...... FULL

I love this time of year.... not so much the colder weather.... but, I really do love the holiday season, when our family tends to get to spend just a little more time together than usual, when my family is at home together, on a weekday, just hanging out! For years and years, we have had multiple family Thanksgiving celebrations to attend, and usually all on Thanksgiving Day. While I love seeing everyone and catching up, it does leave a girl pretty miserable in the belly department! This year though, due to work schedules, we had our Thanksgiving dinner with Michael's family on Wednesday evening. It was really very nice to be able to eat, sit, relax and enjoy each other's company without rushing off to another meal an hour later.

Thanksgiving Day was a time to relax at home, do a little cleaning and organizing in preparation for holiday decorating, and then to head off to dinner with my family. I LOVE Thanksgiving dinner! It is the only night of the year when we get to enjoy my mom's dressing.... (not stuffed in a turkey... you know, the good stuff... cornbread dressing)... YUM!!! It was great to spend time with my aunt, cousin, and grandparents too (We missed you Gina and Joe)!!

Though Thanksgiving tends to revolve around tradition, I did try 2 things this year that I have never attempted before! First, I baked my very first cheesecake... a pumpkin pecan praline cheesecake!! I was pretty pleased with the results. I love to bake, but this was my first ever cheesecake attempt.

The other first thing I did this Thanksgiving..... leave for T@rget at 10:30 pm with my BFF.... stand in line for an hour outside.... stand in line in the electronics department for at least 45 minutes, and then..... browse around until 4 am!!! I still cannot believe we did that! Let me just say that at that hour, with no sleep, everything is funny!! The memories you can make in the wee hours of the morning!!

So, it's not too unusual to be "full" on Thanksgiving, although at first thought, we often think of only our bellies being full. But, I cannot think of a Thanksgiving ever when my HEART has been so full. Sometimes, when I think of my family, friends and our life, and how incredibly blessed we are, it feels as though my heart is so full it might just burst. Last night at dinner, Zoee sang "Give Thanks" for our family, and as I sat listening to the words that my 7 year old daughter so emphatically sang, I could have just cried thinking about how much the Lord has blessed our family. I have a husband who faithfully leads our family, 2 children who are healthy and love Jesus, a warm home, wonderful friends, and a sweet baby girl waiting for us across the world to come and get her. Yes indeed, this Thanksgiving, I am FULL!!!

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100


Sunday Snapshot: Look at those beautiful feet!!!!

By now, most of you probably know that our sweet Tulah was born with bilateral club foot.

But, you may not have known, that on the scale of severity, hers were the worst.

The worst.

The most severe.

That sounded pretty scary to us.

We were thinking surgery.

An Orphan's wish wasn't.

They were thinking casting would treat her precious feet beautifully.

And, a few weeks ago.... we got a sneak peek of just how lovely those casts are working.

Here were her feet before....

.... and here are those precious tootsies now....

The casting isn't quite finished yet, but as beautiful as these feet are now, I cannot imagine how perfect they will be soon!!!

Sunday Snapshot


It's Been Way Too Long.....

Since I have posted on my blog:( And, I definitely did not do very well with my daily "Thankful" posts. Please forgive me!!! The Hatley family has had a busy week. We have all been suffering from colds and sore throats, Michael celebrated a birthday, Zoee and Grayden have started basketball season (and Michael is helping to coach both teams), and I am frantically finishing up all of my coursework so that I can graduate in 4 weeks!!! Believe me when I say that I will be so thankful to have my Master's and VERY thankful that my education is complete!! Finally at 31 years old, I am going to be finished with school:)) There were plenty of events to photograph this week, but guess what.... I have not one picture of any of it to share!! I promise to do better!

I have kind of been in a little "funk" with our adoption process this week. We are STILL waiting for our 1800 a approval to come, it seems like it is taking an eternity. My hands are really tied with moving forward until that approval comes. ( For those of you who may not know, this is the approval from the US to bring a foreign born child into this country). Once that comes, we can get everything certified, and then authenticated, and then it will be off to China! I am still praying that we can get our dossier to China before the end of the year.... although with each passing day it seems more and more unlikely.

It continues to amaze me how God is working in our lives through this adoption... and we are not even half way to the finish line yet!! In the last few weeks, Michael has had the opportunity to share our story with several people whose hearts were being pulled towards adoption. And... tonight... it happened to me! I got to talk with a friend who I have known for a long time, who is feeling that strong call towards adoption as well. Getting to speak to her, kind of busted me out of my "funk", renewed my spirit, and reminded me that this wait is not forever, and we will be united with our daughter soon!!

Please don't forget about our fundraiser going on now! The faith necklace is beautiful and it has opened many doors for me to speak with others about my faith. Just click on the Buy Now link at the top, right hand corner of the page.

P.S. If any of you have any encouraging words for a pep talk through this waiting game, please feel free to share!!!!


Sunday Snapshot: "Faith" Necklace Adoption Fundraiser!!!

Throughout our adoption process so far, Faith has been the recurring theme. At the beginning of our journey, as I have shared a little bit about here, a lack of our faith almost ended this process before it ever started. Not a lack of faith in our Holy Father, but a lack of faith in wondering, "Can we do this"? , "Can we afford this"? "Is this more than we can handle"? But through the decision to move ahead and trust in God fully, unswervingly, and to know that He will be faithful and provide, our Faith has grown stronger than ever.

I have realized that in adoption, no matter how much you look over medical files, no matter how many physicians, surgeons and specialists review those files, you still do not know what will happen. We also realize that right now, there is not enough in our bank account to cover the cost of this adoption, let alone thinking about the medical expenses that will be involved once our girl is here. Yet, we have a strong sense of peace and have faith, that God has called us to this, and that He will provide.

It is so hard for me to ask for help. It is uncomfortable and difficult. But I also know that God doesn't intend for our lives to be "easy" and "comfortable". We need to make ourselves uncomfortable if that is what it takes to answer His call. So, in realizing that we do need help, I thought about my favorite piece of jewelery that, to me, symbolizes our adoption journey perfectly.

This is our adoption fundraiser "Faith" necklace. It is a piece of .925 Sterling Silver Silpada jewelery. It includes the necklace and sterling silver disc pendant. It is also reversible. The word "Faith" is inscribed on the disc and there is also a small mustard seed charm dangling from the pendant.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
Matthews 13: 31-32

By purchasing this necklace, you are making a huge difference in bringing our precious girl home. By your investment of faith in our family, we can love and care for this child, bring her into a Christian home, and watch her grow and flourish into something huge and wonderful.

Please consider this necklace for yourself, or a special person in your life, who the message of this necklace could touch. You can purchase the Faith necklace for $ 85.00 through the PayPal button on the top right hand side of this blog, just click on the Buy Now button and it is super easy to place your order!!! Please be sure your name, shipping address, email address and phone number are included. This beautiful piece of jewelery will be shipped right to your home, and if you order by December 11th, 2011, you will have it in plenty of time for Christmas gift giving!!

Oh, and another cool detail, for every necklace purchased from today until December 11th, your name will be automatically included in a drawing for a $100 Silpada gift certificate. That is totally awesome!!! Thank you so much for visiting our blog and learning more about our family and our precious little girl. We are so thrilled to have you on this journey with us!!!

Sunday Snapshot


30 Days of Thankfulness.... Day 8

I have struggled a bit with my thankful post today. Not because I don't have a million different things to be thankful for.... truly, we are SO incredibly blessed. It's because I do know what I want to be "thankful" for today, and I'm not sure any words that I could write could adequately express how thankful I am for this family.

It has been 6 years since we moved into our current home. When we moved here we didn't intend to be here more than 3 years or so; we thought we would be building our "forever" home on some family property. We know now that God had other plans and we needed to be here a while longer. Not long after we moved in, we formed a friendship with our neighbors, and over the years that friendship has only grown stronger. We had no idea how much of an impact this family would have on our lives. We have so much respect, love, and admiration for the way they live their lives, raise their children, and stop at nothing to serve the Lord and answer His call.

It has been such an honor to be able to follow them on their journey to adopt their 2 precious daughters, and they have been such a support to us as we begin our own adoption journey. There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that God brought us to this house, in this neighborhood, beside this family, to show us the miracle of adoption. He has used this family to open our eyes to the plight of the orphan, and to show us what love can do for these children. And just to let you all in on a pretty amazing story.... in our small neighborhood, in our very SMALL town, on our small street, there are currently 4 families in the process of bringing home a precious child from China!! And, we all live right in a row! That is pretty amazing, don't ya think??? God is so good!! And, I cannot wait to get all these children home and see them all together!!!

This is the Barbee family... our neighbors... our friends....

And this cutie will soon be the newest member of their family. This is precious Pearl.

Jennifer was the first person I opened up to when I first felt the tug on my heart towards adoption. It was through her helping me look through files and study up on all things adoption that she found Pearl.... for us.... to consider. This girl immediatley grabbed my heart, and it just so happens that her little heart, has some pretty big needs. Needs that scared my husband to death. While God was reaffirming to us that she wasn't our daughter, He was affirming to the Barbee's that she was indeed their daughter. It wasn't but a few weeks later that we found our precious LuLu. Our stories are amazing and a true testimoy to God's miraculous works.

So, all that, to fall SO short in saying I'm so thankful for the impact that this family has had on our life, and the way that God has used them to impact the lives of so many around them. Please go here to check out their family, their story, and how you can be a part of helping to bring Pearl home.


30 Days of Thankfulness.... Day 7

Today (and every day), I am thankful for this man.....

I really wanted to save this post for his birthday later this week, but after a conversation we had tonight, I just couldn't not be "thankful" for this today. After dinner we were cleaning the kitchen and he begins to tell me about this elderly man he met today, who had once been an orphan. Michael loved listening to his story, and felt compelled to share that we were adopting. He said this man got the most confused look on his face, and said, "Why...can't y'all have kids of your own"? Michael was flabberghasted that this man, once an orphan himself, shared this all too common stereotype of adoptive parents. Michael went on to share with this man, the reason behind our adoption story, which can be summed up in 4 words.....BECAUSE WE WERE CALLED!!! And we will answer that call. We will be faithful to He who has saved us by His grace alone.

I continue to be amazed at God's work in my husband. Not too many months ago, we did not share the same feelings about growing our family through adoption. But, thankfully God's grip is strong and mighty, and now my husband is willing, and excited even, to share our story with others. A story that when we go back to the very beginning, is several years in the making, without our knowing. But God has known all along, and we can now see how His plan is falling into place, perfectly.

I love you Michael, and I am so thankful for you. I can't wait to enter the next chapter of our lives together!


30 Days of Thankfulness..... Day 6..... and Sunday Snapshot!!!

Today, all over the world, Christians came together to stand up and raise a voice for the fatherless. To defend the orphan. God's call for us to love and care for the orphan can't be ignored. Today, I am SO thankful that God placed the burden of the orphan on my heart. I am SO thankful that He is so strong, so powerful, that He could also burden the heart of my reluctant husband. And, I am SO thankful that He has shown us the way to our daughter. In His perfect timing, there will be one less orphan, and this family cannot wait until that day!!!!

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know and holds us responsible to act".

Proverbs 24:12


30 Days of Thankfulness..... Day 5

Tomorrow night, when it is dark so early, I will NOT be happy about this. But, just for tonight, I am thankful for.....

..... an extra hour of sleep!


30 Days of Thankfulness..... Day 4

Today, in our neck of the woods, it is COLD.... WET..... & NASTY!!!! And so, today I am extremely thankful for Friday afternoon, to be home (with no where to go), and especially for.....


30 Days of Thankfulness..... Day 3

Today, I am thankful for this girl.....

Zoee came home today and told me that her teacher loved her journal entry SO much that she read it to the other teachers at their meeting. She told me that her teacher just LOVED the expression coming out in her writing. I was beaming! I have been told that her writing is excellent, and I really am so proud of her!!

So, logically, I asked her what she wrote about. She said, "well.... we had to write about something we absolutely hated". Me: "OK, so what did you write about"? Her: "I wrote about how much I hate to take baths, because our bathtub is gross!!" Me: "What?!?!"Her: "I found a totally gross bug and my brother takes a bath in there and it is gross!"

So, since she thinks it's so gross (I would love for her to see a really gross bathroom!!), she has volunteered to be the bathroom cleaner from now on!! PERFECT!!!!


30 Days of Thankfulness.... Day 2

Today, I am thankful for.....

.... my dad. It doesn't matter what kind of day I have, my dad can always make me feel better and put a smile on my face. Whether it's with some silly saying, or just really good common sense advice, he always says the right things. I love you dad!!


30 Days of Thankfulness..... Day 1

I cannot believe that it is November already!! 2011 really has flown by. Normally I am not all that excited for the cooler weather and the winter months, but this year, the way I see it, every month that comes around, is one month closer to my baby girl!! And that is something to get really excited about!!

During the month of November, I like for my kids to talk about something that they are thankful for each day, in preparation for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. In keeping with this tradition, I am going to *TRY* to blog each day about something that I am thankful for. A beautiful reminder for those days when I'm impatient, struggling, or just in a bad mood!

Today, I am thankful for this:

This is a picture of my beautiful girl, being told that she is being adopted, and being shown pictures of her new, FOREVER family!!! I am SO thankful and grateful to the wonderful people and carers at An Orphan's Wish and the House of Love!! They are loving my girl and taking such good care of her until we can come and get her!!

To learn more about An Orphan's Wish and the House of Love, click here!!