Saturday, July 31, 2010

There is a Fish in My Kitchen

Evidence that we found the African Market in Des Moines today..............


Friday, July 30, 2010

They Are Here!

Oh, how I LOVE THEM! They don’t come any sweeter than this bunch you see right here. This beautiful family is LOVE and KINDNESS to the greatest measure. This picture is pure evidence that God hears our cries and answers our prayers. In just talking with Esi for one evening, I am reminded that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

I must tell you that behind the blogging scenes, God has showed up for Samuel. There are things I will not blog about in order to protect the privacy of our adoption. But I MUST SHOUT from the rooftops that God has showed up and defended and helped him. Questions are being answered. No, Samuel is not home yet. No, Samuel does not have his visa yet. But God is showing up. And I am so thankful for this family. More than words can say.

More blogging to come next week on our adventures with our Ghanaian family….for now I am enjoying story after story about Samuel, looking forward to my second round of Ghanaian cooking lessons, and thanking God for teaching me to step out of my comfort zone. Life’s richer out here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Keeping Busy

Well, the boys are on the last tournament trip of the summer! Hard to believe that this year’s summer season is almost finished. They’ve been keeping me updated on their fun with pictures taken on Jake’s phone….

Here was the first one that I got……

And then this one came later…….

Hmmmmm……Coach Julian must have brought his hair clippers and set up shop at the hotel! Um, that is a leetle shorter than mommy cuts it boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, us girls have been holding down the fort and getting ready for the arrival of Nana Yaw’s family! We’ve got the spare beds set up, meals planned, groceries purchased and house cleaned. It’s a good thing I can put Jayla to work…..

The only thing we haven’t done is mow the lawn because I may get injured learning how to operate a zero turn mower by myself. Don’t worry we’ve also taken some time out of the preparations to…..

Make some brownies!

And to go on a little beach date with our friend Max.

You’ve seen that JJ is a fish in the water, and little sister isn’t too far behind….here is a cute video….towards the end she is hollering “Maxxy, come in the water!” She calls him Maxxy! Lord help us!

And here we have a video of the little mommy getting everyone situated for story time:

And just had to upload this video as well so you can see little-miss-sassy for yourself!

Boy is Esi in for a surprise when she sees Jayla now! Here’s a picture of them during Esi’s last visit over a year and a half ago……

We are very, very, very excited to see Esi and the rest of Yaw’s family! Their flight arrives this afternoon!!!!!!!

We didn’t hear anything from the Embassy regarding Samuel’s visa, so we trust that God must have a much better plan.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flaming Arrows vs. Shield of Faith

….take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. ~Ephesians 6:16~

Well, I hope you all have been sporting your Ephesians 6 armor. You’re going to need it if you plan on continuing to support and pray for us and our adoption of Samuel. We are in a battle here.

Last week via a blog connection from our case worker, we found out that many other Ghana adoption families are experiencing this same sort of visa delay that we are. Here is an excerpt from this blog (the writer is an adoption coordinator for a different Ghana program than the one we are in; she has also adopted 2 children from Ghana):

Dear fellow Ghana families,
It seems to me that there are many within our adoption community that are "stuck" in the current visa process. Families have been waiting for visas for months with no end in sight. Some families are given a reason for the wait; others are just told "We are waiting for some things to be verified." My heart is so heavy for you if you are in this position…..

As a believer in Jesus, I know that when we align ourselves with God and choose to follow Him, then we immediately have an enemy that puts up a fight against us. The devil opposes all that God is and everything He does and anyone who believes in Him or tries to live His way. If you do not read your Bible, then you have no idea about what I am talking about, and you probably are ready to send me off to the crazy house. However, it is BLATANTLY CLEAR from scripture that adoption is the VERY HEART of God. I just keep thinking about the AWESOME GOD STORY that Samuel is going to have once he gets here. Through his story, many, many, many people are going to see first-hand the awesome power and sovereignty of our God. The power of our Almighty God IS THE ONLY thing on the entire face of this earth that can break through evil and its hold on these adoptions that are currently being ‘put off’ for days, weeks, and months for no good reason. Please, if you have been praying for us and Samuel, KEEP PRAYING! And, please pray for all the other families experiencing this same sort of hold up with their adoptions as we are. Pray that God’s power would supernaturally BREAK THROUGH the prevention of orphans coming home to their forever families.

I am Samuel’s mother. I will NOT lose heart in this battle. I know that God triumphs over evil. He confuses the plans of the wicked. He silences the lips of evil doers. God hears my complaint and will protect my life from the enemy. He will hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked. They who plot injustice and say “We have devised a perfect plan!” will be brought to ruin. I will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him! (Psalm 64)

I have faith in God. I can look at a mountain and say to it ‘Go throw yourself into the sea’ and I WILL NOT DOUBT in my heart that God will do it! (Mark 11:22-24) God is my strength and my salvation (Psalm 118:14). Though an army besiege me, my heart WILL NOT fear. Though war break out against me, EVEN THEN I will be CONFIDENT (Psalm 27:3). If God is for us, then who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? Certainly it is the Lord who is faithful, and will establish and guard me against evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3). No one whose hope is in you, Lord, will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse (Psalm 25:3). Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). In the day of trouble I will call to Him, and He will answer me (Psalm 86: 7). God, YOU ALONE are my Savior. My hope is in You, all day long (Psalm 25:5).

I will praise you Lord all my life. As long as I live I will sing praises to you. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord. You, Lord, are the Maker of heaven and earth. You alone made the sea and everything in it. You remain faithful forever. You uphold the cause of the oppressed. You give food to the hungry. You set the prisoners free. You give sight to the blind. You lift up those who are bowed down. You watch over the alien. You sustain the fatherless and the widow. You frustrate the ways of the wicked. You reign forever. FOR ALL GENERATIONS, You reign (Psalm 146).

We have 3 DAYS until Esi’s flight leaves for America. That means 3 DAYS for Samuel’s visa to be approved so that he can be chaperoned here by Esi and finally COME HOME. I am praying that I get an email today or tomorrow from the Embassy saying visa approved – come pick it up. I know this appears absolutely impossible. Kind of sounds like telling a mountain to go and be thrown into the sea. But I know the One who is in the business of doing the impossible. My hope is in Him. ALL DAY LONG my hope is in HIM.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still.” ~Exodus 14:13-14~

Friday, July 23, 2010

Birthday Flashbacks!

Since birthdays only come along once a year, I thought I could remember the excitement one more day because it just goes so fast……

The best birthday gift EVER!
July 22, 2006

#1 and #25
July 22, 2007

Doing our birthday dance in Florida!
July 22, 2008

Celebrating with Grandma Lori: #3 and #27 and #49
July 22, 2009

And this year.......#4 and #28
Oh I just love it when he laughs so hard that his eyes are closed when the picture snaps!

And Happy 50th Birthday to Grandma Lori today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Smoochie!!!!!!!!

My sweet JJ turns 4 today! Ahhhhh! What a big boy! We celebrated Sullivan style this last weekend when we could all be together and do a little partying out back. If you remember, last Sunday was hot, Hot, HOT, so our pool party theme was PERFECT! Enjoy the pictures…….oh, and you might amuse yourself by keeping track of how many different outfits you see JJ in! It’s kind of his favorite thing right now to constantly change clothes!

The bithday boy tries out the pool before his guests arrive!

Now that he can hold his breath under the water, he likes to show off a bit. :)

The guests have arrived!

Kayley & Brynn


Yaw & Ezekiel....
I mean really, what more fun could you have on a Saturday night in America than attending a 4 year old's birthday party????!!!!!!!

Ooops, Uncle Eli is playing with the big boys now! Hmmmm, I think his cell phone got a lil wet!

The hummer is always a hit!

The birthday boy eats his favorite......shells & cheese!
(And Daddy got his wish and ordered buffalo wild wings for the grown ups!)

Oh boy, he's been waiting all week for this!

And this was the reaction after he opened the gift and saw what it was!!!!!!!!!!

And his reaction from a different angle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you sense his excitement?!?!?!

For those of you non-basketball players out there, these would be the new Lebron James shoes!!!!

After the speediest birthday present opening I have ever witnessed, it was time for some cake! JJ's request was a boots the monkey cake with LOTS of sprinkles.....and he got it! This picture was taken when everyone was singing Happy Birthday so he was a little shy. But then, notice little sister back there in the corner....she thought everyone was singing to HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday JJ!
I love you SO MUCH and there is no one else I would rather share my birthday with than YOU!!!!!! You are the sweetest little 4 year old I have ever laid eyes on, and I am so thankful that you are my son!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Big Kids

When you go to practice, you have to do things like the big boys. So, you have to take a bag packed with your stuff, like your practice clothes and shoes. You also have to wear Jordan sandals with socks, because that’s how the big kids do it (side-note, the big kids, however do not wear one white sock and one black sock….that is JJ’s own unique trademark).

Then, when you get to practice, you have to change into your practice clothes and bball shoes.

In minutes you should be all changed and ready to go!!!

P.S. Don’t forget your player’s tournament pass, and Kingdom Hoops uniform just in case a game breaks out during practice.

P.S.S. Say a little prayer that the coach is in a good mood, otherwise you might have to do some running!

Now, if you are a little girl, you have to learn to clean like the big girls!

And, only the big girls know how to read to their baby like this.....

And that, my friends, is how the big kids roll!

Monday, July 19, 2010

This is the Way, Walk In It

KEEP WALKING with me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance lightfooted on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you. It is truly the path of Life.

Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young
(Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 29

I know so many of you are praying for our family and Samuel and are eagerly awaiting any word regarding the visa, as are we. Here is the next thing on the radar– on July 29th Nana Yaw’s family - Esi and her husband and two kids - are coming to visit us here in Iowa for 3 weeks. They will be coming to help us send Nana Yaw off to college. After our time with us, they will then be headed to North Carolina to visit Esi’s family that hosted her as a foreign exchange student back in the 70’s. I believe their time there will be another week. Nana Yaw’s family has had this trip planned for 6 months…long before they knew they would be helping us out by caring for Samuel…..their plane tickets were purchased a few months ago.

So, I am asking all of you out there to pray with us that Samuel’s visa gets issued & printed before Nana Yaw’s family comes to visit the U.S. If Samuel has his visa, we would be able to coordinate it so that Esi could chaperone him here to the U.S. along with their flight on the 29th. I will be praying that:

-The Embassy will be able to finalize the I-604 investigation within the next few days.
-The Embassy schedules an appointment for Kofi to come in and pick up the printed visa sometime next week.
-God’s power would overcome any obstacles that could stand in the way of our adoption.
-That we would trust in God's plan for Samuel's life, and trust in God's timing.
-On the phone Samuel has started asking us when he gets to come to America! I would be asking too if I were him! Please pray with us that God would comfort him and give him understanding of all of this. Above all, I will be praying that Samuel doesn't think we have abandoned him or are not coming back for him. I will pray that God continues to prepare him to join our family, and that in the mean time Samuel can feel our love for him.

We have a week and a half before Nana Yaw’s family’s flight leaves. We know that God has a plan. We know that God loves Samuel so much more than we do. God has given Samuel a resilient personality….and we trust that no matter what, Samuel will be cared for by our Almighty God.

Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Awake, O Lord! Why Do You Sleep?

I found a Psalm that stopped me in my tracks. Because it is honest. I love that we can be honest with God. I learned something in the midst of walking through this Psalm that I wanted to share:

Psalm 44 starts out with the psalmist recounting some of God’s past deliverance and victories that he performed on behalf of the Israelites. By verse 4 the psalmist proclaims who his trust and confidence is in:

(Verses 4-8)
You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.

Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.

I do not trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;

but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.

In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.

However, in verses 9-16 it is quite clear that this psalmist is going through a tough time. The honesty is striking.

(Verses 9-12)
But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.

You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.

You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.

You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.

He continues on in describing his suffering through verse 16. But what caught my attention were verses 17 and 18. In these verses the psalmist reveals that his suffering happened despite his faith, obedience, and commitment to the Lord. And he doesn’t understand why….

All this happened to us,
though we had not forgotten you
or been false to your covenant.

Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.

Here comes more honesty…

But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals
and covered us over with deep darkness.

Then comes maybe my favorite part, verses 23-26….

Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?

We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.

Rise up and help us;
redeem us because of your unfailing love.

The psalmist obviously feels as though God is sleeping on the job. He notes that he feels as though God has forgotten about his troubles. In these verses my Bible cross-references to the story of Mark 4:35-41. This was when the disciples were on a boat with Jesus when they get caught in a storm. And they start freaking out. Waves are coming over the boat, nearly swamping it. And, Jesus is sleeping . So they wake him up yelling, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

And Jesus’ response is given, and it speaks volumes. He says, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

This gives insight back into the Psalm. The issue is faith. In referring to each of these sections of scripture my application notes say: In both cases (Psalm 44 and Mark 4:35-41) God was ready to help, but he wished first to build faith in his followers.

When God's help seems far off, when your suffering seems undeserved, when you're not sure why God has brought you to a certain place in your life, just remember, you can only see such a small snapshot of the entire picture. Press on in the battle. Stay committed to the Lord. Be ready to face anything for the cause of Christ.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

JJ the Party Planner

A few days ago JJ said, “Mommy, are you excited for my birthday party?!?!”

Oh my goodness, with his twinkling eyes and gigantic grin, how could I not just want to throw him the best 4 year old party ever? ! JJ is a pretty simple guy, with pretty simple requests:

His cake request: A boots-the-monkey-cake with lots of sprinkles!

On his guest list: Nyla (of course)…..then he paused to think…..and said Kelly, Reggie, and Kourtlin (all guys on Jake’s 17U boys team!)

Gift list: an I-Phone :), socks, and pajamas.

Now, for food Daddy did a little scheming because he wanted a break from grilling….and so the two of them came up with …….








Ordering B Dubs wings for all! JJ loves BWW, but what’s funny is that he doesn’t even order wings….he gets the mac n cheese! So, you know Daddy did some wheelin and dealin on this one!

So, that is the party plan for the weekend….we’ll see what pans out.

Oh, and one more thing. JJ has not forgotten that my birthday is the same day as his. He told me he is going to go to the bank and buy some money so that he can go and get me a present. ♥ Oh I love him!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pics from the Road

From Minneapolis to Milwaukee to Chicago....

Jayla was a hit with the 7th grade girls team at AAU Nationals in Minneapolis!

Daddy gets some help with his post game speech.

In Milwaukee Daddy coached his boys' teams. Those are college coaches sitting there on the back bleachers. We are now in the 'live period' so college coaches can attend the games and recruit.

A new way to sit on the bleachers.

JJ checks out the Lebron shoes at the Joy of the Game facility in Chicago.

Jayla colors with Coach Clark....yes they are coloring with PURPLE crayons!

JJ took this picture!

Jayla made friends with Ezekiel on this trip!

Daddy takes a break by the pool after the Chicago tournament comes to an end.


JJ can hold his breath under water now! GOOD JOB BUDDY!

Jayla tried to copy big brother and hold her breath under the water, but she couldn't quite gather the guts to put her whole face under. :)

Sam & JJ :)

JJ took this picture too!

Some of the Kingdom Hoops coaching staff and assistants (plus Ezekiel).