Monday, August 30, 2010

Fast and Slow

My life seems to be in high gear with each day flying by in a blur. School, coaching, e-mails, grading/planning, put the kids to bed REPEAT. Then we are busy running youth retreats on the weekend. My son has started second grade and I have yet to find the time to post a single picture. Then someone will ask "how is the adoption process going?" Slow. I wonder everyday where our child is and who the little person is. Referals have been coming very slowly for our agency, which is partly due to the closure of the courts in Ethiopia. They are closed during the rainy season, August & September. I can only hope that we will recieve our referal in six to seven more months. I would love for my life to slow down and for the adoption to speed up :0)

Tony

Monday, August 16, 2010

FPU & Adoption

Financial Peace University; a finance course lead by Dave Ramsey, a talk radio host and finance guru. I read Dave’s book “The Total Money Makeover”, which was given to me about a year earlier by a church member and he shared with me how the course was changing his life. Well, after reading the book and hearing what the fellow member had to share, I attended the first course offered at our church and it started in January of this year.

In January and February we were finalizing our decision to adopt from Ethiopia. After praying and researching for months, we decided to say yes to the call on our lives. I always thought we would adopt but I never knew what it would like for our family. The funny part is that a year earlier we decided we were done having children, but God had bigger plans for us. For those who may not realize it, adoption is very expensive ($25K - $30K). As we were saying yes to the call, we were not sure how we would pay for it.

As I continued through the Financial Peace University course I learned how important it is to get out of debt completely. No car loan, no student loan, no credit card debt, Life insurance, wills, investments…Etc. It is a great finance course and I encourage everyone to take it. I really believe that God led us into this course, and into adoption. My huge struggle was, how could God call us to go deeper in debt (adoption) and at the same time call us to be debt free. Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender”. I was so torn by this, I prayed and prayed asking God “am I hearing wrong?”. We continued attending the classes into March and by this time we had officially started the process with our agency AGCI. I continued to pray and ask if we were following his plan for our life. (maybe you can see what’s coming, if not keep reading because this is good).

There are a total of 13 classes in the FPU course and I would listen to the audio version of every lesson before attending the class and watching the video version. Kind of like watching a movie twice, where you catch stuff you missed the first time. I did this for every lesson accept the final one. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t. So, on the night of the final lesson I sat in my seat proud of the changes my wife and I had made to our budget, and really excited to be on the same page financially. There was no financial stress in our marriage and we had a plan/goal to get out of debt completely. There was just one little hang up, this whole expensive adoption that kept me questioning God’s call on our life. At the beginning of every lesson there is a testimonial given by average everyday people who share about this particular lesson and how it has changed their lives. The testimonial is about a family who is trying to get out of debt and on one cold evening they run into a family from their church. They have some small talk and the family shares how they started with $60k in debt and are now down to $10k. The other family is happy for them and asks them what do you want to do when your debt free. The father laughs and says “I told my kids I would buy them a trampoline”… he laughs and then says “what we would really like to do is adopt.” (This is about the time God hit me right in the heart). The next day when the father was at work the other guy came to pay him a visit and brought him a brand new trampoline. He said “You have worked so hard, and we want to do this for you and your family”. The father was floored “Who does this? Who gives a stranger a gift like this?” He took it home and set it up that night and his kids jumped and played on it until it was too dark to see. About a week later the couple from the church contacted the family and wanted to come over to talk with them about something. Well, the family felt they were up to one of those pyramid schemes and wanted nothing to do with it. The couple was very persistent and finally they agreed to meet. The husband told his wife not to agree to anything. So, the couple arrived at their home checked out the trampoline and then dropped the bomb on the family. “The reason we wanted to meet with you is because you told us if you were out of debt you wanted to adopt. Well we don’t want you to wait. We want to pay off the rest of your debt… now how do you spell your name?” The family couldn’t believe it “Who gives a stranger $10K?” The couple said the only stipulation is that they don’t reveal their identity and that they don’t act weird around them at church.

In the next part of the video they show footage of the families adopted daughter jumping on the trampoline and then leaping into her fathers’ arms. This final lesson was all about giving. I had to get up out of my seat and head to the restroom because of the tears streaming down my face. See for three months I struggled and questioned God’s call on our life, how could he want us to do both of these things at the same time. God revealed to me that night that he led us to the course, so that we could get our finances in order to be able to adopt our child. It was never about the money, but rather all about a little child he has planned for our family. God is SO GOOD.

Up to this point not including what we have paid on our home this year, we paid cash for a nice used minivan, we have spent $11k toward our adoption, and we have also paid off $5k worth of debt. (All of this on a teacher and minister’s salary) We have a plan to be out of debt completely inside of 2yrs. We bought the van because we will need a larger vehicle to fit our soon to be three children in.

This past weekend I was asked to share the ministry moment in our church about the FPU class. I did not choose to share this story with the congregation but I did share how God lead us to take the class. They are offering the class again in the fall and in the winter at our church this year. I can’t wait to see how God changes other family’s lives through this course.



The Dave Ramsey Financial Peace plaza is located in Brentwood, TN. So, after attending the AGCI picnic in Brentwood we stopped by the plaza and took a couple of pictures.



www.daveramsey.com

Tony

Favorable Determination

Great news, we received our “favorable determination letter” from the USCIS immigration department. This is just another small step along our journey to our child.
I wish I had more time to blog about all that is going on each day during our journey, but I can’t seem to find the time. I am a golf coach and our season started about two weeks ago. I start back in the classroom as a teacher officially this Wednesday. My son is starting second grade and my daughter will begin pre-school. I will try to share some pictures of the first day back. I also want to share about a financial class we attended which has helped us in our adoption process. So, I hope to be sharing these few things in the next weeks to come.

Tony

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Canvases are Done

And so is the room!! Woo Whooo! We Love it and hope you do too. We have been waiting for 4-beautiful canvases to be painted by one of our incredibly talented youth form our church. She painted a mural and scripture on the wall about a month ago and it all looks so AWESOME.

The pictures will start with the way the room looked before we started and finish with the way it looks today.




























So beautiful, isn't it? All we need now is a beutiful little baby and the room will be complete and so will our family.

Tony

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nashville Picnic

I can't think of a better way to end our two week vacation then getting to meet and visit with other families that have a passion for adoption. Our agency AGCI held a picnic at a park in Nashville for those who have, are in the process of or might be interested in adopting. The weather was very HOT and humid but thankfully Kristi planned ahead and had some fun water toys for the kids to enjoy.

There were families that travelled from so many different states to come together in fun and fellowship. Gods' presence was there and the day was a huge success. Soon after we began our journey to adoption we learned about this whole new world of blogging (I have never read one or heard much about it). Well, in my curiosity to learn more from others that have gone before us, I began searching and reading. I started following certain families blogs and sending them questions through e-mail. I then decided to start our own blog so we could share with friends and family members in many different cities and states about our adoption.

In a weird sense some of these families from the different blogs have become friends or almost like family (connected by a passion for adoption). So, the picnic was almost like a family reunion but yet most of us were just meeting personally for the first time. What an exciting and enjoyable day. Who cares if I was drenched in my own sweat? I had conversations with some really awesome followers of Christ and I could feel God comforting us as we discovered how much our families were alike. Here are some pictures we took with friends we have met during our journey and through the world of blogging.

Alison and Jody (Lovin much)


Jenni and Lee (1 in 17)


Andrea with Isaac (babe of my heart)


Kristi with Lucy (our family advocating for orphans)


Kristi put together a great video on her journey to her daughter. I have it posted on the bottom of my blog, if you have not seen it please go check it out.

Thank you for a great time,
Tony