Thursday, April 26, 2012

God called and we said "YES"

It is with great excitement and humble hearts that we 
 are answering God's call to adopt again!! 

Where is He sending us??


Just last week we received our "PA"  (pre approval) from China for the adoption of a little girl we will be referring to here as "T!"

T is a beautiful little 4 year old girl from China. Our agency doesn't allow us to post a picture yet - but trust me, she's adorable! We can't wait to bring her home to be a part of our family.

We now have a new list of things to accomplish in the next six months - Dr. appointments, homestudy, fundraising, and lots of paperchasing as we compile the adoption dossier. Please join us in praying for our little daughter in China. T has some special needs and will come to us with some unknowns (as in any adoption). Please pray for our family as we deal with the expenses and the adoption process - adoption is not for the faint of heart - it can be a brutal game of costs, timelines and waiting!! Our time frame will be about a year. Also pray for our six children as they process the idea of adding another Snell to the crew. There will be many transitions ahead.

We feel blessed and overwhelmed - all at the same time!

 We rejoice that there will be one less orphan
 - one more little child who will know the love of a family and of the God who has loved her all along.

**My blog has been rather private til now - I haven't had it for too long and have never really shared it!! I don't claim to be a great writer or share anything too profound - just some of my thoughts, happenings around the Snell household, and now - updates on the adoption process to our newest daughter. 
More details to follow - background story, answers to some of the common questions about adoption, our first fundraiser, and how you can help us bring our daughter home! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

To know you...

Wow - I heard a Casting Crowns' song on my ipod while walking today that I have heard numerous times. I'm not so sure that I have really listened to the words before because I heard it today as tho' it was a new song to me.  As I have said here before - I am not an eloquent writer. I sometimes think eloquently but then I never have paper with me or I can't write my thoughts quickly enough. When it comes to my feelings and experiences about my faith, well, I rarely can express my thoughts adequately.

This song says what I feel lately regarding my walk with Jesus.

When I went on Youtube to find a video of the words...well...they were all sorta cheesy...until I found this video. This is a live video of Casting Crowns performing this song. The person recording it obviously had AWESOME seats as the sound is quite good. The bonus is the little pre-song message from Mark Hall. (He also forgets the words which is sorta humorous and humble!). Enjoy...

Thursday, April 12, 2012


So, lotsa stuff going on around the Snell household these days. We have non-stop school - elementary school, homeschool and college. We have non-stop sports - soccer, kung fu, baseball, and dance competitions. Church even seems non-stop with life group, youth group, music. Life is full and busy, busy, busy...

I think April and May give December a run for its money as far as being the most overbooked and crazy busy time of year.

Amidst the busy-ness we had some birthdays (Jemila and I) and we have one coming next week (Ben).  Jack earned another sash (his sixth out of eight). We (Kate and I) have attended a few weekend away dance competitions. Not my favorite world I have to admit. I love that Kate loves dance, and that she enjoys it and is a beautiful dancer - I just don't love the world of competitive dance. We travel 40 min. to our dance studio, three times a week - many weeks, four times. We do carpool, but a lot of time is spent waiting there for the girls (not to mention all the expenses and time away for competitions).  We have done this for two years after leaving the dance studio that is literally around the corner from our house. Lots of issues arose there that made it necessary to leave. Bummer because it was so convenient...

The ridiculously expensive place where one of our dance competitions was held, in D.C.

There are some other things going on behind the scenes here at the Snell homestead too ... not ready to post about it yet, but trust me - it's pretty awesome and I can post pretty soon. God's been working out some of the details of a really big new project ... more later!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Forever changed...

I've had a blog post floating around in my head for weeks. As I have said a few times before, I am not a writer. I wish it flowed from my heart and head to the keys on this computer, but it doesn't. Here goes...

I am blessed. I have been blessed beyond measure with good health, good parents, great childhood, enough money, college, jobs, healthcare, marriage to an amazing man, children, a beautiful home, wonderful memories, and then more children. I live in a free country and a beautiful town. God has been incredibly gentle with me. He has walked beside me through the darkest days after losing my father tragically, through the heights of marriage and birthing babies, to the last few years of struggle and joy as our family has wobbled while trying to find a new normal with the addition of our girls.

All the trials and moments have been proof of my God's mercy and faithfulness, His love and kindness, His discipline and guidance. I fail miserably some days, yet He picks me up and lets me start over, each and every day. He forgives my stubborn ways, my sometimes quick temper,  my rough edges - and He is smoothing them out with His forgiveness and love.

The greatest blessing of my life is knowing the truth, asking Jesus into my life and knowing that following Him is the only way to real life and real joy.  I want my life to be used by Him and for Him and to point others to Him. I want my eyes and heart to focus on the things that truly matter to Him - a hard thing to do in a materialistic world that says "it's all about me." I actually made the decision a long time ago that I wanted my life to matter in God's eyes - no one else's. That I wanted to do big things for Him. That I wanted our family to be a light in this world of so much darkness.

     Having four children in a 6 year span and homeschooling them all seemed my "big thing to do for Him." Raising my children to know and love God, to learn His Word, has been my full time job for the last 13 years. It has been a journey - exhausting and rewarding in a way I will never be able to explain - the words fail me. The memories and time with my children has been nothing short of fantastic. I will never regret our call and decision to follow God down the homeschool path and for the years we have spent learning and growing together.

And then came adoption.

Our adoption  - the decision to follow God down a path that seemed crazy and ridiculously expensive and overwhelming to some. It seemed crazy and ridiculously expensive and overwhelming to us. Jumping off a cliff (and believe me, that is really how it feels) is scary and "lump-in-your-throat" terrifying and also the most beautiful and awesome thing ever. To know God in a whole new way sounds too trite to explain it. To see God do miracles for children who are forgotten and abandoned half the way across the globe and to work out details and money needs and travel and ... the list goes on - this is to see a side of God that I could never have seen before.

Jemila and Kulate the day after they entered the orphanage in 2008

The girls on Jemila's 8th birthday 2012
Our God is about adoption. He loves children and longs for us to help orphans and widows. This is where His heart is and to be a part of that is just not like anything I can even express. To now see our girls bubbling with excitement over something they just learned, or giggling as they ice skate, or drawing pretty pictures, or singing praises in church - well, it's a feeling I can't even explain. To think that God used me and my family in some way so powerful to set these little girls in a family with love and the knowledge of Him, well, it is just too much for this challenged writer to put down here.

I am forever changed.

It is hard to look at life the same now. The things and ways I spent my time in the past seem empty and unnecessary. My priorities have changed and the things of this world do not entice me in the way that knowing and being a part of what is close to God's heart does.  Going to Africa shook me up and put me back together in a whole new way. Life will never be the same.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

("I am happy that I am me and I am happy that I have a Mom and  I have a Dad" - Jemila)

This blog post can be found on as part of a link up to adoption stories. Head over there to check out some other wonderful adoption stories!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hundreds of Hats

 I love to knit. I love to knit hats. Baby hats.  They are quick and cute and necessary and allow for lots and lots of creativity. They take just a little yarn to knit up and ALWAYS put a smile on a new momma's face! Five years ago, I was knitting them so often that I decided to give it a whirl (is that a word??) and open an Etsy shop (see The Mustard Seed button to the right).  I even tried selling at craft shows, consignment, and sold lots to friends. I even paid for all of our Christmas presents one year with what I made just knitting little hats! I found that starting a new little hat every few days kept my short attention span at bay, kept me from snacking at night, and always gave me a little something to do while waiting for an appointment or activity with the kids.

Our two beautiful Ethiopian daughters benefited from my hats during our adoption as I knitted to help pay for adoption fees.  These days I don't knit much for profit. My Etsy store (see on the right) is often empty. I will have a creative energy surge every now and then and knit up a few for the store but mostly my efforts have been gifts or for donations.

Sometime in the last year, a friend we met during our adoption, posted on Facebook about a missionary doctor working in Soddo, Ethiopia. Never heard of it? Well, the two Ethiopian faces above were born there and lived their early years there. This doctor, Dr. Hail, is working in a hospital there delivering babies and caring for women. From reading her blog it is apparent that she is doing many more things there as well.

When I first looked at her blog, I was excited to see that among her requested items she could use at the hospital were BABY HATS!! YAY! I can do that!

So I advertised and asked other friends/family who knit, if they would help me make 100 hats for Soddo! Several helped me out, and I knit a whole lotta hats and...voila...100 hats!

The girls and I put together little cards to attach to the hats - they have a crayon colored heart and the word "Love" in Amharic (tho' the language in Soddo is Wolaitan, I believe they are close and that the intention will be received).

What a joy to be able to give a little something back to such a special place with such meaning for our family. The hats will go to premie and newborn babies of rural and very poor women to help the babies survive a very critical time right after birth when they are vulnerable to changes in the temperature - mostly at night, and unable to regulate their own body temperature. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A whole lotta love...

I must admit I have been a bit of a Pinterest addict lately. It's a little like impulse buying: see it - like it - want it - get it - have it. Well, you don't actually get "it" but you will forever have the link (directions, recipe, printout, or whatever) so that "someday" you will get around to making it, sewing it, cooking it, doing it, printing it, etc. So it sorta feels like "buying" is a bit addicting, I must admit.

Valentine's Day is a holiday that I love - I love red and hearts... and of course, I love "love." Nerd. Ah well. I enjoy candy hearts (a little too much I am afraid) and making valentine cards with the kids is always fun.

So this year, I had a wonderful Pinterest bulletin board of all sorts of fabulous foods, decor, crafts that fit with Valentine's Day and I was determined to DO them! So we decided to share a little love with our wonderful Lifegroup (are you a part of a Lifegroup or small home group through your church? It is a wonderful thing!).


We decorated with Pinterest inspired balloon strings and made heart shaped crayons (those required a bit of work on the little girls' part throughout the week) and gave out little bags of crayons and candy hearts!  It was so fun and a great way to tell our friends how much they mean to us!!

The girls had fun making their valentine cards for school friends and it was fun talking about what love means for family, God, friends.

Until the next time...

I want to live like that

Sometimes I think 
What will people say of me 
When I'm only just a memory 
When I'm home where my soul belongs 

Was I love 
When no one else would show up 
Was I Jesus to the least of those 
Was my worship more than just a song 

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I want to live like that 
I want to live like that 

Am I proof 
That You are who you say You are 
That grace can really change a heart 
Do I live like Your love is true 

People pass 
And even if they don't know my name 
Is there evidence that I've been changed 
When they see me, do they see You 

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I want to live like that 
I want to live like that 

I want to show the world the love You gave for me 
I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King 

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I want to live like that 
I want to live like that

(The Sidewalk Prophets)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oops...I've done it again...

Yikes! Where has the time gone????? I am just the worst blogger! Life has been busy and full and for the most part, fun! I am so tired by the time I get to sit down and even have the chance to blog, that I don't! Ah well, I am determined to keep it up somehow and will try my best to keep at it. Not so sure anyone reads this blog but me...but hey, thought I still needed to explain myself (to myself...??)

It is April and Spring and I don't think there is any time in the year that I like better than the fresh new Spring days when things start to come alive and green and colorful. Gone are coats and boots and mittens and I just love it. We had such a mild winter in Virginia this year - two snow days where the kids actually had to wear boots (of course, it was the ONE year that everyone had a pair that fit when it snowed) and got to sled. Rather a dull winter actually tho' I was secretly loving it.

Christmas was awesome. In fact, it may have been our best one yet. It was low key and full of family time. As much as we love our extended families coming for visits (a yearly tradition) we didn't have any visitors until later in the week this time (Jill and family came for New Years which was awesome). This gave us nearly a week to "hunker down" together, do our traditions like the ginger bread house, cookies, gift wrapping, and Christmas movies - alone. We were able to focus more (never enough) on the beautiful gift of Jesus for which we celebrate. Everyone got along so well, and we played lots of games and  - well, it was just great.

We were so busy in the weeks before Christmas (with The Nutcracker and other activities) that it was just nice not to go anywhere or have anything rushing us around.  Kate was in The Nutcracker this year which was neat for her. She has been doing ballet since she was 2 and a half - yes, you read that right. She was begging to do ballet when she was 2!!! (no, I was not a stage mom urging her to want to dance). So we started her in a little pre-ballet class during the summer before she turned 3. She has danced ever since (she is 15). She is a beautiful dancer. Ballet has always been her love but she is also finding she loves jazz, modern and lyrical as well. All these years of dance, and Kate never got to be in The Nutcracker until this year when her dance company performed it. She was a wonderful, high-jumping rat, and a flower in the Waltz of the Flowers. Seven performances later and we had all had it with the music but were so glad she finally had the chance to perform in this production. Sadly, this is the only photo I have on my computer (have some professional ones). She's not even in full rat costume here...but you get the idea!

We were much more low key on presents - but had a last minute bonus from work which enabled us to get a few extra surprise gifts that people weren't expecting. Everyone loved what they got and it was just a wonderful family time. I just loved being cozy with my family and not going ANYWHERE. Here are some more pictures of our Christmas time fun!

P.S. FAKE TATOO (from the dollar store and - his favorite gift!! Bleh...)

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