Monday, January 26, 2009


"In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them..."
Isaiah 63:9
This picture (taken of MSH and his good buddy, CP, at the Science Museum in Nashville over New Years) reminds me of how we feel most of the time right now...picked up and carried along toward God's purposes. I am so thankful that God straps us in! :)

On the adoption front, we have officially sent in our home study to USCIS (US Department of Immigration and Homeland Security) and are awaiting our formal approval. Once that comes...we will have our dossier complete and all of our paperwork will be on its way to Ethiopia! Then, we simply wait (sounds easy, huh?!) until our agency sends us a 'referral' which means photos, background and a time to pray for God's leading. Though I cannot imagine saying 'no' to any children...we know we must be prayerful in our decisions and we trust fully that God will make His desires known to us. He already knows our children and He will reveal that to us in His perfect timing. Once we say 'yes' to our referral, we would likely travel within 8 to 12 weeks after that. Though it could still be months and months away...we are getting so very excited!

This weekend we will be attending our first gathering of the East TN Yahoo group of families who have adopted or who are in the process of adopting children from Ethiopia. I think there will be easily 30 families there! It will be wonderful to meet these people who will become a part of our 'community' and will bring great comfort to our new children when they arrive! Please pray we will make the connections God intends us to have...and that our children will enjoy the time with all the other children.

Otherwise, we are plugging along with life as usual. School, church, ministry, soccer, UT sports, friends, planning summer vacation, and house projects (project #1: Madison's decor for her 'new' room...she will officially move into Steph's room in May.) Life is busy, but manageable...we are more 'settled' than we've been in a long time...of course, it may be the 'calm before the storm!' Though I still KNOW it will take a miracle to manage all the change that is coming, I am starting to be able to actually picture it in my mind...which is so sweet! Thank you all for your prayers and notes of encouragement! We have felt them in amazing ways.

I'm posting a few more photos from our Christmas break below...just for fun!

MSH (the tallest!) and some buddies (with siblings) at the downtown Knoxville movie theatre!

MGH and her good friend, LP, playing games (after showers) at hotel in Nasvhille.

MGH and best friend, SS, with a handsome little buddy from church.

The gang's all here. Our great friends and us at our hotel in Nashville for New Years!

Monday, January 12, 2009

new year. new dream. new crazy.

"But, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hands." Psalm 31: 14-15a

Happy New Year! And welcome to those of you who just discovered our blog after receiving our New Year's card! In an effort to save paper (and time), we didn't go into all the 'news' on our card...but wanted you to be able to hear what God is doing in our we sent you blog-land! Blogging is still quite new and different to us, but seems to be a good way to keep everyone updated on the latest happenings.

Now, for the news...

new year...2009 will see the Hamilton family grow (in heart and in numbers)

new dream...God is sending us to Ethiopia to bring home TWO children!

new crazy...did you read that last line? 'nuff said!

So, there it is...crazy...amazing...incredible. We are still in awe of God's hand in our lives this past year and can't wait to see all that He has planned for the days to come. If you want to read about our journey...there are several older posts that explain much of how we arrived to the decision to pursue adding to our family through international adoption. "The Journey" dated November 2008 and "Welcome to Our New Crazy" dated October 2008 will be the most helpful in catching you up. Just keep scrolling down until you find the one you want.

For those of you who aren't new to our blog...or who just want to hear the latest... here it is:

Our Paperwork
We have finished our home study (hooray!) and are awaiting the final draft from our agency. That should come this week. The home study will then be sent to USCIS/Dept. of US Immigration for approval. This could take 6+weeks. During that time, we will finalize all of our documents for our 'dossier' which is a fancy word for the paperwork that Ethiopia (or any foreign country) requires for us to be approved. As I understand it, once we receive USCIS approval, our agency will send our 'dossier' to Ethiopia and we will be officially 'on the waiting list'. The wait time has been quoted as anywhere from 3 to 12 months...based on the availability of children who 'match' our request. We are prayerfully asking for two children (not necessarily biological siblings): a boy (aged 6-8) and a girl (aged 2-4). This is where our hearts are today...but certainly God could 'tweak' the details as we go along. We feel confident that He will bring our children to us in His perfect it's a matter of trusting and waiting to see His amazing plan unfold.

Our Hearts
Soft. Malleable. Excited. Scared. Overwhelmed. Amazed. In Awe. I think we've felt every emotion imaginable on this journey and if you happen to bump into me on any given day and I look like I've been crying...I probably have! My tears come unannounced and at unpredictable times...more evidence that God has literally taken over my heart! Yesterday, during communion at church, our pastor's daughter (who is white) was holding the precious 6-month old daughter of an African couple (I believe they are from Kenya...and students at UT) who attend our church. I looked up, took that beautiful sight in...and the waterworks began. I simply cannot believe that God would trust ME with the privilege to love on these precious ones who are coming from such a broken, hard place. And I continue to believe with all I am that in sending us to 'rescue these little ones from their hard, broken place', God is in fact, rescuing us from our own hard, broken place of self-focus, busyness and spending ourselves on things that will not last. "See, I am making all things new!” Rev. 21:5 And in case you are tempted to think we are ‘great people’ for doing this…you MUST know…this is ALL God…100% His work…for His glory…not one ounce of “us” made this happen because without Him we are too selfish, too busy and too lazy!

Our Children
For those of you praying for our older children (ok…that sounds weird!)…THANK YOU! God has been working in amazing ways in their lives as well...MSH is 110% ready for his brother to come home…(I keep reminding him there is a sister, too…). And his servant heart is coming out, too…he has offered to sacrifice by staying home from school when the children come to teach them English! (Of course, I’m sure this has NOTHING to do with the fact that he hates school …hee!hee! What a smart boy! :) ) But, seriously, he is ready and excited about our family growing.

Our sweet MGH’s heart is softening, too. We have given her great freedom to express her true heart…no pretending allowed…and she has (as usual) taken us up on it. Her response this summer when we first discussed the adoption plans with her was certainly honest…”I think you should do what God is telling you to do…but don’t expect me to like it!” I LOVE HER HONEST, REAL HEART! God is going to use that girl in amazing ways! Recently, she did say to me that she is ‘kinda getting excited about it’ and there is no doubt that she is excited about making the trip to Ethiopia. (She is definitely going with us…we are still praying about MSH making the trip.)

So, thank you again and we would continue to ask for prayer as God forms and reforms our hearts and our family!

If any of you are praying for our children in Ethiopia…please pray for protection, comfort, food to sustain them and above all, the peace of Christ…that they would know deep in their little hearts that God has a plan for their good. I weep now…as I always do when I let my heart think of them. I am sad for their loss. What they have already lost and what they will give up…even in coming to the comforts of America. I weep for their birthfamilies, if they are alive, and for their caregivers…I pray they will know their children are not forgotten, but SEEN by the God who made them and that He is caring for them…even now. I know more than ever that THIS…caring for the ‘least of these’…truly is at the center of God’s heart. And though it is hard and painful to look at…it is beyond beautiful.

So thank you for ‘listening’ and for making the journey with us. We cannot go it alone. Your prayers and words of encouragement are gifts we cherish. I will try to keep updating the blog…but as you can see…I tend to get a little long-winded…so I often procrastinate getting started! We’ll see how it goes…

Until then, I hope you will enjoy these pictures (and one piece of artwork) from our Christmas…

MSH's drawing of his Ethiopian brother!

Gift I gave my husband this Christmas. His old watches that represent all the places he has worked, plus the watch I gave him as a wedding gift (20 years ago!), plus a watch with Ethiopia on a timeline form...with the verse at the beginning of this blog..."My times are in Your hands." Psalm 31:14-15a Totally a Holy-Spirit inspired idea. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself!

The kiddos with cookies and milk for Santa!

MSH and Daddy trying out his new BB gun!

MSH watching over Daddy's shoulder while he opens gifts.

Yes...Santa brought a cell phone. She's been VERY responsible with it so far
...and Mom and Dad are loving texting with her!

Just a little Christmas wrestling...where is your brother?