(from left to right, Aaron & Stacy; Trent & Stephanie; Jason & Kendra; Bruce & Patty)
Throughout this whole journey of adoption, Aaron and I have felt that God wasn't going to stop there with this passion He has laid on our hearts. We have always felt as though there is something more that God wants us to do, in addition to adopting our son. Thoughts of starting an orphan-centered ministry within our church always seemed to pop up in our minds, until we heard one day...."why don't you do something with that?" So we talked and we prayed about what it was that God was wanting us to do, and Aaron felt as though starting an adoption-centered home team would be the best place to start. This way we are in community with other family's with the same passion as us, and we can establish relationship with them on a weekly basis. And so that is what we did, we put the information out there and had 3 families who were willing to jump in with us. So for this last year, we have met every Wednesday night in our home, and discussed and prayed and have gotten to know each other's stories and hearts and visions, and have really learned so much from each other. We have in our group me and Aaron who are in process of our first adoption from Ethiopia; Trent and Stephanie, who adopted Evie from Russia, and are now praying for their next step in pursuing adoption again; Jason and Kendra, who brought home sweet Eleni from Ethiopia in July of 2010, and Bruce and Patty who adopted Sarah from India, and have been YWAM missionaries and orphan advocates for many years now. At the beginning of our meeting times, we really didn't know where to start. We honestly didn't feel as though we knew what we were doing, but also knew that was ok. God knows exactly what He's doing and that was enough for us. Not too long after starting, Kerri and Dan (some leaders in our church, who also happen to be in the process of adopting 13 year-old, Sasha, from Russia) gave us a DVD and study guide that they suggested we start watching as a group. The DVD/study guide was "Empowered to Connect" by Dr. Karen Purvis. "Empowered to Connect" has been a great learning tool for our group. With their permission to share, when we first started the study, Kendra and Jason were struggling with their adjustment to bringing 2 year-old Eleni home. Eleni didn't want anything to do with Jason, and wouldn't let Kendra leave her side. Jason took a month off from work to help with bonding to Eleni, and struggled having an understanding of why Eleni wouldn't give him the time of day. It was heartbreaking for him as a dad, and strenuous on Kendra and Jason's marriage. To top it off, Kendra and Jason also have 2 biological sons and their youngest son, was also having a hard time adjusting to his new sister. It was a hard time for them, but they pressed on and today Eleni is well-adjusted, has 2 brothers that adore her, and has a strong bond with both her mom and dad. Kendra and Jason enjoyed "Empowered to Connect" and mentioned that they wish it was something that their agency would have suggested as a tool for them. Kendra mentioned that while you are in the process of adopting, you do all this reading and preparing for your child to come home and you think you are ready. But then when reality sets in, and you are in the midst of a difficult adjustment time, she feels that Empowered to Connect could serve as a great time of learning and walking you through those first months of adjustment. For Aaron and myself, this time for us has been a huge time of growth and learning. Before meeting with this group I guess you could say we were oblivious to the realities of the possible difficulties we could face with our adoption. We weren't really prepared. Listening to everyone else's testimonies and difficulties they faced, at times scared us half to death. There were moments, when we would hear something from someone in the group, or Dr. Purvis would start discussing a hard reality, and I, more so than Aaron, would freak out, and say..."oh my gosh, what are we doing? Are we really up for this? This is when I realized that adoption is for sure a calling. Caring for the orphan and the widow is something all of us as followers of Jesus are called to do, and that can come in MANY forms. Adopting a child, however, is a specific calling. Aaron and I would always have to remind ourselves of the clear call we received, and the many confirmations we received along the journey to keep us moving forward. Without our group and without having "Empowered to Connect" as a learning tool, I don't think Aaron and I would be ready to bring our son home. I can say with confidence that we are for sure called, we are prepared, and with the help of this team of wonderful people around us to pray for us and lean on for support, we are ready to go get our son. We can't wait! We are so grateful that God led us to do this. I am convinced that without it, we wouldn't be in the place where we are now, this place of growth, and peace and pure excitement. Community is so important. (Eleni and Aubrey, little buddies, and...Kendra and I joke...future sisters-in-law, because Eleni and our son are going to get married..lol)
No, that's not a little boy on that bicycle with a basket, and no, that's not JFK pushing the bicylcle. That was me and my dad back in 1984....the very first day he took the training wheels off for me. I was in Kindergarten, and my mom wrote beneath the picture that I kept telling him to let go that I could do it by myself.
This is Alyssa and her dad 27 years later on her first day to have the training wheels come off, same age as I was, in Kindergarten. We heard the same words a few times come out of her mouth...."let go, I can do it by myself," followed by some crying and frustrating rants, then joyful celebration once she went a little ways by herself.
Aaron made the comment that this was such a sweet time for him. He looks forward to things like this, and Alyssa was so over-the-moon excited. It's a sweet memory that she will have forever...the day her dad took the training wheels off. That's a memory with my dad that I will forever remember, and I know Alyssa will too. As I have gotten a little older (not much older, just a little) I have come to appreciate and cherish days like these. It was an exciting day at our house!
Oh, and little Aubrey also learned to pedal the tricycle like a champ :)
I accidentally came upon a photographer's website, which I am in love with. Esther Havens is her name, and she has traveled the world as a humanitarian photographer. Her pictures are so beautiful and eye-opening, and in my opinion, capture the Father's heart for His beautiful people. I wish I could buy every one of them! Check out her website. 100% of the profit of the prints bought goes towards future humanitarian story projects. http://store.estherhavens.com/
I haven't written in a while about where we are in our adoption, because we have been in this waiting mode for the past month. A LOT of VERY exciting things have happened and I can't wait to spill the testimony, but we are still waiting on some things before I feel comfortable telling the whole world just yet! Let me just say that God LOVES to stun us and knock our socks off! He is so good at it too :) But in the meantime, we will just continue to wait. We had a minor setback with some extra paperwork that needed to be gathered, but in the end it will all be for the best. I have been ok with the waiting for the most part...but in the last 2 weeks, I have just wanted to go get my son. In church the other morning I was dreaming about him, and I could literally almost feel him on me, laying on my chest, me cradling him. Maybe God is just preparing my heart even more for his arrival, and maybe it will be sooner than we all expect :) But as we wait, please continue to pray for our little guy and us, and for provision for the remainder of the cost of everything. Just FYI...we still have plenty of men's and women's t-shirts available that you can purchase on our blog here. Check out the top right-hand corner.
Since it's so darn cold outside again, I thought I would share another family favorite recipe.....TACO SOUP Ingredients: 1 pound ground beef or turkey 1 onion chopped 1 16 oz can corn undrained 2 16 oz cans white homony undrained 1 16 oz can ranch style beans undrained 1 16 oz can drained and rinsed dark kidney beans 1 32 oz can diced tomaotes undrained 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce 1 10z can of rotel 1 packet of ranch dressing seasoning 1 packet of taco seasoning
-Brown meat and onion together in a big stew pot. Add all the canned ingredients plus about 3 cups of water or more if needed. Simmer on low heat for about 30-45 min.
*We like to serve with cheese and avocado slices on top. It's also great with fritos in the bottom of it! Perfect hearty dish for such cold days in!
Aubrey Faith was born 3 years ago today weighing in at 9 lbs and 7 oz. I had her all natural in a birthing tub. It was altogether, the hardest, most painful, and most wonderful thing I have ever done. When she came up out of the water, her eyes were as wide and bright as they could be. This is our first picture together...I was obviously a little worn out :) We were so happy to be able to bring her home the same day we had her. Here is our first family photo the day Aubrey was born :) And this is our little sweetheart at 3 years old. Where does the time go? Aubrey is truly full of so much joy and is such a fun little person to be around. She is outgoing and happy most of the time. She is an encourager and a cuddler. Right now she loves Dora, baby dolls, playing dressup, coloring on anything and everything, orange juice and cheetos. She has a little grin that makes my heart melt everytime she smiles at me. She is such a sweet and protective little sister and she CANNOT WAIT to give her little brother kisses. Aubrey Faith we love you so much and are blessed every single day by you and your sweet smiles and vibrant personailty. You are one-of-a-kind. Happy Birthday my baby!
So this is what we woke up to yesterday morning! Once again, for the 4th day...no school! Never before in our neck of the woods have I seen such beautiful, perfectly glistening snow! It was so fluffy and so shimmery! Enormous Snowman we drove past :) Look at this snowflake! It's not a great picture (blurry), but it was so miraculous! All these beautiful perfect snowflakes were falling most of the day. Even the smallest things, God puts so much detail into! We had to get out and play in this..... Running start 2 peas in a pod...Dad and Alyssa played ALL DAY LONG! Alyssa is like her Dad...she is our adventurous child...she loved every minute of it! Aubrey says..."forget that cold weather, I will cheer you on from the truck!" And then we came home and ate nachos :) FUN TIMES WITH THE REEVES FAMILY!!!!
In Texas, we aren't very use to super cold, so if you live here now, you may hear a lot of complaining, because it is COLD! We have had a big ice storm, not snow, ICE, which caused our electricity to go out for a few hours, and my daughter to be out of school for 3 days. On top of that, me and my little one had the flu for those 3 days, which was AWFUL, but all is better now. In saying all that, I do not like the ice on the roads, but I don't mind the cold at all. I kinda like it. I enjoy being forced inside with my 3 favorite people, and I love snuggling by the fireplace and watching movies. Our summers are so busy and hectic, I enjoy the peaceful stay-ins of the winter. One of our favorite things to do is s'mores, of course, in the fireplace. We do it up right over here. Have you ever made a s'more with Nutella? It's to die for! You gotta try it!