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Better late than never

So, I know that it is fall already and the leaves are about to start changing colors…and THANK YOU, LORD that the weather is getting cooler!  However, I thought I would post some fun pics of our summer adventures.  (One day I am going to get fully caught up on this here blog and be able to post the fun that is happening now 🙂  But for now we are going to reminisce about the fun we had this summer! )

Jax & his camp friend, Audrey...he shared his super hero pjs with her & thought it was SO COOL that she wanted to play super heroes with him!

Jaxon with all of his friends at kid's camp at our first week of camp.

Canoeing adventure

JCB & Jax

Jax falling asleep on the merch tub...Sometimes you just have to rest while Dad is rockin!

We were home for a few days and got to go see Toy Story 3 with our friends Sebastian & Ms. Ruth.

HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!

Jax with his friends from Student Life drama team.

Hangin' backstage with Dad at Student Life camp

camp beds don't bother Jax!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POP!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JALYN!!

First "mass mess" with our friends from Louisiana

Enjoying the treat Aaron & Ashley brought jax back from Disney Land.

Our first meal in Romania!

Will eating pig brains...yes...you read right...PIG BRAINS! And he ate every last bite!

Outside the church in Sighisoara

Beautiful roma young ladies!

eating our meals under a lush grape vine canopy

These swings were NEVER empty! The kids would wait & wait in line to swing on them.

finishing up having some fun at rec

JCB with Sabine (the pastor we worked with) checking out the bread ovens they use in the winter time to help provide food for the Roma.

Some of the roma young men

Me & Ash with Mirella & Emily (Sabine's wife & little girl) and our sweet Romanian friend!

The last night of camp some of the families from a near by village came to see their kiddos at camp. It was REALLY fun to get to meet some families!

All our girls!

Here are a few videos for you to enjoy!

This first one is of Jaxon rocking out with JCB in front of about 1,500 kids at Student Life camp.  He made friends with the folks on the drama team and they asked him to be a part of their drama the last day of camp.  It was so cute!

Jaxon got REALLY good at jumping off the diving board this summer.  He learned how to jump off and swim to the edge of the pool without ANY help!  Pretty impressive.  He watched a bunch of kids jump and try to catch a ball, so he wanted to try it.

We got to spend 2 weeks at Ponderosa Pines camp in California.  It was AMAZING!  Jax was brave and wanted to try the zipline.  I was so proud he was so adventurous, but it did make me a bit nervous.  Crazy that he is big enough to do a zipline!!  Sorry the video quality is not so great!

Thanks for letting us share about our fun summer!  It is so fun to have family & friends that care about us and invest in our lives!

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Whew…it has been a LONG time!  I couldn’t believe that the last post we did was February!  I mean, seriously!  Has it REALLY been that long??  February feels like another world away!  Here is the the quickest version I could do with all that has happened since February:

SPRING: Justin was out of commission…on the couch out of commission…all spring because of 2 herniated discs in his lower back.  He had surge in April and has been doing SO GREAT!  We have never experienced a season in our lives quite like we did in the Spring.  We are usually very active & involved, on the go type folks.  However, because he couldn’t do anything we were at home A LOT.  We spent most of our time in the  morning playing in the living room so we could hang with Justin.  In the afternoons we would lay a big blanket out in the backyard and help Justin make his way out to it.  Jax and I would play while Justin had a change of scenery.  It was such an emotional time for us, but looking back it was also very refreshing and restful.  We got to just be a family and hang out and take care of each other together.  The Lord was preparing us for the season that lay ahead.

SUMMER Part 1: We had a GREAT summer doing summer camps with JCB!  We added it all up and here are the figures: 8 weeks of camp, 7 states, 6200 miles, 74 worship services, almost 500 students accept Christ, and almost 9000 people in 2 months….and lots of fun memories were made!  We ended our summer with a JCB mission trip to Romania to lead a youth camp for gypsy teenagers.  Justin and I went last summer to work with the same group of folks.  It was an amazing trip!  We got to see 7 teenagers give their lives to Christ.  We are excited to have an ongoing relationship with our friends in Sighisoara, Romania.  We are already planning to go back again next summer!

SUMMER Part 2:  Most of you know that we have been in the adoption process to get Mae from China for a while now!  Our papers have been with the Chinese government since April 2009.  Our agency is telling us it will still be about 3-5 years before we receive a referral for her.  Crazy to think about how long she has been thought about and prayed for and she has probably not even benn born yet!  We have also been trying for almost 3 years to get pregnant again.  Nothing is wrong with us…just not God’s time for us to have another child by birth.  Hard to deal with a lot of the time, but learning a lot through it.  Over the summer we decided to pursue another adoption while we were waiting for Mae.  We talked and prayed and talked and prayed and decided we wanted to do foster to adopt.  This was a hard decision for me!  I just didn’t know if I could love a child knowing that I may have to give him/her back.  After many conversations with Justin and the Lord, the Lord was real clear with me.  He laid on my heart that my calling and purpose is to LOVE extravagantly and selflessly everyone HE puts in my life.  HIS JOB is to protect my heart and take care of me in the process.  OUCH…and YIKES!  That is a scary thing!  So, we decided to go for it…even though we had lots of questions and lots of emotions about it…we wanted to walk in obedience.  So, our plan was to start the foster to adopt training through an agency here that has been recommended very highly.   Well, a week after we had been home from camps and a week before we left from Romania I received a phone call from a lady that I mentor through an organization I volunteer with in Austin.  This organization works with women and families who are in the cycle of poverty and abuse.  Through introducing them to Jesus, classes, and mentoring relationships we want to help them break that cycle.  CPS was going to remove her granddaughter from her home and she wanted to know if we would take her in as a “kinship” placement.  WOW!  We had actually been praying for this specific little girl!  I received the phone call on Thursday around 10 a.m.  24 hours later (Friday about 10:30) we were headed  home from the courthouse with a beautiful 9 month old baby girl.  We were scared, excited, amazed & heavy-hearted.  We had to witness the mom and grandma kiss their baby girl bye.  AHHH! Ripped our hearts out!  We got to love on her for about a week, and while we were in Romania she stayed with some friends who are finishing up their foster certification.  We were so excited to get back home and get settled in with our new little friend!  One of the neatest blessings is that we are getting to work with her young mom and love on her as we love on this sweet baby!  She will be with us anywhere from 3 months to possibly 18 months.

PRESENT:  Sorting through all the emotions has been hard.  We are having SO MUCH fun, but it is also emotionally hard!  It is hard letting the LORD teach us how to love selflessly and simply because we are so overcome by HIS love for us, we want to love.  I struggle with selfish desires of still wanting a baby for us…that we can keep forever!  The Lord is so sweetly and gently helping me see that life is not about ME…making sure MY desires are fulfilled, having a sweet, comfortable existence, and keeping everything neat and tidy.  It is about giving myself…all of myself…to go to the messy, broken parts of our world to shine the LOVE of Christ!  For this to be genuine, it must come from a love motivated by a selfless love through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is such a convicting example.  Most of the time my actions line up with how God wants me to live, but my heart is kicking and screaming wanting ME to be taken care of….not always selflessly loving others.  Thankfully this is a journey and we get to walk with a gentle, patient, powerful Savior & Father!  We started taking classes this week to get our foster certification.  Excited, scared and a lot of times emotional about what the future holds.  It is SO FUN to love others as a family!  It has been fun to see God grow Jaxon’s heart for our new little friend.  He loves her!!!  She has stolen the hearts of both of the men in my life 🙂

So, here we go….walking together with the Lord as we try everyday to CHOOSE TO LOVE!

I wanted to catch you guys up.  So much as been happening!  We haven’t been able to tell the story to very many people in our lives because it all happened so fast!  We GREATLY appreicate your prayers as we are on this journey!  I will post pics of some of our adventures in a blog REAL soon!

Thanks to all of the superheroes that showed up at our house last Saturday, Jaxon’s b-day was saved from the “Tickle Monster”!  We had so much fun celebrating Jaxon turning 4…and just celebrating the fun of being a BOY!!  Our good friend Scott Wade took some AMAZING pictures for us…check out his stuff at scottwade.com!   ENJOY!!

Today Jaxon turns 4 years old!  Now, I know we are a bit partial, but we just think Jaxon is the coolest kid EVER!  He has such a tender, compassionate heart, but loves to be a boy and play superheroes, sword fight and wrestling.  He is a homebody.  I would say his favorite place to be is at home playing.  But he is always up for a new adventure and loves to travel and be around different people all the time.  I mean, he can make a new friend faster than I can find a good bargain somewhere :).  He loves his mommy and shows it by wanting to help me pick out my jewelry, helping me in the kitchen, acting silly with me, giving me GOOD hugs and picking up cool sticks and telling me that he picked it out for me because he loves me so much!  He loves his daddy and shows it by wrestling on the floor, wanting to go everywhere Justin goes and do everything he does, putting on the same kind of clothes Justin has on for the day and playing superheroes together.  He is witty, perceptive, patient, flexible and just plain FUN to hang out with!  I mean…we LOVE this kid!

Well, it turns out that God thinks Jaxon is pretty amazing, too!  He IS God’s workmanship!  All of these amazing qualities that he has are all because God made him that way…and HE lets us enjoy HIS work!

So, here is what God did for Jaxon today:

Jaxon’s most common prayer since about October has gone something like this:

“God, please let it snow…and where does the snow come from?…and just let it snow so we can build snowmen and have snowball fights. Amen.”

We were driving in the car one day and he said he wanted it to snow REAL bad.  I told him the only thing I knew to do was to ask God for it, so we have been asking him to let it snow BIG!  Almost every night since that day in October he has been praying for it.  Some nights other things were on his heart.  One night he prayed, “Jesus, thank you for our life…and what I want YOU to do for US…is keep us safe when we see lions and gorillas. Amen.”  It was real hard to not chuckle a bit.  He was so serious.  But most nights he asks God for snow and a baby.

We have had some disappointments hearing about everyone around us getting snow and none here in Austin.  I obviously struggled with the disappointment more than he did…I just wanted SO BAD for him to see that God ANSWERS and cares deeply about HIM!  Boy, did God show him that today!  We heard on the weather that there was a chance of snow today, but tried to not get too excited.  It started snowing this morning before we took him to school, and it snowed just about ALL DAY LONG!  Yeah…it didn’t just snow a bit…but ALL DAY LONG we got to watch the snow and play in it!  WOW! What a birthday present from God!  We made 2 snowmen and had some good snowball fights!  Of all the days God could have answered Jaxon’s prayer for snow, He did it on his birthday!  All day long I have been hearing God say, “Happy Birthday JAXON! This is for YOU!!”  That is the kind of Father we have…yes siree, He knows how to give good gifts!!

Matthew 7:11 says “If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”  I am learning that part of the “how much more” part is that God knows the PERFECT timing for HIS gifts!  He is patient to work and create behind the scenes until everything is just right for Him to give us indescribable gifts!  Part of the wisdom and perfection in His gifts is the fact that He has impeccable timing!  I will be the first to admit that “timing” is HARD to wait for and believe Him in!  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving us strength and courage to WAIT for Father’s GOOD GIFTS!!  Thank you, God, for today….and THANK YOU for JAXON!!

Enjoy some pics!!!

rolling up the snowman's body

snowman #1

YAY! It's snowing!!

me and justin with snowman #2...jax is our photographer!

a pic of the snow coming down...it just doesn't seem to do it justice!

Verge

I don’t remember the last time I went to a “conference” per say, but I went to one this past weekend that was anything but that. Verge Conference, centered around Missional Community, took place here in Austin this past weekend. It wasn’t really a conference at all. It was a bunch of people looking for something different. It was a lot of people who love the church, and are perhaps frustrated with it. It was Mega church pastors, and house church groupies and everything in between, and the one common denominator: our love for Christ and His church. I wont tell you who spoke, because it didn’t totally matter. I wont say who led worship, because I know he wouldn’t want the notoriety. You can visit http://www.verge2010.org to see some quotes and what people are saying.

I truly feel like a movement has begun. I believe that this might be the beginning of radical change in the modern day church. I think people are tired of doing business as usual, and they know that Christ didn’t intend for things to be that way. For me, the worship was convicting. Not because of anything anyone said or sang, but because the Spirit was so thick. I’m a worship leader. I’m in worship services all the time, and I genuinely can’t remember the Spirit having ever been that thick before. I think it was also good for me to be in a place where people seemed to get it. They weren’t there to play church games, or learn the next new strategy for growing their church. I believe we met to hear God say “I want justice… that’s what I want” (Amos 5:24 The Message). I’m still processing all that I felt, learned, heard, and thought. I’ll try to post more as those things become more clear.

Just a quick update on adoption: We’re still in “wait mode”. The opportunity to foster a Haitian child has pretty much closed. The Haitian government is not letting any more orphans out of the country who don’t already have adoptions in process. We’re okay with that… we just felt like God wanted us to make ourselves available to foster a child when that opportunity was in front of us. We haven’t heard any new news from China. The process is pain-stakingly slow. We’ve prayed about other options (different country, special needs child) and we just keep hearing God say “wait”. So that’s what we’re doing. We are so thankful for all of your prayers, support, and encouragement. If anything changes, or if there is any “new” news. We’ll post immediately. Until then… we continue to choose to love those around us… and we hope you do too.

WOW! You just never know what a week could bring!  Thanks for taking this ride with us and praying for us!  I wanted to give you guys the latest on what is happening…so, here goes….

HAITI:

The word, as of today, is that Hope for Orphans is working with Haiti Children’s Rescue Mission (HCRM).  They are working with the U.S. Embassy to gain approval for 21 children who were in the process of adoption before the earthquake hit to leave Haiti and be united with their forever families.  They also have +/- 40 children who were not in the process of adoption yet, but were orphans before the earthquake.  Hope for Orphans and HCRM is going to approach the U.S. to try to gain approval for these kids to enter the U.S.  These 2 organizations have families who are homestudy approved and ready to go for these kiddos.

Justin and I received a call from Robyn, who is with Hope for Orphans, and had an informal phone interview with her.  She wanted to know our story and how far along we were in the adoption process.  She asked about our journey with wanting to host/adopt a child from Haiti.  We had a GREAT time talking on the phone.  During our time on the phone she wanted to know what age of child we would be interested in.  In these situations it is SO HARD to have a preference!  We want to just do whatever God wants us to do.  However, in our almost 2 years of being on the adoption journey, we feel strongly that Jaxon needs to stay our oldest child.  Unless God makes it VERY clear otherwise.  Birth order is important and we want to be wise in our decisions for Jaxon.  She looked through the profiles of children that were available and the youngest was 5 years old.  I was disappointed, but she affirmed that it is a wise decision to keep your oldest child, the oldest.  She told me it looked like that door was closed for now, but they would keep our information on file and if any more new developments happened with younger children, she would let us know.

It was a big drop on our emotional rollercoaster.  I am naturally an optimist, so I just knew this was going to work out.  We have been trying and waiting to grow our family for over 2 years now.  I was SO excited about the possibility for God to use our family as He gave us our hearts’ desire for more children.  So, here we go again….struggling through this risky walk of faith!  I am BELIEVING A BIG GOD TO DO BIG THINGS IN OUR LIVES!!  We will continue to pray and hurt for all the HARD things happening in Haiti…knowing GOD sees ALL and He will be those children’s BIGGEST Advocate!

JUSTIN’S BACK:

Sunday we finally had to make a trip to the ER.  Justin was in just excruciating pain.  We had the easiest ER experience in the history of ER experiences!  We got him wheeled in straight to the back and onto a hospital bed.  The nurse was waiting on us and the doctor was in the room within minutes.  He got a powerful pain killer shot and was feeling better…still in lots of pain, but better…within the hour.  He had an MRI done Monday morning which confirmed that He had 2…yes 2…bulged discs.  They were bulging into his spinal column hitting his sciatic nerve….aha….that explains all the pain!  He has started an intense chiropractic/physical therapy regiment.  Today has been his best day!  He is still needing to take some of the pain medicine and muscle relaxers, but he is able to slowly walk. YAY!  It is going to be a slow recovery, but thankfully it looks like he will be able to make a full recovery without surgery!! Thank you SO much for everyone who prayed for him!!  We would LOVE for you to keep him in your prayers as he works to make a full recovery!

I do need to brag on Jax for a bit.  O.K. he is the kindest little boy!  I mean, he was a champ at helping with Justin.  He would bring him ice, water, his houseshoes…anything he thought he might need.  Usually we wouldn’t even ask him.  He just wanted to take care of his dad!  What a blessing!  In the midst of a crazy, emotional week, it sure was fun watching him and seeing the amazing little dude God has made in him!!

THANKS for being on the journey with us!  We feel so BLESSED to have friends and family like you guys in our lives!!

THANKS GOD!!

Update

Just wanted to let you guys know…

I just got on the Hope for Orphans blog (hopefororphansblog.com) and found out some new information.  It looks like the Haitian government has said that ONLY those children who are in the process of adoption will be allowed to leave the country.  Even if Hillary Clinton and the State Department allowed refugee visas, the children will not be allowed to leave the country if they are not currently in the adoption process.

Please keep praying for these children.  Proverbs 23:11 in the Message says that orphans have a powerful Advocate who will go to bat for them.  Keep asking and believing God to provide EXACTLY what these sweet little ones need!  HE can work a miracle!

We will keep you posted if there is any new information.