Thursday night were looking forward to a long awaited boating outing with friends from Grand Haven. Both of our schedules are busy this summer, so we put the date on the calendar weeks ago to be sure we got together this summer. Paul came home Thursday around 4:00 and I instantly knew something was wrong. His face was paler than a ghost, and he had a wierd look on his face. He explained that he had fallen off the boat. Not just fallen, but banged his leg in the process. When he bent his knee, he felt like he'd be sick. He was in a ton of pain.

Lots of thoughts went through our mind ... what if it's broken?!? No more boating, no more golf, work will be a whole new challenge, what about the rest of the summer??? We reluctantly cancelled with our friends, quickly got a babysitter and headed over to the ER. Much to our relief, Paul's leg wasn't broken but it was beat up pretty bad. He left the hospital later that night with crutches, vicadin & 3 other meds. Not a great combo for a fun weekend ahead! My parent's had the kids Friday night and our planned romantic evening alone turned into watching the Tiger's with Paul's leg high in the air. Saturday we were able to go to my aunt's house to visit with our Dutch relatives that are here from the Netherlands. Sunday was back to normal; almost.

We have round II of our homestudy tomorrow. They need to interview us seperately. We're not sure why ... but I guess we'll find out :) Last night we attended a transracial/transcultural training. It was really informative and made us realize how very "white" we are! We were able to hear from a few black adults who were adopted into white families when they were young. It was so helpful to hear their perspectives and have them share some of their journey with us. It's clear that we're not just adding another child to our family, but we're learning and embracing a whole new culture as well. It's going to be a challenge, no doubt about that, but we're excited to see what God has in store for us.

We've also been doing a LOT of reading (6 books are required), filling out paperwork, asking for favors from friends (we need 6 reference letters in all) and asking our Drs, police force, insurance agency, accountant, neighbors, teachers, county clerk's office, etc... to all vouch for us. It's a long process but thank goodness for a great agency that knows what they're doing.

We're taking it one day, one signature, one form, one meeting, one notary at a time and are hopeful that a year from now all this running around will be forgotten and we'll have a new little boy to love and care for.

One more note ... I REFUSE to believe that AUGUST is almost here. We have a LOT more summer left, and I for one am not going to be thinking about the back to "s" word for at least a few more weeks!!


Big News!

A few years back Paul and I had the discussion I imagine most young parents have … is our family complete or should we add another child to the mix? At the time we decided our family was full; we had 2 beautiful children and felt it was enough. We have a busy life, a challenging business, lots of things we like to do. Plus, why push our luck when we have it so good? As is the case so often in life, God had other plans for us!

Last fall we got a phone call. A friend wanted us to join him and his wife on a trip to Africa. We had been contemplating doing something “missional” for awhile, but nothing felt like a good fit. When Peter called, we knew it was from God. I don’t say things are “from God” very often, because in my life the voice of God has never been booming. It’s usually still, small and I have to really listen to hear it. With Africa, though, it was loud & there was no denying the message. We knew without a doubt God wanted us to travel to Africa with Peter, Shawn & Mike. We weren’t sure why, just that God was leading us & we were willing to follow.

To make a long story short, this past spring our journey to Africa broke our hearts. We’d heard the stories of orphaned children. We’d heard the stories of injustice. We’d heard the stories of extreme poverty and of the AIDS pandemic. We thought we were” aware”. After spending a few seconds on the ground in Johannesburg we discovered we had no clue. To stand in a young mother’s shack, hold her hand, look into her eyes, and know she will be dead soon of AIDS is life changing (another word I hardly ever use). To see a group of preschool aged kids walk hand in hand down a sewer filled street, with no parent in sight, is heart wrenching. To realize that even the brightest, strongest, most resilient kids have virtually no hope for a future is devastating. Our hearts were broken, and we were forever changed.

When we got home, the main question in our minds was “Now What?” We know that we will continue to ask that for the rest of our lives, and are striving to continue to ask that question in light of what we have been shown.
It has been so cool to discover that God has been answering part of our “Now What?” question to each of us in the same way … individually … but with the same voice and message. We realized not too long ago that both of us, independent from each other, had been thinking of what it would look like to take one of those little kids into our lives. What it would be like to add to our family; to adopt a child from Africa and teach him about Jesus’ love, teach him about family, teach him about security & safety & a world where he can be all he was created to be. We both have a passion to give a child a life where he is free to hope.

We know that investing in 1 child is not going to save the world; that Africa will be no different because of us. We're not making a political statement or trying to save the world. We just believe that every life matters. That God created each and every one of us, and loves us all the same. We know there are millions of children out there who are suffering. We can at least help one. We have been given so much, and others have so little.

Our journey is continuing and we have begun the adoption process. We know God already has our little boy already picked out. We know the process will be long. We know it will be hard. We also know that the best things in life are sometimes the hardest, and so we will take 1 day at a time and continue to listen to that still, small voice. We will put fear in it’s place, and lean on the strong hand of God. We will choose to live a life with no regrets.

For those of you who like the details … here they are so far. We’ve chosen Adoption Associates for several reasons; mainly because they have been doing adoptions in Africa for over 3 years and have been very successful at it. They work with kids from Ethiopia so that’s where we’ll be adopting from. We have completed the initial application, gone through the awareness meeting and have completed the 36 page formal application. We will begin the home study soon which will take 6-8 weeks. Next comes the USCIS stuff (finger printing, FBI background checks, etc.) which will last 2-3 months. Then we prepare the paperwork to send to Ethiopia and wait for our referral (the child that’s chosen for us). That will take 3-5 months. A court date is then set and after the legal stuff is complete we’ll travel to Ethiopia to pick up our new son. We’re still debating about whether Noah and Ella will travel with us. The process is estimated at 10-14 months (with delays to be expected). We have requested a boy ranging in age from 2-4 years old.

Noah and Ella are excited and have already begun praying for their new brother. Our families are 100% supportive and for that we are so grateful! We’ll keep posting on this blog and will keep you updated as the journey continues.

Kids we met while in South Africa

4th of July!

Wheww! What a weekend!! We were busy with fun, summery activities. It was the perfect summer weekend and we had a blast. The weather was fantastic, we spent time with our family and friends. We had 3 family picnics; all outside. We had our annual family breakfast at the beach, along with 2 other family picnics on Saturday & Sunday. We went to the beach & tubing Friday afternoon, met friends for the fireworks via the boat Friday night, spent a glorious day on the water Saturday with friends and did the same on Sunday. I am convinced there is not much better in life than a hamburger cooked on the beach over charcoal; surrounded by good friends and the sun sinking over Lake Michigan.

We spent lots of time on the beach, the boat, and in the water. Life doesn't get much better than this!!


*All Star*

Friday night's All Star game was a big success. Noah's team won with a score of 14 -1. Noah likes to point out that the game ended abruptly due to rain, so the score probably would have been even better ... I guess we'll never know :)

Noah played an awesome game. He was 4 out of 4 with his hits. He had 3 RBIs (for those of us "non baseballers" that means he scored 3 times). He caught 2 balls in the field for 2 outs; and got 2 runners out on the plate. We like to think that had there been an MVP he would have been in the running :) 20 other parents probably are thinking the same thought about their son!

It's so fun to see him so passionate for something he loves. As his parent, it's a joy to watch him concentrate so hard; to give it his very best. It's cool to see him work so hard, and then see that hard work pay off. We're proud of him for so many reasons. The fact that he loves baseball is just a bonus!
Saturday afternoon Paul surprised Noah with the news that they were going to be heading to a Tiger's Game ... that day! Noah was beside himself ... he could hardly believe it!! We had told him it was going to be a "work afternoon" of cleaning up the backroom in the basement and we needed his help. He had to come in from playing with his friends. When we told him "just kidding" ... you and Dad are going to the Tigers he was ecstatic. The boys had such a great night. Noah got an autograph from Bodine, a new player for the Tigers. Bodine wrote a Bible reference under his signature ... "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". He's now a new favorite player at the Hoekstras! They witnessed a Grand Slam and the Tiger's ended up winning the game ... barely. Noah is so blessed to have such a great dad ... he's going to have such great memories of their special outing together.