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Summer Projects

One of the projects that we've worked on this summer has been the landscaping outside our house. It was a complete mess when we bought the house (random flowers growing behind bushes, etc.). This picture doesn't do complete justice, but you get the idea...
I can't really show the after pictures yet because when Don was in Canada our new camera was ruined. Thankfully, we had the foresight to purchase the insurance which covers everything, even water damage caused by excessive excitement when fishing... this is not the first time this has happened, hence the need for the insurance. Anyway, when we get the replacement camera, I'll take pictures of the updated landscaping. For now, here's a little taste of the work we've done
First, we cleared out the area (even the bushes in the back were taken out), then we planted a Japanese Maple tree. Our first tree for our first house- kinda exciting! Then we planted these pretty little Dogwood and Hydrangea buses. 
And last, these little Astilbes. Many thanks to my servant-hearted mother who helped me with all of the digging and planting while Don was in Canada! I don't think I've ever sweat so much in my life!
Here's the pile we ended up with after we had pulled everything out. After a few weeks, I was convinced there was something living in the pile and refused to even walk on this side of the house!



The Jones boys survived another trip to the rough Canadian wilderness. For one week we battled the forces of nature in the harsh--yet beautiful--north woods. 

Pops took the lead. With over 30 years of experience, he’s a master outdoorsman: building fires; navigating the massive lakes; locating and catching fish; building base camp; filleting and cooking meals; operating the boat and motor. He’s at home in the rough north woods, and he knows how to survive. That’s why we call him the Captain.

Joe caught the big boy of the trip: a 40 inch northern pike. These aggressive fish are ferocious fighters; they thrash and run and fight and jump. Joe handled this one well. This pike was no match for the Jones boys. 

This monster had a fish in his belly. You can see the tail sticking out of his throat. 

One of my highlights was using the fly rod. I love all types of fishing, but fly fishing is quickly becoming my favorite. I caught this one on the fly, using 15 lb tippet and a 20 lb steel leader.

We enjoyed fresh walleye every night. Battered, fried in oil, then topped with butter and a touch of lemon. One minute they’re floppin around on the filet table, the next they’re on your plate. Couldn’t possibly get any fresher.

Here’s another nice pike. I love these fish. 

Everything seems to be bigger up north—even the birds.

One morning we encountered an unwelcome visitor. He invaded our campsite and refused to leave.

He was hungry, he had cubs, and he knew we had food. A dangerous combination.

We yelled and made as much noise as we could, but he wouldn’t budge. This bold bear stared us down and showed no fear.

Finally he wandered off into the woods. We quickly packed up our gear and abandoned the campsite.

Can't wait till next year...



This summer has already been busy, busy! I spent the first week out of school writing curriculum for our district. There has been a small development team working on it for the past two years, but we're almost done, which feels great! It's really exhausting, hard work...

After that I began classes at NIU to complete my ELL (ESL) endorsement. I needed to renew my teaching certificate, and this was a good way to receive training in an area that I'm interested in and keep my certification going. The classes are super intense and I'm gone from 8-6 Monday thru Thursday. When I get home, it's homework for about the next five hours. I guess that's to be expected when you try to take 12 credit hours in six weeks!

Don has been busy working on a variety of Bible projects, including a children's bible that I'm really excited about. He continues to love his job, and we're thankful for the Lord's provision and blessing in this area of his life. 

This past week, he was in Canada with his dad and brother. I missed him like crazy and was so thankful to see him return safely. They camp in a really remote area of Canada and have no access to phones or any other modern conveniences. It sounds absolutely terrible to me, but he loves it, and it's great for him to share these experiences with his dad and brother. 

He's going to post pictures soon from his trip. Glad I didn't know about the bear until he got home!


Good News!

We found out today that our home study is APPROVED! The next step is to get a final check over/approval from our agency in Virginia, and if all goes okay, we'll be ready to apply for immigration for our little one. After that the paperwork goes to Ethiopia... finally!

On a side note, we're also getting ready to start printing t-shirts. We have two designs- one for the girls and one for the guys- we'll also have children's sizes available.

Check them out at our friend, Anne's site. Ours are the top two designs... while you're there, take a look at her other cool products! 

Thank you to those of you who have been praying for us!


An Adoption Update

After about six weeks of waiting for our state approval (which, by the way, is one of the frustrating things about adopting from Illinois- most states do not require this additional step), we finally heard from our adoption agency regarding the status of our home study. The state informed them that they are "severely behind". Because of where they are at, our home study probably won't be processed for another month or so. Bummer.  

Times like these make me wonder why this process has to be so hard... 

When I express this frustration, Don reminds me that it wasn't "easy" for God to adopt us into His family, so it's fitting that it isn't going to be "easy" for us to adopt a child into ours either. He's right, and I'm thankful for his wisdom.  

Thinking through all of this reminds me of a helpful article from John Piper on the similarities of what God did in adoption and what happens in Christian adoption today. I especially like the letter that Dr. Piper includes at the end, sharing the process of how he and his wife decided to adopt (at 50 years old). 

Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library


Africa Shopping

Aren't these sandals adorable? And the best part is that they help benefit Ugandan women. I think I'm going to need to buy some of these...

Here's a little of the story behind the sandals (from their website):
Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help young Ugandan women continue their education. The Ugandan school system is designed with a nine month gap between secondary school and university. These nine months are intended to allow time for students to earn money for tuition before continuing on to university. However, in an impoverished and male dominated society, many of these young women struggle to find fair work during this time.
Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. These women will not make sandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.
Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country's educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.


Why We're Adopting: Reasons 4-7

Adoption is hard. We need these rock solid reasons as a reminder in difficult times. That being said, I hope it is also abundantly clear that it is our joy and our delight to adopt. I can't think of anything better than holding our sweet little Ethiopian baby!

I also hope that it is never perceived that we view adoption as a way of earning God's favor. The only favor and acceptance we have from God was earned by Christ. Our adoption is not an attempt to tip the scales in our favor.  Jesus already did that.

So, here are reasons 4- 7 (from our original letter to our families-see earlier posts for other reasons):

  • “Father of the fatherless…is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home” (Psalm 68:5-6). God’s heart is full of love and concern for the fatherless. He is the Father of the fatherless. Maybe he has decreed that we would be his means for caring for the fatherless; maybe our home is to be a place for “the solitary.”
  • God tells us that caring for orphans is “religion that is pure and undefiled.” God has given us the desire for holiness. Taking orphans into our home is a way to give pure expression to these desires.
  • Adoption is a way for us to have a small mission field in our home. We bring a child from another nation into our home, teach them the Gospel, and live it out before them. Since we have been married, we have prayed that we would be used by God to expand his kingdom. Maybe this is part of the answer to that prayer.
  • We do not want to waste our lives. We do not want to live for ourselves. “Lay down your small ambitions!”…this is the cry of our hearts. But it’s also the cry of God’s heart: “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (1 Corinthians 5:8-9). Adoption is one way for us to pursue a life that would glorify God.