"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Our Family

Our Family

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just a Reminder...

Valentine's Day and Mother's Day are coming up and the Ugandan Beads make a beautiful and unique gift for the women in your lives. Also the silicone cuffs look great on guys or gals :-) My teenagers love them - you can actually see Stephen wearing his in our family picture at the top of our blog.

If you'd like a strand or two, please email me at v_elaine@yahoo.com and I can make arrangements to ship them or deliver to you. To see pictures or read more about how the beads are made, please scroll down in the right column of our blog.

Lastly, we are still holding a drawing for a set of Predators tickets. Drawing will be on March 28th for the April 2nd game of Predators vs Redwings. These are GREAT seats in the lower bowl - this pair of tickets are a $130 value! It's only $5 for one entry or $10 for three entries and you can enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances. Just email me and I'll put your entries in for you or you can come by our UPS store in Antioch (2470 Murfreesboro Rd) to enter.

Thanks for your support in this journey!


Finally...Some Progress :-)

I'm very excited to tell you that yesterday was a productive day in the paperwork department! We received our completed notarized home study and sent it to USCIS (Immigration) yesterday afternoon. It should arrive today at noon in the Texas lock box. From there, it will be reviewed by Immigration and once approved they will send us an I71H form and a fingerprinting appointment. In addition, we got our last form needed for our Dossier yesterday as well so that's being reviewed by our agency and should be able to be authenticated in the next couple of days I hope and sent to the US Department of State's office. It feels like I've been waiting forever on some of these forms to be completed from outside sources and I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to finally be making some good progress again. After the Dossier is authenticated and our fingerprinting is done we can receive a referral! I don't know exactly how long the authenticating, etc. takes but I'm hopeful that we can receive a referral (this basically means we can pick a child since we're "paper ready") sometime in February or early March. We're still a good ways off from court dates and bringing them home but we're moving closer to the little prize :-) We can't wait to see what our little prize looks like, give him or her a name, etc. God is Good. Please keep those prayers a'comin.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clothing, Bows and Shoes, Oh My! and a Brief Update On Our Paperwork Pregnancy

Our agency calls the adoption process, the paperwork pregnancy. Thought that was VERY appropriate considering the mountain of paperwork we've been drowning in lately :-) Our Homestudy Paperwork is finally complete and is being mailed to us tomorrow we think. It is one of the last pieces we're waiting on to have our dossier complete. Once we have the dossier reviewed by our agency, we can take it to the county clerk's office to have it county authenticated and then send it off to be authenticated by the US Department of State as well as complete our Immigration forms. After that's all done we can finally receive a referral. So, we're getting there, slowly but surely. Once we have a referral, we can not only learn whom we are adopting but find out more details for court date timeframes.

One thing we will be doing when we travel to Ethiopia is taking donations of shoes (particularly CROCS - they're lightweight and the kiddos love them), clothing and hairbows as well as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items. If you have any of these items that you'd like to donate, please feel free to either send them to me now for us to store or hold them and once our courtdate gets closer, I can collect them from you. My sweet friend Kelley is also traveling in July to ET on a mission trip and is collecting items as well, so between the two of us and some other friends, we should be able to use all your donations and get them over there one way or another. This is a great way to put your Spring Cleaning to good use :-) We have SO much and they have SO little. Thanks in advance for your donations - feel free to email me if you need to make arrangements to get items to me - v_elaine@yahoo.com. Also if you have other items that would not necessarily be good items for donating to ET but would be good items for a yardsale, we'll be having one of those in the Spring too to raise funds for our adoption. Feel free to give us all your good junk - one man's trash is another man's treasure :-)


All My Children Are Now God's Children Too

Some of you reading this know already, but it occurred to me that I haven't shared this precious news with those of you that I don't talk to everyday. My two oldest boys accepted Christ as their Savior a few years back but now alas my two babies Alex (age 8 today!) and Averey (age 6) have asked God to come into their hearts! As a Mother, there is NOTHING more precious to me than knowing where and with whom my children will spend Eternity. It's an added bonus that this life here on Earth is also much more precious when we get to walk through it hand in hand with our God.

They have been asking questions for a while now and were very curious during Vacation Bible School over the summer but weren't quite ready. We went on a short trip a few weeks back, just the three of us during the holidays as my older boys and Chris had to work. While traveling, we took advantage of the quiet time in the car with no distractions to really talk about the Gospel and what God did by sending His son to die and save us from our sins. Both said "Mom we want Him in our hearts too but it seems too easy just to believe and ask Him after what He did for us." I reminded them though that it really is that easy. If you believe, then all you have to do is ask Him. We also talked about how coming to salvation is just the beginning, and quite frankly, probably the easiest part of it. The real journey and trials come after you know Him and you learn to allow Him to transform your life in all that you do, for His glory. They are young but I think they understood.

We got an email from our children's minister that they are going to schedule their baptisms on February 2nd and Alex & Averey are SO excited. The really neat thing about this is that I myself was baptised on February 2nd in 1985! I remember as I thought this was a much more special way to remember this day, than it just being Groundhog's Day :-) Please be in prayer for my children as they learn to grow and walk with the Lord. This is the first day of the rest of their lives and I can't wait to see what God has in store for them. I love you kiddos. God does too :-)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Not Ethiopia?

I "borrowed" this from a friend's blog - Nancy I hope you don't mind :-) It is a beautiful and very powerful video on how we can change the world for one child at a time. I'm sure most of you know the story of the man and the starfish. A man walked along the beach after a storm and hundreds of starfish were washed up on the shore. As he walked along, he picked them up and tossed them back into the ocean. Another jogger stopped to ask why he bothered since he couldn't save them all. What did it really matter? The man reached down to pick up another starfish and tossed it into the sea and said, "It mattered to that one."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why did we decide to adopt?

I borrowed parts of this from another blog I read and added some of me too. The blog I borrowed from admittedly borrowed it as well so I don't think they'll mind me passing it along. We are so often asked this question and here are just a few of the answers.

◦Because it has become the desire of our heart as we have sought to delight in Him (Psalm 37:4)
◦Because there is an Orphan Crisis all over the world and too many people, Christians included, want to sit back and let someone else handle it. It is estimated (and this number is conservative) that there are over 163 million orphans in the world!
◦Because my Heavenly Father has a lot to say on how Christ-followers should care for the orphan (James 1:27)
◦Because when we tell ourselves we can’t the reality is we can. We are a family that is seeking to be radically obedient to Christ and we refuse to sit back and do nothing when our hearts have been drawn, changed, and completely altered by this beautiful continent.
◦Because we know the eternal impact and growth that will result in our four biological children. Will it be hard, sure. But what blessings can flow from this too.
◦Because we have a great support network of family, friends, our church and small group to walk with us on this journey
◦Because God has developed within our hearts a desire to reach the nations for His Glory.
◦Because for some reason God has wired us for big, chaos, new and change (and, oh boy, that is comin’)
◦Because we want to champion the cause, love orphans, influence others and make an impact in our world
Because God has told us to do this. How can we turn away from that?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thank You!

Thanks to all of you who came out to see us at Sunset Middle. We had great success in selling our beads and bracelets and I loved meeting new people and telling them our story. A big thank you to my sweet friend Kelly and her son Braedon who gave their time and helped us set up and sell. We love you guys.

Much of my motivation in fundraising for this adoption goes beyond the obvious objective of raising money to help pay the high costs associated with adoption. Chris and I were led to adopt because God allowed a sweet friend to tell us her story and that led us to others who told us their stories, and now as a result, we have our own story. I guess what I'm trying to say is that these fundraisers allow us to meet others and plant seeds so that one day they may be led by God to adopt as well. It also raises so much awareness on the orphan crisis in our world. If people don't hear about it, how can they act to make a difference?

I would love to hear from anyone who has questions about adopting or who thinks they might want to talk about it. If God could use us to help you, we'd love to do that for you and for Him. Please feel free to send your comments to me. I love to read them and am very encouraged by them.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is MLK day and I must confess that while I've always thought of him as a very honorable man who stood for good principals and died much too young, we haven't ever done anything special on this day to celebrate it as a holiday. We may now though. I read my sweet friend Kelly's blog today - for those of you who don't already read it, you should. It's www.ordinaryheroblog.blogspot.com. She reminded me today of some of the exceptional words that Mr. King spoke and how he stood for His God and for the call God placed on his life. It is amazing how differently his speeches touch me now that I know the black child he's referring to could be my child. Some of his words that jumped out at me most were these:

"I HAVE A DREAM.....that little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." Martin Luther King, Jr August 28th, 1963 Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

I have that dream too. Within my own family.

"I HAVE A DREAM that my children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I think most of us would agree with these statements as we know as Christians that God loves us all - red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight - but now that I will have a black son or daughter, I can identify with this on a very emotional level.

Interestingly enough, Mr. King's very last speech was the one where he said "I've been to the mountaintop" and he goes on to say that he'd like to live a long life but he's not concerned about that now because he just wants to do God's will. He does not fear any man because his eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord.

How ironic that soon after that, his life would be taken and he would get to meet our Savior face to face. Mr. King left this world long before I was even born but I have the assurance through God's salvation, of knowing I'll get to meet him one sweet day.


Friday, January 14, 2011


You will notice that much has been added to the right column of our blog regarding fundraisers we are planning or currently holding.

1. Our Chip-in is a place where you can donate funds securely through paypal towards our adoption fund. Just click on the Orange Button to your right.

2. I will be selling our Ugandan beads and bracelets this Tuesday night, January 18th at the Sunset Middle School Chili Cookoff Event from 4-8pm. We'd love to see you there.

3.Chick-fil-A night for the Hulshofs! Visit the Brentwood Chick-fil-A on Franklin Road between 5-8pm on Thursday, February 17th and mention our name or hand them our fundraising card. Chick-fil-A will generously donate 15% of their proceeds on this evening to our adoption fund. There will also be donation buckets at each register for additional monies - 100% of the proceeds in the buckets will go to our adoption fund.

4. We are raffling off 2 tickets for the Predators vs Red Wings hockey game on April 2nd. If you'd like to enter, please visit our UPS store or contact me at v_elaine@yahoo.com and I'll make arrangements with you.

5. We are planning a golf tournament in May at the Hermitage Golf Course. We may also have a dinner and silent auction. More information will be posted on our blog after we confirm some details.

6. We are selling the beautiful Ugandan beads and these really cool silicone cuffs through 147 Million Orphans Organization. The beads are handmade and very colorful so they'll match whatever you have on and the cuffs are larger and noticeable so they'll be great conversation starters about adoption and sharing the gospel. Remember God did not leave us as orphans either.

We also have some other fundraising ideas in the works so please check back often to see what's going on in our world and how you can get involved!

It is hard to ask for financial help. We so appreciate any amount that friends, family or strangers are able to give. We truly value your gift and God does too. Thank you for helping us on this journey to bring our little one home forever.

We love you guys.
Valerie & Chris

Monday, January 10, 2011

He Washed Us White As Snow

Our family enjoyed the snow today. The world was so quiet this morning when I got up, had a cup of coffee and watched the beautiful flakes fall. Of course the kids woke up shortly after and the world was quiet no longer :-) The landscape was so pristine - just white as far as the eye could see and I thought about how God makes our lives like that when we ask him to forgive us. Underneath, there's still mud, dirt, sticks, rocks but God sees us as white, clean, and pristine because of what His son did for us. How Great is our God.

Here are a few pictures of the kiddos in the powder and of our home and backyard.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year...A New Year, A New Name

It has been a few days since I've posted about the adoption because I haven't had a lot of news to post. We are still tying up loose ends on the paperwork but are praying we'll have it all together to send to Washington D.C. for authentication in a week or two.

One neat thing that is new for me this year involves a group of sweet ladies who I attend church with and have done previous bible studies with. This year we have committed as a group to read through the Bible in one year chronilogically using an online study through Proverbs 31 Ministries in conjunction with our daily Bible reading. We have set up a blog for our group to post comments about the daily reading and each of us is in charge one day a week for writing the blog on that day's particular reading. Today's reading was over Genesis Chapter 15-17 where God makes a covenant with Abram and changes his name to Abraham. One of the big "nuggets of truth" that the online facilitator points out in today's reading is that God gives us all a new name when we come to know Him. We no longer are called fearful, shameful, ugly, unworthy, etc. Instead He calls us beloved, blessed, beautiful, brave, cleansed. It made me start thinking about the child we will adopt. There are many debates about whether or not a parent should change the name of a child when they adopt and much study has been done about the age at which a child recognizes their name. Most agree that it is okay to give a more "Americanized" name as a first name but suggest possibly using the child's given birth name as a middle name to retain that heritage. We aren't sure yet what we will ultimately do and honestly we're not at the point of worrying about that yet :-) but this lesson was a reminder to me of how important a name is. A name means something. It identifies who you are. Praise God He has given me a new name. Most of you reading this probably also have a new name in Him, but if you do not, I'd LOVE to tell you how you can! When HE changes your name, you will NEVER be the same. It reminds me of the hymn we sang in church growing up:

There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
And the white robed angels sing the story,
“A sinner has come home.”
For there’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!
With my sins forgiven I am bound for Heaven,
Never more to roam.