Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer praises

Well folks, it has been a fantastic summer so far! God has been doing amazing things in our hearts, our children, and our extended family. I could literally write a small novel about it! We are so thankful to the Lord for all He has done!

There has been so much peace in our home and hearts. From the holy spirit’s leading, the priority of prayer has been raised to a whole new level in our home. I thought it was a pretty high priority before, but no, it wasn’t. By God’s grace, we have been freeing ourselves from our own legalisms. This was a tough one to unwind! It was God’s mercy that spotlighted this area of our lives. It was nothing we did on our own, that’s for sure! Through the strength and power of the holy spirit, we’ve learned even more how to praise God during our trials.

I know I’ve told my friends this before but I’ve come to a place where I want to continue living an “impossible life” where I am forced to constantly rely on Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, all things are possible but on my own... impossible. To know it is one thing. To live it is another. That’s a hard one folks! I am thankful for God’s mercy to keep humbling us throughout our lives!! Aren’t you!? Just when we thought we had it “together”, SLAM. God quickly shows us, we don’t. We serve such a gracious God. I praise Him for this and thank him for his endless, unfathomable, perfect love.

Just the victories we’ve had personally and in our home were sufficient for us! However, In the middle of all of the above and more, once again, God has blown us away with His amazing provision. The Lord provided Chad and I an almost completely FREE trip to San Francisco. On top of that, we were able to cruise around the California coast, etc in a Ford Mustang (also FREE). I went away with Chad while he was attending the Google conference. Our friends and family lovingly cared for our children while we were away. Here’s a few highlights from our trip.

Miur Woods Mustang Golden Gate Miur Overlook Us

My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE part of our trip was this strawberry patch right off route 1. You could see and hear the waves while picking strawberries! A strawberry lovers DREAM!

Eating Strawberries Strawberry Truck Strawberry Patch Store Honor System

We were also blessed to have some time to visit my family in Charleston, IL. I had lots of fun with my adorable nephew!! I just love and cherish all the time I get with him.

Happy 4th 4th Parade

Lots of fun times in our backyard!

Teeter Tot Ethan Sarah

We have also crossed a view milestones. Ethan celebrated his 4th birthday....

Ethan's Birthday Cake Ethan's Birthday Presents

We have also passed the 1 year mark of Sarah’s adoption. The change is almost UNBELIEVABLE isn’t it!? We have come from a young, malnourished, FEARFUL, little baby girl to a confident, joyful, meek, gentle, and sweet little girl. Wow! The transformation is almost indescribable. Her story and life amazes me. God has done more than we could ever imagine and has cared for her since before she was born. Sarah is wonderfully made and is a complete joy.

Sarah at first Sarah now

ADOPTION NEWS: We are still waiting for a referral. We know we are the next ones on the list for a boy 4yrs and younger. We will keep you updated as soon as we hear something. At this time, we wait :) God is ALWAYS on time!

“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” Psalm 43:4

Friday, April 13, 2012

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30


We are so blessed. I just can’t stop saying that I am so blessed. Caring for our precious children, supporting my wonderful husband, and caring for our beautiful home is THE BEST job in the world! I am so thankful to the Lord for this awesome life ministry He has given me. Then, to imagine, I’ve been blessed beyond all of this!! I have eternity with Jesus to look forward to! Heaven is going to ROCK baby! There is so much to be thankful for. God has been doing great things in our family since I last posted. We praise the Lord that as He has increased in our lives, we have decreased. I must say, especially since I last posted, we have been in a season of some serious decreasing! However, the outcome is soooo gonna be worth it!

"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Hebrews 12:11

On another note, have I mentioned how in LOVE I am with this man!?

Chad and Jess

We’ve really been enjoying the incredible weather. Thankfully, we did maximize the few opportunities we had to play in the snow.

Chad and Jess in coats

Ethan with snow shovel


Snow Angels

Most of March, we spent hours and hours riding bikes, playing in sand, climbing ladders, and digging holes in our yard.

First big boy bike

At the park

Just swinging

Beautiful girl

One of our favorite activities when it wasn’t nice outside was playing with the bean/noodle box.

Bean Box

So, how about an adoption update? Technically, we’ve been homestudy ready for the new Ghana program since the end of February. However, our state didn’t approve the in person adoption classes we took in Jan/Feb, It was a big bummer but we know God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purposes, right!? So, we just kept pushing forward and took another class that was approved on March 17th. Our social worker contacted us this week and told us our homestudy is now approved. We’re just waiting for our agencies to sign the papers, get the notaries necessary, and put it all together for us. :) We’re in good hands. In the meantime, we’ve completed our USCIS papers and we’re sending Dillon Int. our dossier tomorrow! The initial paper mountain is almost over and then more waiting. That’s all to report for now. We are thankful for your prayers and support!

Easter pose

Out to eat

Easter eggs

Friday, February 10, 2012

Change of plans

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." Proverbs 16:9

God has moved us in a different direction. We are now adopting from Ghana!! Many different factors have led us to this decision. After lots of conversations with Dillon International and prayer, we officially decided to switch programs. God closed one door but opened another wide for us. We’ve decided to walk through this open door by faith and trust God each step of the way.


As far as the timeline goes, it’s going to be as if we never switched. Since we hadn’t submitted our homestudy to the state for the Russia program yet, it’s pretty simple for our social worker to change things at this point, thankfully. Thank you, LORD! Since the Ghana program is very new, we are unsure how long referral waits, expected travel dates, etc will be. As of right now, no one has waited for a referral and the wait for travel has been anywhere for 1-6months. We will be required to take two trips to Ghana. The first trip will be 1-6 months after our referral and the second trip will be around 2-3 months after the 1st trip. However, as with all adoptions, our specific timeline is unknown at this point. We should have our homestudy approved by the state around the end of February and start our immigration papers with USCIS in the beginning of March. We will keep you updated each step of the way.


In the meantime, Ethan is SUPER excited about a new brother. He talks about wrestling, sharing his bunk bed, and giving his brother “tickets”. He’s a boy, what can I say!?


We are truly amazed when we sit, reflect, and look back at all the ways God has been faithful to us and used our tiny efforts to expand His kingdom for His glory. We are also blessed beyond belief to be apart of the miracle of adoption. The stories we have to share, the miracles God has done, and the family He has knit for us is more than we could have ever hoped for!! We are head over heals, totally, completely in LOVE with our kiddos. We have our rough and sad days too. However, what God has created out of those days and how He has used us to weave a colorful, loving family is just awesome. We wouldn’t want it any other way. I definitely cannot imagine what our lives would have been like without our beautiful children. They add so much to our lives and we are just so blessed to be able to have more little ones.

Sarah and Ethan making cookies

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127:3-5

Thank you for your prayers and support! We are dreaming of Ghana...


The Cartwrights

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why adopt?

Ethan and Sarah with a globe

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

To help offset some of our adoption costs, we are doing a little fundraiser. We are partnering with 147 Million Orphans. If you use our direct affiliate link to purchase merchandise (tshirts, necklaces, cell phone cases, etc), 30% of all monies go directly to our adoption agency. The rest of the money goes directly toward orphans. I just LOVE that!

Here is the link:

Today was our last homestudy visit. In about 2 weeks, we should have our approval from DCFS and our homestudy is officially complete. Once we have our approved homestudy, we can begin the paperwork for immigration and our dossier. To celebrate, we took some new photos of our kiddos. Children are such a blessing. We are so thankful that God is filling our quiver one by one! (Psalm 127:5)

Ethan and Sarah with hands on Russia

This past week has been a little tough for us and we are learning more to walk by faith, give up our rights and desires, and trust God. It has forced us to go back to the Lord's living word for encouragement, peace, and to remind us why we adopt in the first place. Adoption is expensive, inconvenient, and our children don't always love us back! The overall response we've been getting this week is... So, why would we do this?

Our answer is simple: "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) When Christians adopt, we demonstrate love to the watching world. We not only show love in word, but also in action. When we adopt, we choose to give our life away. Adopting children is a like living out the gospel in your living room.. Adoption's redemptive response to tragedy is a tiny reflection of what Jesus Christ did for us, sinners. Jesus Christ, the perfect redemptive response, laid down his life in order that we could be saved through faith in Him alone. Chad and I certainly do not redeem our children by our acts alone. God does that great work when He uses our obedience to bring these precious children into His light, which provides them with a future and a hope.

Jess and the kids

My life is not my own. James 1:27 mandates us to care for widows and orphans. This requires sacrifice. It's not easy to give up the things I deem more important or worthy of my financial, emotional, and physical resources but God demands me, as a follower of Jesus Christ, to do it anyway and trust Him to be with us every step of the way. Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers you did it for me (Matthew 25:40). Thank you Lord, for this awesome opportunity to strengthen our faith, build our family, and to use us as a vessel for your kingdom purposes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


"Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death." Psalm 68:19-20

Reflecting on all that God has done in the past year is humbling. I am so thankful for the many opportunities Chad and I have had to serve and grow in our walks with the Lord. All the while, we have been blessed beyond what we could ever measure. There have been many moments where we could not contain our joy or sorrow. We have had many highs and many lows. Through all of it, God used it to show us more of who He is and stretch our faith, ability to love others, and bring our family closer together. While I cannot publicly share everything in our lives, I can share some great moments we’ve had since Sarah came home in May 2011.

We celebrated Ethan’s 3rd birthday.

Ethan's 3rd Birthday
Lots of fun, family time at the splash pad and pool!



Family trip to a local children’s museum and zoo.

Children's Museum

Some of our first months as family of four we tough. However, God has been using our time together to strengthen our bonds for life.

Bonds for life

The Lord blessed us with a new roof and siding at no cost to us.

New siding and roof

Our little princess doesn’t need any surgeries. After SEVERAL appointments, tests, and examinations, we have found that Sarah is completely healthy, healed, and miraculously thriving. She has not needed any surgeries or treatments for her feet or heart. She also does not have arthrogyroposis after all. She is receiving other therapies for core strength, sensory issues, and speech. However, this is nothing compared to what we originally were told about her physical needs.

Bonds for life

We’ve had lots of firsts for Sarah. We’ve particularly enjoyed celebrating our family holidays with her this year.

July 4th



We were elated to celebrate Sarah’s 2nd birthday, first with us.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Presents

On December 10th, we celebrating Ethan’s 3rd Sum Hop day. It’s been 3 years now since we traveled around the world to get him.

Sum Hop

Looking ahead, we are also excited to share that we are beginning the process to adopt our third child from Russia. A few months ago, Chad and I decided to commit to praying over the future of our family and more adoptions. At first we thought IF we adopted again it would be a long time from now. We thought it would be more convenient to wait until our toddlers were a little older and we recovered a little more financially from the costs of adopting the first two times. However, God’s plans are not always our plans and his timing is not always our timing.

"You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21

Through our prayers, God began to transform our hearts and minds day by day. In early November, Chad sensed a deep call from the Lord to adopt again and I was in complete agreement with him. From that point on the serious conversations and prayers over where we could adopt began. We decided we wanted to stay in Asia (like our other two children) and began looking over the options. Within a day or two, we both knew God was calling us to adopt not later. So, we obeyed and have had several confirmations of this decision along the way. We both know we have a son in Russia and are anticipating the wonderful day that we can bring him into our family forever.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5

It’s amazing how God intervenes isn’t it!? Russia is the one program we always said we never EVER wanted to adopt from. It’s more expensive than most programs, requires 3 trips, and many children come from understaffed and underfunded orphanages. In addition to all of this, FAS complications that go undetected are very common in adoptions from this part of the world. Those reasons were always enough to keep us away from that program. But God started to tear away our “concerns” and show us His heart for these children and this area of the world. Now, we are truely heartbroken for the orphan crisis in Russia and are developing a great appreciation for their rich and diverse culture. We are trusting God completely, step by step to provide for us financially and to work out all the details.

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31

We just completed our first homestudy visit yesterday. We only need two this time around. We should be filing our immigration papers, approvals, and fingerprints by the end of this month or early next month. That is all the information we have right now. When we get more updates or things start moving, we will update you all.

Thank you for joining us in our journey to become a family of 5!

"And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." Colossians 3:17

Family together