Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Date

Our evenings before, on, and after Christmas are mostly spent at parties with family and friends.  This year was no different, except that we had one night with no plans - the Friday before Christmas.  We decided to plan a relaxing night out together in the midst of the busyness of the season.  

We spent the evening in Grand Rapids - starting with dinner at a new restaurant to us - The Green Well.  It was excellent...seriously...go there!

Our next stop was Frederick Meijer Gardens.  They have a Christmas tree exhibit displaying trees from around the world. The middle picture on the left is a representation of an African Christmas tree.  They also had a cool train exhibit and thousands of Christmas lights outside to see.

For our last stop we planned to go downtown to Rosa Parks Circle to ice skate, but the wait was way too long for skates.  We decided to just watch the skaters for a bit and then get some dessert...not a bad 2nd choice!  Plus, while we were there it started snowing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Small Group Ugly Sweater Bowling Thai Palace Christmas Party

Ok, so this was not a typical Christmas party, but we had a blast.  Our small group decided to go bowling for our Christmas Party this year- and made it even more fun by wearing ugly sweaters!

The whole gang- even the kids had ugly sweaters!

Nice turtlenecks!

Scott and I wore these sweaters a few years ago for an ugly sweater party- but we forgot how ugly they really were until we pulled them out again.  I also forgot that my sweater had shoulder pads- bonus!

We all decided that Matt was the winner of the ugliest sweater!  Congrats Matt!

After bowling we took our ugliness to Thai Palace for dinner. This was our first time eating Thai food- we loved it and will definitely be back!

We are so thankful for these friends and the way our relationships have grown in the past year!  

Cookies and more Cookies!

It has been tradition for my mom and sister(s) to get together to make Christmas goodies.  This year- Katie was not at home due to just having a baby, so it was just the three of us...and a few "helpers".  Colton and Cassidy made sure all the spoons and beaters were clean!  

As usual, we made way too many goodies!

It has also been tradition to get together with Scott's family to decorate Christmas cookies.  Lauren and Allie worked hard to get these looking good...with a few taste tests too!

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Niece!

Today we welcomed a new niece to our family!  My sister Katie and her husband Andrew had a little girl- Peyton Lydia Gent.  She is a little cutie!  Unfortunately we have not been able to meet her yet since they live in Philadelphia...hoping to be able to meet  her soon (hint, hint Andrew & Katie:).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chicago Weekend

This weekend was our annual Chicago getaway with Scott's family.  We love going to Chicago...especially this time of year! The weather was quite mild for December, which was nice...although a few snowflakes would have been a nice treat:)

On Saturday we did some shopping in Lincoln Park and then headed to a show mid-afternoon.  It was a musical called The Christmas Schooner in a small theater in Lincoln Park.  It was very good and the music was great!  After the show we headed out for some good eats at Maggiano's!  yum.  It started raining after dinner so we took a quick walk to Michigan Ave to see the lights and then headed back to the hotel so the guys could watch the Big 10 Championship game.

On Sunday we spent the day in the city- doing a little Christmas shopping and taking in the sights on Michigan Ave.  And of course...a stop at Trader Joe's!

Monday, October 31, 2011


It has been a while since our last post so we wanted to update you on a few things that took place over the past month.  October has been a month of ups and downs.  Early in the month we were able to take advantage of a beautiful fall weekend by making a quick getaway to Traverse City over the Columbus Day weekend.  The sky was perfectly blue with temps in the 70s all weekend.  We just happened to catch the fall color at its peak as well - a great fall weekend!

We also finished our profile book this past month.  It took a lot of work, but the finished product looks great!  We pray that this book finds its way into the hands of the right person that is carrying our child!  For now though we just continue to play the waiting game.  Our domestic placement could come quickly or take a while.  In mid-October we passed the three month mark since we have been on the waiting list in Ethiopia.

October also brought a significant challenge for our family as Stacey's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  We were all extremely numb and concerned when we heard the news.  There were tense days as the doctors could not pinpoint a diagnosis.  We prayed continually and just a few weeks ago those prayers were answered after a successful surgery and good test results!  We are thankful that she is feeling better and on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Philly & Maine

I am a bit behind with blogging!  Most of my free time has been spent creating our domestic adoption profile book... and I am happy to say that it is complete!  We had our home study update a couple weeks ago, so all that needed to be done was the book.  It is off to print right now, and our case worker can start showing it to potential birth mothers as soon as we get the book back in the mail!  We are excited and a little nervous.  Not having a timeline is hard, but just as we wrote in our profile book - we know that God will shape our family perfectly and we are exited to see what is in store.


The second week in September we took a vacation to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Philadelphia.  We knew we wanted to make the trip there this summer, but did not know when we would do it.  For my 30th birthday Scott surprised me by planning a trip to see them in Philly and then going to Maine for five days!

So, we spent the weekend with them in Philadelphia.  We took in some traditional Philly sights - the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Christ's Church, and even authentic Philly Cheese Steaks.

Philly Cheese Steaks!

 Christ's Church...where George Washington attended.

Ok, so we didn't actually wait in line to go see the Liberty Bell, but we could see it pretty well looking in from outside.

Independence Hall (for the National Treasure buffs)

Katie and Andrew are expecting a little girl in December, so we did a little photo shoot while we were there at Valley Forge National Park.

Katie kindly returned the favor by taking a few pictures of us for our adoption profile book!

After spending the weekend in Philly, we flew out on Monday to Boston and then started driving up the coast of Maine.  Our 1st stop was Kennebunkport and then on to Portland - where this beautiful lighthouse is located.

We continued north to a cute little town called Camden where we stayed at a bed and breakfast for the 1st time.  I would recommend it...the inn-keepers were very friendly and helpful and the breakfast was great!  The evening we were there we decided to go sailing since neither of us had ever gone before.

Our final destination was Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.  We loved these areas and they were the favorite part of our trip!

Lobster is everywhere!  We tried whole lobsters for the 1st time...lets just say we needed a little help from our server to get at the goods:)  Gotta love the bibs!

We did a little hiking in Acadia National Park.  The trail we chose got a little more challenging than we were expecting:)

After our hike we had seafood chowder and popovers at Jordan Pond House (a very popular restaurant in the park).

Jordan Pond - what we overlooked during lunch...too bad it was foggy:(

Overlooking the town the Bar Harbor from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

We had a great trip and loved seeing the beautiful rocky coast of Maine.  On Friday we headed back to Boston to fly out the next day, so we spent the evening in downtown Boston.  I did not take my camera, but it was a really cool city that we would like to go back too at some point.  Scott's Boston highlight - driving by Fenway Park:)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Adoption #2

Throughout the summer we have been praying about what our family will look like long term.  Through this God has led us to a point where we have decided to pursue a domestic infant adoption simultaneously with our Ethiopian adoption!  

We hope to have more than one child in our family and are excited about the opportunity to adopt domestically as well.  This isn't a decision that was made lightly.  In fact last year we began to think about a domestic infant adoption even before we committed to Ethiopia.  Over the past few months doors have opened for us and made it clear that this was something we needed to be obedient in.  So here we go!  

We are very excited about it and have had a few meetings with Bethany Christian Services already.  The domestic process is very different and much easier from a paperwork standpoint.  We hope to have our home study amended shortly and become eligible to adopt within a few months!  The domestic process differs from Ethiopia in that the birth mother will pick us as opposed to a specific waiting period and list.  So, we may be picked right away or we may have to wait a long period of time to be chosen.

Nothing will change on the Ethiopian adoption front - we have been on the waiting list for almost 2 months now and the referral waiting time is still 8-14 months.

So, our journey to our 2nd adopted child, or maybe 1st adopted child begins!  And yes, there is a possibility that they could be very similar in age!  We are so excited to see how God's plan for our family unfolds!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lovin' Michigan Summers!

We have had a great summer and this weekend was no exception!  Most of our time on the weekends is spent in, on or around Lake Michigan.  We love to take full advantage of the lake and all it has to offer.  We started our weekend on Friday night with dinner in Saugatuck.  Our family/friends Robb and Katie joined us for dinner along the river on a perfect night!

On Friday night Scott and I took a walk to Big Red and the South Pier in Holland.  The lake was quite rough, but it was another beautiful night.  Later that night we headed downtown to join Scott's sister and bro-in-law, Lisa & Mike at New Holland Brewery.

Many Sundays in the summer are spent boating on Lake Michigan with Scott's family.  This Sunday the lake was too rough for boating, so we spent the afternoon together at Oval Beach.

On our way home from Oval Beach, Scott and I noticed that Taste of Saugatuck was going on that day until 7 pm.  So, we rushed home to change clothes and headed back to Saugatuck for dinner.  We ate some delicious fish tacos (yes, Kate L.- they were great!) and a few other goodies from local restaurants.

Summer weekends will soon be ending, but we have so many things to look forward to this fall!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Children's Books on Adoption

While we are in this time of waiting for our referral, I decided to start a little library of children's books relating to adoption and/or diversity.  We feel that it is so important for our child/children to know their adoption story even at a young age!  So, I started searching for adoption and diversity related children's books and found some great ones.

These are all great books that I would recommend!

I have my eye on a few more that I have not purchased yet:
The Skin You Live In  By: Michael Tyler
The Colors of Us  By: Karen Katz.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for must-read children's adoption books!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19

On July 19, 2010- the day before we lost Carson- the 1st of our twin boys, I read this in my devotional. Hope By: Nancy Guthrie.

Losing Your Life
If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but if you give it up for me, you will find it. 
-Matthew 10:39

Last weekend I called a young woman who wrote me after losing her firstborn son, who lived two days before dying in her arms.  His genetic abnormality is likely to repeat itself in the future children she and her husband may have.  "I want to be a mother," she wrote to me.  "I want to have purpose and meaning in my life.  I want to move on with whatever God has for me- but I don't know how to do any of these things.  How do I mourn the possibility that I will never have a child of my own, when that has been my heart's greatest desire for as long as I can remember?"

We had a precious conversation, but I could tell that the high cost of what I was calling her to do- no, that Jesus was calling her to do- was staggering.  Jesus calls us to abandon our own agendas, what we have deemed will please and fulfill us, so that we can embrace the kind and quality of life that only he gives.  This is not about adding Jesus to the life we are living.  This is about making Jesus our life.  This is about putting our plans for our lives to death so that the abundant life he offers has room to take root and grow.  And death is always painful.  This is not an extreme brand of discipleship only for go-getters.  This is the call for everyone who chooses to be a follower of Jesus.

The problem is,  we don't really believe that God's plan for our lives could be better than the one we've crafted.  We don't believe we could be as fulfilled by the life he offers as we would be by the one we've planned.  It takes a step of faith to believe God will supply satisfying life now and when we die.

"Your son has given you an incredible gift," I told this grieving mom.  "He has given you the gift of being forced to reconsider the very purpose of your life.  Those who are sailing through a comfortable life at this point have not yet been forced to carefully consider their lives and surrender their dreams.  But because you have been shaken to the core, you see clearly that if you cling to your own plans and desires, you will never discover the freedom and joy found in losing your life for Jesus."
When I read this on July 19, I had no idea what the next days and weeks would bring.  Only God knew.  

I do not think it was a coincidence that I read this that night.  He had it planned that I would read page 52 on July 19.  He knew that I would read page 52 countless times over the next year.  And he knew how it would slowly sink in. 

Putting our plans to death was incredibly hard.  Now we realize that His plans are better than anything we could ever dream ourselves.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine

Last Friday we went to Grand Rapids to try an Ethiopian restaurant for the first time.  We went with Brent and Kerri - another couple from Hamilton adopting from Ethiopia.  We have actually had very similar timing in our adoption processes.  Our dossiers traveled to Ethiopia on the same day and we both got word that we are officially on the waiting list this past Thursday.  So, we had reason to celebrate!

None of us had ever had Ethiopian food, so we were interested to try it.  The owner/host/waiter/cook (yes, one man did it all!) helped us pick out what to order.  We told him we were adopting from Ethiopia and he suggested we try the chicken and lamb with all the sides.  

This is how the food is served:

Each platter had the same sides, but one had chicken and one had lamb.  The sides included salad, lentils, chickpeas, cabbage vegetable combination, and green beans.  

We were not given silverware to eat with...that is what the injera is for.  Injera is the white rolls on each platter.  It is kind of like a spongy bread or pancake.  You tear a piece off and use that to pick up the food.

The food was very spicy!!!  We did like most of the food.  It was very tasty - even though it does not look very appetizing.  

Overall we had a great experience and would definitely recommend it to any one else who is adopting from Ethiopia!  The owner sat down with us at the end of our meal and told us a bit about Ethiopia.  He moved here 30 years ago, but it was still very interesting to hear him talk about his home country!

Thanks Brent & Kerri for experiencing a touch of Ethiopia with us!