Monday, April 23, 2012

One-Third of the Way There

On Friday, April 20th, KC and I paid 1/3 of our adoption fees. Yes, you read that right. ONE-THIRD. When you start out seeing a number close to $19,000, you immediately begin to doubt; you wonder, how in the H-E-Double Hockeysticks are we going to do that?! (yes, I just said H-E-Double Hockeysticks - you may commence giggling. Haha) But seeing how we are now down about $6,000 you know we can do this. God has been blessing us tremendously throughout all of this. I know I say it time and time again, but it's the truth. We could never have hoped to have that much money sitting in an account before the adoption. I've never been so happy or excited to come close to depleting our account. Haha!

And now we start again! And I. Can't. Wait! God has been faithful to us. I'm trusting in Him and the promise He has given us. Trust me, it's not been easy saving that money up. Lots of unexpected things come up and happen - dryer issues, a non-functioning A/C in the van, and a spare car that's leaking oil, car problems for my mom, more trouble with my dad - and you do as best as you can without. As much as I can't wait to have ice cold air blowing on my face while driving home from work, at least one of the windows works (the other only works half the time lol), and we're getting that much closer to bringing Effie home.

I know some people don't understand this - how we can call her by her name and save money and go through all this paperwork and red tape when we don't even know her. But I do. I know her. She is my daughter. She is being taken care of for us by God and others He has put in her life. We pray protection over her every night when we pray for the boys. We've added her name to our little prayer we pray with the boys each night too. I know her. I may not know what she looks like, how old she is, what her hair is like - but I know her. And I'm working fiercely to bring her home.

I get a lot of people telling me they think it's ridiculous that it takes so long, costs so much, involves so much work, etc.; and I can see your point. I've had those thoughts before too. Many many times if I'm honest. But when I look at the flip-side of it, I realize that there are a lot of dirty, dishonest, scumy people out there. People who would take advantage of the opportunity to adopt for "profit". So, all of this "red tape" is in place to prevent that from happening. To make sure that these children are truly going to a home where they will be loved and taken care of. So please - if you're reading this - don't tell us you think it's ridiculous. Or that we're crazy. Well, maybe we are a bit crazy. We have a crazy love for a God who has asked us to do this. And now we have a crazy love for a little girl whose face we've never seen.

You'll see. It's ALL going to be worth it. When she's home, you'll forget all those thoughts you had. Because she's just a little girl who was waiting for someone to come and bring her home. I know when I'm holding her in my arms, I won't care about how much time it took, about the fees or the paperwork. All I'll know is that I'm holding a two-fold promise I've had in my heart that my God fulfilled; an adoption and a daughter.  ©

Throwing rocks

Oliver scaring the turtles by throwing rocks

Caedmon watching the turtles

AND!! Drumroll please: Worthy of the Prize has reached 530 followers! That means that whatever money is raised in the month of April (the Chosen Necklaces or Adoption Bands) will be doubled!! Thank you all SO SO much for all your help in making this happen! You all are truly amazing! You are a part of this - a part of her life. You're helping us bring her home.  J It's also pretty cool that KC was follower number 530. You'll see Hidden Bars - that's KC. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I am beyond thrilled to report that we received our agency's approval to begin working on our Dossier!! A.K.A our BFF: big fat file. Lol. This is awesome news. It happened WAY sooner than we had anticipated.

We just had our final home study interview on Friday, and then at 3:40 on Monday we received approval. Per our social worker A., it could have taken 1-2 weeks to get approval. Not sure how it happened so quickly, but I do not care. haha! The more I keep thinking about this, the more I think of what someone spoke to KC about the adoption back on September of  2011:

        A woman told KC while praying over him - "This is going
to happen much faster than you think it is".
This being the adoption. J
Well this part is definitely going by faster than we thought. Those initial 6 months of waiting for the home study were well worth it. I can't barely contain my joy. I know we still have a lot of work ahead of us - paperwork, preparing the funds needed to complete these next steps, getting our home ready, etc. - but I'm ready to jump in! This is just so real now. We pay the final portion of our first chunk of the adoption fees on Friday. While I'm a little nervous about that, I know God is taking care of us. It's crazy to think that after Friday, we will have 1/3 of the adoption paid for. We'll still have travel fees, but that's a HUGE deal! When you look at something costing upwards of $20,000 it seems impossible. But looking at how we've already knocked so much of it down, it's doesn't look so daunting anymore.

We're praying that everything goes smoothly with our home study approval, our Pre-Immigration paperwork, and our Dossier. If we have no snags or hiccups, we could have everything approved and submitted in June. What does that mean? It means, we could officially be on the "wait-list/in-line" for a referral for a child from Ethiopia in June. HUGE HUGE HUGE STEP! So unbelievably blessed by God. (I wish you could see the big, cheesy grin on my face right now! J)
Other than our fun adoption updates, things at home have been pretty relaxed. We had absolutely no plans for the weekend (after our previous ones were cancelled). So, we enjoyed the muggy and rainy weather and just…. lounged. Saturday we played games and watched movies. The Tale of Despereaux was new on Netflix and they loved it. I made homemade blueberry muffins. Healthy, blueberry muffins. While I thought they were good, they weren't as sweet as I had hoped. Hello Sandra - HEALTHY remember? Lol. But, amazingly, the boys LOVED them and devoured 4 each. Lol. So, I made another batch but accidentally turned the oven to broil instead of bake. Luckily I caught the error pretty fast, so they still turned out good; not pretty, but still yummy.

We had a few tornado warnings on Sunday after we got home from church. The boys were worried in the car since KLRC wasn't playing music, only weather updates. But that all changed once we got home and prepared my closet just in case. The boys were running around with flashlights and their blankets screaming 'Oh no! The tornado is coming! To the closet!'. They were just excited to each have their own flashlight. Haha. Our area was fortunate enough not to be hit with much more than severe thunderstorms. The boys soon forgot about it as we ate lunch and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Ollie's request. Caedmon normally "veto's" any movie suggestion made by Oliver, but he agreed that Oliver made a "great idea!". Haha. So, that's how our Sunday ended. Movies. Perfect rainy weekend if you ask me.  J 

Caed intrigued by The Tale of Despereaux 

Ollie informing me that he wants his muffins to look like this 
 KC bringing me wildflowers. hehe!

 My flowers
(Sorry that the pictures are flipped, they aren't like that in my files)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jump out the Window!

Last night we had a women's Bible study at church led by our Pastor Stacey. I love hearing her teach - so down to earth and relatable. I really wanted to go, but some stuff had come up that KC and I weren't expecting. So, I wanted to just go home. Ever have those days? You just want to go home and not do anything or be around anyone. Well, that's exactly how I felt yesterday. My spirit wanted to go - for the teaching, the fellowship - but mi cuerpo just did not want to cooperate. Finally with some great encouragement from KC, I decided to go. Well, in order to save gas money and not drive home, stay for an hour, and drive back, I decided to hang around Bentonville for 2 hours…. by myself. Yeah, TONS of fun. lol. I hated being left to my own thoughts, especially while having "one of those days".

I get to church half an hour early and talk with my friend Claire for a few minutes before heading into the sanctuary to find a seat. I sit in the back which was weird because we normally sit on the 3rd row. Study starts off with a bit of worship. Acoustic. My favorite. I'm trying to reign in my thoughts to focus on worship and am finally successful. Then Pastor Stacey heads up front and we begin Bible study. Now, mind you, there were a lot of fun and witty comments from her throughout this whole study. Making us all very comfortable and allowing us to relate to what we were studying. But, for the sake of time, I'm just going to tell you what stuck out to me.

Ever gone to church or Bible study after fighting with yourself about whether or not to go and when the service starts you know why? That was yesterday. As soon as she started talking about David and Michal I knew I was hearing exactly what I needed to.

In a nutshell this is what I heard from the teaching: God wants me to be an audacious and daring woman. Following Him on exciting adventures that I couldn't go on alone (hello adoption!). How is this accomplished you may ask? By remaining in the presence of God. By seeking out the presence of God. By making it your all consuming passion. By worship - in all things. (this was where it got real good)

Having a bad day? Worship Him. Going through something unbearable? Worship Him. Having a fantastic day? Worship Him. Being with Him in worship, being in His presence will get you through those seemingly impossible moments. "No issue is too great when you're worshiping in the presence of God." Don't take advantage of the opportunity to worship Him. Whether at home alone, or in a formal church setting. Don't take the opportunity to worship without persecution for granted. Feeling numb? Had an argument with your spouse right before church? Don't feel like worshipping? Do it anyway. Once you feel His presence, everything else will just melt away. He sacrificed everything for us. The least we can do is show Him our appreciation.

During the entire hour that we were studying, I found myself laughing softly. Why? Because He was talking TO ME! {Sandra, little darling, it's going to be okay! See? Just be with Me. Worship Me and I'll get you through this. Stay with Me. Stay in My presence. Always. I'll lead you through this adventure. I've called you to do it, but not by yourself. Stay in My presence and you'll do great things. For me. With me.}

Mark 5 tells of a story about a woman with an issue of blood. I'm sure we've heard this story many times. She had faith so she was healed. Yes, but that wasn't all. She knew that all she needed to do was be in His presence and her problem would be gone. Now, this isn't saying it's going to be easy. (what is?) She had to fight to get to His presence. The crowd. Exhaustion. I'm sure there were plenty of other things, use your imagination. It's His presence that will heal us - make us whole. In His presence we will be able to endure all that is thrown at us. His presence isn't a force field that will protect us from all hurt, pain, and misfortune. Rather it's a divine phenomenon giving us the oomph we need to continue on. [I prayed that God would allow me to convey how I felt about His presence and that's what I got.  :)]  A refresher. A time to renew our resolve to continue fighting.

He was telling me that I'm going to go through things. Tough, arduous, trying things. And in order to endure, I have to seek out the presence of God. Go where the presence of God goes. I need to jump out that window. Something Michal failed to do. She helped David escape her psychotic, bloodthirsty father by lowering him out the window, but instead of going where the anointing, the presence was, she remained. I don't want to  be left behind. I want to move forward. I want to allow the presence of God move in my life. I want that to be my all consuming passion. One of my favorite poems/sayings is by Amy Carmichael - a missionary from India:

(little tidbit, I'm getting this as a tattoo very soon!)

I want to step out of my "good and ordinary life" and do something adventurous with God. I want Him to know that I'm His girl. He has already revealed a few things to KC about our family and what He's going to have us do in the future. And let me tell you, it's DEFINITELY an adventure. Lol. The adoption - an adventure. An emotionally trying adventure. One we couldn't dream to do without His help.

As my friend Stephanie and I talked about it last night. I don't know what stage of life my sweet little Effie is in, but I pray for her constantly. I pray for God's anointing to be on her. For His presence to comfort her. While adoption is a great thing, it's something born of loss. By the time she gets to us, she'll have endured a loss few have experienced. The best thing I can do for her right now is pray peace and comfort for her. Praying for God's presence to be on her. And I know He will take care of her because He has already promised KC and I that He will.  ©

Psalm 3:2-3
So many are saying, "God will never rescue him!" But you, O LORD, are a
shield around me; You are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Home study and the Collins Clan

Well, we have our final home study interview scheduled for Friday. I'm so excited to finally have this first phase behind us. Our social worker (we'll call her A) is great. She made us feel right at home during our interviews. I'm not used to talking about myself so much (neither is KC), so that part was a little weird for us. Haha. But all in all, they've gone by so smoothly. Our next steps will involve A LOT more paperwork. So pray for us as we delve deeper into this process. I've heard adoption referred to as a "paper pregnancy" and seeing what we have to do next makes me believe it!  :)  But I don't care - I'm ready to dive in head first. It feels like we've been waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get to this point. We obviously haven't, but doesn't the wait seem unbearable when you're eager to see someone or do something?

I'm excited to say that KC and I celebrated our 6th anniversary on Sunday. Yes, our anniversary fell on Easter Sunday. This is the 2nd year it's happened. It makes having a date night/day/weekend a little harder because Easter weekend is reserved for our extended families. But we managed to sneak away for one day. We had a blast. I love that we're still able to goof off with each other. I know it sounds cheesy, but I'm loving him more and more each day we're together. (cue 'Awwwww's from the crowd) God has given us glimpses of His future plans He has for our lives, and we know we'll need to rely on Him and each other to accomplish them. So here's to many more years of marriage to a great and godly man. I know that as the spiritual leader of our family, he'll never steer us wrong.

We had a lot of stuff going on this weekend. But, we all enjoyed it. We were able to go to Silver Dollar City again. Nowhere near as many people there, so the boys got to ride a lot of rides. Then, Sunday we went to my grandma's house for Easter lunch. So, in honor of our fun time we had this Easter weekend, I'd like to post a few pictures.

Begging to have the skunk hat and pop guns. Lol

To the stocks!

Easter egg hunt at Grandma Fort's

KC playing the mandolin. He misses his

Family photo - these never turn out right haha!

Decorating a cookie at the toy store

Caedmon worn out

Oliver worn out - he didn't even finish his cookie. 

Pssstt!! Don't forget about our fundraiser going on throughout the month of April. Check out the links on the left side of the page. And thanks in advance for any help and prayers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kindergarten? Already?!

So this morning I had to register Thing 1 (a.ka. Caedmon/Iron Man/Captain America) for Kindergarten. Can you believe it?! I can't. Kiddo numero uno will be 5 years old at the end of May. Sheesh! Where does the time go? {On Easter Sunday, KC and I will be married for 6 years - again, I can't believe it's already been 6 years with this amazing, crazy, fun loving man!} Anyway, I had to fill out a million forms (obviously an exaggeration, but my hand felt like it was at least in the 200's) whilst sitting at a cafeteria table. It was actually pretty exciting. I didn't get to see a lot of his school, that part will come in May, but from the outside it. Was. Monstrous. No lie. It was probably double the size of mine and KC's elementary school. Good ole Elmdale Eagles. All of the staff I met were super friendly and the principal even came by and introduced herself and asked about Caed. And let me tell you, Caed is stoked about starting school. He's gone to preschool, but Kindergarten is it. The official "I'm a big kid in school" step.

I think Caed will do great. He makes friends easily, has no trouble starting up conversations with random kids at the park, grocery store, Target, etc. He is pretty talkative and loud, so I'm sure we'll hear about that from his teacher. Lol. But, he gets it from my side of the family.

Thing 2 (a.k.a Oliver/War Machine/Bucky.... notice he's always the sidekick??) was excited about starting school too - even though he's not. Lol. He is going to miss his big brother something fierce. I think we're going to try to put him in Pre-K one or two days a week to get some interaction with other kids once big bro starts school in August. I'm afraid he's going to take it pretty hard. That's the downside about them being at home together 24/7.

Saturday the boys and I got our "date day". KC had his homeless ministry outreach, so the boys and I had a fun day together. I love the last Saturday of the month for that reason. I work all day, and don't get a lot of time with the boys in the evenings before bed time and with all the church activities. So this is one of my favorite days. We went to buy them some new sandals/flip flops. They never really wear flip flops, so this was new to them both. Caed had a harder time with it because he has big feet and the ones in his size don't have the back strap like Ollie's did. But, he got used to them pretty quick. I'm glad they changed into their sandals because we went to Gulley Park after that, and I forgot that there's a creek there that they can play around. We stayed there for a bit then headed to Bliss for some yummy cupcakes. We picked up KC then headed back to the park for a while.

It's been a great week. Not only with the fun we've had with the boys, but I also mentioned about the fundraiser we've been blessed to be a part of. So head over to Worthy of the Prize's blog and check it out. We're part of the April Adoption Feature. Pretty exciting!


Caedmon and Oliver


After exploring a big bush

The boys and I at the park

Daddy spraying them down.