One year ago, I stepped off of a plane holding the hands of two scared and exhausted boys as they stepped into a new life. Their days marked by survival are now long gone. They are thriving, able to dream and to grow in so many ways in the security of knowing they have a family. They soaked up English like a sponge and we can have full conversations, deep and meaningful discussions about their lives before they came to us. What they share is both heartbreaking and sweet. As their trust grows, I am gifted a bigger piece of their puzzle and it’s a privilege I’m well aware of. My sweet son, the extra blessing I wasn’t expecting when we began our adoption in 2014, told me that the orphanage is all about surviving.

Everything survival mama“, he explained. “In family, we no need to survive.” I pondered his words long after they filled my kitchen. I was amazed at how perceptive he was. Survival. They have no one to take the burden off of their tiny shoulders. It’s a crushing weight that bends their small frame and clouds their futures. They have no one to parent them; no one to remove the burden from them. I remembered the total absence of a parental figure in their orphanage. I was shocked by that. These kids were literally on their own. I thought that the staff would be their mother figure in the absence of a mom. They were not. They sat behind a desk, did their laundry and served their food. The majority were not parents. I did see one teacher that was different. She sat with the kids, she cared. The absence of a parent made their need for one deep. They were hungry for my attention and they desperately wanted to be included.

Our days in the boys’ orphanage were spent next to the kids that now are “too old” to be adopted. Sweet, precious kids that took up permanent space in my heart. I tried my best to mother them when I could, fixing a thrown together dinner with them squished around my dining table. Their laughter and thick Russian words filling my ears as I filled their bellies and hopefully their hearts; knowing in a matter of days, I would leave them behind. The ache of it, the sadness to be home in my cozy kitchen, with my son, remembering the kids in that small apartment kitchen. They waited and waited for someone to claim them. Waited for someone to see them and deem them worthy to fight for. No one came. Family after family came and went with other children but they remained. What does that do to a child?

Our boys waited. I saw them in the spring of 2013. I don’t know why I was even on that particular page of Reece’s Rainbow- the 10+ Page. We’d adopted two toddlers in different years from China. I knew about attachment and the importance of those first three years of life, so what was I doing looking at teenagers?! Yet, I was drawn to them. I watched and waited for months until “Shawn” had a newly updated photo that took my breath away. He was the spitting image of our son, Jack. Try as I may, I could not get this kid out of my head. He was no longer just a photo of a cute kid somewhere across the ocean, he was my son. I waited for my husband to know that too. Nearly a year after I saw him, my husband said yes and we began our adoption. The son who became my extra blessing waited too. He had several families fall through and I watched as he was listed and claimed only to see him listed again. We heard that he had said “No” to a family. We knew we were taking a leap of faith when we added him to our adoption, but we felt confident that everything would work out the way it was supposed to in the end, we just needed to be willing. Here we are, one year home and while it has been hard, it has also been wonderful. In many ways, adopting two teens was easier than our toddler adoptions. You can reason with a teen, even one whose language you don’t speak with the help of Google Translate! Our older kids knew what it was to be without a family. While they are still kids and have a sense of entitlement about some things, they do appreciate their family. When my son’s missionary friend from his birth country asked him what the best thing about America was, he answered, “family“.

Please consider these children! If you feel pulled to one of them, don’t brush that aside. Please don’t think that someone else will come to their rescue if you don’t. There are so many who will turn 16 and lose their opportunity for a family forever. They will be forced to survive in a world without the love and guidance of a mom and dad. What a scary thought. These are the kids that all too often fall victim to suicide, gangs or prostitution. They are vulnerable and their hunger for a mom and dad is palpable. I stay in touch with the kids who have a piece of my heart. I send them small things with traveling families when I can, but it is not the same as having a family.

My sons had two strikes against them; they were over 10 years of age and they were boys. I don’t for the life of me know why, but that makes them hard to place. Please know, they are the sweetest boys! They are just children that want a family. They are not scary, not a risk to my other children. They have enriched my life and my family in ways I can’t even explain. Don’t be scared, be prepared. Prepare for anything and have the supports in place. Do your research on attachment and trauma in kids. Be prepared for orphanage behaviors and take precautions, but don’t be afraid to adopt an older child.

What about the children below who wait with HIV? They are just children, they are healthy children and rarely get sick. HIV requires a visit to the doctor every three months and daily pills. With these medications, the virus is undectable.  FYI, HIV is NOT in urine, feces or saliva. It is only found in blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. You can only contract HIV from having unprotected sex, breast feeding/mother to child transmission or by sharing needles with an HIV+ person. For more information, please vistit Project Hopeful at http://www.projecthopeful.org/hiv/hiv-aids-medical-facts. It is considered more easily managed than diabetes.

Finances- that’s always the number one reason people think about adopting but don’t. I was one of you! I would not even start our first adoption until all of the money was sitting in the bank. Thankfully, we had enough equity to refinance and that was possible. Our second adoption, we had most of what we needed, but had to sell a boat and travel trailer to get the rest. I could see where the money would come from and I only had to have a little faith to move forward. With our last adoptions, we had ZERO! We had no equity, nothing big to sell and no savings account. I couldn’t imagine where the money would come from, but it did, little by little. I knew it would be stepping out in faith and that if it was truly the Lord’s will, it would be provided. I came home with $100 leftover. He provided everything we needed to get our boys, exactly when we needed it. Our upfront fees were exactly the amount we had in our 401K plus two checks from photography jobs I’d done. That got us started and then donations came in, fundraisers were held and small loans were taken out to fully fund our adoption. Were there sleepless nights? Yes. Exhaustion from fundraising relentlessly? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes!!

Heres some amazing news- after May 6th, Reece’s Rainbow is making every child over 10 eligible to receive a $10,000 grant towards their adoption!! That’s a huge help for families wanting to bring an older child home. If you aren’t able to adopt, please consider donating towards these grants. We were able to bring our second son home only because he had just over $3,000 in his grant and that nearly covered the additional adoption fees. I cannot tell you how important those grants are! All of the money you donate is tax deductible as well. Spread the word!

Finally, here are some of the precious kids who wait!

Scottie turns 16 in August!! A family must file their I600 before his 16th birthday. He will age out after that and will have no chance to be adopted. He is described as a kind-hearted and smart boy who desperately wants a family. Please share him! http://reecesrainbow.org/103313/scottie-2

Eric who turns 13 in just a few short weeks. He’s been waiting a long time! He is the same age that my boys were. One of my sons was 13 and wore a size 6/7. My other son was also 13 and barely fit in a size 9/10. What a beautiful boy he is and he needs a family. Are you his family?http://reecesrainbow.org/3461/eric2801

Next is Avery. He turns 12 this summer. He’s a beautiful boy with deep brown eyes. There is nothing written in his description, but some things are universal. He needs a family. Are you his family? http://reecesrainbow.org/63522/avery-2

Alexandra is a beautiful girl born in 2003. She is described as a very good and loyal friend, sweet and neat/well organized. She needs a family. See her here: http://reecesrainbow.org/83666/alexandra

Alissa is from the same orphanage as my boys! She is described as a sweet girl who likes to mother the younger children. Alissa is breathtakingly beautiful and will make a wonderful daughter. Please see her and help her find her family!


Devon has been waiting for a long time as well. He is such a cute kid with a sweet smile. He was born in 2001 and has over $2K in his current grant. I don’t know how someone hasn’t scooped him up yet! http://reecesrainbow.org/3459/devon2803

Finally, please donate by clicking here: https://mobile.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_express-checkout-mobile&useraction=commit&token=EC-53944159985216829#m


Only God

Only God could write a story this beautiful. Only God could orchestrate events, move hearts and mountains. ONLY GOD!!

Nearly 2 years ago… (is that even possible???) I saw a beautiful little boy and he stole my heart. I look at waiting kids and pray over them, follow some of them as their moms and dads bring them home; but this little guy, he was different. I could not forget him. I waited and waited for someone to claim him. Day after day, his profile remained listed, waiting for his family. Day after day, it became more clear that I was looking at MY son. I prayed, I agonized over him. We already had 6 kids. We had $0 in savings, no equity in our home and raising the 6 kids we have rarely left anything over. Then there was the “small” fact that my husband was DONE with adding to our family…but God. God drove me to Himself and into His word as I sought Him. He hounded me, everywhere I looked was adoption. I couldn’t talk to my sweet husband about the deepest desires  of my heart without alienating him further. He really was done and I understood, but I couldn’t understand why this desire would not go away. It was making me crazy. I pleaded with God to either take the desire away or to change Scott’s heart and then I got quiet and I sought Him with all my heart. I listened to every sermon I could get my hands on when I was in the car and when I got home I committed to digging deep into His word. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. I wanted His will more than anything. I asked Scott to please pray with me over this and to please understand that I did NOT want to pressure him, I just wanted to be able to share what was on my heart. He softened and listened and I did not pressure him, I just shared and prayed for God’s direction. Things got more serious and I could see Scott’s heart changing. We met at Starbucks and talked about Shawn. Earlier that day, Scott said he searched an address in maps and it kept taking him to Shawn’s birth country by mistake. 🙂 He thought that was more than just a coincidence. After 3 months, he came to me with a Valentine’s gift. He had prayed and studied and met with our Pastor. He announced that he was ready to adopt this precious boy and that he had complete peace and was committing to him with nothing but excitement. ONLY GOD!

We both knew our situation going into this adoption and we both knew that God would have to prepare our hearts, orchestrate the timing and provide everything we needed to bring our son home. The first miracle was both of us saying, “Yes” to this boy and the second came in the form of two checks. We needed a certain amount of money to even commit to “Shawn” and almost to the dollar, the Lord provided it! Amazing! Then, our precious cousin, who has had so much heartbreak and loss to endure, gifted her entire adoption fund to us. Love poured out on us. We were blown away by their generosity and sacrifice. Then conflict broke out in our son’s country. I was glued to the tv awaiting any scrap of information, praying that it would resolve quickly and without great loss of life. I’d lie awake at night, feeling the fear creep into my heart and Scott, my once reluctant husband, was now my biggest support. He would remind me of truth and settle me down. He is always just what I need. We decided that we would keep going until the Lord slammed the door firmly shut. So we moved forward until our adoption process came to a hault. Laws regarding international adoption were changing and we were caught in a “gray area”. (Yay for us!!) No one I spoke to would even consider taking on our adoption. They would not do it outside of an adoption agency. We were faced with the prospect of adding nearly $20K to our adoption fees to use an agency. We finally found an agency that would do our home study and we were so relieved! We had a few hiccups and delays and the time lost was so frustrating for me but I knew that God would work it all out in His perfect timing.

Then Murray… Murray was listed on RR at the same time Shawn was listed. Because he was from Shawn’s orphanage, I followed him to see if he would find a family too. When I first spoke to another RR mom about Shawn, she was quick to point me to Murray. She had many wonderful things to say about him, but the thing that stood out was that he loved to take pictures. I’m a photographer and that made me smile. Because we were 100% sure about Shawn, I didn’t even entertain the thought of another little guy, but I watched over Murray and was thrilled when a sweet mama claimed him. I was so happy for him and for her. When that adoption didn’t work out, I was heartbroken for them both. Things changed that summer when I saw a picture of Murray and Shawn together, looking out of the orphanage window. The thought that we could make them brothers came flooding into my mind. I talked with Scott about it. We knew that we could not leave Murray behind and were praying over him when another family claimed him. I was happy for him but it was a little bitter sweet. I felt protective over this little guy! A few weeks passed and I found out that the family could not proceed with his adoption. It was crystal clear, we would commit to Murray too. Our yes was without hesitation and it was a really easy decision to come to. We would add about $5K to our adoption fees with Murray’s adoption, but we knew that God was clearly leading us and He would make a way. Months went by and Murray’s original adoption grant was again available. God was amazing us at every turn! We had successful fundraisers and people loved on us lavishly. We are so grateful to all of you!!

Our homestudy was complete, most of our dossier is in the boys’ country and we are down to waiting on one final paper to complete it. It was looking like we would travel in March and with that thought, I was working overtime to take every photography job and cranking out Etsy orders so that we could make it to our goal. I was so, so tired. I was stressed and overwhelmed and I didn’t like who I was becoming. I knew what was happening, in the craziness of my life, I was not spending time with Him. I was trying to do it in my own strength.  I told Scott, “I just want to take out a loan, or pray that God provides this last chunk. I am so tired and it would be such a relief to have that behind us so that we can focus on getting the boys.”. A couple of days ago I cried to my sweet mother-in-law about all of this. She has been such a great support to us throughout this process and always has encouragement and wisdom for me. She told me that she thought I started out the adoption trusting that the Lord would provide it all and now it seemed I was trying to do it on my own. She was right. I cried and told her that it wasn’t that I didn’t trust the Lord; I knew He could do it, it was that I didn’t feel worthy for Him to do that for us. I was a mess. Why would He choose to do that for me?? I knew I needed Him. I had, once again, hit the end of myself and I was worn out. Just days later, Scott called me. The gist of the conversation was that we have an unexpected check coming in January. WHAT??!! “Want to guess how much?”, Scott asked me. I started crying big, fat tears because I already knew. It would be the amount we needed to almost complete the adoption, I just knew it. AND IT WAS!!!

Grace. The thing about grace is this- God doesn’t love us because we are good nor does he love me only when I’m doing all the right things. In fact, nothing I do changes His love for me. He is constant and He is faithful. When I am “good” He loves me. When I am my worst, He loves me. Grace is Him loving me and I’ve done nothing to deserve it. Grace upon grace upon grace He has poured out on us. HE IS SO GOOD ALL THE TIME! He loves me because of who HE IS, not because of who I am. THANKS BE TO GOD!!! I have known Him as long as I can remember and yet I still can’t wrap my head around His great grace. I just know that I am so thankful for His grace in my life and the more I experience it, the more I love Him. THIS IS ALL GOD. HE GETS ALL THE GLORY FOR THIS MIRACLE. He is the author of this beautiful story and I am so thankful, so overwhelmed and so humbled to be part of it. If you feel unworthy, take heart, Jesus loves you. He has made a way for you. We don’t have to be anything, because He is everything. Just cling to Him. To those of you who long to adopt but don’t see a way, remember:

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24

We are living, breathing proof of His faithfulness. We are a testimony to His provision and we are not alone. If He calls you, He will equip you.

Hold on boys, we are coming for you!! I miss you both, even though I haven’t yet met you. This Christmas is different. I know you’re coming and I wish you were here now. I wish you weren’t spending another Christmas without a family. I can’t wait to love on both of you and to make sure that every day for the rest of your lives, you know that you are loved, wanted and cherished.

Where We Stand

We got our home study approval today! That means that our HS is court approved and complete. We are officially done with our HS and can now submit it to USCIS for our immigration approval. Once USCIS receives our HS, they will send us an appointment for FBI fingerprinting. After our FBI prints are done, we wait for USCIS to approve us to adopt internationally and send us a Favorable Determination Letter (FDL). That will be the last piece of the puzzle for our dossier, (huge stack of apostilled papers that in no way adequately conveys the faith, stress, love, sweat and tears that went into them!). Once our dossier is complete, we send it to the boys’ country and wait for an appointment to meet with the government officials to review files on available children. Once we have that appointment, we book our flights and head to meet our boys!!!! This is happening crazy fast! It was SO SLOW for SO LONG and now we are at breakneck speed.

Here’s the scary part, we are half-way funded. I know I said that a while back and we’ve had some fundraisers since then. What happened is that our costs went up when we added sweet Murray. He was supposed to have a $2800 grant available, but due to circumstances outside of RR or our control, he does not. We now have the full $5,000 fee to adopt him along with Shawn. It’s ok, because we know that the Lord called us to both boys and we know that he is always faithful. He will provide and has every step of the way. The plan it all out, play it safe, gotta go over everything a million times side of me wants to panic! BUT, I am choosing to BE STILL and TRUST. I know who He is and He is more than capable of providing everything we need to bring Shawn and Murray home. Right now, we need a total of $13,050 to be fully funded. I do have some fundraisers and photo gigs coming up that should help, but you can bet I’ll be filling out every grant application I can qualify for. 🙂

Here’s all of our current fundraisers to bring our boys home! Here’s the link to our t-shirt fundraiser through bonfirefunds: https://www.bonfirefunds.com/warren-family-adoption-1. I designed the shirts. Hope you like them! All orders must be placed by November 4th. We still have 16 shirts to go before they’ll print our order.

Back finished tee Front Finished tee

We also have a Norwex fundraiser going on. This is being hosted by our sweet friend that adopted her daughter from Shawn and Murray’s orphanage earlier this year. If you’re worried about dousing your house and body in tons of chemicals, Norwex is something you have to check out! I’ve created a FB group for this fundraiser and our friend is posting lots of helpful videos and information on the products. She’s also great at answering any questions you might have. You can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/836971076354914/. Here is the link you need to use to order for our party: http://www.norwex.biz/PublicStore/event/571282/default.aspx. This fundraiser ends October 28th. All of our friend’s commission will go to our adoption fund!

Shawn and Murray Norwex Fundraiser

I have an Etsy Store that you can order from at any time. Please visit me at Project823. Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Project823. I have jewelry, custom photo jewelry, wall art, baby stats posters and tree stump tables for sale. Items from my shop are pictured below. 100% of all Project823 sales go toward our adoption.

Copper stump Faith Charms Ombre Stump Photo jewelry Skeleton Key Necklace IMG_9562

Aspen leaf Lisa's stumpTurquoise stump

Noah Baby Print

Finally, if you don’t need any of these items and you feel led to help bring our boys home, you can always donate to our Reece’s Rainbow Fund. The link is in the sidebar of my blog and I’ll post it here as well. http://reecesrainbow.org/74704/sponsorwarren-2. All of the funds will be made available to us when we travel. All donations into this fund are tax deductible for you.:)

Let me close by saying how much we appreciate each and every one of you!! You have no idea how many tears we cry when we’ve had a bad week or day, and one of you sends us encouragement or support. We are so very humbled by your generosity and by your desire to help two boys you’ve never met become precious members of our family. It blows me away each and every time someone gives so that Shawn and Murray’s futures will be filled with hope, and more importantly, with love. We could not do this without you. God is using you mightily in our lives. He is teaching us what it means to have FAITH and to ABIDE in Him. He is teaching me that whatever circumstance I find myself in, He is watching my reaction. Will I trust Him or will I trust in my own feeble strength and ability. Will I drown in worry or be still, knowing that He who called me is faithful. He has provided through you, encouraged us through you. Thank you for being willing vessels to pour out His love in our lives. We love you all!


Full Disclosure

I have an enemy and he has declared war. I have been in the trenches and the past few days the battle has left me worn and weary. It has been constant and, it seems, from every direction. I know the Lord is good and He has sent encouragement and support when I desperately needed it. The past few weeks, the battle has landed in the heart of my family. It struck right where it hurts. For whatever reason, all of the post-adoption “issues” have reared their ugly heads and come crashing in this week. I can’t help but think this is preparation for what lies ahead…

Life after adoption…much has been written about it and by WAY better moms than me. But for the sake of my sanity, I need a place to dump all of this. Life after adoption is not all sweet pictures, smiles and the world made right. It is not always love at first sight or even love in the first year. It can be so hard. Afterall, adoption is born out of loss. This loss is so deep and wide that I feel like we could all drown in it at times. It permeates every nook and cranny and colors the world for the child caught in it’s wake. For the past 6 years we have loved and wrestled with this child. It has been an all out battle for his heart. Just when I think we have torn down a wall, he quickly slaps up another, bigger one. There is nothing quite like parenting a child with little or no attachment to you. They have no sense of right or wrong, no ability to have empathy, they lie. They seemingly have no ability to learn from past experience, no desire to please their parents, they push us away and manipulate us to get what they want. The worst has been seeing my child cuddle up to every stranger or extended family member, flash them the sweetest smile and beg for these people to take him home. And worse yet, these people fall for it hook, line and sinker. It’s not personal, we are learning this, but it stings all the same. It is a battle for their hearts, for their future, and it is intense. I am learning that this has brought every weakness I have, every flaw into the light of day and it is ugly. I am not the mom I wanted so desperately to be and I am not enough for my child. I am broken, he is broken and together we are a mess.

I look at my daughter, the tiny girl who tried to claw my eyes out those first few days together. The girl who held so much grief in her little baby body that it broke my heart. I didn’t think she would ever heal and I felt like I had ruined her life. She was loved and cared for by a sweet woman that I’ll never get to know. Her foster mom taught her to trust, taught her what love was and how to form a healthy attachment to her caregiver. I wish I could find her and hug the daylights out of her! That precious woman gave my girl such a gift! I couldn’t possibly appreciate it properly at the time. When I look at my girl and how attached she is to us, I know it is because of the love this woman poured into her life those first two years. Our son did not have this. The alarms should’ve sounded when he clung to me, a complete stranger, when we returned to the government office to sign adoption papers. His familiar caregivers were there and he wanted nothing to do with them. He refused to be put down, I even had to hold him for his visa photo. Instead of alarm, I felt needed. I felt giddy with relief at how smoothly this was going. Stupid girl. Over the next few days and subsequent years, experience would tell me how stupid I was to think that was a good thing. I am learning just how deep this wound goes and experiencing firsthand the destruction that follows.

For the sake of full disclosure, I want you to know what real life is like post-adoption. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it is the best thing I’ve ever done. It is allowing God to reveal my brokenness, to force me to my knees in search of Him. It is knowing that I am not enough, that I am not redeeming anyone, HE IS! It is getting a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father is like and knowing how deeply I need Him. I am broken, I push him away, I lie, I manipulate, I refuse to learn, I am calloused and I run away from Him more than I’d like to admit. But God, he pursues me with an unfailing love. He lays down His life for me. He is the Good Shepherd, the Gate who puts himself between me and danger. He pursues me all of the days of my life because He is love and He loves me. He calls me to abide in Him and He will love this sweet boy through me. I fail, but He never fails.

My sweet, broken boy…how I wish I could’ve been there for you those first years. There to hold you, nurse you, rock you and kiss you. There to sing into your ear when you were restless, kiss your hurt knees, tuck you into a warm bed and there to answer when you cried. I wish I could’ve been there to smile back at you, to clap loudly when you took your first steps and to gush over you like you were the best, cutest and smartest baby ever born. Every kid deserves that. It breaks my heart that some never get that, that MY baby didn’t get that. You are worth the fight, worth the wait and worth every hard day it takes to bring your walls down.


My head is LOUD. At any given moment I can have about 4 conversations going on with myself. I sort through every possible outcome, weigh each and every potential criticism and try with all my might to avoid said criticism and the worst outcomes my overactive imagination can conjure up. The past few weeks have been like this. The noise was loud and obnoxious. I was overwhelmed, stressed out and tired. Even more than that, something just felt “off”. I’ve been in that place before and luckily, I’m learning, albeit slowly. Past experience has taught me that this is the end of myself. The place where I find out just how limited my resources/strength/abilities are. It’s the place that says, “Hang it up sister, you’re done.”. I’ve been here too many times to count. Shamefully, I’m hard-headed and it takes me awhile, but I know that as long as I have Jesus, I have peace. On the ride home from the doctor’s appointment, when my world was crumbling- peace. When I held my dad’s hand as his heart thumped it’s last precious beats – peace. Peace in the bitter, peace in the sorrow, peace in uncertainty, peace in happiness and peace in the sweetness of life. Peace because the One who loves me, the One who is more than able, has my life in the palm of His mighty hand. Nothing can touch me that He hasn’t allowed. He is sovereign over every single moment of my life. When I carefully unpack the weight I’ve been carrying and place it on His strong shoulders, I can breathe. I come to the place where I finally rest my weary head and submit to the One who has all strength, wisdom, power, ability and resources. It’s the fork in the road that I stand at. It’s the moment I choose to believe Him over the noise and take the path that He is calling me to walk. Peace. Absolute peace follows.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6,7

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28

We have weighed all the possibilities, thought about the criticism we are likely to receive and yet we know that He has placed not just Shawn before us, but another precious boy as well. As crazy as people are likely to think we are :), we know that this is right. We are so thrilled to announce that we will be bringing home 2 amazing boys! Murray is Shawn’s age and is at the same orphanage in Eastern Europe. They will be brothers and beloved sons. I have followed this boy’s journey since before we committed to Shawn. I rejoiced when he was chosen and was so saddened when it didn’t work out, twice. I looked at his sweet face and prayed that his family would come for him. I had no idea it would be us. Little by little his smile and his story worked it’s way into our hearts and we knew he was ours. I know many of you will wonder about added expenses and rightfully so! Adding Murray to our adoption will increase our costs by $5,000. Luckily, he has a RR grant of $2,800 towards that. We have been so incredibly blessed by each one of you. Whether you pray for us, for our boys; whether you’ve given or bought something to help us bring them home. Each and every way that you have supported our journey is so appreciated by Scott and I. We see the way that God is using each one of you to bring our boys home and it never ceases to blow us away. THANK YOU!!!

Now, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Murray! Isn’t he so handsome?!


Always on my mind

Somewhere on the other side of the world, Shawn celebrated his birthday this month. He moved from being a boy into being a teen and I’m not sure how it was celebrated or even if it was. I am here, he is there, and therein lies the problem. I am aching to get to him. It’s the same feeling I had when I got the first updated pictures of our daughter. She was in China and I was here. She looked stoic, no light in her eyes. I longed to get to her, to see her happy. It was an ache that stayed with me until the sweet day that I felt the weight of her fill my arms. The day I heard her precious voice and felt her heart thumping against my chest. She was with me and whatever lay ahead, we were together and that was a huge comfort. For the past 8 years, I’ve had the joy of hearing my sweet girl’s laugh fill our home. She is an absolute treasure. I’ll never forget seeing her go from a much too serious faced todder to a giggling baby with light in her eyes! She was loved, she had a full tummy and she was happy. Don’t get me wrong, our girl grieved hard in our beginning months. She would go from that happy baby to withdrawn and raging. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea about adoption and the transition that follows, but we saw what she would become, even in those first few days and it was beautiful. I cannot imagine my life without that precious girl in it, just as I cannot imagine my life without Shawn in it.

There is so much I cannot control in his adoption. It honestly keeps me up in the still of the night and then the only thing I can do is pray. Pray for his protection, pray for provision to get to him, pray for the wisdom to love him well…I just pray. I would love it if you would pray for him too. He’s just a little boy, alone in this world with no mama to hold him, no one to tell him how special and loved he is. It breaks my heart. If you feel led, please donate to his adoption grant on Reece’s Rainbow in honor of his birthday. The link to our family’s grant is at the bottom of this blog. Here it is as well:

We are working tirelessly to raise the money we’ll need to have for his adoption but honestly, we need your help to get there. We are blessed beyond measure because through you, God has provided everything we have needed when we need it. We are so thankful for each of you. We are so thankful for our awesome God and his love and care for us. I know that when He calls us, He equips us for the task. I knew going in that it would be all God who got us to our boy and it has been! We had nothing to start with and little by little we have been covered. I am in complete awe of how He works and of the fact that He chooses to use me in His plans. I am a hot mess who needs His grace minute by minute to get me through and yet, He called me. Blows me away. He is longing to have us with Him just as we are longing to have Shawn with us.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭1-3‬ ESV)

Happy Birthday my sweet boy. Some day soon I’ll hold you in my arms, hear your sweet voice and delight over the miracle that is you. You will always be celebrated and you will always know that you are wanted and loved. You are always on my mind and always in my heart.

Coming Up For Air


It has been BUSY!!! Just when I think we are going to get to a place that will allow some much needed down time, something else comes up. Scott and I both feel like we are running at breakneck speed and have no time to actually form a thought, much less have a conversation. When we actually do get 5 minutes to talk, we are too tired to have any meaningful conversation. Along those lines, you’ll just have to forgive me and my scattered brain for the lack of flow with this blog post. The past few weeks have been filled with cars breaking down and getting them repaired, getting our home ready (painting, insulating and cleaning), moving family members, having a HUGE yard sale, sending 6 kids off to school, going to PT, going to the orthodontist, being a taxi in a car with NO AC and Scott being buried at work. He is seriously leaving the house by 6:30 and not getting home til 7 or later. He eats dinner then works til 1am and does it all over again the next day. It has been INSANE!! As if that weren’t enough, my day is now split in half with our youngest going half-day to Kindergarten. I spend 3 hours driving each day between 7:15 and 3:30. Did I mention that it’s 103* outside and I have no AC? 🙂 Although, the red face and back sweat worked for me yesterday. Ha! I had to make the trek into downtown Phoenix to get copies of birth certificates and apparently they stop printing them at 4. I walked in at 4:07. One huge sob story later and those puppies were in my hot little hands! It also helps when you have a legion of sweaty, exhausted kids in tow!

I am SO, SO HAPPY to announce that our first home study visit is scheduled for tomorrow, finally! We can officially get this ball rolling already. It is so nerve wracking to have someone come into your home to assess your parenting, your marriage, your history and your life. I know it’s absolutely necessary, but it’s nerve wracking nonetheless! The next 24 hours will be filled with deep cleaning and then protecting the clean house like a guerilla fighter from a band of kids that still refuse to pick up after themselves no matter how big they get! I’ll scramble to gather the last of the documents and compile a list of questions for our social worker because that’s how I roll. Ask me about the semester long project that I did the night before it was due in college! Got an A btw. 🙂 Pray that the home study goes well!

We also had our yard sale fundraiser. We were SO blessed by all of our friends, family and co-workers. You all donated so many wonderful items for the sale!! We worked three solid days to unload, organize and sell items and it paid off! Through you, the Lord added nearly $1700 to our adoption fund. AMAZING!!! We also have so much leftover that we will have another sale in our hometown in the next few weeks. Whatever is left after that will be donated. I’ll keep you posted on all of that in the coming weeks. I desperately need to revise our fundraising thermometer and stats, I just can’t figure out the widgets on this stinkin blog!!! I have to wait for Scott to get that done. 🙂 Thank goodness he’s a techie. I’ll post the numbers in the next few days, but I do know that I am totally amazed at how the Lord has provided for this adoption. When this was but a yearning in my heart, I couldn’t fathom how in the world we would be able to cover the expense of this adoption. Time and time again, He has provided everything we need, just when we need it. It absolutely leaves me speechless! The way that He has provided through people we know and love, as well as complete strangers, has been an added blessing and has been so very humbling to witness. THANK YOU for caring and for giving so that “Shawn” can have a family. That just blows me away. My Etsy store, Project823, has brought in just under $1000 for our adoption fund. It has gone sort of stagnant so I’ve been brainstorming other ideas to sell there, in addition to the mustard seed necklaces. We made our first tree trunk side table and sold that. I LOVED that project! Here’s a picture of it.

I’m also working on some wall art to sell. When I get a chance, I’ll finish the frame and post a picture of the one I’m working on. It’s been fun to come up with ideas and to work with my hubby to make them. He’s super talented and can build anything I dream up. He’s pretty awesome like that!

I think that’s about it for now. We’re just plugging away and trying to keep our heads above water at the moment. Please continue to pray for our boy when you think of it. I appreciate each one of you more than you’ll ever know!

A mama’s heart

“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

John 14:18

I love this boy. I cannot explain how that is so, but it is so. I think of all the things I do not yet know about him. How his laugh sounds, what he likes to play, what he is afraid of. I realize I do not know even the basic things like the day he was born on, what he eats for his meals, how he spends his time or what his story is. For now, he is a beautiful mystery that I hope and pray I get a lifetime to unfold.

I spend my days stealing long glances at his sweet face on my phone. I study his features and try to guess what he’s feeling or thinking in the photo. I picture him riding in the car with my other kids, sitting at the breakfast table or sleeping soundly in their shared room. I live in this place for now, praying for the day when I will finally meet the boy that has my whole heart.

As we hit yet another snag in our adoption process this week, I’ve been thinking of him all the more. Longing to be where he is. Longing to know him and to be his mama. Longing to take care of him and to love and cherish him for who he is. Longing to hold him close and give him a safe place. I know that he is worth every single snag and the trials that come along with them. He is so very worth fighting for! I will do anything for him. I’m a mom and that’s what we do!

Moms will fight for their child when necessary, love them with every fiber of ourselves, hit our knees on their behalf and whisper a million thanks to God for giving us this honor and privilege. It is all at once breath taking, awe inspiring, frustrating and a job that I don’t ever feel quite qualified to undertake. Being a mom has made me painfully aware of my sinfulness. It has sent me running straight for my Heavenly Father and made me desperate for His strength and grace and mercy just to get through the day. Being a mom is the best way I could possibly imagine to spend my life and I am so thankful that I get to spend my life with these precious little people! I’m so thankful that in His wisdom, He created me to be a mom. I’m so thankful that He put “Shawn” in front of me and gave me a love for this boy that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet.

We would love it if you could pray for “Shawn” and for this whole crazy process. Pray specifically that “Shawn” would be well taken care of and that the Lord would prepare his heart for a family. Please pray that we would find a good home study agency to continue our adoption. Pray for wisdom and the grace to wait on Him. I am not a good “waiter” you guys. I’m getting better because I have to, but it’s hard! I know that His timing is perfect. I know He’s always working, even when I can’t see it. I am confident of these things and I wonder what He is up to during our wait. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. Thank you for your prayers and support! We appreciate each and every one of you!

This is the way; walk in it

I realize that it’s been quite awhile since my last post. I know I have to be better about keeping this up to date, but truthfully, I have been struggling to stay positive. Who wants to read a bunch of depressing ramblings from me, I don’t even want to write them! Unless you’ve waited to bring a child home, you probably won’t relate to this, but I miss him. I just want to get to this boy that already has my heart. Things are at a stand still. We know now that we cannot pursue an “independent” adoption with the help of a facilitator only. We will have to use an adoption agency to oversee our in-country process in order to follow the new law going into effect on July 14th which mandates that we use an accredited adoption agency. This will mean added costs and delays. I’m trying to work out a way to proceed with our HS agency now. They haven’t gotten back to me on whether or not it will work or if it does work, how much extra it will be in fees. I’m frustrated and sad. I look at my son’s sweet face throughout the day and it kills me not to be able to get to him, at least to be making progress on getting to him! It’s been three weeks of nothing and it stinks. I know, God’s timing is perfect and it is! I know that He is working all the time, even when I can’t see it. Maybe I just need to see that in black and white to feel comforted by it, because sitting here and typing that does bring me some comfort.

Last week, He gave me wonderful surprises. They were sweet little bread crumbs that told me to keep on going, that this was the right path. Feeling discouraged and wondering how we would get the money we need to travel, I tuned into a podcast sermon and heard the words,

“Anything God calls you to do, He equips you to do it. Anything God calls you to do, He will enable you to do it. Anything God calls you to do, He assumes responsibility for the resources needed to carry it out. My responsibility is to respond and obey Him. His responsibility is the gifts, talents, abilities and resources.” 

Later that week, I was really down, really thinking that we might have to accept that this wouldn’t happen and my heart would be broken. As I had just typed that text to my husband, I got a FB message from another mom adopting from Shawn’s region. She had a sweet update for me. Beautiful timing! I got to be reminded of who I’m fighting for, of why this and every struggle is so very worth it. As I was typing out my thank you to this sweet woman, I was reminded of the verse, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21. It was the memory verse for my Sunday School class the previous week. I thought it was especially fitting for me to have that verse fresh in my mind. I knew, He was giving me this encouragement just when I needed it; telling me to keep going. Later that same day, I made a wrong turn and found myself driving by a park I’d wanted to check out for years but haven’t because it’s so far from our house. Why not? I turned into the park and let Asher play while Noah and I watched. A little guy walked up to Noah and started chatting away. He was super cute and he loved Noah! That led to his mom and I having a conversation while Noah entertained our boys. She immigrated to the US 12 years ago and actually speaks the same language that Shawn speaks! I told her about our adoption and she was so excited. She has a huge heart for adoption and appreciates what a difference a family will make in the life of an orphaned child. She told me that if he stays in his country, he has no hope, no future. She said that anytime I needed a translator, she would be more than happy to help me! She gave me a lot of insight into Shawn’s birth country and was so encouraging about the whole adoption. It was awesome! She said she’d never been to that particular park because she lives 35 minutes away and I admitted that I was there for the first time too because we lived so far away. She asked where I lived, turns out, we live down the road from each other- 3 miles apart! What are the chances? As we left the park, I told my son, Noah, it was a day that had God’s fingerprints all over it. 🙂


All of that to say, it has been challenging. The past month has been crazy busy with the kids’ schedules, I have been sick multiple times and our adoption has met some roadblocks to say the least! I am constantly being reminded that I cannot do this. I don’t have the resources or the energy to pull this off. I have to stay connected to Jesus. It’s the only way. He has everything I need and He will accomplish His will no matter what. I just have to be still and trust him. 

Our HS agency just emailed me while I was writing this. They are working out a contract with our facilitation team. Thankfully, one of the reasons that I chose this particular HS agency was because they knew and have worked with our team in the past. They had wonderful things to say about working with them! That has been a huge blessing! Because of that relationship, they are willing to forge a partnership for the sake of completing our adoption. Please pray that we get an agreement in place so that our HS can continue and that God would provide the money we need to bring Shawn home. Pray above all for Shawn; that he would be well cared for and loved while he waits. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!