Monday, December 28, 2009

We're on THE LIST!!!!!

I wish you all could have just seen the scene in our house!!! I opened the email from our case worker, which read:

I just heard back from Holt. You were entered on the wait strip the day that your homestudy was approved, which was 12/23/09...
Ethan (our oldest) came into the room and read the email aloud to Isaiah (our youngest) and Daddy! To which Daddy just ran through the house with arms in the air:
"We're on The LIST! We're on THE LIST! We're on THE LIST"
Wow, this has been an emotional week awaiting that news! The tears are just overwhelming...we made it. Now we just wait for our baby girl to be matched to our family!

We asked Ethan if he understood what it meant that we are "on the list" and then explained we are now on the list for a referral! A lightbulb went off for him and he then took off through the house with arms in the air...
"WOOHOO...WOOHOO...now we can get a referral in no time!"
We explained that it could take 10 days, 10 weeks, or 10 months...the important thing is we made it! We are now on the list and in God's timing our little Annalee will be joining our family!

Thank You Lord for this Christmas Blessing even though we were not aware on that day! It is such a beautiful way to close out 2009!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Reflections

God has richly blessed our lives...
  • Salvation by grace through faith
  • Our son accepted Christ as his Savior in 2009
  • A marriage of ten years
  • Two wonderful sons
  • Our parents (each set) have been married for 40 years
  • A brother, 2 brother-in-laws, and a father that have served our country in the military
  • Siblings that are serving God and raising their family in service to Christ
  • 11 nieces, 4 nephews and 1 great niece whom we get to see many times each year
  • A church family that encourages, uplifts in prayer, mentors, and inspire us
  • We have stable jobs that allow us to provide for our family
  • Our son has a Christian school to attend and learn values from godly leaders
  • Our youngest son has a daycare with Christian values and loving workers to care for him
  • God has led our family to begin the adoption journey in 2009 and our Annalee will join our family in His timing
  • The adoption process has moved swiftly and smoothly so far
  • God has provided our every need as it has arose in this process

Thank You...
...to God, our heavenly Father, for all Your great blessings...for our wonderful friends, family, even strangers that have and are lifting our family and adoption up in their prayers, many who we may never know, but have bestowed the greatest gift on us...for those who have mentored us in our lives: teachers, accountability partners, friends, and fellow adoptive families that have enriched our lives and provided a path that is much more colorful and smooth than one we would have to traverse alone...to all those who have actively supported our adoption through signing forms, taking pictures, writing letters, mentoring us through the steps, donating yard sale items, buying coffee, buying cakes, and just speaking an encouraging word...to all of you we offer our humblest thanks!
The Ragsdale Family 





Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recipes for Annalee

GOAL:                     250 Recipes

Total Collected:     25 Recipes


As we anticipate having our name added to the referral wait list any day now I cling to the promise that God will provide all our needs! This also reminds us that spring is a few months away and we need to kick ourselves into high gear!
Recipes for Annalee is a concept that blossomed from my husband's love to cook and create new recipes and my enjoyment of writing and sharing our heart for adoption with others.
We are asking that our friends & family, as well as their friends & family, submit their favorite family recipe(s) to include in a cookbook that we will have published this spring. Along with the recipe if you would like to include a favorite quote, Bible verse, parenting tip, or a paragraph about what family and/or adoption mean to your family, we will add these throughout the book.
You can email your recipes to us at missionforannalee@gmail.com or you can mail them to us:
Mission for Annalee
Attn: E. Ragsdale
P.O. Box 1283
Hopkinsville, KY 42241
Thank you to all of you who have already submitted recipes! This fundraiser will have the potential to raise several thousand dollars toward our adoption fees! We need about 200 more, so please pass this information on to any friends that you think would like to send us a recipe to include. Thanks!

God bless and happy cooking to all!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Gift


Last night we received a wonderful gift! Our case worker had finished our home study and emailed us a draft for review! Just a few more days and it will be on its way to Holt and we will be added to the referral list, Yeah!!!!!!!



Today we celebrated our family Christmas time together before the hustle and bustle of travelling to see the extended families for the holidays. Santa came last night and we spent time until noon opening presents, putting toys together, and playing. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this time with our boys, my heart was heavy with the everpresent void of Annalee not being here with us. Throughout the day there were moments, when I just had to stop and pray. God is growing the longing in our hearts for our little girl to be home with us.


e went to town this afternoon and stopped by a new thrift shop in town. We found a cute little costume, which I mentioned we could pick up for our youngest niece, Nate just smiled, "no it's cute, I know you were thinking of Annalee, let's get it for her!" So hopefully she will be able to fit into it when she gets here, it is around 12-18 months in size.



Since we are trying our best to pay for the adoption as we go, I am working hard to restrict my spending on stuff for the baby until closer until she comes. The goal is to not purchase more than one item a month for now. In September afer sending in our application I found this adorable dress for only $2.00 new at K-Mart. I went ahead and bought a 2T since we requested a 0-2 year old. I just love the colorful prints on the dress...she will look so cute!!!

Our second purchase was in October and it was an album to send to Annalee in Korea once we receive our referral. We will add family pictures, so she can get to know us!


In November a dear lady in our church, Ms. Esther gave us a book on adoption featuring an Asian child throughout the story. I am sure this will be a special book to share with our little girl for years to come!


Then for our December gift we picked out a "Jesus Loves Me" bunny with the softest fabric. I can just see her snuggling this soft little toy, hopefully it will be comforting to Annalee!

We are praying that our dear Annalee will be here next year to celebrate Christmas with us!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting so close...

Yesterday I called and spoke with our contact at Holt to verify the next steps in the process. Good news is that once our homestudy is complete and the final copy submitted we are added to the Waiting Child referral waiting list with Holt. We do not have to submit our I-600A to be added to the list!

So, what are we waiting on? We still have two of our reference letters that have to be turned in before the homestudy can be considered complete. Please pray that our references will have time before Christmas to get these submitted. Also, we have decided we are going to re-examine the list of Medical Conditions we would be willing to accept for the referral. This is such a difficult thing to know and we are just praying for God's guidance to know what to mark and then to bring us the perfect child for our family.

This process so far has passed so quickly! We can't wait to mail out our letters to our families and friends announcing we are officially on the list!

P.S.
Please say a quick prayer, our van has a squeek/grind in one of the rear brakes. We are taking it into the shop tomorrow and we are praying that it can be fixed for a minimal financial dent into our savings! Have a great night!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's a Wrap!

Today was absolutely beautiful and full of God's blessings! The weather was as warm as a spring day, the house was sparkling clean, and our home study visit went smoothly!
Thank you dear friends and family that were praying for us. God's peace was so evidenced in the calm we had as we went through the process today. Funny thing is how we stress...I was worried about our individual interviews and Nate was worried about the visit today...we balance each other so well :)
Although we have not met any other case workers, I must say that we pulled the luck of the draw as she is just so good at putting us at ease. As soon as our last two references are received the home study will be wrapped up and sent to Holt for approval.  We will be considered Home Study ready! YEAH!
The next step in the process is to submit our I-600A form with USCIS, then they will schedule our fingerprint appointments with the FBI. We are stunned that we have already been in process for three months this Friday. The time passes so quickly when you are constantly filling out papers and trying to meet the next deadline!
Since our Christmas preparations are complete. We can focus on getting our family update letter (a first for us) and our adoption prayer cards in the mail! We also can relax for the next couple of weeks and spend some quality time with our boys!
The boys are so excited to get a little sister and Ethan says daily how he wishes she could be here this Christmas...we are praying our little girl will be home before next Christmas! The boys did very good with our Case Worker today. Although Isaiah started to have a mini meltdown as the meeting was during lunch/naptime, we were glad she was able to see our parenting skills in action :) Also, I think it helped that they were promised ice cream if they were good...a little bribe every once in a while can be a very effective parenting tool, right?
If you are following the blog we would love to know who you are...you can email us at missionforannalee@gmail.com or leave us a comment! Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.
P.S.
If you were planning to order a cake for Christmas please let us know...our last day to bake for delivery/pickup is December 23rd! We were hoping to break our Thanksgiving record of 23 cakes, so we need some orders! If you have friends in the area please feel free to pass along our email or you can email me and we can exchange phone numbers. Also...check out Mission for Annalee Coffee Shop...coffee is a great gift for the coffee lovers in your life!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

World's Greatest Husband!

The adoption process has been described as a paper chase, emotional roller coaster, test of a person's patience and resolve, and the most wonderful gift any family can experience. Just three months into the process we can agree with everyone of those statements!
It is so amazing to see God work in your family, to see your children's capacity to love and share grow, to see yourselves as parents analyze your skills and approaches to adapt and grow to even more effective parenting, and to see your spouse be your stallworth of strength and to sacrifice so much for your sweet child!
My husband has to be the greatest husband in the world (at least the greatest for me!) He has been so understanding and my strength when I have been weary, emotional, and just stressed out (usually self-inflicted by my expectations or worry).
He took on our cake fundraiser and baked all 23 cakes at Thanksgiving, he has sent me out for girls night just to relax, and in the past two weeks he has worked on the house in many ways to make it nice for our home study on Monday. Two weeks ago he put new lighting in the kitchen & dining room and today he painted both rooms...did I mention our home visit is Monday?
He worked all day from the time he got up until the entire room was painted. I don't think he sat down all day! He is one determined man when he sets his mind on something! I am so thankful for a husband who will work so hard for our family and to continue to make a nice home for us.
Here are some before and after pics. Our house was built in the early 1960s and the room had the original flat paint, which is completely unwashable. There were ugly spots all over the room from different times, the main wall had a cleaner spray stain, where at some point we tried to clean the wall, but it just made spots running down, ugh!
The room before the new paint:








Painting the stairwell...this is about the same difference of bad to good of change in the kirchen/dining room:









The newly painted kitchen/dining room (and the new chandalier):











Needless to say I am going to love our newly painted room! Watch out January...as soon as the Christmas tree comes down the living room is next..can't wait to show off the color we have picked out...it is really going to "brighten up" the space!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mission for Annalee Cakes


GOAL:             100 cakes

Sold to date:     50 cakes

The Mission for Annalee Cake fundraiser at Thanksgiving was such a success that we have decided to continue baking cakes throughout the duration of our adoption!
Cake sales will have certain targeted times we will be actively selling...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, etc. However, we can bake one of our cakes for just a birthday, reunions, parties, etc.
If you are just checking out our cakes here is what you need to know:
To order please email us at missionforannalee@gmail.com with the cake type and date that you need the cake. We are asking for you to give us at least a 48 hour notice.
Cake types are: Chocolate, Toasted Coconut, Red Velvet & Spice
The cakes are 9" and 2 layers and cost only $15.00 each!
To date we have sold 24 cakes and we have orders for many more for the Christmas season...Thanks for your support and we hope that you enjoy each bite!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Step by Step

Another step on our journey is complete and I couldn't be more relieved!
Today we met our case worker in Bowling Green for our combined interview and
individual interviews. Going in we wondered how we would have enough to fill four hours of conversation and in the end it was more like five hours! She was so easy to talk to and you could just tell that she truly cares about these children and the families that are hoping and praying to adopt.
I must admit that it has been a very emotional 24 hours for me though. Last night I watched the gotcha video of a family who brought their baby girl, Elliana, home from Korea. There were three big brothers in the family...to see the smiles and love they had for their baby sisters...so beautiful!

Then I listened to Third Day's song Merry Christmas...I think it will become a favorite "make me cry my eyes out to release the stress" song. It has the most beautiful message, but if you are waiting for your baby...oh, it is heart wrenching. Sorry friend that listened today from my facebook. I know how it must have moved you to tears...we are praying for your little one to come to you very soon!

Then tonight after this exhausting day, I went with a couple of friends to see the movie Blind Side...what a nice time to just breathe. If you haven't seen it...I highly recommend that you do! Again waterworks in a few parts. How can people see such a need and not do something??? God I think always changes and works in the life of the one who gives, as much or more than the recipient!

I don't know why I was so emotional today! I think when we knew it was not an option to continue to have additional bio children, I kept telling myself it is okay because we can adopt...it was such a future thing, and now not only can we adopt, we are! The reality of this beautiful journey is hitting home...

...even though we may have to discuss our lives in more detail than we may normally find comfortable, to wait longer than we think can be possible, and to experience a full range of emotions that we may have never before realized we have. We have a daughter out there somewhere, and even though I have no control (which is very hard) over anything....God is choosing her for us and I know that His ways are greater than anything that we could do!

"How great is our God, sing with me - How great is our God and all will see how great, how great is our God!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prayers for Friday!

We love to hear from those of you who are following our journey!
To contact us you can leave a comment on the blog or you can email us at missionforannalee@gmail.com.
We would love to hear from you!

Please lift our family up in your prayers this week. Last week before Thanksgiving was so awesome! We baked and delivered 23 cakes and people were so generous in giving toward our adoption, not just financially, but emotionally and with encouragement! We are so humbled and blessed.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday and this week we are struggling. The emotions and nerves of having our life analyzed by a stranger is in the forefront of my mind, although I know we can make almost anything seem hugely exaggerated in our minds. Also, there are several other burdens we have right now. My dear friend lost her dad and is in OH for the funeral, probably the same day as our homestudy visit, we have friends that are going through some very difficult times right now, and then there are other situations in which we really are just oppressed and need God to guide us and provide peace.

God bless you all for your prayers and support! We know that if we will trust in God, that he will provide a peace that passes all understanding! Claiming His promises!
The Ragsdale Family

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving & Prayers

This holiday season we have so many things to be thankful for. God has blessed our family this year in so many ways, especially in revealing Himself to us in a new way. In adoption, just as salvation, there is a release of control and acceptance of His gifts.

Thank you to all of you that have reached out to support us in our journey...the prayers, encouraging words, and all of you who ordered cakes. Each of you play a part in this wonderful story and God is blessing your kindness so greatly!

We ask that you continue to pray for us, especially Friday, December 4th, Nate and I will be meeting with our case worker for our initial interview and our individual interviews. A total of four hours of interviews, and although we know God is with us, it is difficult not to be anxious!

Please for peace for us this week, for calm in our nerves on Friday, and that God would control our words and guide us as we discuss and answer all of the questions the agency has. It is an odd feeling to know someone will be judging us as people, as parents, as spouses in regards to our ability to parent, provide a stable home, and love to a child, especially by a stranger. However, the adoption requires this and as awkward as this will be, we know that it brings us one step closer to our little girl!

Thank you our dear friends for your prayers, we treasure them beyond measures!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sharing Adoption Joys

After Orphan Sunday a friend of ours asked if I would be willing to put together her daughter's gotcha day video for her first birthday. This was a huge learning process for me, but such a blessing as she shared many pictures of her daughter at the Holt Reception Center in Seoul, Korea. So, for two weeks God allowed me a glimpse into where our little girl may stay, to see the workers care for the children...it truly has inspired a new longing in our heart to see our little one all in God's timing.

video

We pray you will be encouraged, inspired, and moved to act on behalf of an orphan somewhere in this world. Each of us can do something...pray, mentor, support, adopt...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fundraising Kick-Off!!!!! Yummy Cakes!!!!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to spend with family and enjoy scrumptious food! We want to help you with your Thanksgiving Day spread! We are selling 9" two layer cakes for $15.00 each. You pick a cake from the list and the date for pick-up/delivery and we'll do the rest!
Above: Coconut/White Cake
Above: Spice Cake
Above: Chocolate Cake
Above: Red Velvet Cake
The cakes above each served 16+ people.
The chocolate cake was a treat for our Ladies Craft Night at Church...some of the comments were....
"This is such a moist and delicious cake!"
"The cake is so rich and tastes so good"
We will have the cakes ready on your choice of date below:
Saturday (11/21), Sunday (11/22), Monday (11/23), Tuesday (11/24), and Wednesday (11/25)
Please pass on our information to friends that may want to order, we will only be selling 100 cakes during these five days, so order now before they're gone!

You can place your order by emailing us at missionforannalee@gmail.com.

Thank you for supporting us in our adoption and have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Orphan Sunday - After Event Report

All that came to the Orphan Sunday event thank you so much. It was such a blessing to see the love and support for all of our families and the discussions of sponsorship, adoption, and volunteering! Here is a short video from our special night... http://www.authorstream.com/PresentLive/eragsdale-268841-orphan-sunday-2009-adoption-care-video-occasions-family-ppt-powerpoint

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Orphan Sunday 2009

Location: Hillcrest Baptist Church 920 Skyline Drive Hopkinsville, KY 42240 Time: 5-7 pm God's Heart - Our Hands Adoption and Orphan Care Ministry will be hosting an evening with 1 hour of the live Orphan Sunday Simulcast featuring music by Stephen Curtis Chapman (Show Hope), Jim Daly (Focus on the Family), and Dennis Rainey (FamilyLife). This will be a great night to learn, inspire, and call to action on the behalf of the orphans of the world. If you are in the area I hope you will attend. Our adoption ministry has touched our lives and blessed us so deeply! When God calls us to action He always provides the support, means, and love we need to carry out His will. It is awesome to be a tool in the carpenter's hand!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Documents are in Route!

God is so good! In the last post we asked that you all pray for us to have our homestudy fees by mid to late November, well, we are grateful to say that Friday when I went to pay bills, we realized the budget was wrong in that I had scheduled two bills to be paid twice in October. So this means as of 10/31/09 we have all of the money for our homestudy!!!!! Today I mailed the packet of all of our documents required to schedule our home study visits off to Mary Kendall! It is such a relief to have this paperwork in the mail :) I know my hubby and boys are grateful as every night for the past week has been spent in deep concentration on getting everything complete. YEAH!!!!!!!!!! Thank you God and thank you all for your prayers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paperwork, Physicals & Fees, Oh My!

Monday we all had our Adoption physicals, well, after three of the four of us getting poked (two TB skin tests and two immunizations), all is well and the doctor said we were healthy and great to go in his book! Yeah! This week we have been in the paperwork madness. Thanks to our friends Alicia & Paul for providing witness signatures on our forms and for our Guardians for prayerfully agreeing to the task of loving our kids, just in case! Now to finish our written home studies, application, and get all the supporting documents copied and we should be ready to submit our homestudy packet! Please continue to pray for us as our schedule is crazy busy and it is taking focus to ensure all the i's are dotted and t's crossed properly. Also, pray for us as we are being frugal with our budget to pay as we go. We are hoping to have our homestudy fees...almost $3,000 by mid to late November, so we can schedule our homestudy visits! I have to brag on my husband! This weekend we went to visit family and had set a specific budget...usually I am the budget enforcer, but this weekend my husband took the lead! It was very tempting as we went to a great restaurant, but they wanted $16 an adult for a family style meal and that was the only option on the menu! Not adoption savings friendly that's for sure! Even though it was tempting and we were with family, so a bit embarrassing to pass on the meal and just visit, we knew we wouldn't eat $32 of food to justify the cost. Normally we would have just paid it and ate to save face, but we looked at each other, and my husband said, "we'll get the boys meals and drinks, thanks!" Well, they ate for less than $10 and it opened the door to share more with our family about our adoption, priorities, and why we want to pay as we go and trust God to provide. I left so proud of my husband and much more satisfied then if we had caved in and just ate the meal. It is great how God continues to reveal my spouse to me in a new light! Have a blessed week & weekend everyone, stay safe!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why wouldn't I?

Friends...this song is beautiful and so perfectly explains why so many families are answering God's call to care for the orphan and widows through adoption. It is a command, a calling...in your life maybe you're not called to adopt, maybe you are called to sponsor a child, to visit a widow or widower, to volunteer in a local nursing home. Our prayer is that whatever God is prodding your heart to do, that you will pause and ask yourself....Why wouldn't I?
(close my blog or mute my music when watching the video)
Thank you to the songwriter & artist for sharing this touching song!
Also, thanks to K. Johnson...I was blessed by seeing this first on your blog!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"I want Annalee"

Tonight we went to Wal-Mart for a few groceries, the lines were long so I grabbed the new People's Magazine that I saw on my last trip, so I could read the brief article on the baby girl Katherine Heigl just adopted from Korea. She is just precious and it was a really great article on adoption and the heritage adoption played in her family! Pics at: http://www.jasonheiglfoundation.org/news.html So, as I am reading the article, Isaiah, my almost three year old said, "I want to see the baby!" I said, "See Isaiah this baby's name is Naleigh, but your little sister Annalee is going to be cute just like her!" Okay, so I guess my mom brain did not kick in fast enough to realize that kids at two/three do not understand that a baby looks like what their baby will look like, so when I went to put the magazine down, he said, "I want Annalee, I want my sister!" By then the little lady behind us was quite amused and looking at us funny, so I had to explain we had just started the process of adopting a baby girl from Korea we will name Annalee. She continued to smile as I took Isaiah out of the cart and headed for the door, while Nate paid for the groceries! All the while Isaiah is chanting, "I want Annalee, I want my sister!" I am so glad the boys are excited about their little sister coming, although we have to keep reminding them it probably will not be until their next birthdays roll around! I think we all will have to learn to practice patience. Of course I also had to come home and find the magazine article on-line so Isaiah could look at the pictures again before bedtime...so sweet!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Family Photo & Application

Above is the family picture that has been submitted to Holt along with the last documents to complete our Application process, YEAH!

Soon we will have our official acceptance into the Holt Korea program and begin our paperwork with Mary Kendall.

Thank you to our notary Mrs. Hester and our photographer Mr. Watkins!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Phone Call From Holt

Friday night we submitted our electronic application to Holt. Although a few weeks ago when I called to ask about the process and they said it would be 1-4 days after submission to hear something...today at 2.5 business days I needed an update...okay so all of you adoptive mommies that have been through the process are probably chuckling and thinking...you are in for a wild ride of waiting through this process if you can't even wait four days, right? I know. I must admit that patience is not yet a virtue I have mastered. So, this morning I called and mentioned that we had submitted the application and I was just wondering what to expect next. Every phone call after that I jumped to answer...well this afternoon I had two voicemails... Emily with Holt (who is just wonderful) left me a message while I was picking up Ethan from school. She indicated there was nothing on the application that would prevent us from adopting from Korea...we were pretty sure, but you always wonder how they will analyze what you submit...and she mailed us the form today to sign & notarize, then we submit it with pictures & tax forms, after that we will officially be accepted into the program for our country! Yeah! So, this weekend we will take care of this paperwork...hopefully have our official acceptance next week, then begin our homestudy agency application and paperwork! We are so excited. This is a huge step of faith, but we know that God is leading and will provide. This past weekend my sweet boys were playing in Isaiah's room, which will be Annalee's room. They came running into the living room. Ethan was saying, "Isaiah tell them. Daddy Isaiah wants to play with Annalee, tell them Isaiah." Isaiah - "I want Annalee!" Daddy - "Boys I am glad you want Annalee, but you can't have her yet, we have to be patient. She may not even be born yet, but God will bring her to us at just the right time." God will bring her to us at just the right time and it is so sweet to have your sons long for that sister they will have someday soon...God is so good and we are thankful adoption is going to change our lives forever!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What is Mission for Annalee?

If you are reading this post you are one of the very special people in our lives that we have chosen to share some very good news with and request that you partner with us in prayer! So, what is mission for Annalee? Who is Annalee? We have been praying and preparing for quite a while for the time when we would receive the peace in our hearts to proceed in adding another member to our family. Right now we do not have a picture of Annalee and actually we do not even know if she has been born yet. Annalee is the name of the little girl that we are praying to add to our family through adoption. This is a giant step for our family, but we know God is faithful to fulfill His promises and the calling on our lives. Please pray for and with us as we begin the application process to apply to the Korea program. Pray for the little girl that God is creating especially for our family. Also, please pray for all of those who will be involved in Annalee's care and in processing the adoption. We thank you for your love, prayers and support! Nate, Ellen, Ethan & Isaiah