Flashback Friday…..Colombia, here we come

A year ago, we were on our way to Colombia to meet our daughters. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. We felt great about how well our agency prepared us for the trip and  we knew they were just a call away if we needed them in country. When I say they prepared us, I am not kidding!! I plan to give you a daily blog about our adventures in Colombia and you will see how our agency was almost like a family to us!



While on the plane we enjoyed our last day together before becoming a family of 5. It was one of those moments that you laugh, cry, cling to your seat (oh…that was just me), sit in silence, sip on your coffee (which was ordered in Spanish thanks to my awesome hubby), watch the GPS of the plane and fall asleep from pure exhaustion.

Like I said before, our agency prepared us for every step of this journey. So, we knew exactly what to expect when we landed.  A plan is always great if everyone sticks to the plan. Our pilot didn’t get the memo about our plan and dropped us off to catch a bus into the airport. Although, that was a little strange,  we just went with it.  We knew that flexibility had to be part of the journey or we would be stressed every day. So off we went on a bus with people who did not speak our language! We arrived in the airport and found our driver. I have to admit it was fun having someone waiting there for you with your name on a sign. She was precious and we learned later that she was one of the most important people we would spend time with.

As we road towards our apartment, we were able to see our first view of Bogota. It was amazing! I love when you arrive in a new place and are captivated by everything around you! We entered our apartment ( which we joked that the girls would be disappointed when they saw our home because the apartment was so NICE!) and like I said before, our driver was not only our driver. She walked us up, translated for us, and made sure we had everything we needed before leaving us that night. After she left we just sat in awe of the beautiful apartment that we would bring our girls home to the next day.


Room for 2

This is the fun part….the bedroom!

First, I found an inspiration picture and went from there. I had colors picked out that were very soft. They were pink, brown, aqua, white, and gold. I wanted a soft relaxing space for our girls. It needed to be a special place. So, we have some amazing things added to this space that made it just perfect and unique for our girls. It is a very small office space with NO closet and did I mention there are girls living here! This was a huge concern for me so we are embracing the word SIMPLE!

As we were waiting to meet our girls, we were able to send them a package. In the package we sent them each a doll. These dolls were the first real object they had from us that they started to bond with. They carried these dolls everywhere.

These bears pictured below were just the perfect gift from our pastor! They have the year they were adopted on them. Also, I heard from a bird that he also picked out the clothes for these bears. Can I say that I love my pastor! He is definitely an example of loving people! They absolutely love all the animals they received at the airport!

DSC_0713 DSC_0715One of the things I loved about the inspiration picture was the polka dots on the wall. They added the perfect touch! They turned out amazing but we definitely had some frustration applying them. With my lack of wanting to measure anything and our awesome house that is not level….there were some challenges. Thank goodness for friends with a laser level and my husband!


I had this wonderful vision of two twin metal beds…it was perfect in my mind. Then I had a reality check….this room could not fit the beds. (insert some weeping here….I really wanted those beds) The best bed for this room was definitely the bunk beds. The search for bunk beds took a whole day. I wanted them to be sturdy yet affordable. We found a great deal and my family helped set them up!


As soon as we found out we were getting girls, my sister-in-law started working on some beautiful quilts….and they are almost done!! The girls are going to love them!! And of course the quilts will make this space even more special!

To add another touch of love for the girls, one of my  friends added these pillows to  put on their bed. The material is absolutely my FAVORITE!!! And I am sure these pillows are covered in prayers!

There are also two more pillows that are not shown here that they girls LOVE! A sweet teacher friend made pillows with their names on them. They thought it was neat that they had a personalized pillow!


Globes are super popular right now… especially for adoptive families. I had no idea these things are so expensive! If you are adopting, money for accessories are pretty low on the priority list. So, I was beyond blessed to find out that our family had this globe from my grandpa. He also had the perfect gold lamp! In the Skype session the girls were amazed that it was a touch lamp. He passed away recently and I love that he is the light in their room and the reminder that the world is bigger than just where you live. These girls have big dreams and the world won’t hold them back!


The gold quote says, “The first time I saw you, I knew an ADVENTURE was getting ready to begin!”

DSC_0760This flower vase was fun and easy to make! We had everything to make it except the feathers!

DSC_0761 Did I mention that there is NO closet……so every space is used for storage!

DSC_0771We only had one picture of each of them before we left, so this frame was perfect. It had two places for pictures and the perfect quote in the middle….


We all know that dressers are expensive and I love projects that turn old things into new! So, my mom gave us her dresser to paint. (insert into your mind a wooden colored dresser, because the before picture was deleted by my precious kiddos) This warms my heart every time I see it because it is a piece of my mom. It turned out beautiful! The handles are my favorite!

Also, those frames on the dresser were made by my mom. She used Washi tape….you can use that stuff for ANYTHING!!!


When we got matched I was overwhelmed with the fact that all of my friends are so crafty!! I love it. So, a friend from church wanted to help out and I had the perfect job that I needed done but couldn’t do myself. I gave her fabric and a little idea and she blew me away with her talent!


While I was trying  to find the perfect pieces to make the room work with our budget, I had this amazing friend blessing the socks off me! It was important that there was some Spanish artwork in the room and she made that happen. It was also important to me that the quotes were meaningful. I really wanted to have MOST of the room done before the girls came home. So, she came over late one night and finished my unfinished work….aren’t these polka dots on this dresser fabulous! I can not say thank you enough for her friendship.



The girls love their room and I love that it has so many special things in it to show them they have so many people who love them. Thank you friends for making this space perfect…..and if I forgot to mention you, I’m sorry! There were just tons of you that were involved. I LOVE EACH ONE OF YOU!

No disappointment…only God’s Hand

This adoption process is full of things to check off your list in order to get your beautiful kids home. You make your way through paperwork hoping it will go quickly. For me it hasn’t been emotional. I am just working towards a goal. When we got matched I was excited and a little part of me started realizing that this was really happening.

My past experiences with so many miscarriages have really messed with my ability to become excited before something happens. Sadly, I think I have a little doubt when I should just be leaning on my strong Savior who has me in his arms. However, I am not perfect so this is the area of my life I am working on. I wasn’t sure when it would kick in that this adoption was real, I was becoming a mom, and God had been preparing me for this.

Just a few weeks ago my husband and I needed one more document before we traveled to Colombia to pick up our girls. We needed to get our Visa to travel to Colombia and have two Colombian citizens in our custody. We tried to get this done early however, they were closed. The best option was a little risky but why not! Our plan was to get our Visa the day before we got on the airplane. I already had filled out the application online, we just needed to show up, pay, and pick up the Visa.

We woke up early and were the 2nd family in line at the Colombian Embassy. When it was our turn to pay we sadly found out that our application had expired. We had heard that this place was not very helpful because of how busy they are. So, immediately we called our case worker so she could forward some documents and get a new application filled out. However, while I was on the phone with her things changed. The wonderful women at the counter decided she was going to fill out our application and take our picture for us. Then, we tried to pay the fee with our money order and they had raised the price. This was a big deal because you can’t pay with cash….just a money order. However, again this precious women said she would take cash. This was truly God standing right there with us making sure this plan He had, was right on track!

When we left, I was overwhelmed with this feeling….it was finally that feeling…we were ready to get our girls! It reminded me of a doctor’s appointment but instead of leaving with devastating results we were overjoyed! Adoption is not like being pregnant. The emotions are different and the bonding starts at different times. Although some things are very different from a pregnancy…… we are becoming parents!

Unique Surprise Party

Through life you have all different kinds of friends that fall into your life. Sometimes they are just there for a moment  and then you have life long friends that know your deepest feelings. I am truly blessed by the people that surround me. When I think about the details, it is just overwhelming. I just pray that I can bless people the way they bless me. One thing that God has been showing me these past years is :


~I have always been a person that really didn’t want to accept gifts.

*I felt guilty that they were spending money on me.

*I would always feel like I needed to pay them back or convey how thankful I was.

*I would put myself down because I couldn’t do things alone. (this one is just sad…you CAN NOT do life alone)

Then God started to show me that I was missing out big time! When people bless people there is so much more that goes on than you getting a gift. We pray all the time for provision and yet when someone walks up and hands you God’s provision, we say, “No, you don’t have to do that.” instead of saying, “Thank you, Lord!” I would allow my pride to get in the way of God’s wonderful plan. Also, there is more to God providing for you. Blessings are contagious! When you receive with a joyful heart, it just makes you want to go out and bless others. And the person who blessed you, yes…just wait…they have a blessing coming (and mostly likely it’s not from you as a “pay back”)

This is so BIG! I wish I would have understood this early but hey better late than never!

So, to finish my story I want to tell you about how our co-workers knew our heart and blessed the socks off of us. It truly could not have been more perfect!

💗 Late one night we had literally just hung up on Skype with our daughters. It was one of those hectic nights that dinner was not made and we had so much to do. Our oldest daughter had mentioned that we should just get pizza. That was the best idea ever! She said, lets just go get it. Well, that was a little odd because we usually called in the order before we left to go get it. However, she said, “just get out here.” At that moment I knew that something was going on. We went outside and nobody was there. I was looking around and then I saw it!  Coming down our street was a huge group of people walking towards our house singing Jesus Loves the Little Children. Well, you guessed it….I lost it. Seriously, the best surprise ever! They came up and hugged us and each one of them had the perfect words for our heart. They were encouraging, funny, thoughtful, and some just had great travel advice.

prayer circle

Then these sweet people know our family so well……we circled around our front yard (our girls new home ) and prayed over this journey that we were getting ready to begin. This post will not even convey how much this meant to our hearts. Seriously…I cried that night, I cry when I think of this, and yes…I’m crying right now. After most of the tears had happened …they blessed us with gifts and a huge ring of note cards with encouraging words we could read for our journey. This night was still, quiet yet full of life, and the perfect blessing during a crazy busy week. They each hugged and cried with us and then went on their way……and we said…..THANK YOU!

I won’t be able to pay each person back or write thank you cards. I won’t be able to explain what each person means to me or tell them why their gift was perfect. However, I have learned that is not my job. I can say thank you and God will take care of the master plan and they will be beyond blessed for their generosity that night!

You know I said at the beginning of this post that saying thank you was so important and God would take care of the rest…well, here is just one more story that will prove to you that blessing others will come back around and change your life. This picture melts my heart that these children witnessed this example of friends being there for each other. They will remember this night and will be changed by the example their parents set for them.

kids prayer

One of the older boys shared his thoughts about this night with his mom and it left both of us speechless! It is proof that this journey we are on is NOT about us.

~They hopped in the car and this conversation started:

“Last night after leaving your house our 14 year old said to us, “I can’t believe they are going all the way to Colombia to get some girls. They are saving these kids’ lives.” After a few minutes he asked if I thought he could come back and meet them when they get here. I told him that I’m sure at some point he would meet them. I asked him why and his response was, ‘I just know that God is making this happen. I really feel like I need to meet them in order to be a part of this and to make this experience full circle for myself. This might be the best thing I’ve been a part of.'”
Speechless…there is nothing more to say…God has great plans for you, friend!

We are so excited to share this journey with you! We definitely are keeping a watchful eye to bless people and pay it forward.


Skyping Tips

blog photo123

Here are some helpful tips we found out along the way when it was time to Skype with our girls!

First, prepare! It is hard to just jump on the computer and talk with little kids in another language without some kind of loose plan. We would always get on about 15 min early just to check that everything was working.

Second, find some program that works with your computer to record the skype session. We used QUICK TIME on the Mac. We also used a video camera to record our reactions.This is one of the best things we did! There are several reasons why this is so important.

  1. You can share it with your family!
  2. It is amazing how quickly you forget the little details so this is priceless!
  3. I just love that you can go back and see their sweet faces!
  4. There were questions that the psychologist answered so we had a way of remembering those important details.

There were many things that we prepared to show them to keep the conversation going. Many of our friends and social workers helped us with ideas. One family even explained to us that since they had a photo book of us, it was like they were checking to make sure the things we were telling them were real. So here is a list that might help you get started!

  • family pictures
  • books (read to them)
  • art made for them
  • necklace
  • their room
  • tour the house
  • pets
  • movies you have
  • toys/crafts
  • drawings from kids you know for them

After several conversations we were seeking more questions to ask. The time you have with them is so special but after awhile it slowed down for us and we were having a hard time coming up with interesting questions. Everyone is nervous, so break the ice and sing a song, read a book,  or play Simon says!

Here are some questions:

  • What is your favorite food?
  • Do you like fruit, candy, or veggies?
  • What do you like to watch on TV?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • Do you like to play outside?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Do you have any questions?
  • What do you like to drink?
  • What movies do you like?
  • How do you like to do your hair?
  • What kind of shoes do you like to wear?
  • Do you like music?
  • What songs do you like?
  • Do you like to jump rope?
  • Do you play with baby dolls?
  • Do you read books?
  • What is the weather like?
  • Tell them about your weather?

I am so thankful for the opportunity to use Skype to meet my girls. This is such an incredible way to start the transition process for our family. There are so many emotions that they can start processing because we have had several conversations.

I800 Approval

We have been waiting for the I800 approval and I got a little excited too early. There were two letters from Homeland Security in our mailbox….so I got a little carried away with myself and did a little celebration dance in my kitchen. Only later to find out that it was our receipt from them. Booooo!  And my apologies to my case worker for the miscommunication! I’m so thankful for workers who put up with all my questions and excitement! They really are the best!

So, we knew it would take around 8-10 days to get the approval so checking the mail the last few days has been a big event. Especially the toddler. She goes up to the mailbox and in the cutest voice says, ” No Mail.” I just love it. Well, today my hubby and I were not home when the mail came. However, my daughter and my mom were!!! I’m so thankful for Saturday mail!!!! So, we received a call from them that was very exciting!

It is getting real!

(And to answer the most popular question….NO…we do not know our travel date)

20150801_163606                                   These three colors on this cookie just make me happy!

Colombia here we come!


After hearing we were approved through the orphanage, there was no set time line for our referral. It could happen within the year. So,  I set off to get as many projects done while I had the time off work. Well, that all changed when I received a phone call Wednesday, June 17th at 4:50. Rhees wasn’t home and again our fabulous case worker waited at work until my husband hurried home before she told us our exciting news. It was definitely a whirlwind of a phone call. We were a little in shock! As the night progressed, all the details started to become so real!!


announcement heart (2)

~Together we journey to expand our family~


*What does this mean??

The orphanage that we were approved to adopt from has found a sibling group that is a great match for us. There is not a set date as to when we get to travel to meet them, but we are on our way to getting all the details worked out!

So, here is what most people want to know!!!

*the referral is for 2 girls

*they are 9 and 4 years old

*we have sent in the paperwork to accept the referral

*we have sent in our I800 to help us determine when we will travel to Colombia!

We continue to talk about how this adoption journey is an amazing story of how God provides. However, we also are beyond thankful for our family and friends who have partnered with us to bring home our girls who have an amazing future in front of them! Thank you from the bottom of our heart for your prayers and standing with us on this journey!

This is not the end of our journey together….it is only the beginning!


Take time for grants


As we all know….adoption is expensive! I have seen a lot of negative comments and questions regarding this topic. I totally get it, however there is so much more that goes into adoption than most people realize. It is not a huge $40,000 fee that goes to the agency or orphanage. The grand total amount comes from fees from many different places.

*doctor visits *applications *passports *papers from the courthouse *travel *physiologist visit *in country documents *birth mother expenses *trainings/education *background checks *and I could go on and on and on and on

So just like your trips to the grocery store…the more you keep piling in your basket….the bigger your total cost is. Yes, I would agree that there may be a few hoops to jump through, however I am a huge advocate of making sure people are ready to adopt. Some of the things on the adoption checklist like doctor visits and background checks  are ways to  help ensure you are ready to take care of children who have been through trauma.

Please don’t let money be the reason you say no to adoption. God really takes care of that part. I could write for days about that! One thing that I encourage anyone who is adopting to do is take a few days to write grants….yes I said a few days! There are so many out there and it is a big process. But if you organize it right and do it all at the same time…it is totally worth a try. These are out there to help you! We were so blessed and beyond excited to receive TWO grants! I know that sometimes you are overwhelmed with all of the paperwork with the adoption, but with some of the grants you can use paperwork you already have.

TIP #1: I did notice that many of the grants are geared toward the end of your process. Many of them wanted to know if you had the referral or see pictures. So, my recommendation would be to start later in your process. We did not have our referral when we received the grants but we were almost done with our dossier.

TIP#2: Also, almost all grants want you to be done with your home study. I think this shows how serious you are. I can imagine some people start this process and then find out it is not for them.

This is a big process because adopting is a big deal! It is also a big blessing!

Some of my friends know that adopting is not right for their family, however they know the need to help the orphans in the world, so they just bless their friends with money, prayers, clothes, toys, and the most important……encouragement! I am so thankful for the specific things God lays on our hearts. I love that we all have different dreams and we can unite to help each other reach them.


You should totally check out Show Hope ! We found many events, resources, ideas, and encouragement from their website!