Saturday, December 27, 2008

God's Response to my World's Hungry Post

OK, so a couple weeks ago I posted about the world's hungry and how that didn't set right with me ... well, God heard my concern and He sent me this email from World Vision...

Mengistu, 4, and his father in Shone.

"He used to run to help us when we came from the garden. Today, he cannot express his feelings verbally." — Mengistu's father

Acutely malnourished little Mengistu needs your prayers and support. At age 4, he suffers from severe malnutrition in the wake of a recent drought in Ethiopia and is being treated in a stabilization center. His progress is very slow, and tragically, his situation is not unique.
Because of the growing global food crisis in this center and in many others throughout the developing world, there are sick, weak, and hungry children crying out for help. Chronic hunger doesn't look as alarming as rapid starvation, yet it's just as deadly. These children are starving to death — just slowly. Right now, one child dies from hunger every seven seconds. That's more than 14,000 children every day. And millions more are suffering.

Today, you can help provide life-saving essentials to hungry children and families who are in desperate need, and, thanks to government grants, any gift you give will multiply 6 times in impact to help provide:

  • Emergency food
  • Seeds to grow maize, beans, and fruit
  • Cows, chickens, goats, and other livestock
  • Training about choosing and preparing nutritious foods

Right now, through our generous friends like you, World Vision is working hard to make this happen in 35 countries around the world, including Haiti, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. Thank you for your concern and your prayers for those whose futures are threatened by hunger — and for responding today to help.


So, if you got that sweater or tie you didn't want/need and it gets returned, think about giving something to World Vision, especially since our donations get multiplied SIX times. Click here to give.

Thank you LORD for showing us ways we can help YOUR children!

Hope every one had a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

I still gotta get my 2 posts done but had this come through today and thought it was good...

"A man who trims himself to suit everybody will soon whittle himself away."

In my definition, being tolerable to everyone makes you lose everything. Don't trim away the absolute TRUTH that defines you....

Stay warm, folks ... it's downright cold out there!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where'd it go?

Man, I just looked that the last post was a week and a half ago ... how does that happen?

First, CONGRATS to all the AGCI families passing court and getting travel plans ... that is so exciting and encouraging ... it creates that longing I know we'll have once we have our referral...

An update on us ... there have been no referrals and probably none before the new year. Our hope is that once the new year is here, there will be a flurry of them coming through. We contacted the Vanderbilt Adoption Clinic and have the forms to fill out for our preadoption meeting and for them to review our referral once he/she is known. Amber and I have been praying daily for our child and it's crazy to think that he/she could easily be born and in this world...

We went to give blood tonight ... the Red Cross is super low on supplies so if you have a chance before Christmas, please go give blood ... it's something God has given us that replinishes, doesn't cost us anything except a little time, and it can save a life ... thanks!

I also have 2 posts in mind that I need to get down and unfortunately they may have to wait until we go to Indiana and Illinois for Christmas due to time constraints over the next few days. One is an answer from God about my last post regarding the food shortage and the other one is us seeing out a flat-out miracle by God ... absolutely unreal...

Stay tuned...

...and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

World’s hungry close to one billion

Quote from this article published today...

The vast majority of the world’s undernourished people ... live in developing countries, according to FAO estimates. Of these, 65 per cent live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three people – or almost 240m – are chronically hungry, the highest proportion of undernourished people in the total population.

How can this be right?? How can I be ok with about the same amount of people not having access to clean water?? How can I sit in my warm home with my decorated Christmas tree about to eat dinner and block out these visions running through my head?

We do give to some causes but for some reason, I feel like throwing money at it isn't the right answer for me in this season of my life ... I'm not sure what the right answer is right now ... a definite prayer point for me...the notion of teaching the man to fish and not giving him a fish is running through my mind ... but you gotta give them some bait to catch the fish...hmmmm.....

All I know is that we can't let this be ok on our watch ... at the end of our days, we will be held accountable for what we did with our time on this planet ...

Monday, December 8, 2008

December Official #'s

OK, we just got off the phone with our Case Manger and received our new OFFICIAL #'s...

#11 boys

#21 girls

Being that there were some referrals last week, we know that our unofficial #'s are close ... she said to watch for the bi-weekly email that will come out Friday and that will tell us where we are "unofficially."

In any event, to move 4 spots on the boys and 5 spots on the girls in 3 weeks is amazing. We know that we are fast out of the gates and it's a marathon but it's hard not to be excited about it. It's encouraging that there is movement happening in Ethiopia.

It is also great that we have such a great ambassador running our orphanage, Hannah's Hope, in Ethiopia. From everything people have said and wrote, she is an amazing saint and I can't wait to meet her in person in Ethiopia one day soon. To know the love she gave our child and the battles she fought on our behalf .... well, it'll just be very humbling to meet her. Thank You 'A' for all you do for us!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Movin' on up....

Wow ... there has been some major referrals this week...CONGRATS TO EVERYONE WHO HAVE RECEIVED A REFERRAL.

Of course, we are all trying to figure out where that puts us ... there were a couple unknown people that received girl referrals that we think were on the boys' list as well... we were supposed to get a call from our case manager today ... however, she emailed saying she's been so busy with traveling families and referrals that she didn't get through all her waiting list calls so that'll come Monday to get the official numbers.

Nevertheless ... we're thinking that we are unofficially...

on the boy's list (almost single digits!) and...

on the girl's list (we're in the teens!)

GOD IS GOOD AND ALWAYS FAITHFUL AND WE KNOW HIS TIMING IS PERFECT! (We're definitely fans of Him moving things along ... a prayer that Amber and I say every morning)
We didn't think we'd be this far along at the beginning of December ... again, it's unofficial but it's a great feeling knowing there is movement going on.

Amber and I have been babysitting tonight for a friend's 3 year old ... good practice, I suppose. He's a really good kid and his mom had the opportunity to go to the Toby Mac concert in Nashville tonight so we couldn't say no...

We went and got our Christmas tree last night and decorated it tonight (with the 3 year old's help ... he had a blast!) We put it in the almost-finished living room ... it's always the little things that take forever to get done. And we're still fans of a live Christmas tree ... we're hoping that doesn't change as we get older...we think it'll be a great tradition picking out a tree together as a family...

Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks...

We have so much to be thankful for ... actually, I don't know where to start and I know it won't be close to a comple list but here we go...

  • I am thankful that we have a God of love, mercy, grace, and justice ... that He sent His son to go through the worst things imaginable for my salvation. I'm thankful He loves me so much that I will never be able to comprehend it.

  • I'm thankful we're on the waiting list. We are unofficially #13 on boys and #23 on girls. For those of you not in the adoption circles ... we get our official numbers from AGCI once a month. However, referrals are done throughout the month and we're moving up the list during that time. There are alot of smart people out there that keep track of where they are on the list and we're trying to get up to speed with this.

  • I'm thankful that my USCIS' fingerprints were not rejected. There was concern that my fingerprints were not good enough and they may not accept them. Our social worker Kim gave me the email address to Memphis to see a status...they responded yesterday saying that they were able to get results from my fingerprints so our FDL won't be delayed (well, any more than what Memphis is delayed to begin with)

  • I'm thankful that I'm married to a God-fearing woman, that we are able to visit with my parents and family yesterday and today and be able to visit with Amber's family tomorrow and Saturday.

  • I'm thankful that I live in a Christian nation and the heritage she has. If you listen to folks today, you would think that we're an agnostic country ... that we as a nation should not believe our blessings are from God Himself. Well, let's take a look at what our nation and Congress did in it's early days...

    • In opening on September 7th, 1774, the Continental Congress, the body that gave us the Declaration of Independence, their first motion was to open this first session with prayer. The motion was opposed ... yeah, I know separation of church and state, right? NO, it was not opposed for that ... it wasn't that the delegates were opposed to prayer, they couldn't figure out which Christian clergyman should offer up the prayer. And no, I'm not making this up ... this actually happened. Knowing how things are today could make you think I'm making this up. Please read the link: It fills my spirit to see how our country was founded. And note that the prayer was offered "through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior." To me, that's a Christian viewpoint. And to see how the delegates responded ... it gives me hope.

    • We had 200+ Founding fathers for our nation. 90-95% of them were Christians and held to Christian principles. We hear about the ones that WEREN'T (Ben Franklin, etc). The 90-95% were active in their faith and spreading that faith to others ... clear in their writings, books they used, etc. Several signers of the Constitution founded Bible societies and publicly practiced their Christian faith. Out of 15,000 samples of the founding fathers' writings between the years 1760 -1805, 3,000 were direct quotations from SCRIPTURE

    • In 1775, Continental Congress officially called all citizens to fast and pray and confess their sins that God might bless them. In 1777, they voted to spend $300,000 to purchase Bibles which were to be distributed throughout the 13 colonies! Also, the founders considered it imperative that our soldiers have copies of the Scriptures. With few funds left in the Treasury and the soldiers short on food and ammunition, the Continental Congress ordered 20,000 Bibles to be purchased for the army with tax money (today, those same people would be in jail). And in 1782, the United States Congress declared,“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all their writings, books they used, etc.

    • On November 1st, 1777, Continental Congress declared a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation ... please read it here: A (long) quote from it..."they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."

I say all this because it gives me hope in our country. Revival in the Bible occurred when people realized what they used to be like and say, "wow, this is what we were" ... and revival would break out across the land. If we can open our eyes to what our country used to be and say, "that's what I want" I believe God will honor our commitment to Him and heal our land.

Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving ... it's time for me to go over to my aunt Pearl's to visit and chow down!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Say a prayer for Abby today

Many of you know in the adoption/blog world know Abby's story. She has experience more in her little life than most of us ever have or want to honestly.

She will be getting a feeding tube put in today at 12:30 CST.

Please visit her site for more information and say a prayer for Abby and her parents today. Also, click the link at the bottom from Brent ... that video is amazing!


Monday, November 17, 2008

My Favorite Numbers

OK, my favorite numbers for today are...




We are officially #15 on the boy's list and #26 on the girl's. We are so grateful for this. As with everyone else who goes through this process, this is an exciting and surreal time for Amber and I. I haven't allowed the time for myself to let it sink in that we are actually on the list.

We still have our call with Julie tomorrow so hopefully we'll know more information.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wait List Worthy ..... but ....

I now know that God gave our case manager Julie His sense of humor. We got an email from her late this afternoon...

Hi Troy—I just wanted to let you know that I received your (document) today! Thank you so much!
I will go ahead and put you on the list and go over this with you on Tuesday.

So ... this is PHENOMENAL news! But at the same token, we were thinking we would know our official numbers today! Nevertheless, we are so grateful to be on the list and can't wait for our call on Tuesday!

Have a great weekend ... I'm going to be paint-boy all weekend with hopes that the living room and entryway will be painted by the end of the weekend.

The Eagle Has Landed ... Again.

I got confirmation this morning from UPS that our missing piece of the dossier was delivered to AGCI this morning. Hopefully, Julie or Christy will have time today to review, confirm, and add us to the list!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not Yet...

So, I've been refreshing email all day waiting for the email from AGCI ... I can only imagine what it's like waiting for the referral call or the travel call...

No email before heading to Bible Study ... which kinda bummed us out. Of course, it came through like 2 minutes after we left ... God does have a sense of humor. I know He's trying to tell me He's got it and to calm down.

Unfortunately, we're missing one small piece of information that there was a miscommunication on but otherwise she said our dossier looked great. The good thing is that we have that missing piece and I'm going to overnight it tomorrow. My work has a UPS account so it won't be too expensive for the cost. We said we wouldn't overnight things due to cost but we're calling this a special circumstance.

So, hopefully Friday we'll be on the list. All in God's perfect timing...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed!

We got this email tonight from AGCI...

Hi Troy and Amber! I finally received your dossier!! Yay! I will try to look this over tomorrow and let you know how it looks :)

We're praying we get on the waiting list tomorrow!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Send Off!

This past week has been pretty busy and we made great progress on the adoption's a recap:

Monday - Got an email from our social worker Kim stating that AGCI approved the home study. I spent the night sanding drywall in the living room

Tuesday - I went to Miriam's Promise over lunch to pick up the home study. We met a couple for coffee in the evening to tell them about AGCI and our adoption experience so far. They feel God calling them to adopt and AGCI is one of two agencies on their list.

Wednesday - Amber made copies of the home study and mailed our dossier in to AGCI! With our case manager Julie in Ethiopia until the middle of next week, I'm not sure when it will get looked at. I emailed the person filling in for her but have not heard back to see what the standard review time is for the dossier. I know that she is swamped doing 2 jobs while Julie is out. We're hoping to be on the lists in the next couple weeks. With the last update on October 31st, there were 24 families on the girls' list and 13 families on the boys' list. So now we are in the "waiting mode" again. If any of you know what the wait is for the dossier approval, please let us know! THANKS! We then went on to study Revelations at our Bible Study.

Thursday - Amber and I went to get our fingerprints done for the I-600A form. This was somewhat intimidating going in ... I think we were the only natural-born Americans (besides the workers) in the office. We were in and out in probably 30 minutes which was great. What wasn't great is that apparently I sanded off my fingerprints with all the work I've been doing. The worker lady had a real tough time trying to get my prints. She said they may go through but there is a possibility they may get rejected and I have to come back. If I get a letter in the next 2 weeks, that means they were rejected and I have to go back. We're praying they get through and we'll be able to get our CIS approval.

We had a big release due on Friday for work so I spent all night working to try to get that done; unfortunately, no work on the living room was done.

Friday - TGIF! I spent the night putting the 2nd coat of mud on the living room walls and then hung out with Amber after that. We just had a low-key night and she got to pick out the movie ... Corrina, Corrina. I had never seen it due to my thinking it was a chic-flick ... and it was, but I had a whole new respect for it now that we are in the midst of adopting from Ethiopia. So, it was a good choice by my wife.

Saturday - I sanded the living room walls and put on a hopeful final skim coat on the walls. We went to church and heard guest speaker Joe McGee speak. He was at church for a parenting seminar this weekend. The guy is hilarious but right on in his message. He speaks alot about how the biological makeups of men and women are different. We grabbed his product brochure as I'm sure we'll be getting some of his books/cd's.

Our friend Saul is a musician and he has partnered with a local place to try to give the 30/40-somethings a fun date night out but still get home to the babysitter by 10pm. He went on stage at 7pm, played for an hour-ish, had another artist play, and we were out of there by 10pm. We don't get out to do those types of things much so it was a fun night ... plus, it was great to hear Saul play.

Sunday - Today I plan to do the hopeful final sanding on the walls and get the mess cleaned up. The goal is to get the plastic cleaned up and the dust swept up. I gotta mow the leaves too ... it's going to be a dusty mess out there. My poor lungs have been taking in all the drywall dust so I guess they're kinda used to it by now. I also need to make a trip to Lowe's to return extra drywall, etc.

We greet at Sunday night church and tonight is a baby dedicaton service. Our good friends from Bible Study are dedicating their little 2 month old so it'll be great to see them putting her up before the Lord.

Alright, I guess I better get to work ... the living room isn't going to sand itself ... have a blessed day!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Good News

I got an email from Kim, our social worker, that AGCI approved our home study! This has been a patience-item for Amber and I ... we've been waiting 2 weeks for this to occur. Kim said that she'll have all the signatures, notary, etc tomorrow and that she could get it in the mail. I told her it may be worth my time to drive up to get it ... not that I don't trust the USPS ... well, I don't want it to take the scenic route around Nashville before it gets here. So, in theory, if I get it tomorrow, Amber could take it to get copies and mail off our dossier on Wednesday, her day off. I think we are just so excited to get on the waiting list ... we know that's probably a longer process than what we've experience thus far, but at least we'll be making progress rather than just waiting around.

If you get the chance, please listen to this sermon from our pastor this past weekend ... he hit a grand slam on it. Listen to the current sermon, The Church in the World at

I spent the better part of this afternoon and evening doing the first heavy sanding of my drywall mudding in the living room. It is a full work zone. Dust is throughout the house and it's already stressing Amber out. She's "encouraging" me to get the sanding done as soon as I can. We're meeting a couple in our town tomorrow night for coffee to talk about our adoption experience with AGCI. They are in process of making an agency choice and we're excited to share the journey God has us on. Wednesday is Bible Study so the first time I'll get back to the 2nd coat of mudding is Thursday night. Thursday and Friday will be mudding, Saturday will be sanding with a skim coat hopefully going on Saturday as well. Sunday will be the final sanding. At least that's the plan for now. Below are a couple pics....

This is what it looked like before...

Now ... no more wood!

Work Zone!

Plastic, plastic everywhere...

Amber always thinks it's hilarious to see me covered in dust ... I guess she's thinking what I'll look like with gray hair...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Exercising our right

We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to vote. Amber and I went to early vote last night ... we were lucky and only had to wait around 20 minutes. As I have been inundated with emails, text, and conversations from family and friends about their opinions between Obama and McCain, here is my viewpoint and thoughts for the record.

Being a Christ-follower, my decisions have to align with what Christ and Scripture says. If not, I'm not a Christ-follower. So, the most important issue above anything else for me is the right to life. I can't support a candidate that supports abortion. No exceptions. Another no-exception issue is sanctity of marriage. God created marriage between one man and one woman. No exceptions. Another no-exception issue is the support of Israel. God has said that they are His chosen people and that we are to stand by her side. That is where my Savior will be returning and how can I want to live in a country that doesn't support her or is friendly with her enemies? Because of these positions, I voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

I could stop here as those are the top tier issues. What boggles my mind is that around 70-80% of the nation calls themselves Christians but they don't vote with those convictions. They let other things overtake their Christian beliefs, whether it is culture, economics, emotion, etc. I think we all know that 70-80% isn't realistic for our nation, but it's still intriguing. Nevertheless, everything else is just my opinion of government. But, hey, while watching ER, I might as well explain...

I believe in small government and not big government. I believe in capitalism and not socialism. I do not believe health care is a "right" and that the government should provide or mandate it. I believe in lower taxes to stimulate the economy. I believe that a good economy is a gift from my God and not from policy of man. I believe that the government should not interfere/bail out private business. I believe in the opportunities of this great nation and love that people want to be here to "pursue the American Dream" ... I just believe they should do that legally. I believe our nation should be a force to be reckoned with and a hand extended to those in need ... that is, by teaching a man to fish and not just giving him a fish. I believe in the right to bear arms. I believe political correctness can be harmful. I believe there is absolute truth and not everything has to be tolerated. I believe our nation needs to repent and turn from its wicked and sinful ways ... with us Christians leading the charge of turning from our worldly & sinful ways.

2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

I think we can all say that our land needs healing. And by the grace of God, He has revealed to us how for that to happen. Can you imagine what would happen if every Christ-follower humbled themselves like that?! I know that I'm the worst when it comes to it ... I get "busy" with life or with this or with that and God becomes my fall-back plan way too often.

OK, I'm done ... I'm sure that is not a full list but ... well, 5:15am comes early! :) ... and I don't mean for this post to instigate tension ... it is my interpretation of Scripture and my opinions.

Oh, btw, we're still waiting for AGCI to approve our revised home study. We were hoping that it would happen this week so we could send in our dossier next's praying it is tomorrow!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Time flying by...

Man, where did the last 2 weeks go since my last post!?! Alot has happened in that time ... hopefully, I'll hit everything.

First, on the adoption front. AGCI sent modifications back to our social worker Kim. Kim and I exchanged emails throughout today and she got the modifications back to AGCI today ... as I've said before, Kim is AWESOME! She's been so great with our home study. We also got the letter for our I-600A fingerprints. Both Amber's and my appointments are scheduled for next Thursday, November 6th, at 9am. Hopefully, by that time, we'll have our approved home study mailed into USCIS.

We've decided to remodel our living room. We had cedar planks on the bottom half of the walls ... that wouldn't have been so bad but 1) they were in a 'V' pattern which dated it severly and 2) there were knots that had fallen into the walls over the past 25 years so there were holes in the wood walls. We knew that when we get our child, everything, including the kitchen sink, would end up being put down those holes. So, we ripped out the wood and got to the exposed walls. That allowed me to run some electrical that was needed (eg: for a built-in desk we needed a plug there, for a hopeful future flat-screen tv, I ran cable and electrical to where we could hang it on the wall). I have all the new drywall up except one sheet by the stairs that will get done tomorrow. A buddy from our Bible Study has been instrumental in helping me get it done ... thanks Jason! Next will be the inevitable sanding and mudding ... and sanding and mudding ... and sanding and mudding ... and ... well, you get the point. The goal is to have it and the entry way painted by Thanksgiving...

This past Saturday was our 5 year anniversary. In so many ways, it feels like a lifetime but others, it feels like yesterday we were in the church saying 'I do.' What I do know is that God has blessed me with an amazing woman and I can't wait to see what He has in store for the next 5 years!

We decided to go to Gatlinburg to celebrate. We got over there on Thursday, got checked into our perfect cabin (great views and great price for peak season), and walked the Gatlinburg strip. We (especially Amber) loves P. Graham Dunn stuff so we had to buy something now for our child. Below is our purchase...

We then ate at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge which has GREAT corn fritters and fried chicken. They allowed Amber and I share a plate which was great since an order of fried chicken contains THREE chicken breasts!

Friday started off with breakfast at the Apple Barn ... they have phenomenal apple fritters and applewood country bacon .... good stuff. It unfortunately rained all day Friday so we spent the day just walking around outlet malls and the such. We went to dinner with Amber's cousin and his wife (one of her best friends from high school) at Calhoun's ... we had their patented ribs and they were fall-off-the-bone good. Amber's cousins had won/received tickets for the show Cirque de Chine (Chinese acrobats, etc) and they gave them to us to use on Saturday ... how cool are they!? Thanks Jarod and Patricia!

Saturday, we did breakfast at Flapjacks ... we split an order of their Peanut Butter and Banana Pancakes ... by now, you can't tell that we're eating like kings ... or slobs :) ... but we knew that we don't eat like that often and took advantage of it! To try to work off some of that food, we hiked up to Clingman's Dome. It was beautiful up there but we were spoiled last year when we hiked the Chimney Tops and it's going to be hard to beat those views. Nevertheless, it was majestic (and cold!).

The best quotes of the weekend when we were driving up to Clingman's Dome. Amber said, "How can someone not believe in God when they look at this?" I responded with the typical response from non-believers ... things collided, etc, etc. She responded, "It takes more faith to NOT believe in God when you see this perfection." Very true.

We took rest of the afternoon easy and then got ready to eat dinner at Tony Roma's and go watch the Cique de Chine show. I think every ligament felt torn and every bone felt broke after watching this show. Those folks were absolutely amazing. I'd seen some similiar stuff at some circuses in the past, but not to the extent of this show. Unreal what people can do (and will do) with their bodies.

Sunday we drove back home early because our church had a fall festival that we worked at. We probably had 15,000 people on campus and it was amazing to see all the kids having such a great time. We were team leads for the servants' station (organizing/sending people out to games, etc when more people were needed) but we were short-staffed so Amber and I ended up working the pony rides ... it was fun helping the little kids on the ponies, talking to them about what their favorite things of the festival were, etc ... we are definitely blessed!

It was SO hard coming back to reality today and going into work ... and, of course, this week is a nightmare week of multiple deadlines ... welcome back Troy!

Below are a few pics from our trip...

View from our cabin...

The name of our cabin was 'Bears Den' ... this was the coffee table...

On top of Clingman's Dome...

Self-pic at the cabin before dinner at Tony Roma's...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Surrounded By Blessings

First, the Project Ryan fundraiser was a huge success. We had a good turnout with even greater hearts. I am forever humbled by the generosity of the people that came out. We had 113 tickets used for bowling while a ton of baked goodies and peanuts were bought. The silent auction was a huge hit with a couple a few items being fought over at the end. Nevertheless, I learned a ton through this fundraiser and know that God is preparing us for bigger and better things. We're not done with Project Ryan yet but we're closer. Ryan was in his new wheelchair and he was loving seeing all his friends and family. Just a huge blessing ... so to all of you who came out to support Ryan, THANK YOU. GOD will bless your giving hearts!

Secondly, a huge surprise and blessing today ... our social worker sent us our home study draft! Our social worker Kim ROCKS! Our home study visit was last Monday and she said that it could be up to 30 days ... well, 8 days later and we have the draft! WOW. Amber and I, of course, are going to go through it and make edits tonight and get them back to her tomorrow. She'll put those changes in and get it to her supervisor and AGCI ... how cool would it be to be on the list by Halloween!?! May not be realistic but here's praying and still trusting in God's perfect timing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Project Ryan Bowling Fundraiser


Hey all ... Sunday afternoon is our first major fundraiser for Project Ryan. It is noon - 4pm at the Smyrna Bowling Center. More information can be found at with more info on Ryan at

Ryan's a GREAT kid who just happened to be born with Muscular Dystrophy. I know times are scary/tough but we are all blessed so please think and pray about your involvement. We're just trying to give Ryan the freedom that most of us take for granted. Feel free to forward along to anyone that may be interested in coming out to bowl or donating to Ryan.

If you live in Middle Tennessee, it'd be great if you could come out to bowl in support of Ryan. Oh yeah, we're going to have tons of baked goodies and a silent auction which will include UT items (guy in our small group played for UT), restaurant gift cards, tools, MTSU clothing, etc, etc. If you know of any items or have any connections to get items donated for the silent auction, please let me know.

Let me know if you need any more info!

Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our work is finished!

So everything in our power is done. We went over our dossier documents tonight with our AGCI case manager and she agreed we looked like we were complete with those. We had our home visit with our social worker yesterday. We are still waiting for our child abuse check from the Department of Children Services. Besides that, it's just our social worker getting our home study written up. She said that 30 days is standard practice but she was alluding that the draft will be less than that. Hopefully, in a couple weeks, we'll be reviewing our home study to quickly get a final version of it into our dossier.

Congrats to all the AGCI folks getting referrals ... it's awesome to see and hear the reactions and Amber and I can only imagine what that day will be like ... all in God's perfect timing.

OK, back to watching the presential debate ... it's interesting to see family and friends coming out of the woodwork emailing, texting, etc me about their opinions. That's always awkward but I'm comfortable about my Christian beliefs and sharing how those influence my political position...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rollercoaster week

This week will be one of those that we'll look back on and try to figure out how we got through it.

My grandfather passed away Saturday morning. He has been going downhill for the past few months; honestly, since my grandma passed away on New Years Day 2007. He had lived a full life of 92 years, being married over 65 of those...

So, I just got the rental car and we're driving the 7+ hours up to my parent's today/tonight. Today is Amber's birthday ... it stinks she has to be stuck in a car all day for that. Hopefully, I can make it up to her soon. She wouldn't have it any other way though. The funeral is tomorrow and we'll drive back on Wednesday. Amber and I will work on Thursday and Friday and then fly out to Baltimore Friday night for my cousin's wedding Saturday. We fly back Sunday afternoon and back to work on Monday.


It's even a bigger rollercoaster for my cousin getting married and his family as he, his mom (my aunt), and his sister drove out yesterday (I think) to Chicago and then driving back Tuesday night to get back for the wedding. His dad has been going through chemo for cancer. God's hand has been on him and he's doing relatively well but PLEASE pray for my Uncle Dave for complete healing from his cancer.

Also, please pray for safety of everyone traveling, for peace for my family, and for my cousin's wedding. Thank you.

I know that my grandpa is complete and whole now. I also know that my grandpa is happy to see his bride :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

State Certified

Another thing got crossed off the list today ... I got the 'joy' of going to downtown Nashville over lunch to get our Power of Attorney document state certified. Parking is always an adventure in Nashville ... I found a parking garage, pulled in, and immediately had the security guard inform me that it was a private garage. There were boatloads of open spaces and made me wonder who were the private people?? Nevertheless, traveled down the road a bit and found a $6/hour spot. Honestly, that isn't bad since I had many opportunities when I lived in Chicago-land to experience $15 short-term parking. I went to the 6th floor of the Snodgrass Tower, gave them our document, traveled to the 7th floor to pay my $2 charge, and came back down to pick up my document.

I had an interesting conversation with the 23 year old girl who I picked up my document from. She asked if the document was for an adoption so I got to share our story. She told me that she had legal responsibility of her 16 year old sister ... amazing story. It made me stand back and realize how much this 23 year old (who looked 16 herself) had on her plate. She told her sister to stay home from school today as there was a threat at her school of a riot. There was a gang shooting at her school in the past week and today was a potential retaliation ... thankfully, I don't think anything happened but man, what in the world is going on!?!

Other updates ... Amber had her individual interview on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we have to wait until Monday, October 6th for our home visit. I think everything else for our home study is in.

We were hoping to get our I-600A mailed in this week and we didn't get it in. We have it ready except for copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate ... we will do those on Monday and get it mailed Monday/Tuesday.

Only a couple other things we know about ... we have to get the photocopies of our passport photo pages notarized ... we honestly just forgot about those. We also have taken pictures of ourselves and our house ... just have to get them developed.

Have a good weekend ... I think Amber and I are going to do some hiking tomorrow ... it'll be good to hang out together out in God's creation ... have a good weekend!

Monday, September 22, 2008


OK, not really ... but it really feels like it. We finished our class on Saturday and we also finished up our online class last night. So all our parenting 'homework' is done. I can't tell you how happy I am for that. Not that I didn't learn a ton through our 160 page workbook, 2 all day Saturday classes, and 12 online parenting lessons, but I honestly have to say I'm ready for the next steps.

I had my individual interview with our home study agency today. Our social worker is great and she made the whole process relatively painless. She had asked me last week if an intern could sit in on our interview for learning purposes so it was the 3 of us in the interview. Nothing really surprised me ... questions about parenting, our marriage, my health (I had scoliosis surgery 13 years ago), etc, etc. I think probably the hardest question was to sum up Amber in 5 words ... she doesn't even know these 5 words but they were...gentle, loving, stubborn, loves Jesus. I think she would agree with all those....and she has her interview tomorrow so she can get me back. We will then schedule our home visit. Amber will also be taking the I600A form with her tomorrow to ensure everything is filled out correctly so we can get that mailed out this week.

I put our social worker on the spot today to ask her about the timeline of getting the home study done. She said that once the home visit is done and we get the child abuse background check back from the state, they say 30 days to get a draft home study complete. She said she hopes it should not take that long. That draft will get sent to us, to her supervisor, and to AGCI. Hopefully, the turn around for edits is days and then days to get the final one complete. She said that worst would be November .... we're praying that it is sometime in October.

We also got the rest of the documents for our dossier notarized. We have to still get our Power of Attorney county certified and state certified. I'm hoping to get it county certified tomorrow and then get down to Nashville one day this week to get it state certified.

We definitely feel like we are getting close to where we are not in control anymore. Our social worker informed me today to realize that we won't have control much longer and that we need to be prepared for 'feelings' to arise while we aren't in control. These feelings center around us (er, Amber) not being pregnant and having our own child. Amber and I have talked openly over the past couple months about this and we both have an incredible amount of peace about this journey. This is a God opportunity and that is the only way we can explain our feelings. It is something we will definitely be open in discussion about but I know God is preparing us for something bigger and outside of our little imaginations...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AGCI Conference Call and African Street Festival

We had our biweekly call with Julie today. She said we are doing good and making great progress. Our hope is to have almost everything done prior to our next call in 2 weeks. Open items on our list to get done are...

  • Home study with Miriam's Promise. I was supposed to have my individual interview today; however, our social worker called yesterday and she had a terrible case of laryngitis. So, it got rescheduled to next Monday and Amber's is next Tuesday. With our parenting classes finished this weekend, only possible open item we know of is the home visit. Sweet.
  • Online parenting class - we have completed 5 of 12 lessons and should have these complete in the next week.
  • Power of Attorney form. We have to get this guy notarized, county certified, and state certified. This needs to be high on our list to get done soon.
  • Statement of Reason to Adopt
  • Photographs of our house and ourselves
  • Financial Statement (this will be the 3rd financial statement that we've filled out and, of course, each one has been different)
  • Two references for Dossier - we've contacted our references and they graciously accepted. We're so grateful to Susan/Andy and Amy/Paul ... thank you for all your help!
  • Obligation of Post Placement Report form

Also, we did not know how the timing of getting on the referral list worked. We were VERY happy tonight in what Julie told us AGCI does. They don't want for the I171H form (the form from Immigration) to be received before putting us on the list. Being that Memphis is S-L-O-W in getting those out, we were very pleased to find this out. So, once we get everything above done, our social worker completes the home study, and our dossier is approved by AGCI, we will officially be on the list! How GREAT is that!?!? THANK YOU LORD JESUS ... THAT IS AWESOME NEWS!

Also, if you live near/around Nashville, there is an African Street Festival going on this weekend at Tennessee State University. Amber and I are going to try to go to the Block Party on Friday ... it'd be great to meet up ... let us know if you're going!

Here's a link about the Festival.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Parenting 101

We had our first of two parenting class today ... and it actually went by fairly quickly for a 6 hour day. There was some overlap from some other studies we've had to do, but it was really good to be in a room with 5 other couples all going about the same thing. One couple was adopting from China (they have one daughter from China and adopting another one ... prolly 3+ year wait), one Russia (having major issues/delays due to government), one undecided, one leaning towards Russia, and one other from Ethiopia ... the Seays. We had actually seen their blog before but it is really cool to see how God has grown their family. Amy informed us that there was a Ethiopian Adoption Support Group that meets about 30 miles away from us so that was awesome to hear about that. It was also interesting to hear the family adopting from China say that they are still friends with people from their first adoptions's homestudy and travel groups. We will finish this classroom time next Saturday. However, all this adoption talk made Amber say her patented phrase: "I want our baby now!" :)

Amber and I were just talking this past week how blessed we feel about our adoption process so far. A ton of work but we've had no major barriers so far ... we know there is a long way to go and anything can happen but we feel we're seeing miracles in our daily prayers for our adoption, the process, our child, and his/her birth family and their salvation. Please continue to pray for all that ... we are so grateful for the prayers of God's people.

I got my passport in the mail today! That was quick ... I mailed it out on August 29th ... impressive.

We also had a non-adoption milestone occur last night as well ... Amber's Toyota Camry rolled over the 200,000 mile mark. I love that car and use it as my daily driver for my 75 mile roundtrip to work. I feel very comfortable in that car and would drive it anywhere. It's going to be hard to convince me to buy anything else when that one is ready to retire. We're hoping that time is not soon as we need to get through our adoption and settled into our new budget with Amber going part time.

More gas price gouging ranting ... I saw it for $4.59/gallon today! That is a full $1 over what it was prior to Ike ... and there is no way the price made it from the refineries to the pump that quick ... especially when down the road it is $3.79. And this makes it even more unbelievable...

"Ike landed near the nation's biggest complex of refineries and petrochemical plants, and already, prices were reacting. Gas prices nationwide rose nearly 6 cents a gallon to $3.733, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express."

It's unfortunate but I have to keep mental notes of the gouging places and never get gas from them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food & Frustration

Amber and I went to Raz'z restaurant in a neighboring town, Smyrna, tonight. The restaurant is owned and ran by Raz ... a Nigerian born immigrant. The food was great and Raz came out and walked the restaurant and talked to each table which we thought was cool. Well, Africa of course came up and we informed him that we were adopting from Ethiopia. He was excited and said "We all have the same flesh; we are all human beings." Amen! We are also all God's children no matter what color, nationality, social status, eye color, hair color, shoe size, nose length, or waist size. He loves us in a way that we'll never understand until we see Him face to face.

Coming home, we noticed gas prices have jumped 50+ cents per gallon today due to IKE. Man, that burns me up. It's not like there was time for the companies to feel the effect from the refineries being shut down today. I can't stand price gouging ... not necessarily because of the increase price but because it is taking advantage of someone. Big pet peeve. I just saw on the news that a TN county had gas at $5.29 ... that is just wrong since gas was in the mid $3.50's...

Please pray for those along the Texas coastline.

Time to get to bed so we can get up early for our parenting class tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Joint Interview

On Monday, Amber and I trekked to downtown Nashville to Miriam's Promise for our joint interview. Since this was our first set of interviews, there were alot of unknowns on how it was going to go. Our social worker is great ... she was very easy to talk to and there were no 'weird' moments. I think the hardest part of the meeting was talking about our conflicts when it comes to finances. We really do a MUCH better job now than we used to do in regards to this. I think we do a good job now at communicating on things that may become issues. And I think I have gotten better at not assuming too much when it comes to what Amber thinks or knows about a financial situation. Since I'm a "spreadsheet" guy, I used to assume she knew exactly what/where/how/etc we were but know that's not the way it really works now ... it's amazing what a little communication can do.

In any event, that interview is over with. We found out from our social worker that most our references are in so that's good. THANK YOU REFERENCES! All other paperwork is in as well. I have my individual interview next Tuesday, the 16th, and Amber has hers the following Tuesday. At that time, we should be able to send in our 600-A form to request our FBI fingerprints. We've been told by our social worker that Memphis is S-L-O-W in processing docs so we want to try to get them in as soon as possible. Once Amber has her interview, we can get the home visit interview scheduled.

This Saturday is our first classroom parenting class ... it will be from 9am - 3pm. It will continue next Saturday and then we'll be able to check that off the list.

We tried to start our online parenting class tonight. We paid the $100 fee but didn't realize they had to "process" the payment before getting us our username/password. So, that'll have to wait until at least tomorrow night. Our goal is to have that class done before our home visit.

Our goal is to have the home study done in the beginning of October. It all then comes down to how quick Memphis gets us our form ... praying it's quick! Can't wait to get on the list!

About 2-3 times a week now, I hear my bride say "I want our baby now!" ... couldn't agree with her more ... except I gotta get some home projects done prior to that day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Our 160 page workbook is complete! We finished it in the car coming home from a picnic from Amber's work. That's a huge thing to cross off the list. Next big thing is the online parenting class that we'll probably start next week.

I think we have all the paperwork turned in for our home study. We have our joint interview on Monday and will schedule our individual interviews then as well. We also have our classroom parenting classes the next 2 Saturdays.

Our goal is to have everything in our control done by the end of the month. That may linger into October with our in-home visit and completing our home study.

All-in-all, moving along well. It was interesting to look at the ticker at the top of the page and realize it's been over 2 months we've been in this ... in so many ways, it feels so much longer ... but it's also like yesterday when I was walking out of church and told Amber I was on board with Ethiopia. No matter how long it's been, God has been faithful throughout.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Project Ryan

Amber and I feel like our adoption is a journey God has set before us and we're thrilled about it (maybe not thrilled about all the process, but grateful for it as we know our child is being protected). In any event, we have felt God also leading us down another path ... and the purpose of this post is to ask for your help in that endeavor. There is an amazing 2.5 year old boy in the neighboring town of Smyrna that has Muscular Dystrophy. Long story short, he is getting a power wheelchair (which is a miracle in itself ... a gently-used wheelchair was just donated to his family which would cost $20,000-$25,000 new). This is absolutely amazing as it will give him independence that we often take for granted. More information about Ryan can be found at

The family still needs a van that will allow him to be transported in the wheelchair. So, "Project Ryan" has been birthed. It is our goal to get his family a wheelchair-accessible van so that Ryan can easily go to doctor appointments, school, etc. I am asking you to think and pray about your involvement in this initiative. If you feel so led, we have a handful of "committees" formed in which one can help...

1) Prayer Team - praying for the project and health/healing of Ryan

2) Donations/Financing - helping collect donations for the wheelchair.

3) Fundraising - we currently have our large fundraiser scheduled on Sunday, October 12th at the Smyrna Bowling Center. If anyone has good ideas for the silent auction that we'll have at the fundraiser, let me know. Or if you have connections for autographed items, that'd be great as well. I think we're going to set a very fair minimum price on items and ebay them if they don't sell. That way, if we don't sell a ton of tickets to get alot of people there, we don't lose out on the silent auction.

4) Van Search - we want to find the best deal on a wheelchair even if it's not local to us

5) Party Planning - We will be having a celebration party to give the family the van. We need help organizing the party and having items donated for it.

I know if you're not local, some of those aren't feasible. All donations are tax deductible with checks made out to "Smyrna Church of Christ". It's awesome that denomination walls have been knocked down and that we're able to partner with the Smyrna Church of Christ. Please note that the tickets for the bowling fundraiser are not tax deductible and if someone makes a check out for tickets, they need to be made out to "Smyrna Bowling Center".

I am so excited about this God opportunity and hope that you will join us in it! I can't imagine what God will reveal through this project. He has already taught me a ton through this and has opened my eyes for some future opportunities He has for me. I know many of you don't live local here so helping with the fundraising/party planning isn't really an option but I hope you still think about helping out. Please email me or comment if you have any questions or if you'd like to partner with us!

NOTE: Let me say it took alot for me to post this. I usually don't ask for things like this but I know this thing is bigger than all of us. I know God is trying to teach/show me how to trust/rely on other people. It still doesn't make it easy.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Slowly But Surely

We're making progress. Sometimes it's not as fast as you want but I know I have to keep the eye on the master list and we're able to keep ticking things off that list. This past week consisted of...

  • Amber and I got our work verification signed/notarized for the dossier
  • I went to the Rutherford County Sheriff's office on Friday and they gave me their standard background check form notarized for the dossier (already was there once to get Miriam's Promise form filled out). It's not the same suggested form that AGCI gave us so I have an email into our case manager to confirm this one will work.
  • I turned in my passport request so hopefully I'll get that in about 4 weeks.
  • I had my doctor's appointment for our home study on Friday. I went to a Physcian Walk-in Clinic close to our house and the doc was great. So great that he didn't charge me for my physical (just my labs he has no control over) because he thought what we were doing was great ... how cool is that!? I may have found a new doc. Amber has her doc appt this coming Wed. Hopefully we'll have her labs back to take with us on Monday the 8th to our joint interview with Miriam's Promise. Once we get our medical forms in to them, we can then schedule our individual interviews.
  • We registered to get our fingerprints done for our home study. The place wasn't open Friday so I couldn't go then. They are only open from 7am - 3:30pm so we gotta work our schedules to get there this coming week.
  • We both found our birth certificates and marriage certificates filed away.
  • We're about 1/2 way through the Eyes Wide Open workbook. Amber went to Indiana this weekend for her cousin's wedding shower so I have a feeling we'll be spending Labor Day laboring over this workbook. Once we get this book done, we're going to migrate to the online parenting class. It'd be great to have this done prior to our classroom parenting classes are finished on September 20th.
  • The references for our home study were mailed out and I think everyone has received them. We probably should have bribed our references to get them done quicker :) Just kidding ... everyone who is filling out these forms are very responsible and know the importance of them ... we even have one set of friends that are adopting from Ethiopia from another agency (they're on the referral list awaiting their child).

Our next call with AGCI is this Tuesday. I think we're on track for everything so hopefully Julie sees it that way as well :)

Have a great Labor Day!

Friday, August 22, 2008

AGCI Conference Call

We had our first conference call with our Case Manager Julie last night. I think it went real well. She said she was very happy for our progress with our home study documentation. I have to admit, the Adoption Planner is a little intimidating but Julie did a great job explaining everything and telling us what to focus on for the next 2 weeks which include...

Home Study - we've turned in 95+% of our documentation but need to finish getting our final documents (medical forms, tax return) to Miriam's Promise. Our social worker there has been great. What is amazing to me is that Amber called our doctor today to see when we could get in for the physicals, etc. They told her that if we wanted to see the doctor, it would be FEBRUARY! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? Apparently it takes 6 months to see our doc. The nurse practioner is the end of September which is still unacceptable to us. Hopefully we just go to a walk-in clinic to have all this paperwork completed vs. having to go to our primary care physician.

We have to get our joint interview scheduled. Our social worker said we could go ahead and do this interview and do the individual ones next since we don't have our medical forms turned in yet.

We also gotta get FBI fingerprints for the home study per AGCI so we're asking Miriam's about that as well and can hopefully get that scheduled in the next week or so...

And then there's the education. Alot of education. We have an online parenting class we have to take together for AGCI ... something like 11 lessons. We also have the Eyes Wide Open big ol' workbook to do. And then we have our parenting classes for Miriam's on Saturday Sept. 13 and 20th. I have realized I have to get the work on the rental house done very soon so Amber and I can bust through this homework. I know it'll be very beneficial for us ... just seems like alot. I can already see alot of homework 'dates' in our future at Panera Bread, coffee houses, etc.

Documents to Order - we gotta order our birth certificates and marriage certificates along with me having to get my passport.

Also, be praying for Amber ... some of you know she's been having back issues for a while ... we're pretty sure it's a bulging disc and though she has done most conservative treatments (therapy, etc, etc) ... being that she's a pediatric physical therapist, she is constantly in bad positions to allow it not to heal. So ... through alot of discussion and prayer, we have decided it is the right time for her to go part time. She will be working 3 days a week starting the first week of October which will hopefully allow her to heal up before God gives us our child (well, really as my aunt told me, it's HIS child that He's loning us for a while). She was going to go part time when we get our child anyways so it's just a few months early. This will also allow her to do whatever paperchasing for us on her days off which is good. It's just trusting God through this ... that He'll heal her and He'll keep the finances in check. I know all that in my head ... it's just letting it always dwell in my heart I sometimes have issues with.

Have a great weekend! If anyone is around Murfreesboro this weekend, we're having a painting party all weekend at the rental house ... you're more than welcomed to join! :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

My wife has BABY FEVER!

My friend/business partner and I have been busting it at the rental house. We worked Friday night until about 11pm laying tile. Sidenote, but I have much respect for guys/gals that lay tile fulltime. I'm a wuss ... I'm so sore. Anyways, when I got home, Amber was still up. She proceeded to tell me what she did all night. She told me she made a list of boy's and girl's names. She was also online searching at baby furniture and was also blog-jumping throughout the night and had to quit because she was getting emotional reading about and watching new videos of families meeting their children, etc. Can you say baby fever!?! It's so awesome and cute to see how excited she is though.

With all the work on the rental house, I haven't been home much at all to hang out with Amber over the past couple weeks. I told her I was taking Saturday off to hang out and do whatever she wanted to do. We went to a birthday party of one of her patients (she's a pediatric physical therapist). I asked her what else she wanted to do ... "go look at furniture." Heh, so we went to a few local stores to start getting an idea for cribs, etc. We're trying to decide between cheaper crib vs. more expensive that is more like "real" furniture and could last longer into the full bed, etc. I think we have enough time to figure it all out though...

BIG NEWS TONIGHT! While I was out mowing and Amber was on a walk, we got a message from our new AGCI Case Manager! What is so cool is that she is the Case Manager we met at the AGCI Picnic. She followed the voicemail up with an email and said that we should be receiving our Adoption Planner soon. How cool!

I also dropped what I thought was all the paperwork (except for medical exams) off to Miriam's Promise today. However, our social worker informed me that I forgot one thing so I have to run it up there tomorrow. She said she would review all the paperwork and once all is confirmed, she would be in contact to setting up our interviews.

All in all, a real good day today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Contracts Received

Although I'm dragging tail and feel like an old man from laying tile at the rental house the last couple nights until midnight, this just came through in email...

Troy & Amber,

I wanted to let you know we have received your contracts for the Ethiopia program and will process them within the next (3) three business days. Your dossier packet and your copies of the contracts will then be mailed out to you. Your program case manager, will be in touch with you once your contracts have been processed, to officially welcome you as an adoptive family through our Ethiopia program.

Gotta love God's little pick-me-ups when you need them. I'm done feeling sorry for myself ... at least for now :)

I also talked to our home study and we're getting everything prepped to turn in our paperwork on Monday the 18th. We did have plans to do it tomorrow or Friday but Miriam's Promise is taking tomorrow and Friday for an all-staff retreat and training. I thought that was pretty cool ... more companies should do that but unfortunately, they just see the short-term dollar signs and not the long-term potential.

Once our homestudy paperwork is in and processed, we'll be setting up our interviews. We're going to schedule our joint interview first since we're waiting for the medical exams until the dossier paperwork comes through (hopefully next week!). Our social worker recommended that we do it this way so we can continue moving forward but ensure we get all documents to the doctor in one trip. Our social worker is so nice and helpful. Good things all around. OK, hard to feel sorry for myself when I step back and look at all the blessings God is throwing at me. God is GOOD!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Another Milestone Complete!

We just got into my hometown .... a couple hours south of Chicago ... to visit my parents, sister, and nephews ... among other family. My sister and nephews flew in from Texas ... her husband didn't come with her due to his work schedule. Tomorrow, we're going to be visiting my grandfather who is in the hospital. He's not doing very good ... he recently had a feeding tube inserted and may have to have his toe amputated due to poor circulation. He just turned 92 on Tuesday My grandmother/his wife of of 65+ years passed away on New Years Day 2007 and I know he misses her and I'm sure he's ready to see her in heaven. Nevertheless, it'll be good to see him. My great aunt Ann will be going with us (she's 90) to see Grandpa ... when I told her we were adopting a few weeks ago, she was SO cute and SO excited for us (she has a great-granddaughter who was adopted from China). Sunday will then consist of church and a family get-together. Monday morning we'll be heading back home. It'll be a short trip but it will be a good trip.

Before we left town this afternoon, Amber and I were able to make a pitstop. We were able to get our AGCI contracts, paperwork, and payment mailed in today! It was an exciting day ... it was, I guess, the 2nd big milestone ... first with our application being accepted and now the contracts. Hopefully, AGCI can process quickly and get our dossier set out soon. I still haven't finished my autobiography ... I'm close ... hopefully will have time this weekend to wrap it up.

We got signed up for our home study parenting class today that will be Sept. 13th and Sept 20th. I'm glad it's over 2 Saturdays rather than another option we heard of it being over 5 weeks. We have to take this 10 hour class and then another 10 hour class for AGCI as well.

It's been a long day ... time for bed. A couple pics highlighting our day are below...

All the paperwork that was signed and sent in today

My lovely bride making the copies of the 31 pages of contracts/paperwork

About ready to turn over the packet to be sent onto Portland ... giddy-up USPS!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


My mother-in-law sent this to me yesterday and I had to share...


I have come to so appreciate different forms of worship. It's unreal the little box I lived in before thinking that singing was the only form of worship to our Lord. We can show that praise and worship in so many ways (drama, dance, etc) and so many people have been given the gift from Him and are using those talents ... very cool.

If you have any of those gifts, please don't keep them from worship of our Jesus.

Why I'm at it ... here's a favorite of mine ... it's a worship drama using the song 'Everything' from Lifehouse ... I really liked this song but it has so much more meaning for me now...

Lifehouse Video

I love that we have a Savior that has conquered everything that we may live in Him. Remember today all that He has done for you ... have a blessed day!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Orientation Call

I meant to write about our orientation call last night; however, I own a rental house with a friend and the tenant just informed us on Friday that she was moving out (aka, breaking the lease with rent due) and she was out Saturday night. Nevertheless, last night consisted of us unloading the house (she left alot of things that need hauled to the dump), pulling up carpet/pad, busting up tile, etc, etc. We are blessed though ... I have a friend who is in between jobs that is willing to help us out ... he is actually over at the house now in 95+ degree heat making trips to the dump to get rid of all the trash. THANKS JASON!

In any event, we had our orientation call with AGCI yesterday. Our current contact at AGCI is great ... she was very informative, sweet, nice, and considerate.

We went through the orientation packet, got our questions answered, understood the process a little more, and figured out what our next steps are ... all in about 30 minutes or so. At this point, it's really just signing/notarizing AGCI paperwork and the contract for Ethiopia and sending it in along with the big ol' check. We thought we knew what the amount was...and we were close ... it's just different when someone else states it ... I guess it becomes reality at that point. In any event, we're hoping to get everything mailed off before we leave this weekend to Illiniois to visit my parents, my sister/nephews who will be visiting from Texas, and other family.

The autobiography is getting close to being done ... I've actually started the story of how I met Amber ... long, drawn-out story but pretty cool how God works through it all (even though I didn't realize that at the time). I think I'm ahead of Amber though and isn't that all that really matters?? :) Hopefully, between working on the rental house in the evenings, I will be able to get it finished before going to Illinois.

Once the senior thesis is done, we need to contact Miriam's Promise to see if we can officially start the home study or if we need to wait for the doctor paperwork to be filled out. We're waiting on going to the doc until we get our dossier so we can get the doc to fill out both the home study and dossier forms at the same time. If anyone has thoughts on waiting or not for the doc, let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Updates and Updates

As Tracie said on Julie's blog last night, Margot made it out of surgery successfully and they are now in the waiting game for the pathology reports to come back early next week. I know the next few days will be difficult waiting but I know they choose to believe! Margot is still in the hospital ... she is nauseated and can't keep food down. Please pray that God will calm her stomach and that she will be able to keep food down. We praise GOD for the miracles so far and are praying that NO cancer is left in her body and that the reports next week will confirm that.

We also had good updates on adoption scene today. I got my insurance policy today stating that adopted children do not have pre-existing conditions as far as insurance is concerned. This is a standard for adoption and I have heard that is fairly standard for insurance companies but I had a little worry since I work for a small company and did not know what the policy was.

AGCI emailed today asking if we received our orientation packet yet as they were wanting to schedule a conference call next week to go over it. Unfortunately, I had to reply that we had not received it yet and were hoping for it today or tomorrow. That way, Amber and I could review it over the weekend for the call next week. We've tried to stay patient on this item as we know it takes 5+ days to get a package UPS ground from Oregon to Tennessee. Amber and I went for a walk in the park after I replied to them and came back home to find the packet waiting for us! Apparently, the UPS man was working late tonight! SWEET!

So, we have our conference call scheduled for this Monday, August 4th. We will then need to get all the paperwork signed and notarized. Send that in with the (gulp) initial large payment and we are fully on our way. Once AGCI receives that, they will mail out their home study specifics to Miriam's Promise (our home study agency) and we can officially get that moving along. Based upon how the call goes Monday, we may be able to start the official home study process sooner (well, once we get the autobiographies done and ensure we have all the "t's" crossed and "i's" dotted on all the other paperwork).

Speaking of which, I have not written one line of my autobiography yet .... sigh. Amber has a little over a page done. I am just going to have to sit down and crank it out this weekend. I have no excuse.

As the court system shuts down in Ethiopia for the rainy season, please pray for the families that are still waiting for the travel call. They are going to have to wait a few more months to bring their child home. I can't imagine how disappointing it would be to know your child is ready and the process just wasn't quick enough to complete the adoption. I'm sure that my Christianity wouldn't shine if I was in that predicament and there are some outstanding families out there. Pray for peace to reside in these families' homes and for God to reveal His perfect timing through these frustrating times.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wednesday = Surgery Day

Margot's surgery is tomorrow Wednesday at 12:30pm EST. As God leads you, please lift her up in prayer. Ask the Lord to give her His peace that passes all understanding, that He would guide the surgeon's hands, that the surgery would be flawless, and that she'll be cancer FREE!

Lord, we know that you are in control, that you never slumber or sleep. We know that You strengthen us and keep us safe. Lord, I pray for Margot's surgery tomorrow ... Lord, that you would put an angelic host around her body to protect her ... that you would remove any and all cancer from her body as you work through the surgeon's hands. Lord, I pray that you remove anything bound up in Margot's body. Satan, you have NO power over her ... it is in the risen name of JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH that we can declare victory over you Satan!! Lord, I thank you for your ultimate sacrifice. Lord, I thank you for your work through Margot. Lord, I pray that you heal her body, mind, soul, and spirit. We thank you for your love and compassion and healing. We give you all the praise, glory and honor. Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Case of the Mondays

Man, besides being tired this morning, I thought it was just going to be a regular ol' Monday. It was until I got home from work...

I needed to mow so I got going on that and after 45 minutes or so, something wasn't right. I thought it was just wet grass, etc catching under the deck. So, I pull it into the garage, clean out under the deck, and back out of the garage. BAM! I backed my tractor right into my Durango in the driveway ... man, things like that burn me up. It was mostly paint transfer onto the bumper but that stuff still gets me hot. Nevertheless, I get out to the yard and throw on the mower deck and POP! ... the belt broke. Just great. No more mowing. I called my local Sears and, of course, they don't have the belt. A Sears parts outlet in Nashville does has one so I'll have to pick it up tomorrow over lunch and try to get it on after work and finish mowing.

Frustrated, I come in to eat and cool down. Going through the mail, I see something from "Knoxville Photo Enforcement." Wonder what that is?? I open it up and it's a VIOLATION for apparently turning left on a red while we were in Knoxville for the AGCI Picnic. They got still pics and apparently video on some website. As the pictures show, I'm busted but don't remember running it. I think it had to happen on my Tour de Knoxville due to construction near the park. Fun times.

I know none of these things really matter at the end of the day, it's just little things that can get under your skin. I'm hoping tomorrow is better...I think God is just giving me a glimpse of what it would look like if I were in charge. I gotta be diligent in giving Him everything and not only things I feel like I can't do on my own. He's either Lord of my whole life or not Lord at all.

On the adoption front, Amber and I have our home study essay questions completed as of this past Thursday night. Our goal is to finish our autobiographies by this weekend. I think that will be everything we need for the written part of our home study. And our AGCI orientation packet should be on a UPS truck somewhere in the Midwest. Hopefully we get that mid week so we can read through it and possibly do our conference call with them on Friday. Then get the contract signed, sealed, and delivered so we can "officially" start our home study. Giddy-up!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Just got this email...

Troy & Amber,

Good Morning and Congratulations! I wanted to let you know that I did receive the fax today and after review with our director I am happy to welcome you to our agency as an applicant to our Ethiopia program!

Your next step is for me to mail out your Orientation Packet via USP ground mail, tomorrow, which you should be receiving soon. It will enclose the contract agreements for our Ethiopia program and your next steps as you move forward.



Now we gotta get finished up on our home study essay questions and autobiography. Amber's in the lead ... she has 10 questions left while I have 16 ... however, I think I win because I had to do the financial statement :)

Also, please remember and join in on the fasting and praying tomorrow (Friday) for complete healing for Margot and Abby .

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God's healing hand...

Please read this post from Julie and this post from Tracie regarding Julie's mom's cancer diagnosis. As we had a Bible Study retreat today, we prayed for Margot. I wasn't going to blog about it, 'cause, well, I don't know ... I wasn't for whatever reason ... God quickly convicted me tonight as I read over Tracie's blog ... are we not called as the BODY of Christ to pray, support, and encourage each other?

James 5:16 says...

...pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

It's amazing the people God puts into our lives. God introduced us to Julie through Carey when we decided to adopt from Ethiopia as Julie and her husband had recently went through the process. She has been a blessing to me and Amber as we have started our journey and we cherish her friendship.

We know that our Lord is the ultimate physician. We know that Jesus bore all our sickness and disease on the cross that we may live in victory. We know that we live in a fallen world but that victory comes in faith in Him.

In Mark 6, the Bible talks about a woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. I'm not a fan of bleeding for 12 minutes, let alone 12 years ... I can't fathom that. However, even after 12 years, her faith was such that if she thought if she could just touch Jesus' clothes, she'd be healed. She did just that and her bleeding stopped immediately. Jesus told her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

This notion of being healed by faith is evident throughout all the Gospels. So, first and foremost, we have to believe that God is still in the business of healing and CAN and WILL heal Margot. Hebrews 13: 8 says that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." So the way that I read my Bible is that Jesus is still in the healing business.

We also have to believe that God is in work in Margot's life. In John 9, Jesus and his disciples come up to a man blind since birth. His disciples asked Jesus who had sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus response always intrigues me ... he says "Neither this man nor his parents sinned but this happened that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

So we also have to believe that God is in work with His people today as He was 2000 years ago. The Bible really is the story of God's interaction with His creation. We see that from the beginning of the story of Adam and Eve to Abraham and onward throughout the whole book. So why would God not want to interact with his creation in 2008?

We are believing in complete healing for Margot's body through the blood of Jesus Christ. We believe that the cancer has not spread and that our Lord will be glorified through this.

I will be fasting and praying on Monday for Margot ... I ask any of you to please join me with this. Fasting is abstaining from something (many times food) for spiritual purposes. Any time that you are hungry, you realize your dependence on God. It reminds us the purpose of our fasting and for us to pray for Margot at that time. I have seen God honor this commitment and sacrifice in the past and I believe He will honor it again.

Please pray for Margot and join with me fasting and praying on Monday.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Blessings to Week End

Whew, the last 24+ hours have been exhausting ... so happy it's Friday night. After getting home from work last night, I had the joy of working on my mower for 4 hours ... the mower deck broke on Monday and the parts came in yesterday. I had to get it mowed soon or I was worried that my neighbor would be sending over his goats to help me out.

Once the mower was fixed, a late dinner, I organized some paperwork for the home study and realized I needed to find my social security card. My card is in a manilla envelope with other personal items. The hunt was on ... and continued on well past midnight. I tore the house apart and there was no sign of it. Come this morning, I searched for it again after morning prayer group. No luck. For some reason, I thought if I search my filing cabinet the 8th time, it would be in there.

I finally swallowed my pride and went to the Social Security office and ordered a replacement that should be here in a couple weeks. I was in and out of there in 20 minutes ... huge blessing!Also, another blessing appeared when I called a banker I have a property loan with and she had a copy of my social security card from my loan. She was sweet and scanned it and emailed it to me so at least I have a copy for the home study (thanks Heather!).

Now being that I priority-mailed the money for the form needed in Illinios on Monday, they should have received it Wednesday, at the latest yesterday. So I called them today to see the status and how long it should be for them to mail it out ... hoping they would tell me they already had.. The lady on the phone was nice enough and told me it was ready to send but they hadn't received the check yet ... ummm, hmmm ... I have a feeling it's on someone's desk but nonetheless, they won't send the form out until they "receive" it. She did say if they didn't "get it" in the next day, they would have to "track it down." I couldn't figure out why they couldn't track it down today ... but here's to more patience, I guess.

We then went to the Rutherford County Sherriff's Office to get our local police clearance for the home study. The front-desk deputy was way nice and didn't even charge us for the clearance (we were told it was going to be $5/person). She even asked if we wanted it notarized and she tracked down their notary there. The form didn't say it had to be but with knowing what we know, it's better to be safe than sorry. We were in and out of there in 10 minutes. Another blessing.

I mowed and then we ended the night with a good dinner sitting outdoors at Mellow Mushroom. We definitely recommend their humus dip appetizer and calzones. Make sure to order a to-go box because the calzones are huge!

Alright, I better quit procrastinating and get on the Home Study some more ... I gotta try to finish the financial statement this weekend. The good thing is that by the end of this weekend, Amber and I should only have 4 dozen or so essay questions and the autobiography left ... most of this round of paperchasing will be done and it's just us busting through the personal questions and writings.. The goal is to finish those out in the next couple of weeks. That timeline should fit well with the hopeful approval of AGCI. Keep praying for AGCI approval! Thanks!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home Study 101

Yesterday, Amber and I had the chance to go to the office of the Home Study Agency we have chosen. Even though we have not been approved by AGCI yet (more details later on that), we did not want to sit around doing nothing. The Home Study Agency was cool to let us come in for an hour meeting to discuss the packet and to understand the process. Our social worker was so nice, friendly, and informative. She answered all questions we had and we felt good (but overwhelmed) when we left the office.

Overwhelmed. I see why some people say they would give their pinky finger over having to do all the paperwork. From a complete financial statement to dozens of essay questions ranging from marriage to transracial adoption to police clearances to autobiographies to etc etc etc, the packet is intimidating. However, we know this is a necessity of the journey and we're ready to knock it out. I spent a couple hours making a small dent in it last night. We spent this morning praying over it. Everyone can rest assured that Amber and I won't have a social live in the evenings as we'll be head down writing and documenting our life, beliefs, and opinions. If you don't see any updates here, you can at least know why.

So, our application ... it was sent to AGCI 2 weeks ago tomorrow. We knew they needed one document for me from Illinois before they would review our application. I called them Thursday, July 3rd, and they faxed me a 'information release' form. I filled it out and asked them to fax the document to me and/or AGCI. The form said they had 7 days to respond to my request. Of course, you know they waited the full 7 days to contact us. They call to inform us that they can't fax it but they can mail it since we're out of state. However, they need $5.50 to do that. :( So on Monday, I priority-mailed a check for $5.50 to them that hopefully is getting there today (cost me almost that amount to for postage). Unfortunately, I don't know how quick they will turn around and get my document mailed out to me. I'm praying by the end of the week so it'll be here sometime next week. I will then fax it to AGCI and they can review our application...

I know that this speed bump is small in comparison to alot of things that will happen. It doesn't lessen the frustration of something taking 3+ weeks to get a single document.

I knew that by praying for patience God would give me plenty of opportunities to practice. He reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love never fails.

And since I'm a Christian, which by definition is a Christ-follower ... which means that day by day, bit by bit, I'm striving to be transformed more into the image of Christ. And God is love which means He's all those definitions above. Which means I have to be that. Patient. Kind. Not easily angered.

Yeah, I know, I got alot of work to do. But at the end of the day, it's through Christ that I know I will eventually succeed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

2008 AGCI Picnic

Wow, what a great 24 hours we've had ... I'll try to sum it all up but know I won't get it all...

Because of my "logical" mind, it usually makes sense for us to rent a car when we go out of town. Amber's Camry has 195k on it (still runs like a champ and I don't have a fear of driving it anywhere ... however, trying to conserve miles on it when we can) and my Durango has 125k and is too big of a gas hog to drive out of town. So, Enterprise has a $20/day if you rent a car from Friday to Monday ... so we did just that. They ended up giving us a Kia Spectra which actually was really good on gas and got us there and back so can't complain at all about it.

We got to Jarrod (Amber's cousin) and Patricia's about 8pm and was able to hang out with Patricia and their 2 kids for a while (thanks Patricia for letting Jocelyn and Wyatt stay up late!). Unfortunately, Jarrod is working nights right now so we did not get a chance to see him. Amber and Patricia also made a dessert for us to take to the picnic while I had the important job of playing (I mean babysitting) the kiddos.

This morning consisted of blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes, a good-bye to Patricia, Jocelyn, and Wyatt, a trip to Kroger and Subway to pick up some essential items for the picnic and onward to the park. About 1 mile from the park, we get the lovely, 'Road Closed - Detour' sign in front of us. Due to my over-anticipation, what felt like an hour later and a scenic drive around Knoxville, we finally land at the park.

We get to the picnic and introduce ourselves to Julie. She is as sweet in person as she has been online in email/blog (not that I expected anything less). From her husband Josh to their good friends Tracie and Ted to AGCI case manager Julie and on and on, everyone we met was very friendly, inviting, and made us feel at home.

Oh, and Julie/Josh's daughter Maya ... I thought her pictures were adorable ... she is absolutely incredible! Her laugh, interaction, and demeanor just made us fall in love with that little girl. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to hang out with Tracie/Ted's lil' Abel much but hope to get to know him more in the future. All-in-all, the park was filled with beautiful children all around us.

What I loved as much as anything else were all the kids playing together. It didn't matter what race, skin color, or original nationality they were, the kids enjoyed being kids and playing with each other. They didn't even see skin color. It's us stupid adults that plant that junk into their heads. It was an awesome sight.

It was bittersweet to leave ... but we did get a parting gift. Julie is selling Ethiopian t-shirts that are benefiting Hannah's Hope. They are amazing shirts ... below are the words that are on them...

"One in ten childrend die before their first birthday. One is six children die before their fifth birthday. 44% of the population of Ethiopia is under 15 years old. 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition. The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world). 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia. Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa. In the 90s the population (3%) grew faster than food production (2.2%). Drought struck the country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, this year no animals). Half the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. 88% will never attend secondary school. Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) fell 40-60% from 1998-2002. Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000. 'come near and rescue me...' Hannah's Hope Ethiopia (psalm 69:18)"

People, I don't have time to go into this tonight but this isn't right. We are way to blessed of folks to let this go on during our watch and I believe that those of us as Christians, we will be held accountable for our days God gave us under the sun. Pray for your involvement to help those less fortunate ... He will reveal how He wants you to help.

As we were driving to church tonight, Amber and I were reflecting about the day. She turned to me and said, "I want our child now." I couldn't agree with my girl more.

Below are a few pics of our trip...

Wyatt while he and I were doing some serious stuff ... like playing trucks.

Amber and I with Wyatt and Jocelyn

All God's Children picnic

Tracie, Julie, and Maya with her best Kareem Abdul Jabbar sky-hook rendition

Beautiful Maya

My favorite picture of Maya from today...