Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

Wow! What a year 2013 was....and I can't believe it is already over!  We had some great moments of fun and sad moments as we had to say good-bye to sweet family members.  For our last post of 2013, we wanted to reflect on the good times we had this year so Byron, the kids and I have made a list of our favorite moments of 2013.

#12 - Byron and I celebrated 15 years of marriage on June 20th. We hired a babysitter and headed to Downtown Denton for a super nice dinner and window shopping. 15 years with my best friend...I am totally blessed!

#11 - Going to the Texas State Fair. What a fun time!
#10 - Dad Serna's retirement party. It was so nice being able to celebrate everything he did in his professional life. What a man!

#9 - Memaw and Papaw's Anniversary dinner. This would be their last anniversary together. It was a sweet time to celebrate 60 years of marriage.

#8 - Selah lost her first tooth! She is growing so much!

#7 - Our family vacation to San Antonio. We had SO MUCH FUN!!

#6 - Selah's dance camp. It was so precious to see her dancing!!

#5 - Gabe plays Simon Peter!

#4 - Getting a new piano. I have wanted a baby grande piano for as long as I can remember...and in April we found a bought a used one. All 5 of us have enjoyed playing the piano and our house has a perfect front room that seems like it was built just for a piano!

#3 - Becoming home owners again. In late October our landlords gave us notice that when our lease was up they would not be giving us the option of renewing because they were wanting to put the house on the market. That left us with a big decision - do we start packing up or should we buy the house? We had to spend a lot of time in prayer. Moving would mean we would need to find a house asap, spend money on moving costs, etc... not to mention a new home study for our adoption. Buying would mean we would have to use some of the money we had set aside for adoption costs on a down payment. After much prayer we did decide to buy the house. The landlords sold it to us at a great price and had some major repairs done. We ended up being able to come to closing with less than the downpayment due to the great lender we had...God blessed us all around. We are still needing about $7,000 - $10,000 for our adoption, but are trusting that God will provide in His way and timing. 

#2 - NO MORE DIAPERS (well, until our Little One gets here). That's right - Mig is completely potty trained - even at nights!! YAHOO - Big shout out to our little guy!

#1 - Adoption Approval and process!! Our big excitement of the year has been our Adoption Approval in May, our Home Study approval in October and all of the ground work we have done for the adoption of our little girl. Now we look forward to 2014 with great anticipation as (hopefully) this new year we will be matched to our little one and be able to travel to China to bring her home. 

Happy New Year!
The Serna Family

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Card Pictures

Every year we send out Christmas photo cards. I had a really hard time deciding how to do our annual Christmas Card pictures this year. I didn't want a picture of all five of us because our family just isn't complete right now...by trying to get a family picture I felt like we were leaving someone out - which we are. Our little girl isn't with us yet, but she is so much already a part of our family. As I was hanging stockings Mig insisted we hang a stocking for "Little Sister", too. I found a tiny stocking to hang and as I was hanging it, Mig said, "Mommy, I really miss Little Sister". Isn't it crazy how we haven't met her, we don't have a clue who she is, but she is already loved and missed. My mom and Dad G. even bought her Christmas gifts. Third Day has a song has been my favorite Christmas this year, because that is exactly where we are right now. You can click on the lyrics to be directed to the video.

So, this year I had a hard time figuring out how to incorporate that gap in our family. I wanted to represent our other daughter somehow, so I bought 4 battery operated candles. The kids each held one, and then we set the 4th in front of them to represent our little one so far away. 

For the card I used a digital scrapbooking kit from Journey 2 U designs - an awesome kit with LOADS of Asian/adoption themed elements. 

I felt really happy with the outcome. We were able to do our traditional card and included our missing piece. This picture was a keeper, too - even if it didn't make the card.  

Next year there will be another precious little face in our Christmas Card pictures. For now all we can do is "pray that God will come and hold her in His arms
And tell her from our hearts we wish you a Merry Christmas".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One Step Closer...

One step closer. This has been my mantra through the whole adoption process. Have you heard the song "A Thousand Years" from the Twilight movies? Each time I hear it I think of our adoption. The lyrics are so perfect "I have died every day waiting for you. Darling, don't be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years, I'll love you for a thousand more. All along I believed I would find you..." and then the tag line...."One Step Closer". Brings me to tears. Every. Time. If you haven't heard it, you can listen to it here: 

Yesterday we took another step closer to our sweet little girl. We headed out to Fort Worth at 7:30 am, in the freezing cold weather, over ice covered roads. We have been iced in since last Thursday and I have stressed all week over whether or not we were going to be able to make it for our appointment. Luckily, the roads were clear enough that it was pretty safe to drive them. We arrived at the United States Citizen and Immigration Services office about 30 minutes early to be fingerprinted. The office was sterile and quiet. The workers there were almost as cold as it was outside. We were just part of their daily routine there and yet, it was a step toward China for us. They rolled our fingers one by one on the cold glass and then we were finished. 

We spent the rest of the morning as a family. A family of five - soon to be six. We strolled one of the malls we used to shop when we lived in Fort Worth. We drove by the hospital where Mig was born and went to eat at our favorite restaurant in downtown Fort Worth. Then we drove to our old apartment building. It was fun reminiscing! We headed home and went about our day. Byron went to work, the kids and I did school - but we are officially ONE STEP CLOSER!

Now we wait to get our approval, which may take up to a month. Once we have that we will send it, and our finalized home study off for more seals and approvals. When that is finished we will send our competed Dossier (a collection of a whole bunch of forms and paperwork that define us) to our agency who will then review it, translate it, and send it off to China! We have come so far and still have a ways to go - but each step is a milestone and a celebration!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Wonderland

We woke up to a winter wonderland this morning!!

I made the kids wait until after their spelling and math tests before they could go play in the snow. They had a blast!!! They went sledding in my laundry basket, threw snow at each other (it wouldn't make snowballs), made some snow angels and got wonderfully rosy cheeks!!

Hope you are all staying warm and cozy and enjoying some fun Texas winter weather!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Lego Birthday

Gabe's had an awesome birthday! He decided last year that for his 8th birthday we would go to Lego Land in Grapevine. So on Saturday morning we bundled up and drove to the Grapevine Mills Mall.

When we entered we were taken to the Lego Factory where guests were able to help in the "lego making". 

It was really a lot of fun! There was an indoor jungle gym for the bigger kids and huge soft legos for the little ones. 

There were awesome lego displays including famous Dallas/Fort Worth landmarks and scenes from Star Wars!

We also enjoyed a 4-D movie theater (with snow!) a princess karaoke area and rides!

After Lego Land, we ate lunch at the Rain Forrest Cafe. Then we headed home for birthday cake!

It was a fun family day centered around our oldest blessing! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

We have so much to be thankful for! 

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving! Here is a Thanksgiving song for you by Gabe. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Fundraisers

Hi Family and Friends!

Some friends and family have asked how they might be able to help us with our adoption. First, and most importantly, your thoughts and prayers are so important and so helpful. Just knowing that we have people along side us as we walk into the unknown is so comforting. We are so thankful to have so much support going into this, and to know that we are going to bring a little girl into a life that is already full of people who love her, though they have never met her is amazing!

Pure Charity Funding Site:

If you are able and would like to contribute financially, we have a donation site that is located HERE - you can also access it by going through the tab on the right of this page. This is through an organization called Pure Charity. The funds they collect go straight to our adoption agency to help cover agency costs, orphanage fees, travel within China and other costs we pay straight to our agency. I added up the remaining agency costs we have and it came out to $10,965. Those are just agency fees. There are over $10,000 more in other costs including passports, visas, document fees, legal fees and homestudy fees. I will start this week applying for grants and low interest loans to cover these as well. On our fundraising site I have placed a video about our adoption - you can watch it there or here! It is so sweet to hear the kids talking about their little sister on this video. As you will be able to tell, they are so excited!

Thirty-one Gifts Fundraiser:

My sweet friend, Amanda is a Thirty-one consultant and has put together a Thirty-one Fundraiser for us. As you are shopping for Christmas, you can go to her online store by following the directions below. 25% of the sales from now until December 6th will go to our adoption. Here is the information from the flyer she created for us:

Help the Serna family bring home a special needs child from China as the new addition to their family.  To see more about their story, check out this video:

Thirty-one Gifts fundraiser
Thirty-one is a faith-based direct-sales company with stylish handbags, utility totes, accessories, and home organization that can be personalized to meet all your needs. Buy from the link www.mythirtyone.com/253857 (go to the My Parties tab and click on the Serna Family Adoption Fundraiser link) and 25%* of your order will be donated to help the Serna family meet their $10,965 goal for adoption expenses.  All orders must be placed by December 6, 2013.
To donate directly follow this link: https://purecharity.com/serna-family-adoption

Inspirational Art Prints for Sale:

I have also created some Inspirational Art Prints using some of my favorite original images and Bible verses. These are available for purchase through my web site: www.cedarcreekphotography.zenfolio.com
The prints for sale are located under the gallery tab as "Inspirational Prints". You can also access them directly using this link:  http://cedarcreekphotography.zenfolio.com/p917662240 These pictures can be ordered as photo prints, digital downloads, canvases and even coffee mugs!  Just select the print you would like to purchase, on the right will be a place where you can select the size you would like to buy, or select "View All Products" where you can then choose your print size or the type of product you would like.

Thank you all for your love, support, thoughts and prayers as we try to fund our adoption. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gabe is 8!!

On Saturday we will be celebrating Gabe's 8th birthday!

8 seems so grown up! Gabe is sensitive and caring, helpful and intelligent. He is super talented and just an all around amazing kid!

This year he has been very interested in all things having to do with spies. 

Gabe amazes us each day in so many ways!

I am so blessed that God chose me to be this kid's mom.

Gabe - YOU ROCK!!! 

Happy Birthday, little dude!

Shoebox Christmas

This is National Collection Week for Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child.
We love shopping for our shoe box children each year. Selah shops for a girl her age and Gabe shops for a boy his age. This year it was especially neat, knowing that their little sister may be the recipient of a shoe box gift. 

We spend the week praying for OCC, and especially for the children that will receive the boxes we are preparing. 

Then, on Sunday, the children happily take their boxes to our church to be sent to a child who may not get any gifts all year except this box of goodies. 

I love that the kids can take part in being part of the greater good. This is such a neat and needed ministry!

Monday, November 11, 2013

God is Good - Adoption News!

On October 22 I sent 11 of our 13 Dossier documents to the Secretary of State to be certified. (The Dossier is a collection of official papers and information about our family that has to be collected and then filed in China before we can adopt.) 

We received them back with the certification seal on October 27. That was quick!!

Then we received our finalized home study report on November 6th!!! This was a BIG thing. We have been waiting a long time on receiving this! 

Now that we have our home study report we can apply for immigration to be able to bring out little one into our country. This is called the I-800A. 

On Saturday we held an Adoption Fundraiser Garage Sale. The initial adoption costs are daunting. It costs between $24,000 and $30,000 to adopt from China and until recently we thought we had our adoption costs covered. We have had a set back in our funding, though, and are no longer able to fund the entire adoption without some kind of assistance. Despite the financial hurdle, we have stepped out in Faith to follow the calling that has been placed on our hearts. One thing that had been suggested was having a garage sale. (Unfortunately, I was so busy during the sale, I didn't take any pictures - so all of these are from after the sale).

We made signs, cleaned out our drawers, closets, nooks and crannies and had some sweet friends donate items. 

The kids also wanted to do a fundraiser, so they asked all of their friends to donate a baked good and had a bake sale along side our garage sale. They were a big hit! They made their visors the day before the sale. They all say "Ask me about my little sister!" And they LOVED telling everyone about their sister waiting for them in China!

It was a great opportunity to tell others about the adoption need worldwide. 


When the day was over we sat down to count the money made from the garage sale, the bake sale and from some sweet donations to our cause. The grand total was $720.12. 
Are you ready for this?!?

The cost to apply for the I-800A (our next step) is:


God is faithful and I am so amazed that he chose to remind us of His faithfulness in such a beautiful and  tangible way. 

Now doesn't that give you goosebumps?!?

Thank you so much to all of those who helped out this weekend by donating items, bake goods, stopping by to shop, giving of your time and/or money, and praying for us. 

Now off to apply for that I-800A!