My mother has been bothering me for years to write a blog. Every year I have the same answer… “What would I have to say that people would want to read?” I tell her when I have an answer for that question, I will write a blog. I seriously don’t know how people have time to write them. I don’t even have time to take a shower. Literally. It’s a problem. I don’t know how all these women out there write blogs. Not only are they writing blogs, they are writing blogs about all the crafts and food they make. How are they finding time for that? And most of them have more than one child. I only have one, and I need a shower, badly.
Now, I have something to write about. It’s been a long time coming and I stay up at nights thinking about it. I have been waiting for the perfect time, and I realized, there is no perfect time. I have to stop wasting time and do it …now. Four years ago, I went to Africa. Four years ago I made promises to people there that I would not forget them, that I would tell their stories. Four years ago. What have I done in four years?
My mom thought of the title “Before and Africa” and I actually love it. There are a lot of things my mom and I agree on, but usually when she has an idea “for” me, I politely turn her down. But this title struck a chord in me. I thought about all the blogs out there about style and fashion and craftiness and I thought about how my blog would probably be the antithesis of that. Maybe I do always buy the same long sleeved shirts at the GAP every three years when the old ones get holes in them. Maybe I do still have the same tennis shoes I bought for 30 bucks 6 years ago. Maybe I do only get my hair cut once a year. Maybe I am in desperate need of a style makeover, but I think this blog is more of a before and after of my soul. My soul before and now my soul (after) Africa…
So thanks mom, for the title and for recognizing there has been a change in me and that even though I have a hard time finding the words, it’s time to start trying.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saturday, Sunday and the Grand Total!

After a week of being glued to the computer...I am ready to take a little break from facebook for awhile.   I literally don't think I have anymore words to write.  But I wanted to give everyone who supported us the grand total from this amazing week.  I got nestled into the couch, all ready to post my last blog of the week and Tony came in from a run.  He'd been gone for a long time...I was starting to get worried until he texted me saying he only had one more mile.  I was just about to start typing when he burst through the door, dripping with sweat..."Well I didn't run 13 miles...(like he had planned)  I ran 14!" and then he said "and there's poop in the kitchen." Back to reality.  Just reminded me that now it's back to working our butts off to raise/save the rest of the funds.  (And that there will, from time to time, be poop in the kitchen).  We have reached Tony's goal of 5,000 for his marathon! I am so proud of him for the work he is putting in, not only is it HARD to run that takes a lot of TIME.  Back to the meat of the's a breakdown of what we raised this week!

Monday: 807
Tuesday: 396
Wednesday: 1137
Thursday: 1196
Friday: 195
Saturday: 724
Sunday: 176

Grand Total for the week: 4,631!!!!!!

Once again, God has provided almost the exact amount of money we needed for our next payment.


God bless each and every one of you for the role you played in this week.

We love you.
Jen, Tony, Max

Friday, September 6, 2013


I was driving up to the farm tonight, an hour and a half of peace and quiet (which is rare these days) and I had the privilege of witnessing a gorgeous sunset.  As this week comes to an end, as the sunsets on a week of generosity and love poured out on our little family...I am sure this road we chose, was the one we were supposed to travel down.  I was speeding down the highway and the sun was slowly melting into the fields behind the windmills and I feel like God gave me a vision of a long road (longer than we thought) with a tiny face (on the other end) too far away to see.  As we walk down the road trying to get a better view of the little face, we walk by friend after friend, co-workers, complete strangers with kindness in their eyes, young people, old people, everyone that has said a prayer for us or given a dollar...we get to briefly hug them, try to verbalize what they mean to us and then keep walking towards the little face.  Maybe that is what our journey will be like on the way to heaven.  Maybe we are getting a taste of that right now.  Heaven on earth.  I am fairly certain, when I see that little face for the first time, that will be the closest to heaven I will get until I see the face of the one that died for me.

I tried to take a picture of the sunset through my dirty windows, and with the trucks whizzing by...this is all I could capture on my phone.  I hope it gives you a sense of the way I felt tonight as I cried tears of joy.  God Bless you for giving.  God bless you for caring for this one orphan...I pray you continue to be moved by the plight of the orphans and don't stop opening your hearts to them.  If we don't speak up for them, who will?

We raised $195 today...which still amazes me.  The week is coming to a close.  We have one more day to get the word out and still a lot of money to raise.   Most people have Saturday off and check their facebook pages...let's share it one more day team.  I love you people so much.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever amen." Ephesians 3:20-21


Here are the last time:



Pure Charity

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I keep imagining what it will feel like when we hold our baby for the first time.  It will be such a different experience than with our first.  After a c-section, I couldn't feel (physically) much of anything when they handed Max to me.  I could, however feel my heart exploding in my chest.  I could feel the way his skin felt against my face.  I could feel the weight of the responsibility that was now mine.

This time though, we will walk into an orphanage on the other side of the world, we will walk into a room, we will be handed our baby.  How will THAT feel?  Now, knowing what it's like to be a mother, I will probably be overwhelmed by this moment.  I didn't cry when they handed Max to me,  maybe because I didn't know how much I would love him, maybe because I was numb (literally), maybe because the labor was over and that just made me happy...who knows why.  This time, I will cry.  Because I know.  I know what it's like to stay up nights with a sick baby.  I know what it's like to have them wrap their little arms around my neck and say "wuv you mommy!" I know a mother's love.  I will sob uncontrollably.  I'm a little worried I will scare the baby.  When Tony and I went to a documentary earlier this year on adoption...we watched a scene where a family had met their baby finally after three years of waiting.  I was crying so hard I couldn't breathe.  Tony had to ask me if I was gonna be ok.  I am so moved by the bond of family.  And those people were strangers.

About half of the people that have donated to our adoption, are also strangers.  Not anymore.  They have linked themselves to our family for all time.  They are moved by the bond of family too...and they have made an impact on ours forever.  

Our friends, family and strangers have blessed us with a total of 1,196 today! I thought the first few days would be really great and then the giving might taper off as people got sick of sharing our site :) But that is human thinking, and humans are clearly not running the show.  The almighty God of the universe is.  Thank God for that.  And thank God for you.

Two more days team! Share us! You are making a huge difference. Huge.  

Pure Charity

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Wooh wooh. 
Wednesday!!! We have officially gone viral.  My blog got over 400 views yesterday... I haven't been blogging long, so I have no idea but that seems like a lot no?  It's certainly the most I've ever gotten.  
I have been shocked by the response.  
Just shocked. Especially today. Monday we raised 807. Tuesday we raised 396.  Wednesday we raised...wait for it...

 yeah yeah yeah yeah.  I may just take a happy dance break.....Did it...sorry you couldn't be here to witness.

true that.  
We are on a mission to get this baby home...not because we want to "save" them...but because Christ saved us.  Everyone deserves to feel that love.
Thanks for joining us. Much love friends.
Jen, Tony, and Max

Oh p.s. let's finish out the week strong team! We've raised an amazing amount, but an international adoption costs approximately $30,000...yikes. Keep on sharing and sharing and's only three more days!


Pure Charity

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Well folks, your efforts continue to bless us today as we round out the day with $396 raised! Yay! It's amazing what a dollar can do...It's been so fun to see the people we love get involved and see the kindness of complete strangers.  As we inch nearer and nearer to our goal, it is becoming so....real.  The realization is setting in that we are bringing home a baby from across the world.  Someday in the (hopefully) near future we are going to be getting on a plane with a baby we just met and flying on two very long flights home.
I was daydreaming today about what we would pack when we clothes? baby carrier? paci? blankie? food? (will he/she eat solids?) Then it struck me that I barely remember what to do with a baby...I am sure it will come natural after I hold that little stinker...but I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of the day actually being here and that there will be a REAL baby at the end (beginning!) of this journey.  The baby carrier will have a baby IN it. Woah.  It's been a dream for so long...a someday...somehow... dream.  But the someday is almost here...and the somehow has been pouring out on us through all of your big hearts.  This baby is coming! Thanks for a great day number two friends.  We love you all so much.  Love Jen, Tony and Max.

If you haven't shared...or want to share's our links

Pure Charity

Monday, September 2, 2013


This week started out with a bang thanks to everyone who shared our featured blog post on Give1Save1!  Sunday night, after I sent out the facebook event, I received a Facebook message from an old camp friend.  I realized this after I messaged her back but she donated exactly the amount we need to finish our most recent payment.  Such a gift from God.  She has such a sweet heart and I want to share with you the message she sent me.

Hi Jen.
I've been following your blog and adoption updates for some time now. My heart has been so moved by your honest, bold writing and your obedience to the call to adopt.
Over the last couple months, as I've prayed for you, Tony, and little Max, God has done big things in my life... and has called me to step outside my comfort zone in more than one way (something I'm sure you all are familiar with!).
I'm currently a doctoral student in occupational therapy, living off of student loans and completing clinical rotations. My fall rotation was planned for Portland, Oregon, a city I've longed to live in since my early college years. However, in mid-July, while completing a rotation in Michigan, I discovered that my Portland rotation fell through and I would have to return to Nashville (where I was for classes) in the fall. Long story short, I am blessed to be living with a sweet family I used to babysit for, free of rent! Although I was sad to miss out on Portland, I rejoiced knowing I would be able to save money for future adventures or a post-graduation trip.
I've been praying lots about what God might have me give to your adoption fund, not only because I feel called to adopt in the future, but also because I have such deep respect for both you and Tony as Godly parents.
Today, as I sat in a local coffee shop reading the book Radical by David Platt, I opened to a chapter called "American Wealth and a World of Poverty." I came to a chapter that said the following:
[A man who decided to give away much of his wealth and possessions to those in need] "I wonder at some points if I'm being irresponsible or unwise. But then I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.'
This is really the core issue of it all. Do we trust him? Do we trust Jesus when he tells us to give radically for the sake of the poor? Do we trust him to provide for us when we begin using the resources he has given us for others? Do we trust him to know what is best for our lives, our families, and our financial futures?
I don't want to pursue stuff and in the process miss Christ and the pleasures he alone gives in a life free from bondage to the possessions of this world."
I wept as I prayed over how God would have me use this surplus of "stuff" and money he had blessed me with to further his glory... and immediately knew that I was to help, even in a tiny way, you and Tony bring your baby home.
God has blessed me with rent-free living during this season and called me to give what I would have paid in rent to bless you all. He has such big things in store for you all.
Praying relentlessly for you, Tony, Max, and baby 2. Brianne

So thanks to Brianne's amazing gift and all of you sharing our story on Facebook and through e-mail...After day one of our Give1Save1 week...we have raised $807!!!! I am giddy...and just tickled with the ways you are sharing...for of my best friends from high school sent out an e-mail to many of his friends giving them a unique incentive of showing them the picture from his first formal dance if they sent in a dollar. It just so happens he attended that dance with me. So hopefully this won't spoil his efforts but I thought I should share this gem with you all as well. This is the epitome of awkward teenage angst at it's finest.

Buzz's girlfriend...woof.

We want to keep the momentum moving this week so share it again again and again everyday until Saturday.  Do it! Most of the donations that came in today were from people we don't even what that tells me is #1 People care about adoption and orphans! and #2 It really is working sharing our story on keep sharing!  Love you all!

Pure Charity

Sunday, September 1, 2013


So in honor of our family being featured on Give1Save1 this week...(with the hope that our adoption story is being spread out all over the web)  We want to introduce ourselves. I was trying to think of the best way to do that and I remembered in 4th grade I had a writing project where I had to write a haiku about myself.  So let me introduce us with a haiku...

Dad: Tony

 I love to run fast
Watch me play a sport and eat
While I fix something

Mom: Jen

I like to paint things
crack a joke and sing a song
then take a picture

Son: Max

Energetic boy
trains planes and automobiles
growing up too fast

Pugs: Franklin and Beau

Sleep and eat all day
one is fat one is not
so cute and cuddly

So that's us in 5-7-5 syllables.

And if that's not enough for's our adoption video...

If you want to help add to our family please go to our fundraising page:

Pure Charity