Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Joy of Naptime...

My little guy is down for his afternoon nap. Since he slept almost 2 hours this morning, I am sure this will be an abbreviated one.

Did I mention this morning's naptime? Yeah...so this is how it played out.

Mama put the little boy in his crib.

He cried for 2.3 seconds, gave a half-hearted 'I do NOT like it when you leave me in here alone' cry, stuck his thumb in his mouth and fell soundly asleep.

The washing machine & dryer were buzzing.

The dishes in the sink were piled high.

Toys were strewn about the floor.

Knowing 'productive' time could be limited, the mama looked around...and spied the unmade bed.

She took one step towards the freshly laundered sheets.

Then another.

A list of ToDo's filtered thru her mind. She pushed them away.

The mama would like to confess the the distraction was only mometary.

It was not.

It lasted an hour.

Naptime. SWEET naptime.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Country of Birth: Ethiopia...

Although our days were mostly centered on our little boy & spent at the care center/orphanage, we were able to take an 8-hour round trip to the southern part of ET, into the Hossana region. While the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa (population 3 million), is a relatively 'modern city' for the continent of Africa, the countryside is like stepping back in time. The landscape is expansive, tranquil and absolutely stunning. It was commented by several during the bus ride, "It kind of looks like how I imagined the world appeared when God created the earth."

Many of the country's inhabitants live in mud huts with thatched roofs like that seen in the image below. Family members AND livestock live together inside these dwellings. The walls/floors are made of cattle dung which hardens over time. The soot from the indoor cooking fires/heat source blackens the roof & aids in drying the reeds & sealing out rain. We were able to see the inside of one of these dwellings, very similar to the hut in which our Alexander was born/lived in for several months with his first mom & family. I cannot imagine...
Following are a few additional images I took from the bus window. The first is a picture of an eucalyptus tree. If I have the translation correct from a social worker travelling with us, these trees were introduced into the country b/c of their beauty. Unfortunately, the trees are very aggresive and require ABSURD amounts of moisture; moisture which they steal from neighboring farmland & sources of drinking water for the people.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alexander's Christmas List...


  1. an activity table to engage/entertain with songs, sparkling lights and lots of great things to spin, slide, push, pull, open and close
  2. fashion-forward clothing designs to accentuate the 'cuteness' factor
  3. CDs and videos which include learning activities to help build phonics skills, vocabulary & reading comprehension


  1. drool (dribble) bibs of any shape/size/color/texture
  2. plain white onesies
  3. stain remover & laundry detergent

Unlimited quantities of the above items accepted.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Never Knew...

I never knew that such a small child, practically a stranger, could capture my heart so quickly & completely.

I never knew it was possible to be positively exhausted & fully alive at the same time.

I never knew that a giggle could make me cry.

I never knew how special it would be to refer to my husband as 'daddy'.

I never knew how much a little boy with a runny nose, wet kisses & a sweet smile would so change my life.

I just never knew.

Oh, praise be to God, NOW I know...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Quick Post for Now...

Sorry. We were unable to post while in ET...blogs blocked by the government.

I hope to share details of our trip in the next few weeks but we're preoccupied right now with introducing our little boy to his grandparents, aunts & uncles and getting thru the jet lag.

Thanks for ALL the prayers. God is so good!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Early Departure...

We are leaving...TODAY! Yep. In a couple of hours! Due to some forecasted harsh weather (rain, freezing rain, snow flurries) for tomorrow we were able to change our tickets and will be catching a late flight out. It's all good! I am SO ready to be on our way!

Being a task-oriented person, these past few weeks of preparations have been kinda fun (albeit exhausting!).
  • Christmas baking. CHECK.
  • Last-minute errands...and another round of errands for the things I had forgotten (even though some were ON my list). CHECK.
  • Christmas presents purchased/ordered (and most of them, wrapped). CHECK.
  • Nursery arranged, re-arranged. CHECK.
  • Floors scrubbed/polished. Kitchen cabinets re-organized. Bathrooms scrubbed. Underneath the bed swept. CHECK. By the way, I caught my husband last week signing an email as: Blake and 'the Nester' :)
  • Bags packed & weighed. Re-packed, re-weighed. CHECK. (and just in case, DOUBLE-CHECK)

Here are our packed bags sitting by the front door. THANKS to all who contributed donations for the orphanage and/or items for our use while travelling internationally. Notice the monkey that my hubby has attached to his backpack...a sure sign that he is TOTALLY excited about his little boy.

It was REALLY fun to decorate for Christmas this year, inside & out. My favorite part is unwrapping each of the figures for our Nativity scene. This year's newest additions (which I received as gifts last year) are the goat & the oxen seen here. Love 'em!

And, I will leave you with this one. A sweet & soft monkey perched in the tree just bursting with excitement to welcome home his newest, bestest friend -- little Alexander!

I am not sure if I will be able to blog from Ethiopia but am planning to make an attempt; it is all dependent on the phone lines/computer connections at the guesthouse.

Thanks to EACH of you for your friendship, your love and your prayers. We love you all. So very much!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prayer Request for the Upcoming Week...

It's coming together. Praise God! Both Blake and I have been rather 'emotionally fragile' as we have worked thru the paperwork and ToDo Lists of the past week. We will be FOREVER grateful for those who have lifted us up with encouraging words & fervent prayers. Speaking of prayers, I thought I would take a quick moment to share with you a couple of specific prayer requests for the upcoming week.

  1. physical/emotional health for the demanding travel schedule ahead, specifically for ‘emotional strength’ in regards to the possibility of meeting Alexander’s birth mother and/or member(s) of his extended family
  2. wisdom regarding decisions in the coming weeks to best allow for bonding/attachment with Alexander as he adjusts to his life outside the orphanage
  3. ability to put aside our expectations and simply 'soak in' and 'catalog' our time in the country of ET
  4. grace to ‘live in the moment’ as we experience parenting for the first time; to surrender our fears & hold fast to God's promises that ‘His grace is sufficient’ and that ‘I [we] can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me [us]’…
  5. for our friends, Jeff & Abby & family, who are adopting a little boy (Charlie) from ET. Their court date is this coming Friday (December 5th)
  6. PRAISE for the gift of family. It's gonna be a Christmas to remember! :)

Gratitude Post...

I was 'tagged' by Janell to share with you a few things for which I am thankful. Here is what comes to mind at the moment (certainly an incomplete list but there is neither time nor space to share everything)...
  1. MERCY. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new EVERY morning.
  2. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  3. The ABILITY TO READ. I have experienced so many things simply by stepping inside the pages of a book. And learned much, too.
  4. WARM, SOFT BLANKETS. I am convinced that if it were socially-acceptable for an adult to carry a blanket with them everywhere, that's exactly what I would do.
  5. ANSWERED PRAYERS. Even when the answers are hard to accept, there is comfort in knowing God always hears & answers according to His perfect will for our lives.
  6. FRIENDS. Those with whom I currently interact & those who may have touched my life for just a season.
  7. FAMILY. Parents. In-Laws. Brothers. Sisters. Nieces. Nephews. And one very special little boy in ET.

Monday, November 24, 2008

BabyProofing (a.k.a. The Lockdown!)

One of our weekend projects included some final 'baby proofing' of our house. From developmental reports we've received, Alexander is not currently standing/crawling/cruising but as you experienced parents know, that could change within a day.

Speaking of 'experienced parents' (insert: tsk! tsk! sound). I mean, really, you could help a clueless first-time mom out, you know. While you've provided much encouragement & parenting tips, NO ONE warned me of the potential for extreme shoulder strain/dislocations involved in parenting a child. So, as a 'community service announcement' of-sorts to future first-time parents...I offer this.
CAUTION! WARNING! BEWARE! Do NOT forget the morning after installing cabinent/drawer locks that the crazy mechanisms are there. If you do (and especially if you routinely use an adequate amount of force on your cabinets doors b/c they do not open easily)...you could quite possibly (a) dislocate/strain your shoulder/elbow when simply trying to retrieve a tupperware dish or (b) be caught so off guard you'll stumble backwards and/or land on your backside in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Not that either happened to me on Sunday morning, mind you. This is just a 'service announcement' remember?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Candlelight Carols 2008...

We have 2 free tickets to the Candlelight Carols on Friday, December 5th (8PM) at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Since we'll not be able to use them, we would love to give them away to someone who can.

If you are interestered, post a Comment and I will drop the tickets in the mail ASAP.

UPDATE: Offer no longer valid (as of 11/24); the tickets have been claimed.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Yes! We have received a copy of Tamirat (Alexander's) birth certificate!
Yes! We have been assigned a travel date!
Yes! We will be together for Christmas!
In less than 2 weeks time (on December 3rd) we will be on a plane to Ethiopia and our little boy!

Lots of last-minutes details, paperwork to be completed/validated, phone calls to make, Christmas presents to purchase, etc.

WoW! Yikes! Oh, My! In the past days, I have been vacillating between unencumbered JOY and pure FEAR at the thought of parenting a child. I keep reminding myself that it is a one-day-at-a-time journey.

And, I have an eye infection so I am typing this while squinting with only my right eye fully open.
And, I can hardly sleep...actually, I CANNOT sleep. You can pray for that, if you'd like. Blake offered to knock me over the head REALLY hard, in an attempt to provoke unconciousness, but I would prefer to avoid meeting my son with a huge goose-egg on my head...so let's go with the prayer route.
I might write more later...or I might just continue to rush about the house muttering to myself..."in just 3 weeks a child will live in this house...this is REALLY happening...what am I going to forget to pack...is it lunchtime? I have a sudden craving for chocolate...who put the telephone in the refrigerator..."
Truly in the midst of the flurry, the beauty is that we can "...let the peace [and calm] of God rule in [our] heart[s]...".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Purchase of the Week...

For most of you reading this post, purchasing an item from the local grocery store would certainly not make your week's Top10 List. Not the case here. Guess what I bought? Oh...it was SO, so very fun.

All right; I will give you a couple of hints...
  1. I am round & very small.
  2. I am found in an aisle of boxes similar in shape but very different in content.
  3. I am crunchy.
  4. I am found in excess quantities between the cracks in most any carseat.
  5. An entire box of me costs approximately about $2, depending on sales ads and/or coupons.

Okay. I know the suspense is KILLING you.

(drumroll please)...

(you should stop holding your breath)...

YES! I bought a box of cereal. Not just ANY cereal. CHEERIOS. Possibly the first ever box of Cheerios I've ever purchased in my my adult life.

Do you KNOW what this means? Yup. Means I am officially a mommy. Non-moms seldom buy Cheerios. But REAL moms have stock in General Mills. It is so exciting to be transitioning into a new category.

WooHoo! What a week!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He's Coming Home...

"I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name..." We received word this morning that our case has passed thru the Ethiopian courts. We made it!

"...give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done..." By decree of the courts, it is official. Blake is a daddy. I am a mommy. We have a son!

"...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus..." We will probably never fully understand the ins-and-outs, the hows-and-whys of our adoption journey but we DO believe that bringing Alexander into our lives -- in His timing, in His way -- is God's perfect will for our lives. He is faithful!

"...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Thank you! Thank you! To each of you who have walked alongside us thru the past months. Thank you! Thank you! To each of you who have prayed without ceasing. Thank you! Thank you! To each of you who have encouraged our hearts with words, cards and emails. To each of you who have shared our tears. We love you all!

What's next? Now we wait for a birth certificate (BC) to be issued. Once our agency receives & validates the BC, they will call us with a travel date and we'll book our airline tickets. At this time, it is estimated we'll be able to travel in 4-6 weeks! That's right! 4-6 weeks! Praise Him! Praise Him! Our son is coming home...

Oh...I almost forget. Since it is now official, I am allowed to post pictures in a public space. Check out this cuteness!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jumping for Joy!

This just in! Upon spending most of yesterday on the phone with the USCIS, the NVC and finally with Congressman Peter Roskam's office, we received a phone call this morning that lifted the exhaustion from our hearts & replaced it with joy...


We were given no explanation as to the reason for the delay but at this point...who cares!

Now, we can focus our prayers on Tuesday's court date. Praying we'll have more good news to share...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Little of This. A Little of That...

It's me again. I am taking back control of my blog & considering a change to my password to prevent future posts like the last :) Life has been a bit helter-skelter lately. Here and there. This and that. I figured I would use this post as a 'catch-up' with random happenings and/or news.

  • My in-laws celebrated 40 years of marriage this past Monday. We'll be spending the weekend together as a family & taking a group/family picture, too. The gathering will be a mite bittersweet considering 2 little ones will be missing -- our Alexander (still in ET) and our nephew, Carson who is in heaven.
  • My little/younger sister (Brenda) and her husband (Mike) are going to be first-time parents in May! SO very excited!
  • My parents finished harvest...several weeks later than in past years but it was a successful & safe time of farming.
  • I have spent several hours the past few days trying to resolve an adoption paperwork issue with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Chicago office, the National Visa Center and the USCIS Headquarters in Washington, DC. Endless phone calls, hour after hour of being put on hold only to be transferred to another department, sending emails and seeking assistance, etc. I am trying to remain calm b/c there is nothing we can do w/out the cooperation of these government organizations but...I am accepting any prayers you'd like to offer for this situation to be resolved. SIDE NOTE: If this situation remains unresolved, we might need to get our state senators involved. I'm thinking at least one of our IL senators, Barack Obama, might be a little preoccupied right about now :)
  • We recv'd a developmental update and weight/height measurements for our little guy earlier this week. He continues to grow...27-1/2 inches and just over 18lbs. The checklist provided by our agency indicates Alex is a talker, prefers to be with people, sits well in a tripod fashion, bears good weight and rolls back to front.
  • Our case is scheduled to be heard in the Ethiopian courts next Tuesday (November 11th). We are looking ahead to this date with anticipation; hoping & praying, praying & hoping for a positive outcome AND hearts to accept the situtation should we encounter additional delays. If you'd like, please pray along with us.

I will sign-off with a verse that has spoken to my heart throughout the past several weeks. "Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know THAT GOD IS FOR ME." (Psalm 56:9)

Friday, October 31, 2008

I think she really loves me...

Shhhhhh...It's me... Blake...I thought I would hijack a post to tell you how incredible my wife is. This morning I went to Menard's to buy insulation for our new garage thinking this was going to be my job for the rest of the day. BUT everything changed with one question when I got home.

Christine: "Blake, is there anything you want me to get done today?"

Blake: (OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS! milliseconds pass; my thoughts: Can I really ask her?; no this is your job; but she asked me; OK,take the chance.) "Well, how would you like to install the insulation in the garage?"

Christine: (Delay) "Sure... if you show me what to do."

Blake: (Never spoke ... This is the best day of my life!!! I hate insulation! Wait! Am I taking advantage of my wife. No! She ASKED me. She said YES. Guilt gone.)

She spent all day hanging insulation in the garage. By the end of the day she has insulation cough, achy arms but was glistening from head to toe (literally from the fiberglass) and even had a smile on her face. Best of all my entire garage had insulation and I didn't have to touch it.

BABE...YOU ROCK...well actually that's next weeks job!

I love you!

P.S. I didn't even get a picture to post...that's why I'm not the blogger:)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The White Mountains of NH...

Blake and I 'escaped' a couple of days to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was a kind-of-planned and kind-of-last-minute decision which we TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY enjoyed. At one point during the weekend we mentioned how it would be easy to say, "This is just the trip we NEEDED" but we decided instead that the trip was in reality an amazing gift from our Saviour.
BELOW (left to right): outside our room at the Kearsarge Inn in the little town of North Conway, resting on some of the MANY rocks we traversed on our way to the peak, sunset picture while walking to dinner.
It was 'peak season' in the lower elevations and a bit 'past peak' in the higher elevations but all in all, the sights were far above what we had hoped for/anticipated. Magnificant! Incredible! Breathtaking! A camera lens can by no means capture the vastness, the expansive vistas that were simply EVERYWHERE but here's an attempt to share some of the sights. Did you realize, fellow MidWesteners, just how flat our part of the country is?!?

Below you can see the color changes from higher to lower elevations. We found it humorous that the brochure for this trail indicated it was for those with 'obediant children and/or pets only...' :)
You would not guess my husband is afraid of heights based on the second picture. I think he was momentarily mesmorized by the view and forgot his fear.
We did LOTS of hiking. And...while I would love to share with you the specific trails we traversed...well...that's simply NOT going to be possible. The truth of the matter is that there were times when we were not certain just exactly where we were OR where we were headed. My fearless husband was not the least bit concerned...the same could not be said of his wife :)Thanks to advance research, our meals were somewhat adventurous & mostly quite delicious. Our mornings started with fresh scones from the bakery next door which we 'nibbled' while sipping coffee/hot
chocolate on the wrap-around porch at the Inn.
The Flatbread Co. offered an entirely organic menu consisting of salads & pizza only. The 'secret' salad ingredient was arame, a Japanese seaweed, which was quite bland-tasting but supposedly packed with nutrients (interesting). The atmosphere was very earthy, very eclectic and quite different than our typical MidWest dining.

This picture (to the right) was taken at one of our favorites of the weekend, The Thompson House Eatery located in Jackson. While my dinner consisted of delicious crab cakes & wild rice, Blake's entree was amazing. Called 'The Outer Banks' it consisted of salmon, shrimp, scallops and Atlantic mussels sauteed with asparagus and mushrooms in a fresh tomato, sherry and dill broth served on baby spinach with wild rice & scallion custard garnished with crab meat aioli. Wow!

We even visited one resturant TWICE b/c the cooking was of the down-home variety; it was a little place just a block from our inn called The Stairway. I am hoping to duplicate the apple & cheddar omlet myself -- yummy!

So, that pretty much covers the highlights of the past several days. The majesty of our God was so very evident as we soaked in His artistry within the trees and mountains and streams...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Down on the Farm...

It's harvesttime; one of my favorite times of the year! IF we had a prenuptial, it would without a doubt include a clause requiring an annual trek downstate during the months of September or October :)

That said, we did spend this past weekend at my parent's farm. I was mainly responsible for driving the tractor & auger-wagon between the combine and the grain truck, a task that allowed me to give rides to nieces, nephews and cousins who wanted to 'join in the fun' on the farm. My trooper-of-a-husband took a break for dislodging the sidewalk in front of my parent's house to harvest a couple rounds of corn, his first attempt at driving a combine (see below, the blurry image inside the cab, Blake and my dad).

Here are some random shots from the weekend; our 'photoshoots' while waiting between wagon loads. (first picture): Matthew, my cousin. (second & third): Kara, my niece, who provided UNLIMITED poses for the camera. At one point she confidently proclaimed, "Oh, my mother will LOVE these pictures. I just KNOW." (fourth): Ethan, my nephew, who would choose being on the farm (with grandpa) over being in school...any day of the week!

This last picture is random; an abandomed corncrib which I passed during my drive home thru the countryside yesterday afternoon. I simply HAD to pull over & capture the tranquility of the image before heading back into the hustle-and-bustle of the suburbs.

The GOOD and the Not-So-Good...

The best word to describe the last week or so of our adoption journey? Tumultuous.

Last week we received details that our (Alexander) Tamirat is a busy, happy and growing little boy who loves his nannies. WoW! News like that does a mama's heart GOOD! Additionally, due to the delays we've experienced, our agency was able to secure some photographs from the orphanage staff and so we have new images of our little guy which we can share with those we see in person (but unfortunately not on any public forum). Cuteness, I tell you!

This afternoon we received an updated health report. Within the last 30 days, our little guy lost half a pound...do NOT be alarmed, he's got some chubbiness to spare! :) He's grown over 2-inches in length. He is on-the-charts for both measurements which is really GOOD for an infant growing up at an orphanage. Good! Good! Good!

And then, earlier this week, we received our court date assignment (GOOD). BUT it is not until November 11th (not-so-good). While I realize the date is only 5-weeks away, based on preliminary projections from our agency we had expected a court date assignment for sometime this week, next week at the VERY latest. For some reason (unknown to us) there is only one judge currently hearing cases & the ET courts will be slow-moving for the next several weeks. Fierce disappointment as this delay greatly diminishes our chances of having Alexander home with us before the Christmas holiday.

The GOOD and the not-so-good. Circumstances change. God does not. He is good ALL THE TIME. "...He works all things together for good..." and we are instructed to "...give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever..."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good Times & Some Parenting Practice...

Ethan, Kara and Ty came home with us after church yesterday so their parents could have a date. My creativity in childcare is limited but I make every attempt to prevent the dreaded words..."This is boring!" to spill from the lips of any child.

So...in an attempt to be a "fun" aunt and uncle, we first headed to the BIG park, where the most exciting activity seemed to be chasing & treeing squirrels. Go figure! I had to remind Ethan that we were NOT on the farm and he should not pretend to shoot a gun! :)

A teenage couple was swinging nearby Kara and she found their dark clothes/make-up and brightly colored hair fascinating (INSERT: staring). At one point, she SHOUTED from her swing..."What words are those people saying?" I explained to her quietly that some people use God's name differently than how we use it in Sunday School/church. I told her the couple was choosing to use the word "God" in a way that did not make Him happy. At least, that's what I attempted to explain but I am certain I need some more 'parenting practice' to come up with applicable answers on-the-spot. Hopefully, my fumbled words made sense to her.

Next we headed to Glen Ellyn's newest food establishment, "2 Toots!" It is a novelty resturant where a small toy-train delivers one's food. Between the toy-train food delivery system, the TV screen playing a Thomas the Train cartoon and a large picture window overlooking the REAL train tracks a 1/2 block away, it would be safe to say the food was NOT the main attraction. The kids did manage to put away their chicken nuggets, fries and chocolate milk WITH a whip cream dollop!

We walked home via the prairie path, Ethan pointed out the rats scurring in the grass (thanks, Ethan!) and Ty was our commentator announcing each passerby..."Look! 1 biker. 2 runner. Big dog! Where's the dog going?" We passed a homeless man and I quickly distracted his attention; not sure what he what he might come up with. About halfway home, he looked at me and said in his sing-songy voice..."This boring." OH NO! Good thing Uncle Blake was sighted headed in our direction & the kids were distracted with a footrace. Boredom avoided ;)

Upon arriving back at our house, we discovered we had at least an hour before Eric & Gina returned so we headed to the SMALL park just up the street. Fortunately, the lack of play equipment was overlooked due to there being a 'big, dark, scary forest behind it'. The forest had a walking path so we spent some time exploring and accumulating more & more mosquito bites.

It was a REALLY fun afternoon. Thanks for coming kids! HAPPY Belated BIRTHDAY, Ethan! We love you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Always...by Steve Green

I 'stumbled' across this song recently. The lyrics/melody reached deep inside my heart, a reminder of God's faithfullness....ALWAYS.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Remembering Leslie...

It's been almost 2 months since my friend, Leslie, defeated cancer.

1990's. My first memories of Leslie were on the volleyball court; we played on opposing/rival teams in central Illinois. I cannot accurately recall the winning/losing ratio of our many matches but I do remember one very clearly. We were both seniors, playing in the championship match of the single-elimination Regionals tournament. The match was hard-fought. We left everything on the court. My team won. Admist the high-fives and cheers and laughter and celebration, I saw Leslie sitting in the corner of the bleachers. She was crying. Amidst much badgering from my teammates, I crossed into 'enemy territory' and wrapped my arms around her. The words, if any, were few. Friendship superceded victory.

FLASH FORWARD: 1 year later. This time, we're not in a gym. We're in a church. Leslie and I stand side-by-side moments before we are baptized. Unaware of what lies ahead, we publicly acknowlege our desire to surrender our lives to the will of the Father, to live by HIS grace, regardless of the cost.

FLASH FORWARD: 13 years later, yesterday. I witnessed the baptism of two high school-aged friends. As I listened to each one make a convenant to be true & faithful to the Lord all the days of their lives, my knees trembled. With silent tears pooling in my eyes and a few trickling down my cheek, I turned to Blake and whispered, "Leslie. I am remembering Leslie." His compassionate reply was uttered without a moment's hesitation, "She won...remember. She fulfilled her promise."

Although our path's seldom crossed in the past 13 years, my heart has been touched by her life & grieved by her death. It's a new experience for me; losing a friend/a peer. Questions lurk in the corners of my mind, the most significant: What if it were me? Am I keeping my promise to God? Am I living my life for His glory? What if it were me? Am I impacting the lives of those around me? Do I understand & live out the Word, leaving no question as to Whom I serve? What if it were me? Is my marriage a reflection of God's unconditional love? Do I verbalize to my family & friends that I love them, that I respect them & value their contribution to my life? What if it were me?

At Leslie's memorial a few weeks ago, two of her friends sang a song by Natalie Grant entitled, "In Better Hands". In those time when I can override my emotions & listen to the reality of what I know to be Truth, the following words speak comfort.

"There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I'm in better hands now
It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It's like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there's no doubt...
I'm in better hands now."

Praying that each one who reads this entry will seek & discover God's love personally so that whether we live or whether we die, like Leslie, we can find ourselves IN BETTER HANDS.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Things I am Learing (AGAIN)...

I am a terribly slow learner. For instance, I have been a follower of Christ for many years but I find myself learning the SAME lessons over and over again.

I find myself learning...and learning again...and learning some more...that salvation is a GIFT. Freely given. No strings attached. "Salvation isn't about what I do; it's about what Jesus did. The Cross did more than pay for my sins; it set me free from the bondage of the "shoulds" and the "if onlys" and the "what might have beens."

"In my eagerness to serve Jesus, I have often missed the opportunity to KNOW Him. Life is filled with anxiety in regards to all the things I didn't accomplish and should have, about all the things I have accomplished, but not very well."

As I reflect on my actions/thoughts in the past 24 hours, I am burdened by all my self-imposed requirements. Insisting that I do more...do better...DO, DO, DO. Interestingly enough, along with the anxiety to 'do' comes an exhaustion from trying to acheive so much thru my own efforts.

Can I let you in on something I have learned...again?

We cannot prove our love for God by DOING great things for Him. We prove our love for God by obeying His Word (...to obey is better than sacrifice...1 Samuel 5:22), by loving others (...let us love one another, for love comes from God...1 John 4:17), by coming into His presence (...be still and know that I am God...Psalm 46:10).

May the balance of my day/life (and yours) be spent in KNOWING Him...

NOTE: Quotes from "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fair Time...Fun Times...

Fun times at the Sandwich (Illinois) Fair! Last Tuesday, I was able to watch my nephew, Ethan, along with the assistance (not so much!) of his little brother, Ty, show Dorsets at the Sandwich Fair. Unfortunately, I missed the Sheep Lead class again this year but my parents forwarded some pictures from the day.

Here is my niece, Kara, and Ethan proudly displaying their 'winnings' from the class. For all you non-sheep experts out there (myself included), in the Sheep Lead class, you are required to wear an outfit made from wool (i.e Kara's jumper & hat along with Ethan's AND the sheep's scarf). Too cute!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Here's a question to toss around your head this afternoon. Exactly how do one's fingerprints expire?

Long story short (or at least shorter), because of our adoption delays, our fingerprints expire on October 19th, 2008. Since we won't be travelling prior to that date, we were required to re-apply for a I-171H and were assigned a new finger-printing date of today, September 11th. A Tip to Any Future Adoptive Parents in the State of Illinois: We actually drove to the Application Support Center last Friday, because Blake had the day off & we were told by our social worker that as long as we had the 'official letter' we could show-up any time & wait in line to be fingerprinted. Nope! No way! Not a chance! We were resolutely denied!
Anyways, we showed up today at our 8AM appointment and were in-and-out in less than 20 minutes. Now we wait...hoping there is no glitche in getting our second I-171H. It should be just a matter of paperwork processing but I am anxious to get the documentation back so we know we are 'in the clear' as we anticipate the Ethiopian courts re-opening in a couple of weeks (beginning of October) & things once again moving forward.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tipping the Scales...

It's quite interesting how our family of two has so quickly been invaded by our little boy from across the world. Alexander is everywhere!

Freshly printed & positioned for the DCFS license monitoring visit last week, his picture takes precedence on the front of our refrigerator. Faded and wrinkled, his image gazes back from the dashboard of our car. Tucked just inside the front cover of my Bible, his little face often slips out when I unlatch the pages to read within.
As of last week, he's now 6-months old...and (PTL) growing quickly. We just received updated measurements today and our little guy has gained almost 3lbs in one month, tipping the scales at just under 15lbs and stretching to 25+ inches.

That's all the information we know about our little boy...and we cling to every update, every detail. And yet, this mommy, wants to know SO much more.

Does he giggle with glee when its time for a bottle? Can he roll over yet or does he get stuck in the oh-so-cute 'halfway there' position? Does he share his toys or snatch the blanket harshly away from his playmates? Do the nannies rush to his side when he cries out (b/c he's usually calm, cool & collected) or do they roll their eyes because he's such a demanding little one? Should I be taking out stock in burp cloths; is he a '3-ounces in, 2-ounces back out' kind of guy? Does he smile when he catches a glimpse of our photograph placed inside his crib or use the laminated card as just an ordinary teether?
And the BIG question...when, oh when, will he be home? We do not know that answer but I smile as I realize that whenever THAT day is, it is one day closer today than it was yesterday. Hang in there, my son, you'll be home just as soon as God opens the way.

Happy Birthday to You!

The lovely lady here is my sister-in-law. She married my 'little' brother last November. They are 'kids in love'. What a blessing when God brings two lives together!
Here is a shout out to Jolynn whose birthday is TODAY.
I hope it was a good, good day AND...I hope Kevin remembered to send flowers or has something equally special planned just for you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And the Winner is...

...Sara Huber!

Please send an email (bcstahl01@aol.com) with your mailing address and I will drop the gift certificate in the mail before the week's end.


May the conference be a reminder of all the ways in which the Lord has blessed your marriage and provide challenges, too, for serving each other & Him more in the coming years.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Difficult Day...

Our littlest nephew, Carson Ray, was born & died early this morning.

We ask for your prayers. For his parents (Craig & Raelynn) to find strength in their love for one another and most importantly, in the One who joined their hearts and created their family.

For his older brothers and sisters (Anissa, Jonathan, Emily, Zachary, Elijiah and Moriah) who will grieve in their own ways & with different levels of understanding.

For all of us. That we can support one another thru the tears & find comfort in the arms of our God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


"You are the Lord's wonderful creation,
fashioned first with His heart and then with His hands.

He rejoices over your talents,
gifts and abilities because He chose them just for you.

He delights in the details of who you are -- the color of your eyes,
the curve of your smile -- because He is the deisgner of each one.

So on this day and always, REMEMBER the Lord loves you,
He celebrates you, and He's so glad you're His!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weekend To Remember Giveaway...

We have a couple of friends who are involved in FamilyLife ministries and recently received a gift certificate in the mail for a Weekend to Remember conference. The gift certificate reduces the $129 per person registration fee down to $35 per person and expires 12/31/2009. We will be unable to redeem this gift certificate -- so we're giving it away!

In order to be eligible to win you must be (a) either engaged or married and (b) make a committment to redeem the certificate prior to its expiration date. Check
HERE for details regarding locations & dates for upcoming events. NOTE: If you have parents and/or are aware of a specific couple in your church congregation who could take advantage of this giveaway (but are not bloggers), feel free to post a comment to this effect and I will enter their names in the drawing, too.

Please post a comment by 8AM on September 1st and I will draw a winner later that day. If you'd like, share with us a 'date night' idea. I am always open to new ways to spend some time with my man!