It will be a process!  I am also packing because while Mark is away in California for training, Mom, Dad and I are headed to Atlanta on Wednesday for Catalyst!  I am super excited:)  God is heaping some extra special blessings on my plate these days and I am thankful!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is it Christmas?

I have SO much to say but I must keep it short...I am afraid I won't be able to sleep tonight because tomorrow may be one of the most exciting nights of my year!  The past week has been big for us. Mark traveled to Atlanta for the week for training for his new job, praise the Lord! We are thankful:)  Eli and Haig have been battling pneumonia, which meant 7 doctor visits in 12 days and one chest x-ray.  McCall was sick too but not as badly. They are all on their second round of antibiotics. but we seem to be on the upswing.

Well, in the midst, of that semi-normal chaos....came an amazing blessing:)  On Wed. Sept 21st, Vanessa Brown (our pastor's wife and dear friend) left me a message saying she had some exciting news.
When I finally talked to her she told me that she had nominated us on the website for an extreme home mini-makover...and WE WON!!!  You can read the post here that announced we won and her wonderful nomination letter.  Can you say oh my goodness?!?

So we were awarded $2,500 to prepare for the arrival of our new little ones.  The plan is to make our playroom into a room for Haig and Eli, and make the current upstairs, boys room into a nursery.  God has so beautifully orchestrated an amazing team of volunteers and so many little details to make this happen.  Vanessa put on her foreman's hat and took the lead.  She asked Lauren Mendenhall a designer from Charleston if she would help and we are so thankful she said yes!  She came last Saturday and spent some time with us and the boys at the house talking about things we like and dislike and getting a feel for our needs and what we envision.

Vanessa asked if I would be willing to give them my preferences and then just let them go with it.  I willingly agreed:)  I'm a simple girl. I go naturally for function and comfort.  I love pretty, and artistic and design but that doesn't come naturally to me.  So decorating and the thought of ME having to make decisions like that makes my blood pressure go WAY up!  What an amazing gift to have someone gifted and talented like Lauren come in and hear my heart and decorate based on that!!  And then Vanessa with her incredible gifts of organization and leadership come in and organize my space and rally the troops!  And as much as we are preparing for the little ones that will eventually come into our home...decorating for them and spending the money needed to truly redecorate or add on to a room...the funds for that just weren't available, honestly, nor the energy or vision.  So this makeover is providing a miracle.  It is turning what we have, water ....into wine!

Yesterday the heavy duty hard work started and volunteers were at our house from 7:30 a.m. until probably 1 a.m. the next day.  They were back again at 7:45 a.m. this morning!  We spent the night at our wonderful friends, the Franks house last night and this weekend we are bedding down with Grandma Pat.  They want to surprise us as much as possible with the final product:)

Today when I would drive down Edisto Drive there were cars in every spot possible in the driveway and yard. There were anywhere between 15-20 volunteers at the house at any given time.  People made lunch and snacks and brought food for the volunteers.   I was planning to do that today but before I could finish the plan I was told it was taken care of.  What amazes me is how God is preparing the way for Hope and whoever else He brings into our family.  He is already writing their story through the sacrificial efforts and love of people...our friends, our church community....and we don't even have a picture of Hope yet!  I get to share with our little ones some day that Mommy and Daddy didn't just pray for, work for, sacrifice for and prepare for them...a whole community made the way for them.

We are the recipients of unmerited favor...we are so thankful and overwhelmed at God's grace and goodness.  Yesterday we also received the wonderful news that the first two families to apply for adoption from the Tender Hearts Babies Home, which is the home from which we are adopting, received a positive verdict from the judge.  That means they are in Uganda now with their children and will be allowed to bring them home to the US next week.  This is huge!  Our process could not move past the paperwork and referral stage until these families came home.  We are SO thankful!

So the mini-makeover plan is to be done sometime tomorrow so they can do the "reveal" to the family.  We are truly thrilled.  I just can't stop smiling:)  Seriously!!  So check back here tomorrow night or at the latest hopefully Monday for pics of before and AFTER!!!  OH MY GOODNESS I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!!  I feel like it is Christmas!!!  Thank you Leading and Loving It!! Thank you Vanessa!! Thank you Jesus!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where we're at...growing...

This song has really been ministering to me over the past couple of weeks. It just speaks to where my heart is at right now. We are resting in the peace that Mark is about to start his new job and the after glow of God's amazing goodness and provision through friends and anonymous friends loving us through this time. Yet we still feel ourselves stretching and growing as a result of all He has shown us over the last few months.

Isaiah 61 is a chapter I have been and continue to pray over and through as we seek the Lord's daily calling for our family. We want this to be true of us:
"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Is. 61:3b
And the chapter seems to say that this result comes from the Lord doing a mighty work IN us..."to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.." v. 3a  When He does a work in us it is not usually comfortable or fun but certainly necessary and worth it!  We are in process:)

The beginning of the chapter also says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn." V1-2

I have been brokenhearted, poor, captive and in need of comfort. He was there. We want to be there for other captives and walk them into the light. We want our family to be about His business.

And check out verse 7: "Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance: and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs."

How about that? Whoo hoo!! We feel like the Lord has truly poured out a double portion in our lives through this season. A double portion of provision financially, in friendship, in favor and in growth. He is so, so good! We are expectantly watching and waiting for ways the Lord might allow us to bless others and walk in obedience.

The thing is though, to be honest, those first few verses that speak of the brokenhearted and captives and all. That's messy, tiring, hard work y'all. Just keeping it real:) We have been through those seasons and it ain't easy! But you know what He rescued me and He rescued us!!! So when you see me getting tired or whiny remind me to look at my wrists....the scars from the shackles that used to bind me...that'll be enough to shut me up and set me on my feet again:)  Thanks for walking with us!!

And an adoption update:  We do have to make a few addendums to our home study so we are in the process of filling out that paperwork.  It will then be sent back through our agency, DSS and then USCIS for approval.  During this process we will also finish up our dossier and send that in to our agency as well.  Prayerfully once all that is complete we will be next in line for a referral.  I know that really just sounds like: "oh they still have to fill out more paperwork and wait!."  You're right:)  So keep praying for our little ones, wherever they are!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Got it!!!!

"I Got It" were the 3 words I sent to Erika when I was offered my new job.

Hello Everyone, I wanted to give you all a quick update on my job status. I was able to secure an offer from Depomed Pharma earlier this week. I will officially begin on September 19, 2011. This was not a quick process, but in the end very well worth it. Thank you so much to each of you for your help during this season of our lives. You gave career help/direction, provided meals and helped with everyday household expenses. We have been taught so much during this season, but the big takeaway at this time was learning to be a gracious receiver. Selfishly I would prefer to be on the giving side, but that was not my role. You stepped in and played that role in our lives.

Being a gracious receiver was a hard, but good lesson to learn. Thank you for being selfless givers. The Chapmans are thankful for your generosity!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Waiting Room

Mark is sitting in a waiting room.  He just finished an interview and is waiting to hear if he got the job or not.  I am sitting on our couch waiting to hear from him.  We've been doing a lot of waiting these days...

I'm still not very good at it.  I realized recently that waiting is less stressful when we have confidence in Who we are waiting on.  It really goes back to trust.  If I am waiting in line at Burger King I don't have a lot of patience because I always have to wait a really long time there and I don't usually have a positive experience.  On the other hand when I wait at Chick-fil-a I expect a short wait, with good service and a pleasant "My pleasure" at the end.  That is because of my history of great experiences at that wonderful chicken place!

I traveled this summer with our youth group at Newspring Church to their week long youth camp, the Gauntlet,  in Daytona, Florida.  When it was time to travel home the leaders had to get 2000 people onto buses to travel home to five different cities.  That involved lots of "hurry and wait."  We worked hard to get downstairs to the lobby and then had to just wait..and wait...and wait some more.  We knew eventually there would be a bus and we would get on it and drive home.  We couldn't see the bus or hear the bus and we couldn't even see the door outside to the bus.  We simply knew we were promised by our leaders a return journey on a bus. Our leaders had faithfully done everything they promised over the last five days.  We chose to trust them because they had a history of following through.  We were moved from one room to another and the wait was long and frustrating, but we never really doubted that we would actually finally get on the bus!  We had no control over the journey to the bus.  I did, however, have a choice as to my attitude during the wait.  And that significantly affected my journey.  My attitude affected the people around me and my experience.  Although my physical surroundings and circumstances were uncomfortable and did not guarantee a positive outcome...I trusted that what was promised would come about and it would be for my eventual good.  I could have complained and fretted and tried to speed things up...but in reality it simply would have made the waiting more difficult for me and the people around me...and not sped up the end result one bit.

Trust comes as a result of relationship.  I trust more and more deeply the stronger my relationship is with someone.  Relationship takes time and experience and sometimes difficulty.  I believe that as I wait the Lord doesn't simply want my surrender and/or obedience, He also wants my trust.  He doesn't want me to throw my hands up in the air in surrender out of defeat....He wants me to place my hand in His and follow Him because I trust Him!  When I trust Him in that way I am recognizing His heart and that His intentions for me are good!

Just as I waited for that bus...I am waiting now.  I am choosing to trust that He sees ahead.  That the process and what it is doing in us/me is just as significant...maybe more so than what the actual outcome of all this is.  He is faithful and as I press in and draw close and get to know Him better...I trust more.  He's always after the heart and that is where trust rests.  My heart trusts His heart.  No matter what...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Would you please pray?

Some of you may get this and others, not so much, but that's okay:)

The past few weeks have been a little nutty!  It started with Eli having a slight fever for a few days, sore throat and generally feeling icky so we laid low.  Now I realize that was probably strep but it was mild.  After that I came down with a horrible case of strep.  I was out of commission for four days.  It was so bad that I went to the doctor and had to try two different prescriptions and Mark and the boys left town without me:)  During this three week period McCall had two ear infections and swimmer's ear and Haig came down with swimmer's ear.  Then Mark came down with a horrible case of strep and I'm pretty sure some kind of stomach bug at the same time. He was out of commission for about five days.  McCall was the next victim of strep and once on an antibiotic was still sick for four days.  Then I somehow hurt my back and began dealing with crazy, awkward back pain. Then Mark somehow scratches his cornea, which is mucho painful and tries to let it heal on his own but ends up going to the doctor as well because it started getting infected.

Finally McCall once again begins running a high fever and having major headaches, neck pain and GI issues.  I was terrified it was meningitis so we took him to the doctor but after 3 visits to the doctor and lots of lab tests we are still waiting to figure out what is wrong.  We are trying to keep him from getting dehydrated. Tomorrow will be day 5 of liquids only and MAJOR GI issues.

Sigh...sorry for the long drama...but I'm worn out!!  I'm not gonna lie that I'm a wee bit tired and discouraged.  This is the part where some of you will roll your eyes and tune me out- I feel like we are under some significant spiritual attack.  As of Monday we have all been fingerprinted. That was our next significant step in the adoption process.  It seems like every time we take a big step toward bringing our little ones home... our physical world begins to fall apart.  I do believe that the enemy of our souls has a hand in this!  I'm not trying to sound super spiritual because I do realize that we live in a fallen world and bad things happen.  But so many things at once?  It would be very easy for me to get overwhelmed and stay focused on survival and trying to make it through all the physical discomforts and neediness around me.  I definitely need to be present and helping here but also keeping my eyes forward and diligent in prayer and asking God for BIG faith!!

Because something the Lord has been pressing into me recently is that when we adopt a child and bring her into our family...we are establishing a heritage for her and a future filled with hope.  We are releasing her from whatever bondage or legacy of sin that she may be coming out from under.  We are establishing her identity as a beloved child and as one chosen by Christ to become His daughter.  We are aligning her to answer His call on her heart and her life and providing opportunities for her to heal and then step into the future He has planned for her.

He is going to rewrite what could have been....just as He did for me!  There is no reason beyond the grace of God that I did not end up on the streets or as a young, unwed mother.  This year the Lord really seems to want me to realize that although I responded to His call to become His daughter, at 6 years of age...He still saved me from the life of self-destruction that I would have chosen without His intervention.  He rescued me from me!!  And each year I become more thankful!!

So the enemy does not want these children to be released from their spiritual captivity because that would mean a whole line of children blessed by a heritage rooted in Christ's salvation and relationship with Him.  It amazes me how that works:)  The enemy wants to stop this process.  I am learning so much about the power of prayer and the power of praise.  They push back the darkness.

So would you please pray for us?  Pray for a hedge of spiritual protection over our family, that we remain focused on Christ and His Word, that we will not become distracted or discouraged by our physical circumstances and that we return to good health!  Thank you for the prayer cover!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fingerprint time and more!!

Whoo hoo!!  They finally came!! The past week we spent traveling and visiting friends around the state, but as I was pulling out of the driveway I decided to check the mail box one last time ....and our fingerpring appts were there!!!

Unfortunately they are for a date where a few of us will be out of town, so after many phone calls,...we are all (8 of us) heading down to Charleston this Friday to prayerfully walk in for our biometric appointments.  We have to be in Charleston Saturday for a baby shower for my sister Maura so some dear friends are going to let all of us spend the night on Friday.  We are going to hit the road SUPER early, Friday, and hope they will take all 5 of us sometime during the day.  So, if you would, please pray that we can be seen earlier than later, all on Friday!!  This would be the next big step toward completing all of our paperwork.  Pretty exciting:)

For more information on how our family is faring during this season...check out Erika's blog!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Waiting, waiting and more waiting...

We keep checking our mailbox each day hoping to find a letter from USCIS with our date for fingerprinting.  At that point we, (meaning Mark, Erika, Ben, Midge and Leo), will travel to Charleston to be fingerprinted.  Then we wait again:) for the letter that says we were approved.  That could take a few weeks.  Then we will send our dossier on to our agency and they will send it to Uganda.

Then, hopefully and prayerfully we will receive our referral, which means actually being matched with a child and receiving her picture and information.  We also have a few other significant events that can/will affect this process going on in our lives!  You can read about them on my (Erika's) blog over here...

In the meantime, we wait...

Monday, May 30, 2011

I just want to be with you...

I try to be patient. It is hard, but I try. But the other day I heard this song on the radio. I must say my tear ducts in general aren't over flowing, but they are filled with dust either. As I was listening to this, I couldn't help but think about my child(ren) out there that are not with me. I did start crying. I did get a lump in my throat and was missing my little one(s). The sentence that God used last October came to mind, "If you are called to adopt, your child is out there not getting the love and care that they could be getting if they were with you." This of course is different as a natural pregnancy, you know where your child is. Thanks to this book you know what is going on during pregnancy. We are only into month 5 of our adoption, but there is a strong chance the newest member(s) to our family is in this world. They are active, breathing, learning, but not being physically loved on by their mommy, daddy and brothers. I really miss them as crazy at that sounds. I have not met them, but I love them, I pray for them, my heart aches that I am not with them. There is no definite date at this time and I can't imagine how much more I will miss them once I actually see their faces and we are matched.
It seems like each day that there are changes in our adoption plan. That is not uncommon, but it is not welcome either. As I listen to others about their adoption there is one common denominator, no story is the same. God is making our story a special one as well. We do trust that his timing is best and our prayer is for patience.

PS: I know the song "Smile" by Chris Rice is about seeing Jesus for the first time, but I could help of thinking about my present circumstance. Although I can't wait for that day either!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Check out these tees!!

We have had WONDERFUL success selling the Ugandan necklaces.  We actually should receive another order of them any day now.  So THANK YOU!!  And thank you to everyone that has purchased coffee through Just Love Coffee Roasters as well.  We have received a check each month from those purchases:) 

We recently found out we received approval to fund raise by selling Wild Olive t-shirts!!  If you know me well at all you have seen me wearing these t-shirts, so I am over the top excited:)  I love these shirts!!  They have Scripture on them without being cheesy and they are comfortable and soft and trendy....they are simply great!

We still hope to offer, at some point on this journey, a t-shirt specific to our adoption from Africa but for the next few weeks every time you purchase a Wild Olive tee from this page...we receive a portion of the profit! At checkout you click on coupon code and then put this code, CHAPMAN0518, in the space for coupon code, and then we will receive credit and a portion of the proceeds.  The more shirts we sell, the greater portion we receive!!  We can only fund raise through Wild Olive until the end of June so think ahead and purchase for birthdays and Christmas!  I love getting these shirts on my birthday:)

The shirts are $30 each and there are 11 styles to choose from!  So go here to check out your options and don't forget to put in the code CHAPMAN0518. Thank you ahead of time, and as always let us know if you have any questions!!

You are a blessing and thank you for joining us on this journey!!

Monday, May 2, 2011 the waiting

We are in a waiting period.  Waiting to hear if our home study has been mailed to the right office so we can mail money to the right office and on and on and on:)   Definitely God is doing mighty things in us as we wait and that is one of our prayers...that we would become who He wants us to be through this process.  We do believe that none of this journey, especially the waiting, is a mistake.  There is a purpose for each day.

There are lots of days now where there is NOTHING physically that I can do to make things happen any faster.  So I trust and He is teaching me to pray.  I do love to pray and have seen the power of prayer.  However I am learning anew that prayer is not really about changing God's plan but about aligning my heart and will with what He is currently doing and about to do.

So I wanted to share some of the verses that I am newly praying over this adoption process, over our family, over our child/children.  These are just a couple but we would LOVE it if you would join us in praying.  And if the Lord gives you verses to pray for and over us...we humbly ask you to share them with us.  It would be such an encouragement:)

Right now we are praying for God's favor with the judges and lawyers in Uganda.  There are so many wonderful Ugandan officials, judges and lawyers that have so much on their plates right now.  We are praying FOR them and that the families that are in line before us waiting would be processed soon as well...then we can move forward on the list.

Matthew 21:21-22
" Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 17:20
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We are asking Jesus for great faith, and for Him to move mountains on the behalf of these sweet children. 

As I pray for the children throughout the day I pray these for brings me comfort too:)

Psalm 17:8
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings  

I just picture Jesus covering them with His protective wings, so they feel safe and love and protected.  I pray that they will have strong identities in Him.  They will understand in their spirits that they are the apple of His eye!! That they will not feel abandoned or forgotten, but secure...deep down secure.

Psalm 27:5
For in the day of trouble
   he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
   and set me high upon a rock. 

I pray for their safety.  That emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually He will place a hedge of His protection over them and that He will set them high upon the rock.  He is the Rock.  That they will be in His shelter and safe in His dwelling.  As they sleep, as they eat, as they play, as they learn, as they grow.

So this is where we are at the moment in the waiting...thanks for letting me share and thank you for praying...we covet your prayers!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Uganda beads...second chances...

 **I am reposting part of my last blog because we just received a new shipment of Uganda bead necklaces and they are beautiful!!  We sold out of our last shipment in about 2 weeks so they are all the rage:)  Just wanted to share the news because I truly love these beautiful necklaces!!***

Now our newest bit of news, which I am super excited about!  We are also selling Uganda necklaces as a fundraiser!  We purchase them from a wonderful organization, 147 Million Orphans.  It is run by two moms with 13 children between them, 7 of which are adopted.  These women sell items that promote adoption but also help families fundraise for their own adoptions.  These necklaces come with a neat little bio with info on it.
"147 is honored to share the story of our sisters in Uganda who hand make these necklaces from recycled paper.  They roll the beads by hand, dip them in varnish, and thread them onto the string.  Prior to learning how to make these beads, most of the women 'picked trash' or turned to prostitution to provide for their children.  By purchasing the necklace, you help a mother make a sustainable income to provide for her family.  This purchase also helps feed a child in Uganda."

BAM!! So how awesome is that!?! I love these necklaces. They have a clasp so you can use them as bracelets, belts, or necklaces.  Each one is unique in color and patterns.  They are so fun:) We are selling them for $25.  We make $10 and $15 goes back to the women in Uganda:)  They will make great birthday gifts, teacher gifts, Easter basket surprises, Mother's Day gifts, graduation gifts, bridesmaids get the idea!!  So you can leave me a message on the blog, Facebook me or email me if you are interested in buying one or some!!
(Yes the price did go up by $5 because the price through Uganda went up!  Sorry!)
The boys wanted to model:)
I really get overwhelmed as I sort through and look at these necklaces.  To think of the women that made them and the poverty, war and pain they have gone through...and now they find hope.  You can also check out more of their story at  An amazing 21 year old gal, Katie Davis, works with these women on the Uganda side.  Each necklace is so unique from the colors to the patterns, to the size and length....kinda like each story behind each woman that made them, each child adopted and each person that buys one.  And I love the way God can take trash (recycled magazines) and make something so beautiful from them that can result in bringing Jesus glory and fulfilling the command in James 1:27 to care for widows and orphans!!  We serve a God that loves to use trash and recycled things and make them beautiful and useful!  Our God of second chances!! It truly amazes me!!
So there you have it! Things are progressing...even though at times it feels like it is slowly:)  Thank you everyone for your prayers and support!  We are so, so blessed and so thankful for what the Lord is doing IN us along the way!  More on that, next time!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lots of Updates!

Updates: Our second home study visit went SUPER well!  Our social worker is really, really a precious lady. We found out the next day that even though we thought we were finished,that Nightlight needs more paperwork...a lot more finish the homestudy:)  So we are furiously working on that.  As frustrating as delays are though we are truly trying hard to trust the Lord's timing.  He is in charge of each moment and it only wastes energy to become frustrated.

This week our agency also has been sending us updates because one of the children in the orphanage has bacterial meningitis and is now hospitalized.  Her condition was quite serious but thankfully she is slowly showing signs of improvement.  However, this means all of the children were potentially exposed and this little one will likely be in the hospital for possibly three weeks.  This just makes us even more keenly aware of the need to be praying for our little one. Psalm 17:8 says, "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings." And that is what we are praying.  That the Lord will cover and protect our child...or children.  Will you please pray too!
*** We received an email this morning that the little one with meningitis went to be with Jesus during the night. We are all so, so sad and I cannot imagine what the caretakers at the Baby Home are feeling.  She had a forever family in the United States that was waiting for a court date to bring their little one home. Life is indeed fragile.  We heard a statistic today that there are 8 doctors for every 100,000 people in Uganda. Please pray that God speeds the days so we can bring our babies home!***

At this last home study visit we officially requested two children.  All along we have been open to siblings but we officially asked to be considered for two children, whether they are siblings or not.  Big breath...this is a big step for us but we really feel that we are being obedient.  We still may only be referred one, but the Lord knows what we need and can handle!  We are definitely anxious to speed the days for our referral and then to get to our little ones!

Also!!!  This past Saturday, Crystal and Tim Bausmith held a multi-family yard sale at their house for us.  Many people donated things and it was SO successful!  The Bausmiths are expert yard salers:)  They built/installed hanging racks in their garage and hung up ALL of the clothes!!  People showed up and shopped from 7am until almost 3pm.  It was amazing:)  We earned over $1200!!  That was so awesome and we are SO thankful!!

Now our newest bit of news, which I am super excited about!  We are also selling Uganda necklaces as a fundraiser!  We purchase them from a wonderful organization, 147 Million Orphans.  It is run by two moms with 13 children between them, 7 of which are adopted.  These women sell items that promote adoption but also help families fundraise for their own adoptions.  These necklaces come with a neat little bio with info on it.
"147 is honored to share the story of our sisters in Uganda who hand make these necklaces from recycled paper.  They roll the beads by hand, dip them in varnish, and thread them onto the string.  Prior to learning how to make these beads, most of the women 'picked trash' or turned to prostitution to provide for their children.  By purchasing the necklace, you help a mother make a sustainable income to provide for her family.  This purchase also helps feed a child in Uganda."

BAM!! So how awesome is that!?! I love these necklaces. They have a clasp so you can use them as bracelets, belts, or necklaces.  Each one is unique in color and patterns.  They are so fun:) We are selling them for $20.  We make $10 and $10 goes back to the women in Uganda:)  They will make great birthday gifts, teacher gifts, Easter basket surprises, Mother's Day gifts, graduation gifts, bridesmaids get the idea!!  So you can leave me a message on the blog, Facebook me or email me if you are interested in buying one or some!!

The boys wanted to model:)

So there you have it! Things are progressing...even though at times it feels like it is slowly:)  Thank you everyone for your prayers and support!  We are so, so blessed and so thankful for what the Lord is doing IN us along the way!  More on that, next time!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Home study Visit and more news!!

Tomorrow is a big day for us:)  Our social worker is coming for our second home study visit.  Hopefully we will finish up the paperwork and sign a bunch of papers and be finished with our home study.  Then we move on to sending the appropriate paperwork and money to Immigration and get an appointment set for fingerprinting.  Once that is approved we will finish up our dossier in the hopes of maybe receiving a referral this summer.  A lot of that may sound like a different language:)  Honestly, sometimes we feel like we are feeling our way through the dark but we are simply trying to take things one step at a time and work on something adoption related each day.

We are so thankful that Mark's best friend, William Turner, ran a marathon two weeks ago to help raise funds for our adoption!!  He survived and raised over $2,000!!  We are so thankful and blessed to have such amazing friends, like William and Melanie, that are willing to invest their time, money and energy to help us bring our little one home!  Thank you William!!  Thank you to everyone that donated!

You probably also noticed the new pictures on this blog.  Lindsay Haselden took them so we could use them for our adoption paperwork and on the blog.  She did a GREAT job and we are so, so thankful!!  She also designed some neat thank you cards for us.  Many of you might receive them:)

Lastly, in the next few days we will announce through the blog another neat way we are going to be raising funds for the adoption.  Think colorful, spring and fun!!  I can't wait to show off a neat idea for gift giving this spring.  It'll be great for teacher gifts, Easter and Mother's Day!!  So be sure to check back in the next few days:)

Monday, March 21, 2011


No Longer Motherless Daughters

She lost her tooth on another continent. She learned to write her name there, and how to use the potty. Someone other than me taught her that girls like frilly dresses, but that it doesn’t keep them from playing in the dirt.
Her milestones, to date, are my mysteries.
We’ve named her Hope. She doesn’t know her new name yet – a whole new set of letters to learn – but she’s already becoming, for us, her namesake. One day she, herself, will breathe deep the reality of this name.... (to finish reading, click here or here. And I hope you will.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just Love Coffee

I (Erika) only started drinking coffee about a year ago... and I am sorry to say I am addicted:)  Getting up early mornings with the kids for school, especially when it is cold outside, sends me looking for some warm caffeine!  Mark actually has a more refined taste in coffee because he drinks it black.  I have a little coffee with a lot of cream and sugar:)

So we are always looking for ways to order our addiction while feeling like we are doing something with the money we are drinking we like to order fair trade coffee. What is fair trade coffee? It is coffee which is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee.  The purpose of fair trade is to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic incentive for producers.

We recently discovered Just Love Coffee .  They not only sell excellent fair trade coffee but work with families that are adopting.  They help families raise funds to go toward their adoption.  So if you click on the nifty little link to the left:) and purchase some coffee from our "store" we will earn $5 per bag of coffee!!  We bought several different kinds of their coffee so far and have really, really enjoyed it.  They sell whole bean or already ground and ours came within 4 days of ordering it!

So if you want to try some new coffee, help out some fair trade farmers and help us bring our little girl home...then click and shop please!!!  Thank you ahead of time if you decide to grab a cup of java:) They make great gifts too!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

God provides and Seeing Heroes in action

Mark: Genesis 22:14 says, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided." Abraham proclaimed this after God provided a ram to be sacrificed in place of his son Isaac. Erika and I have seen time and time again God's provision and this past month as been no different. Erika will go into more detail below.
I have seen Heroes in action. Since this journey began Erika and I have been humbled by the financial generosity of those who want to see us bring our "baby girl" home as quickly as possible. Once again Erika goes into more detail below, but because of the efforts and gifts from many of you we are able to go further, faster. We are ahead of the curve with our process and paperwork because money has not slowed us down. Thank you for being our Hero!!

Erika: We've had LOTS going on in the last week or so!! We sent in our homestudy application and a majority of the required paperwork.  We received an email about a week later that said they received it and would contact us soon to set up an appointment for a social worker to come and interview us.  That was huge!!

We also went on Monday to apply for our passports.  I knew the cost for the application and for the pictures but didn't realize we also had to pay other processing fees.  It went very smoothly and quickly but I was a little surprised at how much that whole process cost!  The amazing thing though is that each step as we face new needs and as we find out how each piece of paperwork seems to come with a new cost...God is ahead of us already providing. One family sent a check to Nightlight with our homestudy paperwork.  God provided!

Another family has donated money each month for the last 3 months.  Each time that donation arrived it was JUST as we were having to pay for 16 birth certificates from 3 different states...or finding out Mark needed to go back to Columbia again to order 6 more marriage certificates...or right as we received an email from Nightlight announcing that Ugandan lawyer fees went up in price another $1500.  So this journey is definitely already a bit of a roller coaster ride, but God is saying hang on!!  He is definitely in charge:)

We have some dear friends, Chris and Cookie Cawthon, that have been such an encouragement to us in this adoption process.  Their two girls, Carson and Campbell, had a cookie and lemonade stand a few months ago and raised over $32.00 toward our adoption!  Chris decided he was going to run the Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon to help us raise funds toward our adoption.  Well, Chris is highly motivated and I've never met a person that doesn't think he is great!!  We knew he would be successful at whatever he put his hand (or foot) to...but we have been blown away at his success.

We spent the night at the beach and Mark spent the morning of the race following Chris from point to point as much as possible.  Chris did a great job running and finished the 13.1 mile race in 2 hrs 12 minutes.  Even more impressive is that Chris' friendship and influence and efforts raised over $2500 toward our adoption!!!  Isn't that so cool??!!  We are so grateful for people like the Cawthons and other friends and family that are helping us reach our goal!!  Our God provides!!

So next steps are:
1. Working on our dossier which is essentially all the paperwork that goes through the US Government's hands and then into the Ugandan officials' hands.  Lots and lots of notarized stuff!
2. Waiting to meet with and be interviewed by a social worker from Nightlight as part of our homestudy.
3. Taking an online class and doing lots of reading and research to fulfill our education requirements for our homestudy.

I will also try to blog soon about the neat ways God has been preparing our boys' hearts for their little sister.  We have prayed that the Lord would already begin bonding their hearts with this new sibling and God is answering that prayer!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Back Story

I had a neat conversation with a good friend the other day and had the opportunity to share the story about how/when Mark and I finally got on the same page about adoption.  Or rather how God put us on the same page.  After sharing with her I realized that I still have not shared that on this blog.

So here goes:)  Back in March/April 2010 I had felt the Lord pressing on my heart that we were called to adopt for a couple of years but conversations with Mark did not appear to be moving us any closer.  I still felt it would be a LONG way off.  So I asked two of my close friends to pray with me that I would be quiet and allow God to move Mark in whatever way He wanted.  I knew that if/when we would adopt it needed to be led and spearheaded by Mark.  The Lord needed to place that passion within Mark and move him to action.  As the spiritual leader of our home, the right time would be when Mark placed it on Mark's heart.

Mark had been to Catalyst conference in Atlanta, GA a couple of times and for a year felt with certainty that he was supposed to go to the 2010 Catalyst conference.  It is an amazing conference for Christian leaders and the Lord has used it in our lives in tremendous ways.  In 2009 Mark attended and the conference had a major emphasis on the need for adoption and the massive number of 143 million orphans in the world.

So although it is by no means a cheap conference we made it a priority that he go.  He went with his good friend, William Turner.  The first day there were labs that they could choose which ones they wanted to attend.  Mark really felt he was supposed to go to one that emphasized adoption but he made the deliberate choice to go to a different one.  In his words "it was miserable".  He was supposed to be at a different lab:)

One of the neat things about this conference is that on one main night they live stream the main session online.  It was around 7pm and I was in the middle of feeding the boys, giving baths, we had just returned from soccer practice, things were chaotic.  However I had the session streaming on the computer and after the praise and worship they had a ten minute segment that despite all the grabbed my attention.  I sat down on the floor and the boys listened/played around me while I watched a segment about adoption.  At the 2009 conference a man attended and the Lord used the conference to lead him to the lifechanging decision to adopt.  He and his wife had three children but despite financial obstacles they adopted in 2010 a little girl from South Korea.

It was a very moving story.  Two things the man said resonated with me.  He shared that if you are called to adopt then there is a child somewhere in the world that is not receiving the care and love that your family has for him/her because of your disobedience.  He also said that people don't pursue adoption because of the cost...but if your biological child had cancer and you had to come up with $150,000 for your child to receive would find the money, somehow.  Those two statements stuck with me.

They also struck a chord with Mark too.  As a matter of fact on the way home from the conference as he was debriefing with William he told him that he wasn't going to tell me about what he heard.  He did admit to William that the Lord was pressing in on him with the calling to adopt but he wasn't ready.  He said if I (Erika) said the same things to him that the man at Catalyst said, then Mark would know that we were supposed to adopt.  Famous last words:)

When Mark arrived home we were planning the very next weekend to get away to Asheville, just the two of us.  So we really didn't talk much about the conference.  We jumped back into the busyness of life with 3 boys.  We figured we would talk the next weekend.  We did have home group that Sunday night.  As a group we were studying Richard Stearns book "The Hole in our Gospel".  The session we were on dealt with orphans.  So I shared with the group that night what I heard the man say from the Catalyst conference.  Mark was sitting beside me and started to cry...which was weird because he is not a crier.  A little awkward but he didn't really say anything.

That night after the boys went to bed Mark casually asked about my comments and if I had seen the whole clip.  I told him yes and that it was very impactful.  He began to cry again and finally shared with me what the Lord had been doing in him.  He affirmed that we were called to adopt and that we needed to move ahead with it immediately.  We had no idea how we were going to do it or what that would look like but it was amazing that God brought Mark to the point where he was initiating the decision and we were definitely on the same page.  We serve a big God:)  And how cool that the very next weekend we had time alone as a couple to pray and talk and listen for direction about beginning the journey toward adoption!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Step One: Done! (Look at those precious smiles!! Clean kiddos in pjs are the best!)
On December 31st we mailed in our initial application to Nightlight Christian Adoptions along with our $500.  There are the boys with the envelope the night before we mailed it out.  They began accepting applications on January 1st which was actually on the weekend so they wouldn't actually be open until January 3rd so just to be safe I mailed it out on Dec. 31st...we were a little excited!!

We received an email back from Nightlight on January 5th that we were accepted!!  That really just means that we can now enter the next phase for adopting from their Uganda program.  We actually received three emails from Nightlight that day with 22 attachments.  We have quite a bit of work ahead of us:)

Lots of reading and paperwork to fill out, lots of paper trails and questions to be answered.  Lots of research to do and stuff to learn!!  Along with all the applications, financial forms and paperwork we are required to do 10 hours of adoption related education.  They say that this will actually take about 20 hours.  For me that means the joy of buying some cool new books.  For Mark that means we are looking for lots of online resources and audio books we can download.  Yes, we have very different learning styles:)

We have also started some work around the house.  Mom helped me paint the upstairs hallway.  We still need to finish the trimwork and then work on painting the upstairs bedroom.  So we have lots going on.  Of course we had a big Christmas with lots of family coming to Florence which was great.  And then Eli's birthday was right before Christmas and Haig's is right after Christmas....and then of course we were out of school for 3 days because of the Great Snowpocalypse of we've been busy!!

Our next goal is to have our homestudy application and the check for $1400 in the mail to Nightlight by the end of January.  We are almost ready with that portion of paperwork.   We are also working on getting current birth certificates for all of us, a current marriage license as well as lots of medical paperwork and financial paperwork.  Apparently they need long form birth certificates and most of these certificates must be issued within 6 months of the adoption dossier being submitted.  Whew!  This is definitely testing my ability at multi-tasking and staying organized:)  

Thank you for your prayers for us as we forge ahead and for our little girl somewhere in Uganda:)  We will try to keep you updated.  We are soooooo thankful for all of your prayer support and thank you to so many of you that already have surrounded us with financial and emotional support.  Daily Christ reminds us that this is indeed the way we are supposed to walk:)  Thanks for walking with us!