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!