Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Unto Us.

For today...yes today...
a child is born to us.
A son is given to us. 
The government will rest on his shoulders. 
And he will be called:

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.



With grateful and expectant hearts today, not just for what is to come but for what has come...
Merry Christmas indeed.

The Andersons


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Time is Here...

Part 1...

of potentially a few.

Thought I'd throw a few snapshots of what Christmas in St. Louis is looking like these days...

And yes, it is as incredible as it seems.













Saturday, December 8, 2012

For Those Wondering...


This is me.



Airport-a-month girl.
Wifey girl.
Photographer girl.
Worship Leader girl.
Girls Ministry Leader…girl.
Adoptive Parent Journey-er girl.
Blogger/Absent blogger girl.

Completely overwhelmed, tired, exhausted, over it…girl.

I find myself sitting in another terminal, getting ready for another flight, to another city and I’m starting to wonder if I should just ask Oakland if I could set up camp in their airport.
I’m charming enough to not be a TSA threat, right?

I’ve been too tired to blog. And I’ve been watching an unhealthy amount of TV.
Like, REALLY unhealthy.

To my credit …
Once Upon A Time and Parenthood...
I mean, come on! You can’t even say that you’re not addicted if you watch. That would just be straight lying.
And Netflix live streaming…
Whoa. What up simultaneous blessing and curse?

I told Erik the other day that I have resorted to this behavior because it is the only thing I can do that doesn't require my mind to be creative.
Shut it off.
Power down.
Let other creative people do their job and entertain my frying mind. 

Anyway, like I said…
I’m sitting in the airport.
Actually, it is lucky that I am writing and not catching a show on Netflix before take-off.

I wasn't kidding. I have a problem.

My initial reason for flying back to the Midwest is sad. I will be attending my Uncle’s funeral and spending the next couple days reminiscing memories of his life, telling old stories and honoring the greatest things about who he was. It will be a bittersweet time for sure.

The days that follow the service and precede Christmas, however, will be an unexpected blessing…
An extended stay with family that I am realizing will become a necessary mending time for my creative soul.
Maybe we could call it a “tune-up”. 
Like the greasy, messy, expensive one where the guys in the one piece jumpsuits come in and make a gracious but "what the heck have you been doing to your car" face and say "This might take longer than expected."

My prayer: Restoration.
My hope: Renewal.
My anticipation: Rest.

Well and obviously all of that mixed with a lot of laughing, a lot of fun, and a lot of…wine?

And hopefully a lot of blogging. 

That is, of course, once I get my act together.

Oh. And finish Season 3 of Parenthood.








Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Adoption Cruise Control.


I'm not a runner. 

It is on my bucket list to run a marathon but that might be the part of my bucket that has a hole in it. 
Oh, Liza....I feel for ya, girl!  

Erik and I tried the "running couple" thing for a while which ended miserably on several accounts. 
So, the running shoes that I bought because I was going to "become a runner" turned into some cool looking shoes that I wear to Target to make it look like I just ran 15 miles and am now obviously deserving of a Target Decor/Clothing slurge. 

No. I am no runner. 

So just a heads up...this next part could be partial "hear-say". 

I have heard that when these so called "runners" run, there is a moment during the excessive push of miles where you go into a state of running euphoria. 
Where the push at the beginning and the push and the end meet a happy medium and you set yourself on a human type of cruise control. 

Can we just take a moment to interject that we spent the last 4 1/2 years with a car that didn't have cruise control only to realize that cruise control is potentially the coolest thing...ever. 

Life-changing. 

Ok. Back to the running that I don't do...

This cruise control state has got me thinking quite a bit these days. Since January, our whole world has been consumed with adoption. Adoption prep. Adoption training. Adoption planning. Adoption fundraising. Adoption blogs. Adoption. Adoption. Adoption. 

We started out, looking for the right pace. At times going too fast and other times going too slow. But eventually, things evened out and we found our stride. 

And now, I feel like we've hit cruise control. Not to say that we are "cruisin'" through adoption. You would have to be crazy to think that this process is a "cruise".

But, a bit of a good stride. 
We reached a point in our adoption where there isn't paper to sign, bills to pay (thanks to many of you!), meetings to attend, sanity to be lost. We hit a stride that doesn't feel so fast anymore.

And do you know what I started feeling when we got there? 
Like I was a bad "adoptive" parent. 
Seriously? 
Yes. Seriously.

I felt bad because I felt like I didn’t have a cause anymore. Like I wasn’t working hard enough or blogging well enough or talking “adoption” enough.
Like I was taking a sneak nap in the janitor’s closet when I was supposed to be working.

I am realizing this:

It. Is. Totally. Ok. 

Wha?!?! I don't have to be tearing my hair out, sprinting through offices, post offices, keyboards, and pen ink? I can just wait expectantly and excitedly and sometimes even have a moment in my life where I am not thinking about adoption? 

Yes. 

Yes I can. 

And although we hate that we won't have our child today or tomorrow...it is ok for a while to find our cruise control button, take the foot off the gas, and put a good use to those "not for running" running shoes in the middle of the push. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Art of Justice

This fall, I had the opportunity to donate some pieces of artwork to the Stanislaus Family Justice Center as a part of a benefit program called "The Art of Justice". The idea was to choose a piece of artwork created by the children who come to the Justice Center and participate in art programs as a means for identifying and working through experiences of injustice. 

As I walked around the room viewing the artwork that had been done by these incredible children, my eye kept catching on a piece done by a 15 year old girl. The exercise is called "Putting Yourself Back Together" and takes children through the practice of identifying the different emotions that they have inside and writing them into different puzzle pieces that are placed inside the outline of a person. 

After having done the exercise, her comment was "I have a lot of angry feelings". 

It is ridiculous how much injustice is in this world and how much happens right around us without us even really taking the time to notice.

I have a lot of angry feelings too.

But my angry feelings aren't because of injustice that has been shown to me. It is because of the injustice that has been shown to others.
And I can't help but feel like I haven't done enough to change that.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to identify all of the emotions and feeling that this girl must have, let alone see her own hurt and brokenness that is a result of someone else's actions. She is so brave. So strong. And she doesn't even know it. 

I hate injustice.
I'm so glad that Jesus does too.












Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I know, son. I know.

You know that you haven't written on your blog in a long time when you hit the bookmarked link you have to direct yourself to it's homepage and you are signed out.

I almost didn't remember the password.

I've missed this little sucker but you know what I have missed more? Sanity.

I feel like I have been all sorts of all over the place in the last few weeks and don't exactly know how to get back to the point on the spinning top that...well...doesn't spin.

I'm not sure if you have heard of Jon Acuff, but if you haven't, you should get to know him. He is amazing. He writes books and talks all over the place but one of my favorite things he does is his blog, Stuff Christian Like.

It is awesome.

Especially when you work at a church and have grown up as a Christian your entire life! It is all the stuff that you have always thought but never put into words.

I won't get into it now...but read it. Cause its REAL good.

Erik sent me a link to one of his blog posts today and since I don't particularly have the stamina to write on my own blog, I decided to steal his. :) Copyright issues? #innocent mistake.

I know that I for sure needed to hear this, so I'm hoping maybe some of you do as well. Happy reading!



"The Soft x" by Jon Acuff at www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike
"I cried in the Chicago Airport.
And these were not tough guy, lumberjack, I just punched a mountain lion in the face with my bare fist kind of tears. These were sad and tired and give up tears.
I was flying home from a conference in Chicago. I had been the closing keynote speaker and it had gone really well. That’s not what I was crying about though. I was crying because of what I knew would happen when I landed.
I knew I would take the train to my car, grab work clothes, change in the handicapped stall and then disappear into a sea of cubicles. I didn’t hate my job, not at all, it just wasn’t what I felt called to do. The Stuff Christians Book wasn’t out yet, but the site was doing well. I had this completely different life starting to develop and it was hard to go back to work and act like Chicago had all been just a dream.
This was long before the opportunity at Dave Ramsey. This was a doldrums period where I was just writing and writing and writing, but things weren’t happening the way I thought they would.
I sat in meetings about TPS reports and budgets and would get frustrated with God, wondering if he even saw me. Wasn’t he the one who put this burning in my heart? Wasn’t it his call that I was answering? This wasn’t how life was supposed to go.
Have you ever felt that way?
Has there ever been a situation where you had an expectation that you felt like God simply wasn’t meeting? I think most of us have experienced that.
Right now, someone reading this blog is mourning a marriage that fell apart. You wanted to be the first in your family to have a grandkid for your parents, not the first to get divorced.
Right now, someone is in a gray cubicle and the degree they got, the passion they followed in college is a million miles away from how they spend 40+ hours every week.
Right now, there’s someone struggling with an issue that refuses to release it’s talons even though you’re occasionally able to shake it for a few “good weeks.”
Right now, someone had to send out wedding cancellation notes, because it’s off.
Right now, there’s a man who feels a lot less than a man because he doesn’t have a job and can’t provide for his family.
Right now there are a million different versions of “Don’t you see me God?” happening. And so we doubt and get angry and lonely. But we are not the only ones with expectations that go astray.
In Genesis 48, the same thing happens to Joseph, of the double rainbow coat fame. He has brought his two sons to his father Israel for his blessing. We don’t understand this culturally because we don’t really do this anymore, but this was a critical, massive thing that was about to take place. Manasseh was about to receive Israel’s blessing. That was what should happen. That was what Joseph expected.
Joseph the faithful. Joseph the former slave, former convict, former saved all of Egypt from death and destruction. Joseph had a great track record at this point. He was a deeply wise man of God. He knew what was about to happen. By lineage, by tradition, by faith, Manasseh was about to get blessed by Israel.
Only he doesn’t.
It doesn’t happen that way. Instead of doing what he should have done, Israel crosses his arms and forms an X, placing his hands on the heads of the wrong children. He blesses Ephraim, the wrong son in Joseph’s mind.
And in 48:17 we see what happens: When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
Joseph has lived his entire life with one belief about how a blessing is passed down. This is his, “I got my Master’s Degree in teaching, I should get a teaching job” moment. This is his, “People get married after college, that’s what they do,” moment. This is what he’s always been ready for and it goes the exact opposite way.
So Joseph, like me or you trying to fix a mistake, says, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
And how does Israel respond? Does he say, “Oh, I am failing of sight and made a mistake?” Does he reply, “Thank you for correcting this situation?”
No.
He says simply, “I know, my son, I know.”
And that is an incredibly tender thing to say as someone’s expectations crumble.
And I think it’s something God still says to us, even today.
“I know, my son, I know. I know, my daughter, I know. That thing you wanted is not going to happen. Not the way you’ve always dreamed. I know this hurts. I know this stings. I know you feel like I am distant or not aware of where you are and who hurt you and what you think life was supposed to be like. I know in moments like this you doubt that I can count the hairs on your head or have your best in mind. But please, I am not done. I have barely started to reveal your life to you. I am the God who satisfies your desires with good things. That is me! And when it comes to your hopes and your fears and your dreams, I know, my son, I know.”
I think of this moment as the “soft x.”
I think of the tenderness of Israel with his arms outstretched and crossed. I think of our desires and our dreams and the times they don’t work. Because those times will come. God is not an ATM, bound by our whims. Christ promises us that in this world we will have trouble. But above all, when I think of that soft x I think of a God who wants to tell you he hears you, he loves you, he knows you. He is not disconnected or disinterested in who you are and who you want to be. Today, he says,
“I know, my son, I know.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Final Total & Thank You!


We can't even begin to describe to all of you how overwhelmed and thankful we are!!! From the bottom of our hearts THANK YOU so much for everything everyone did this week!

Here is our Final Total video for Give 1 Save 1.

We are humbled and amazed! 

Thank you!!

We would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who shared, emailed, facebooked, tweeted, space shuttled our story to family, friend, co-workers, and strangers!
We couldn't have done any of this without you!

And to Beth, whose brilliant blog has helped so many families, including us. Thank you so much for time spent, encouragements written, and the love and support you put into each family! We are so grateful!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Totals and...TOTALLY 2 DAYS LEFT!!

(Disclaimer: We were working with limited light on this one...but you guys are still DA BOMB!!)

Well, the weekdays are ended and we are absolutely left blown away by the generosity and love that we have been shown over the last 5 days! 

Like...
You guys have been AWESOME!!!!!!!

Check out the totals from this whole week of giving and remember...

WE STILL HAVE 2 DAYS LEFT!!!!!

yup. 
We are bringin' this all the way through Sunday!!

So continue to share the love, pass along our info, and donate a $1!! 

Click Here:

or

copy this link:

and post it, tweet it, email it, hot air balloon it....
to pass on the love!! 

WE LOVE YOU GUYS!!! Even if we haven't met you. 
That is just how incredible you are! :) 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Page by Page Totals


We honestly don't even know where to start today. 
You guys have left us without words other than to say a very huge THANK YOU that is not even as close to as big as it should be! 
And that is the truth! 

So with out delay...
Here are the totals from Day 4!

We've got 3 more days left and we can't wait to see what happens!!
Day 5....HERE WE GO!!!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Totals and a Ticking Clock


It is officially Day 4 of Give1 Save1 and...

HOLY BANANAS, PEOPLE!!!

You all are rocking it! 
We mean like...Drop-it-like-its-hot, Call-me-maybe?, Mick-jagger-has-nothin-on-you, ROCKIN it!!!

We are absolutely continually amazed by all of your generosity, encouragement, and love! Thank you! Thank you!!!!!

Here's to Day 4...



Can't wait to see what happens...cause we already know it is going to be incredible!!!! 




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Totals...With a Little Help From our Friends



Seriously?!?! Stop it! 

Ok...don't stop it but...SERIOUSLY?!

Day 2 totals are in and we are continuing to feel SO COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY by everyones generosity and love!

We are on to Day 3 of Give1 Save1 and holdin on to our socks (even though I am still wearing flip flops because thats what happens when you live in California in September) because we know that today will be another day of complete blessing and support! 

Thank you guys for sharing, supporting, uplifting, and walking with us through all of this! We can't even begin to use enough words to thank you all the way we should! 

Remember to keep sharing our story at....


Day 3...
Here.
We.
GO!



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sharpies and Totals



Blown away. Just really stinkin' blown away! Thank you!

But, we aren't done yet...

We still have 6 full more days to keep spreading the love! So...


Click on THIS LINK to take you to Give1 Save1, check out our story, donate, and keep sharing with friends, family, neighbors, churches, strangers, the president...whomever!! 

Wish we had big enough arms to hug all of you at the same time!! (oh wow...that would be kind of messy, yeah?)

Monday, September 24, 2012

We Would Like to Announce...

We know that we have kept you guys on the edge of your seat for a little while.

I also know that Erik has been priming the pump with lots and lots of teasers.
(This is what happens when you go out of town to a place with know internet connection and leave your blog password with your husband).

But without further adieu, we would like to announce that...

We have been chosen as the GIVE1SAVE1 family of the week!!!!!!



Um...get pumped. This is awesome!! Like...REALLY AWESOME! And a huge huge huge huge huge blessing!!!!

What is it, you ask?
Give1Save1 is an incredible blog/concept started by a really amazing woman to help adoptive families raise funds for...well...adopting! The concept is that each week a family is featured by submitting a video and during that week people can go and donate $1 (or more) to help them raise their adoption funds! Incredible, right? Each dollar goes toward not just helping to fund adoption, but saving and restoring lives in all kinds of ways.

And this week...it is us!

So, what does this mean?
For the entire week, we will be featured on this blog allowing people to go and donate to our adoption!! What an awesome opportunity to share our story! We already feel so blessed!!

So here is what to do...let me give you some instructions:

1. Click HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE...that is just 4 options all going to the same place :)

2. Check out our video and hear a little about our story and donate if you can!

3. Pass this on to friends and family like crazy!! This works best the more that we get the word out! Post it to your blogs, Facebook it, Tweet it, put it on the NASA space shuttle...whatever form you got, please use it! And in the words of Erik Anderson, "Shake what your momma gave ya!" (I don't know. He just wanted me to say that).

4. Lastly, this is an incredible place that helps out tons of families walking through this journey, not just us! So, show the love and check it out on other weeks as well to see how you can help save lives all over the world!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Top Secret News - 48 hrs



Hello Everyone,

Have you ever been blown away by God's blessings? So much so that it leaves you shaking your head in humble wonder?

That's where I'm at right now. God just threw down a huge blessing that inches us closer to the next chapter in our adoption journey.

I'm serious! We have some fantastic, amazing, ridiculously incredible news to share with everyone. It's sort of like waiting in line at Disneyland to ride space mountain! (just less screaming children who have been "holding it" for the last hour while waiting in line)

The anticipation is killing me!

I think I will just go ahead and say it.... We are...

(in my head) "DON'T DO IT ERIK!!! HAVE PATIENCE!! KEEP YOUR LIPS SEALED!"

Jessa made me "pinky promise" while looking her in the eye that I would keep this one a secret....something which I am dreadful at!

So until these 48 hours pass, we will all patiently wait together!

I promise this isn't a "Y2K" fake out, we really do have something exciting to tell you.

Time to stop before I spill it. Stay Tuned!

Erik

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Signed, Sealed, Deliver-ing?

Looks like I won't be the only thing on a plane this weekend.

We just found out that our Dossier arrived back from Washington D.C., authenticated and ready to be sent on it's way to Ethiopia!

So, while I'm sailing the blue skies over the Rockies, our future parenthood will be voyaging it's way over the blue seas of the Atlantic.

Sounds like a good travel weekend to me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 24th.

Awesome, right?

Want to know what this is all about?

It is really cool...

Like really really REALLY cool.

Like Gangnam Style cool.

Stay tuned because there is a countdown. The final countdown?

No.

Just stay tuned.



Monday, September 17, 2012

The Good vs. The Ugly

Adoption is a beautiful thing.

When Erik and I started this process, we found ourselves obsessively drawn toward watching Ethiopian Adoption "Gotcha Day" videos on YouTube.

If you need a REALLY good full body cleansing cry...go look it up. You can thank me later.

Everyone always tells us that they are so excited for us. That this is such an amazing thing that we are going through. That adoption...well...adoption is a beautiful thing.

I don't disagree. But I also think there are some really ugly sides. Some really hard sides. Some really messed up and upsetting things about it that come with the good.

We have been getting updates for the past couple of months about the government process in Ethiopia and how things are changing. We were told that we might be seeing an increase in wait times but would be officially notified by mid-September.

On Friday, we found out that Dossiers sent to Ethiopia as of August are looking at a 29-31 month wait time from the time our Dossier is in Ethiopia to referral.
29-31 months?
They don't show that in the "Gotcha Day" videos.

We have made a lot of great friends through this adoption process that I know are hearing the same news and I know are saddened, discouraged, and broken-hearted.

We also know that there are a lot of kids in Ethiopia waiting for homes, waiting for families, waiting for someone to do something.

It doesn't make sense.
It makes me so mad.
It breaks our hearts.
It makes us hate the bad so much.
It makes us question the good.
It throws everything up in the air and begs the question, "What happens now?"

I am slightly at a loss today.


"But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and do not grow faint." Isaiah 40:31






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another Not So Little Fall Update...

In the wake of a busy summer, busy ministry season, and busy photography season, we haven't gotten a chance to do very much updating. I'm fearing that people feel left in the dark. ALAS FRIENDS! You are not in the dark. Here comes (drum roll, please) A SEPTEMBER UPDATE!!!!! WOOOO!!!

I feel like I just asked someone to come on down for the Price is Right.

Where shall I begin? How about May?

may...
We officially completed all of the paperwork that we could for our dossier (quite eager and motivated). The hardest thing about being eager and motivated, however, is that not everyone is on the same track as you. This led us to a lot of waiting. Waiting for our home study to be complete, waiting for United States Immigration to approve us, waiting for paperwork, signatures, notaries, stamps, seals, envelopes...basically everything you can think of in the first 3 rows of Office Depot.

june...
Our home study was finally "officially" completed and we received our biometrics appointments for fingerprints for USCIS...for July...for when we would be out of town.
So, we rescheduled, took another dose of "patience" medicine, and settled into what would soon become a very familiar waiting game.
However, this waiting game was also filled with some great distractions like a trip to Kauai, a trip to Texas for a beautiful wedding, Vacation Bible School, a camping trip, and lots of fun photo shoots!

july...
Our physical, spiritual, and emotionally beings were all wrapped around our High School Youth Group trip to Tennessee for CHIC. I'm pretty sure that God knew we weren't able to handle much else. We received our fingerprinting appointments for 2 days after we returned from our trip and that was about the most exciting adoption thing that happened all of July.
As I look back on it...I'm so thankful for that.
We did, with the help of a very talented high school student (shout out to Derek Mari! Holla!), create something super special and super amazing that will be shared with you all so very soon. Please stay tuned for further details...shh...

august...
You know those movies that are really good, but somewhere in the middle they hit a slow spot and you are about to fall asleep and then BAM! Something exciting happens and your adrenaline starts pumping and you remember that you are really enjoying that film? That is August.
The beginning of August brought us our Immigration approval, our trip to Sacramento for State Sealing our documents (way less intimidating than expected), our submission of our Dossier and our submission of 4 Grant Applications! Look who got there stride back?
WE WERE BUSY, PEOPLE!!!
All that mixed in with a trip back east to see Erik's family, our college friends, and my family, the end of Summer Ministry and the Kickoff of Fall Ministry! I needed a nap.

september...
So now we are here. September. It is so hard to believe that it has already been 8 months since this process began. We have discussed how crazy it is when people talk about their adoption experiences taking 2-3 years. Because honestly, these 8 months have gone by so fast. 2-3 years sounds understandable. Do-able even.
When we submitted our Dossier (WAY back in August), we were required to make a payment of $6,000. As of Sunday, we were $1,000 short.
When we started this journey, we committed to our family and to God, that we would not do this process through debt. We committed to walk this journey by paying in cash...which in this world...isn't easy.
Easy would be taking out our credit card and putting the remaining $1000 down until I got paid for the wedding I shot at the end of August. Easy would mean not trusting in God but trusting in us. Easy would mean instant gratification.
Easy isn't what we signed up for.
So, we decided to wait. The paperwork just sitting on someone's desk in Michigan until we turned in our money. A kid potentially just waiting in an orphanage to be called someone's child. Our child. That is hard business.
Enter in Sunday morning...
I decided early on Sunday morning during our ministry fair at church that I was going to write a blog update, because I had a lot of people asking what the status was on our adoption. I knew what I would have to say that our papers were turned in to our Adoption Agency, but not going anywhere anytime soon. Lame answer.
Well, I didn't even really get a chance to say that because 2 hours into the morning, we were told that someone wanted to anonymously give us $1000 for our adoption. Yes. You heard that correctly. $1000.
That would be before anyone knew how much we needed to complete our Dossier.
That would be before I even had the chance to let people know that we were waiting on that money so that our Dossier could be sent on to be Authenticated.
That would be other people not taking the easy way and graciously giving their own money to us.
That would be 2 very humbled people in awe and shock.
That would be a God who knows exactly what we need when we need it.

Yesterday I hit the payment button, leaving .37 cents left in our adoption account. Our Dossier will be sent out to the United States Ethiopian Embassy for Authentication this week and hopefully on to Ethiopia within the next 4 weeks.


That would be where we are. Today.  


God is good.