Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top 10 from 5 years

Although this is a blog dedicated to our beautiful baby, I think our marriage has a huge impact on how we have embarked on this incredible and insanely difficult journey. Though we know we don't have it all figured out, I think we have come quite a long way since we first said, "I do". Five years may not seem like a long time, but living in a society where about 1/2 of marriages end in divorce, I feel like it is something to be proud of.

I know each relationship is unique and has its own set of challenges and needs, but I feel like I have learned quite a few lessons over our five years.

Top Ten Lessons from Five Years of Marriage:
10.  Never quit dating. Even though one may assume you see each other enough, going on dates is different than just being in the same room together. Turn off your cell phones, get out of the house or stay in, but make time for just the two of you. It is possible to keep dating even on a very limited budget. Make it a priority!

9. Find couples that inspire you and learn from their relationships. We know there is no such thing as the perfect couple but find people who can teach you what they have learned and observe them. Jeffrey and I have several couples we look up to. Kim and Dave Brede are such a huge inspiration to us; we went through two marriage small groups under their leading. They have taught us multiple lessons that we will forever cherish. Trent and Stephanie Ketchum are a younger couple that we truly love and respect. They have never really instructed us on marriage, but have simply lived as a couple we want to be like.

8. Do NOT compare your life with others. Although we have been inspired by others, we have learned that we must not compare our lives with others. It will simply make you and your spouse miserable. Houses, babies, cars, money, jobs, etc....DON'T DO IT! Enjoy where you are in life. There is no set time for one event. This can be challenging when everyone around you may be doing something else, but do what is best for you and your relationship.

7.  Learn how to fight! Let's face it, we all have disagreements and think the other is wrong. It is how you go about your disagreements that will make all the change in the world. We have learned that you need to stay focused on the issue. Don't bring up a 100 other little things. Also, be careful what you are saying when you are angry. Sometimes, we just want the other person to hurt like we do, and this can be very damaging. Keep friends and family members out of your fights.

6. Support your spouse's passions and hobbies in life. This has personally been a challenging one for me. Jeffrey and I have very different personalities and very different interest. Talk to each other about stuff you like and figure out times where you can do those things without being inconsiderate of the other.  Encourage and support their hobbies the best you can. Go to games, allow them time to practice, give them alone time to read, etc. Although it is important to keep doing what you love, you must also remember that this hobby should not be causing conflict to your marriage.

5. Stay Friends. Sometimes it is easy to drift into an area where conversations are always serious and you lose the fun. KEEP HAVING FUN! Talk about the little things. We have found that sometimes after being with someone for so long, you feel like you almost know everything about them. Keep trying to learn more. We're always finding little things we didn't know about each other.

4. Be Teammates. Marriage can be a big competition of who has done more for the relationship, the house, the other person, etc. We have learned that if you compete, you both just lose. Work together. Find which chores one person may not mind as much as the other person. Don't put all the housework on one person if you are both working full time. We have learned that marriage is not a 50/50 thing but more like a 100/100 thing. It requires a lot of work from both sides.

3. Find out how to best love and respect your spouse, and do everything you can to make it happen. Although some couples feel loved the same way, Jeffrey and I are very different. I feel loved when we spend quality time together and when Jeffrey does things for me (cleaning the house, putting clothes away, making dinner, etc). Jeffrey feels the most loved through words of affirmation and through physical touch. This can be challenging because sometimes we want to show love to our spouse the way we feel it the most, and that isn't really the best way for them.

2. Don't forget your vows. For better or worse- We have had some great times, and some really challenging times, but we both have committed ourselves to one another and have decided that we are going to do everything we can to last. In sickness and in health- Sadly, we fight a serious sickness more than I would ever wish on any person. It can be hard to be completely selfless and take care of the other person even when you don't feel like it because you're exhausted (especially when you can be a selfish person like me). Put yourself in your spouse's place and love selflessly. For richer or for poorer- We haven't hit that richer part, but we sure have lived through the poorer. Money is one of the number one reasons marriages fall apart. We have learned to really communicate about our spending, and we live on a set monthly budget. Another thing we try to focus on is the day we said those vows. There will be days when you don't feel loved or feel like loving, but you CHOOSE to love instead. We chose to live together for the rest of our lives, and we have both decided that this is the only option for us. We are going to make it work.

1. God, Spouse, everything else. This is the order in which we live. I know for some of you this may be hard to grasp, but the better Jeffrey loves the Lord, the better he loves me. The same applies for me. But besides our relationship with God, our relationship comes first above everything else. Above family members, above friends, above hobbies, above work, above everything else. If you want your  marriage to be the best, you have to make it a top priority in your life.

I hope it doesn't seem like I think we have it all together because these are things we have learned the difficult way. These are also areas we still mess up in and are working on. I just feel we have really gained so much from our own failures and from learning from others. I wanted to just reflect a little on where we have come over the past 5 years.

I am thankful for a husband who wants not just a marriage but a GREAT marriage.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

OUR "Maternity" PHOTO ALBUM

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CHANGES TO THE PROCESS

A lot of you have recently asked me about how the process is going, and my response lately has been that they are making changes to the process so we are really unsure of what is going on. Now that I have a little more information, I will do my best to avoid adoption jargon and give the the best explanation that I can.

Why are they changing the process? Is this your adoption agency who is doing this? 
First of all, this process change is for anyone who is adopting from Ethiopia. They are making these changes due to the request of the US government. I believe it was in 2011 that the US informed Ethiopia that they would like to implement something called the PAIR process.

Why does the US want this change?
 Right now, families go to court through the Ethiopian government and that child is then claimed as theirs. The issue with the US government is that people would pass court in the Ethiopian Courts, but would then not be cleared through the US Embassy which was the next step in the process. The US Embassy was finding typos, errors, big mistakes, and reasons why they could not claim some of these children as orphans under US law. This caused a huge issues because now the children are legally the adoptive parents, but do not have the rights to enter the US. They would then have to travel to Nairobi, Kenya where the USCIS office is located, and try to get things cleared up there. More and more of these cases were taking place, and the US was not happy.

Sadly, the reason this was happening was because like in any institution, there was some corruption. Some agencies, not ours, were being very careless with paperwork and not truly checking all information about the child. Some agencies were being very shady and were more money hungry than wanting to help children and families. I always tell my students how one person can ruin it for a whole group, and this is basically the case here. Our agency isn't really changing anything because they were doing everything right, but now we have to have an extra step implemented into the process because others were not doing what they should be.

So what will change?
Now, before the families can go through the Ethiopian courts, they must be somewhat pre-approved through the US Embassy here in the USA. They will then give Ethiopia the okay that they believe this child will meet requirements as an orphan under US law, and then Ethiopia will proceed with the court hearings. After the family goes through court in Ethiopia, they will then go through Embassy, but this process is expected to be much quicker since they have already been pre-approved.


When does this process start?
Ethiopian courts are shutting down in July this year, and then the process will start when they reopen in September.


Does this impact our wait?
It could due to the fact that it is taking longer for children to get adopted. We are praying this won't impact how long it takes to be matched with a child, but like everything else we will just have to wait and see. This will most likely impact our wait after we are matched with a child because now our papers have to go through an extra process here in the US.

Is this new process a good thing?
I believe that at the heart of this process, it is a good thing. It is protecting the children and making sure that they are truly orphans and not being sold. Human trafficking is a huge issue all around the world. This process gives the US more opportunities to communicate with the Ethiopian government and get things resolved before a family goes to court. It is not a good thing as a mommy to hear that this may increase the time till I see my baby,

Please pray that this will be a smooth transition and that workers will be efficient. Please pray for us as once again things are out of our control. Please pray for the children who are waiting.

We will try to keep you posted on any other news we hear. Love you all!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ZUMBATHON-PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

Wouldn't it be great to lose some calories while helping a great cause! THIS IS YOUR CHANCE!

Come for a morning of Zumba with Certified Zumba instructor, Myra Whittington!

You may be a Zumba junkie or this may be your first time! No experience is required! Just come ready to move and have a great time!

Cost is $10 at the door or you can buy tickets from us in advance. As you know, international adoption is extremely expensive. We currently have around $16,500 left to raise! All ticket proceeds go to The Woodson Family's Ethiopian Adoption!

YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS EVENT!

GREAT MUSIC, GREAT EXERCISE, GREAT CAUSE!


We want to give a shout out to everyone who understands the heart of adoption and has supported us from day one in this extremely long and difficult process. We know it will be so worth it! Please invite all your friends and family! This is truly going to be a morning with lots of fun and energy! 

Make sure to bring a water bottle and wear comfy clothes and shoes!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Father's Day #2

This is the 2nd blog post based off of Father's Day. Last Father's Day is when we told our families that we were adopting. Although they knew we were going to eventually adopt, we told them that we had started the process with a card and a picture that looked like an ultrasound of Africa. Both families were extremely supportive and excited.

Even though we knew some people waited quite a while in the adoption process to tell their friends and family, we knew we wanted to tell them rather early because we needed their support and prayers. Jeffrey and I are both so thankful to have such supportive fathers in our lives. They have supported our relationship as a couple, and now they are both standing behind us as we feel this is how we are supposed to expand our family.

Thank you dad and Jeff for being the people you are. We know that Baby Woodson is going to have some amazing grandpas; he/she already does! Baby Woodson will be a bike riding fishing machine!

It wouldn't be appropriate for me to only mention the grandpas though. I am so incredibly thankful that Baby Woodson is going to have the best daddy in the world. There are many men in the world who won't even support their own children, and Jeffrey has selflessly decided to bring in an orphan and love him/her as his own. I am so proud that I have a husband who is such an amazing man and who truly understands the heart of the Lord. I can't imagine anyone else being a better daddy.  He too is falling in love with this baby. He prays for the baby constantly and supports me with all the ups and downs that we have faced in this process. If you know Jeffrey, you know he is the most kind and real person you will ever meet. I am confident that our baby will not only have the most stylish daddy in the world, but also have the most loving daddy. I can't wait to see our baby in his arms.

Happy Father's Day to three very special and wonderful men. I love you all.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

31 Fundraiser

As many of you know, our adoption is going to cost around $30,000. Although we have paid some, raised money, and received donations, we still have quite a ways to go. I mentioned two summer fundraisers that we are having, and this is the information about the first one!

Our friend, Teresa, has offered to give 100% of the consultants commission from her 31 party to our adoption. These bags are super cute and very nice! I own one of the larger totes, and it is great for work and traveling!  My sister got one of these bags for her wedding shower, and used it for all her beach stuff on their honeymoon. Many of my friends use them as diaper bags, and lots of my students have the lunch bags. So whether you are shopping for yourself or for someone else, please come checkout these bags!

Shop online. THIS IS A GREAT OPTION FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CAN'T MAKE ANY OF OUR LOCAL FUNDRAISERS!

Please click on the link below. Make sure that the event says Fundraiser for Baby Woodson. Please make sure to have all your orders placed by June 20th.  Please share this link with others! Please make sure when you are shopping online, you order under the party that says "Fundraiser for Baby Woodson". If you do not order under this party, we will not receive the commission.

https://www.mythirtyone.com/shop/eventhome.aspx?eventId=E3307744&from=MYEVENTS

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this fundraiser.