Thursday, April 10, 2014

I-800A to USCIS! (adoption update)

I know that for those of you who don't speak "adoption" (yes... at times it's like a whole other language!) that title might not mean much. So let me explain...

We just sent our adoption pre-approval papers (I-800A) to US immigration (USCIS) which is a big step in our adoption!

Even though we turned in our finished homestudy paperwork on December 16th, we didn't get our completed homestudy in our hands until March 10th** (from our contract agency). So that's why you haven't heard an update in a while. Once we had that though, the ball was rolling! On March 26th our placing agency was able to send off our I800-A application to the USCIS office  (U. S. Citizenship Immigration Service). We should get an appointment from them soon to have another round of fingerprints done, and then they'll review everything and (hopefully) approve us to adopt a child! This is the first half of the approvals we'll need from USCIS (they will also have to approve a specific child to be adopted by us and brought into the US - but that won't happen until after we're matched.)


So you're probably wondering, what's next?

Right now we're waiting on our 2nd fingerprint appointment, and waiting on USCIS approval of our I-800A. This should take around 6-8 weeks.

In the meantime, we are also working on finishing our dossier, which is a fancy way of saying, "a huge stack of important paperwork." This includes things like our homestudy, financial info, references, marriage license, medical reports, etc. We almost have all our paperwork, so now we have to LEGALIZE it. This means that almost everything in our dossier (around 50 pages of documents) must be (1) notarized (2) notarized/legalized again by the County Clerk from whatever county that notary is located in (3) notarized/legalized again by the State Dept from whatever state the notary is from (we'll have to do this for documents in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia). Then we'll send all our paperwork to our placing agency, and they will handle making sure our dossier is (4) notarized/legalized by the US Dept of State and (5) notarized/legalized a final time by the Thai Consulate. Whew!

We're not sure how long this will all take, but we're hoping that all of the above will be done by the end of May (>>fingers crossed<<). At that point our legalized, official dossier + our USCIS I800-A approval will be sent to Thailand and we will finally, officially be waiting to be matched with a child!

From there, the timeline is honestly unknown, but we have been given some estimates. Our agency said that the average time to receive a referral once our paperwork is in Thailand is 9 months (but of course, it could be a shorter or longer amount of time.) Once we have a referral and have officially been matched with our child, we should be able to travel to get her within 6 months!

That means we could be going to get Kate from Thailand sometime around August 2015, though there's really no way to know for sure right now.

Of course there will be other paperwork to file along the way, but I am really excited that our major paperwork (homestudy and dossier) are almost behind us! I can't wait to have all these forms and documents off my "to do" list, and to just be able to focus on fun things... like learning more Thai language, finishing some projects in our new home, and learning to use my new sewing machine before my baby girl gets home!

If you could pray for FOCUS as we diligently work to finish our dossier, that would be such a blessing. Please pray too for all these government workers to process our paperwork quickly, and that nothing gets lost in the mail!


** If you've been following our process, then you know that it took us a year to finish our homestudy. I don't want our timeline to scare anyone away from adopting, so I thought I should note that this is not the norm! Usually a homestudy takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. We put ours on hold for 3 months because we were moving our home and non-profit, and renovating several rooms of our house (which is not a good time to have important papers lying around!) Unfortunately, it was then delayed an additional 6 months because the contract agency we chose for our homestudy had excessive homestudy requirements that were very time consuming (which was quite frustrating for us.) Everyone's timeline is different with every adoption, but I didn't want anyone expecting their homestudy to take as long as ours! You can learn from our mistake however. I would encourage you to really research the requirements and timeline for any agency you hire as your contract (homestudy) agency or your placing agency. We have learned that they can differ greatly, even for a Hague homestudy!

Friday, February 28, 2014

So you drew a red X on your hand. Now what?


Let me preface this blog by saying that I'm a huge fan of Passion (where, from what I understand, the End It Movement began), and an avid supporter of any organization that does anything to help stop human trafficking and bring an end to modern day slavery. So I hope now you won't see me as a "hater" when I question people's commitment to this whole red X #enditmovement thing that happened yesterday. I don't want to come off as a critic, because those of us working against horrors like trafficking need to bond together (not tear each other down). But I did feel the need to write this blog to (hopefully) challenge some people who were a part of this red X movement.

-----------

Here's my question for you... every one of you who posted or tweeted that you were "in it to end it" yesterday. Ready?

"So you drew a red X on your hand.... so you told people who asked about it that modern day slavery still exists.... so you can rattle off some harrowing statistics about slavery... what now?"

No, really. What now? What else are you going to do to "end it now"? 


I get that you're all really excited about "shining a light on slavery", and that is important. But in many places around the world, slavery is happening in broad daylight. So you're going to need to do more than just shine.

I know you're going to say that awareness is important, and I agree wholeheartedly. One day, years ago, someone told me about human trafficking and child soldiers and genocide and gendercide and the orphan pandemic - and all of that led to the nonprofit work that I now do. And if I had never known then I never could have acted. But what happens now that we're all aware?

I was concerned about this last year, but I'm even more concerned now that I've seen it 2 years in a row. Because what I've seen is - for a day - my twitter feed and facebook are taken over by "activists" raising awareness about human trafficking and calling for an end to modern day slavery. And I get SUPER excited because for once my twitter feed is full of people who are passionate about something that matters, instead of the petty things we all normally tweet about. And I get really PUMPED because I think something HUGE is going to happen from this! And I get really encouraged because I think - "if all of my friends are passionate about this, then they are really going to start doing things that will make a difference!"

But that's what I don't see.

Because the day after, it all goes back to normal. 

And this is what I have a problem with. Do you really think that picking up a red marker actually made a tangible difference in the life of a trafficked child? Do you really think an X on your hand set a slave free? This isn't enough people! It's no where near "enough". I'm terrified to think that I'm living in a world where social media "activism" has completely taken the place of real activism. I see it everyday with our work for The Sound of Hope. We'll post a need for our kids overseas, and people will retweet it or "like" it or comment on it or share it - but they won't GIVE to it. Rarely do people actually DO anything to meet the need.

Clicking a button on your computer is not activism. Tweeting something from your smart phone does not make you a freedom fighter. Drawing an X on your hand doesn't make you an abolitionist. Issues this big require so. much. more.

Can we just look at scripture for a minute? Jesus told us to care for orphans (James 1:27)... heal the sick (Matt 10:1)... and set the captives free (Luke 4:18). He did not  tell us to just tell other people about the orphans and the sick and the captives. We're not fulfilling any commandments by raising awareness friends. We've got to take the next step! Awareness and action should go hand in hand.

Now I know from the little bit of research I've done, that the End It Movement is partnered with organizations that are actively working to end modern day slavery. I was glad to see the option to donate directly to that work on their homepage. I've heard about the millions raised to fight this issue at Passion Conferences, and that's really, really encouraging to me. But it's still not enough. I still feel like a lot of the "followers" of this movement aren't quite getting it. I know, because out of the hundreds of tweets I read, not one was encouraging their friends to GIVE to the End It Movement. As a matter of fact, I didn't see even one tweet that said anything about taking any action beyond a red X to raise awareness.

So I hope that I can encourage you to re-think your involvement. If you drew a red X on your hand yesterday, then I hope I can make you think about what else you're being called to do today, and tomorrow, and next month to "end it now". There are 10 organizations partnered with the End It Movement that you can get involved in. There are dozens more that aren't listed (a couple that I love are She Dances and Exodus Road.) And of course, there's The Sound of Hope. This is an issue that I am extremely passionate about, because it's an issue that affects the kids we care for in all 4 countries we work in. Human trafficking is one of the biggest dangers facing the children in our care. We have heard horrific stories of children being sold into slavery, sold into prostitution, sold (and maimed) as beggars, and even trafficked and killed for organ harvesting. We work to rescue children from some of the most dangerous areas overseas - like the slums, brothels, and impoverished villages (areas we know traffickers target for their victims.) We are fighting to protect these children, but we cannot do it without the funding we need. 

So GIVE. It doesn't matter if you gave at a Passion Conference last month - give again. I can tell you from experience (as an Executive Director of a non-profit) that our organization and every other organization I mentioned desperately needs your money so that they are equipped to do their important work! So give again, give regularly, and do more than just tell your friends about modern day slavery. Encourage your friends and family to give too! Put together a fundraiser - a bake sale, a car wash, a yard sale, a benefit show. Use your abilities as a FREE man or woman, to raise money that will bring others their FREEDOM.

Volunteer. There are plenty of organizations that are looking for volunteers. There might be one in your own back yard! Remember that human trafficking isn't just something that happens overseas. It's local too. Consider looking for a women's shelter or a nonprofit that works to rescue victims in the US. (For those of you reading in Birmingham, The Wellhouse is one.) There are plenty of great organizations that need your help! 

Continue to educate yourself about human trafficking. Go further than just learning the statistics. Become an expert, and learn what NOT to do. Learn about how the porn industry is connected to modern day sex slavery, and pledge to never view or purchase porn. Learn about what companies still use slave labor, and pledge not to use their products.

There is so much that you can do beyond just drawing a red X on your hand, and I hope and pray that you will do something tangible to truly help #endit! I'd really love to see some comments, facebook posts and tweets that said...


I'm in it to #endit! I'm drawing a red X to raise awareness and  I'm...                                                            
                                                  ... donating to Not For Sale
                                                  ... becoming a volunteer at IJM
                                                  ... organizing a fundraiser for The Sound of Hope
                                                  ... (fill in your own pledge here!) 


If everyone who tweeted their red X yesterday would commit to do something, then I believe we could see an end to slavery. So this is me, challenging you to be more than just a "social media activist".  If we all take action, then we really can #endit!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Birthday Wish

In case you missed my last blog - I'm turning 30!!!


Today is my 30th birthday, and I just have one birthday wish. My wish is to raise the travel funds we need to return to Thailand and India this Spring. 

Many of you know that my husband and I work full time running an orphan care non-profit called The Sound of Hope. What I hope you know - is that we consistently sacrifice to put the needs of the children we serve first. What you probably don't know - is that often means sacrificing the administrative funds we need as an organization. As a matter of fact, it's been more than 2 years since we've had the administrative funds we need to travel. Unfortunately, our work is suffering because of it. 

There are 211 children in 4 countries who depend on our organization. It is incredibly important that we spend time at each of our international partnerships -- to build even stronger relationships with our native partners and with the children we care for. It's important that we spend time in each country researching the needs of the Children's Homes, planning future fundraisers, and gathering the media we need to effectively fundraise for the children. Our work in the US depends on the work we do while we are overseas. I cannot express this enough -- it is vital for the future of our non-profit organization that we travel this year. 

Today is my birthday, but I'm not wishing for anything glamorous. It might seem crazy to some people that on my 30th birthday, I'm begging you to help me return to the slums and brothels and orphanages in 3rd world countries - but that is honestly my heart's desire! I adore the children we care for through The Sound of Hope, and today my heart is aching to be back with them!

I made a promise to Jyoti that I would come back.





I made a promise to Susheela that I would come back.


Since we were last overseas, a brand new Children's Home (that we helped establish) has opened in Thailand, and the first 8 little girls have come into the home. I made a promise to those little girls that we would visit.... a promise that we would meet them and spend time with them and show them how much we love them. Every single time we call them, they get on the phone and beg us to visit. On every single phone call I hear 8 little voices pleading with us - "Rusty and Ericka, when are you coming to see us?!" And during every phone call I cry - because I cannot be with them.



And so, today, on my 30th birthday, it would mean so much if you would donate $30 in honor of my life and my work with The Sound of Hope at the link below. We need to raise at least $15,000 by the end of January, but even $30 will make a difference! Please GIVE so that we can GO and help these children have a better future! Please make my birthday wish come true!

Donate Now

Monday, January 13, 2014

What I really think about turning 30...



This week is my 30th birthday... and as an American woman, I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be dreading it. 

My sweet mother-in-law admitted to me that 30 was the hardest birthday for her. My dad commented a few nights ago that he was afraid turning 30 would be traumatic for me. If you google "turning 30" you'll find dozens of dramatic and depressing memes and e-cards. That's because women in the "Western world" are obsessed with staying young. We dye our hair. We lie about our age. We use Botox to hide decades of laugh lines. We celebrate "anniversaries" of our 29th birthday, instead of our 30th, 33rd, or 35th. We see our 30th birthday as a burden, instead of a blessing. 

But that's not the way the rest of the world views it - and it's not the way I choose to view my 30th birthday. I made a decision a few months ago that I would not freak out over this day. I decided that I would not be depressed or worried. I decided that I would not pick apart my life or focus on the things I haven't done. The way I respond to this day is a choice - and I hope to age gracefully, because I choose to age gratefully.

The truth is - I've seen too much of this world to be stressed about turning 30. I have met too many women who are sick, enslaved, and oppressed - not to revel in the blessing of one more year. Another year of freedom. Another year of opportunity. Another year of LIFE. And so, I choose to proudly celebrate that I AM TURNING 30!

I will celebrate this birthday because of Kamlal, who turned 30 as a prostitute in an Indian brothel. Because there are thousands of women like her in India and Thailand and in Red Light Districts all over the world, who are treated like property. Thousands of women who are forced to sell their bodies night after night. Thousands of beautiful, precious women who are trapped. And so, I will celebrate because I'm free.

I will celebrate on behalf of the millions of little girls in India who will never celebrate their 30th birthday - or any birthday - because they were victims of gendercide. For the precious baby girls who didn't get to live because their culture dictates that girls are a "curse from God." For the beautiful little girls that deserved to live.... I will celebrate because I'm alive.

I will celebrate because of a woman named Dudu, who died of AIDS at the age of 27. For the thousands of women like her in Swaziland and the hundreds of thousands across Africa who were taken too soon. For the HIV+ mothers who will not get to see their children grow up... the sick, young mothers who would give anything to live to the age of 30. I will remember them, and I will celebrate because I'm healthy.

I will celebrate this birthday because there are women in Burma who live in constant fear. Because in the last 60 years there have been hundreds of young women attacked by the Burma army and raped by corrupt soldiers. Because young tribal women are still at risk of being captured and forced to work as mine-sweepers in a landmine dotted jungle. I will celebrate because I'm safe.

I have been given so many incredible opportunities in my 30 years, and I've accomplished so much. There are millions of women around the world whose lives have looked very different. It would be a disgrace to them to do anything but CELEBRATE the life I've been given. I will not pretend I have not lived and loved my 30 years of life - and, dear reader, neither should you. If I have breath in my lungs - I will be grateful. When I blow out 30 candles on my cake - I will be grateful! I will not take my age -  nor any moment of life it represents - for granted. Because there are too many mothers and sisters and daughters who will never get the chance to turn 30 as healthy, safe, educated, free women. And there are too many little girls who will never make it to their 30th birthday because of poverty or disease or corrupt cultural practices.

So I will celebrate my 30 years, and pray that in another 30 years life will look different for women around the world. I hope I get to spend another 30 years working to improve the lives of little girls in India, Thailand, Burma, and Swaziland... who will someday grow up into beautiful women with bright futures.

{ Hugging 20 little girls that I love in India }

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If you're reading this and the message resonates with you - then I'm going to be bold and ask you for a 30th birthday gift! It would mean SO much if you would donate $30 in honor of my life and my work with The Sound of Hope at the link below. My only wish for my birthday is that we will be able to raise the money we need to return to Thailand and India this March. It's been more than 2 years since we've had the administrative funds we need to travel. We are anxious to get back to work overseas, and to spend time with the little girls (and boys) we care for in Thailand and India. We need to raise at least $15,000 in the next 2 weeks. Please GIVE so that we can GO and help these children have a better future.
Donate Now

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homestudy.... CHECK!



On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...



202 pages of paperwork

21 hours of adoption education

16 checks written

10 kinds of lab work

8 reference letters

6 months of working

5 interviews

2 TB tests

1 chest x-ray



... and a partridge in a pear tree! 





*IT IS FINISHED!* Our adoption homestudy is officially done (well, our part at least!) I turned in all the paperwork TODAY! I swear I checked that massive stack of papers at least 5 times, and drove with it on my lap all the way to the adoption agency! It felt amazing to put that envelope in our social worker's hands and to know that a HUGE part of our process is finished! THANK YOU to everyone who wrote reference letters, answered questions, prayed, encouraged us, pushed us to keep going (you know who you are!), and understood when we were anti-social because we were buried in mountains of paperwork. It's been exhausting but we got it done!


My view for the past few weeks...


Our next step is our dossier. I am not looking forward to all the hoops we'll have to jump through for that... it is sure to be challenging. But I keep reminding myself that it's just one more (giant) round of (intense) paperwork and then it all goes to Thailand! 



Wednesday we will start working on our dossier. But tonight... TONIGHT we will celebrate this accomplishment with a little sparkling cider.




We're one step closer to our baby girl!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Stocking for Kate

5 years ago, on our very first Christmas as a married couple, we bought 2 stockings - a red one for Rusty and a silver one for me. They were the perfect stockings... shiny, shimmery, and with little snowflakes embroidered along the top. This year I wanted to hang a matching one for Kate, and was heartbroken to find out that they don't make them anymore. I have searched everywhere! I even went as far as to post online asking for help finding one. I knew it was highly unlikely (especially since we bought our stockings in Michigan and now live in Alabama.) So imagine my surprise when a perfect stranger sent a silver stocking that was a PERFECT MATCH to us in the mail today!! I still can't believe it! What a gift! 


It was so special to hang 3 stockings "by the chimney with care." When I finally saw them all - hanging up there together - I couldn't hold back the tears. You may think that's silly... after all, it's just a stocking! But to me, it's so much more than that.

You see, sometimes it seems like our adoption paperwork will never be done... like our "gotcha day" will never get here...like we will never hold our little girl. Sometimes, Kate seems like a far away dream that may never come true. So when I can do something tangible - like hang a stocking for our daughter - it's an act of faith. This little stocking reminds me that our daughter is a promise from God that WILL be fulfilled. It represents all our future Christmases with our little girl...all the memories yet to be made. It reminds me to pray for her, to trust God with her, and to keep fighting for her everyday.

~* Merry Christmas baby girl! We can't wait to meet you! *~

Monday, September 30, 2013

We bought a house! (sneak peek)

Soo... we bought a house! I know I've mentioned that in a couple of my posts, but considering we closed on it at the end of April (and moved at the end of May) this specific post is long overdue!

Our sweet little home sweet home is in Crestwood and we cannot say enough good things about the neighborhood or our neighbors. Seriously ya'll - I feel like we have stepped back into the 1950s! We already loved the fact that there were so many historic homes in the area (with so much charm!) but it's the neighbors that make this place extra-special. We have neighbors from Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Australia, England, France, and the Bahamas (just to name a few)! Oh - and neighbors who are adopting (or have already adopted) children from China, the Bahamas, and Ethiopia. The diversity has been truly, truly refreshing.

Oh top of that, these precious people brought us home baked goodies when we moved in.... cookies and muffins and more cookies... and we even got a Welcome Basket (with glass bottle cokes, more cookies, and lots of interesting B'ham magazines and info) our first week here! (Did I mention we don't have a home owner's association? Nope - these people all do this on a volunteer basis. I told you it was a special place! ;)

First time home ownership can feel overwhelming at times, but we have been so blessed that this house is in this neighborhood. We felt "at home" right away and we are loving how involved and friendly all our neighbors are. (I could go on and on.... seriously... they are the best!)

Anyway..... back to the house! I'm excited to walk you through some of the DIY projects we've been working on, but first I thought I should give you a "sneak peek" of the house as it was when it first became ours. We'll call these the "before" pictures.

Ready? Let's start our little tour in the...

Living Room


 I love, love, love the original french door leading into the sunroom!


I also really like the recessed lighting above the mantle. It's not something I 
would've thought to add, but since it's there I think it's a nice touch! As you can see, 
there is a somewhat open floor plan and the living room leads into the dining room...


Another angle (shot while standing in the dining room.)


Dining Room


There are two built in bookshelves (one one either side of the glass doors). 
I loved them at first... but now I have mixed feelings. I'm a little bummed 
I can't buy cute furniture for those corners/walls but at the same time 
I really love the storage beneath them. I think I'll love them more 
when I figure out how to style them...


Kitchen

Okay... somehow I forgot to take pictures of the kitchen when we moved in! Oops! 
I snapped a few today. As you can see, it's still not decorated 
(although we do have all our stuff on the counters and one picture on the wall.)


This is proving to be a difficult room for me to figure out as far as decorating. 
The dark wood and black appliances are not really my style - but they are brand new 
(as in, the kitchen was just redone 2 or 3 years ago) so I am not about to 
waste time or money changing a perfectly good kitchen! I'm sure I'll figure out 
what I want to do in here (decor-wise) in time...


I do love our little console beneath the window!
That's the first piece of furniture we bought specifically for
this house and it works perfectly in our space. :)
We are hoping to someday replace the linoleum tiles with ceramic tiles,
but who knows when that project will happen!


Master Bedroom


So... the crazy thing about our 1950's house is its huge bedrooms! 
It has tiny closets, tiny bathrooms, but really large bedrooms (for a 1950's house anyway). 
I love the recess lighting in the master!


Another shot of the master (above) and its one teeny tiny closet. 
Luckily, the previous owners gave us this beautiful wardrobe along with the house 
because I was so worried about closet space! They were so great to us!


Kate's Room


I'm sad this is the only "before" shot I took of what will someday be Kate's room - 
but it's the room we were staying in while we were between houses. 
This is how we slept (a cot and a thermarest) for 4 weekends when we were 
working on the house (but still living in Maylene). Not very comfortable! 
It is a cute room though and I am excited for the day I will get to decorate it for Kate. 
It's so special to walk by it and think about the day she will be home, sleeping in her room...


Guestroom


 I love to have guests! I dream of someday having a guest cottage or basement apartment 
where we can host people longer-term (with their own full bath, kitchenette, etc)... 
but for now a little bedroom off the kitchen will have to do. :)


Oh, and just in case you're wondering... that's not a closet door you're looking at. 
There (strangely enough) is no closet in this room! It's a teeny little half-bath...


Half Bath


Teeny tiny half bath, with the shortest potty ever! Haha! 
Yes - that is carpet on the floor. No - it is not staying!


I like the shelves - just dislike that they are open. 
But I can't complain because it is at least *some* extra storage! 
There is a a hole where someone apparently had a rod to hang 
clothes up under the top two shelves - so I guess this "technically" was 
a closet and bathroom in one? (no thank you!)


Full Bath


... and the bathroom adventures continue! Haha! 
Yes - that is a pink 1950's bathroom. 
Yes - it is our only full bathroom. 
No - we are not leaving it pink! 


Pink floor, pink walls, pink tub, pink toilet paper holder, pink soap dishes...
(Luckily, the owners before us had already replaced the pink toilet and pink sink!)


Just in case you didn't get a good enough view of that awesome pink tile! Whew!
We have a really awesome transformation that is already 98% done that I can't wait to share with you! ;)


Sunroom


It's hard to capture this room in pictures - but it is definitely my favorite room in the house!
I know I'm going to spend a lot of time in here - and I have a feeling it will end up being 
a favorite place for Kate to play too. :)


I LOVE the built-in bookshelf here. I couldn't wait to fill it up with pictures and books 
(and craft supplies underneath!)


So much beautiful sunlight - and a great view 
of the pretty flowers we have all around our house too!


Screen Porch


This is Rusty's favorite "room" of the house! (It's right up there with the sunroom for me too!) 
It actually connects to the sunroom which is awesome! 
I know we're going to spend a lot of days and nights out here this Fall!



We also have an office that is a separate structure from the house... BONUS! We were so pumped about this little room, because we knew we could actually create a separate, professional space for The Sound of Hope! Having a real office (not just an extra bedroom) means we can have healthier boundaries between home and work. It also means we may potentially be able to have an intern or two someday! (Not anytime soon... but it's still exciting to think of!)


The new Sound of Hope office!


I know it looks pretty well "finished" here - but we got quite a few surprises when we ripped up the carpet and got all the furniture moved out. Turns out this room had holes completely through the walls (hello creepy crawlies!) and issues with flooding every time it rained. It has required quite a bit of work (and we still aren't done) - but that's a story for another blog! For now, we're just still really grateful for a "real" office for The Sound of Hope (even if we're pretty sure it was just some man's workshop originally.) We're going to make it awesome!

Sorry there are no outside pics - but I want to be extra careful sharing that sort of thing online. It's starting to sink in that this is the house we will bring our daughter home to... and I want it to be as safe as possible for her. So unless we know you in real life - inside pics will have to do! (For our "real life" friends - you are welcome to invite yourselves over for a cup of tea and get the full tour! ;)

So there she is! She is old, she has very small (and very few) closets, she has a creepy, creepy cellar (sorry, no pics of that) and she needs a little bit of work but honestly - we feel so blessed. Even though we only looked for a few weeks, we looked long enough to know that house hunting is very overwhelming! We couldn't believe that we actually bought the first house that we ever walked into (and that we decided to buy it in only 4 days!) But the amazing thing about this home is that it was the cheapest house that needed the least amount of work (out of all the ones we were considering). Isn't that crazy? It was actually under-valued when we got back the appraisal! We really saw God's hand in the whole experience and we are so grateful she's ours!

I can't wait to start sharing all our fun projects with you soon! It has definitely been an adventure since the day we closed... but we are slowly (but surely) fixing up our Home Sweet Home!