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.