Thursday, June 27, 2013


Today is our official GOTCHA day!  One year ago today, our sweet Bek was placed in our arms forever.  To say that he was scared would be a complete understatement.

Our sweet friend, Hermela, handing Bek to us on June 27th, 2013.

It's hard to believe that blank stare was ever on our expressive little guy's face.  To be honest, it's a little difficult to look at this picture, remembering all the time he had before he was with us forever.  But, God was so good to all of us through our journey and continues to be so faithful as we parent this little guy and his big brother and sister.  We are so grateful.

He's a little more comfortable now! ;)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Find Joy in the Journey GIVEAWAY!

I'm Chapter Two.  My name {Jen} is the title.  How cool is that?!  

Let me back up a bit.  It started three years ago when Trevor and I decided God was calling us to adopt from Ethiopia.  Shortly thereafter, we heard about Worthy of the Prize Ministries and their amazing Chosen Child program.  We were able to fund raise through them and in the process, I forged a friendship with the founder of the ministry, Erin Franklin.  

About a year and a half later, Erin asked me to write the story of our journey to Bek and how we found joy in that journey for her E-book {Find Joy in the Journey}.  I agreed, wrote it, and several months later, the book is NOW complete and ready for download.  

The book tells the story of 12 women (including yours truly) finding joy through the Heavenly Father along a trying journey.  I am humbled to have been a part of this project and hope that you will consider downloading the book.  It is a great summer read AND will support my friend, Erin's ministry.  Win-win!!

In the meantime, to celebrate the release of the book, WOTP Ministry is doing a HUGE giveaway.  There are four items in the giveaway as follows {instructions for entering below prize list}:

1. A super cute fun flops large utility tote from Thirty-One Gifts...perfect for hauling all of your towels, toys, and equipment to the park, pool, or beach in style this summer.  Donated by Maureen Emmett (who is also donating 20% of all orders to Worthy of the Prize Ministries when you place your order here)

 2. A Kindle E-reader with the "Find Joy in the Journey" E-book downloaded onto it!

3. A custom, handmade summer fun tote bag in grey chevron from NeeJee Wear, perfect for carrying stuff to the park, pool, or beach this summer.  Made out of laminated fabric, making it super easy to wipe down and keep clean.

4. A custom 16x20 painted "find joy in the journey" canvas from Bee Creative, which would look fantastic hanging in any home.  A perfect daily reminder that because God is with you on your journey, there is JOY to be found, despite your circumstances.

"And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" {Esther 4:14}

To enter the giveaway, follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter form below.  You MUST answer the first question {after you log in, click where it says Answer A Question} to be eligible for the giveaway.  All other entries simply increase your chances of winning!:)

Good luck!  You can enter through SUNDAY, JUNE 30th.  All 4 winners will be randomly selected and announced Monday, July 1st.  Must be 18 years old and a US resident to enter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fruitful Summer: The JOY and PEACE weeks

Week one of our Fruitful Summer was a great success.  We, of course, had typical sibling rivalry, but it was nice to focus on love and was a great way to channel our energy for the week.  All three kiddos received their "badges".  The big kids especially are enjoying collecting their rewards at the end of the week.  To be honest, I'm enjoying giving them!

Last week we were on vacation; the week before that was our second week, the JOY week.  Getting JOY points was a little harder for the kiddos.  We awarded them points for not only doing things when asked, but for doing them joyfully.  It's amazing to me how often we just go through the motions and forget to focus on the joy of the Lord and all the blessings He has given us.  So, it was very refreshing to focus on doing things joyfully.

Here are the specifics for the JOY week:

Week 2-JOY
Definition: the emotion of great delight or happiness
Song: I’ve Got Joy (J-O-Y)
Verse: Don’t be sad because the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Chart: Earn Joy “Fruit” for 10 Displays of Joy (Charm Bracelet for M, Stone for C’s Rock Garden, Thumbprint for B’s Tree)

Snack: Orange

Even though it was a little more difficult, the kids got their points and their "badges" at the end of the week :)  They were pretty excited!

This week is our PEACE week.  This kids are earning points this week for doing things quietly or for doing things to "keep the peace", such as avoiding arguments or speaking nicely and calmly to each other.

Definition: a state of harmony between people or groups
Song: Peace Like a River
Verse: Those who love your teachings will find true peace.
Nothing can make them fall. Psalm 119:165
Chart: Earn Peace “Fruit” for 10 Displays of Peace (Charm Bracelet for M, Stone for C’s Rock Garden, Thumbprint for B’s Tree)
Snack: Pineapple

Stop back by tomorrow for information on a huge and exciting giveaway!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fruitful Summer: The LOVE week

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galations 5:22-23

Look at those sweet faces!  Oh, how they love each other {mostly}.  But, truth be told, we have LOTS of together time in the summer.  It's fabulous, but also gives way for a significant amount of sibling rivalry.

Additionally, in this season of life where it is sometimes hard to see past the day to day, it is my desire to be an intentional parent.  Above all, I want my kiddos to love God and then love others.

Just before Spring Break, as we were headed to school doing our "morning blessing" one day, it occurred to me that one of the major things I want to see in my children is well-rounded character that presents the love of Jesus to those around them.  To me, the most effective way to do this is to help instill the fruits of the spirit in them.  I mean, who doesn't want their kiddos to embody love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control?!

So, I started searching blogs and pinterest for activities.  There are some really great ideas out there {including this one from my friend Erin over at Worthy of the Prize, who blogged about having a Fruitful Summer last year and is at it again this summer}.  I pulled from those ideas and customized it to what I thought would be practical and impactful in this season of life.  I didn't want to do anything TOO structured because I can {finally} admit that we are not a super-structured family in the summer.

My plan is to share the set-up here and then blog each week on the specifics of each fruit.  Please bear in mind that I customized this for my particular kiddos (aged 8, 6, and 2), so some of this may work for your family and some of it may not.  My intention was to come up with things that we could incorporate into our day, so I purposefully did not plan "events", but rather ways to channel our seemingly never-ending summer energy. :)

Setting up:

  • Sticker Chart or some other tracking system for Fruitful Acts {We're using a tally chart as pictured below}
  • Fruit of the Spirit Printables for Displaying around the House {like this, this, and this}

  • Activity Supplies:
    • 9 Small Canvases and art supplies for M
    • Plants/seeds for C (he chose this...he LOVES nature!)
    • Fruit Coloring Card for B (Print two and make a memory match game when they are all colored)-Using this Printable

  • Fruit for Snacks for Each Week
  • Fruit “Badges”:
    • Charm bracelet with charms for each fruit for M
    • Rock Garden with 1 Rock Labeled with each fruit for C
    • Tree with places for thumbprints for B

Specifics for Week 1: LOVE

Oh, how I LOVE my chalkboard!

  • Definition: a feeling of attachment and affection for another person
  • Song: Love One Another (The Happy Way)
  • Verse: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
  • Chart: Earn Love “Fruit” for 10 Acts of Love (Love Charm for M's bracelet, Stone for C’s Rock Garden, Thumbprint for B’s Tree)**
  • Fruit for Snack: Strawberry
  • Craft:
    • M: LOVE Mixed-Media Canvas
    • C: Strawberry plant seeds
    • B: Strawberry Card from Coloring Page 
**So far, this is my FAVORITE thing.  We are using dry erase markers to tally each kiddo's displays of love.  The idea is that someone other than themselves notices them exhibiting love and gives recognition for it.  It's been super fun to see how they are encouraging each other to show acts of love and cheering each other on when they receive tally marks.

Feel free to use any/all of this in your household...I'll be back soon with specifics on our JOY week <3

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Adoption is a beautiful thing.  The very fact that we have had the freedom to grow our family in this way continues to blow me away.  I just look at Bek's sweet, beautiful face and watch him interact with our family, and I am truly in awe of the blessing that has been given to us through adding him as our fifth member.

He is fun and silly and smart and musical and just amazing.

So much of this journey we've been on since he came home 11 months ago has been filled with joy.  We have learned to be sensitive to our little man's needs, which has helped us to be more sensitive to the needs of our other two children.  People often comment how well adjusted and attached he is to us, and their observations are accurate to what we experience at home.  Like I said, it's a beautiful thing.

In daily living, as we enjoy each other and learn about each other, it is easy to glaze over the fact that out of our joy, Bek's little life began with so much sorrow.  We are so thankful that he is OURS forever that sometimes we forget to pause and remember the price of his coming to our family.

In adoption, there is this thing called a "traumaversary".  I'm not entirely sure where it originates, but basically, it is the anniversary of a traumatic event in the life of an adopted child.  Some believe that children may act out or experience some PTSD-like symptoms on or around their own significant date(s) each year.  I tend to believe that while it is important to watch for this, it should also be a time of remembrance; a memorial day of sorts to remember the events and the people who sacrificed for our son.  My heart is broken for the loss that took place for Bek, for his family members who had to say good-bye, and for his care-takers as we took him from the orphanage.  I'm sad at all the decisions that had to be made and the hearts that had to be broken.

I am thankful, and so humbled, that I get to be Bek's mommy.  And so, today, June 2nd, I will hold my baby tightly, rock him, stroke his face and sing his song (as he requests when he's sleepy), and think about the two month old version of him as he was placed in the orphanage director's arms exactly two years ago.

And I'll ask God to grant peace to all who are affected by his traumaversary.  And then I'll kiss his cheeks and his big, beautiful lips, and I'll thank God that I get to be a part of this amazing kid's life.

Monday, May 27, 2013

#publicschoolmissionary Turns Six

Mr. Camden (who I often hashtag as #themiddlechild on my instagram pictures of him) turned six this month.  In true Chase fashion, we found a way to celebrate his birthday for over a week.  It's how we roll! ;)

We started celebrating the weekend before his birthday with the Campbell side.  Camden has two birthday buddies in our family.  Nevin, who is exactly three days older than him, and Jovie, who is exactly one year younger.
I just can't help but smile from ear to ear at this picture, so thankful for how God has built our family in such amazing ways.  Just so blessed!

The next day {on his actual birthday}, we brought cupcakes for his class at school and then our little family of five went out to eat at his favorite restaurant, Logan's Roadhouse.
The following Saturday, we took a roadtrip with his two kindergarten boy cousins and their mamas and we met everybody's favorite fifth grader (cousin Isaac) and his family in Kansas City.  After lunch at Fritz's, we spent the afternoon at Lego Land.  So much fun!

Camden also met some other milestones in May; receiving a perfect attendance award, getting a major haircut, moving downstairs into his new room, losing his second tooth, competing in his first little swim meet, and graduating from kindergarten, to name a few.

And I would be remiss if I didn't do a little commentary here about this little guy and his HUGE heart.  I recognized it two years ago and blogged about it here; having him in kindergarten just solidified what I saw that summer at camp.

Camden is so boisterous and full of life and he keeps our entire family on our toes.  He does everything with reckless abandon, which includes loving others.  As an example, when his sister was at home sick one day this month, he made this for her at school (unprompted): 

He also applies that passion to sharing the love of Jesus with everyone he meets.  I watch him in complete awe as he asks strangers in the checkout lane at the grocery store if they know where our church is or makes a bold statement about God for all to hear.

This also transfers to school, which is where I got his #publicschoolmissionary name.  Here are some of my favorite stories from his teacher (and other staff at his school) of his boldness in sharing Jesus' love at school:
  • While monitoring the bathroom, Camden can be heard saying things like "God would be very happy with how you are washing your hands."
  • Once, while in one of his classes, his friend was making a bad choice.  Camden placed his hand on his friend's and said "would Jesus be happy with that choice?"
  • Camden has a friend in his class, Aiden, whose daddy had surgery.  Aiden decided he wanted to pray for his daddy, so he asked Camden and his teacher to pray for him and they did...right there in the middle of class.
  • Camden's teacher had the students line up one day as they were getting ready to go to one of their events for the day.  Their class was all standing quietly when she heard him whispering "God's not dead, He's surely alive, He's livin' on the inside, Roaring like a lion!" and before she knew it, he was leading half the class in singing this bold song.
  • At lunch, Camden was overheard talking to his friend about the trinity.  Then, he asked the teacher doing lunchroom duty "Is Jesus really three people in one, you know...God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?"

I'm sure there are more, but the fact is, my little guy has the makings of a really amazing youth minister or missionary or something along those lines.  I have big, big expectations for this passionate little boy that we are blessed to get to parent.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Orphan Hosting

I had the opportunity to attend the Created for Care Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in March.  It was awesome...I learned so much and had the best time with sweet friends that I got to meet along our adoption journey.  I'll blog more about that amazing experience at a different time, but today I've been made aware of an urgent need that I first learned about at that conference and I can't shake the feeling that I HAVE to share it here.

Before the conference, I had never even heard of Orphan Hosting and had no idea what it even was.  What I learned will forever change me.  

I've long known that orphans across the globe are much less likely to be adopted if they are older, have special needs, or are waiting with their siblings.  It's a truth that's hard to process and has left me wondering "what can I do" about these sweet young children, who, through no fault of their own, could realistically grow up without a mother or a father until they "age out" of their orphanage and are left to live adulthood without knowing the permanency of a childhood home.

For me, right now, advocating for waiting children and Orphan Hosting is the answer.  I pray this blog post answers your questions about Orphan Hosting and that it stirs your heart to consider if God would have you join this crusade to bring the mission field to your home and show an orphan the love of Jesus, if only for 5-6 weeks.

The following information is taken from Wide Horizons for Children's Orphan Hosting Program, the program that has an urgent need for host families as they have 29 orphans who still need hosting for the summer session and the deadline is this Wednesday.  These are children who have been prepared to come to America for this program.  Please pray for them to find host families and ask God if that host family should be YOU! :)

What is Orphan Hosting?
Christian families (like you!) can invite an orphaned child from Latvia, Ukraine or China to become a member of your family for a period of time.   We offer orphan hosting programs three times a year.  5-6 weeks in the summer (Late June – Early Aug.), 5 weeks over Chinese New Year (Jan-Feb) and 4-5 weeks over Christmas Holidays (Mid Dec. – Mid. Jan.).  Being included as a member of a family and receiving unconditional love gives an orphan HOPE for a better future. Learning they do have a Father, the same Father in heaven who loves us all, gives an orphan the promise they are never alone.
NHFC is the largest faith based orphan hosting organization in the USA.  Since 2002, thousands of orphans have been hosted through our ministry, matching orphaned children to Christian host families nationwide.  Typically about 450 children per year are served and growing!

How does it work?
Four times a year, our mission team travels overseas to meet and interview children in their orphanages. A host family is able to select the orphan they would like to host through our password protected online photo listing which provides a recent photo and brief biography. Matching begins after each interview trip.
Hosting is open nationwide and ideal for Christian families with a heart for missions, but cannot travel overseas for a mission trip. In this case, we bring the mission into the family and local congregation.  Host families agree to help cover the cost of airfare and other incidentals and provide these children with an intimate view into life inside a family.
Many of these children have never had a positive family experience. They get a first hand glimpse of what healthy relationships can be! Some of these children have never experienced love in a healthy manner or been able to show affection. They also learn about hygiene, American culture, and they’re immersed in the English language! Their lives can be impacted greatly by their time in the U.S.A. and in your family.

Why is Orphan Hosting so Important?
Orphans usually feel left out, left behind and unworthy. Their self esteem is many times so low because they have been labeled in their home city by peers as “orphans”. After coming on our program for 4-5 weeks over Christmas holidays or during the summer months, most children learn as much English as they would typically learn in 4-5 semesters if taught at home in their school. This gives the children pride in themselves and helps boost their self esteem tremendously!
Receiving unconditional love and nurturing and being treated as a member of their host family who will usually maintain contact even after the child returns home to their orphanage. This gives them hope. Learning that they do have a Father, the same Father in Heaven that we all have…who loves us dearly and is always with us and lets them know they are never alone.

What do I do if God tells me to say YES to Orphan Hosting?
Step 1: View the Available Children: Children’s Photolisting
Step 2: When You Have Found One or More Children that you Love, sign up with the PRE-APPLICATION
For more information, you can view WHFC's Orphan Hosting brochure here and here.

Thank you, friends, for sharing my passion and for praying about what you can do.

P.S. Watch the blog for more information on how Orphan Hosting will affect our family in the Summer of 2014 :)