Monday, December 30, 2013

a new year and a new start to new fundraisers

It's that time again and "new" is the word. Time for another opportunity to help donate towards our adoption journey. Thank you to all who have participated in the GoPro drawing and Compelled Designs necklaces fundraisers! We were able to raise $735 through just those 2 fundraisers alone! We know many have expressed they would like to contribute so we will bring you a new fundraiser every month or so to keep it fresh, new, and exciting!

Bedsheets Fundraiser 
This month we will have a few new opporutnities. The first one is the bedsheets fundraiser. Yes, we are selling 1500 thread count bedsheet sets. Buy any size (twin, full, queen, king, and california king) for $40 a set. What a steal! These sheets come in 12 different colors as listed below. We will place multiple orders over the next few months depending on the demand for this great deal.  Let us know through Facebook, email, text, phone calls, etc if you are interested in buying a set or two.

"A Few of Leslie's Favorite Things" Auction 
Also coming in January, we will hold an auction for a handful of my favorite things from some of my favorite "crafters" who have generously given of their one of a kind items to support our adoption. Look for this auction to take place in mid-January on the blog. Each item will have its own post so those who want to participate can comment with their bid. The items up for grabs range from hand-stamped jewelry from Amy Cornwell, baby bibs and bows from Lux Mundi Shop, handdrawn prints from Mandipidy, and festive door decor from Kissy Fish Designs. You will NOT want to miss out on bidding on all these items as they would be the perfect gift for you or someone special. An official rules post will preceed the items post so hopefully it will answer most of your questions at that time.

Compelled Designs Necklaces Round 2 
Since the first batch of Compelled Designs necklaces was such a huge hit, I am ordering another batch of 20 necklaces.  Stay tuned and the details for the second batch will be the same as the first.

Heather Brown Art Drawing
When we were in Hawaii, we discovered the beautiful artwork of a local artist named Heather Brown. After visiting a local art gallery in Haleiwa and seeing her work throughout the island, we fell in love with her paintings, so much so that I bought 2 shirts with her work on it. You may wonder why we didn't buy a piece of her framed art, and to that we say, it ain't cheap.

sporting one of my Heather Brown shirts while eating Hawaiian shaved ice in Haleiwa

When we were emailing various people and businesses about donating items for the auction, I decided to facebook Heather Brown about our Hawaiian trip and our recent decision to adopt. To our surprise, she responded and graciously mailed us the below picture. It is an framed 11x14 picture called Lahaina Shores and retails for $250. For the record, I am jealous of whoever ends up with this picture.  We will sell a limited number of tickets at a low price.  These tickets are going to go fast so make sure you snag yours as soon as we make the official announcement.

Lahaina Shores Matted Print by North Shore Artist Heather Brown

GoPro Drawing Winner on January 1st
As as reminder, the winner for the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition will be announced LIVE on UStream at 1PM CST.  Please make sure you click the website to see the winner revealed!  We will also take questions during this time through the chat feed.  If you have any questions about our adoption process, fundraisers, or anything else, feel free to ask us then.  Look forward to chatting with you on Wednesday!

As always THANK YOU for supporting us through your kind words, prayer, and giving as we surge ahead on the journey to bring home the Littlest Todd.  We look forward to sharing what God continues to do in our lives as we grow our family.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Why Adoption? (the Leslie edition)

As Daniel so beautifully expressed his emotion about our adoption in his post, I'm sure many of you are wondering what my thoughts are about why adoption is the avenue for our having our first kid.  The truth of the matter is that we didn't choose it.  God chose it for us.

Daniel and I have been married over 5 years.  Throughout the years, we have felt the pressures of growing our family not only from outsiders but from within ourselves as well.  Having kids is a personal decision that married couples should make together and outside pressures shouldn't be a factor at all, but sadly, they sometimes are.  For Daniel and me, the pressure we put on ourselves to have kids was much greater than any outsider could put on us.  And for me, that was troubling.

Children are a gift from the Lord, and Daniel and I take that very seriously.  Throughout my life, I have prayed for God to carefully plan and guide me to execute decisions for my life.  Some may say that I am a control freak and to those who don't carefully plan/manage/budget their life through prayer, then it looks that way.  To me, it's called praying/waiting/listening to the One who is in control of everything and I wouldn't put my faith in anyone or anything else.

Over the past couple of years, I placed pressure on myself to begin the process of wanting/becoming pregnant.  Daniel and I have had several discussions about when we would like to start growing our family.  Our answer would always be "soon" or "after we do this or pay for that".  The desire to have kids is and was always there, but we weren't necessarily feeling the call to have children of our own at any given moment.

As a woman close to 30, I have dealt with the lack of desire to become pregnant at this point in my life.  It's hard.  To see friends who have kids or are pregnant and how happy they are makes me want to have what they have.  I've thought too many times that there was something wrong with me.  Why didn't I have the desire to be pregnant and move to the next stage of my life by becoming a mother?  Thoughts of "maybe I am not made to be a mother", "children just aren't in my future", and "I'm being selfish by not having kids" ran wild through my head.  I'm not going to lie.  I was pretty hard on myself.  For the record, I long for that desire to feel ready for pregnancy, but God has yet to answer that prayer in the way that we were currently praying.

And there was a peace that flows like a river once we realized God's plan for us.  Up until our big ah-ha moment, we weren't praying for the plan that God had for us (to give us a child), but we prayed our own selfish prayer (to give us a child of our own flesh and blood).  I can't describe to you the peace that Daniel and I both have when we think and talk about our adoption.  Instead of giving me a desire to become pregnant, God has given us both a desire to spend 18+ months of our life going on a journey to find our firstborn child and making the trek halfway around the world to claim who He has already made for our family.  I am humbled every time I think about God's plan.  Essentially, Daniel and I are the vessels used in executing God's plan of bringing this child to America.  Do you not think He has great plans already for this child?

As I mentioned in our "adoption reveal" post, Daniel and I have always felt the need to adopt.  By being 30 years old when our application will be sent to China for their approval, Daniel and I know that this is exactly where God wants us to be as you have to be 30 or older to even apply for adoption through China.  I hate to say it, but if we had biological kids first, then I am not sure if we would answer God's call to adopt, not out of pure disobedience to Him, but too many other distractions would be present.  It makes me sad to think that I have prayed for something that wasn't in God's plan for our life (as in becoming pregnant first).  And yet, I am so thankful for His answer of adoption even though it is not the answer we were expecting at this point in our lives.

Daniel and I fully believe that God will provide us with biological children one day, but He is calling us to adopt first.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

18 months until 2 become 3

This past Monday (12/16/13) was our first conference call with our social worker, Karisa.  If I am being honest about it, it went well, but it was very overwhelming.  She gave us a rough timeline for this journey, and we should expect this journey to last about 18 months from the start date of Wednesday, November 27th (when our application was officially accepted by Lifeline).  On the surface, 18 months feels like a long time, but with as much paperwork, reading, writing, and video training we will be doing, it will be here before we know it.

A Rough Outline of What's to Come
Our 4 official home studies will begin in January and will take about 3-4 months to compete.  Once our dossier (doss-ee-ay) is compiled and approved on the local, state, and federal levels, it will be sent to China for their approval.  During this time, we will complete a few immigrant documents concerning adopting a non-US citizen.  Once all documentation is approved, the matching process will begin, which lasts roughly 0-6 months, depending on if we request a boy or girl.  This is the part that I am the most excited about during this entire "paperwork" journey.  I cannot wait to see who God has made for our growing family.  (Please begin to pray now for our precious little one and for a smooth transition for him/her.)

Once we are matched with our son or daughter, then we will send a Letter of Intent (LOI) stating we would like to adopt this particular child.  Once approved, we will send another document called a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) (which takes roughly 3 months to approve) asking for approval to bring the child to America to forever live with us.  Once the LOA is approved, then we will are expected to travel within 2 weeks.  EEK!

Once we make the long trek across the Pacific, we will fly directly the the child's providence, where the orphanage is located.  This is where "Gotcha Day" will happen.  After spending a week in this particular providence, we will then fly to Guangzhou for a week getting the necessary visa and medical paperwork ready for the child to become an American citizen.  The child will officially become an US citizen when he/she steps on American soil.

I know I have left out a lot of steps during this 18 month span, but you get the general idea.

Prayer Request
Like I mentioned above, please begin praying for our littlest Todd, not just for our perfect child, but for the transition for the child.  He/she will have his/her life changed in an instant without any explanation, really.  I can't imagine what this will feel like for a child to leave everything he/she has every known to live with complete strangers halfway across the world.  It makes me want to protect, love, and care for this child that much more.

As always, we can't express to you how much we appreciate the prayers and support.  We crave for any and all prayers that are sent our way.  Thank you, family and friends!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Compelled Designs Necklace Fundraiser

We aren't slowing down when it comes to cranking out the fundraisers so I hope you are ready for them.  In addition to our current drawing fundraiser for a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition (get all the details here), we are happy to announce that we are selling Compelled Designs necklaces.  These necklaces are super cute, stylish, and make wonderful gifts for that special gal in your life.  Frankly, I want to keep them all!

Compelled Designs

About the Necklaces 
These pottery charmed necklaces hang 8-9 inches on an adjustable leather cord.  Each charm has a Bible verse etched on the back.  Each necklace is $24 and half of each sale will go towards our adoption.  We have 30 days to sell all 20 necklaces so if you want one, now is the time.  Once we sell our first batch of 20 necklaces, we are able to purchase another batch necklaces, if the demand is high.  And we hope it is!

How to Purchase a Necklace 
We currently have an album set-up on our Facebook page, The Todds Adopt.  Go there to see a picture of each necklace.  When you see one that you like, simply comment on the picture that you would like to purchase.  We'll send you a private message to work out the shipping and payment details.  If you don't have Facebook, just send either Daniel or me a text, email, or comment below about which necklace you would like.  We have already sold a few necklaces so make sure the one that you like doesn't sell before you have a chance to claim it.

Want to Help Sell these Necklaces? 
We have a couple of people who are helping us sell their own batch of 20 necklaces across the US.  If you are interested in selling these necklaces, please let me know.  I will have a batch mailed directly to you and we can work out the other details.

Sneak Peek:  Future Fundraisers
We don't want to overshadow our current fundraisers, but we wanted to make sure that you know about our upcoming fundraiser for January:  an online auction.  We currently have a handful of small businesses who have graciously donated their handmade items for this fundraiser.  I like to call it "Some of Leslie's Favorite Things" Auction, because these are some of my favorite things!  And if there is one thing about me that you should know, I love all things crafty and supporting those who have a talent for making things with their hands.

As always, we thank you for your continued prayers and support during this exciting time in our life. More updates to come about the actual adoption journey soon!

Friday, December 13, 2013

the road less traveled

Less than a week after our BIG announcement and Satan has already made his opinion known.


He is VERY loud with his opinion as well. He knows everything that I do that gets on Daniel's nerves and vice versa. Not only does Satan know, but he ramped up the "get on each other's last nerve" button to a 10. And it feels like the switch was turned on literally overnight.

At first, we found it rather annoying since we were having difficulties in accurately portraying our thoughts. I mean who enjoys miscommunication and misunderstanding? We sure don't!

Then we started thinking about it on a deeper level. Satan's involvement in this adoption only validates that this is exactly where God wants us to be. God has and continues to send us numerous signs spelling out, plain as day, that adoption is His current plan for us. Now that we have vocalized it, it's Satan's turn to have his hand in the plan the Lord has called us to do.

But why should we be frustrated that we are having these problems? We shouldn't! Matthew 5:10 states "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." First we are called to follow God's plan for our lives. Then, we will endure persecution. Persecution is how we know that we are in God's will. God didn't promise us an easy life, but He promised us a fulfilled life. (John 10:10) What more could we need?

Family and friends, thank you for your prayers, and we ask that you continue to pray for us. More specifically, please pray for Satan's attack on our lives. Pray for strength to overcome any hardships and for Daniel and me to immediately recognize that any hardship is Satan's work. Pray that we continue to keep our "eyes on the prize" (the prize being able to bring home our precious little child).

The journey is long, but we are confident that God is in control. Without His blessing, none of this would be possible! (Mark 10:27)

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Adoption? (the Daniel edition)

As written by Daniel...

First and foremost I would like to thank everyone who has given their support to Leslie and me these past few days.  Your promise for prayers, your support financially, and your kind words mean more to the two of us than you will ever know. 

I told Leslie that I felt like I needed to write a blog post to clear up some of the more common questions we’ve gotten either directly or indirectly since going public with our decision to adopt. (For those who know me, know me writing a “blog” is out of my comfort zone. I would first like to apologize for any grammar or spelling mistakes. We all know Leslie will be in charge of helping with homework in the future.) I wanted to reassure everyone that adoption was something that God has truly put on BOTH of our hearts.  Look, I get it.  You research “adoption” on the internet and all you see is these lil’ blogs with pretty colors and fancy pictures of their children in fields of flowers for miles to see.  The Adoption World is not marketed towards the male world. You might be one to think adoption and then get a picture in your head of mother flying half way around the world to follow her dream of adopting a child.  To that I say for every mother you think of there is a father who is just as fired up about adopting as his wife. 

Isaiah 1:17 says “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” I love this verse. “Take up the cause of the fatherless.” What a powerful declaration for everyone to try and follow. Some might argue that it has taken Leslie and me five years to figure out that God isn’t referring to dogs in this passage.

I know Leslie and I both feel strongly about adoption, but for this post, I am only speaking for myself. I have never felt so fired up to do something than to adopt this child from China.  I understand from the outside looking in what it might look like for a couple who has no children to travel halfway across the world to adopt a child.  Why in the world would they do that? Why don’t they have their own children first?  Can they not have kids? Why not do a domestic adoption? I know you can’t hear my tone in this post but I want everyone to know I am not complaining about these questions.  Questions like these are what help me share my faith with people, my testimony.  Adoption is something Leslie and I have talked about even before we were married; we just didn’t know when it would happen. 

Leslie and I would love to one day have biological children of our own. Leslie has been asked the question “Can you not have kids?” I don’t want anyone to think that this is what our adoption is about. So to go ahead and put it out there, to be honest, we don’t know. We don’t have kids, but we weren’t trying to either. Would it make some feel better if we got “tested” to see if we can or not just to help ease your mind? Let's not be silly. 

When I say God has put on our hearts to adopt a child from China, I mean just that.  This is something that we put in God’s hands through prayer making sure this was the path He wanted for us, and He has continued to show us sign after sign along with opening up doors that we thought were closed.  God has presented an opportunity to not only adopt a child from China, but a special needs child. WHAT. A. BLESSING.

God is truly working in the lives of Leslie and me. I feel like I should ask this question to anyone reading this blog. What is God asking of you? Is there something that you feel God is putting on your heart but you are afraid because the task seems too large?  Too often I make my problems seem so large and my God so small.  There is NOTHING He cannot help you do or get you through. (Phil 4:19) I would love for anyone reading this to be glad that God is asking you to do something.  Is there any better job then to do work for His glory? 

When I was in boot camp in the Navy, we had a final inspection to do.  A higher-ranking sailor would inspect each recruit at attention on their uniform, making sure that recruits were “squared away”. When the senior chief got to me, she took her index finger and raised my chin up a little higher in the air and then asked me “Todd, are you proud?”. It wasn’t until then that I truly realized about what it meant to be a sailor in the world’s greatest Navy.  I think God does that with me sometimes.  Am I proud of Him? Do people see Christ when they look at me? (Matthew 5:16)

I say all that to say I am beyond thrilled on what God is doing our lives.  Please take heart and know that this is HIS plan, not ours. I hope everyone continues to pray and support us on this journey. Love y’all!  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

one of many to come (the fundraiser edition)

First and foremost, let me start off by saying thank you for the overwhelming love, support, and kind words that you expressed to us about our upcoming adoption. We are so blessed to have family and friends such as you. You'll tire of our saying that we are super excited about what God has in store for our growing family, from 2 to 3! (or really from 5 to 6 if you include our dogs) We recognize that God is doing wonderful things in and through us so we do not take this calling lightly. With that being said, let our first fundraiser begin!!!

The Go Pro Drawing 
Up for grabs is a brand new Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition (retail $400). This High-Def camera includes built-in Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi remote, assorted mounts and hardware, rechargeable Li-ion battery, and waterproof housing. This camera is wonderful to use for extreme sports or just regular everyday activities (such as telling everyone you are adopting). We have a Go Pro just like this one that we used to film our Hawaii trip, and it was wonderful! It is compact in size, which makes filming and picture-taking easy. 

We are giving away tickets for your chance to win this incredible camera. Daniel and I will draw for the winning ticket on January 1st, 2014 so there isn't much time for your to claim your tickets.

Ticket Prices 
1 ticket for $20
2 tickets for $35
3 tickets for $50
Let us know if you are interested in purchasing more than 3 tickets.

How It Works 
Upon receipt of your donation (either through our donation website, cash, or check), we will text or email you a copy of your ticket(s). Then on January 1st, we will video (aka GoPro) the drawing and post the results in a blog post and text/email the winner.

Please let us know if you have any questions concerning this fundraiser opportunity. We look forward to January 1st when a winner will be announced!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

anchored in faith

As I mentioned in the last blog post, Daniel and I got plugged back into church after coming back from Hawaii. After the post-Hawaii blues, we felt that we needed that extra "pick me up" on a weekly basis. Prior to getting back on a regular Sunday morning routine, we finally felt it was time to sponsor a child through World Vision. We have felt the calling to sponsor a child for several years and it was time to stop saying and start doing. We found the most precious little girl in India who was born on our wedding day. She has become such an inspiration to us. In fact, we feel like she is our own child, only half a world away.

Our first Sunday back to church was a doozy of a day. Satan was trying everything in his power to keep us from attending that service. To start things off, we were late, which caused us not to find a parking spot at the church campus. We were headed out when we overheard a parking attendant mention to another car that there was a van picking up the overflow at a nearby lot. Luckily, we found a spot and were able to finally make it to the service. Since we were about 15-20 minutes late, there were no seats in the main auditorium. We were ushered to sit in the lobby to watch the service on a couple of tv's setup there. The ushers brought in chairs for everyone to sit on, but there were so many people that there was only 1 chair for me. Daniel ended up standing for about 10-15 minutes until an usher found another chair for him.

Upon the start of the sermon, Pastor Chris talked about the importance of giving, but not just of your money, but of your time. He mentioned several ways for the church to get plugged in and give of their time around the city. It wasn't until his last point that Daniel and I realized exactly why we were called to go to church on that particular day and why Satan had tried everything in his power to stop us from going. And Satan almost succeeded, because I was this close to telling Daniel let's leave since he didn't have a chair and listening to a sermon in the lobby of a church is rather distracting. I am so glad that we stayed. It was in that moment that Pastor Chris started talking about foster care through Lifeline Children's Services and how the church was going to hold a meeting for the church body for those who felt lead to foster a child. God has called us to give our time, money, and, most importantly, love to a child who isn't as fortunate as we are to have grown up with loving parents.

And so it was settled...

Daniel and I are excited to share that we are adopting a child from China. Isaiah 43:5 states "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west." There have been many signs throughout my life (prior to knowing Daniel) where I knew adoption was in my future. When Daniel and I were married, we had talked about adoption and felt God leading us in that direction. At that time, we felt we would have a biological child before God called us to take action on this decision, but God works in mysterious ways. With that being said, at this point in time, a biological child is not His plan, at least not right now.

Every child up for adoption through Lifeline Children's Services is a special needs child. These special needs range from minor, correctable needs to severe needs. As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision to make. Adopting a child is hard enough, but a special needs child too? As scary and unsure as we were about adopting a child with special needs, the greater the peace we had that this was a part of His plan. Daniel and I know without a shout of doubt that there is a child who is/will be in an orphanage in China who needs us to love, teach, develop, nurture, and care for him/her. Honestly, I get teary-eyed every time I think about it.

Since returning from Hawaii and attending that one church service, God has sent us daily signs to point us to adoption. Did you know that November is National Adoption month? Neither did we, but we found out after we made the decision that adoption was our calling. Upon our decision, we youtubed other families' adoption stories and one video clip caught my eye. The family was standing at the place in China where you meet your child for the first time (I forget the name of the place, but it happens on "Gotcha Day"). It was then I remembered a dream that I had a few years ago........ Daniel and I were standing in that exact place waiting to receive our Chinese daughter. And where, you may ask, was our daughter during this dream? She was the one running around, acting like a crazy kid. As soon as I saw that place on the youtube video, I told Daniel that I had dreamed of that place before. And in the dream we were there to adopt our Chinese daughter, which is how I knew that China was our calling.

I could go on for the next hour or two recalling signs that Daniel and I have experienced within the last month about God pointing us to adoption. We are beyond thrilled to share this with you! In the coming days, weeks, months, and year, we will covet your prayers. It isn't going to be an easy road and Satan has already started his work in distracting us from where our focus needs to be. Please pray for guidance, direction, boldness to obey, open hearts, and peace about this journey. I don't think it would be normal if Daniel and I weren't a bit anxious about this process, but we are trusting in the One will never leave nor forsake us.

Along with your prayers for us, please pray about how God can use you to help support us: with words, letters/emails, and even financially. We don't want this to turn into a plea for money, because that is not the primary focus of this adoption journey. However, the means to the end result requires money and a lot of it. The total cost of this adoption is close to $35,000 for the fees and travel expenses as outlined by Lifeline's website. This amount doesn't even include the items needed once the child arrives: clothes, furniture, diapers, toys, etc (all of which are dependent on the child's age). Throughout the coming year, Daniel and I will announce various opportunities for you to give through fundraisers, auctions, raffles, etc. If you would like to participate in any of these areas and give of your talents/time/fundraising skills, please let me know. We would like for you to be a part of the journey in raising money rather than just writing a check. Support is key!

For those of you who are called to give, first we thank you. Without people like you, we will not be able to bring our child home. Please visit our fundraiser website to donate: Anchored in Faith. No amount is too small.

Even though our journey has just started, God has already started to teach us to trust Him fully. During our initial call with our socal worker, we found out that our first payment of $2,775 is due in just a few days. Luckily, we have a couple of months before the second payment of $2,775 is due so that was a semi-relief. However, she asked if this first payment was going to be a problem. I told her that it wouldn't be, because God will provide, but we are next to nothing in our adoption fund. This is when the real test of trusting God comes into play.

Again, huge THANK YOU to you for supporting us through this journey. We look forward to sharing it with each of you!

"For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." Colossians 2:5

Sunday, December 1, 2013

the trip of a lifetime

Did you hear? Daniel and I spent 2 weeks back in September in beautiful Hawaii with my sister and brother-in-law. Sissy and Josh are currently stationed on Oahu at Schofield Barracks until June 2015. Let me just say: I do NOT feel bad for their living there especially since it is so beautiful!

The weeks leading up to our trip felt just like any other time, nothing extraoradinary. I don’t think it truly sunk in that I was headed to Hawaii until we were about 3 hours into our last flight over the Pacific from LAX headed to Honolulu. At this point, I was ready to be off the plane and not sandwiched between Daniel and a stranger, which was the story of the 2 of the 3 flights for that day. I spent the evening before our departure cleaning and packing so I didn’t get much sleep…maybe 2 hours sleep? Daniel’s dad drove us to the airport around 3:30AM in order to catch our 5:30AM flight to Chicago from Birmingham. Then it was Chicago to LAX and LAX to Honolulu. We landed around 3:45PM Hawaii time, which was 8:45PM Birmingham time. Yes, over 15 hours of traveling is exhausting.

When we landed, we hustled it to baggage claim to meet Sis. (Josh was back at the house cooking hamburgers. Yum!) It was a sweet reunion, and I wish we had a few more minutes during that time to cry and hug before Daniel corralled us to get our bags. Fifteen months is a long time for Sis and me to not see each other. We were each other’s best friends. We are just 18 months and 13 days a part so I never really remember a time in my life when I was the only child. Living so far away from her has been really hard on me. It wasn’t until after we had flown back home and got back into our daily routine that I began to notice just how great our two weeks in Hawaii really were.

I say this to everyone who asks me how Hawaii was. It was absolutely indescribably amazing and for Daniel and me to spend it with Josh and Sissy, it truly was a trip of a lifetime. Now, it wouldn’t be a Brindley girls’ gathering if there wasn’t an argument or two, because hey, that’s what sisters do. However, there were a lot of laughs, sweating (especially from the “30 minute” hike that turned into 2.5 hours!), picture-taking, shopping, eating (galore! Daniel and I each gained 10 pounds while we were there and not from Sissy’s cooking), and the list goes on. Daniel and I were blessed to see our 50th state like most wouldn’t be able to. We went on a few hikes, line-danced, swam with a dolphin and sharks, paid our respects to the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice on 12/7/1941, surfed the Pacific, attended a luau, and so many more things that I can’t think of right now. We experienced Hawaii like a true local.

Our Hawaii trip taught me more about myself than I have learned since my college days. There are things and certain situations that arise in life where time is the only answer. I’ve always been a person to “fix” things especially things that I could control. God taught me that there is a whole world to see, explore, and discover and I am wasting time by trying to control things that He has already taken care of. He has a plan for my life, which is not a life of worry. Psalm 37:8 says “do not fret- it leads only to evil”. As soon as I read that verse, I almost fell out of my chair. I’ve always heard that worrying is calling God a liar, because I am not fully trusting Him. But to read that verse about worrying leads to evil…wow! That got my attention.

Not only was this trip a self-discovery trip for Leslie, but Daniel and I learned so much about each other and our marriage. I’ve always known that he is the rock, but this trip exemplified it that much more. He pushed me to do things out of my comfort zone and I think I surprised him by doing things that I normally wouldn’t do without his asking. And after we made the long trek back home, he was still there to help me through my post-Hawaii trip depression. As silly as it sounds, I had a rough time getting back to feeling like myself after our trip. For about 2 weeks, I was not my usual "Leslie" self. After days of soul searching, I realized that I was suffering from post-Hawaii trip blues. It was hard to leave a vacation of that magnitude and come back home to our "simple" life again. It was then that Daniel and I decided to get plugged into a church. And that is when the next chapter of our life started to take off…