December 31, 2011

Our Year in Pictures

A glimpse of our year through snapshots...

Kipton's Baby Shower

 Family Trip to Disney World
(while 8 1/2 months pregnant!)

 Maternity Pictures

Waiting for Kipton

 Best Moment Ever

Proud Mama

Our 1st Family Pictures


So little he could fit in the sink

Easter 2011

Pure Sugar

Mothers Day 2011
Kipton's Dedication

3 Months 

On the way to a Kenny Chesney concert!
Trey surprised me and we had our first night out of town.

Summer Weekends At The Lake

Hanging Out With Dad At The New Business

Trying New Things

6 Months

It's Official

 Watch Out Ladies

 Halloween 2011

 Family Night Out

 My Step-Sister Got Hitched

 Weekly Girl Time With My BFF

 Celebrating My 23rd Birthday

Christmas Tree Farm

Merry Christmas 2011

My Little Elf On The Beach

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called “Opportunity” and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. -Edith L. Pierce

Happy 2012 Everyone!!

December 28, 2011

If you would have told me...

If you would have told me this time last year that in 2011 Trey would be laid off from his job when I was eight months pregnant, we'd have an amazing baby boy in February, God would provide Trey another job opportunity after months of no work, I'd become a stay at home mom and that by the end of the year we'd be knee deep in an international adoption...I would have politely laughed in your face and told you that you were crazy (except for the fact that we'd have an amazing baby boy...that was a given). But in fact, that is exactly how our 2011 went and I have to say it has by far been the best year of my life.

When Trey was laid off from his great paying, "stable", long term job in January, I could only picture 2011 as the worst year ever. I was 8 months pregnant with our first child and we had no source of income, that was a very scary thought for a hormonal, budget loving, prego like myself. We began the year searching for the Lord and looking to Him for guidance and provision.  He was with us every step of the way, giving us hope when we needed it and providing sources of income when we had none.  I can honestly look back and say I am so glad this is how our year started because from the very beginning we looked to the Lord for direction more than we ever have in our lives. It also gave us perspective on what things were important to us.  We quickly realized that our possesions were not the key to life. Our lives are about much more than acquiring earthly treasures and we began turning our efforts to storing up heavenly treasures. Even now, we live more frugally than we ever have and are not constantly looking for the next best thing to spend our money on. I'm thankful now for this life lesson the Lord delicately disciplined me on.

In February, we did in fact have an amazing baby boy! Kipton Henley Phillips was born on the 16th of February at 4:38 in the afternoon. He weighed a tiny, but perfect, 5lbs 12oz and was 18 inches long. That was the most joyous day of my life, along with my wedding day. I was one of the "lucky" ones and had an extremely pleasant and easy labor. I pushed for all of 13 minutes and there was the sweetest baby boy ever. Pink all over with a head full of brown hair. There are no words to describe to sheer joy and perfection I felt when they placed him in my arms. Since that day, Kipton has blessed our lives more than we could have imagined.

Looking back I am so thankful Trey didn't have to go back to a job after Kipton was born.  It was such a blessing to have him home with me the first few months. Those are times that I will always remember. The learning process for new parents is such a pivitol point and I'm happy he was with me through every dirty diaper, every nursing session, midnight waking, and every priceless, adorable moment Kipton had.

In April, we recieved an amazing opportunity to take over my grandfathers business.  He wanted to retire and wanted the business to stay in the family. Trey had always talked of owning his own company so the pitch was perfect! It's so crazy how God has everything planned out so perfectly.  Trey stepped in and officially took over in June. I have never been more proud of him. His leadership skills and work ethic are impeccable. God provided me with one good hubby! About that same time, Trey agreed that me staying home with Kipton was better than going back to work...YAY! I have seriously always dreamed of being able to stay home with my children, but when the lay off happened in January I quickly tossed that dream aside. The 3 years prior I was a nanny to adorable twin boys.  It was a wonderful job and the family was such an inspiration. I learned many many parenting skills that I easily implement into my own family. As much as I loved their family, I love being home with mine more. :)

Late in the summer Trey and I started talking about having kiddo #2.  After lots of talking, we tossed around the idea of adoption. We'd always said we wanted to adopt but I don't think either of us ever believed it would really be reality. The more we talked and prayed we were convinced our next child would join us by way of adoption. We had no idea where to start, but after much research and prayer the Lord has led us to where we are now. He has already blown us away with His direction, support, and unending faithfulness. In just 3 months we have raised $7,800!!  That is amazing!! A fellow adoptive parent said it like this - what moves the heart of God will move the heart of people. That statement rings true because without God moving others hearts for the orphan and for our family this adoption would not be possible. Thank you!

2011 has been a huge turning point for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my marriage and my family. I look forward to 2012 and what the big man has in store for us. Currently, I'm especially looking forward to receiving our referrals! ;)

I hope your 2011 was just as lovely and I wish you a very blessed 2012!!

December 22, 2011

The Switch

If you've noticed, I've been a bit MIA recently when it comes to blogging. Well, it's all for good reason. I promise.

Let me fill you in...
On December 9th we received our HS draft. I printed it out, laid Kipton down for a nap, got comfy on my zebra print chaise lounge and began the editing process. When I was on page 13 my phone rang - it was our agency, Lifeline. I answered the phone excited to tell our case worker, Lesley, that we had gotten our draft. To my surprise, she didn't seem very enthused. Instead she told me she had some bad news...OH NO, I was thinking. I was in a panic racking my brain for what could've gone wrong. Lesley then proceeded to tell me that Ethiopia had just issued a new guideline for adoptive parents...THEY ARE NOW REQUIRING ADOPTIVE PARENTS BE A MINIMUM OF 25. My heart sank. Every hope and expectation I had into the adoption changed.

After a few minutes of me getting my thoughts together, I then asked what are our options now. Obviously we could wait two years and then start the process all over again, losing our fees we had paid, our home study, everything. Or we could switch countries. Lesley informed me that they have a pilot program that opened recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo's minimum age is 21, so we would definitely qualify. Another thing that's different about Congo is that you receive your referral first then send your dossier. So Trey and I had a lot to think and pray about.

We were so confused. It seemed as though my heart was set on Ethiopia. Was it Gods plan for us to wait two years? If we waited, we lost the money He had provided thus far and we would risk the country closing or wait times increasing dramatically. We agreed, God had called us to pursue adoption now, not two years from now. So, that led us to Congo. We researched all weekend about the orphans there, the country history, cultural beliefs, everything we could find out we read. I was still feeling hesitant because all this time I pictured Kade being in Ethiopia. I wrestled back and forth with God, until one moment. It was like He was speaking to me plain as day. He said, "Ashton, won't you love any child I give you regardless of country?". I was stunned. He put everything in perspective for me. I no longer felt my ties only to the children of Ethiopia, but to the children in Congo and Uganda and Sudan and every other nation under God. I felt a complete peace with this new direction our adoption was taking.

On Monday, December 12th, Trey and I made the official decision to adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)!!!!!! I am confident in our choice and I know the Lord continues to have His hand in our adoption.

Here are some happenings since we officially made the switch.
1. We edited our HS for the Congo.
2. We had a dog wash & yard sale...raised $958.
2. We had our orientation for the Congo program.
3. We received our APPROVED home study in the mail!
4. We filed our I600A with immigration! (This is the form we file to get immigration approval from USCIS to bring an orphan into the country.)
5. We applied for a grant through Perpetual Change.

Since our HS is complete and our I600A is filed, our agency will be sending our information to the facilitator in Congo. Once he receives that, he will then begin matching a child with our family. If all goes well, we should have our referrals within the next 2 months! So excited to see Kade's face!!!

Thanks for reading up on all the changes that have been taking place with our family. The blog will be getting a makeover soon too because it's obviously not Faith.Hope.Ethiopia.Love anymore. :) I hope you'll follow along on our new journey to Congo!!

December 07, 2011

An Ache in My Soul

Today is a difficult day. I'm not sure why, it started out the same as any other day, but today there seems to be a deeper ache in my soul. An aching and longing to hold my son in Africa just as I am holding Kipton now. My heart was not prepared for this sort of turmoil. To know that my second son is living half a world away without my hugs, encouragement and love is truly breaking my heart.

This adoption is so different than my pregnany with Kipton. He and I had a special bond from the moment he was conceived. I was comforted knowing that my body was keeping him alive and growing. He was warm and comfortable in my womb. He could be lulled to sleep by the thuds of my heartbeat and the muffled voices of his mom and dad. He was secure. We even had a timeline as to when we could expect to welcome him into our family. We prepared during those months of pregnancy to make sure he had everything he would need and more when he was born. It was predictable, comfortable and natural.

Kade's entrance is far from predictable and that doesn't make for a very comforted mama. I know that he is probably already born to a woman who won't be able to keep him. This woman will love my son without a doubt for he is her son too, but she'll have to make a great sacrafice to give him a chance at a better life. For whatever reason, be it severe poverty, sickness, AIDS, she will not be the one he calls mama. I will, but I do not know when that day will be. I do not know if he has the comforts of knowing the love of family or the luxury of a warm bed and full belly. I do not know if he will immediately form a special bond with me or if my voice will lull him to sleep, like Kipton. I do not know if he will find comfort in me. However, I do know that my heart wants to fly to Africa and hold every little boy who might could be mine and try to offer comfort and hope. I do know that no matter how long this process may seem with no end in sight, God sees the end. He knows the exact month, day, hour and second when Trey and I will lay eyes on Kade and embrace him as our son. He knows every single circumstance that is leading up to Kade's relinquishment from his birth mom and adoption into our family. He knows the longing of my heart and He is the only one who I can find comfort in.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4

LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
Psalm 10:17

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:8

Dear Kade,
Mommy, Daddy and Kipton think about you every day. We are constantly praying for your health, comfort, safety and quick arrival in your new family. It will be a joyous day when you are finally a Phillips. We love you more than you can imagine.

December 02, 2011

December Giveaway & Holiday Ornaments

December is officially upon us! Let the giveaway begin!!

This months giveaway is Photo Session at any desired Charleston location with Christine Smith Photography! You can check out her work here. On top of having a free session fee at any location, you will also get a package of high quality prints. (one 11x14, one 8x10, and two 5x7's)

The photo session giveaway is $5 per entry. You can enter through the paypal "donate" button to your left. You can also gain additional entries by sharing the blog/giveaway on your Facebook, Twitter or your own blog. (Just make sure to let me know how you shared.)

The giveaway will end at midnight on December 20th and we will announce th winner on December 21st!

Here are some of our Christmas pictures Christine shot...

If you're outside of the Charleston area but would still like to help support our adoption, we are also selling holiday ornaments in December.

The ornaments have a variety of designs...
John 14:18
James 1:27
Ho Ho Ho
...and more.
Africa is incorporated on each ornament and they are all adorned with a bow and tweed hanging hoop.

The ornaments are $5 each (additional $2.50 shipping). For each ornament sold $3 will benefit our adoption and $2 will be donated to UNICEF to help feed the children in the horn of Africa. So not only are you getting a beautiful custom ornament, you are also supporting adoption and UNICEF!

If you wish to purchase ornaments, you may do so through the paypal "donate" button. When you're checking out send a note with description of the ornaments you want along with shipping name & address.

Merry Christmas everyone!

November 28, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Notice I said "look" not "feel" because here in South Carolina it is still toasty warm. For example, todays high was 81°! Yikes!! I'm hoping it cools down before December is upon us because the current weather doesn't exactly induce the warm, giddy, giving feeling called Christmas Spirit. :)

I'm counting on that little thing called Christmas Spirit to move everyones hearts for the orphan and help make our events in December a success. I'm praying that through each event we are able to bring awareness to how much we have and how little our future son has. I pray that through the holiday season each person we encounter will appreciate the people that bless their lives more than the things they've acquired. In the end, our stuff is just stuff, but our families are the cornerstone to a truly rich life. For one little boy in Ethiopia, we will be that cornerstone. What a privilege! Just the thought of teaching Kipton and Kade the true reason for the season puts me in the spirit (despite the weather). :)

December Fundraisers:
3rd- Wrapping gifts at Barnes & Noble
10th- Benefit Dog Wash at All Is Well
18th & 23rd- Gift wrapping at Barnes & Noble

December Giveaway:
Photo Session with Christine Smith Photography!!
Christine is such a wonderful,talented photographer in the Charleston area. She will do a photo session at any Charleston location or at her home studio and beautiful garden.
The giveaway includes session fee and a package of high quality prints of your favorite shots!
If you're in the Charleston area, you really don't want to miss this. It'd be great for family photos, newborn shots, senior pictures, business photos, modeling portfolio, bridal/engagement shots, maternity pictures....everyone could take advantage of this deal!

Giveaway starts Dec 1st and runs to Dec 20th. For a $5 donation you will get one entry, $10 two entries and so on. Also, for every time you share the giveaway on FB, Twitter or your own blog, that earns you another entry! Just make sure to post a comment with a link to how you shared. :)

I'm also working up one other December special. I'm very excited about this one because it has the potential for us to help another organization as well! I am striving very hard to not just be a consumer this year, but more of a contributer. I'll keep you updated as things pan out.

As we prepare for these events and giveaways, please pray for Gods provision to be at work.

I'm going to close with this little quote from a friends fb to make you think for a minute...
We are just tools in God's tool box. There is no glory in the wrench. The glory is in the hands that use it.

How are you going to be used for His glory this holiday season?

November 17, 2011

Agency Orientation & Home Visit

We had our agency orientation with Brittney, our case worker from Lifeline, last Friday. Since our agency is based out of Kentucky, we did our orientation over the phone. It was scheduled perfectly so it would be during Kiptons nap time and a time when Trey could take a break from work. :) We were on the phone for just over an hour. Our conversation consisted of reviewing our Ethiopia adoption manual, talking about our education requirements (a lot of requirements), home study agency, dossier prep, fees, what happens at the time of our referal (!!!!), medical conditions, travel, and more about our adorable future son. Brittney also had to verify we weren't addicted to drugs/alcohol, in an abusive relationship or mentally insane. Just precautionary. ;) We had all of our questions answered and were offered good advice for different stages of the process. Overall, it was a great orientation! I am so excited about working with Lifeline and thankful the Lord led me to them. They are a strong Christian agency and I know they will be a huge blessing. Both the ladies who are in charge of the Ethiopia program are adoptive mamas of Ethiopian children. The fact that they have been in our shoes before us is very inspiriting.

Another big step forward for our adoption happened this morning...our first home study visit. Our social worker, Teresa Smith- a wonderful Christian woman, who is oh so kind- came to our house to "interview" to us. I have to admit I was prepared for an in depth scrutiny of our home, intense questions that would make us severely uncomfortable and a couple more worries I won't even mention. ;) To my surprise, it wasn't intimidating at all. Teresa was super personable and our entire conversation was very relaxed. (Plus, she is a fellow dog lover so we got along just fine...because we have four!) We talked about our families, schooling, church support, our daily lives and decided what specifications we wanted to put about the child we will accept. We decided that for our home study we will be open to 0-4 years of age, male or female and up to two children. We'll be more specific with our agency, boy from 0-2yrs, but we left our home study open that way if we change our minds or if by some chance our baby boy has an older sibling! Yes, I said sibling!! That's a slim chance because supposively young sibling groups are rare, but should that occur we are definitely open to 2 babes. :) Imagine going from a family of 3 to a family of 5. Wow. Ok, now I'm going to contain myself and just focus on 1 little boy coming home to our family.

Ok, back to our home see how easily my mind wanders. After our interview with Teresa, she did a quick-and I do mean quick-walk through of our home. It was so much simpler than I had imagined, but I love simple, especially in this very unsimple process called adoption. We then wrote a check to the home study agency for the first big home study fee...$875...ouch. Our final visit is scheduled for Nov. 29th. After that visit Teresa will type up our complete home study for us to review. Once that's done and we've paid $1100 more (which we're still working on) our home study will be sent to DSS for approval. So far, everything is progressing nice and smooth. I know the sole reason for our progression thus far is that we have the one and only Almighty God on our side. We owe all the glory to Him.

Here are some lyrics from a song we sang Tuesday at Genesis:

God is able
He will never fail!
God is with us
He is on our side
He will make a way!

I jotted these down during worship because they really spoke to my heart. They are ringing true more than ever. :) HOPEFUL

On a very differnt note...
I'm typing out this post from a theater seat while waiting for the midnight premier of Breaking Dawn. Shout out to all the other Twilight fans!

November 07, 2011

Our 1st Yard Sale

After a month of collecting donations from friends, family and overly generous strangers, we were finally prepared for our first yard sale. The Saturday before the sale we recruited our best friends, Kelsey and Tyler, to come help us sort and organize all the donations. As we began sorting and pricing in our garage (with the garage door open) passing cars began to stop. They thought we were having a sale then! Of course we couldn't turn them away. :) So throughout the few hours we sorted we had a mini, unannounced garage sale. That mini unannounced sale brought in $230!! Pretty good for not actually being the actual sale. :)

We held the real yard sale this past Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot of Trey's business. His business is on a main road and we were hoping this would play to our advantage. :) We had so much stuff! Furniture, sporting goods, household items, collectibles, purses, kids toys, books, and clothes, clothes, clothes. We set up early Saturday morning with the help of 8 amazing volunteers. All day Saturday there was a steady flow of customers shopping for good deals. We met so many nice people and were able to spread awareness of adoption to some skeptics. We had so much fun meeting these people and selling them awesome items to benefit our adoption. After 6 hours of intense sales, we packed up for the day. (Saturday evening, we passed out...pure exhaustion!) We were back at it again Sunday morning. Sunday was slower than the past day, but we still had a good crowd show up toward the end. Here are some pictures from the first of our yard sales.

The yard sale weekend was a blast and a huge success in my eyes. I am so grateful to every single person who donated, volunteered, shopped, prayed, bought a raffle ticket or shared our event with others.
Here is the breakdown of our sales:
Pre-sale sorting day: $230
Day 1- Saturday: $1,072!
Day 2-Sunday: $641.58
Total Yard Sale Earning = $1,943.58
Thank you Lord for providing for us. You are so good.
One step closer to sweet Kade!
(We're only $300 away from our first agency fee.)

November 02, 2011

Kindle Winner

The winner of the Kindle giveaway is......


You know who you are! The Kindle is waiting for you at Barfields Appliance. Congrats on your new Kindle and thanks for your support!

Keep following our blog for a new givaway soon!

October 28, 2011

Fall Festival Fun

Last weekend was jam packed with Fall Festivities!
On Friday night, two awesome ladies came over with their awesome baking skills and helped me make delicious treats for our bake sale at the Faith Family Fun Fair.

Saturday we volunteered at our community fall festival. We walked around the festival selling raffle tickets. (Really Kelsey sold the raffle tickets. I learned that Trey and I are horrible sales people. Thank goodness we brought Kelsey along...lifesaver!) All proceeds from the festivities went to Helping Hands and the local food bank. It was definitely a good cause and I'm glad we were able to be a part of it.

After that festival we were off to prepare for the Faith Family Fun Fair. We had a booth for Treys business (Barfields Appliance & Parts) and we were raising money and awareness for our adoption. We participated at the festival both Saturday and Sunday evening. It was a blast! We did a bake sale, sold Kindle tickets and had an appliance smash off. :) The smash off was the biggest hit. For each donation a person gave they got 2 hits on a variety of appliances. The boys were loving it, even some girls!

We had wonderful volunteers to help!
Thanks you guys!

Even the cutest Spiderman ever came out to help raise money for baby Kade!
We also had our tree at the event. It's starting to bloom with fingerprints!

Between donations, festival earnings and selling our garage fridge, we ended up raising $1,000 last week!! I'd say that's a successful week. Thank you Lord for providing!!

We now have enough to pay for our agency application and home study!! Yay yay yay! I am actually mailing our application today and will be dropping off our completed home study paperwork on Monday! God is so good! One step closer to Kade.

Our next fee of $2,416.33 will be due upon acceptance of our application. So that will be very soon. Please pray that the funds will be provided quickly. We have faith!

Thank you for reading my blog! I would love to hear how you found the blog and any thoughts you have about the adoption. I absolutely love reading your comments, so feel free to leave them. :)