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...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Knoxville or Bust!

We are heading to Knoxville tomorrow for the AGCI Picnic on Saturday. I really can't describe the anticipation that I have on going to this.

The top 5 reasons I'm pumped about it in no particular order...
  1. We will be surrounded by adopted parents and beautiful children who will be spewing support, knowledge, passion, and love
  2. We will get to meet the Beelers in person
  3. We know that we will be able to participate with the picnic in a new and exciting way with our child in the future. How cool would it be for that to be at next summer's picnic?!?
  4. We get to meet an Ethiopian Case Manager from AGCI that could be our case manager (very cool since AGCI is based in Oregon).
  5. We get to hang out with Amber's family tomorrow night because they're gracious enough to open their house up for us to stay.

We'll be heading back Saturday after the picnic to get home for a friend's 3 year old's birthday party at our house on Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our Home Study

The first mega-step after AGCI approves us is completion of the home study. Now, that doesn't sound 'bad' (home study) but talk to anyone who has adopted. It's document after document, personal conversations with a social workers with parts of your life you like and don't like, etc, etc. Now, I totally get why we have to do this and I'm grateful they validate the parents in this way ... but it doesn't mean we have to be thrilled about it. I'm sure there will be many future posts on this topic as we get knee-deep in it.

AGCI does not do home studies in Tennessee but have cooperating agencies they use. In looking at AGCI's website, I noticed that there were NONE in middle Tennessee ... only in Memphis and East Tennessee. This can't be right, can it? What are we going to do!? How can we complete the home study being 3 hours from the closest agency? (You can see I need to work on my faith here). I called AGCI and they informed me that they had 2 agencies in Nashville that were not on the website and they'd email their info. (Thank you, Lord). I'm sure this was just a little lesson in how the process will all unfold ... there will be bumps in the road but you have to stay the course and have faith of the path God has you on.

AGCI also recommended not starting the home study until after we get acceptance into their program. That totally makes sense so we don't spend money on the home study and it not pan out with AGCI for whatever reason.

However, we have picked our home study cooperating agency - Miriam's Promise. I called them on Monday and asked if there was anything we can do to start preparing for the home study while we wait for AGCI's approval. They were very nice, informative and said that we could come in for an initial hour-long discussion and receive the information packet that will fill us in on what we need (financial info, health physicals, autobiography (ugh), birth and marriage certificates, etc, etc). The best news is that there is no financial commitment until we turn in our paperwork. Our meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 15th at 4pm at their offices. We're excited to start because that is one more step closer to going to Ethiopia!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Agency

So from the get-go of knowing that we were to be adoptive parents, the first major question was 'Which agency to go with?' Through this unreal online family we already have and our heads-down research, we narrowed it down to four agencies. I believe we could have went with any of the four and been extremely happy with the outcome.

In the end, we felt led to choose All God's Children International (AGCI). One thing we really like is their ministry of Hannah's Hope.

So ... we made that decision on Monday, June 30th. We printed out the application form, filled out the 7 pages, and mailed it in along with the application fee, a pic of us and a pic of our house on July 3rd. That was great timing as we left for Indiana to visit Amber's family and tell them in person this unreal news!

How "ironic" that AGCI is having a picnic in Knoxville on this Saturday! This Saturday is the only weekend day this whole month that we had open. Coincidence? Nah, I didn't think so either. It will be great to meet Julie, Josh, and little Maya in person. They have been such a blessing to Amber and me.

I found out yesterday (Monday the 7th) that AGCI received the paperwork and they are just waiting on a couple other documents that will hopefully arrive in the next week. At that time, they will officially review our file and hopefully approve us. Please pray for favor with their accepting us into their 'family.'


Our Story

Amber and I were married October 25th, 2003. Before I asked Amber to marry me, we did a workbook together called Before You Say I Do. If you’re not married yet or even if you are and did not do something like that, I strongly recommend it. It had us asking ourselves and each other all those questions you don’t want to ask or don’t even know to ask. In any event, in the Children section, we both thought that having 2 biological kids and adopting one would be “our plan.” Keep that thought.

Fast forward a couple years later. We decide we are ready to start a family (well, are you ever really ready!?). We prayed daily together (usually at the start of every morning) for God to provide us a child in His perfect timing and under His perfect will. Our faith in Jesus Christ grew more each passing day as we had to fully put our trust in Him to provide. So many times I say I’ve given something over to God to only hold onto it (unknowingly at times).

We had decided that if Amber wasn’t pregnant after 2 years, “our plan” would be to pursue artificial insemination (AI) along with learning more about adoption. We were still praying daily for a biological child but most importantly to be in line with God’s will for our lives. Throughout this process, we have had many, many folks (thank you!) praying for us as well. We are so grateful for the prayer of God’s people … it is very humbling to have brothers and sisters in Christ fasting, sacrificing, and praying with you.

A week or so prior for us making the call to the doctor, Amber approached me and said she wasn’t sure that AI was the right path. I had those thoughts settling in my heart as well but just hadn’t processed everything to begin to talk about it (those of you who know me know that I’m a processor). I respect Amber for starting that conversation because that wasn’t an easy thing to bring up. When you have thoughts you’re going down one path and now want to redirect that path, that’s a tough conversation to have, especially when that path is children. We both felt the pull towards adoption but really hadn’t researched it much at all. This conversation occurred on Wednesday, June 25th.

Over the next 4 days, a miraculous series of events occurred. Between people who God put in front of us (special thanks to Julie,
Carey, and Julie!) to a special guest at church Sunday night to a child we sponsor through World Vision, we felt God was leading us to adopt from Africa and specifically Ethiopia. So, Sunday, June 29th, we 100% chose Ethiopia!

From the outside, one may think we jumped into this rather quickly. I would disagree as we (and many others on our behalf) have been praying for years for God's direction. We have more peace now than we did in the 2.5 years of “our plan.” We know that we are now following "God's Plan" for this area of our lives and we couldn’t be more excited because we know that His Plan is so much better than ours!