Monday, December 28, 2009

WE PASSED!

Today was the day.
The day we waited over 16 months for.

We passed!
We passed court today and are officially the proud parents of Misikir.

Misikir was born on June 12, 2009 in Mekele, Ethiopia and was placed in Gladney's care in Addis Ababa on June 30, 2009.

It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to our 6 1/2 month old son-

Miles Misikir Harmon

Misikir
::  referral picture taken on 10/15/09  ::

Misikir
::  update picture taken on 11/09/09  ::

Misikir
::  picture received from The Perkins Family  ::

Misikir
::  update picture taken on 11/25/09  ::

Misikir
::  picture received from The Britt Family  ::

Misikir
::  update picture taken on 12/07/09  ::

Friday, December 25, 2009

A BABY CHANGES EVERYTHING

Three more days.
Three more days and we find out if we pass court or not.

It's hard not to think about it.
It's hard not to think about how much our lives are about to change.

But today,
Today our focus is not on our baby in Ethiopia, our focus is on another baby.
Today we are spending the day celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This world will never be the same because of His birth and we will never be same because of the Cross.

Today is such an amazing picture of adoption.
I love how Beth Moore puts it in her Bible study "Jesus, The One And Only."
   How awesome of God to purpose that Christ's royal lineage would come through His adoptive father, Joseph.  We shouldn't be surprised at the profound significance with which God views adoption.
"Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son."   {Ephesians 1:4-6}
   In a peculiar kind of way, God the Father allowed His Son to be 'adopted' into a family on earth so that we could be adopted into His family in heaven.

Here is a wonderful modern day retelling of the Christmas story that was shown at our church's recent Christmas program.


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

AND THE WINNER IS...

Remember this post about the contest I didn't know I was in about this here blog that I didn't know anyone read?

Well, the contest is over.

I received an email yesterday letting me know that I won.
I won!

They also sent me this cute little tag...

Adoptive mom2be winner award

So thank you!
Thank you to all of you that went over to Pregnancy Corner and voted for me.
Thank you so much!
I really appreciate it.

This was a fun, much needed distraction while we continue to wait.

I can't wait to take the $50 gift card I won from babyGap and pick out clothes to take to Ethiopia for the children.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SIX MONTHS OLD

Baby boy Harmon is 6 months old today.

Hopefully, in 16 days, I will be able to show you his picture and give him a proper introduction, but until then, here is a little bit about {M.}.

October 15, 2009
Weight- 13 pounds // Length- 24.3 inches
{M.} is a sweet, laid-back little guy. He smiles and gurgles with delight when you tickle his tummy, and if you talk to him, he will "talk" back with happy little "ehhh, ehhh" sounds. However, he is content to rest in your arms, gaze at your face, and smile.

November 12, 2009
Weight- 15 pounds // Length- 26 inches
{M.} has started to squeal.

November 25, 2009
{M.} has easy-going written all over his face. From his sleepy eyes to the relaxed way a smile spreads across his face, {M.} seems to take it all in stride. I can almost hear him saying a common expression used here: "chigger yellum", or "no problem". Where I found him today was also a fitting place for such a laid back little man: outside "sunning". He seemed to be just letting the morning sun rays soak in, enjoying the blue skies and cool breeze. What a handsome, even-tempered little guy!

We are so ready!
Ready to tickle his tummy.
Ready to hear his squeal.
Ready to look into his sleepy eyes.
Ready to post updates about {M.} first hand, instead of retyping what others say about him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Today is Keith's birthday.
He turns 35 today.

I am very blessed to be able to partner with him in life and in ministry.

Keith is a very passionate man.
He is passionate about his family. About people. About ministry.
But most of all, passionate about Jesus.

He is a man who chases after God with all he has.
And I am crazy about him.
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Many people tell me that Alex looks like Keith.
I see it in his eyes.
He does have his daddy's eyes.

But not just the color.
The way he sees.

Keith loves people with his whole heart.
He treats everyone... EVERYONE, the same.
And I see those very things in Alex.

It is such an amazing blessing to watch Alex become more and more like his daddy. But that is because his daddy is keeping his eyes and heart fixed on Jesus and striving to become more like Him.

These eyes.
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These eyes are still in Ethiopia.
His eyes may not look exactly like Keith's, but I pray that he too will see just like his daddy.
"And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers..."
{Malachi 4:6}

Thursday, December 3, 2009

WE HAVE A DATE

We received our court date today!

December 28th.

It's so weird to think that in just 25 days, {baby boy Harmon} could legally be ours.

This whole process has been amazing.
You experience every emotion humanly possible at some point on the journey.
(Sometimes, all in one day.)

And now, to think we are on the home stretch.
That the path we have been on for over a year is coming to an end.
The end of one journey which leads to the beginning of another.

I never thought this day would actually come.
I can't wait for you to meet him.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

VOTE 4 ME

I received an email today from someone at Pregnancy Corner.
I thought it was a little strange at first, because, well, I'm not pregnant.

She told me that they've been running a contest the past month for mom2be bloggers.

Somehow, they came across my blog and nominated me for the adoptive mom2be category. And somehow I made it to the top 3.

Not too bad for a contest I didn't even know I was in about a blog I didn't think anyone even read. Ha!

So, if you have a second, please click on the button below and vote for me.

mom2be blog awards by Pregnancy Corner.com

The final winner in each category will receive a $50 babyGap gift card.
If I win, I'll use it to purchase clothes to take to Ethiopia for the babies still waiting their forever families.


TIRED OF WAITING

Some days I'm fine.
The waiting is okay.

But some days, some days the waiting is just too much.
I heard the wait after the referral is the worst, and well, it's true.

I was talking to Keith the other day about wishing we had a court date and he said, "How you respond reveals a lot about your theology."

After I shot him a quick dirty look for going all 'preacher' on me, he started explaining what he meant.

Do you believe God is Sovereign?
Do you believe that He is in complete control?
Do you believe that His timing is indeed perfect?

Of course the answer to all three questions is YES!

16 month ago we started our adoption journey.
I wondered if I could really, I mean really truly love this child like my own.
And here I sit, a year and a half later, fully and completely head over heels in love with a child I've never even meet. My heart is full and it aches to have my baby home.

The wait, although hard, isn't something I would trade for anything.

The wait has forced me trust my Jesus in ways I've never had to before.
The wait has caused me to spend countless hours praying and in God's Word.
The wait has reminded me of how much God loves me and how He patiently waits for me to come to Him, to lean on Him, to trust him.
From 'Jesus Calling' by Sarah Young
Do not worry about tomorrow! This is not a suggestion, but a command. I divided time into days and nights, so that you would have manageable portions of life to handle. My grace is sufficient for you, but its sufficiency is for only one day at a time. When you worry about the future, you heap day upon day of troubles onto your flimsy frame. You stagger under this heavy load, which I never intended you to carry.

Throw off this oppressive burden with one quick thrust of trust. Anxious thoughts meander about and crisscross in your brain, but trusting Me brings you directly into My Presence. As you thus affirm your faith, shackles of worry fall off instantly. Enjoy My Presence continually by trusting Me at all times.

{Matthew 6:34; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 62:8}

Saturday, November 21, 2009

@ THE RIVER

Today was such a beautiful day.
We spent the day at the river with one of our best friends.

It was so relaxing. So peaceful.
It was perfect.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

REAL MEN WEAR PINK

We received on update on our baby boy today.

I was so excited to get an update on him and read about all of the milestones he is meeting, but it makes me so sad that I am missing out on all these little things.

They said that he 'talks' when you talk to him and he just started squealing.
I want to hear those things for myself, not just read about them.

I am so thankful that we receive updates, but I am so ready to go get him and bring him home!

We also received a new picture of him.
He is so precious!

And he was wearing pink.
Again.

I think it's cute and it makes me laugh,
I just hope he finds the humor in it one day.

Here is a picture of what he was wearing in his referral picture...

Here is what he was wearing in the picture we received today...

Not only does my little man wear pink, he apparently wears pink flowers, butterflies and shirts that imply he is a... Princess?

Don't worry baby boy, this sweet family will be there soon to pick up their daughter and they are bringing you a care package from us that not only includes some toys, but some new clothes.

Some 'boy-looking' clothes!

Monday, November 2, 2009

{ORPHAN SUNDAY} November 8, 2009

What is our role is in caring for the orphans of this world?
Keith and I asked ourselves that very question about 3 years ago.
We made a decision to pray seriously about our part.

We thought God would call us to give more than we were giving.
We thought God might call us to sponsor a couple of more children.
We were prepared for Him to call us to help families who were called to adopt, but we weren't prepared for Him to call us to do the same.

We were prepared to give financially, but we weren't prepared for our hearts to be broken for the 143 million children in the world without families. Without mommy's and daddy's.

Whether He has called you to adopt or not, it doesn't change the fact that we are ALL called to do something.

"...defend the cause of the Fatherless."
{Isaiah 1:17}

God's Word has much to say about loving and caring for orphans.

TO LOVE AN ORPHAN
is pure and faultless religion
{James 1:27}

TO LOVE AN ORPHAN
reflects the heart of God
(Deuteronomy 10:18}

TO LOVE AN ORPHAN
is our joyful response to the loving Father who
sought us when we were orphans
{1 John 4:19}

TO LOVE AN ORPHAN
is to love Jesus Himself
{Matthew 25:40}


We all have a part.
We all have a calling.
We all need to do something.

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...
but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."
-Forest E. Witcraft

ORPHAN SUNDAY is November 8, 2009.
Please pray this week how you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Friday, October 30, 2009

4th GRADE FALL FAMILY FUN DAY

Alex's class had a pumpkin party today at school.

The students weighed and measured their pumpkins, then cleaned them out.
It is so funny watching their faces as they clean the seeds and gunk out from the inside of the pumpkins. Lots of giggling!

After our pumpkin was clean, it was time to start carving.
I suggested a traditional jack-o-lantern face, but Alex had other plans.

Alex's Halloween Party

Pumpkin Day

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

THE DAY WE SAW HIS FACE

Keith and I spent the day hanging out with friends.
Friends that are in from Florida to lead worship for us this week.

After a day full of shopping, sight-seeing, and just hanging out, we dropped everyone off at the church so they could get things ready for Sunday and I headed to an appointment.

After my appointment, I got in the car and looked at the clock.

3:15 PM

My first thought was...
Well, another week without a referral.

I was so disappointed.

My phone rang and it was Keith.
He called and asked me to come to the church to pick up a couple of the band members and run them to our house to pick up something they forgot.

On the way to the house, I heard my phone ringing.
I assumed it was Keith calling so I didn't even look at it right away.
That isn't normal for me, but we were in the middle of a conversation so we just kept talking.

When I finally looked down, there it was...
(817)

It didn't compute as fast as I thought it would.
I found my head kind of spinning trying to remember what area code that was.
I lived in that area code for 3 years, but I still couldn't put my finger on it.

By the time I answered the phone, there was no one there.

At that point, I really thought my mind was starting to play tricks on me.
I mean, when you are waiting for something for that long, it kind of does something to you. It kind of makes you crazy.

On our way back to the church, my phone beeped. Voice mail.
"Hi Jackie, this is Sara with Gladney and I wanted to call before the weekend because I have a referral to offer you..."

I called Keith immediately and told him then called Sara (our caseworker) to let her know that I was on my way to the church and would call her right back.

When we arrived at the church, I went and found Alex and we met Keith in his office. We sat in front of the computer, with Sara on speakerphone, and the realization that our lives would never be the same.

She told us that she was sending us a couple of emails with several attachments.
As we started opening them up, Sara started telling us all about him.

We saw his face.
We heard his story.
We fell in love.

We received a referral for a precious 4 month old little boy.
He weighs 13 pounds and is 24.3 inches long.
He is just perfect.

It is such a mix of emotions.

In one instance we were so excited to get the call.
The call we have been waiting on for over 8 months.
Then, the next minute, we were overwhelmed with information.

Just trying to take it all in.

I was so surprised at how overwhelming it was to come face to face with the realness of adoption. The pain involved. The decisions that have been made.

I felt a kind of guilty for being so happy.
For being so excited.
Don't even know if that makes sense.

Everyone told us that the call would come when we least expect it, but I didn't think that was possible. I mean, I expected that call every minute of everyday the last couple of weeks.

But, they were right.

So, on October 23, 2009 at 4:10PM, our lives changed forever.
We were finally able to put a face to the little boy we had prayed the last 426 days for.

So what now?
That is the question we get the most.

We have laughed the last couple of days at how we sort of speak a different language. Keith sent a text to couple of friends telling them we received our referral and their response was...'Referral for what?'

We didn't realize that we live in our own little world where words like...

Homestudy, Dossier, I-171H, CIS, Waitlist, Referral, Rainy Season, Court Date

...are used everyday without need for explanation. Adoption has not only changed our lives, it has given us a whole new vocabulary.

So what now?
We wait for a court date.

We accepted our referral for our little one. Now, the Gladney staff in Ethiopia will make sure our file and his file are in order and they will send them to court and the court will assign us a date to hear our case.

There is no rhyme or reason to how they assign dates so the next question we get a lot, "How long until you go get him?", we can't answer.
We have no idea.

Now we are back to waiting.

I have been told that this waiting is hard because we actually have a face to go with our wait. We know who we are waiting on and just want him home.

I can see how that is true.

We waited for 8 months and 14 days to see his face and it was worth every second.

Friday, October 23, 2009

REFERRAL

Just got off the phone with Sara.

We got our referral!
So excited!
More details soon, I promise.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

OUR FAMILY IS GROWING

Hopefully, our referral will come soon.
{For my sanity, it needs to come soon!}

But until then, I'd like for you to meet the newest member of our family.

Meet Felix.
Felix was walking around in a parking lot and rescued by Alex's grandpa.
Alex was so excited when he gave it to him.

The plan was to keep the turtle in a box in the garage for a couple of days then release him.

But one day and a few tears later, we have a new pet.
{If anyone has any turtle advise, I'm all ears.}

Our dog, Tucker, isn't real sure about the turtle.
And, well, neither am I. So we'll see.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

GO HOGS GO!

Keith, Alex, and I went to the Arkansas vs. Auburn football game today.
Even though I'm not a huge football fan, it was fun.
Kind of cold, but fun.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

WAIT (v.)

This totally describes me right now...

WAIT (v.) to look forward to eagerly

Tomorrow will be week 35 on the waitlist and Friday begins our 8th month.
(So much for not counting, huh!)

The closer we get, I have found that it kind of consumes me.
It's all I think about.

So I decided that while we wait, I'll shop!
I've been shopping for the baby and the nursery A LOT lately.

Here are two of my favorite purchases from this past week...
New bedding.

Chuck Taylors.

It is so much fun buying for a little one.
So much fun!
Definitely helps with the waiting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

IN TRANSITION

It has been a little over a month since we moved to Arkansas from Florida and as you can see from our lack of blogging, we have been very busy.

Busy moving.
Busy unpacking.
Busy with life.

Alex started school and football the week we moved here.
He has practice 3 nights a week and a game every Saturday.
(Football is basically our life right now.)

He really likes his new school and has made a lot of new friends.
The thing he likes best so far about Shiloh is that he gets seconds at lunch.
SECONDS AT LUNCH!

Yes, it is the simple things that make my boy happy.

He still says things like - "I really miss all my friends in Orlando" and "I would love some Twistee Treat right about now", but those are things we will always miss.

We have also been busy updating our adoption paperwork.
Even though we have so many things to update because of the move, we have been reassured that it will not slow down the process.

We will begin our eighth month on the waitlist very soon which means we are getting real close to a referral. Really close!
"At the time I have decided, my words will come true.
You can trust what I say about the future.
It may take a long time, but keep on waiting--
it will happen!"
{Habakkuk 2:3}

Sunday, August 9, 2009

IT'S NOT EASY

We love the ministry so much.
We love living everyday with the sense of purpose that it gives us.
We love giving our lives to something that is so much bigger than we are.

We absolutely love student ministry.
There is nothing else we would rather be doing.
Nothing else we would rather give our lives to.

There are so many things we love about what we do.
But there are some things about it that are never easy.
Things that are hard. Real hard.

This morning we told our students at First Orlando that we're leaving.
That God is calling us to serve somewhere else.

There is nothing easy about leaving a group of students that we love and believe in and church family that has loved and supported us since the day we arrived.

There is nothing easy about saying goodbye to a staff that we love like family and to an amazing Pastor who also happens to be one of the greatest men we've ever met.

This decision was not made quickly.
Nothing about it was easy.
But after months and months of praying, we believe with all of our hearts that this is the direction the Lord is leading our family.

Keith has accepted the position as the Student Pastor at
First Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas.

Please pray for our family this week as we make this transition.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I'M NOT GOING TO COUNT

That is what I told Keith when we were put on the waitlist.
"I'm not going to drive myself crazy and count."

But it's impossible.
You can't not count.

When we started the adoption process, the average wait time for a referral was 4-6 months. Now it's longer.

Tomorrow we start our 6th month on the list.

For the first time I think it's hit me that we're getting close.
Real close.

And we are ready.
Just the other day, Alex and I were discussing something that happened with a friend and I said, "well, just like J, you're an only child, and...", when he quickly interrupted me and said, "Mom, I'm not an only child anymore. I have a little brother."

No words.
Just a smile. And maybe a tear.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

EYES WIDE OPEN

Every year, we are challenged by our Pastor to pray for a word.
A word specifically for each one of us.
A word that we can claim as our 'word of the year'.

My word for the year, well, isn't just one word.
I told God that Pastor David said to pray for A word, but God gave me three.

EYES WIDE OPEN.

Those are my words for 2009.
"...once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."
{Proverbs 24:12}
Eyes Wide Open.

Although I didn't fully understand what that was going to look like and how it was going to play out this year, I did know that the Lord was calling me to live my life, my everyday life, with my eyes wide open.

Open to those around me.
Open to those who are in need.
Open to those who are hurting.

It is amazing the things you see around you when you simply pay attention.
Things that, when I am focused on me, I just don't see.

Men and women sleeping under bridges.
A man digging through the trash to find his next meal.

It is not unusual here in Orlando to see men and women on the street corners holding cardboard signs saying they are hungry and asking or begging for help.

When Alex and I pass by, it always sparks conversation.
He is usually asking me why I am not giving them money.
Why we are not helping.

Besides the fact that it is difficult to give money when you're driving, I very rarely have cash with me. Maybe a few coins in the console, but that's it.
"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."
{Ezekiel 16:49}
I have all kinds of excuses, but my excuses keep me from aiding the poor and needy.

Well, Alex and I decided that we needed to do something.
We needed to stop giving reasons why we cannot help and figure out a way we can.

We know the corners they stand on.
On somedays, we will pass three or four people, standing on street corners, just from our house to the church.

They have immediate needs.
They need food. They need money. They need help.

Yes, they may ultimately need Jesus, but sometimes we need to be Jesus for others to see Jesus.
(Jesus is speaking) "...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."
{Matthew 25:35-36, 40}
We aren't told to only give if we know why they are homeless, or why they are begging for money, or what they are going to do with it.
We are just told to do something.
To give them food, or clothes.
To love them more than we love ourselves.

But what can we do in the few seconds we have at a stoplight?
Can we really make a difference?

This was our solution. Our way of helping.
Something small to show others that people do care.
Our practical way of sharing the love of Jesus.

We bundled up 2 different flavors of Nature Valley granola bars (they won't melt in the heat), 2 one dollar bills, and a Gospel track.

We're ready.
No more excuses.
No more avoiding eye contact so they won't knock on our window.

We made up about 20 bundles and Keith and I keep them in our cars. We are ready!

They can't knock on our windows now, because we've already rolled them down to give them a gift we've prepared just for them.

As we hand them their gift, we tell them that Jesus loves them and we do to, and as we drive away, we pray for them.
We pray God will protect them, continue to meet their needs, speak to them, and that they will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I will never understand it. It seems so backwards.
The more we give and the more we seek to bless others, the more we are blessed.

Thank you, Jesus, for setting the example for us of what it looks like
to give, to serve, to love.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

...

This is my favorite photo of Alex from this summer.
It was taken on July 4th while we were in New York City.

Standing on the ferry boat looking at the Statue of Liberty on the day that our country celebrated its independence was pretty cool.

But the coolest part for me was how excited Alex was to actually see Lady Liberty in person. He stood in the window for about 15 minutes and just stared at her.

You just have to know Alex to fully understand it.
He is one of those kids that is impressed by nothing.
Absolutely nothing!

But every once in a while, we get a little glimpse of something that excites him, something that puts him at a loss for words.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Philadelphia Mission Trip

We have been in Pennsylvania and New Jersey working with Keystone Community Fellowship and three of their new church plants. Everyday was filled with something different: painting, cleaning, organizing, yard work, block parties, slime stations, car washes.

Here are a few highlights from our week...

Slime Station is community outreach program they do to reach children and families and get the word out about their church. Four teams compete in crazy games, followed by prizes and give-a-ways and then the kids have the opportunity to get 'slimed'. We did four different Slime Stations throughout the week.
Slime Stations

At the last Slime Station, Keith danced for the yellow team in the dance off.


We spent a couple of days in New Jersey working at Watermark Church. Watermark is a new church plant that is starting in an existing church building that has been neglected for years. There was so much yard work to be done it was crazy. Besides two days of yard work, we painted a few of their preschool rooms, organized the shed, and washed the playground equipment.
Philly (Day 3)

We also helped them with a block party they had planned for the community.

Alex's main job at the block party was the dunk tank. He thought it was the best thing ever.

Some of the other things we did were, pass out fliers, free car washes, paint the student building at Keystone's main campus, and paint at Keystone's new venue in Skippack. (I don't care to see another paint brush for a very, very long time.) Some of the other teams went to Epiphany Fellowship to paint and build an office, but we never made it over there.

Please join us in praying for these churches as they seek to be a light in their communities.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

ON MISSION

It's 4AM and we are up and headed to the airport.

We will be in Philly for the next week or so on a mission trip with the students. Please keep our group in your prayers this week as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

You can click here for twitter updates.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SEVENTEEN YEARS

Keith and I went on our first date 17 years ago today.
I can't believe it's been 17 years.

It seems like so long ago, yet it seems like just yesterday.
(It's so weird how that works.)

We have known each other since we were about 6 years old, started dating in high school, and have been together ever since.

He truly is the love of my life and my best friend.
I feel so blessed to be able walk through life with him by my side.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CAMP ORLANDO 2009

Tired.  Yep, that pretty much sums up what we are right about now.

We just returned home from an amazing week of youth camp.
We did middle school and high school camp back to back.
(Maybe crazy is a better word.)

Either way, we had a great week and are just so thankful for all God did and all the lives that are forever changed.

Here are the highlights...