Live 2 Love Living to love God and others. Mon, 20 Jan 2014 05:34:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Walking in Faith Mon, 20 Jan 2014 05:34:27 +0000

Back when we first started writing this blog Mike wrote the following… If life is a journey, it can be a long and winding road, up the highest mountains and down through the lowest valley depths.  Sometimes you never quite know where the next bend in the road might lead.  These sentences have been echoing in my heart today as I pondered how to write this post.  In so many ways I’m terrified to write it.  Fear grips and tries to convince me that if I actually make everything public everything will begin to fall apart again.  See, this adoption journey has been full of mountains and some pretty low valleys.  Sometimes it can be exhausting to recount the trek over and over but we want our family and friends to know where we are in the journey.  In the last year we have been pursuing a domestic adoption.  Domestic and International adoption are basically two completely different creatures.  There are so many things that are totally different with them.  We have been excited about this process for so many reasons and there has been lots of good in it and some really hard days.  We have experienced a failed match but by the grace of God we were matched again within a few months.  While it hasn’t been the timeline we had in our head and nothing has been the way “we” designed, we have seen God’s hand weaving our stories together.  We’ve been praying over a sweet mama that is having to make one of the most excruciating decisions of her life.  It grieves me that my biggest joy has to be her deepest heartache.  My heart already aches and begs God that he will be in the midst and connect our hearts in ways only he can do. We see her as an extension of our family as much as we do with our sweet boy’s family in Ethiopia.

We hope to be welcoming a sweet new baby into our family sometime in a few months.  Will you be praying with us?  Nothing is final until the very last minute in domestic adoption.  Emotionally we are all in – is there any other way? God has called us to live and love with all of our hearts, soul, mind, and strength.  If we only give part of us it isn’t fair to anyone.  We want to LOVE BIG, to BE PRESENT, and to SOAK in this opportunity that God has given us to lavish love.  May faith rather than fear guide our hearts.


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A few things I don’t want to forget… Sun, 05 Jan 2014 04:11:00 +0000

Another attempt to recording things so we will remember.

I want to journal a few things I know I will forget if I don’t write them down.  This is more for me than anyone else!

Cohen has started telling us stories and acting out events.

We put out fires multiple times a day.  It’s a big family affair.  We put on the fire jacket, the pack, and the fire hat.

“Dere’s a dire, mama!!!  I dut it dout. Whew, dat’s hard work.” (as he wipes his hand across his forehead).  Wash and repeat.  It’s hilarious.



He loves hearing stories about fire fighters and construction workers.  The characters in the story are always Cohen, YaYa (best buddy), Erin, Mama, and Daddy.  Occasionally someone else makes the cut.

He loves having jobs and feeling a sense of satisfaction.  He’s a hard worker and wants to be included in everything we do.  He definitely has a heart for helping others.

Yesterday morning he grabbed some keys and says, “I’m go  store. I be dack. I need deesses” (Now I didn’t understand the last word.  I started guessing…breakfast, kleenex, etc. and he got frustrated.  I stopped washing the dishes and squatted down to have him tell me again.) He adamantly came at me and said, “I need deesses” while leaning in for a kiss.  It melted this mama’s heart as he was just acting out what we do everyday.  If one of us leave we ask for a kiss.  He most often obliges.

As his speech improves we are losing some of the words that we have loved hearing him say!  Cereal used to be “dodo” but has started changing to cereal.  Popcorn is still “popdiddy” and we have adapted that as a word we all use now because we LOVE it.  His bestest friend is still “YaYa”.

Another hilarious thing he will say is “Reellly? Reeellly?”

He loves to dig holes in the flower bed outside.  Always. digging. holes.

His favorite shows are Dinosaur Train, Daniel Tiger, and anything to do with fire trucks.

I love that boy.




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We disappeared. But we’re back. I think. For now. Thu, 02 Jan 2014 06:11:34 +0000


When I come to this site and see that we haven’t posted since April of last year I can’t believe so much time has passed and I wonder why we haven’t posted more. And then I remember why we
haven’t posted – life got crazy, difficult, and we needed to take a step back from several things.

Family Update:

Mike is plowing through the last few months of his doctorate program. The last year with the demands of school, a full time job, a family, an adoptionin process has left him with little time to breathe. We are all excited about having this degree behind us after this last grueling spring semester, though I know he will feel a HUGE weight off his shoulders.

I (Sara) have been trying to hold the fort down while working several part time jobs. I’m still doing lots of photography work and recently finished up a busy fall season. I’m still loving getting to meet new people and see past clients as their kiddos grow up and get big! I have also been writing home studies for families in the adoption process and LOVING getting to be a part of kiddos joining a forever family. I can hardly call either one a job…I love them both!

Cohen is keeping both mom and dad busy. He continues to grow and change and keep us on our toes. He’s incredibly active, fast, and is always thinking about his next adventure. We’ve experienced lots of great changes with him this last year and are incredibly grateful for those people that have helped with that! He’s very excited to add a brother or sister to the family and talks about it often. His current fascination is fire men, fire trucks, and construction workers.

Our Adoption Update:

This is honestly probably why we haven’t posted in a while. This adoption road has been much rougher and bumpier than our road to Cohen, though that journey had it’s share of bumps. In being
honest, we fully expected to have a little one home by now but that’s not the way things have turned out. After our last post we were in a position to start showing our profile. We were matched
shortly after that time with a mom that was expecting a precious little one. We were cautiously excited and began to share our news. Shortly after that many things outside of our control happened and that matched failed. While we always knew it was a possibility it was still hard. It was a loss and it had to be grieved. After that we found ourselves even more cautious, but we knew that part of loving is the possibility of losing. That’s just part of life, but in the adoption journey it’s even more real. You put yourself out there and know that you could get hurt. You know it will all be worth it in the end but sometimes the journey to the end feels endless. We still have hope. We have hope that this year will bring a new addition to our family. In the meantime, we are treasuring the moments we have together as a family of 3.


And a picture for good measure…




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Hand in Hand Adoption Grant Tue, 16 Apr 2013 20:33:17 +0000

As I mentioned in my last post, we are in the midst of pursuing a domestic adoption.  We are excited at the opportunity to add a child to our family.  With the opportunity to add to our family comes the reality that adoption can be expensive and it requires lots of sacrifice and creativity.  We have been saving for this adoption every chance we had since we brought Cohen home, but the reality is that we are still short of what we will need to complete this adoption.  As I wrote in our last post, with a domestic adoption most of the funds are needed as soon as we are matched so it’s pertinent to have the funds available so that when a situation presents itself we can pursue it.  We have been applying for a few grants and got the great news last week that we were awarded a matching grant from Hand in Hand .

With this grant we have the opportunity to potentially be awarded $7000.  If family and friends contribute tax deductible donations totaling at least $3500 Hand in Hand will match dollar for dollar with a grant up to $3500.  In an effort to invite others to help us in this journey we want to share the letter that we have recently sent to family and friends. If you can give, great! But, please know there are no expectations on our part. We simply wanted a way for others to know about this exciting blessing and opportunity.


Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you may have already heard we feel God has called us on another journey to provide a “forever” family to a child through the process of adoption.  We started down this path of adoption at the end of last year and will be excited to bring a child into our home within the next six to nine months.  We have felt led to pursue a child domestically within the United States and are now waiting for the specific child God has for us.

This road to adoption is full of many joys and challenges, the greatest joy being the inclusion of a child into our family and the greatest challenge being finances. The costs of adoption include the expense of a home study, adoption agency, lawyers, travel expenses, etc., with the total cost ending up somewhere around $30,000.

We were recently awarded a matching funds grant to help with the expenses of our adoption through Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. a non-profit private operating foundation.  Hand in Hand will match any funds that are donated through our friends and family for the expenses of our adoption.  All funds received through our friends and family will be matched dollar for dollar by Hand in Hand up to our awarded grant amount.   All donations are tax-deductible.

 We wanted you to be aware of this unique blessing and opportunity because of what you mean to our family and how you graciously blessed us in our first adoption journey. There is no expectation on our part. We would be honored and humbled simply to know you are covering us in prayer as we seek to walk forward in faith.

Please find enclosed a grant award letter that will explain more about the matching grant program from Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. You can find out more about Hand in Hand through their website at If you have further questions about the Hand in Hand matching grant program please feel free to give us a call at 270-994-5350 or email us at  You may also contact Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc. with any questions you may have.  They can be reached at 913-248-5015 or by e-mail at

We have a limited window (5 weeks) for this grant opportunity. If interested, please send all donations made payable to “Hand in Hand Christian Adoption” postmarked by May 16th, 2013 to: (for tax purposes please include our name on the outside of the envelope only…do not put our name on the check itself)

Hand in Hand Christian Adoption, Inc.
Mike & Sara Darling
18318 Mimosa Court
Gardner, KS  66030                 

Thank you for your prayerful consideration in helping a child find a “forever” family. We love you.


Live to Love,

Mike and Sara Darling

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Our New Journey Mon, 15 Apr 2013 03:52:24 +0000

I wrote back in October about the unfortunate turn of events of our next adoption and mentioned that we were taking a new turn.  Over the course of the last several months we have been discerning and pursuing a new direction to continue our adoption of a second child.  After much prayer and discernment with our community we began to walk down a completely new path.  We have decided to pursue our next adoption domestically. We are so excited at the possibility of this opportunity.  The last few months have been filled with updating paperwork, creating our profile, and learning about domestic agencies.  We have felt led to this direction for various reasons and are excited at the opportunity to build lasting relationships with the birth family that chooses us.  Our eyes have been opened at the opportunities available domestically and the need for these children to have family.  We want to expand our family so it is a good fit.

A few questions we often get asked that you might have for us as well…

What is a typical timeline for a domestic adoption?

Timelines for domestic adoptions vary greatly.  However, due to several circumstances our timeline will likely be much shorter but we ultimately don’t know.  We have purposely been delaying showing our profile as Mike has been swamped with school work and we have had several unexpected events pop up this year so far.  Mike has now finished his coursework (YAY!!!) so we feel even more ready to add to our family.  We will begin showing our profile and could be matched at any time with a birth mom.

What are the financial constraints of a domestic adoption?

Finances can vary with different situations and agencies.  The finances aren’t much different than an international adoption however.  There are still agency, legal, and medical fees as well as travel fees if you are matched in a different location than where you live.  The difference with domestic is that once you are matched many of the fees are due all at one time.  This is different from international as the fees are often spread out over several months or even years.  We have saved a large portion of what we need but still have a bit to go before we are fully ready to be matched.  (A cool opportunity for you to partner with us coming soon! )

Are you specifying a gender for this child?

We are not specifying gender and are open to whatever child God has for us.  We will love having a brother for Cohen just as much as a sister.  We are excited to see who our next child will be!


Don’t you think he’ll be a fabulous big brother?




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Favorites Mon, 08 Apr 2013 13:37:07 +0000

A few days ago I walked into the living room and for a few seconds this little ball of energy was still.  I snapped the picture because it is so representative of several of his favorites right now.   He has a “hat” (or a hood but something on his head), boots (which he can pull on himself), and pockets (he doesn’t want anything to do with pants that don’t have pockets), and he was watching a few minutes of “George” (Curious George…his favorite monkey).  I can just hear his sweet little voice asking for all of these items and his version of the words is just so sweet.

To top it off…. he is my favorite.


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Easter 2013 Wed, 03 Apr 2013 04:45:40 +0000

Just wanted to stop in real quick to share some of my favorite images from Easter this year.  It was pretty low key for us as we’ve been traveling a ton since the beginning of the year and we just arrived home from our last trip for awhile a few days before Easter.

I also have to confess that this is one of those occasions that I love putting an outfit together for.  I recognize that it doesn’t matter one bit in the scheme of things but just one little thing I take pleasure doing.  It’s also a bit challenging to find clothes that fit my little guy’s petite body so there’s even more challenge.  The best part for me was that Cohen loved his cool clothes and especially his hat!  I had to take a few pictures to remember this stage.



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We really don’t lack for personality.  We got a full concert while doing our little mini session!


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“Look, Mom! No hands!!!”  That’s exactly what he was saying along with “I DID IT!!!!”

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On Easter morning we slipped outside during breakfast to take a few family pictures.  It’s hard to get pictures of all of us but this is one occasion I really work to get a decent picture.

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Thanks to our friend Blair for the family images!  I’m so grateful for them!

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Family Day – 2 Years! Mon, 25 Feb 2013 04:20:49 +0000

Two years ago today we walked off a plane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia just three weeks after leaving part of my heart in a stucco building to wait for embassy clearance. We were giddy with anticipation to pick up that sweet 6 month old baby who was our son. Despite a 12 hour flight, little sleep, and no showers we couldn’t wait to be picked up and be reunited with our sweet precious love. I’ll never forget picking up his sleeping body and rocking him in those first moments that we were reunited. As he awoke, we were met with smiles. I was ready for tears and knew it was possible but so grateful that we had a happy reunion.  This anniversary of being reunited now has dual significance in my life.  It’s the day we would fully be family as well as the birthday of my late grandmother, who is a spiritual giant in my life.  It pains me that she will never meet my children or even know of our journey to our children but I have little doubt that she would be so proud for us.
Family Day 2013


Two years later I stood in worship this morning with my 2 1/2 year old lovebug as we sang the song “Never Once” by Matt Redman.  He belted it out with his arms raised high and I tried to take in the significance of the moment. The lyrics describe so accurately the journey for us to this point.

Standing on this mountain top
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
Kneeling on this battleground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once
Did we ever walk alone
Never once
Did You leave us on our own
You are faithful
God, You are faithful
We are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be
Breathing out Your praise
You are faithful
God You are faithful
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once
Did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once
No we never walk alone
I can’t help but be amazed at the faithfulness of God in our story.  I strive to breathe in his grace and breathe out his praise with every step we take.  This journey isn’t just about us, it’s about God.  It’s about his redeeming work in the lives of the three of us.  This precious boy has rocked our world and teaches us everyday how to love people well. He is a dynamic, energetic, lover of people who can lead worship just like his daddy. Praise emanates from his lips and cannot be contained.  I want to learn from him while hopefully teaching him something about dying to self and walking in the way of Jesus.  I couldn’t be more grateful God chose to redeem this broken world and allow us to become family. We needed him as much as he need us!
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Twist it up! Wed, 20 Feb 2013 18:57:59 +0000

Monday my little boy looked like this.  For a few weeks now we have been thinking about what to do next when it comes to hair.  Admittedly, this is not my strong suit though I have worked hard to learn how to care for his hair.  A few weeks ago we met a lady that offered to show me how to do several styles.  I decided to take her up on her offer but I had no idea what I was getting into.  I’ve always thought his hair would look super cute in locs (similar to dreads) I just wasn’t sure because it’s a big commitment.  This was a happy medium to figure out just what we thought.

So we started with this….

Cohen Feb Raw_0018


And came out like this…

But for the sake of transparency…it was HARD.  It was such a process to detangle and by the end we were both in tears.  Cohen, being the happy boy he is, was totally fine as soon as he could get down and play.  His smile returned and now he loves to show EVERYONE we meet his hair.  It’s hilarious.  I’m managing the traumatic memories (mama doesn’t forget as easily) everytime I look at his new ‘do and it’s growing on me.  Now I can’t help but smile at how stinkin’ cute he is.  Yesterday we stopped for a quick photo shoot so we memoralized the memories appropriately.  He stylin now!

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His cardigan reads..”I’M GONNA CHANGE THE WORLD.”  I hope you do sweet boy cause you’ve changed my world for sure.
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I love that sweet face!

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My baby is BIG! Thu, 31 Jan 2013 22:36:45 +0000


My little boy is getting so BIG!  For quite awhile now he’s been asking to go to the potty when we change his diaper.  More often than not he actually goes but doesn’t necessarily stay dry in between.  I knew the time was coming but traveling kept making me put off actually going all the way with training.  This week, after I spent a weekend away, we dove in.  I was prepared for lots of accidents and kept my expectations low.  However, I was in for a huge surprise!  The boy has completely rocked it.  We’ve had minimal accidents and he thinks the potty is super fun.  He even gets the idea of telling me when he needs to go.  He’s never without his famous smile which he shared here as I photographed this big milestone in our house.  I love sharing these moments and seeing him become such a big boy…it’s such a joy to watch our kids master a new skill. All of the sudden it feels like he is growing up in so many aspects…his language is exploding, telling stories, following directions, and is just plain fun!

I can’t imagine what we’ll master next!


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