Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Today is 2 months on the wait list! In a way it's gone by fast and then some days it seemed like the second month dragged by. But through it all John and I have had a complete peace - a peace that only God can give you.
We've received some great news this week from our agency - they have handed out some referrals and it looks like the Ethiopian government is working diligentaly to work through the backlogged adoption cases.
Two months down - 10 to 16 months to go! But we are ready for the wait - our kids are worth it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Social Justice - A Lesson from Job 29

"Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow's heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger.  I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth."
~ Job 29:11-17

On Sunday, my friend and coworker, Justin, gave the sermon at church. It was a lesson on social justice from Job 29 and he rocked it! He challenged our church and the global church to care for the orphan, the poor and the widow. When we seek justice, we are righteous in the eyes of God. Justin encouraged us to be less judgemental and more loving - to treat those that the world sees as worthless the way Jesus would.
I don't think I can adequately put into words Justin's sermon. I told him I wanted to have him be a guest on my blog and share his thoughts - I'm sure I can talk him into it. Until then, I have posted the link to the podcast of Justin's sermon. Take time to listen - it will rock your world!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Sweet, Fingerlicking Good Contest

If you've read my blog for very long you know that I love to bake! I hate to cook, but love to bake. Cupcakes, cookies, anything sweet! I have used my baking skills for two of our adoption fundraisers and it has payed off. We raised about $1,000 selling Africa shaped sugar cookies when we first started fundraising. They were a huge hit! But I must admit I was pretty sick of being up to my eyeballs in cookie dough.
Around Valentine's Day I sold cupcakes and they were pretty popular too (and much easier than Africa cookies).
For a while now I have wanted to take my baking to the next level. I would like to start a small baking business to earn a little extra cash to help fund the last $8,000 we need for our adoption. I would also like to establish the business so that when we do bring our kids home I can continue to bake to help contribute to the family income.
Here's the problem....I need a fun and creative name for this baking business and I need YOUR creative juices!
So I think we should have a contest! Leave a comment and tell me what you think I should name my business. The person with the most creative idea will win a prize (I have no clue what the prize will be! I haven't gotten to that part yet, but it will be worth your while!). Here's a hint...I would love to think of a name that includes "Red Velvet" because Red Velvet cupcakes are my all time favorite sweet treat - and I make a pretty mean home made Red Velvet cake and frosting. (my grandmother's recipe).
So leave me a comment, get creative and I will strain my brain for a fun prize.
Also, will you help spread the word about my baking business? Here are photos of a few sweet treats that I've made in the past - my recipe box is full of many more that can satisfy your sweet tooth.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes!

 Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - they turned out super yummy!

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Glory of God

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
Psalm 19:1

I love clouds! There's something about them that intrigues me. They are an amazing reminder of how creative God is. The picture above was my view from my back porch a few weeks ago. I also had the most amazing view of the clouds from my airplane seat on the way to Florida. I am kicking myself for not taking a photo. They were jaw dropping.
I'm amazed that the same God who created the clouds cares about the details of my life. Yesterday our adoption agency announced some positive and promising news about Ethiopia adoptions. God has been hearing each and every prayer. He is answering them. Glory!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Confirmation from the Lord

While we were in Florida, the Lord continued to confirm to me that Ethiopia is the path He wants us on. Once again, there weren't any neon signs and I didn't hear God's audible voice, but through some of what I was reading that week, God whispered to my heart and continued to fill me with His peace about His plan for our adoption.
Here are just a few excerpts from the book "Sun Stand Still" that really spoke to me.

"Not only do you need to believe in God's ability to bring you across the Jordan, but you also need to trust him enough to let him develop a heard of sacrifice and surrender inside of you. It's tempting to want to skip right to the sun-stopping, river-crossing stuff - the increased influence, answered prayers and electrifying experiences of God's presence. But that stuff won't be genuine and certainly can't be sustained if it isn't cultivated out of a heart that has been formed by the spirit of God. Before God can bring His promises to pass in your life, he has to strip away all the stuff that keeps you from trusting him wholeheartedly."

"The glory of God often shines the brightest when the sun goes down...and we keep our eyes on Jesus anyway."

"Sometimes we get to see the miracle; other times we get to be the miracle. In other words, sometimes God's strength is demonstrated in what he does around us - the external effects of our faith and tangible answers to our prayers. Other times his strength shines IN us, enabling us toe endure devastating setbacks with remarkable strength."

This part of the book probably spoke to me the most: "When what you see around you doesn't match up with what God has spoken inside you, you've got to hold on to what you've heard. Paul said it best in 2nd Cor. 5:7 'We live by faith, not by sight.'"

In February 2010, God called John and I to adopt from Ethiopia. Although we see all the slow downs and the set backs we can never forget what God spoke to our hearts. We will hold on, we will endure. We will walk by faith, not by sight. We will pray that God's glory will shine bright through each and every setback. We can't rush to our Sun Stand Still moment - God has an important purpose for the wait. The wait is a chance for my faith to be proved genuine and for God to show Himself faithful and be glorified.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith...may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our Vacation In Pictures...

John and I spent 9 glorious days soaking in the sunshine and listening to the waves crash in sunny Florida. We were blessed with a free place to stay thanks to Matt and Sarah's aunt and uncle who have a condo right on the beach. Here are just a few pictures from our week.....

 John and I the first day we hit the beach. My poor hubby has to wear a swim shirt or he'll end up looking like a lobster. I, on the other hand, was blessed with skin that turns bronze. Thank you Lord!
 We woke up super early our first morning at the beach and watched the sun rise. Look at the amazing waves. It was beautiful. We also walked 5 miles up the shore that morning and collected some pretty cool sea shells.
 I ate ice cream several times during our trip. There was a great place called Treats on the Beach and they had some yummy ice cream. My favorite was peach and pina coloda swirl. Yum!
 John and I drove to Daytona Beach one morning. I went there many times as a little girl because my great grandmother (Mom Jackson) lived there.
 My Mom Jackson actually lived on this street. Riverside Drive. John and I drove up and down the street looking for her house, but I am not sure it's still there. Maybe I just didn't recognize it since it's been 20+ years since I was actually there.
 This flower is just a reminder of how awesome God is! I just love these...they had red, yellow, orange and pink and they were gorgeous!
 John and I got dressed up to spend the day in St. Augustine. It was one of the best parts of my week. I really enjoyed St. Augustine and would love to go back there. The town had such great character.
 This is my dinner from the Rain Tree in St. Augustine. It was amazing! The dessert was pretty fabulous too!
 This is the place we ate in St. Augustine. It was in this old house. Such a great atmosphere, such great food!
Sarah and I at the beach

John, Matt and Sarah went on a deep sea fishing trip. This is me with them before I bailed! They caught a ton of fish and John tied for catching the biggest fish that day! I hate fish - at least I thought I did. But I ate the grouper, sea bass and trigger fish that they caught and liked it ALL. I would eat fish everyday if I could get it that fresh!
John with his prize winning fish!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my hubby John! Our children may not be in our arms yet but they are in our hearts and we love them already!
John is going to be the best dad! I watch him with our friend's kids and my heart melts. He is such a kid at heart and will be a super fun dad!
Praying that by next Father's Day we will have seen the faces of our Ethiopian babes!

The shirt I bought John for Father's Day.....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Friday, June 17, 2011

A Sweet Reminder From the Lord

morning I was reading my devotion while I soaked up the sun on the beach. God is so good and reminded me once again that the path to Ethiopia is right where He wants me to be. I needed that reminder today.

My devotion said:

"Many voices will clamor for your attention, trying to divert you to another path. I have called each of My children to a different path, distinctly designed for that one. Do not let anyone convince you that his path is the only right way. And be careful not to extol your path as superior to another's way."
("Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why I love the Beach

We are in day 2 of our beach vacation. I love the beach! The sound of the crashing waves reminds me of God's power and goodness.
This morning we woke up in time to watch the sun rise. Then we took a 5 mile walk on the beach and found some awesome sea shells.
Then I got my bronze on and soaked up some sun, played in the waves and ate juicy watermelon. Now it's time to hit the pool!

John and I watching the sunrise

Awesome sea shells that we found and the gorgeous sunrise

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

God's Promises Are Enough...

Yesterday was an emotional day. At any given point I felt like I would cry. I had to get up from my desk and take a walk because the tears just sprung forth, uninvited.

I don’t think I realized the toll that all the changes in the adoption world has had on me. Seeing so many families switch to the Congo, knowing that God wants John and I to stay where we are. The devil is doing all he can to get me down, to plant seeds of doubt in my mind, to make me question if I’m really hearing God correctly.

After feeling a little out of whack all day, I was eager to get to my women’s Bible study. We started a short Beth Moore study last night and as always God met me exactly where I needed Him to. If you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that Beth Moore rocks my socks off. Last night she started the lesson with powerful words. It’s like God was flashing a neon sign shouting “Jennifer, Jennifer, don’t miss this!”

Beth Moore said: “God has made a promise over your life and He will fulfill it! But until you put your feet on your promise land, the devil has his all over it.”

Before I could stop myself, the tears were flowing. It wasn’t a sniff, sniff kind of cry, but an ugly sobbing mess. God has pointed John and me to our promise land – Ethiopia. Right now the devil is doing ALL that he can to keep us, and many other families, from reaching the promise land that God has so clearly promised.

As we studied scripture in Joshua 1, verse 3 leaped off the page: “I will give you every place where you set your foot.”

Beth Moore made a comment about this verse and I wrote it in my Bible. She said “We receive this promise when we act; when we step out in faith.”

Then she read Joshua 3:15

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.”

Next to this verse I wrote “God will part the waters for us but we have to be willing to get our feet wet.”

The whole lesson was about not letting fear rob us of receiving our promise land. It was about having faith in the same God who promised Joshua that he would (despite his fears) cross the Jordan River into the promise land. Time and time again God told Joshua “Be strong and very courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.” I’m sure the devil was trying to mess with Joshua’s head the same way that he is trying to mess with mine.

But Joshua chose to believe God – “I will give you every place where you set your foot” – and he didn’t allow fear to keep him from reaching the promise land.

I am so thankful for the women that I do Bible study with. The majority of the group is older than me (by 10 or more years) but the wisdom, encouragement and support from these ladies is something I could never replace. I have had the privilege of studying the Bible with my friend Kim, her mother and her grandmother. Three generations of amazing Christian women who love the Lord and who lift me up in prayer. These ladies have been praying for me and my future children before John and I even started the adoption process. They were there through the infertility. They were there when God first whispered Ethiopia to our hearts. They continue to be there through the ups and downs of this process.

Last night (through the ugly cry) I spilled my guts and shared my heart with these ladies – my fears, how hard it is to stay on the path God has for me when so many others are going a different way and how I desperately want to reach my promise land – even if that takes years.

These ladies know me. They know each step that John and I have taken to get to this point of our adoption journey. They have prayed for my babies. They all believe and agree that John and I are doing the right thing by standing firm and continuing the journey to Ethiopia. They all agreed that God has brought us too far to turn around now. They encouraged me, they prayed for me and they loved me – a sobbing mess and all. They reaffirmed what John and I have always known – our promise land is Ethiopia.

There is a song called “Blessings” that really speaks to my heart these days. As I was driving home last night it came on the radio. God has such perfect timing. The lyrics are beautiful. They are a reminder that even in the darkest situations, those times when you have no idea how things are going to turn out, God is faithful. He can use those times to prove to us just how faithful He is. I want to close this blog with the lyrics of the song.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Staying on the Path God Has For Us....

This past week I’ve learned that it’s really hard to stay the course God has for you when so many people are changing directions. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement around you and before you know it you’re running down a path that isn’t the one God has for you. Then BOOM! Reality hits you in the face and you’re stopped in your tracks. You realize that the big knot in your stomach is the Holy Spirit telling you to stop trying to figure things out on your own. You realize in that moment that you took things into your own hands and never once hit your knees to ask God what His plans were.

That’s what happened to John and I last week. Several of our friends have made the decision to leave the Ethiopia program and adopt children from the Congo. After hearing about the need for families to adopt from the Congo, the shorter wait time, only one trip to the country, etc. I decided (without asking God) to do some research about the Congo program. Before I knew it, I was stressing about getting paperwork updated and trying to figure out if we could financially swing changing to the Congo. The whole time I ignored the big knot in the pit of my stomach.

I even went as far as calling our agency to inform them that we would probably be leaving the Ethiopia program. I turned in the application to the agency we would have to use if we decided to adopt from the Congo and we were accepted into the program. I was mailing off requests for marriage licenses and birth certificates. With each step, there was no peace; only anxiety. There has never been anxiety about Ethiopia. There has always been peace – even when the wait time gets longer.

After doing some research and feeling a lot of turmoil about changing to the Congo, I called our social worker at Gladney desperate that she hadn’t started the process of closing our file. I felt a wave of peace the moment she told us that nothing had changed with our status. I am so thankful for God’s grace. When I decided to take things into my own hands, He was still ultimately in control.

There were no big neon signs telling us to stay with Ethiopia or to change to the Congo. Sometimes I wish there were. All I had to go on was the peace I felt about Ethiopia and the knot that was lodged in my stomach when I was chasing after the Congo.

“You may be living under the illusion that when God ignites great things in your life, he’ll announce it with a big bang. He might. It’s more likely that He won’t. So stop waiting around for the big bang. Pay attention to the subtle clues and the still, small voice.” (Sun Stand Still).

There are a few things that John and I know for sure. We are supposed to adopt. God has called us to adopt internationally. We feel very strongly that we are to stay on the path God has us on towards Ethiopia – even if it takes 18 months to receive a referral.

But can I be really honest with you? It’s really hard to persevere and stay on this path, when so many are going to the Congo. It’s emotional and hard when the friends who were on this journey with us, who we thought would be waiting with us and even possibly traveling to Ethiopia with us, will probably, have referrals by the end of the year. I feel like I’m on this 18 month (or longer) journey alone. It kind of scares me.

Right about the time all this adoption uncertainty started taking place, I started reading the book Sun Stand Still. The whole concept of the book is based around Joshua 10:12. Joshua prayed a HUGE prayer. He dared to ask God the impossible and God answered.

“O sun, stand still over Gibeon,
O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

Joshua needed God to intervene in a big way so that he could fulfill God’s promise to him. God did – he literally made the sun stand still!

“The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down for a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since…surely the Lord was fighting for Israel.” (v.13-14)

The whole book is about daring to pray Sun Stand Still prayers; boldly asking God to do the impossible.

If God can make the sun stand still for Joshua, surely He can move the mountains that are standing in the way of Ethiopian children being placed with their forever families.

I don’t know why John and I have to wait so long for our children, but I know God has a purpose for the waiting. I know that I don’t want to step outside of God’s will for us. I don’t know what the future holds for our family, but I know who holds the future.

I pray that in the midst of our wait, God will be glorified. I want to have the kind of faith that believes God can answer my Sun Stand Still prayers. As the months pass by and the waiting gets hard, I hope that I will remember something else that I read in the book:

“The darker it gets, the brighter our faith can shine.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Help Bring Her Home....

This sweet girl is a waiting child in the Congo.  Our friends Brian and Lindsay want to adopt her.  They know in their hearts that she is their daughter.  But they need to come up with $7,500 before they can submit their dossier.  And right now, they don't have the money to send with their paperwork.

Would you consider helping the Morris Family? You can make a donation to their adoption account here. Every little bit helps! Each $1 will bring them closer to their daughter.