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The beginning….

So, I am NO blogger and communication is definitely not one of my gifts (Ashley here) -but we wanted to have a place for you -our loved and cherished family as well as our closest friends- to read and get updated on the newest journey on which we are embarking.  We obviously adore you and know that you love us!

So…here it goes!

Ever since Jason and I got married, we have planned our family and our future and now we have some really cute kids that we adore and could string up more often than we would like to admit! However, two years ago, when it was the five of us, you couldn’t have told me what God would begin to place on our hearts for our family! I was just getting a handle on having three kids (THREE and UNDER) and felt like I was just coming up for a breath. This is when Jason mentioned ADOPTION– well I ended that conversation pretty quick with “You’ve lost your mind– NO!” So that was it…right?!?!?

Well… Jason began praying that we would become unified or his crazy nudge would just disappear.Then, Tony Merida came to The Summit Church (our church) and preached a sermon on “Why Adoption” back in the summer of 2014 and it wrecked me!

Here is a little glimpse of his heart…so you can see for yourselves!!!
 I cried through most of it and I couldn’t believe the TRUTH that he spoke about orphans and God’s Love. Jason and I got in the car afterward and both were feeling the exact same way…
My heart had immediately shifted from “why in the world would we?” to “why in the world wouldn’t we?”
We talked with some friends that had adopted, and we went to an orphan meeting at church that gave us insight and resources. So privately we discussed it, prayed about it, tried to mark it off our “list” but mostly sat paralyzed by fear because this is BIG, A REALLY BIG, DEAL!
Throughout the process we have continually gotten the same answer from God- It felt like He was literally yelling in our faces !
“STOP.  Stop trying to figure it all out and counting all the reasons why you CAN’T- !”  “Do you trust me?” “Do you think I can’t move these mountains?”
Occasionally, we can list all the reasons why we can’t do this:
1.We have three littles,
2. We are homeschooling
3  The cost
ON AND ON IT GOES!!!!!
God is really teaching us to LET GO and to LET HIM and to STOP trying to figure it ALL out RIGHT NOW… and that is SO HARD!
We want to be able to control these things but we just can’t.
So now… it’s  fall of 2015 and this constant tugging has been going on for almost two years. We still feel the same way and our heart for orphans just keeps getting stronger. And this is where we need You!
We have officially begun the international adoption process. We are currently working with All God’s Children International and plan on pursuing adopting a child from Burundi, which is a tiny country on the southeastern side of Africa. We have requested a little boy ranging in age from 0-5 years old.

 

So as we start- we need SO much prayer and support from you all ! We can’t do this alone! I know that we are in for a HUGE change, and a LONG Journey and we just ask that you pray for us. We need wisdom, and faith and trust to know God is working in us and through us for His kingdom. And we don’t understand it all, we don’t have all the answers and we definitely are scared! But we also feel at peace and excited about this decision. We want to live our life by faith, not by sight and are hungry to experience God in a life changing way.

It’s just the beginning and it’s going to be a journey like never before.  Thank you for loving us and for loving our family.

Here are specific ways you can help.

First:  You can support us through prayer.  Pray for them as they direct and guide us during this adoption.  Here is a link to the adoption agency:All God’s Children International.

Second : You can support us financially. Here is our fundraising site with our goals and ways to help-

Fundraiser Page

**We have purchased a puzzle of 250 pieces of Burundi, Africa and plan on writing the names of each one of you that support us on the back of each piece. You are our village. One day we will show this little guy just how many people were praying and supporting us to bring him home and be an orphan NO more!

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If you feel led to support us and be a part of changing a child’s story, we would be humbled and grateful.

With much love,
Ashley and Jason
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Family…

Family.

It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Its precious. Its priceless. Its a treasure. Its memories. Its traditions. Its love.

But to some its not those first few words that I think of. Its hard. Its messy. Its sad. Its not as you intended.

It is defined in Websters Dictionary of 1828 as the following,

Family
FAM’ILY, noun [Latin familia.]
1. The collective body of persons who live in one house and under one head or manager; a household, including parents, children and servants, and as the case may be, lodgers or boarders.
2. Those who descend from one common progenitor; a tribe or race; kindred; lineage. Thus the Israelites were a branch of the family of Abraham; and the descendants of Reuben, of Manasseh, etc., were called their families. The whole human race are the family of Adam, the humanfamily
3. Course of descent; genealogy; line of ancestors.
Go and complain thy family is young.
4. Honorable descent; noble or respectable stock. He is a man of family
5. A collection or union of nations or states.

In 2006 as Jason and I were newly married and had started mapping out our future and family plans, we never would’ve said “adoption” is in our family plans. But, here we are 3 years in. And I look at our last almost 13 years together and how God has faithfully led us, and how this new journey for our family is going to stretch and grow us, but also be so so rewarding. “Henry” doesn’t have the idea of family that we have or grew up with, but we are praying BIG prayers for this little fella and his heart, and his future that we have been so humbly given the opportunity to be a part of.

In 2008 we had number 1, Ava.

In 2010 we had number 2, Brody.

In 2012 we had number 3, Ella.

We learned the second week of January that our adoption case had been brought before the Burundian Courts on December 28th 2018, to officially give “Henry” a family. A new name. A new birth certificate. A new start. A future filled with restoration.

We are happy to announce that is was SUCCESSFUL, and we would like for you to meet the newest member of our crew, born in 2013, in a tiny country in the middle of Africa. A whole ocean away from us, but from now on, we are family.  And you don’t want to miss this million dollar grin….

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#orphannomore
#operationtogetherafricaaddition
#superseven

 

Welcome to our family little fella, we are beyond happy to have been chosen for you!

We are now waiting for the courts to finish writing the official Adoption Decree, and then we will plan on filling out our travel visas and booking our trip to pick him up.

Would you please pray for us as we prepare for travel, for the hearts of our kids, all the logistics, and for “Henry” that God would just soften him and prepare him in ways that only His Heavenly Father can do? We would be so very grateful.

 

What’s Next…

After our last blog post, which I have to say was the most exciting one thus far, we have been busy getting this little fella home!

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(Hudson is not impressed with late night paperwork…and my binder is out of control!) 

We sent in paperwork to USCIS which is Homeland security, and got approval there. Check.

We sent paperwork to the US Embassy and got approval there for the “Article 5”, and got approval there. Check.

We are now ready for a court date in Burundi, where our lawyer will represent us and “Henry”. It’s SO exciting to be ready for this next step!

Will you pray for us as we wait but most importantly this court date to be scheduled as soon as possible?  Its in their hands and now we wait…. Hurry up & wait …that’s the name of the game in this adoption journey.

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We also have been getting together a little care package to send to “Henry”. We have been so excited to gather a few things that we think he will love to play with, but also a photo album, with pictures of each of us, our house and his bed! He will know we are his NEW FAMILY!#orphannomore

We also had my aunt and uncle make him a new shirt, and we also sent a special lovey that hopefully he will love to sleep with, and will bring back home when we pick him up.

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Our agency will go very soon to deliver it to him and other care packages to multiple kids that are getting adopted as well! It’s so sweet of them to deliver them, and we are thrilled to see the pictures and video that will follow.

Thank you for praying for us as we wait on this court date and pictures of him will follow shortly after that!

Ashley and crew

 

Would you believe me if I told you…

God started this adoption tug on our hearts not long into 2013.

We sent in our first application to AGCI in the fall of 2015.

We told our village in December 2015.

We collected all our paperwork, had home-study visits, got finger printed by EVERYBODY, etc… the beginning of 2016.

Turned in that said paperwork and officially began our wait in May 2016.

We updated our paperwork in the summer of 2017.

Matching meetings were held in Burundi several times, and we were told “no” after each one.

Burundi had another matching meeting in June 2018. We were waiting.

And 778 days after our paperwork was officially registered in Burundi our adoption worker, Melissa called us and said those magical words, “Your family has a match!”

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(I bought this book and these USA beads in the summer of 2017)

Of course, I was driving in terrible traffic, all ALONE and in complete shock. I mean, I had anticipated those words many times, but every other time it had been, “I’m sorry, not this time.” I was in shock. I really hardly believed her.

So…..We are excited to tell everyone that we accepted a sweet match for a precious little boy that is newly 5 yrs. old, came to the orphanage in 2016, and has a contagious smile that will make your heart pitter patter.

Just like any child in this situation, he has a heart breaking story, and one that is sad, and hard to put your head around and your heart. Therefore, we will respect his story and not share it with the world, but we are so thankful that we listened to God’s nudge and that we get to be his forever family.

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(Remember that puzzle… well it was about as hard to put together as all this waiting we’ve been doing! There are NAMES ALL OVER THE BACK OF IT ! And …I can’t wait to show him.)

I think the biggest surprise that we experienced in the “news” was just the heart break that we felt for him, for his birth mom, and it was just so heavy! I cried. A lot. I had expected to be more excited, now that sounds so foolish.

I know that the story, is not the way God intended it, but one that HE CAN RESTORE. That is where our hope comes from, and once again, we are chosen to hope.

We can see God’s hand in his little life, preparing us, far before we knew him, preparing a way, far before he needed us.

And that is where I stand right now, and thank him for His Sovereignty.

We believe that God is going to do a mighty work in this little boys life, and we can’t wait to see it and be a part of it.

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Please pray for “Henry” that he will be cared for well and for God to be preparing his little heart for our family and our arrival to bring him home.

Please continue to pray for us as we move into the next steps, which are MUCH more exciting and move quicker (AMEN!) than the waiting time we have been in.

(above are pictures of us telling and showing the kids their new little brother)
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(This necklace was given to me in May 2017, but I couldn’t wear it. Not yet….It was symbolic, with the three points of the triangle representing the adoptive parents, biological parents, and the child. With the heart in the middle that symbolizes the love between them. I cried when I put it on, and she cried when she saw it on me.)

We stand excited, scared, fearful of the unknown but most of all we stand in awe of His faithfulness.

We are so thankful for our village, so thank you for all you’ve done for us, all the prayers you’ve lifted on our behalf, and for that little boy that now has a new beginning.

Ashley, Jason & crew

 

 

Chosen To Hope

After the year of 2017, I had nicknamed it the “waiting year” for us, as well as for several close friends. It seemed to have a theme with all of us and all of our emotions ran high. And I was pretty tired of it.

One day at our home-school co-op a friend/teacher for the kids had a shirt she was selling for her upcoming trip to Uganda and it had an outline of Africa on the front with 2017 on it. And on the back was something similar to this…

Spirit lead me

Oceans By: Hillsong United

I purchased it obviously because I was so excited for her trip there. But I also thought it was summing up EXACTLY our 2017 year, and how we were praying.  AND I wanted a shirt to prove it. haha –

We were asking HIM to move mountains, for us to cross that ocean.

And for ME to trust him in ALL of it.

I was thankful for a year to really dig deep, a year to grow, a year to cry, a year to pray and a year to prepare. And I was praying for 2018 and I wanted it to be BIG. We were praying for that little Burundi boy.

We have a New Years Eve tradition where we order sushi and we sit on the floor with the kids and we just remember the year.  We write down all that we remember from fun things, to house projects, to family trips, even the hard times. Then, we get a verse and a word for the New Year. We will plan things that we want to do, things we want to learn, things we want to see in the coming year. (Most of Jason’s close family members do this and I love the idea so much!)

We chose “HOPE” and the verse from Hebrews 11.1

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After a really hard season, I had asked specifically for God to give me a peace about our adoption journey, which by the way had just hit the 2 year mark.  And guess what…. That’s just what He gave me.

And it has FELT SO GOOD!!

There was no reason for it, nothing had changed. We were still waiting, no upcoming meetings had been scheduled.

It was from HIM and I could feel it. And I was ready for 2018.

The first week of January, the committee met in Burundi! Its usually the hardest time, the most anxious few weeks while paperwork gets translated and into the hands of AGCI and onto US soil. But, this time I felt grounded, I felt ready, I felt loved, and He was so near to me through yet another “waiting time.”

He had always been there.

In February, we learned that once again, we were not chosen.

Not chosen. Again.

But chosen to HOPE.

It was hard, and sad, but I was determined to trust Him and put my Hope in His ways that are higher and better than mine even when I don’t understand.

Spring came and I picked up the book Daring To Hope, by Katie Davis Majors.

So much of this book resonated deep within me, the same questions, the same tears, the same crying out, the same wrestling.

I had wrestled with God, just as we had before saying yes to this whole adoption journey. I knew what he was capable of, so I kept asking.

Confident in what He can do, expectant and certain He is still doing something.

Naming our mountain – The Lord Will Provide.

And having courage that only He can give, when the night is long, and we can’t see the end, I will choose to praise Him anyway.

In the book, Katie describes courage like this, “maybe its not at all about the absence of fear but about obedience even when we are afraid.”

So, we are trusting Him when we don’t know what comes next, and we don’t know when the next meeting will be, but we do know He will be near. He will provide His presence, His strength, and we will look at our fear and tell it, It. Does. Not. Win.

We are chosen to Hope, So I will bring it to Him. Everyday.

I am a prisoner of hope.

Take Courage

Dear Lord, When I don‘t understand, when I see too much sorrow, when the story seems too dark, and threatens to swallow me up, let me see your face and know that the God of all mercy and grace is using my heartache to draw me close. Amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait & See…

It was a long summer…An awesome summer but long in our little world of adoption news. The Central Authority and 4 other officials finally met in June after not meeting since December 2016. The country was struggling terribly with a gas shortage, some turmoil with rebel groups within & from Congo, and many work days filled with no electricity. Things that we in our blessed country of the USA don’t understand.

And I was sad. Frustrated.

Weary.

And so tired of hearing the word “soon” that I could scream and cry. All at the same time.

The Central Authority is made up of ONE man, His name is Ignace. His job is for the entire country (by the way is the size of Maine). His role is in all things related to children from government care, hospitals, schools, public health and international adoptions. He is ONE man! I show the picture below to you so you can see his face because he is working miracles, one child at a time. This is him last week, finally meeting a family from our agency that were picking up those sweet baby twins. Pray for Ignace.

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The picture below is Pierre (with his wife and a little boy newly adopted that’s now with his forever family). He is our advocate for AGCI. He organizes all paperwork, gets things translated, picks you up at the airport, takes you to the hotel/orphanages, and court appointments, and sits by your babies at hospitals when you can’t be there. He meets with Central Authority and government officials to match all these babies with families. His heart is amazing and he works himself tirelessly for us on the other side of the world. Pray for Pierre.

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I show you these two men, because they are TWO men working miracles in the orange dirt of Burundi, Africa. And when I am so frustrated, and sad, and heartbroken that our story isn’t faster or the way I wanted it. I look at them and pray for their protection, and with a thankful heart, pray for what they do in that tiny country over there in the middle of Africa.

So after the committee met in June, they actually didn’t finish the meeting…

If you’re like me. I said, “Are you kidding?!?!?!”

NOPE! They weren’t kidding.

We waited 8 more weeks…

They finally finished the meeting.  CAN I GET AN AMEN ?!?!?

BUT Then… We have to wait for the children’s paperwork with the families name on it to arrive to AGCI for them to be comfortable and confident in sharing an official referral for your family.

We waited 7 more weeks. We had so many questions. So many emotions. It was like being at your due date … it’s like a ticking time bomb.

We knew they could call us at any time.  Were we matched in this meeting?

I wish I could say that I have walked these last 9 months with unwavering faith, with my battle shield up and ready.  With trust and peace that surpasses all understanding. And I did some days, and then some (more than I’d like to admit ) I sat and cried. I didn’t want to talk about it. I prayed. Asked Why?. I yelled at God. I felt like this was NEVER going to happen.

I felt like we were a phony adoption story.

We have watched peoples adoption stories fly past ours leaving us in the dust. Its been exciting and devastating.

We had to update paperwork in the midst of all this because we were nearing “expiration date”.

I felt guilty for having what some would call, “all the feels” .  We are so blessed. Our kids are healthy and smart, and growing.  I didn’t want some of this sadness to be misunderstood, because we are so thankful for ALL THE THINGS God has blessed us with.

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2017 has been a year of FAITH and WAITING .

A growing year.

A year of prayer & support from our dear family & friends, because the struggle is real. And we needed them to stand in the gap when we just couldn’t that day, week, or weeks.

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Look at all these precious books that kept flooding my doorstep this summer…

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And this… (cue the waterworks!)

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Then they FINALLY called to let us know that they had 6 matches with one group of siblings, but we weren’t one of them. Its hard. I think of 7 little ones ages up to 10 that get forever families. Oh, what joy ! But, man we are sad in the midst of all that happiness. We are hurt. We are confused.

So, we continue to wait & see what God has for us.

Dear Lord, I can’t always see what You’re doing, but I trust that as I live out Your Word each day, it will make all of the difference in my life.  Thank You for hearing every “why” my heart sends up to You. Forgive me when I retreat from You and Your Word. I want to trust You more. And show me how to walk step by step with You in faith — not ahead of You or behind You, but right by Your side. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Still…

So its been a while, Yes. Yes it has.

I’ve wanted to write, but didn’t feel led. Didn’t know what to type. Days of encouragement. Days of sadness. Days of hope. Days of defeat.

Adoption is hard. Orphans stop being a statistic. They become faces. They become little bodies that don’t have anything to call “mine”.

We have been “waiting” for 9 months now. So after months of paperwork and “to-do” lists, we’ve literally had nothing “to-do” with adoption, of course other things to do. But with adoption, literally NOTHING.

We knew going into this that we were adopting from a third world country. In Africa. And that the foster system and domestic adoption in the USA is messy, long, and complicated. So what do you think Africa is going to be like?!?!?!

So we were “prepared”. Yeah right ! Its hard to put into words how we feel.

Since I’ve wrote last, the Central Authority have met (in Sept. and Dec.) matching sweet faces with forever families, families have gotten court decrees, invitation letters to visit and picked up those sweet kids. So don’t get the wrong impression that things aren’t moving over there. They are ! And we are so thankful. Hopeful.

They should be meeting literally “anytime”, any day now… we keep hearing . Schedules have to align for these particular people to get together at one time to sign off on “matches”. So we are praying for that and Pierre who is our advocate with AGCI families. We are praying for his protection and health – He is doing great things there! We are praying for that special one that God has picked already for our family, for his paperwork to be matched specifically for our family. For his protection, for him to have what he needs, his health, to have loving arms caring for him, and for God to soften his heart. Prepare us. Prepare him.

We don’t understand everything that goes into this, nor how long it takes. We get distracted. And we have to STOP.

Be Still.

Thy Will Be Done.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say I don’t have bad days. Sad days. Days that I want to call over there and ask what the dang problem is. Come on people. We are ready. Or so we think ? We know that God is sovereign but it doesn’t mean that I’ve trusted in His sovereignty everyday.

Be still… I am a do-er ! So, this is hard for me…. really hard. Most days I rest IN HIM. But I’ve had some rough days here of lately.

Why is it taking so long?

I know we heard him loud and clear. We acted in obedience. We followed through. But I start wanting to take control when I don’t see the end. I get fearful.

So I have to stop. Be still. Because I am not GOD! He is and His timing is perfect.

Be still.

I know He hears me. I know He sees me. I know He is able. I know He can.

I have seen and known His faithfulness.

Goodness He has in store.

So during this time He is refining us, me, our prayer life,  and strengthening our family through prayer. Bringing us to our knees. Because we have NO control, and its scary but humbling. Perhaps that is His purpose, to refine us.

He has answered our prayers before we speak. He is moving the mountains that We can’t see. He is parting waters making a way for us. He is God.

And He just needs me to Be Still.

So we ask that you join us in prayer. We are grateful for each of you that care enough about this journey to take time to read our update, and pray for us, a little boy, and these matching meetings.

Thank you. You’ve really blown us away through this whole process.

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Dear Lord, it’s hard for me to wait on Your answer to my prayers, but I declare the truth that I already have all I need in Christ. Help me to trust You and wait with the hope that You are working out all things for my good and Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

What to Expect …

All you ladies will remember the book, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.” You know that book that is terrifying,  I mean helpful.  Because its suppose to “prepare” but instead it makes you absolutely paranoid that you or that precious baby you are carrying will die, have an abnormality or that that cough you have is West Nile Virus.

-I mean, am I the only one?!?!?

Well when we started this journey we had (and still HAVE) no idea what to expect. We didn’t know what the paperwork trail would be like, we didn’t know what to anticipate with the “home -study” and definitely didn’t know how we would feel during this time of “waiting”.

I remember us just wanting God to validate these feelings that we should adopt and speak to us. Preferably in a loud and clear voice BEFORE we told the world. We wanted to just be able to stroke a check without it being made a BIG deal.

And He did validate.  But not in the way we expected or even thought possible…

We began this journey by filling out a pre-application with AGCI   in late October of 2015. Its been right at 10 months. The amount of time it takes for all us ladies to pop out a baby… OK, so keep that time frame in your head…

In that time frame our BIG, MASSIVE, HUGE, how ever you want to describe it,our  fundraiser  was posted, our blog was published. And it was “put out there.” No turning back.

As of last week it has been fully funded.

Fully.

Money like this doesn’t just show up!! But, it did! God spoke! His people moved!

If we would have stroked a check on our own, we would have missed God move. We would have missed this step of faith that He asked of us . And the Humility. This community. Our Village.

I mean, that is God validating, conquering and smashing One of our biggest FEARS in our the face.

In my mind I see an Avengers scene played out with The Hulk.

And now as we wait…wait for that face. Any time we could get a call that we have been matched. And we are anxious and excited.

But Fear, it creeps in. Again. We hear the lies.

But I know that Our God has moved mountains already and He has a perfectly timed clock.

We know that His hand is on this entire adoption.

It wasn’t what we expected. This journey probably won’t be. But I know God is perfect. His plan is perfect.And we are expecting GREAT THINGS because He has already done Great Great Things.

We’ve learned in our prayer life, that God is willing. And when he chooses His people to do something, He will help you do it. And in mighty ways.

Thank you so much for being part of it. We really couldn’t be doing it without YOU.

“Never be afraid  to trust an unknown future, to a known God.”-Corrie Ten Boom 

*Prayer Request: Please continue to pray for our paperwork in Burundi. The matching committee met  in June, and they matched 4 children with families!!!  So encouraging. And they are to meet this month and in October.  So, we are praying that we are matched in one of those meetings.