"" Life A Bit Sweeter: 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

She's So Gifted

Yes, I do believe our daughter will be a 'gifted' and talented child (smile) but that's not what I mean this time around. When I say she's gifted in this sense of the word, I'm talking about how well taken care of she is by others. She has been 'gifted' so much by others. Yesterday, I posted about the diamond cross that she received from friends and in the past I've shared some of the other incredible items that have been given to her. 

I'm currently on a 'staycation' from work until the first of the year. During this time, I've been getting our house in order -- literally. In cleaning and purging, I discovered some items that I needed to drop off at my office. As I quickly dashed into my space at work, I noticed a neatly wrapped box on my desk from one of my colleagues. I took a look at who it was from and I just smiled and took it to the car with me.

When I got home and opened it up, inside was a beautiful silver frame with a black letter 'S' on the bottom right corner. I love silver over gold every day so this was absolutely perfect. My colleague and friend, Cynde Murphy, who has been a big supporter of Selah's adoption had thought of Selah during her Christmas shopping. Honored and overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness, I placed the silver frame on my desk at home. I'm so looking forward to the day that we'll finally be able to place a face with the name...and into the frame her beautiful photo will go. Thanks Cynde! We're getting to the home stretch!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Special Gift Just For Her

I'm in this 'nesting' or purging phase at home which many say is a sign that we must be getting closer to our referral. Each room in our house is getting a small 'lift' and cleaning out. If we don't use an item in the space, it's being donated. If I've been meaning to do something in that space and it can get completed with a diy small budget, it's getting done.

Well, this morning, I'm working on clearing out Selah's room since it had become a makeshift 'storage' place for some odds and ends. While straightening up the closet shelves, I glanced at a cute pink shopping bag that was given by some dear friends. As you've followed our journey, you may know that our daughter really has some remarkable people in her life. Although she's not here yet, there are so many people who have rallied behind bringing her home and just loving on her. Earlier this year, one of those families, The Parkers, gifted her with something really sweet. The box it was presented in was small and petite. Ricky and Whitney Parker are among two of the most stylish young and entrepreneurial-minded people that I know who also have a huge heart for helping those in need. Their little daughter, Kenni P. -- well let's just say that she's a rising star and always steals my heart.

I had no idea what was in the box but when I opened it, I was floored to see the most beautiful diamond cross for a wee little one. It's a children's cross for Selah to wear which is a constant reminder of God's love and plan of redemption for her. What a way to start her off. Thank you Parker Family. We'll cherish this for many years.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Selah's Christmas Tree

This is our 4th Christmas since we started the adoption process. I remember last year posting that I just knew for sure that Selah would be here by now but as they say, we make plans and God laughs...or even better, His timing has such greater perspective than mine. As hard as the wait has been, I know that there's still some maturing and preparation that God is doing in me as we wait. I'm praying that I'll be all that God wants me to be as this child's mother.

Even during this waiting and understanding there is reason behind it, I recall last Christmas being anxious for her to get home so we could finally celebrate Christmas (one of the biggest family holidays) with her. I remember last Christmas (2011), I remember having my eyes on some ornaments at Target. They were sold individually and not in a boxed set like my good ol' faithful fragile glass balls I've bought over the years. These ornaments reflected my personal style but even more so, I thought they'd be perfect for Selah in Christmas 2012 because they were plush-like animal toys and hearts. I waited until the day after Christmas last year and snagged them up, confident that my little girl would be here to play with them....not so much.

So this year, we decorated the tree with the ornaments anyway and because our numbers have gotten a little closer, I asked Tony what did he think about 'perhaps' leaving the Christmas tree up until she came home...it might be as early as Spring or as late as another Christmas. Of course, his daddy's heart said that would be fine. We'll see what I decide as the months after Christmas time pass. If we get too far into the Spring, I can imagine I'll take it down. (No worries...I gave up a natural tree for an artificial tree.) In the meantime, here's a glimpse of my little girl's Christmas tree...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Manicure Mondays

This is so not adoption-related but a girl still has life going on while she's waiting for a referral, right? Well...one of my friends blogs over at Finally....Kriss. Not too long ago, Kriss debuted a blog series called Manicure Mondays. The premise is to take some time on Monday to relax, unwind, slow your pace and take care of little ol' Y-O-U.

I've been meaning to do it but you know, life gets in the way....okay, I let life get in the way of slowing down. Well recently after work, I finally did it....I took some time and painted my own nails. I didn't go to the nail salon; instead, I used some colors and did it all by my lonesome. And ya know what....I really liked it. Check it out....
 Now before you think this color is ***sigh*** a little boring. It has some history. My grandmother, Fannie or as we called her 'Nana' who passed away some years ago, used to bring me in her bedroom and do facials for me. Yes, she'd dig out her honey and almond paste and we'd go to work. The facial would be followed by a manicure and her choice color which she NEVER deviated from was similar to this neutral that I'm showing on my nails. Now I had to jazz it up just a little with some silver glittery sparkle....sorry Nana! smile.

Here's to you Nana and thanks Kriss for the inspiration! I'm looking forward to the day when my daughter and I are painting nails together and creating our very own memories. ahhh.......

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Guessed It....New Adoption Numbers Again!

I can hardly believe it myself! We've moved up in the 'unofficial' waiting list with our agency again. Earlier this week, I shared that there was a bunch of unexpected movement, well Friday, I found out our placement changed to....
Yes, we're working our little behinds off trying to renew our annual paperwork and believe me, it's not as simple as I'd like it to be....even if it's the fourth time we've worked on papers for the adoption. But....I think you and I would both agree...Little Miss Selah is worth it. I'm grateful for the part God is allowing me to play in her life.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Adoption Numbers

Based on the 'unofficial' list that the families from our adoption agency keeps, I was all set on Tuesday night to share that we had moved up on the list after probably about 5 months of no referral. We had been at number 10 for an infant girl and number 4 for a toddler girl for the longest and then movement....

Well I guess my fingers weren't moving fast enough because as I sat in a meeting at work on Wednesday, e-mail alerts started popping up on my phone sharing that more referrals had come out for families and so now, here are our new numbers...
I am so daggone nervous.  We're getting so much closer and seriously, I don't feel like I'm ready. I know we've been preparing since 2009 for what these moments are leading up to but Good Lord, please help me. Her room needs to be done, so many loose ends to tie up, our homestudy has to be renewed, and life is crazy. Selah, Selah, Selah....looks like the appointed time is getting near my sweet daughter.

Please pray for us friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baby Hannah....a birth mom's perspective

I'm often interested in seeing things from another person's perspective. I think it's the 'caretaker' in me as a friend has called it. Adoption is no different. While I understand the emotions that an adopting family goes through, it's important for me to grasp the emotions of a birth parent. This morning I stumbled across this video. While there's not a whole lot of explanation that goes with the video, I do recognize that there are probably two mothers and at the end of the day, all that really matters is the love for this one little amazing girl. Thank you Lord for the courage and selfless love of this birth mother and thank you for the selfless love of this adopting mom. May they all be richly blessed for loving generously like you.

Baby Hannah from Jenni Kjerstad on Vimeo.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Birth Mom & Me: Finally, Side-by-Side

My birth mom, Kay, and me. After 30+ years  of her death, this is my first glimpse of discovering if we looked alike. 
For the past 30+ years, September has been a really hard month for me. It's the anniversary of my birth mom's death and also her birthday. She died Labor Day September 7th and her birthday was weeks later on September 26th. As I wrote this, I thought about how awesome God is because after such a hard month, the celebration of my birthday follows on October 4th. I never thought of that...I'm so grateful.

My Uncle Adrian recently posted a photo of my mom that I had never seen before. I actually only own one photo of my mom. From what I learned, she was one of those people who didn't like to take photos. Yet, I long for more photos and a voice recording of any kind just so I can know what she sounded like. 

Today, as I pondered what to post onto this blog, I thought about the photo my Uncle Adrian had and I began to wonder if I looked anything like my mom. I don't know that anyone has ever told me if I have or not. So I decided to grab the photos and put them side-by-side. It's really hard to look at the photos together but it's necessary because it begins to put pieces together for me about who I am in relation to her. The first thing I notice are our eyes. Wow. Maybe as the weeks and months go by, I'll be able to stare at it for longer periods of time. For now, I'll savor what I glanced at and thank God for all things.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Adoption Numbers...AGAIN!!!!

In adoption land, new numbers always bring lots of excitement. So....with pleasure I'm finally posting our new numbers. We're getting closer baby!

I keep this chalkboard in my office. My colleague, Gloria, was so excited to do the honors
of putting up the new numbers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Courage of Birth Moms

Contrary to the belief of many, I believe that moms who choose to give up their children are incredible, courageous, and virtuous. In spite of their circumstances, they make the choice of 'life' for their children instead of aborting them. It takes a lot of courage and selflessness, especially given the world that we live in, to decide to carry a child for 9 months, bond with that child during that time, and then selflessly give them up so that they may have a better life.

Some may say, "She had no business getting pregnant in the first place!" I say, "Be careful of the stones that you cast." Let's continue to pray for moms (and families) in these tough situations. In fact, the next time you urge a mom to not abort or give up their child, please be sure you are the first one in line to buy diapers, pay for daycare, food, and the essentials that this unborn child will need. Instead of condemning, let's open up our hearts to understanding and compassion. For theirs is a difficult choice to make and you never really know what you'd do until you're actually standing in someone else's shoes.

This story touched my heart and I hope that it will touch yours as well.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Adoption Numbers...AGAIN!!!!

Shortly after I posted yesterday's adoption numbers, I was stunned to learn from my adoption buddies, Jenn & Chris, that they received their referral!!! Their referral meant that Tony and I were moving up the list to become parents. Totally stunned. So...here's to our NEWEST numbers... 5 & 13!!! I'm getting pretty excited....and to be honest quite nervous too. There's so much to do!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We're #5 & #15

Yep folks! We're still in the waiting room. It's all good though because I have PLENTY to get done on this end before we get a referral and bring little miss home for good.

Here's some good news! We are getting closer....okay, maybe that's scary news for this soon to be mama of a girl. We are now #15 in line for an infant girl and #5 in line for a toddler girl. Eek!!! Can you stand it!

We started this process in 2009 and I would have never guessed that it would have taken this long. Yet, I believe God's timing is impeccable as He prepares me for what's to come.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm Taking Amharic Classes Y'all!

While the building is plain on the outside, its impact
to the community is enormous!
This past Saturday, I took my first of 12 classes to learn basic Amharic. BIG thanks to Miss Madie for researching and finding one for me. This woman has been a gem in bridging the gap between our culture and Selah's. Love her for that!

I love the home-like feel of Bete.
The class is held at the Ethiopian Community Center in Silver Spring. Silver Spring is a mecca for Ethiopian culture and you'll find at least one or two Ethiopian restaurants/markets on each block. (Speaking of which, you know I popped into my favorite restaurant, Bete, after class was over to grab a sambusa.)

Although the building is a little plain without any signage on the outside, I quickly found that the real jewel was inside the building with the Director and staff. This facility is a huge asset to the community in that it offers many services to immigrants, refugees, and those seeking to learn more about the Ethiopian culture...like me!

Our class is really small...about 6 of us which is fantastic! I think I'm the only one that is not Ethiopian. The instructor was a little nervous and struggled a little but it was totally fine because this language program is a pilot program. I realized that by the end of the class, I'll probably need to add in some additional resources and use the class for structure and lots of conversation practice....so worth it!!!

We spent much of our time this past Saturday going through the Fidel (Ethiopian alphabet). I came home and found this video which will serve as my practice this week.

BTW: I also purchased this cd/book set from another adoptive mom who creates conversational books/cds for families adopting internationally.  Check her out here: http://www.adoptlanguage.com/Amharic.htm

So hey...pray for me y'all! This is going to be a challenge but preserving Selah's culture is so worth it!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Adoption Numbers!

So...this week I was gonna post this photo sharing new numbers (#23 & #7) we got last Saturday...(we were hanging at the Wizards game for MJ's birthday)

BUT now, I get to post this photo sharing new numbers we got yesterday! We're now number 21 for an infant girl and number 6 for a toddler girl! Can ya feel the excitement?!

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Ethiopian Doll for Selah!!!

Seriously, my daughter has the sweetest aunties...far and wide. Remember Auntie Jenn who worked with her mom to create that gorgeous doll just for Selah? It totally surprised me and blew me away when I got it in the mail. It's a real treasure.

Well, back at Christmas, another auntie of Selah's, Trenace, decided to surprise me. Trenace and I are not just co-workers, we're really good friends. In fact, I'm pretty sure she'll be accompanying me and Aunt Shelly on the second trip to Ethiopia to bring Selah back home.

So little miss sneaky went all out like Auntie Jenn and got another gorgeous doll for Selah! This particular doll is a gorgeous Ethiopian girl named Rahel. She is simply beautiful. The doll comes with a friendship bracelet for Selah, comb, and storybook to help girls learn about and understand needs all over the world. If you haven't seen these dolls by Hearts for Hearts, you've got to check them out. Here is Heart to Hearts mission:
"We invite all girls to become agents of change - to improve the lives of girls in their communities, across their country, and around the world. We promise to deliver meaningful products and experiences and to tell all girls, "You can help!" 
Okay, how cool is that?!

Love Auntie Trenace and the many ways that she and her family have supported Selah's adoption.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan Free Download

Hey y'all!

So since baby girl is on the way...down the line, of course, there are some areas that I've shared that we've tightened up. Don't get me wrong....sometimes I slip-up and need a little reminder. Today at church was a great reminder.  Our Pastor, Keith, shared Part 6 of the series, Journey to Your Dreams. He focused on how to cut debt since debt is one of the big things that prevents us from obtaining our dreams. For many of us reading this blog, an adoption may be or is one of your 'dreams'. So I thought I'd share again our family's weekly meal plan and offer a free template download.

Here's what one of our completed weekly meal plans might look like...(the activities aren't necessarily real since I didn't want everybody online knowing our family's schedule):

Completed Weekly Meal Plan to Share Online

I often decide what goes on the meal plan based on what's in the freezer, on sale at the store, or activities that we have that day. Late night activities either call for dinner that is easy to put in a crockpot or prep in advance. I try to plan out everything including snacks. Once this list is done, I use the app Grocery IQ to simply create a grocery shopping list. This keeps me focused during shopping so I'm not hitting extra aisles. Extra aisles and no list = more $$$.

Hope this helps. Here's a blank template for you to use and download. Feel free to share.
Blank Meal Plan

What are your grocery tips to cut costs?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Adoption Number!!!!

Yep, that's 'number' singular. We moved to #8 in the toddler girl 'unofficial' list. We're still #24 in the infant girl line but you never know what God will do. In the meantime, we're celebrating the Number 8!!!!

Take it away Count!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

..and the Winner is....ImagineSabrina@SabrinaHamilton

Congrats to Sabrina who won the book Power of a Praying Wife! Woohoo! I'll send a copy of the book off to Sabrina this weekend.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Giveaway: Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

**Giveaway CLOSED**

Yesterday, I referenced in my post, the impact the book The Power of a Praying Wife had in my marriage. Over the years, I've hosted book studies, given this book away, and re-read it again...it never gets old to me. Because I enjoy the book so much, I wanted to give a brand new copy away to one of Y-O-U!

If you're single or already have a copy, how awesome would it be for me to send it to a friend on your behalf with a special little note from you??? I think really cool!

It's really simple. Just leave a comment here on this blog post and tell me, "Good or bad...what have you learned about marriage from your own experience or watching others?"

No long waits to pull a winner....I'll pull a name sometime this Thursday so don't delay, get your comment in today! Hey, tell your friends, I'm sure some of them would love to get in on this giveaway.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do Your Eyes Still Light Up When Your Spouse Enters The Room?

I heard someone ask this before about your child but it got me to thinking about marriage. You see, this adoption is the one that almost never was. Why you ask? As with many couples, Tony and I went through some really tough patches early in our marriage and I wanted to call it quits a couple of times. Had I done so, I would have aborted this dream. Often that's the case with so many divorces or marriages, because we don't fully do 'our part', we miss out on some amazing missions and dreams that God could have orchestrated through that couple.

But during one particular season, I got a hold of Stormie Omartian's book The Power of A Praying Wife and it totally reversed my thoughts and had me focus on Michelle. Some years later, 2007 to be exact, I wrote this entry into a newsletter I was writing. Take a peek...it became my surrender that saved my marriage.

Page 1

Page 2
**Just a quick note of clarity, even during that time of challenge during our marriage, I never believed that we should stop praying that God would change various things about our spouses. I just think that the majority of our prayers should be focused on God doing a work within us--just in case our spouse never changes. Love y'all!

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Adoption Numbers!!!

Do you see what I see?! That's right we're #9 for a toddler girl and #24 for an infant girl. Unbelievable and so exciting!

*this is the unofficial list that our agency's parents put together according to the date our dossier was sent to Ethiopia.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Family: Shelly and John

The other night, me and the boys were so pleasantly surprised when two of my family members joined us for MJ's bball game. They actually went out of their way which was so super sweet to me.

Meet Shelly & John. They're siblings and best of all, they're my birth mom's sister's children. What's so cool is that they really knew my birth mom...from her thumb-sucking habit to her likes and dislikes.

Shelly has been a MAJOR supporter of our adoption since the day I shared it. In fact, she and one of my close girlfriends, Trenace, will be accompanying me on the second trip to Ethiopia to bring Selah home. From a young age, her walk with God has been so strong and has been one that I admired.

John (okay...he may get me but I don't really call him John...it's Chippy. His nickname as a child is the only one I and now my kids know...sorry, Love. *smile*) He lives out-of-town but when he comes here, if my schedule allows, I try to hop over to his mom's house, my Aunt Johnette, because he lays out a breakfast spread that makes me dance. He then tops it off with a cup of his special hot cocoa. I wonder if Selah will enjoy it? I'm guessing yes!

Thanks fam for your love!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Adoption Numbers: Moving On Up Like The Jeffersons

We're so elated that referrals have been happening within our agency. Simply put, we've moved in the 'unofficial list' to #25 for an infant girl and #10 for a toddler girl.

I'm still not confident that we'll get a referral this year....but she and we are in His perfect hands.

Just wanted to share! Keep praying us through this journey. It makes a difference. Love y'all!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Date w/ God: Created for Care Retreat

Soooo.....this 'date' with God totally rocked my world. Have you ever had one of those times when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real because of something very personal he did JUST FOR YOU? That's exactly what happened to me at Created for Care.

To be totally transparent, prior to the retreat, I have been just dry....dehydrated in my relationship with God. Feeling as if I just wasn't connected...as if we were just miles apart. Not that He went anywhere, it was me. The crazy thing is that I work full-time at a church so some may ask how do you get so far away from God if you WORK in a church. I'll say very easy, my friend. Sometimes you can get so busy with 'church work' and the care of other people that if you're not careful your own 1-1 with God can become distant.

Going to the retreat, I knew I need refreshing and renewal but when Andrea (the founder of Created for Care) kept encouraging us all to make sure we signed up for our 1-hour date with God, I was a bit hesitant. One hour with God....on a date....but I mean we're really not connecting right now. I mean....I pray, sing worship songs, raise my hands in praise but that deep relationship thing....we're not there right now and I thought God was just so disappointed by my lack of excitement to spend time with Him. Anywho, I went ahead and signed up for the very last day possible.

So the day and hour came. I was actually a bit late going in....about 15 minutes but you know what He still waited there for me. When I arrived at the room where the Date with God was being held, the room was scattered with women who were praying, crying, worshipping God. The lights were dim and worship music filled the air. Still apprehensive, I asked one of the volunteers, "What do I do? How does this work?" She sweetly explained the various stations around the room and basically gently prodded me to jump in wherever I wanted. So I put my bags down and went to the first station....and may I tell you that the tears began to flow and never stopped from that point. I cried so much that the tears burned my cheeks as they fell but in that burning, it felt so good. My savior met me just where I was but I didn't realize there was one more thing that He wanted 'to fix' before I left that place.

I visited 4 stations during my date with God and the time flew....wow! I concluded my time by getting in the prayer line where two amazing and beautiful women of God patiently talked and prayed with each woman in line.....and here's how it went down...(sorry for the audio speed...iMovie is acting a bit looney!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Created for Care Retreat....The BEAUTIFUL People

Oh my goodness! I so wish I had the time to tell you about all of the amazing women that I met in person. With them, I've been blog buddies, Facebook friends, Twitterheads, and some I met for the first time at the retreat. Let me first just say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Andrea Pierce Young.  She is the founder of Created for Care. She has a heart for mamas who need to be refreshed, orphans, and widows. If you haven't seen her blog, I'm telling you....you're totally missing out so stop by --> http://www.babeofmyheart.com/

Can I tell you how awesome it was for me to finally meet in person Ms. B from the This is the Life blog? She's a gem of a woman. From the beginning of our encounters in blog land, I totally hit it off with her. I've been following her journey and I've been so floored and honored that she follows mine. She is beautiful from the inside out....and her girls...wowza! They're little angels. (Her picture is about the 7th in the slideshow below).

Then....there was the picture that I got on the last day with Kristi from We Love Our Lucy. I was hoping to get a picture with me, her, Gwen & Suzanne (from 147 Million Orphans) but things got a bit hectic that day. In case you didn't know, if I could create my own Dream Team that inspires me, it would totally be Kristi, Gwen, Suzanne, and Katie Davis (from Amazaima Ministries).....a girl can dream, right? I'll get that pic one day. For now, the one with me, Kristi, and her son, Wes is in a 4x6 frame on my wall at my office. Yes, she inspires me that much. (smile)

Again, there were so many women that I met....I wish I could have taken photos of them all so I can share but for the sake of not making you read forever, you'll just have to trust me. You'd love these chicas. Here are just a few pics of the BEAUTIFUL people and things all around me.

The way that the retreat was planned, there was so much to choose. I mean the general sessions were fantastic and then you had these AMAZING breakout sessions like this one below....

Recognize these beautiful women? This breakout session was called "Blogger Panel: Using Your Blog as Ministry". Here's the line-up from left to right... Gwen (Oatsvall Team), Suzanne (Joining the Journey), Missy (It's Almost Naptime!!), Kristi (Home with Lucy Lane & Wes), Lovelyn (Moments with Love), and Lara (The Farmer's Wife Tells All.) What a beautiful line-up of women who are advocating hard for the orphan crisis. Love these gals and their transparency.

As to not give anything away for the ladies who are attending in March, I do want to share this one thing from Suzanne...she said something like..."There is a fa├žade of picture perfect families. For all of us, we love to see a family we are drawn to but know that they are not perfect. As a culture we’re searching for people who are like us that are not perfect. People long for the truth." Amen sister. That's one of the things that draws me to blogs and let me be honest...even reality tv. I enjoy peeking into other people's lives to learn. I also find it very healing to share transparently on my own blog what's happening in my life.

I attended a couple more FANTASTIC breakouts over the weekend. I couldn't attend the well over a dozen breakouts offered so I did the next best thing......ordered the mp3 deal of all of the taped sessions. Adoption Mama Heaven! (smile)

So if you were going to a retreat like this, what type of breakout sessions would you have attended? What topics would you want to discuss?

I've got one more thing that I've got to tell you about regarding the retreat. I mean the sessions, breakouts, and worship were awesome but wait 'til I tell you about my 'Date with God'.  Oh my goodness! It will blow your mind....this one caught me TOTALLY off-guard. Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 2: Created for Care Retreat

Friday! Friday! Friday! I woke up last Friday morning in my room to this beautiful balcony view of the lake. M-A-G-N-I-F-I-C-E-N-T! He does all things well. I so wish I could have transported this back to Maryland.

I loafed around in my pjs and got some work done with my new MacBook Pro that I use at work. Boy....this sucker is like night and day in terms of efficiency in comparison to my Dell laptop. I also love that technology allows this type of flexibility. Hanging in Georgia but working for our Maryland church campus. Okay, I know I was on a 'retreat' yet, I'm still figuring out my own balance between work and home. It's tough when you actually get to work at your dream job because its no longer 'work'. It's your passion...what you were created to do. I'd do this 'job' for free.

Anywho....back to the retreat. I stayed up in my room so long, I had to wait for Bullfrogs to open up for lunch. Because I am a big eater, no worries. I didn't starve. I'm so glad I didn't take a picture of my food drawer. I had actually driven to the local Target on Thursday afternoon when I arrived and bought some, shall I say 'snacks'....Yes, a small pack of cold cuts and all. With no refrigerator in the room, I did what any ol' resourceful mom would have done. I picked up a plastic shoebox type of container and filled it with ice. Inside, I buried my small pack of cold cuts and Colby Jack cheese. Inside my food drawer I had the following --prepare yourself: small loaf of bread, mustard, salt, pepper, sour cream & onion chips, white cheddar popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, cheese-its, and some cans of sprite. I know...so sad but I just didn't want to spend a lot of money on food between Thursday (since I arrived very early) and Friday evening when the retreat began. Now I was going to treat myself to lunch but I am a big in-between meals type of girl so don't judge me. (smile)

Now Lake Lanier Resort has a pretty cute gift shop and I did fall prey BUT the deals were great! I bought a really nice grey scarf (i LOVE grey). It was $8 because everything was 40% off. I also got these really cute manicure sets for a make-up 101 party I'm planning for the Spring. While shopping, I met a woman who I can't remember her name but we chatted like two girlfriends about our adoption process. (If you're out there, drop me a line...sorry!)

Laura Kirkland
Just before the registration process started, I met another cool woman who was helping out with the 60 Feet table. Her name is Laura Kirkland. We popped into the gift shop to ask my new 'buddy' who manages the shop to take a picture of us. Lo and behold as we're taking a pic, Laura says, "Hey, they have my stuff in here!" Believe it or not, Laura is an artist that designs beautiful art for a company called Glory Haus. The stuff was too cute! She had also completed canvas art for the conference that was being sold at the 60 Feet table. Yep, another mama match made in heaven. Another one of those women that you just wanna hang and grab some coffee with for a bit.

The doors for registration opened up and I popped on in. The highlight that night was when my girlfriend Missy Dollahan texted me and told me she had arrived. When I saw her we....okay, maybe I, screamed like a first grader who had just hooked up with a favorite playmate. Missy....how do I describe her??? She's that girlfriend who will keep you laughing until you wet your pants...yes, really! LOL. She's very strong in her opinions and is PASSIONATE about children and family. Check out her blog, It's Almost Naptime.

As if that wasn't joy overload, I looked to my right and saw Gwen Oatsvall and Suzanne Mayernik. Okay....seriously God?! Gwen & Suzanne are the women behind 147 Million Orphans. I am a total nut for their products, but especially their heart for the orphan. I'll share more on them in the next blog post.

I grabbed some snacks and headed for the vendor tables. Who was there???? Check-out this vendor lineup....
147 Million Orphans 
Adoption Tees 

The ladies from Light Gives Heat.
I purchased some items and that was that! My gift to me. I mean it was for the cause. (smile) Be sure to click their names above to visit their websites. These vendors offer LOTS of great products to support orphan advocacy.

.....and then.....the conference officially kicked off! The first thing we were shuttled off to were breakout sessions and OMG wait until I tell you which one I attended. I was absolutely IN HEAVEN!!!! Stay tuned. I'll share the pics tomorrow of what the night held.

**BTW: I can't share all of the details because there's a group of ladies heading to the conference in March. Don't want to spoil it all for them. Ladies: If you're going, take some cash with you. You'll DEFINITELY want to do some shopping. (smile)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 1: Created for Care Retreat

Waterfall at Front of Resort
My first day at the retreat's resort wasn't really Friday when things got started. Instead, I actually flew down to Atlanta on Thursday morning...after the kiddos were dropped off at school. Whenever I go to a retreat, when possible, I try to fly down the day before to relax and unwind. I mean it's REALLY rare for a mama to get away with no husband and kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my little babies and my big, beautiful strong 'Baby' but a girl needs to getaway. You know......where no one calls your name because they're looking for their basketball uniform.....where you can spread out in a big bed all by yourself...and no one's patting or rubbing your hip at night....oops...sorry, maybe TMI for you but that's my life! LOL.

 The Resort Sits On This BEAUTIFUL Lake!
So because Andrea and her retreat planning girls thought of everything, they actually planned for mom's like me. We had a really cool, laid-back dinner at the restaurant on the lower level called Bullfrogs. It was phenomenal...because at the moment when I walked in by my lonesome, I realized that I wasn't at all alone. At the table, there sat about 30, perhaps, women who had or are walking this same adoption road as me. My soul was so happy as we chatterboxes sat, ate, and just looked at the beauty at the table. Everything was awesome from the server to the yummy sweet potato fries that I L-O-V-E-D! Now the one thing I'd change --> the poor guy who was trying to entertain us with his singing and music. I guess nobody told him that a table full of mamas don't need any entertaining at all, especially when they actually get to enjoy a meal with no littles making spills or crying to go to the potty. (smile)

Come back in a bit! I'll be sharing Day 2 next!

Welcome to Lake Lanier Resort!

Traded in my "Mom Big SUV" for this Rental Cutie!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Retreat....Really REVIVAL is What My Soul Needs

 Where in the world have I been you might ask...okay....maybe you're not. But anywho (smile), I've been away from the blog. Quite honestly, I've been disengaging from much adoption talk and many adoption-related things. It has nothing to do with lack of love for my daughter, in fact, me and the boys pray for her each morning on their way to school. My being withdrawn from 'adoption talk and activity' has EVERYTHING to do with the process that has dramatically slowed in Ethiopia adoption. Don't get me wrong, I understand that God has a plan and He is preparing the exact situation for the future of our family.

Then....in walks the Created for Care Retreat. Founded by phenomenal adopting mom(s), they understand and believe:

"While your hearts have been called to care, YOU (adopting moms) were also createdd to be cared FOR. Wow. Lord, refresh me. This retreat...is really not a retreat for me. In fact, it is a REVIVAL. My weary soul has needed this refreshing. I long for this connection with a group of mom who 'get it'.  You know...a group of moms who understand that I know the Lord; yet, the flesh in me gets tired and it's okay for me to be sad and teary in one moment and full of excitement in another moment.  So come back and chat with me as I share the beauty of what will unfold this weekend at the Created for Care retreat.

Love y'all!

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