Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm back...

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave my something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger adn you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers, you did for me." Matthew 25:34-40

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. I didn't go on vacation. And I wasn't even abducted by aliens (although it feels like my mind may have been taken over by extraterrestial beings). I've just been busy with this thing called life. So I haven't been on the computer to write.

That and I've had no material. You'd think that having three children and babysitting three others would provide me with ample material to fall back on, but alas they have failed me with their angelic behavior.

Then God decided to provide me with some new material. Some raw, disgraceful, utterly embarrassing material that I just drop my head in shame. I type this out of obedience...not desire. After this situation happened I immediately knew it had to be put on my blog. Why? Because of all the lessons I've been taught this year and shared with the people I love, I am still stubborn and failing. Everyday I'm failing to be the person God wants me to be. Thank goodness for GRACE, right?

So, the other night I'm at the stove making dinner and Nick says, "I think we should give that [a gift given to me] to [someone in need] to help them out a little bit."

(I'm just cringing as I'm about to write my response)

I immediately turn into a two year old child.

My foot stamps the floor. My arms cross over my chest to show that I'm standing my ground. My lower lip pouts out, and I say...


You may laugh and think this is a complete exaggeration. I wish I could say it was. In fact, I'm sure if you asked Nick, he'd probably add a few choice words, so more foot stamping and maybe even a few more NOOOOOOO's, and then he would say it was accurate.

Just shameful, but I was wrought with anger. How could someone want to take something from me that was MINE?

Nick in his great wisdom chose to walk out of the room and let me continue in my tirad e of the injustice in my little world.

Alone. To face my own greed. One on one with God. Talk about convicting. The conversation in my head with God went a little like this...

"Yes, really!"

And then the flood of memories from my year came rushing through my head. Money in my mailbox from an unknown source, money in my adoption fund from unexpected friends, money when I needed it and when I least expected it.

Shame was on the horizon.

Then my Christmas list came to the forefront of my mind: a Kindle, Wireless Speakers to listen to music while I cook, an Ipod, and the new Taylor Swift cd.

Not one need. All wants.

Shame was now overtaking me.

Why was I so quick to say "Save the Orphans", "Help the Children with Incarcerated Parents", "Feed the hungry around the world", but unable to see the need in my own front yard? Was it too personal, too close to home? Or am I just that greedy that at this point I just wanted to keep something for myself.

Instantly, I knew I was wrong. It was almost as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The adult temper tantrum that I threw wasn't what I wanted to do, but what my human instincts told me was fair.

I asked for forgiveness, from God and Nick, and suddenly I wanted to give everything I had to help out this sweet family. The grace that I needed washed over me, and I felt the joy of Christ's birth again.

Every time I see a picture of the nativity scene, my heart is thankful for the helpless newborn baby in that dirty feed trough. Who knew that He chose to come down from His comfortable, lush throne in heaven and live the life of a lowly, hated human just so he could die to take away our sins. Who does that? Jesus Christ. He knew we were selfish, he can see the black in our hearts, but He knew he could offer forgiveness. And He loves us enough to do that and still bless us.

"But after this, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:20-22

And when I let go of my grip over a few dollars you know what I found? An email saying someone gave a gift to our adoption fund.

Funny God. Your humor in my failures never ceases to surprise me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

30 Years Ago Today...

a baby boy was born. He was born to be a son, a brother, a best friend, a husband, a son-in-law, an uncle, a father, a dreamer, and a leader. Happy birthday to the man I love and my partner in crime! We love you Nick!

PS Nick likes to go on and on and on and on...about how I'm sooooo much older than him. He always says that I like to rob the cradle...I just prefer to think that I'm a cougar! Ha!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just Passing Time...

I'm going to be lazy with this post. I'm simply surviving life right now, so I thought, "let's take the easy way out this week". I'm copying this off of a blog I love to read (www.itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com), and thought this could be fun.

A Christmas Quiz

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Mmmm...I love the taste and smell of homemade hot chocolate cooking on the stove. It's just so warm and cozy. When we were little my sister and I would act out commercials like the Folgers commercial. We'd think we were so cool pretending we were drinking coffee. I still sometimes feel the need to sing, "It's Folgers in your cup" while drinking a warm, chocolatey cup of cocoa. As for egg nog? Any drink with the word egg in will never enter my stomach.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
This is a great question at our house this year. Nick and I grew up with different traditions, we had Santa at our house and they did not. Nick and I discussed this every year before we had children, and we decided that we really wanted to emphasize Jesus' birth with our kids. So we've always told the kids that Christmas was a day we celebrate Jesus' birthday and we get to share in celebrating by opening gifts as well. We've never tried to hide Santa and have always recognized that he is a story that some people believe. The kids always go and visit Santa and tell him what they want. Yet, somehow the fun of Santa has taken precedence and our kids believe that Santa is real. I'm not even sure how to explain this because they know their presents come from mom and dad, but it's like their brains want to protect their childlike innocence and let Santa become real. So they get all of their presents wrapped except for one big one that Santa told me to get them. It's very confusing, but my kids just keep asking if Santa is real...and I get tongue tied.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Nick likes to make fun of me on this. I despise colored lights on the tree. Maybe it was the years growing up with colored lights and homemade ornaments that adorned my parents' tree, but I swore that I would never have a "kids" tree when I grew up. WRONG! We still have our one "pretty" tree, but our main tree is starting to be a collection of paper ornaments, photos, and Cubs memorabilia (but I still win with the white lights!) I have allowed colored lights on the outside of the house because Owen asked me so sweetly when he was three, and I couldn't resist. But this year, daddy didn't get those lights on the house, and I must admit our house looks rather unfestive.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Never have, but I actually looked for some this year. I thought it would be funny to see what people would do during our sugar cookie party, but never found any. I guess its a hot commodity!

5. When do you put your decorations up?
The Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. However, this year since I did not go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, we did it on Friday. My husband thinks I'm the Christmas Decoration Nazi, but you only get it up for one month a year, you better get a whole months use out of those decorations you spent a fortune on!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Bacon wrapped little smokies. Bacon and brown sugar...need I say more.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Staying awake all night listening for Santa. Then being locked upstairs on Christmas morning until my parents were ready. My sisters and I would just sit on the stairs and wait and my stomach would be turning with nervous excitement. Then the door would open and we'd go running around the corner to see what Santa brought. One year I got a ten speed bike, which was much to big for me, but the weather was nice enough that we actually got to take it to the park and ride it around on Christmas morning!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
When my mom told me it was actually my job to earn the money to buy the toys...I'm guessing around Owen's birth in 2004. It's still a pretty hard thing to accept.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
I'm the master at stealing other people's ideas and traditions, but I once heard about a family who all got new pajamas to wear on Christmas morning. So I, of course, stole their idea and every Christmas Eve we get to open a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Probably the same way everyone else does. Ornaments, ribbon, and a star on top.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it for a day before anything touches it. Then I hate it for the rest of winter. It's dirty and the salt makes a mess EVERYWHERE!

12. Can you ice skate?
Not well.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I once got a puff paint kit and neon green sweatshirt to paint on. It had stencils in it and there was a picture of some guy with Vanilla Ice hair, so I painted him. It had some saying about being too cool or something. In fourth grade, I was unstoppable in my green Vanilla Ice Sweatshirt and MC Hammer pants. Oh and the cash Nick gave me last year so I could go shopping...that was the best.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
"And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life" Reliant K

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
This is a hard one. I love everything we do at Christmas. I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS!!!

17. What tops your tree?
A star

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Would it be horrible if I said both? I love to give presents, especially to my kids because I love to see their eyes light up when they get what they want. But to be perfectly honest, I don't mind receiving a little indulgence that I would not buy for myself!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
I love Welcome to Our World and O Holy Night.

20. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
They make me sneeze. Literally.

21 Favorite Christmas Show?
Rudolph and Frosty. Classic.

22. Saddest Christmas Song?
Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg, Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker got away. It makes me sad for Batman. The poor guy just can't get a break.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Mom

Have you ever heard the illustration about the circus performer who is "The Plate Spinner?" The guy starts with one or two plates and gets them spinning really fast and can keep them going with no problem at all. I've actually seen this done and its pretty impressive. They have these glass plates (I'm guessing Corelle, for easy clean-up) spinning around and around these super skinny poles. And as they get their first plates into a nice groove, they add another plate. And another. And another. Until finally, they are balancing 50 plates and 50 poles and suddenly its too much and all the plates crash and shatter on the ground.

This is me. I'm the plate guy. Of course, I'd love to tell you that I'm the woman successfully spinning two plates beautifully. I'd really like to say that I am Super Mom. But if I said that, who would actually continue reading? Nobody likes a perfect person. Nobody likes to feel like they are inferior to someone else, or that we don't have it figured out.

Or is that just me?

No, I'm the plate spinner with 50 plates spinning wildly out of control. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything except running from plate to plate to plate. I don't even feel like I'm doing the running between plates very well. In fact, I'm stumbling over my own two feet. I'm forgetting which plate I started with and which one needs to be spinned next.

My head is bouncing back and forth like a cartoon character. Or at least that's how it feels.

Don't get me wrong, I love every plate that I'm spinning. I love being a wife and having a husband to take care of and call my own. I love my job as a mother, more than my life its self. I love the little kids I care for during the day while their mother's are hard at work. I love visiting my mom at the hospital and having one on one time that we've missed out on the last few years. I love planning Christmas parties, birthday parties, holiday shopping, and visiting every family member, friend, and store in the near 50 mile radius. And I even like cooking and cleaning my domain...sort of.

But supposedly being one of the biggest fans of the holiday season that I know, I find myself a sort of Scrooge this year. In fact, while decorating the Christmas tree, I was so overwhelmed by it all I actually said, "Bah Humbug."


So I'm at the fork in the road where I need to decide what to do with all this frustration. My first thought is to go to my bedroom, close the door, climb into bed, put some ear plugs in and hide for the next 6 months. I will wallow in self pity and say, "Woe is me" over and over until I finally feel justified.

Believe it or not, I've taken this road before. Maybe I haven't laid in my bed hiding from the world...but I've wallowed. Man, have I wallowed. Let me tell you, wallowing is not pretty for a young (or middle-aged) lady to do. Wallowing brings out the ugliest, most selfish things in a person.

Its just not worth it.

So, again, I fall to my exhausted knees, bow my selfish little head and I pray. I ask for the minutes to feel more like hours. I ask that God would turn all of jobs I've been given in life would feel more like ministries. I ask that He would allow me to see that He has entrusted me with all that I can handle, and not one thing more. I ask that I would feel privileged, and not burdened, that He entrusts these things to me. I ask Him to allow me the rest I need, and with fresh eyes see the difference I can make.

And He says He will.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Monday, November 29, 2010

Only 1 More Day...

to order t-shirts and help support our adoption fund! Thanks to everyone who has already purchased a t-shirt. We raised about $200 to go towards adoption fees!!! That is huge, and we stand grateful for all of your love! We're getting closer to bringing our baby girl home!

Visit www.ordinaryheroblog.blogspot.com and help change the life of one forever!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...

Once upon a time, a young girl pictured her future Thanksgivings as a picture straight out of a Norman Rockwell picture. Her guests would come bundled up in their winter's best, walk up to her immaculate white house with the enormous wrap around porch spectacularly decorated for Christmas. Her debonair husband would answer the door and the smells of Thanksgiving would envelop the arriving family members. The young wife and mother would be dressed to the nines with her coordinating apron tied around her dainty waste and her high heels quietly tapping on the hardwood floors. She would welcome each guest with a gracious hug and warm smile. Her children would be playing quietly. Her daughter, in her freshly pressed dress and silky, smooth hair, would be playing house with her porcelain baby doll. Her sons, dressed in trousers, would be perusing the new Christmas gadgets in the JCPenny Catalog while watching the Macy's Day parade, and everything would be set as if carefully placed by an artist.

The turkey would be done and everyone would gather around the enormous banquet table covered in fine linens and candles. Every place setting matched and the plates would be so white they would glisten. Each person would have a salad fork AND a dinner fork, and we would use them in order of courses. In the center of the table would be a platter decorated with parsley and stuffing and on top a perfectly golden turkey shimmering in the candlelight. Her dashing husband would smile and say grace, while the young mother stood at his side beaming with pride. After the entire table murmurs "Amen", the husband takes his large knife (which would make the sound of sword leaving its sheath) and cuts the first slice of juicy, white meat...

This was my dream. My dream of how it would inevitably be, when my day came to be a wife and mother and host the Thanksgiving meal. From the moment I woke up Thanksgiving morning 2010, my Norman Rockwell picture slowly faded into a Thanksgiving rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond.

It had nearly been 24 hours since the preparations had begun for the enormous feast, and I was still wearing my ratty, purple sweatpants, a soccer t-shirt, and comfy Ugg boots from the previous day. I stood in the kitchen mopping the floor, cleaning the sink, checking the turkey, making the rolls...and sweating. I wiped my brow just as the smell of potatos boiling over filled the kitchen...

And I was thankful.

I'm thankful because wearing sweatpants and fuzzy boots mean I have clothes on my back. It means that my feet will be warm, and I will not shiver in the cold. My hot flashes and bouts of sweat mean I have a warm place to call my home; a shelter over my head to protect me from the ice and wind and rain. I'm thankful that the truly awful smell of water boiling over on the burner means I have food to fill my belly, and I will not go a day without food.

Sure, my kids weren't playing with porcelain dolls or quietly looking through store catalogs. But they were watching the Macy's Day Parade. Sort of. I at least turned it on. It was mostly just background noise to their screaming and fighting. Bored out of their minds on just the first day of Thanksgiving vacation, but they liked to fill the time with hitting, crying, and more hitting. Somehow, my two-year-old got confused about what Thanksgiving was all about, and as I was about to take the turkey out of the oven, he walks up to me with an open purse and says, "Trick or Treat!"

And I laughed and was thankful.

Because although my children, still dressed in their pajamas and unbrushed teeth, were nearly killing each other, I had no real fear for their lives. And though the Macy's Day parade held their attention about as well as a documentary on tooth decay would, and I was handing out candy to "trick-or-treaters", I was thankful that they could scream and cry and laugh. I am thankful that I have three amazing, beautiful, smart, talented children that are healthy. I am thankful that I have three children who can start each day fresh, with no pain. I am thankful that each night I will get three kisses, I will pray three different prayers, and I will sing three different lullabies to my little angels that I get to hold in my arms.

Finally, at 2:00 I finished all the food and cleaning that I could possibly do before it was time to get cleaned up. 24 hours of cooking and cleaning does not look good on a person, and I was in desperate need to get mashed potato and turkey grease out of my hair. The smells of Pine-Sol and Bleach mixed with flour and butter needed to be scrubbed off of my dried hands. And a little make-up and hairspray desperately needed to hide the dark circles under my eyes and bedhead that still lingered. So, Nick packed up the kids and headed over. By 3:00, I was presentable and rushed over for the Kellerstrass Thanksgiving Dinner. We ate at 3:30 and I rushed back home at 4:00 to get ready for the next Thanksgiving feast. Nick stayed with the kids, andI walked into the house alone, again, and sat on the chair and sighed a big sigh.

And I was thankful.

I was thankful that although I came home alone, I wasn't really alone. I had a huge extended family that love me. And even though I only could be there for an hour, my in-laws support me. They encourage me. They only want the happiness for me and my family. I have the best mother and father-in-law that see me really as their own daughter. I have four amazing sister-in-laws, whom I call my sisters and my best friends. And my brother-in-laws...eh, they're alright. I'm just kidding. No, I'm thankful because I've watched my brother-in-laws grow up from young boys to grown men, and they are the sweetest, most sincere men I've ever met. I am not alone, I am covered in love even when I'm not present.

After feeding all the Carroll kids (and the set-up was pathetic compared to my previous expectations). The dinners were served, the plates were cleaned and it was time to load up the kids. I hadn't sat down for one minute the entire day and now it was time to make the 30 minute trip to the hospital. The music blared and the Christmas tunes had already begun on the radio stations. I looked at Nick and rolled my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Christmas and Christ's birth, but the most wonderful season of all also brings the LONGEST stretch of repetitive Christmas songs EVER!!! After one day of Christmas music, I'm done.

But I was thankful.

I am thankful because I have the ability to travel from here to there. I am thankful because my husband has a job so we can afford a car and gas. I am thankful because at the end of this journey was the hospital. I'm thankful that God has given gifts and wisdom to lowly humans to save lives. I'm grateful that because of the caring nurses and doctors at the hospital, I get to celebrate another holiday with my mom. I'm thankful that despite having to wear gowns and masks just to see her, my entire family gets to spend an hour of time celebrating what we are thankful for...another year together.

The day was finally done. We drove home, put the kids to bed, and sunk onto the couch. I looked at Nick with glazed eyes of sheer exhaustion, and he came over and hugged me. I just sat there lifeless letting him take care of me because I just needed a hug and because I had no strength to move anyway.

And I was thankful.

I am thankful because although my "debonair" husband was not wearing clean khakis with a freshly pressed button shirt under an autumn color cardigan or laughing a hearty laugh while smoking a pipe, I know I am married to the most charming man ever. I know that he will not always be the most polished guy, but I know I will always be treated well and protected. I am thankful that he may not the most romantic man ever, but I know I am loved.

This Thanksgiving was not picture perfect by any means, but as I sit back and reflect on the day of madness, I realized I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for this blog and for the freedom of speech that I can share with you my passion for my God and for orphans. I am thankful for the handful of people that read this and pray for our struggles and lift praises when we rejoice. I am thankful for the people God has brought into our lives who have supported and encouraged us along this journey called life. I am thankful for Jesus who came to save me, a mess of a person, so that I don't have to stand on my own two feet in front of God and hope I was good enough.

And I am thankful for this body. Though weak and frail and easily broken, I am strong enough to make it through the day...with a enough energy to go shopping at 2:00 a.m.!

Are you thankful this Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Erin (and Nick and kids)

One final thought...as I was setting the table for our Thanksgiving dinner, I opened the silverware drawer and gasped. There would not be one single place setting that matched...

And I smiled in spite of myself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Boys Into Gentlemen

God has blessed me with two incredibly handsome boys (and a gorgeous little girl, but my rant about her will wait for another day). Two boys who bring joy to my face everyday and laughter about every two minutes. Two boys who are two complete different species that sometimes have me scratching my head.

I grew up with all sisters. By the time my brother came around and could finally walk and talk and have a personality, I was already out of the house. So most of what I know about children comes from my experience with girls.

Girls hit. Girls sob. Girls bat their eyelashes and wrinkle up their noses when they want something...girls are drama for the sake of drama.

I'm well versed in this. So well versed, in fact, that I told God that when I had children I only wanted one girl and the rest all boys. He could give me twenty boys and I would the happiest mother around, as long as I only had ONE girl.

I need a girl to spoil. Every woman needs her princess. A real life doll that I can dress up any way I wish. I would do her hair perfectly everyday, we would share girl nights, make up, and shoes. I need a girl. But only one.

So to my great delight, my first child was a boy! For one, it took off all the pressure that the family name would for sure be passed along. Phew... But second, things were starting off pretty well because it wasn't a girl and I knew I could at least have one more child without that fear of TWO girls!!!

Owen and I had two full years together of just us. I wasn't working at all, and he and I became the best of friends. I think this is where his sensitivity got mixed in a little bit with the "all boy" that a lot of boys are. Owen loves to wrestle, get dirty, be loud, do things without thinking...you know all things that boys (and men alike) are good at.

But Owen can also sit down and be still. He can be quiet. He's sensitive. He can read books, draw and write, and he is very compassionate. I like to think that it's from our time alone when I was able to instill these values that he became such a sweet boy. (Ha!)

But something has happened. Owen is changing. Suddenly a burp or "toot" is the funniest thing in the world! Making armpit noises makes him an instant comedian. One minute he will be playing as nice as can be with Amra, and the next he's taking her out with one swift pull of a blanket that she just happened to be standing on.

My sensitive boy is becoming a BEAST!!!

Wrigley came out of the womb "all boy". The kid has sat on the couch and watched ball games with his dad since he was an infant. He didn't just start walking, he was running. He needs a ball to throw, kick, catch, etc. He never had the advantage of alone time with a nurturing mother. He has no interest in books and the only thing he likes about coloring is getting as much marker on his hands and arms as he can. His direct example is Owen and at two years old he is constantly chasing "bad guys" through the house with any handmade or toy gun he can get his hands on.

Wrigley, of course, also thinks Owen's burping and flatulance is the highlight of the dinner table, and if Owen is beating Amra, Wrigley is right there with him.

Sigh...boys are not quite what I envisioned.

But you know what? They are an absolute joy in my home. They make me laugh and they put on the best shows ever! Not a day goes by that I'm not so grateful for my little men.

And they still show glimmers of hope that one day they will become gentlemen.

Owen was right beside me the other day while I got my eyebrows waxed. He saw that it hurt, and he instantly held his hand out and told me to squeeze it. And then when it was done, he gave me a hug and said, "I'm sorry that hurt mom."

And Wrigley is all love. He always has a kiss or hug for me, and with his arms up he says, "'Old me mom".

Boys will be boys, but my prayer is that someday they will be "gentle"men.

Monday, November 15, 2010

God Gave Me You...

I came across this song recently and it just washed over me like the warmth of a down blanket. I am so thankful for the husband God gave me. You know, the statistics are pretty low that a girl would find "the man of her dreams" in high school and it stay that way. It's so cliche, but I really did marry my best friend! I found quite a gem, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank my God for him over and over!

We've done a lot of growing up together...literally. We met our sophomore year in high school and immediately clicked. Of course our first few months as friends was mostly me chasing after his friends, but he was always there. We would talk on the phone for HOURS. Laughing...endlessly. Nick is the funniest guy, I know. Back then I just thought everything he did was charming...now of course I don't have the humor I used to and sometimes I just roll my eyes, but I still think he's a comedian!

The last year has been really hard for both of us. Personally and professionally, we've both had our own struggles to deal with but one thing that has remained strong is our love and devotion to each other. We've grown up even more. I'm always surprised by the strength and faith this man has. He is my rock here on earth.

The last two weeks have been a blur to me, although I feel like I'm moving in slow motion, but he is never rude or harsh or impatient with me. He holds me when I cry, lets me vent without a hard word, and is always ready with a scripture when I'm at a loss of words or faith. I love him...

This summer we watched the movie Fireproof for the first time. Now, Nick and I are big movie buffs and we struggled to not just turn this movie off. A lot of people had recommended it to us, and we just kept looking at each other in complete shock that anyone could possibly enjoy this movie. The acting was...well, painful to watch. I prefer the more A-List talent of Robert Pattinson in Twilight, Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, or even Jack Black when he guest starred in Yo Gabba Gabba, so the lackluster performance or Kirk Cameron nearly brought tears to my eyes. However, we did not turn the movie off, we kept watching...and I'm so glad we did. There is one part in the movie where Kirk Cameron decides to relentlessly beat his computer monitor when pornography was coming in-between his marriage. In the computer's place, he left a vase with roses and a note that said,

"I love YOU more."

And that's when the movie won me over. Isn't that what marriage is all about? Choosing your spouse over any other thing in this world? Nick and my marriage are not by any means perfect. We struggle with temptation, we fight...we're human. But there have been times when we literally had to decide if we loved each other more than the struggle.

It was a major turning point in my thought process. I pretty much bawled the rest of that horrible movie, but it was because it was good. The point was there. And every time I feel the temptation to do something that might hurt Nick, I remember to choose. It's a choice.

Thank you Nick for being my rock. For patiently watch me struggle through the pain. And always having your arms open. You are amazing and a gift straight from God to me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Isn't technology amazing?

Ok, so I know I'm a few years behind in the video chatting, instant messaging world, but honestly I've never needed it. I knew it existed and I even have a webcam sitting neatly in its original box, unopened. It was given as a gift, and I thought it was a really cool idea, but when you see everyone that you need to talk to at least once a week, the webcam just wasn't really a necessity.

Until now.

So today was supposed to be the day I got to take my kids to the hospital to see my mom for the last time in at least a month. Kids are not allowed on the cancer floor of the hospital because they carry so many germs and many people on the floor have little to no immunity due to chemo. They were making an exception for my mom since she will be starting chemo tomorrow and will not be able to see Owen, Amra, and Wrigley during the treatments.

Needless to say its been an emotional weekend for me thinking of taking my kids up to say good-bye for awhile.

And then Wrigley woke up with a runny nose.

Nothing terrible, not a cough or "yellow snot" just a clear, runny nose. But I noticed. And I also remembered that no one with any sign of illness is allowed in my mom's room.

My heart broke. I cried. My kids can't go up to see their grandma.

It's been a gut wrenching weekend for me, crying out to God, and this just topped the cake.

But then we decided to enter the world of webcams, video chats, and Skype. Oh wonderful, wonderful Skype!!!

My dad just bought my mom a laptop so she can stay connected with the "outside world" while getting her chemo treatments. She is now able to check her e-mail and the encouraging messages on the CaringBridge site. So we set up Skype on her computer and we "called" her today.

The kids thought it was the greatest thing EVER. Of course most of the time was spent with Owen and Amra making faces and fighting over seeing themselves. There were several instances of the kids covering the camera because this is all SUPER fun, right? Wrigley had no clue what was going on and refused to sit on my lap and talk to "grandma on the t.v." Ugh, I was so annoyed. "Sit still kids and talk to your grandma!" But she didn't mind. She enjoys the chaos and fighting, she just sat there and watched and blew kisses and waved. It was wonderful.

So now Skype is our new best friend. He won me over in all of two seconds when my mom's face came on the screen and the kids were vying for her attention.

We can do this. We can make this work.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A beautiful message...

If you haven't had the chance, please stop by my mom's Caringbridge site: www.caringbridge.com/visit/kimcarroll My dad has a beautiful message about my mom and it has me in tears. It's going to be an extremely rough road ahead, but God's hand is on her. I truly believe that His way is best. I don't necessarily feel like it's fair or am able to see the good right now, but He knows what He is doing, and I can find comfort in that. Thanks for everyone's prayers and encouragement.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Buy a Shirt and Change a Life Forever

I just wanted to remind everyone to come out tomorrow night, November 6th at Grace Church in Morton at 6:30 p.m. for the United 4 Orphans Orphan Awareness Event. It is going to be an awesome evening of worship and prayer for the orphan crisis locally and around the world. There will also be an opportunity for you to support an Orphan project in Ziway, Ethiopia. It should be an awesome night of powerful speakers, amazing music and delicious desserts and coffee!

Some of you may not know but November is Adoption Awareness Month. This Sunday, November 7th is Orphan Sunday. Let us remember to take a moment to pray for those who are without a home and a family.

I know not all of us are called to adoption. I know I'm not called to be a pastor's wife, or a nurse, or sit in an office, but it doesn't mean you don't have a purpose. The Bible specifically calls us to action to help those who are unable to defend themselves. Many times the scriptures call us to help the fatherless and the widowed.

That doesn't necessarily mean adoption. For us, it does.

So how can you help change the life of one person forever? We have been given an awesome opportunity to kick start our adoption into high gear. For the entire month of November, if you purchase a t-shirt at www.ordinaryheroblog.blogspot.com for $24.90 (includes shipping and handling), $10.00 of all of the purchases will go towards our adoption fees! The shirts are really cool, and who doesn't need another t-shirt? Go to the website and scroll down, the shirt options are located on the right. You can securely purchase your shirts through PayPal, just make sure that before checking out that you direct the seller to credit the account of Nick and Erin Kellerstrass. If we are in the top three selling spots for the month, they will double our funds raised! Let's storm their t-shirt shop and change the life of Baby K forever!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Britt Nicole Have your way HD LYRICS!! Lost Get Found

Something to Think About

"For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure.

To think of Jesus in such a light is - well, its seems almost irreverent, doesn't it? It's...uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation...There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.

But don't do it. For heaven's sake, don't. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out." Grace for the Moment, Max Lucado

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is it ok to say I'm angry?

The call shocked me. It literally knocked the wind out of me. Leukemia? Leukemia....LEUKEMIA. The thought of cancer never really crossed my mind. All of the struggles, infections, fatigue, nosebleeds, fevers, etc. weren't those all results of her intestinal infections? All these months of fighting the annoying fistula only to lead up to this diagnosis? Two years of suffering to be told "the intestinal issues are healed...but...you have leukemia."

It doesn't make sense.

I'm angry. Is it ok to say I'm angry?

I'm a christian, aren't I supposed to say "God is in control. He has a plan. This will all work out in the end."

I've been struggling with this for awhile. What is an appropriate response to a devastating diagnosis?

I would be lying if I said I didn't suffer from normal human emotions. I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling sorry for my mom, my dad, my brother...myself.

This isn't fair. Nothing good can come from this. What can I possibly say that could be a witness to those who don't understand our faith?

So do I turn my head away from the One who can comfort me? Do I run to the things that help this pain disappear? I've done it before...it didn't help. There is no comfort in the world. There is no hope out there. Those people are searching for just as much comfort and hope and peace as I am.

So I turn to Jesus.

And in the midst of this dark storm, I have hope. I have peace. And I have comfort.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 14:27, 16:33

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The who, what, where, when and how's...

So, I feel like the time has come when I have 3 seconds to sit down and tell you why we've chosen Ethiopia. As I was thinking this out, I realized my years in high school composition would really come in handy right now, and that this will read much like a high school thesis. However, please do not grade this because I've been out of high school for 11 years now! So bear with me!

Really, we feel like Ethiopia was the best option for us for several reasons: 1. need 2. practicality, and 3. personal reasons. Ethiopia is an African country that is slightly smaller than the state of Alaska. 80 million people call this area home, and it is the 20 most populated country in the world. Of the 80 million people, 5 million are orphaned children waiting for a mother and father and sisters/brothers to call their own. There are many reasons why the children are orphaned: poverty, disease, and effects of war and drought. The life expectancy alone is only 46 years of age for men and 49 for women. This mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. The Gross National Income is only $110 a year. A year!!! I spend that much a week on groceries! Aids and other diseases are also a major problem in Africa that have come to affect Ethiopia as well.

So what about China's 600,000 orphans or Russia's 3 million? Yes, we know there are millions of children waiting for a home, but that's where the practical aspect comes in. Nick and I have a heart for orphans and would love to adopt again in the future. But we thought why not start off with a pleasant experience. At this time, Ethiopia is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest country to adopt from. "Cheap" is a relative term but in the end choosing Ethiopia over, say Russia, will save us literally tens of thousands of dollars. All this to say, we know you can never put a price on a child, but God does gift us with what He wants us to have.

Now my favorite part...have you ever seen an Ethiopian child? They are the most beautiful, joyful people!!! We have had the privilege of being in a town where many families have adopted children from Ethiopia. That community alone is reason enough to choose Ethiopia as our country. Our little girl will have so much support and connection with other people who are not only her race but her cultural background! We have just fallen in love with Ethiopia and are so excited to integrate it into our lives.

We have been blessed to be welcomed in to the Ethiopian group here in Morton and are also a part of the Ethiopian Culture group in Chicago. They have cultural events and festivals that will allow not only our little girl but our whole family to make Ethiopia a part of our lives. This is so important to me because I want her to know that she is special and that God brought her from an amazing place and she should be proud of who she is.

There is so much more to say on this, and I would love to share our hearts for Ethiopia with you. If you're interested please let me know, and we would love to get together with you.

I know I promised to share the name we've chosen, but Nick has "nixed" that for now...so you can blame him :) But soon enough I'm sure I will slip! I'm just so excited for her to come home, and I love to call her by her name instead of just "our little baby in Ethiopia." This way she is more real to me.

So what is our time frame? Well, things seem to be moving pretty slow right now. It takes about 3-6 months to gather all the paperwork and do the homestudy...so that puts us around March. Then there is about a 12 month waiting period to get our referral, which is when they match us with our daughter! We will receive a picture and all of her important medical and history documents...so that's about March '12. Then there's more waiting, then two trips to Ethiopia...so I've lost track, but it could be a very long time, or God-willing it could be a year total. We just have to see how God wants to move!

I just wanted to share one last exciting piece of information for those of you who have shared an interest in partnering with us financially on our adoption. We were recently accepted by International Children's Adoption Resource Effort (ICare) to partner with us in raising funds. ICare is typically a grant organization that helps families financially with their adoptions. With the turn of the economy, ICare has stepped back from their Grant ministry and is now providing families with the use of their 501(C)3 accounts. This way anyone who would like to provide a donation to bring home our little girl can get a tax deduction for their gift. Its just a little way we can give back to those who give generously to us as well. So far, every penny we've needed has been provided, and we are so amazed by the work God is doing in our lives. It just shows that when you step out in faith, God blesses the work!

Now to some praises, I had asked you to pray for our friends, Greg and Dawn, as they waited for their referral. And last week they got it!!! They now have a picture of their 3 year old little boy and are planning their trip to go meet him!!! Thank you so much for your prayers, we are just so excited for them and can't wait to meet their new family member.

Continue to pray for Jenny and Phil as they wait for the arrival of their little girl, Reagan, sometime in April or May next year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Big 3-0...

So today I turn 30.

It's not so bad, right?

All summer, I was so depressed about turning 30. Before then I could pass as a young mom in my 20's, but to think about the 30's...ugh! After 30 there is no turning back. At that point you are just a middle aged mom. A soccer mom. Forever.

My mom told me that when she turned 30, she laid in bed all day. That was going to be me, I just knew it.

I decided I was going to take matters into my own hands. I wasn't going to wallow around in my own self pity, I was going to do something to prove 30 wasn't the end of my youthful life.

I decided to run a marathon.

Who does that? My mother-in-law, that's who. Her 50th birthday present to herself was to run her first marathon. If you've seen the woman, she is gorgeous and looks no older than 30. I decided right then and there that is the gift I wanted to give to myself. To kick dirt in 30's face. So I grabbed my best friend, Amy, and we started training.

We were so naive :) We trained and trained and trained until we were beyond burnt out. The month before the marathon were we pushing ourselves to the limit? No. We stopped training. Sure, we did our long runs together once a week, our "girl time", but the in-between runs were a thing of the past.

So this weekend (the weekend before I turned the dreaded 30) the gun went off and we started out on 26.2 miles. Now, this wasn't just any 26.2 miles...this was 26.2 miles of pure hills. But step by step, mile by mile, we made it! And it was SO fun!!! We had the most amazing fans, who catered to every need. They screamed whenever we ran by, so loud in fact people around us just laughed and said, "that's awesome." They had crackers, water, and bagels for us. For most runners, energy chews, jellybeans, and gels are what keep them going. Not for us, we fuel up on Snickers, Diet Coke, and LOTS of Ibuprofen. Yes, our fans kept our sugar levels high and our pain levels low!

So, I'm feeling good. On top of the world! 30 isn't so bad. In fact, I think I'm more youthful, more outgoing, and loving life more now than when I was a young, 20-something mom. I only have bright things ahead of me, a husband who loves and appreciates me (even the bad); three beautiful, healthy, hilarious children; the MOST AMAZING friends and family; a beautiful baby girl in Ethiopia; and a God who chooses to love and forgive me no matter how many times a day I fail.

I think 30 is going to be pretty great.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret...refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil."

It's amazing what handing over your worries to the foot of the cross and saying, "Here it is...it's all yours Lord," will do for one's nerves. It's been an amazing week! I have just been pouring out my concerns to the Lord and saying, "hey you want these? You can have them!" And I've felt so peaceful! I've had amazing opportunities to get together with friends and just share our story. I've been meeting with other adoptive mom's and getting their honest feedback on the whole process, and I was invited to help organize a United 4 Orphans event on November
6th. All of these things have made me incredibly excited for what Nick and I and our family are doing!

I want to invite you all to the United 4 Orphans event. It is going to be a great time of worshipping and praying for orphans around the globe. There will be delicious desserts, dynamic speakers, and the chance to taste and support Gobena Coffee. If you'd like more information visit the United 4 Orphans 2010 Facebook Page or Gobena.org.

Did you realize that there are 147 million orphans in the world today? Poverty, disease, death have taken beautiful, innocent children from the arms of their parents and put them in a world of fear and desperation. A recent statistic showed that if 7% of Christians in the United States adopted one child there would be virtually no orphans left in the world (thanks to my friend Danae for educating me in the world of all things orphan). To me that seems like such a small number. If Christians could step up and make that big of a difference in the world, it would be staggering!

We had a big week this week! We got a lot of paperwork done and mailed in several packets. It may seem like such a small thing to sign an adoption agreement or an application, but there are some big time checks going in each of those packets. I still can't believe the money that has just happened to show up extra in our bank account the last month. I mean logically, I know where it all comes from: extra hours on the job, a gift from a friend, but to have the perfect extra amount we've needed just astounds me. It's so exciting (and slightly stressful) to see the deadline come up and look at our checking account and be like, "Whoa...its the perfect amount...write 'em a check." And to write a check so joyfully...now there's a new concept in our house :)

Owen, Amra, and Wrigley (in his silent way) constantly amaze me as well. They always have a special prayer for their sister. They've thrown out things like, "let her know we love her," "keep her safe", "let her know we will come get her", "help us get all the money we need to get her." I think I tear up at every meal and bedtime when it's time to pray because their hearts are so innocent, and they know what this means to us and their sister waiting in Ethiopia.

On a more personal note, I've fallen in love with my daughter. It's been a weird concept for me. It started out so depersonalized, I just saw the work, the timelines, the DOLLAR signs. But now I see her. When you're pregnant you don't know what your child is like, but you can feel him/her. You can cradle your stomach and hear his/her heartbeat. Adoption is so different. I don't know anything about my little girl. I don't even know if she is born yet. But I love her. I don't know what her face looks like, but I know she is beautiful and I know she is mine. It's been a crash of emotion over me the last few days. There was a moment when we weren't sure we'd make a deadline, and my heart just broke. Suddenly there was no option, we would find the money because I NEED my daughter. She's out there waiting for mommy and daddy to bring her home. Please pray for her and her little heart.

We have more exciting news that I will share in the next blog because we are waiting on a few logistics, but God has answered a big prayer financially for us that will be so beneficial. We've also narrowed down to a couple names, and I just want to share why we chose specifically Ethiopia. Sorry this was so random, but I've been reading so many other blogs that put mine to shame, that I'm like, "you know what, this is me, this is what you get." I only have 2 followers now, but someday...someday (!) I will have 968 followers like www.itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com and if not I'm just glad that YOU were reading :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's been on of those weeks...

It's been one of those weeks where everything is woe is me...life is so hard...no one understands. So I just didn't write, which you should all be grateful for. For those who don't know, I babysit full-time for 3 wonderful children (and that's not an exaggeration) plus I have two of my own. Owen goes to school full day, but he comes in around 2:15, so he is there part of the time, too. I find myself driving to and from preschool, changing a diaper, playing a game, picking up the game, making lunch, cleaning lunch, back to preschool, get Owen at the grade school, and back to the preschool five days a week. Evenings consist of soccer games, church events, and Bible Study. I'm also closing in on running my first (and only) marathon, so that takes up one night as well (yes, one night because honestly I've given up on running the other days that I'm supposed to). So needless to say, I find myself exhausted at the end of the week. However, this past weekend ended with Nick having to go out of town for work, and me taking on the weekend by myself. So of course the whining sets in, and with whining comes bitterness, and bitterness brings fret...and blah, blah, blah.

Things haven't been moving so quickly or smoothly in the adoption world, so of course I whine. "God, this is what YOU wanted us to do, so....where is the ease of it all?" Why is my faith so quick to fade when I get the slightest bit of resistance? I always see the lesson and the joy after I get through a trial, but during it? Not so much. But then my wonderful, insightful husband tells me to stop whining to him and whine to HIM. Is that really ok? Is that respectful? Well, maybe I shouldn't whine, but it is ok to tell him our disappointments, our frustrations, our fears, and He will listen. He promises peace, "Come to me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest." So that's what I did, and you know what...peace. Suddenly, I get my focus again, I see His purpose and I know that He is leading us.

Last night Nick said something that just made me see everything in a fresh perspective, "I just feel like I need to be in Africa holding my little girl right now." And Amra prays, "Lord, please let our little baby know that we love her and will be there to get her in a year." It's then I remember, its not about me or the paper or the timeline, it's about bringing an orphan to a place that's her home.

Come support National Orphan Day and Gobena Coffee! What a great cause and reason to join together to remember those in need. If you would like more information, let me know. And don't forget to check out gobena.org!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's been a crazy week in the Kellerstrass household! I feel like we are running one way or another. Keeps life exciting I guess :) Through all the running to the hospital to see my mom, taking kids to school, or Owen to his first week of AWANA, God has been showing me over and over that through it all He is with me. His goodness never fails to amaze me. Not a lot has happened with the adoption but a few MAJOR things happened this week that once again reaffirmed that we are headed in the right direction. Besides all the encouragement and people wanting to hear about our mission, we received physical evidence that God will continue to open doors! The next step in this process is to begin paperwork and home studies and the feared dossier. But before that we have to send in our adoption agreement. We began this journey telling God that we are His tools to use anyway He wishes, but if this is the route He wanted us on then He would have to supply because we simply don't have it. We had the extra money in our check account for the application, so we stepped out. This week Nick will be paid for some work he did, which turns out to the half the needed cost for the next step. We were really excited about this and talking about how we would earn the second half. We got on our knees and asked God to provide an opportunity to earn a little extra money or to provide it in another way if this continues to be what He wants for us. The next day we had a check in the mail from a close friend exactly for the other half we needed! This friend didn't even know what we needed but God just laid it on his/her heart. What an awesome testimony!!! We have the money before its even needed. What a confirmation to our family! And after that? We got the call that our application was accepted and they were sending us the paperwork. I just cry when I think about this...really its a true God story!

While I'm Waiting by John Waller

While I'm Waiting by John Waller (Click on Title and the song will play)

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on you Lord, and I am hopeful
I'm waiting on you Lord, though it is painful,
but patiently I will wait.

I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting, I will serve you
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not fade
I'll be running the race, even while I wait

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on you Lord, and I am peaceful
I'm waiting on you Lord, though its not easy
but faithfully, I will wait.

I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting, I will serve you
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not fade
I'll be running the race, even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I'll be taking every step in obedience

I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

Monday, September 20, 2010

So why the blog...

Why the blog? I'm not a very private person. My life is pretty much an open book, my feelings and opinions line the pages. I love blogs because I feel I get to know people for who they really are, not who I perceive them to be. I fall in love with people that I probably would never really get to know through what they reveal in their writings. I find myself praying for people through trials and rejoicing during celebrations, and had it not been for their journaling, I may have never lifted them up to God.

I will try not to be too personal but be real. There may only be a few reading this, but if even one person is praying over us, we will feel it! When my mom was extremely sick last summer, we did a CaringBridge page and I remember over and over the number of people telling me they were praying. People I barely knew, but it encouraged me every day and caused my faith to grow stronger. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing the load of this life!

It's been a week since the initial decision to adopt took hold of us. We were so excited! It was excrutiating to hold it in for 3 days to tell our families (we did "slip" to a few people). We were going to wait a few more days to make it public, but I just couldn't wait! :) We were just so filled with joy and love for this new child who would be joining our family.

Then the fear and doubt settled in. I'd been told adoption was an emotional roller coaster, but seriously, it had only been a week. I thought I could hold it together a little longer than that. Nick and I were so confident that after praying for a year and very intensely for the last three months, that this was the answer He had for us. So why did little thoughts like, "Does this really make sense right now?" or "Do you really think God is moving you in this direction?" I could literally hear the words of doubt run through my mind. And then I began to fear.

Amidst the fear, the Lord laid James 1:2-8 on my heart, and it put into perspective our last year leading up to this point. "Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."


Note to self: This is what God wants us to do. Never doubt again.

*In adoption news, we are in one of many waiting periods. We have decided to adopt a little girl (at the request of both Owen and Amra) who is between the age of 1 and 2 years. We won't get a referral for about 6-7 months, but we are already praying hard over their sweet, new little baby sister.

A cute little side note, when we broke the news to the kids last week, Owen said, "Finally! I've been waiting all these years!" I guess that's what happens when you pray about adoption for six years!

Please be praying for:
*Our little girl who may or may not already be born. Pray for good health and safety.
*Our paperwork and home studies can be done quickly, and we can finance every piece as it comes along.
*Our friends Greg and Dawn who are also going through the adoption process and currently waiting for the referral of their little boy!
*Our friends Jenny and Phil, who just received the referral of their little girl in China. She was born prematurely and is tiny, but strong and healthy!

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. God knows that I need all the cheerleaders I can get :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It happened to us on the same day at the same time but in totally different places. The overwhelming feeling that "now was the time" entered our minds. The thought entered my mind completely unprovoked while I checked my e-mail, but nevertheless clear, so I texted Nick. "Do you think we will actually ever adopt?" The response shocked me, "In the next year or two."

It's not like we'd never talked about it. As weird as this may sound, Nick asked if I'd marry him if he couldn't have children. It was a little off the wall since we weren't even engaged or talking marriage, but I told him God could bless us like Abraham and Sarah, and if not then we could adopt. I'd wanted to adopt since I was a child. When I was around 14, I told my parents when I grew up I would have 14 children, 6 of my own and 8 adopted. We'd all live in a barn converted into a large house.

Nick and I always knew we'd adopt. The first time we considered it, we had been trying to get pregnant for about seven months. We began to wonder if God had other plans for our family. After researching and praying for open and closed doors, I got pregnant with our first blessing Owen.

Door #1...closed.

Next came our second blessing, Amra. We were content, but in the fall of 2007 we felt the stir of our hearts for the second time. We met with a case worker, got fingerprinted, did all the initial paperwork. We felt a little overwhelmed by the hours of class time we would have to attend while having two small children. Again we asked God for a child and open/closed doors. A month later, the test came back positive, and we were blessed again for a third time with Wrigley.

Door #2...closed.

After Wrigley's birth and medical concerns, the doctors decided that I should not have any more children. And we thought that was it. God was determining for us, that this was all He wanted us to have. We accepted this and knew His way was best.

A year ago, God began a work of transformation in our lives. We'd spent most of our marriage living for ourselves. We were consumed by what we wanted when we wanted it and not at all concerned about glorifying God with our lives. Through a series of events (my mom's illness, Nick's changing jobs, Amra's surgery, etc.) we were forced to trust God with a faith we'd never encountered before. This extreme need for God showed us His holiness and our vast array of imperfections. We began a year of transforming to mirror our lives after Him.

We asked God to show us where our lives needed work. And God, in His humor, took that as an invitation. He has been uncovering every layer of grime in our hearts. Critical hearts, gossip, selfishness, laziness, greed, indulgence, etc. It was and is still not a pretty picture, but His grace has covered all of this, and we in our humbled states decided to hand our lives back over to Him to use in any way He chooses.

This past summer God decided to hand us the gauntlet. He put us through the fire, but not once were we burned. We tightly clung to God because we knew He was our only way through. He loves us enough that He went right through it with us.

God showed us time and time again through scriptures, sermons, and even blogs that He has called us to a radical life for Him. We thought we might be called to ministry, but we realized that our ministry was right here in our own streets. People we love are dying without a relationship with Jesus Christ and our fear of their ridicule kept them from this knowledge. So we began ministering to our "neighbors" no matter who they are or where they came from.

Nick took a new job last year that came with a pay cut, and I was not working this summer, and we had also committed to cut out all credit in our lives. But we never went hungry, we never went without a home, and we could get to and from anywhere we wanted. But it was a test of faith. And God was there through it all. It was the most painful thing I've ever gone through, but my relationship with God grew by miles in those three month this summer.

So when the stirring in our hearts said now was the time, and the adoption agency called the next day and said our baby would be waiting for us in 11 months, we knew we had to step out boldly and in obedience.

Our mission in our lives and the life verse we've chosen for this journey is James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

We hope you will join us on our journey to our fourth blessing. We know it will be challenging and financially we will never need God to show up more than now, but we step out with bold confidence that He, again, will provide every penny. There are two ways that you can join us on our journey:

1. Prayer - First and most importantly is through prayer. I'm a prayer warrior, and I pray through and over any and everything. Prayer not only draws us closer to God but allows Him to show us His power. Please pray specifically for our family, our finances, and also for Baby K who is in Ethiopia awaiting the arrival of her parents to take her home.

2. Financial Support - Second, if you'd like to help financially, 100% of the donations will go completely towards all adoption fees and any money that exceeds our need will be donated to our friends Steve and Danae Lehman at Gobena Coffee (gobena.org), whose sale of fair trade coffee goes to feed, shelter, and educate orphans in Ethiopia...check them out!!! We will also be donating to Lifesong for Orphans, which is an adoption grant organization, which helps families fund their adoption fees as well.

We are so excited for what God is doing in our lives and cannot wait to meet, cuddle, and share the love of Jesus with our new addition! We'd love for you to join us and hear from all our friends and family along this journey.

Called to His Work,
Nick, Erin, Owen, Amra, Wrigley, and Baby K :)