3/30/09 - Prayer Needed for Our Home Study

Our home study has once again been rejected by USCIS, the federal agency that needs to give us approval to adopt internationally. They didn't like the way a question was asked of us and they didn't like the wording of another part. So what does this mean - our wonderful social worker Faith (who encouraged us this weekend with these five, simple words: "We WILL get it right!!)has to fix and resubmit our home study and we have to wait another month for approval. We were hoping to get the form we needed from USCIS this week, so it has been a bit of a blow. But we will persevere in this journey. God will finish the good plan He has begun in us!!

... the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials ... - 2 Peter 2:9a

PRAYER: Please pray for strength for Faith as she changes the home study yet again. Please pray for grace and speed from the USCIS as they look at our home study once again. Please pray that we would stay rooted in and be encouraged by God's word! And pray that God would be getting the glory in all!!

3/14/09 - Our Zoo Day

As members of the Milwaukee Zoological Society (which simply means we have a pass to the Milwaukee County Zoo) and lovers of animals and information, we frequently make trips up there. It’s about an hour from our house, admission and parking are paid for with the pass, and you can bring food in with you. This is a place we can’t wait to take our kids to one day!!

One day last summer, after we had been accepted into the America World Ethiopian program, we started looking at the maps by the animals to see which ones still lived in any part of Ethiopia. We were a little geeky as we got all excited and would say, “This ones from Ethiopia!” Anyway, we visited a couple of weekends ago. The weather was really nice and it was ‘Behind the Scenes’ Weekend (AMAZING!). But our main goal was to take pictures of all the animals still found in Ethiopia today. Here are our beginning searches:

How majestic - look at the king of the jungle! Simba (we guessed it wasn't Mufasa becuase of the 'spooning' picture below!) and Nola were very active. When we bring our kids we will decide each time if we think they are Simba and Nola or Mufasa and Sirabi!!

Further over in the Big Cat House:

Don't they look like statues! The cheetahs were really up and moving the day we were there. They are so beautiful!

A stop at the Small Mammal house:

Meet Mike, the dwarf mongoose! This is the animal, although probably not a dwarf variety, that Riki Tiki Tavi is! Looking forward to reading that story to our children.

Now on to Amy's favorites:

giraffes! They were inside because of the chilly weather but we'd never seen any sitting down before! And in the summer months, for a small fee you can actually feed the giraffes. Amy did that last summer with our nieces and boy a giraffe's head is really big when you're that close!! We can't wait to feed the giraffes with our kids!

A great day! We'll be on the look out in different areas of the zoo on our next visit.

My Beautiful Prayer Reminder

I found this at the Hallmark store the other day, and with my 20% off coupon it was a steal! It sits on my kitchen windowsill where I see it every morning. It calls me to pray and most recently has called me to pray for the Semlow family, friends from my Yahoo group, and the release of their 3 children from Ethiopia, Isaiah, Josiah, and Lydia. The family received their referral in September of 2008 and has had one disappointment after another in trying to pass through the Ethiopian court system. Please say a prayer for these children, by name, as you finish reading this!

The Blue Adoption Crate

This is the blue crate that currently houses all our adoption paperwork! It is an alphabetized hanging file folder - we got the idea to organize this way from reading another blog: birth certificates under "B," marriage license under "M," etc. It began it's journey in our basement, but after the second round of flooding (you would have thought we would have learned after the first time) it moved to it's present home, a chair in our sun room.

And guess what? All our paperwork is presently in it!! We are just waiting for federal approval, the I171-H form, which should come in the mail sometime in the next few weeks!

And who knows, maybe someday depending on the age of the children we are blessed with, the blue crate will be exchanged for a high chair!

3/16/09 - Samantha's Excitement!

Since last November, when we first told our niece Samantha we were adopting from Ethiopia, she has been SO EXCITED! Almost every time we see her she wants to talk about the "new cousins" and how they will feel when they get here. Samantha is in second grade and will be 8 next month. Her sister and our other niece Maddy Jo is 5 years old and in kindergarten. They both know the cousins won't be here until they are in third and first grade but that doesn't stop the excitement!

This is a picture of Samantha loving up on her doll Ester. Ester was a Christmas gift Samantha asked for. Ester talks, moves her head, and drinks water, and Amy was pretty excited about playing with the doll too! Whenever Samantha is going to see us, Ester always comes with. FYI - You can just see Maddy Jo's face in the picture frame on the table behind Samantha's arm!

Samantha has also been very eager to learn about Ethiopia and the continent of Africa. This is a book she checked out of the library at her school and read to us one weekend.

In her excitement, Samantha even asked a little African American boy in her class, "Where are you from? Are you from Ethiopia?" to which the boy replied, "I don't know!" We explained that not every African American is from Ethiopia!!

But it has been so wonderful to see her interest and love for these children she hasn't even met. And Maddy Jo is excited too! As we do things as an extended family - our Galena Weekend, zoo trips, birthday parties - we talk about what it will be like to have the new cousins there some day too!!

3/05/09 - Children's Room - Part Two

After attending a special training last fall and completing an exercise, we realized our children would look at the wonderful murals on the bedroom wall but not see anyone that looked like them. Mike made some changes in what he had already painted as well as these additions:

Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz (Amy's favorite story in the Old Testament)

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16

David and Goliath

You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty. I Samuel 17:45
Daniel and the Lion's Den
And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23
Overview of Wall 3
Mike will soon start sketching Jesus and two children, the last of the murals!

3/02/09 - Children's Room - Part One

We first brainstormed all the murals we wanted Mike to paint on the walls of our second bedroom on the drive home from our honeymoon! Mike began sketches soon after and in the fall of 2004 began drawing and painting the walls in his "free time!" We are very excited to present 6 of the 10 paintings, complete with the Bible verse that is written next to them!

Adam and Eve
(Amy's idea for the tree to be in the corner of the room.)

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

Noah's Ark

close up of Mike's favorite animal - gorillas, Amy's favorite animal - giraffes, the dogs Mike likes best - beagles, the two cats Amy has owned Charlotte (black one in Mrs. Noah's arms) and Scout (grey one on the ground)

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 6:13


I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Genesis 26:4a

(who looks like Donny Osmond - who performed in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in Chicago - at Amy's request!)

Now Jacob loved Joseph . . . and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. Genesis 37:3


(the brilliant closet door opening idea was Mike's.)

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Exodus 14:21-22

Rahab and the Spies

By faith Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31

Overview of Wall 1:

Overview of Wall 2:
Mike has the next three pictures painted - Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz; David and Goliath; and Daniel in the Lion's Den (wall 3). Amy just needs to write those verses on the wall and take pictures before adding them here. The last picture will be of Jesus playing with 2 children (wall 4). Mike will draw and paint Jesus and the outline of the two children but will leave the details blank - until we get our referral!