Saturday, June 29, 2013


last sunday we woke up before the sun to drive to El Dorado State Park for a triathlon.
for those of you who have not experienced race day,
the idea of getting up at 4:30am to go
swim 3/4 a mile,
bike 13 miles,
and run a 5K
probably sounds nuts.
but then you get to watch athletes of all ages and skill levels
push themselves physically and mentally,
and COMPETE against themselves and one another....
okay, you're right, it still sounds a little nuts.
but we do it anyway.
so apparently we're not the only crazies!
there are ALL kinds of people joining in on the fun madness.
ALL kinds.
he came out of the water in 2nd place.
I love watching him swim!
then he transitioned to the bike.
he didn't feel great about his bike miles,
but it was windy and he is still figuring out all the ins & outs of his road bike.
 look at that smile :) impressive.
 he had quite the fan club for this race.
his dad, sister and niece were there along with my mom and grandma.
 his smile has usually faded by the time he hits the run.
it's not his favorite,
but he still looks good doing it! ha.
sharing his medal with Melonie.
what a great uncle.
Good job, babe.
I'm always so impressed by your dedication to training
and your will to compete.
you're awesome.
who knows, you might actually inspire me to join you sometime.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adoption Journey Update 1.0

Well, it has officially been 4+ months since we announced out loud that we had decided to grow our family through adoption. We have been so incredibly encouraged by all the ways that people have reached out to us in the last 4 months--emails, messages, phone calls, cards, buying coffee, offering to help with fundraisers, giving generously, praying and praying. We are SO thankful! Honestly. We genuinely believe that it will take a village to make this happen--so thanks for being our village.

Because so many of you have decided to journey with us....we wanted to take some time to update you on what the journey has looked like and where we are headed.

February 16-17: We announce to our families that we are adopting.
February 27: We send an email out to our closest friends and family announcing the news; the news trickles out in the coming days and weeks. Our not-so-secret secret is OUT. :)
March 8: We contract with International Family Services (IFS) and receive a mound of paperwork to begin working on.
March 26: We contract with Catholic Charities to complete our Home Study. We mail in our fingerprints and other paperwork to begin that process.
May 23: HOME STUDY visit! After two months of working on paperwork, our social worker visits our home to complete the Home Study process.
June 12: Our Home Study arrives in the mail! It is signed and officially DONE. We immediately mail off our I-600a to USCIS and begin waiting for their pre-approval to bring our kiddos into the home!

So, that brings us to Today:
  • waiting to hear back from USCIS (Immigration Services). Their website says it takes 2.5 months for them to process our petition, though we've heard from others that it can go more quickly. If the website is accurate, then we should hear back from them at the end of August. This will be the final piece of paperwork for our dossier (French word for the big packet that is sent to both the US and Ethiopian governments)!!!
  • continuing to gather all the necessary pieces of paperwork that must be notarized, certified and included in the dossier. We are getting close!
  • applying for grants and planning fundraisers. When our dossier is ready to send in, we must also be ready to pay the 1st half of the agency fees. We have already seen God at work and we have complete faith that this will happen through us working some extra hours this summer, fundraisers, grants, and God inviting people to give generously. We have already been so blessed! We are going to be having a giveaway fundraiser within the next couple weeks, so stay tuned!!!!
So, there ya have it! We are moving right along. Thanks for journeying with us!

For those of you who are committed to praying for us, and would like to receive emails with prayer requests, please send me an email at

with love,
Rob and Erica

Thursday, June 6, 2013

oh, expectations

this week was our first week of summer break.
together, at least.
rob officially started a week before me,
but he stayed busy catching up with things around our house
(and making me lunch each day while I was at work. sweet, huh?)

so, this week we had big plans.
as in: overhaul-our-kitchen plans.
it is Thursday at 9:30pm.
wanna know what we have managed to accomplish in the last 4 days?
well, I take that back.
I came home Tuesday afternoon after a few hours in the office to find rob spastically
scraping popcorn plaster off the kitchen ceiling.
it was obvious to me that this was a spur of the moment decision because he had done ZERO prep (camera and computer sitting on the table, no drop cloth down, nothing).
now, this is NOT like my husband, so I knew something was up.
we were both struggling to manage stress.
we just do it differently.
apparently, he randomly starts scraping ceilings...:)
the point of my telling you this, was that I wanted to honestly &  accurately report that we do, in fact, have something done on the kitchen project:  a 2x2 foot square of scraped ceiling in one corner.

back to the beginning on the week when I was all "yay summer! woohoo! we are going to get a lot done!"
this enthusiastic attitude about summer lasted approximately 4 hours before I burst into tears.
and this is after tearing up once or twice earlier in the day.
guys, I'm not kidding here.
or being overly dramatic.
Monday sucked.
granted, I spent Monday working on adoption grants, which are NOT fun.
totally a blessing. we will be extremely thankful and it will be totally worth it if we are given support for our adoption.
and we know that the interrogation,  thorough questioning is absolutely necessary.
but this makes it no less terrible for the person filling it all out.
 the whole analyzeeverythingaboutyourlife and caluclateyournetworth and reexamineexactlyHOWMUCHyouareinvestinginthisadoption is just not fun.
which lead to breakdown #1 of the day/week.
 (please, refrain from telling me it will "all be worth it" or "all will be okay."....I know this. I do. I really really do. I believe it. but I still have days where I get overwhelmed and cry.)
plus, some days I just the ache of wanting kids is just a little worse than others.
just keepin' it real.

I may have blamed Monday on the grants initially,
but honestly, after a few days I realized (once again!) that it really is about EXPECTATIONS.
I had the expectation on Monday that I would just blaze through the adoption grants and get them all ready to mail as soon as we have a copy of our home study.
I had the expectation that we would make some substantial progress on our kitchen this week; enough that there would be a noticeable difference at the end the week.
I had the expectation that I would sleep well at night, wake up early to work out, start my day with Jesus & coffee, and then cross EVERYTHING off my to-do list for each day.
uh, no.
when will I ever learn?
last night as I crawled into bed I said to rob,
"I'm afraid that this summer will fly by and we'll have nothing to show for it."

I named it.
(I'm a big believer in NAMING things. there is power in words, people.)
I named my fear.
I'm afraid of missing out. losing time. not accomplishing everything on my list.
this is not a new fear. or a new issue for me.
this suck-the-marrow-out-of-life way of living is very much a part of my personality.
and it is GOOD.
until it causes me to miss out on life.
I have been beating myself up all week about how much I have NOT been getting down.
so after I finally NAMED it and spoke it aloud last night,
I spent time this morning re-examining my expectations.
and taking a fresh look at my week.
our summer list includes finishing adoption paperwork (dossier, grants, fundraising plans),
working on several house projects (finish kitchen, paint laundry room/spare rooms, get the kid(s) room(s) ready),
and spending time doing things we love (swimming, reading, traveling, bbqs with friends, games, etc.)
this week we have:
*learned more about the dossier process and wrote letters to the Ethiopian government and orphanages *spent several hours working on grants and are steps closer to having some ready to mail *hung out with friends-chatting and playing games *read books in the hammock *bought supplies for the kitchen project *researched and rethought kitchen projects *spent a day with one of our favorite 10 year olds doing some really fun things, including washing our vehicles *cried together because we ache for our kids to come home *been encouraged by friends who are walking similar paths and are teaching us how to do so with grace and honesty *ate meals outside *and took pictures of flower in our yard
(like how I tied these random pics into this post...;)!?)
so, while our kitchen does not look any differently than it did at the beginning of the week
(unless you look closely at one corner. ha.)
my expectations have been adjusted.
my worth does not rise or fall with how much I accomplish each day.
the value of my day is not in how many things are scratched off my list.
the value of my summer will not be measure simply by how many grants I get done or how many rooms get painted, there is so much more that this summer has to offer.
I want to breath into what this summer has to offer.
AND I want to be okay if there are days that feel like a total wash.
because those days will come, too.
I want to find joy and satisfaction in each day I am given this summer (and life in general),
no matter what I accomplish or do not accomplish.
If I'm able, by the grace of God, to accomplish THAT then I'll have one beautiful summer.
 and even if I don't.
I have a feeling it will still be great.
How do you handled expectations?
How do you measure whether or summer was "a good one"?
Anyone else have moments/seasons like this? 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


I've learned that the first art of listening is shutting my mouth,
stilling my mind,
and quieting my soul.

if you have followed adoption circles this month
(or orphan care cirlces or, ahem, Jen Hatmaker),
you may have come across a post or two about adoption ethics.

Before you scroll down and start leaving me comments about your opinion of infant adoption, sibling adoption, older child adoption, special needs adoption, transracial adoption or Jen Hatmaker.....wait....
my readers don't leave comments!
ha! what was I worried about?! :)
I kid, I kid...
but really, let me start by making a disclaimer:
this post is not about adoption ethics and I also really happen to respect Jen Hatmaker.

the reality is that her post--and a series of other posts---had me "fit to be tied" this month,
as they say 'round these parts. ;)

and, honestly, it wasn't so much what was being said,
as how the enemy used those voices to steal my joy.
the enemy likes to do that, ya know; take something true or good and twist it.

and if I'm not careful, I let all these other voices (blogs, books, opinions, stories, videos, etc.) become REALLY loud.
I give them center stage and find myself spending hours listening to what they have to say.
and if I am not balancing this out with THE voice,
it can get ugly.

reeeeally ugly.

read: ready to throw in the towel/jump ship/recalculate the route.

and there was a point this month when I was there.
in that place.
overcome with doubt and fear.
the enemy was using the second-guessing and analyzing that was happening in blogland,
to instill chaos and despair in my heart.

I'm guessing there are a few of you out there that have had this happen.
when you start to listen to what is being said around you instead of listening to what you know is true.
maybe people are voicing their opinion about you,
your family,
your decisions,
or something that you feel really strongly about.

and you know what is truth is but it's hard to remember,
or maybe you aren't sure what truth sounds like.

for me, I know truth.
I know that God called us to adopt.
I also really believe that God affirmed our desire to adopt a young child.
but then people start sayin' stuff.
and then I start doubting.
and then that doubt grows into fear.

you ever have this happen?

me too.
in fact, this is where I was at about the middle of May.

in fact, I started an email to our program director from IFS.
subject: "looking for reassurance:
basically, I planned to ask her to reaffirm that we were not about to traffick children through adoption. and that we were not perpetuating corruption. and, please SOMEONE tell me that we are doing the right thing?!?!
but as I started the email,
I felt that little tug/nudge in my heart,
and my sweet Father saying, why don't you take some time to listen to me.


I had turned up the volume on all the other voices,
and in the process I began to frantically look for affirmation in places that would still leave me doubting.
and in the process of all this worrying and freaking-out,
I had managed to drown out THE voice.
(and, no, I'm not talking about the tv show.)

this is not new for me.
unfortunately, I'm a bit of a slow learner in this department.
but I'm thankful that this adoption process is refining this in me.
I'm learning to listen,
because if I don't learn to listen to The Voice of Truth,
then I'm going to get completing lost and overwhelmed.

I know that this whole "listening to Jesus" thing can be a little ambiguous for people.
in Christian-lingo we like to refer to this as the "still, small voice."
and maybe that is the best descriptor out there. I don't know.
but I do know that He speaks.
that he WANTS to speak to us.
if only we will just listen.

the way this played out for me this month was that I got my journal and I sat.
begging for God to speak.
to show up and help me figure out what was true.

and, friends, He did.
after a couple hours
and several pages in my journal
I was once again reminded that what we are doing--this adopting international thing--this adopting two young Ethiopians--THIS thing is in response to what God initiated.
we are responding to what HE began in our hearts,
what He asked us to do.

and the peace that came from hearing that from Him would not, COULD not, have come from any of the other voices around me.
yes, my husband was able to calm my nerves and remind me of Truth.
yes, I had some really dear friends remind me of Truth and support me on some rough days.
but those voices could not calm my spirit the way THE Spirit did.

so, my question for you today is Who are you listening to?
Is the voice(s) that you listen to Truth?
Do you need to take some time today/this weekend/this week to seek Truth?
He wants to speak to you and He promises that his Voice will give you "peace that transcends all understanding."

oh, and two days after I deleted that email to Randi (our program director) she posted this. God is good.

Happy June, ya'll!