Thursday, May 10, 2018

Our New Family of 6!

I can hardly believe we have 4 sons now! When we entered this adoption journey last year we had no idea what God had in store and though the waiting has been really really hard and there were times I wasn't sure there would be a baby at the end of all this - it happened! The Lord brought us our son.
Since it will still take about 3 months to finalize our adoption of Carson, we can't show pictures of his face but we would like to share a few glimpses of what the journey has been like for us meeting Carson and getting to bring him home.

Some day maybe I'll be able to write in more detail about our adoption but life is moving pretty fast right now with a newborn, plus Eli is in Africa for 10 days and I have my parents here visiting. For now I will just share a few pictures of the last 3 weeks with our sweet little guy.

This is the day we got to leave the hospital with Carson. It felt so surreal.

The boys love getting to know their new brother and encourage him in all his milestones!
They are naturals

First base ball game at 2 weeks old

First family walk (teaching him the Fader traditions)

Even both sets of grandparents have now met him!

This has been quite the journey and it's only the beginning. Good thing Carson is so laid back and such a content baby because he has quite the adventure with his family ahead of him!

Monday, April 09, 2018


The last time I posted was in January! And here we are already cruising through April - I can hardly believe it! I have wanted to update our blog so many times over the last month because there has been so much happening and God has led us down some very twisty roads that we never could have imagined He would. And I know so many of you would love to know more about it. I just haven't been able to find the words. It's been hard. More hard than I thought it would be.

So let me back up. In January, we focused the month on praying over our future and where we would return once the time came for us to go back to the mission field. July/August is fast approaching and that is the target time that we would like to be heading back to ministry with South Sudanese on the African continent.

February was Mission Month at our church so we had a lot going on and in the midst of preparing sermons and presentations we got the call we've been waiting for all year - an expectant mama wanted to place her baby boy who was due in a week for adoption - and she chose us! It was a crazy few days as Eli and I prepared to drive to Kentucky where the baby would be born. On March 1, a beautiful little boy was born and we got to hold him and name him when he was only hours old. He had to be in the NICU for almost 2 weeks due to some health issues and we got to stay with him day and night, rocking, feeding, and loving on this precious baby that we fell in love with instantly. But after 11 days, his mama changed her mind. She decided she wanted to try to get her life back together so she could parent him. We knew he was her son and so all we could do was pray over him, say our goodbyes, and pack up to head home to our three boys in South Carolina.

The next few weeks were a blur of grief and tears. We wrestled with why God had opened doors for us to begin the adoption process this year - only to have this baby taken away. We wondered what to do next. Do we keep hoping for another match or close up our adoption profile since our time was running out? Only 2 weeks later, our same lawyers called us with a new baby - due in only 3 weeks in Philadelphia. We were so totally excited but terrified at the same time. But:
What if this mama changes her mind?
Could we go through another heart breaking loss?

We prayed and believed God was telling us to step out in faith for whatever He had in store. We've now been waiting for about 2 weeks. We have a plan for Eli's parents to come stay with the boys again and Eli and I will head to another state to meet another precious baby. We have no idea what will happen but we are trusting that God has us and this baby in the palm of His hand and HE IS IN CONTROL.

We have also decided that once this adoption situation has resolved - whether we get to bring baby home or not - we need to then set our hearts and minds on our future and what is next for our family on the mission field. Eli wants to travel to Uganda, hopefully by the beginning of May, to scout out several places near the South Sudanese refugee camps. We also need to decide which organization we will be seconded to since SIM doesn't work in Uganda. We will still remain with SIM, but seconded, or working under the "umbrella" of another organization. We are excited about the options in front of us and we believe that God will take care of all the details in His time.

It definitely feels like there are a lot of crazy and intense things going on in our lives right now. I can hardly believe this is the story God is writing for our family! I'm thankful for all that He's taught us and the growth He's allowed to happen not only in Eli and me, but in our boys too.

I'm also very thankful that just this last week we were able to enjoy a week jam packed with special family memories! It was the boys' spring break from school so we asked the boys what things they still really wanted to do while we're in America. That was easy: the beach and camping. So we spent 2 days at the beach in the sun and 3 days camping. Eli and Isaac did a fun 34 mile canoe trip by river along the way with our neighbor and his son.

Tonight as I was tucking the boys into bed, preparing for the beginning of another school week beginning tomorrow I reminded the boys of what a special gift God gave us this week: He filled our tanks with special family moments to fuel us through the rest of this month, whatever it holds!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

God is working in the Waiting

If you were to read through my blog over the last 10 years, you would see a recurring theme and that is of WAITING. However, I realize that I'm not the only one who deals with seasons of waiting. We all do. Waiting for just the right job. Waiting for the perfect spouse. Waiting for a child. Waiting for guidance in our next step in life etc. As I've shared before our family is in another season of waiting. But I feel like the Waiting intensified when the New Year 2018 rolled around. We're waiting but we also see a "deadline" up ahead. The deadline is a little scary because it's a deadline to figure out our next direction in life but also a deadline for our adoption to finalize. Making a decision about what is next for us in our missionary career I have some control over. We're praying, seeking advice, emailing opportunities in Africa and moving towards our goal. But with our adoption there really isn't much we can do...but wait.

God has given me this beautiful book to encourage my heart as we wait. It follows the life of David and how He had to trust God's plan to take him from being a shepherd in the pastures, to the battle field, to the THRONE. He had so many twists and unexpected turns in his journey and his words in the Psalms have been so comforting to  me as I see them from a new perspective.

God also brought me some really special friends. These mamas are all waiting with our same agency, Quiver Full Adoptions and are in our local area. We have met together several times to encourage each other and we have a group chat where we text almost daily to check in with each other and offer words of encouragement and prayer. It has been one of the sweetest surprises of this waiting season!

As far as our adoption goes, we've also received so much support through our T-shirt fundraiser that we did to raise money for the big chunk that will be due when we bring baby home. A friend of mine from high school even hosted a special Book Selling Party announcing that all her commission would go towards our Adoption Fund. Folks, we feel the love and it is what is pushing us through.

Wearing our special t-shirts
They say: "He chose us in love for adoption. Eph. 1: 4-5"
Many of you may know that Eli and I are taking the month of January to very specifically and intentionally pray about our future plans. Our original thought was to return to the field by July or August of this year. Isaac will be starting at Rift Valley Academy in the fall so we wanted to get back and settle so he can start school at the beginning of the school year. So with that only 6 months away, we are asking God what He has for us next. The encouraging thing is that as we've been more intentional in praying, God has given us so much peace and we know that whatever He has in store for us, it's going to be good. We have been sending out a lot of emails to many different organizations working in South Sudan and with South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries to see where we might fit best. With so many possibilities in front of us, Eli and I are enjoying an almost daily walk around our neighborhood to discuss what new opportunities came up that day.
* For the record, we are still continuing with our mission SIM but since they are only based in one place in South Sudan we might team up with another organization.
* We are also preparing for the possibility of having to delay our return if we are in the midst of finalizing our adoption.

Yesterday I was out shopping and came across this adorable little newborn outfit:

We have been trying to wait to buy baby things until we're matched or bring a baby home, but I couldn't pass this one up. WORTH THE WAIT was just the sweet reminder I needed yesterday when the wait was feeling impossible! I realized that was something I need to hold onto, not just as we wait in our adoption journey but also as we wait to see what God has in store for us next. I know I can say that no matter what it is, it will be WORTH THE WAIT. I am confident that since we have bathed this whole decision in so much prayer and wise counsel from others, it will indeed be GOOD and be worth all this waiting.

Now that I know it will be worth the wait, I am trying to focus my heart on being JOYFUL in HOPE and CONTENT with all God has in front of me now. You know how sometimes you can get so caught up looking forward to something that is coming that you miss what is right in front of you? I have been so convicted of this lately and my prayer has been:

Open up my eyes to see all that I have to be grateful for. 
Live in the present.
Don't miss what's right in front of me.
Wait with hope.

This is one of Satan's oldest tricks. He tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden into thinking God was withholding something good from her. That one lie somehow made Eve blinded to all the wonderful, beautiful things He had given to her.

Friends, let's not be tricked like that. Trust God with what you're waiting for. He knows.
And open up your eyes to ALL that He's blessed you with.

*If you're in a waiting season, I'd love to hear from you and pray with you. Email me at

Monday, January 08, 2018

Major Update

Dear Friends,
    It's been way too long since we've updated you all on our blog. I'm so sorry. Perhaps you will understand shortly when I tell you what's been going on with us since October 2017 which is the last time we posted. In October we officially began the adoption process with a wonderful agency called Quiver Full Adoptions based here in SC. Adoption is something we've felt called to do for many years and have hoped it would be possible while we live and work overseas in Africa but so far that hasn't worked out. So since we had an extended time here in the States we decided to go ahead and see what God does. It's been quite the journey and though we haven't been matched with a baby yet, we are hopeful that 2018 might be the year!

Meanwhile, while we hear of different situations and hope a mama will choose us, Eli continues to work diligently in his doctoral classes and has loved them even Statistics which was very stretching for him. He has also completely renovated both of our bathrooms in our home which has been a lot of work but very rewarding.

Our 3 boys have also kept us very busy! Though I'm not home schooling this year, they are working hard at a great private school and trying all kinds of things for the first time. In the fall Isaac ran on the school's cross country team and did a great job improving his time in each race.

Then in November the boys started wrestling season which has been another great learning and stretching thing for them. Joshua also recently joined a wrestling club because he was too young to join the team at school.

Evan on the mat

Let me tell you: competitions are tense!

I got to do some very special traveling in October and November due to an awesome husband who does so well holding down the fort here in SC. I got to spend a week with one of my dearest friends, Nan, in Washington state.

I then got to fly to CA to spend almost a week with my sweet sister who is now expecting another baby boy due in April!

With my sister

As we neared Thanksgiving we packed our beloved van and traveled north to Illinois where we got to speak at 2 different support churches outside of Chicago and then we headed to Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving with Eli's parents, sister and her family and even a few cousins and their kiddos.

An afternoon in the park in Illinois

Thanksgiving in Michigan

Kids with cousins!

We had a few weeks at home and then when the boys' Christmas break rolled around from school we drove down to Florida where Eli's parents have retired and celebrated a very special Christmas with grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins!

Christmas in Florida
So yes, that's what we've been up to and where we've been. 2017 was a year of many unexpected things but God redeemed it for us and brought us many joys amidst the tears.

We are now committing the month of January to very intentionally praying for our future in ministry in Africa. We're excited about the options and we trust God will give us wisdom as we're asking Him and will guide us clearly to what is next for us. Thank you for following along in our journey.

When we turned the corner and stepped into 2018 both Eli and I felt a new sense of hope and expectancy as we look ahead. We have no clue what is coming but we're excited for it because we know God does have it all planned for us and all we need to do is obey and step forward.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Taking Courage in the Waiting

These months in the United States have been such a healing time for our whole family. Though a part of our hearts is still in South Sudan, God has confirmed to us again and again how much we needed this year in America. It's been a season of stability and rest, healing, processing, fun, growth, and sweet family time. It hasn't all been smooth and easy. We're two months into the new school year and STILL trying to figure things out - still getting into the groove of homework, sports events, and making friends. But it's been beautiful.

Y'all know how much I love music and often the Lord teaches me and encourages my heart through a good song. Lately the song I'm dwelling on is called "Take Courage". I'm going to paste the lyrics here and hopefully will figure out how to also put the link to watch the video on Youtube with the music and lyrics.

"Take Courage" by Bethel Music:

Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He'd reveal what's to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He'll finish all He's begun

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory
And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!

So take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
And hold onto your hope
Watch your triumph unfold
He's never failing
He's never failing!

He's in the waiting...

Over the years I have found that it's in the waiting seasons that I draw near to God and feel Him come close. Those are the times my faith and trust are tested and refined and the relationship that comes through the process is beautiful, sweet, and better than anything I could have experienced without the waiting.

So... Take Courage. He's in the Waiting.

Click on the below link to listen to this song:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's OK to be Needy

As you can see by the cartoon above and what is communicated in many movies and love songs, being needy is a negative thing. I too have always tried not to appear too needy. I don't want to be a needy wife. I try not to be a needy friend. I want to be able to do things myself and not have to depend on anyone else. But today as I was cooling off from a nice run and walking through my neighborhood, I was pouring out my heart to God in prayer and suddenly realized how NEEDY I sounded!  And that felt like a bad thing. But then a 2nd thought hit me immediately after and that is this: Being needy isn't a bad thing. At least from the Lord's perspective. He wants us to recognize our need for Him and bring our every need to Him.

For some reason this seemed like such a light bulb moment. One of those realizations that I think will change my thinking for the rest of my life. Yeah, I know we're supposed to trust God and depend on Him in everything. But He also wants us to realize how much we need Him. It's actually a good thing to be needy. Because then we realize it's not about us fixing our problem or trying to have it all together. It's about realizing we actually don't want to be in charge. Rather WE NEED CHRIST. We need Him in every situation - for our friend's heartache, the sick woman in our church, my latest hopes and dreams, my marriage, you name it.

So I've decided I'm not going to be ashamed of being needy.
Instead I want to acknowledge how much I need the Lord in every aspect of my life because James 4:10 encourages: "When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him, He will lift you up and give you honor."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Peak into our Journey of Loss

Written by Eli

How do you deal with it all?  Loss.  Grief.  Sorrow.  Our family is struggling with leaving South Sudan.  We realize that we are not alone.  So many people have suffered or are in the midst of suffering from loss.  Each one of our family is processing the loss of team, friends, home, ministry and dreams in their own way.  

Here are some of our reflections and things that have helped us through this time.  

     Expressing my Doubts to God
Psalm 73 has been powerful in my life these past few months. Asaph admits his doubts and near hopelessness as he looks at what is going on in the world. His words reflect my own doubts and struggles.
Psalm 73 ends with a declaration of hope in the Lord who holds eternity in his hand. It is a declaration of faith...something hoped for but not yet seen.  Our hope in Christ is sure.

What is this thing called grief?

Our family has learned a lot about the process and mechanics of grief through this clever story.  It has been very useful to help our kids to make sense of the sadness in their hearts and how they can deal with it.

Processing Together

How do you walk through the grief cycle with your kids?  We used this book for devotions for a while and it helped our boys understand that loss is part of everyone's life and it relates the grief cycle as moving from village to village, something our family could relate to.  

Being Self-focused

Oh man, this has been hard. We knew we needed to just hide away for a time and just be together as a family.  But how could we be so selfish?  We have been stretched in the number of times we said 'no', left things undone, and were focused on our needs...for a time.  

Peeling the Onion

A few of us in our family are going to professional counseling.  We need to peel back the cover of our daily lives to get down to the feelings and emotions that lie a little deeper inside.  We need to let the tears flow and process what is going on in our hearts.  I believe the LORD uses everything in his economy.  I know he will use what we have gone through for his kingdom.  We want to grow through this so that, "being comforted, we can better comfort others" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Rejoicing in Victories

Our teammates in South Sudan are witnessing unbelievable growth in numbers, depth in faith, and witness by believers to the communities around them.  
Here is a picture of the JumJum church which has doubled in size since the fighting at Christmas.  The believers from different tribes are visiting each other despite continuing tribal conflict.  

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together by [Tippetts, Kara, Buteyn, Jill Lynn]

The Comfort of the Body of Christ

Bethany has enjoyed reading this book.  The premise is that often we shy away from people who are suffering because we cannot relate or we don't know what to say.  This book encourages to simply be present.  We have felt the loving hugs of so many people over these past months.  The body of Christ has prayed for us faithfully.  We have had 2 vans donated to us.  Many people have given financial gifts to us.
Our home church stocked our kitchen shelves and helped us move in to our home.  A friend helped fund-raise so that our children could attend a Christian School this year.  We were able to cross the United States by car and were welcomed in many, many homes. What a blessing to be a part of the body of Christ!  We have been greatly comforted by the presence of others.

Loss is not something you "get over".  It becomes part of you and your story.  It is not about getting over it but rather allowing it to make you a better person.  We are by no means over our issues but we are on the right road of growing through it.  We hold on to the truth that nothing is in vain.  There is a purpose, albeit often hidden, to the hills and valleys, sun and storms of this life.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:12-13

So we are holding on to the promise that His glory will be revealed...through this journey and because of this journey of grief and loss.