2017 Year in Review

My Fav Four (photo cred: Emily Bell ... our family photographer)

My Fav Four (photo cred: Emily Bell ... our family photographer)

We are in the final stretch of 2017, and it has been a year to remember in the Diaz fam.

Someone asked me today what word defined this year for me. Without hesitation, I said FREEDOM. 

The biggest change was our #backtothefuture #socalorbust move forward to California again. We've been in SoCal again for half the year, our hearts are home. Of course, we miss the proximity to family and lifelong friends. Those two years came at an important time in our kids' lives and the Diaz/Getz families. But there's a centeredness, a sure-footedness, a stability that our souls have craved. We feel like ourselves again. Our kids transitioned almost effortlessly and they are thriving (something they never did during our 2 years in Indiana). Brian and I laugh more, feel lighter, and are more in sync with one another. We are surrounded by dear friends who feel like family, diversity, incredible food, rich culture, and of course sunshine, beaches, palm trees, and bougainvillea. I really didn't know that people could belong to places until we left ours in 2015. We are OVERWHELMED to be home. What started as a curse in an unexpected tax bill turned into the greatest blessing of 2017. It's a great reminder that gifts from above that aren't expected are awaiting to open, asking hands. God is always at work on our behalf and while he first desires our hearts, he also desires to give us good, good gifts.

Here's a FREEDOM overview from our family of five...

ME. Since I'm the author of this post, I'll go first. 2017 started off by weekly travel while I flew over 35,000 miles in the first quarter of the year -- and stayed healthy the entire time! I traveled for speaking and coaching gigs to Shanghai, China again with Brian and Asher, and to 12 states (some states multiple times). I've been privileged to coach 40 individuals, 4 churches, and train over 30 new coaches in the art and science of long-lasting transformation. Working with great organizations and people means the world to me.

On a deeper level, I'm becoming clearer on the work that I must do in this world. I'm becoming more deliberate in stewarding those callings and gifts. I've been a daily student of myself via the Enneagram (8w7), dedicated to becoming the best version of myself. I've been attentive to listening and learning to voices from the margins - people of color and women - more than ever. I've felt alive as my worldview, faith, and perspective is growing as I learn from those who's voices have been challenged and yet risen above. I've been purging my soul of a scarcity mentality that's existed since childhood, and learning what it means to walk in both contentment and abundance.

BRIAN. Earlier this year when we were talking about Brian going back to work and what he was hoping for moving forward, he articulated for the first time that his greatest joy was seeing our family thriving and supporting me living out my calling. Speechless. I married quite a man. He's continued providing the firm foundation for our family, but he's working for our dear friend, Cami, in her snowboard shop. He's taking care of the online side of the business in the hours between school drop offs and pick ups. He's finding his running groove again in his adored Peter's Canyon trails, and on the mountain-to-sea trail right outside our house. Two of my dear Indiana friends visited us a few months after we moved and they both blurted out how different Brian was - happy, confident, relaxed, and seemingly more himself. There's nothing better than to see your partner doing well. 

Together, we celebrated 16 years of marriage. "Celebrated" as the key word because we are truly more in love and better partners than we've ever been. Our dreams, goals, and hearts are in sync in ways that is mostly a gift but is earned by the hard work of intentionality and commitment. Together, we traveled to 10 states (thanks in part to our cross-country drive to CA) and Shanghai, China.

Together, we've also been working on growing our dōTERRA essential oils business. We fell in love with their products when we brought Judah and Addise home 7 years ago and have been using them ever since. A little over a year ago, I found myself telling everyone about them and bragging about how healthy our family was as a result of them. So, I realized: I must build a business! We started learning more about the company and it resonated on so.many.levels. Brian and I discovered this is something we have shared passion and commitment to, so we're all in. We're building a team of leaders and gathering like-minded folks who want to live empowered in their emotional and physical wellness. I'm finding it's synergizing 20 years of leadership and people-development in a world that's different from the church-world I've lived in. Want to join us in 2018??


JUDAH (9). Our 3rd grader continues to surprise us. He received a "Growth Mindset" Outstanding Achievement award this month at school. This award represents his life. He's risen above challenge after challenge after challenge, and does so with persistence, light-heartedness, and silliness. Of course, there are tears and frustration (he's human after all), but his posture is "can do" and he is doing it. The bullying we battled the last couple years has ceased and he's found his place in this new school. We are profoundly grateful. He's made friends at school and perhaps found his sport - SWIMMING. Pokemon and Nerf are his favorite games but he'll get lost in a book at any given moment. We call him our Absent Minded Professor because he's endlessly exploring, feeding his curiosity, and trying to figure out how everything works, even at the expense of what he should be doing. 


ADDISE (7). She hit the jackpot this year and got our old family friend as her teacher! He's a Godsend for our girl in a hundred ways. She loves Mr. Baran and is soaring in her classroom. She has a gaggle of girlfriends. She writes illustrated books faster than we can buy her paper and art supplies. Art has become a mode of therapy for her and allows her to express herself best. She's a caring big sister to Asher and keeps Judah on his toes. One day I asked her the biggest difference between 1st and 2nd grade and she didn't hesitate, "I have more friends here and there are less bullies here." I choked back tears of pain and gratitude. She's loving her skin color and kinky curls again. A friend noticed that she's more comfortable in her own skin (literally) and her personhood is more relaxed. 



ASHER (5). His highlight of the year was spending a week in Shanghai with his daddy and me. He literally won't stop talking about it - Disneyland, the aquarium, Miss Sunny's house, the Pearl Tower, and all the dumplings. He begged me to show pics in his preschool and Kindergarten classes. So, we did. He was a travel rock star and loved every minute of that trip. That trip set into motion a family value to travel internationally more with our kids. This is big world God gave us, and we want them to see all of it. Kindergarten has nothing on this kid. He loves it all. Asher's impossibly friendly, always looking to befriend the outsider. He's smarter than he needs to be and loves taking on new adventures and challenges. He's overly affectionate with his words and touch. 


Our kids have transitioned so very well to life in CA. One of the driving factors for getting back here was the racial and ethnic diversity that's woven into the fabric of our family's DNA and desperately needs to be reflected in our surroundings. Their elementary school (900 kids in K-4th!) that's connected to neighborhood represents over 60+ racial and ethnic identities!!! My heart nearly exploded when we discovered that statistic. The minority is the majority. The languages, accents, skin colors, religious beliefs, and global heritage is beyond rich. Our kids are at home in this environment. 

Together, they are enjoying each other more and more. They play - and wrestle! - together like true friends. Our new Disneyland annual passes are proving to be a playground for memory-making and joy as a family. 

Without a doubt, this has been a year of discovery and new learning. Shedding false beliefs and opening our hands to more. Continually looking for little lights when we were in a hard place. Practicing gratitude and contentment no matter what. I've paid attention to the Gospels and the #1 question Jesus asks people, "What do you want?" Prayerfully, deliberately, and boldly we are beginning to answer that question. The answer to that question can change anything. 

As you move into 2018, what do you want? May you experience all that Jesus has for you to be and do with your one wild, precious life. 


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.

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.