Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wooden Shoes

Back in April of last year I posted about how We're planning a trip to Holland, in reference to this poem by Emily Perl Kingsley:

by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip-to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say, "What do you mean "Holland"??? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in "Holland" and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for awhile and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.

Since, I wrote that post, Marty and I have, literally, been to Holland (well, at least the airport, there). While we were there we picked up this pair of wooden shoes, because they are a beautiful symbol of Holland and all that it means to live there. We bought these thinking we'd be using them in our final giveaway, just before travelling to meet our boys. Now, that we've given the funding Giant back to God, we're just going to give these away! It's so much fun to be able to just bless our friends, knowing that God is going to provide in His way and in His time.

Here's how this is going to work. I want you to leave me a comment about your trip (planned or unplanned) to Holland. Or about how you advocate, pray or support an "extra-special" orphan. I'm going to choose a winner from the comments on Valentine's Day. I'm hoping to do a post with some of your comments from this post on Valentine's Day! If you send me a picture of the "extra-special" person in your life to go along with your comment, you can have two entries to win these little wooden shoes.

You can contact me using my profile on the right hand side. There's a link to email me there.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,

Witnessing a Miracle

It's not every day we get to witness a miracle. A couple of weeks ago, I told you about our friends, Chandres and Scott, who were stepping out in faith and joining us on this adoption journey. You can read about that miracle here. I told you then that when they got matched with their daughter, they would have 7 days to come up with the $7200 they needed to continue to move forward. They were matched 6 days ago. Tomorrow that money comes due.

Chandres and Scott are so loved. Their family and friends are so excited for them and have rallied to help bring them within $2000 of their goal. Their little girl is nine years old and has Down Syndrome, she is waiting in the same country as our boys. They are choosing adoption as an answer to the Biblical command to care for the orphans. Please, check out their blog, Upcycled Purpose and see how you can help. They have two great giveaways happening. One for a vacation in Pigeon Forge, TN! Another for a local family to win a year long family membership to the YMCA. Both giveaways have matching challenges attached to them, so every dollar you donate becomes two!

The best way to share this family's story and reach as many people as possible is to share the Facebook event. It's entitled 1 of 1,000. If we can find 1,000 people to give at least $10 each this family will be well on their way to bringing home their girl. Some of you will remember that early on we had a 1 of 1,000 challenge hosted for our family. They really do get the word out.

I'm telling you, you will never make a better investment in the Kingdom, than when you invest in the life of a child. It has been my privilege this week to watch as God moves a mountain for this family. Re-affirming that they are answering His call on their lives. Their process is moving so quickly and I can't wait for the day when you can see pictures of Scott, Chandres and all of their children, together. Don't just witness a miracle, be a part of one.

"And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields, or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person's need." Acts 4:34-35.

Scott and Chandres are part of the Kingdom family. They have need and we are privileged to help meet the need. "For the King and His glory..."

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grace was made for lives like this...

I love this song and I'm so blessed that my friend, Rebecca, has once again made us an amazing video. We're so grateful to each of you who have prayed, encouraged and supported us on our journey to bring our boys home. We hope it encourages your heart and helps you to know that, "There are no orphans of God."

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,

Edited to insert higher quality video :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Forever Family Friday

Maxim, dear sweet Maxim. I have a friend, who is in love with you. So many have seen your picture and just passed you by and now, my friend is praying for you to find a family. Honestly, I was guilty of passing you over. Your picture didn't make my heart skip a beat, but it did hers. When I learned how much she loves you, I went back and looked, again. Now, I see it. Sweet Maxim, forgive me for overlooking you. Once, I put my "love" glasses on, you began to sparkle. I read the words of other Moms, who've met you and realized how much potential everyone is overlooking.

Here's what one Mom had to say after meeting you in October of this past year...

Maxim is one of the sweetest little boys I've ever met. He pats my arm in the most adorable, gentle way, and it absolutely melts my heart! He is now walking with very minimal assistance, and crawls faster than any other child I've ever met. He is a smart boy, and will follow directions (for example, come over to the carpet). He has an amazing attention span, and will bounce a ball back and forth with me for at least 20 minutes straight. He has the most wonderful laugh, and is a very joyful little guy! He has so much potential, someone please choose Maxim!! 

She saw it! All of your potential, the promise of who you CAN be! Another Mom saw it, too. My friend, Tonya, saw it just by looking at your picture...

You made her heart skip a beat! What will happen when your Mama finally sees you? Oh, Maxim, we HAVE to find her, because she's missing out on YOU! You are a treasure, sweet boy and we will find her for you.

Please, share Maxim's story, his Reece's Rainbow profile. Help find his family. He has almost $5,000 in his grant and it costs around $25,000 to adopt from his country. Please, don't let all this JOY be sent away to a mental institution. Let's find his forever family.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Maxim is waiting!

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Full Hands

Joseph is going to be a lot of work and a lot of fun. We have to work harder for his smiles, but when they come, the whole room lights up. Our littlest boy has our hearts. To say we're smitten is an understatement. I was choosing a video as Marty was getting ready for bed. He's coming in off a 12 hour night shift. He comes back down the hall and says, "I'm so tired." My response, "Why aren't you in the bed?" "I heard my boy."

People have heard our story and often say, "Wow! You're going to have your hands full!" We've learned to respond, "Better to have full hands than empty ones." Our hearts are already full and we're looking forward to the day when our boys are home and are hands are full, too.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This makes my heart smile...

Samuel is so much fun! I can't wait to have this boy home, so he can play with his brothers and sister.

I'm going to share one of Joseph, tomorrow. We miss these boys so much. Our paperwork is doing it's thing over in their country. Will you, please, continue to pray for a speedy process? Our goal is to have them out of the orphanages before Joseph's 7th birthday, on April 7th. We've been told it's an attainable goal, but we can't have any more snags. So, we're asking you to pray with us.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's not about the Giant (Part Three)

If you haven't already, be sure to catch the beginning of this story in Part One and Part Two.

I have to confess, my attitude was ugly. I was tired of fighting the Giant and just would not acknowledge what God was (repeatedly) trying to tell me. What would other people think if I did what He was asking?

I said to other people, "I don't want us to be that family. The one who needs to travel and lacks several thousand dollars to do so. I mean, what have they been doing for the last 12 months or so?" Such an ugly attitude. Such a critical spirit. I was going to slay this $35,000 Giant, all by myself. I would work hard and raise the money and if God joined me, well then, I would welcome Him to the team.

I'm not exaggerating. My heart was ugly and full of pride as the number we needed to raise got smaller and smaller, so imagine my dismay when God spoke and said, "Take your hands off of it! It's MY Giant and I'm going to receive the glory when it's slain." This was not the first time I heard this message. I've pushed it to the side for months, now. I mean, I'm doing this God. The number is shrinking, so just let me work myself to death, beg, plead, borrow my way to bringing our boys home, because this is how it's done.

As of February 14th (when the current fundraisers end), you will no longer see a ticker on the blog. Nor, will you hear any reference to our need for funds.

Do we need them? Yes, but it's not my Giant!

It never was and it's not about the Giant, anyway! It's about the Giant slayer and His glory! When this HUGE Giant falls (and it will),  God will receive all the glory, because Mandy couldn't do it by myself. Marty and I started this journey with NOTHING to offer financially. God uses the least likely of candidates to be sure He receives all the GLORY! It's all about making His name famous. Our lives should be beacons of light that point the way to Him. He has the money. He speaks to hearts. He will finish what He started. Where He guides, He provides.

We are turning our focus back to advocating and sharing our story and our boys with you. In an effort to show you that if God can use our family, He can use yours, too. This is what He called us to do, to passionately share the need of the orphan with you and to help find families for lost children. No more begging for money. The Reece's Rainbow donation box will remain on the sidebar. If God tells you to give, I pray you will be obedient. This is a huge step of faith for our family. One we don't take lightly, as there is no plan B. All of our hope is in Jesus, our Rescuer and Provider. The Ultimate Hero and Giant Slayer.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Sidenote: This is not a post against fundraising. I will continue to support and encourage my fundraising friends, but our family has to be obedient to the direction of God for our lives and our journey. Just remember not to allow your journey to become about the Giant! It's NOT about the Giant! For the King and His Glory...

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's not about the Giant (Part Two)

If you didn't read part one, you might want to start there ;)

So, there I set. God has my full attention. All week long, He's been trying to teach me a lesson from David and Goliath's story. What is it? What am I missing? "It's not about the Giant!" Well, I wouldn't say I was missing that, I just wasn't applying it to my own circumstances. Again, I set through another powerful message about David and Goliath.

What is MY Giant? What circumstance do I need Jesus to step in and be the Hero? When we started our adoption journey we met with our Pastor and his wife to share our hearts and where we thought God was leading us. We didn't just start this adoption with the end goal of adding a child/children to our family. We began to walk down this path as a way to let the light of Christ shine in and through our lives. We wanted others to look our way and see that if God could use us to bring home two very special little boys, then He could use ANYONE! We were doing this for His glory! We wanted to honor Him with our lives, by being obedient to walk where He was leading.

The Giant we feared the most at the beginning of this journey may not be what you would think. It was finances. We had nothing to start or finish this $35,000 adoption with (when we started we thought we were looking at $25,000, but then we added a second child). NOTHING! If we were going to bring our boys home, God was going to have to slay this Giant for us.

Somewhere along the journey, I decided to become David. Not only did I decide to be the David in our story, but I wanted to wear Saul's armor into the battle. You see convention in David's time said you went to battle in full armor with a helmet, a sword, a spear, this armor weighed over a hundred pounds at times. Saul put his armor on David and David could barely walk, I'm sure. God wasn't asking David to go to battle dressed in Saul's armor. He had a specific plan. It involved obedience and some stones. I wonder what the outcome of David's story would have been, if he'd headed to the battlefield in Saul's armor, instead of following God's direction?

This was God's question to me. How can He receive the glory if I insist on being David and wearing Saul's armor? I was trying to wear Saul's armor into battle against Goliath, when God clearly had a better way. I saw everyone else fundraising their hearts out and I jumped right on board. This is how it's done. When all along there was a quiet nudging in my Spirit...

You'll have to keep reading to find out what God is telling us about our Giant!

It's not about the Giant!

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's not about the Giant! (Part One)

We went to visit my Grandma and Uncle Roy for his 52nd birthday (more on the birthday celebration later). We so enjoy our time with them and we especially love to visit their church. Their pastor always has an on-time word. I'm going to wrap this story up with parts of the pastor's message, "It's not about the Giant!"

First, let me tell you about our week. On Tuesday, I decided to begin to cover some Bible stories that I feel like Julianna has missed because we're not in Sunday School. We do devotions and keep our Bibles handy throughout our day, but don't often find ourselves diving into stories like David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Noah's Ark. Julie has a basic knowledge of these stories, but she has more knowledge about who Jesus is and how to come to Him in worship. Anyway, our history is important and these stories have faith building aspects, while pointing the way toward our story's hero, Jesus. I felt an urgency to start with David and Goliath. No particular reason, just a nudging in my spirit. So, we opened our word and read the story. We talked about how the Israelites must have felt cowering on their hill, waiting for a hero. We talked about good versus evil. We focused on the details.

Friday night, we had family dinner at the Mexican restaurant after gymnastics practice. Marty was talking to the kids about what they had learned this week and began to question Julie about David and Goliath. Marty and I had talked the night before about the direction I was heading in with her Bible time. Honestly, she didn't remember much (I always feel like a failure when this happens) and I just tried to encourage myself that the seed was planted and we'll continue to teach and tend her heart's garden.

Came home, Friday night, put the kids to bed, set down at the computer and our Pastor had posted a link to a sermon on facebook. The message was an awesome one and it covered how everything in the Word and in our lives should be and ultimately is for HIS glory. He spoke about how we often want to identify with David in the story of David and Goliath. We're out to slay our Giants and be mighty warriors for God and His Kingdom. Umm...that's not what the story is about. We would be the Israelites and Jesus (the greater David) would be the hero of the story. David coming to save us from the evil enemy who would stand against the armies of the living God. Guess what? He's always the hero of the story! He chooses the least likely of people (like Paul, the chief of sinners) to accomplish His missions, because then He's sure to get all the glory.

Okay, God has our attention at this point. We've been hearing references to David and Goliath for 4 days. (Did I mention that on Thursday night we found Eli reading his Bible before bed and what was he reading? The story of David's life.) Then, this weekend, I took the kids to visit Grandma in NC and go to visit her church. Sit down, look up on the wall and what is the title of today's message, "It's not about the Giant!" Yes, God you have my attention!

I am going to pause here and tell you the rest of the story soon. Get ready because it's good and it's all for His Kingdom and His Glory! He is always the Hero of the story!

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Forever Family Friday

Oh, my heart...it hurts...

When I saw this little boy's photo on facebook this week, I thought, "How sad."

Then, I saw where someone said it was an update photo of Nicky Z.

And, my heart broke.

I knew, immediately who Nicky Z was and I thought that can NOT be the cute baby with the comb over.

This is the Nicky Z that came to mind. 
Cute baby, with chubby cheeks and what looks like the softest hair in the world.

Isn't he the cutest?

Things are not looking up for Nicky Z. I went to his profile on Reece's Rainbow and read the words that always break my heart..."not a single soul to inquire about him."

Nicky Z has been listed with Reece's Rainbow for quite awhile. He was there last year when we committed to Samuel.

"Not a single soul to inquire about him..."

God help us.

We looked away from this sweet baby and this is what happened...

In the words of Mother Teresa, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

Nicky Z is 3 and 1/2 and faces the institution next year!

You can read more about him on his Reece's Rainbow profile.

Please, search your heart and ask God to show you if you are Nicky Z's family.

If you're not, please, pray and share his story, so his family will find him.

I beg you, do not look away!

Nicky Z's life is depending on how we respond.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Update

I know, you can't believe it! Two updates in one week! Score! Yesterday, our I800 provisional approval came in the mail. In English, this is the document we were waiting on from USCIS to move forward with things in country for the boys. Now, we can file our second stage dossier documents and wait for a court date! It is such an emotional journey. Having your life and the life of your children rest in the hands of others. We're so thankful they have been competent and efficient  hands. We're praying for more of the same on the other side of the ocean.

Another thing I want to address is our finances/fundraising. I had a comment left here on the blog from Beth. I didn't post it in the comments, because I wanted to address it here in a post. Beth was asking about all the donation boxes on the blog and what they mean. It's a little confusing for me sometimes, too. The fundraising ticker at the top of the blog is what we still need and what we currently have towards that goal. To make it simple, that's the one you should use to see where we are in relation to our goal.

I'm happy to tell you about the chip-in and Reece's Rainbow donation box, too. Okay, the chip-in is set up to deposit into the Reece's Rainbow account. It just doesn't happen automatically. There's a couple days worth of delay on that. The reason then for the chip-in is so I know who is giving. If you make your donation directly to the Reece's Rainbow box or our Family Sponsorship Page (these are the same) those donations are anonymous and I don't have access to the donor's information for giveaways, etc.

I know our Reece's Rainbow grant says it has over $6,000 in it, but most of that money was already spent on our first trip to see the boys. That's the reason for the ticker at the top of the blog, so we're all on the same page. I guess, I just needed to catch everybody else up. The total on the Reece's Rainbow grant does not decrease when we withdrawal money. I have to check with Michelle (at Reece's Rainbow) to know how much we have in there (exact dollar). I do my best to keep up with the amount, but I double check with Michelle every once in awhile to make sure I'm doing it right and haven't missed anything.

The goal on the chip-in is just whatever number I plug in there. It won't allow donations over the set amount, so I usually set a large number ($5,000). We do get donations handed to us from time to time and I try to add them into the ticker at the top immediately. Those donations are kept in a completely separate bank account and that bank account has a third party on it for accountability. We knew going into this adoption that if we were fundraising we needed to be 100% transparent with you.

If you notice money growing in the chip-in, but see that the ticker on the top of the blog hasn't moved, it's because I wait for the chip-in to close and add the entire total at once. It's just easier to keep up with. I hope all of this makes sense. If you have any questions, please, don't hesitate to ask. We want to keep you in the loop and we want you to know where your donations are going. Every dollar given has gone and will go to bringing Joseph and Samuel home. We do need $6,000 before court and then travel money for our second trip. That's the number on the ticker at the top of the blog. Once, we hit that $9,500, we will be done!

Thanks for plowing through all of this with us.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Update

I'm a bad blogger. I tell you things, like how we got a request for evidence from USCIS and then I forget to come back and tell you that I (along with the help of a couple other people) fixed the paperwork and had it mailed out the following day. Things should be moving along nicely again and we're just waiting on word of the final approval.

I called, this morning and set up a consultation with a pediatrician to review the boys' medical files and get started on a care plan for when they get home. Will you pray for wisdom and discerning as we make important decisions about who to allow to care for our sons? Eli and Julie are so healthy. They really only see the doctor once a year for check-ups. We won't be using the practice they currently go to for our boys. Hopefully, we'll switch all four kids (wow, four kids) to the same office in the near future.

We're still lacking those medical forms for our second stage dossier packet. Will you also pray we have them in hand this week? Can't go to court without them. This has been the most difficult piece of paperwork for us. I will be thrilled to have it done and on it's way over the ocean.

Continue to pray for funds. It's starting to look like we're going to end up in a crunch at the last minute. I'm believing God is about to show up big time. We just keep moving forward by faith. We keep doing our part and trusting God to do His. I know, it's going to happen, but sometimes it's hard to push down the fear.

Okay, you've been updated.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ties that Bind

When Marty and I started our adoption journey, we were attending a church where we had been members for 10 years. We loved our church family (still do), but God was clearly calling us out of that body and into a new one. We fought Him. We struggled for months with the decision to leave. We met with our Pastor, who we love and respect. We shed tears. We were like disobedient children, who hold their hands over their ears, so they don't have to hear what their Daddy is saying. We had just returned to our beloved church family after 5 years away while Marty was in the Navy. Yet, God was clearly telling us to move from that place. Our spirits had been fed and ministered to after a long, dry spell and now, we had to leave. Much like Abraham, we didn't know where we were headed only that we were following God.

We left that church and were at home for about 4 weeks, just praying that God would lead us where He wanted us. We live in a small town and we heard about a church that we had never heard of before. We live in the Bible belt and there are a lot of churches in our town. After 2 weeks, God made it clear that we were to go to this new church. We went and it was different. Not bad or good different, just different than anywhere we'd been before. We hesitated to share our adoption journey, because we didn't want anyone to feel like we were coming looking for financial assistance. We were embraced and made to feel like part of the family. We are growing, so much. Our faith is being stretched and challenged and we are excited about this new beginning.

I know, you're thinking get to the point, already. This is an adoption blog and what in the world does this have to do with adoption? It's coming. Within a month of being at our new church, we were asked to give our testimony about our adoption and how God led us to our boys. Little did we know that there was a family in the congregation, who had been called to special needs adoption, but had put it on the back burner while dealing with some other things. I have been in contact with the Mom (Chandres) of this family for a few weeks now on a fairly regular basis. I have been privileged to have an inside look at how God has opened doors and led them to their daughter.

My friend, Chandres and her husband, Scott are in the process of committing to their daughter this week. She is nine years old, she sports an extra chromosome and she's living in the same country as our boys. Can you believe how good God is? He is so faithful! At times, this has been a lonely journey, but when we started out, our prayer was that other families in our church would watch our journey and be inspired to bring home their own children. God answered! He had to move us to a new church family, so that He could provide the very thing we were praying for and now, it all makes sense.

I hope this encourages you to say, "Yes" to God, even when it's painful, even when it's illogical, even when it's uncomfortable. He always has a plan. He just needs us to be obedient. He alone can thread our hearts together with the ties that bind. We are forever bound to that first church family. We love them and we grew up so much in our faith under that ministry. Now, we have the privilege of being tied to another church family. The best part is knowing that in the end we are all connected by the same thread. The crimson red thread, that is Jesus Christ, himself. He has tied us each together and made us stronger with His love.

My friend, Chandres has a blog and they also have a need. They are sending their commitment documents tomorrow and they need to send $7,000 within 7 days of sending the documents. This is the upfront cost and it's not tax-deductible if you give, but I know many of you just don't care about the tax-deduction and want to help. Here's the link to their blog Upcycled Purpose. There's so much in that name. Chandres started the blog as a place to display the projects she was working on. Turning trash into treasures. It has morphed into their adoption blog and I think God knew all along what the real Upcycled Purpose for Chandres and Scott's journey was going to be. Taking a child that another society deemed unworthy of love and bringing her home to be a daughter of the house. That's an Upcycled Purpose to get excited about.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So Excited!

I am so excited about our newest fundraising opportunity. Mostly because this fundraiser came about when Carrington's family was in the process of bringing her home and needed to raise additional funds. Joy, from Joy Belle Jewelry decided to use her talents to help this family and designed a beautiful necklace.

The Carrington Necklace-

Joy created this necklace to help bring Carrington home and has decided to continue her good work for the orphans by allowing our family to sell these beautiful necklaces to help bring Joseph and Samuel home. I know what you're thinking Joseph and Samuel are going "from orphan to prince" or "from orphans to heirs."
From now until February 13th, you can order one of these necklaces and $25 from each sale will come back to our family to help with bringing Joseph and Samuel home. How generous is Joy? A necklace will cost you $28, plus $2 shipping and Joy is giving us $25 of every sell. Joy is also working on a new necklace for our family and I hope to have it up in the next couple of days.

Here are the new necklaces, Joy has created. You can shop through the same link and just let Joy know your choices at checkout!

Somewhere over the rainbow...
If you want a crystal or pearl attached to this one, just let Joy know at checkout.

Pray, Advocate, Adopt...
Isn't it beautiful? Make sure you let Joy know which color pearl you want at checkout. I'm so thankful to Joy for making these and sharing them with our family. Leave me a comment and let me know which one you choose.

If you want to order one of the Carrington Necklaces and help our family, click here and follow the simple steps at Joy's store to place your order. If you're local and would like to pay me, I will be happy to place an online order for you.

Thank you to everyone who continues to pray, encourage and support our family. The boys will be home soon!

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can we send them?

I want to tell you about another adopting family.  I want to ask you to help them. I know, it's bold to be asking my friends and family to help another family, before we're funded ourselves, but I had to do something. So, here goes...

The Shpak Family is in the process of adopting "Shannon" from Eastern Europe. "Shannon" is 5 years old and living in an adult mental institution. That's right, at 5 years old, she's already been transferred and is waiting in an institution for her family. The Shpak family has faithfully and diligently filled out all the paperwork necessary to file their dossier (the paperwork required by the foreign government) and it's ready to go. One thing is missing, the money to send it. Before the dossier can be submitted, fees must be paid. The Shpak's need another $900 or so to submit their dossier. They have an amazing giveaway happening on their blog, right now. Go there and use the chip-in to donate and help them reach their goal.

Isn't "Shannon" pretty? What a sweet little girl this family is going to be blessed with calling their own.

You may be wondering why I am posting this in the middle of our own fundraising. Here's why? In the midst of filling out their dossier paperwork, the Shpak family has been with their son, Ethan, in the hospital while he fights for his life. I am amazed at this family's perseverance and dedication to all of their children during this very difficult time. They are committed to bringing "Shannon" home, even while they're walking through the darkest days of their lives. I don't know how they've done all that they've done. This battle has raged in their family for months. God has truly been their strong tower. Now, I feel like they need their family to help them. Can you imagine the relief they would know, if they woke up in the morning to find their need met?

"Shannon" shouldn't have to keep waiting because of $900. Can you help? Can we help? I hear people say they can't adopt, but we're all commanded to help the orphan. Will you do your part? "Shannon" shouldn't be an orphan for a day longer than necessary, especially not because of a lack in funding. They're ready to go. Can we send them?

Let's be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let's give a sacrificial gift to help this family. Let's Do Something that will impact the Kingdom.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brooke's Fun Fundraiser!

My friend, Brooke, who I've met since we started our adoption process and who has become a great friend, put together a facebook giveaway for us. Here's how this is going to work. I have a chip-in on the side of the blog. Love Chip-ins (they're like the easy button of fundraising). For every $5 you donate you will earn 3 chances to win, for every $10 you will earn 8 chances to win, you can earn one free chance to win by sharing this blog (once per day). Oh, wait! What can you win? Here's a Link to the photo album with the prizes Brooke has gathered. After you donate to the chip-in, Brooke will email you with your numbers, then you can choose which item you'd like to place your number under.

For example, if I wanted to win the Scentsy warmer, I would donate $5 and wait for Brooke to send me my numbers. Then I would go to the picture of the Scentsy warmer and post one comment with each number. It would look like this:

Comment 1: Mandy R ticket #301
Comment 2: Mandy R ticket #302
Comment 3: Mandy R ticket # 303

Or I could leave one comment under the Scentsy warmer and one under this beautiful scarf my friend, Deb made and donated to our giveaway.
And, my third entry I might place under this Mary Kay gift set donated by Brooke:

I love the idea behind this giveaway, because you get to choose which prize you're most interested in winning. Brooke is so creative and she worked long and hard at finding donors and putting this together for us. We'll begin to draw winners when we reach $1,000 on the chip-in or on Thursday, February 2nd. Don't miss your chance to win and remember donations made through the chip-in are tax-deductible.

There are lots of other prizes, just click this link to see them all! If you share, leave a comment below, so Brooke can send you your free entry number.

This is all about bringing our boys home. We still need to raise another $8,000 ($4500 is coming due shortly). They're worth every dime and we're thankful to each of you, who has sacrificed to help bring our boys home. I love doing these giveaways, because we're able to give a little something back to you.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Request for Evidence - Again

It seems I am a failure at filling out forms. Seriously, just got a letter from USCIS requesting more information before they can issue our approval to adopt the boys. One form they need, I've never heard of before receiving my notice, today. Just didn't send it in, because I didn't know it existed = fail.

They also need a document in the original language (which I'm 99% sure we included) for both boys. I will have to wait on new ones to come from our attorney in country. I am in serious need of prayer, because every time it feels like we're nearing the end of this ride, we hit another bump in the road.

I am still going to try to get the fundraiser up tonight, but maybe you'll forgive me if I just wait til tomorrow? I'm off to have a good cry, now and then I'll feel better.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

All Of Me

This song reminds Marty and I of the moment when we finally met our boys and gives us hope for the days ahead. They (along with Eli and Julie) are worth all of us. We will do everything necessary to see that each of our children know they are loved and worth every tear and every prayer. It is our greatest privilege to love and nurture these blessings God has granted to our care.


That's what our blog has been this week. Neglected. Will you forgive me? I have something FUN that my friend, Brooke, organized for our family and we're hoping to go live with it tomorrow. In the meantime, will you say a prayer for us? Our lives have been really hectic this week and on top of all the things we're trying to get done, Marty and I are both sick. It's amazing that no matter how busy life gets Joseph and Samuel are never far from our hearts and our minds. Please, keep praying that the process continues to go smoothly. We still need to tie up some lose ends with our paperwork. Praying that will happen this week.

The short and sweet version of this post is I'm back and I missed you all. Can't wait to start our newest fundraiser tomorrow. This one sounds like FUN?!?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Crafts, Anyone?

I have some items that my Mom and Aunt made to help us raise some funds for our adoption. So, here's how we'll do this. I'll post the item picture, description and suggested donation. You claim your item in the comments and chip-in the required amount and I'll send you your item. Easy. 

Okay, I also have some super cute change purses that Mom and Aunt Pat didn't make, but we're going to add them in too! Let's start with the change purses.
Donate $5 or more and I'll send you one of these change purses with pictures of Joseph and Samuel on them. This is a photo showing both sides of the bags. I have 15 left, so get yours, now!

Kitchen towels with toppers made by my Aunt Pat. These are so great! $4 each or both for $6 shipped. If you're only buying one, make sure you indicate which one in your comment.

Fun, fish washcloths made by my Mom. $3 each or $7.50 for all three shipped. Let me know, which one you're buying in the comments.

Matching hand-made burp cloths $5 shipped for the set. These are super soft and would make a nice gift, too.

My Aunt Pat made this apron, too. It comes with a matching pot holder and hand towel that hook on a button attached to the apron. The apron is reversible. Blue jean on the other side with large pockets. $15 shipped. 

Check out these cute search and finds my Mom makes. These are great for car rides, doctor's offices, church for the littles, anywhere you need your kids to be quiet and entertained. 
Here's a sample of what your card might have your child find. I have a few of these in both designs. $6 each shipped. 

Roll up felt boards with shapes, potato head or itsy-bitsy spider cut outs. All your cut-outs store in the little pocket on the bottom and roll up for travel. 3 designs available.
$8 each shipped, don't forget to indicate which ones you want and which cut-outs you're most interested in. I'll try to include the cut-outs you choose, but I only have so many of each design.

This sale will be open for one week, ending on Sunday, January 8th. I'm going to ship on January 9th. We still need to raise quite a bit of money before we're funded and our next chunk is due before court. $6,000 in fees must be paid prior to court. We're hoping for court before the end of February and you can see from the ticker above that we still need about $4500 to make that goal. Please, help us spread the word.