2016 Diaz Year in Review

Celebrating our 15th anniversary | My favorite superheroes at Halloween | Judah's 8th Birthday | Addise in my parent's backyard | Asher on a typical Tuesday morning

Highlights On The Surface

GO CUBS GO. Perhaps the biggest news is that the Cubs won the World Series and our house was lit with joy and relief!!! We sang "Go Cubs Go" like broken record because, HELLO, 108 years!! :)

Celebrating our 15th anniversary in the city where we started our marriage. (August)

Celebrating our 15th anniversary in the city where we started our marriage. (August)


The day after his 37th birthday, Brian made one of the most courageous decisions I've ever seen and he quit the job that moved us to Granger but was killing his soul and our family. I whole-heartedly blessed that decision and we've been trying to find our way ever since. He swooped back into the stay-at-home parent role and found peace. Truthfully, he's the much better SAHP and I'm grateful for the partnership this brings to our parenting.

Traveling became a lifeline for him as he surprised a dear friend for his 40th birthday in Oregon, made his 8th (?) annual pilgrimage to Comicon in San Diego with old friends, and took several short trips to see friends in Chicago and family nearby.

Brian also discovered a gift in a green thumb this year. Having more time and the need to do creative, meaningful, and restorative work, Brian spent hundreds of hours landscaping our yard. At the end of the season he'd pulled at least 7 bushes, planted 25 trees, mulched over two dozen new beds with 15+ yards of mulch, and planted over 100 plants and flowers on our half acre lot. My man worked so very hard (with ample help from our fam) and has brought such beauty to our property.

The travel highlight of 2016 was our trip to Shanghai, China... without the kiddos! We ate, laughed, explored, and served together with new kindred spirits. We haven't traveled internationally sans kids since first meeting Judah and Addise on our first trip to Ethiopia. Thus, this trip was water to our parched souls after such a long travel drought and Brian having just quite his job. The deep, diverse culture, the food (dumplings forever and ever, amen!), connecting with instant friends from over 20 different countries, exploring a world-class city together, and 8 days of uninterrupted conversations was truly remarkable. I think we'll look back on this trip as a pivotal time in our lives and marriage, reminding us of values, commitments, and how we want to live our lives.

Exploring the Chinese countryside together. (March)

Exploring the Chinese countryside together. (March)

Who doesn't celebrate their 15th anniversary with a 10k? (August 5)

Who doesn't celebrate their 15th anniversary with a 10k? (August 5)


Our home has become a sanctuary this year in the midst of feeling like a stranger in this land. We made lots of cosmetic updates and improvements inside to make our house feel more like us. I'm grateful for our space in this season. Work has continued to be incredibly meaningful and satisfying. This year I spoke to thousands of folks in a dozen states and China, trained over 200 leaders nationally, 1-on-1 coached about 50 leaders, and was honored to preach at our local church's weekend services and student ministries.  I traveled enough to get another bump in airline status and hotel rewards, which makes up for some travel woes and fatigue. I published a chapter in another book that I'm incredibly proud to be among the list of contributors. After 2+ years of being an independent contractor, I finally feel like I'm finding my groove and voice. It feels invigorating and centering altogether.

One of the most unexpected gifts has been a couple local friends who've been a complete grace in my life. The unexpected simpatico between the three of us has been an oasis in the desert. 

Motherhood continues to be the most difficult (yet rewarding) thing I do. Parenting pushes on all my "8 with a 7 wing"  issues (my Enneagram...you gotta get into this tool). This move has proved wearing on me and our kids in ways I'm still discovering, which achingly affects my parenting.

Another tooth bites the dust! 

Another tooth bites the dust! 

JUDAH ABEBAYEHU (turned 8 in July). 

Our firstborn has made so many strides this year academically and I couldn't be prouder! He moved from 1st grade with loads of additional support into 2nd grade without those needs!! He's a fervent reader, avid knock-knock joke teller, compassionate big brother, peacemaker, introvert, and overall tender spirit. He's only lost 4 teeth but he's saving his money like a champ. Sports don't seem to be his thing, but we're holding out hope that those Ethiopian running skills have made their way into his DNA. :) 

His heart is pulled toward those on the outside, because he often finds himself in that same spot. Our most tender conversations are often about his adoption and birth country and feeling like an outsider here. We've struggled with Judah being occassionally bullied on the bus and playground at school because of his race in a white dominant culture. Navigating this painful terrain with Judah has been deeply emotional and challenging for us as parents as we prayerfully consider what kind of life do we want to create for our kids and how do all things grow our character and compassion toward "misfits". 

Judah has three girlfriends - one in CA, one on the bus, and one in his class. He's keeping them in separate spaces. I can't even.

She turns six!!!

She turns six!!!

ADDISE ASTER TARIKE (turned 6 in February).

Our girl is all sugar and spice!!! Addise is a teenager trapped in a 6 year old's body. She has the emotional bandwidth, speed, and intensity of about 5 people in 1 body. I'm exhausted at the end of the day. :) My favorite girl in the whole wide world loves her curls au natural, playing outside with neighborhood kids, snuggling/ antagonizing her puppy (more about that below) and is often found in cahoots with her youngest brother (for better AND worse). She learned to ride a bike this year and she can often be found riding back and forth down our cul-de-sac. Our first grader is a fashionista and has quite the eye for artistic things. Addise's giggle is pure and contagious. She's showing herself to be incredibly smart in school. She still adores the white satin/fluffy blanket and purple bear we gave her in Ethiopia...there's something entirely endearing about her affection for her first earthly possessions.

I've said before that she's my mini-me and she's totally daddy's girl. This remains to be true in 2016. :) I learn more from her than most anyone in the world. She teaches me about grace, forgiveness, second (thousandth) chances, perseverance, and unconditional love.

What those who've adopted often don't talk about is how parenting kids from hard places doesn't necessarily get easier after a few years. This has proven true for our girl. Deep historical wounds have emerged within this move and have pressed on us at all sides. Racial challenges have tapped into her triggers and we have conversations about race and racism multiple times every week.

Addise also has a boyfriend name Panayoti, whom Brian refuses to acknowledge.

This one loves preschool!!!

This one loves preschool!!!

ASHER ZACARIAS (turned 4 in April). 

Asher continues to live into meaning of his name - HAPPY + BLESSED. One of my favorite things about Asher is how he's drawn to "the other". His best friends in school are friends with special abilities and racial minorities. His heart naturally bends toward those not like himself. He's makes friends wherever he goes and smiles and laughs with his whole. His strong will was given in double portion from his parents. And 4 year old temper tantrums are consistent at 12:30pm (imminent nap time). Ai ai ai.

Preschool is a gift from the Most High God. The social environment mixed with simple academic stimulus has been the perfect combo for Asher. I'm equally lamenting and celebrating my baby going to Kindergarten this coming fall.

This Spring Asher asked Jesus in his heart while driving with Daddy. Brian was especially excited to pray this meaningful prayer with Asher because his older siblings prayed with someone else. Brian got the honors with our baby. <3

They're pretty much besties.

They're pretty much besties.

MILA (8 months old).

Oh ya! Our family expanded this year as we adopted another black girl with curls. :) Mila is a sweet golden-doodle who instantly captured our hearts (and bank account!). We brought her home rather spontaneously and she's fit right into our crazy family. She's exploded from 10 to 40+ pounds in the past 6 months. She's brought a level of calm and connection one of our kiddos' in particular has needed. Mila was born on April Fool's Day, so I guess joke's on us.

She's currently obsessed with snow (clearly she's not a Diaz yet) and chasing her tail.

I'm insistent that she's not our 4th child. Parenting 3 kids is hard enough for us, which probably explains her subpar training despite a 6-week puppy class.

Mila is our pet. Period. And we love her.

Just Below The Surface

This year was laced with disappointment and loss. Yes, there were little lights and joys every day found in a million unexpected places. But it felt like a dark cloud hovered over our heads and hearts all year long. 

It felt like every month there was another punch to the gut, a hope that was deferred, a dream that was dashed, a promise that was unfulfilled. Between Brian quitting a job, me interviewing for a couple jobs I was not offered, family challenges and heartache, an insane election cycle, and overall moving hangover, stress was high and tears were many. We're in the thick if dealing with inconsistencies between what is already and not yet, struggling to discern how to move forward and not be victims stuck in circumstances. 

And yet, God is with us. Emmanuel. Advent here and now.

We have experienced his presence in our pain, his comfort in our chaos, and his hope in the midst of heartache. In our 15 years of marriage, we are no strangers to hard things (i.e. infertility, international adoption, leaving a church we adored for a decade). We know that God doesn't waste pain, he's constantly working all things together for good, and that his best for us is beyond what we can see in the moment. Brian and I have had many conversations this year about how we will lean into the necessary hard things but run like hell away from the unnecessary hard things. We've declared again that we will be obedient to whatever God asks of us. We've re-committed ourselves to create the life we want to live instead of being enslaved to past decisions. We're discovering the difference between aspired values and expressed values that we want to define our lives.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!
May you find 2017 filled with hope and joy no matter our circumstances.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

2015 Year in Review

our last trip to the beach before our move...

Twelve months ago if you had told us that our family would move to Northern Indiana this past summer, I would’ve laughed in your face. And you would’ve been right. As I look over this past year (really these past two years), the one consistency has been change.

The very first days - then months - of 2015 were filled with processing, praying, and lamenting the idea of uprooting our family from a life we loved in SoCal in order to be near extended family and Brian to begin a new full-time job in Indiana. We worked the process hard. We asked all the questions we knew to ask and did our best to answer our wise counsel’s questions. We embraced and lived into the intense emotions this idea brought up. Brian and I honored each other as we battled back and forth on whether we should move.

The beautiful thing about our process is that it was a tough decision. We knew what we’d give up in order to gain something entirely different. We were trading some very important things to us - community we adored, culture that feels ‘like us’, a city we loved, context that ‘got us’ as much as we ‘got it’… - for other very different things that were also very important to us - proximity to extended family, work for Brian, space for our kids. When we finally decided to move to Indiana, we felt like we were winning so very much, while also losing so very much. Six months later we still feel many of those wins and losses.

This year, we have learned new levels of surrender and trust. It’s hard to do the right thing, even when you know it’s the right thing! We have leaned into our family’s brokenness as our kiddos’ world was turned upside down (oh ya, their parents’ world was too!) and they expressed intense anger and sadness and have found more healing in their stories. This year our family of five has both fought against each other through the stressors of moving and have clung tighter to one another. We’ve learned that we can do hard things…together…and even when we aren’t kind and gracious to each other, we can forgive each other and hold each other tight. We discovered the joy of a backyard for slip ‘n slides and chasing each other, the gift of more bedrooms, basements, storage and play space, the freedom that comes with neighborhood buddies and living on a cul-de-sac, and the wonder of a first snowfall. This year we established Friday night “movie and pizza night” as we snuggled under blankets and recovered from long weeks.

We’ve learned a lot of ‘each other’.

Judah (7) started 1st grade even though he didn’t go to Kindergarten. He’s struggled mightily and valiantly as he’s worked hard to catch up with his classmates. My momma heart swells for how well he’s done!!! His brute intelligence, winsome personality, and magnetic eyes have won him friends and favor. He learned to ride his bike on his first try and is constantly begging to ride it.  Learning to read has been a giant feat and we are so stinking proud of his progress. Judah has his own room in our big new house, which he sometimes yet still wishes he could sleep with someone like the rest of us. This crazy kid still hasn’t lost a tooth, so I anticipate that he’ll lose them all in 2016 and require dentures. Many days I pinch myself in disbelief that my firstborn is really becoming a big kid. Time is flying…

Addise (5) slays us. Our one and only girl is a fighter. She fights for love, justice, a voice, and security. She’s experienced deep healing this year as she’s fought...and found rest. We’ve discovered how wicked smart she is as she owns Kindergarten, and her fancy (new) full-time, purple glasses prove her smarty-pants. She’s into all things fashion, art, her little brother, being the best family helper, and giving the BEST smoochy kisses. Honestly, she’s my hardest to parent but I’d go to the moon for her (tears fall). She’s happiest when she’s drawing at the kitchen table or has 1on1 time with Mommy or Daddy. She asked Jesus in her heart this Fall and she means it. She loves Jesus.


Asher (3) has been our joy in this season. His insatiable love for life, wild hospitality, infectious giggle and friendliness, wise emotional articulation, and fabulously timed snuggles have been healing and a calming force in our family. He jumped into preschool 3 mornings a week and (literally) hasn’t looked back. I’ve treasured this brief window of time when he is home with me. We’ve had great adventures to parks, the library, Target, and in our new home. He’s my little buddy and I LOVE being with him. He still sneaks into our bed in the wee hours most mornings, and I’m savoring those snuggles. He literally spoons up next to me or his daddy, strokes our face, and whispers “I love you’s”. His older sister strategically cut out 2 chunks of his gorgeous long, surfer hair this Fall and mommy has been lamenting – and trying to fix it! – ever since. I’ve never seen a boy more into Darth Vader. The Force is strong with this one.

A weekend away together...bliss!

Brian is my rock and my vulnerability companion. His selflessness in this new job deeply moves me. The way he cares for our family through work and at home is a force to be reckoned with. He’s felt weak most of this year, and in it he’s become even stronger. My deeply introverted husband transitioned from being a stay-at-home dad to being gone 50+ hours a week. It’s been intense. He couldn't be happier to be in “Go Blue!” territory, which allowed him to go to TWO, winning football games in Michigan’s Big House. His excitement for mowing our half-acre long didn’t even last through the Fall. A riding lawnmower may be in our future. ;)

We celebrated 14 years of marriage and we’ve earned the intimacy we experience. We don’t do oneness perfectly, but I cannot imagine life without my partner.

As for me, my heart is wrapped up in those four above. I’m hopelessly in love with them. It’s been supremely challenging to go from working full time to the primary at home parent who travels for work. The daily hustle and bustle with three kiddos is exhausting (Hello, 7:30am bus pick-up and homework!). Managing a bustling house has required new muscle growth. The coaching and consulting work I get to do with The Youth Cartel and Slingshot Group, along with my independent coaching, speaking, and writing is SO meaningful, value-adding, and energizing. Traveling to do work I love has been a sanity booster. I’m stupid grateful that I get to do in Indiana what I did in SoCal. I hung an art piece in my bathroom that says, “she designed a life she loved” and is has become a goal.

One of greatest gifts of our move has been experiencing more life with our extended family. I’ve lost count with how many times we’ve seen everyone. We’ve celebrated more birthdays together in the past 6 months than we did in the previous 11 years combined. We experience Thanksgiving with our families for the first time in a dozen years. Our kids really know who their cousins are. We’ve had backyard bonfires, play dates, and quick weekend trips to Aunt Liz’s. When our loneliness for SoCal sets in, we remind ourselves of those gifts.

As 2015 has taught us, life with those you love is a gift. There are always little lights, no matter the season. Your family is to be treasured. Your friends are to be appreciated way more than they usually are. And Jesus is to be clung to. If you had told us a year ago all this would’ve happened in 2015, I wouldn’t have believed it. But Jesus has held us together in the midst of it all.

Merry Christmas, loved ones. Thank you, Jesus, for coming close.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.