Saturday, August 9, 2014

I Can't Keep Calm! (T-shirt fundraiser)

This fundraiser is over! Shirts are being made and will be shipped out to you as soon as we are able! Thank you so much! 

This is our adoption t-shirt fundraiser! Buy a comfy t-shirt while making a statement that will hopefully open up hearts for the orphaned children in this world. You become and automatic orphan advocate in one easy step! Here they are!

How awesome are these shirts?! These T-shirts are available in Youth sizes YXS-YXL. And adult sizes Small through XXXL.  

Each Shirt will cost $20. Add $2 for size XXL and XXXL shirts. And if I have to ship it to you add $3 per shirt (if you are ordering 3 or more shirts let me know and we can figure out a deal on shipping). 

How it works with this company is that I have to sell at LEAST 13 shirts in the kid sized and at least 13 shirts in the adult sizes. As long as we can sell 13 we can place an order. If we can sell 50 shirts then we make a little more per shirt. Do you think we can reach that goal? 50 adult shirts and 50 youth shirts? Let's try! 

If you would like to order a shirt please send the correct amount to our Paypal address which is
PLEASE be sure to make a note of what size AND color you want, as well as your address if you are not local. I'm hoping we can do this super fast because we only have a few weeks before we fly out, and I'd love to get these our to you before we leave. So please order as soon as possible! And please share this with your friends and family members! Or better yet, buy them as Christmas gifts for them! Win win! 

If you are local and would like to pay me in person, that is great. Or if you are not local, but do not have a paypal, you can send me a check, but it will need to be sent (along with a description of t-shirt color and size) ASAP. We are coming to a time crunch here! 

Please let me know via email or private message on Facebook if you have any questions. I will be out of town this weekend, but I will be able to check my email from time to time. But if you don't hear back from me immediately, just know that you will hear from me very shortly! 

Which color(s) do you want? :) 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Coming Full Circle

In September 2012, I was pregnant with our 4th child, and Josh and I were on a rare trip away from the kids to celebrate our 8 year anniversary. It was an amazing couple of nights at the beach. We also honeymooned at the beach so it was fitting to spend our anniversary there as well. We spent a lot of time just relaxing. Taking naps, walking along the shoreline, watching TV in the hotel room. And we didn't have to watch cartoons! It was glorious.

And yet aside from the relaxation and rejuvenation, there were also some deep conversations. About the little one I was carrying. About our future. About where God was calling us, and if we were going to answer that call. It was stuff we had glanced over before. Important stuff that we felt the weight of and we knew it couldn't be ignored, but we weren't quite ready to fully face it either. So we touched on it, ever so lightly and then flitted away before it got too messy. Too real. But we both felt the importance of these things were growing. The call was getting louder...

I've always felt so close to God while looking out at the ocean. I'm no closer to Him  then, than I am at any other location, but there is just something about the ocean that speaks to my soul, that turns my eyes on Jesus and His worthiness to be praised. Maybe God speaks more loudly to me on the beach. Or maybe I just listen better. Walking in the sand, ocean breeze in our faces, the crashing waves and our heart beats blurred; we dove in head first to the big topics. The important stuff.

Our new baby. She would be born in a few months time. And she was a bit of a question mark. First of all, she surprised us. Previously, we had needed to go on medication for the treatment of my Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in order to conceive and sustain a pregnancy. We had never achieved a pregnancy on our own. But not this time. This time we were surprised. And she surprised us again when a routine test, which I had turned down in previous pregnancies, showed that she had an "increased risk ratio for Down syndrome". This shocked us, and yet at the same time, it seemed right. It seemed like God had been preparing us for this for a long time and in so many ways. While we were nervous about the unknown (mostly in regards to the increased risk for heart defects in children with Down syndrome), we embraced the news. We were ready. Or as ready as we could have been at that stage in the game. And then as we had more ultrasounds we were told that her "risk ratio" was much lower. She likely would not have Down syndrome after all. Surprise again! Except they couldn't say for sure. The numbers were now showing she would likely have typical chromosomes, but she was still at a slightly increased risk compared to the general population. Question mark...

So here we were. Waiting on our little surprise, question mark baby to arrive and make herself known. And we loved her and accepted her either way. But then comes the other big, heavy, important, messy topic we needed to face. Adoption.

I hear you thinking, "Adoption? But you said you were currently pregnant with child number FOUR right? And that child may or may not be born with special needs? Are you crazy?" I'm sure many would think we were crazy to be seriously discussing adoption at this time. I mean it seems like really bad timing. But this wasn't our idea. We had to choose whether or not to say yes to the idea, but it wasn't ours. It was God's. Truth is, He had been nudging and whispering and yelling at us about adoption for a long time. First it was soft and quiet, you could barely hear it. But now it was loud. Unmistakeable. God had been speaking to us about adoption for years. But now he was using our little surprise baby to open our hearts to special needs adoption in a way that we never would have experienced without her. I told Josh that she was a special needs adoption advocate from within the womb!

And we knew, because of a friends recent adoption, that children born with special needs in other countries do not fare well.  Our friends had adopted a precious boy with Down syndrome from Bulgaria. What we learned during their adoption process sank deep into our hearts. The child I was carrying would be loved and have everything she needed, even if she was born with an extra chromosome. But in Bulgaria, that would not be the case. The baby would be put in an orphanage, often at the insistence of the doctor, and he or she would suffer a miserable fate, unless someone chose to adopt them. And so God weaves the story. Adoption. Special needs. Bulgaria. GO.

And so we talked about what that would look like. How long after the baby was born would we start an adoption process? How long would the adoption take? What kind of special needs would we be open to? The answers we came up with weren't exactly what God had planned for us. His ways are better than our ways. Thank goodness! We weren't ready to start an adoption process yet when God showed us Levi. But when you see your son. You know. Your preconceived ideas of timeline and preferred special needs diagnosis, go out the window.

And you are once again faced with an ocean. It's immense. It's stormy. It's overwhelming. And God calls you out onto it. And you know you are inadequate. But you know that He is fully equipped! So you step out onto the water and keep your eyes on Jesus. Just keep your eyes on Him.

As we left the beach that day on our 8th anniversary, I jokingly said to Josh, "You never know, maybe for our 10th anniversary we will be in Bulgaria meeting the child we are going to adopt!"

2 years later as we prepare to fly to Eastern Europe next month to pick up our new son, I realize we will arrive home just a week prior to our 10 year anniversary. God is good. And mysterious. And wise. And trustworthy.

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters. Wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior!"

This has been my theme song for the last year. It encourages me every time I hear it.
  Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Stay tuned. I hopped onto the computer to write a blog post about our t-shirt adoption fundraiser. But something else came out instead. So I will have to share the other blog after I catch a few hours of sleep. Goodnight.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Matching Grant Challenge!

My dad and I have been to Eastern Europe to meet Levi. I have so much to say about that and no time at the moment to say it. He is precious and beautiful and sweet and eager to learn. He needs the love of our family for him to really blossom and flourish. He will need therapies and testing and lots and lots of love, and we just cannot wait to provide him with all of these things! I am in love! And missing him tremendously!
When we got home I got sick, pulled muscles in my neck and shoulders, had lots of second stage dossier paperwork to get done and notarized and apostilled and sent off, new forms for our government to approve, new fingerprints to be taken, new doctor appointments to be made.... Whew! During all of this a beautiful soul decided all on their own to provide us with a matching grant challenge for the first 12 days of April! On the first of April if $10 were donated, the donor would match it. On the second day, $20, on the 3rd day, $30 and so on! We have matched many of these days! But now we are getting down to the nitty gritty, we only have til the end of the 12th to meet the challenge and have all the grant matched! To make it easier here at the end, we've combined the finishing amount needed so we have a solid goal number to shoot for in our FSP (Family Support Page). So. Right now our grant is at $9312.10. In order to match the remaining full amount, we need our FSP to read $9674! That means we have $362 left to raise before we get the grant from our donor! Can we do it? Before the end of the 12th? Remember God multiplies your pennies! Every donation matters! Do you have $10 to spare? Or $1? We appreciate every penny! I'll leave you with a couple pictures of Levi from our first trip. Please consider sharing, donating and praying! Your prayers mean something! And we covet them. Especially pray for Levi as he waits for us. I hurt to think of him waiting for us to come play with him again, and yet we don't come... 

Donate here: 

 Matching Grant Met!!! You guys ROCK! THANK YOU! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane...

It is so surreal. We have finally reached the point of travel! It has been a long time coming. In just 5 days, my dad and I will be jumping on a plane and flying to Eastern Europe to meet my boy! FIVE DAYS! What?! We've waited so long for this point that it almost felt like we were chasing the proverbial carrot, always just shy of getting a nibble. But alas, God was merciful and this first leg of the race is coming to a close. March 21st, we fly out, we spend nearly a full day in flight (or several flights, rather) and land in Levi's Eastern European countries capital on the 22nd. We stay the night in the capital and then the next morning we get a ride from our translator/guide to Levi's city. Our first visit with him is on the 24th. We spend 5 days in his city, visiting the orphanage twice a day. This has not been confirmed yet, but I think we may only get one visit on the 5th day, to allow enough time to travel back to the capital that night.
Just imagining that first visit and that last visit... sends me in a tail spin. I cannot wait to meet my son! So many questions and unknowns. So much joy and excitement! Love is practically bursting out of me! And then on the flip side, there will inevitably be a last visit. And my heart hurts just typing that out. It will be oh so hard to leave him. But, the phrase "last visit" also holds hope. Because the next time I see him, it will not be a visit. It will be forever. And forever suits my heart just fine.
So much has lead up to this point. And I have not done a good job of blogging along the way. I have used Facebook as a platform for sharing most often, but I'm trying to get better at tending to this little blog of mine. So bare with me. I've got 4 kids at home needing me all day long, and another child across the ocean who needs me just as much and I cannot be there for him yet, which is crazy making for a mama's heart.
We do a lot of praying for Levi throughout the day, because aside from adoption requirements and fundraising, prayer is the only thing we can offer Levi right now while he waits. I pray for him with Judah when I lay him down for nap. We pray for him at the dinner table each night. We pray for him with the kids before they go to bed. Cana especially likes praying for her brother. I pray for him before I fall asleep at night. And we pray for him at church or in our churches community group whenever we get a chance. Today I asked my 3 year old what we should tell Levi when I see him. In his sweet, impish way, he said, "tell him 'bout Nayna, Wowo, Judah, Yisha, mama, dada. Ok?" For those who don't speak Judah, he just listed his siblings and parents. :) I thought that was so sweet and simple and exactly the right answer.
5 days. There is a lot I need to accomplish in these last moments. It's a hectic time. My mind is constantly on overdrive, mentally going over to do lists for myself. Pray for me as I prepare to leave behind my family in search of another precious family member. Pray for my family as they live their day to day lives without me for a little over a week. Pray for safe travels for both my dad and I. Please pray for good visits with Levi.
I'm so thankful that my Dad is able to go with me on this trip. For a moment there I was afraid that I was going to have to travel alone. But Dad was able to make it work. He wants to meet his grandson after all! This will be an adventure of a lifetime for him and me. Some may wonder why my husband is not going with me, but for our family it just worked out better this way. My husband can only take off so much time from work, so he is saving his days so that we can go together on Gotcha trip. (Gotcha, or pick-up trip, is generally 4-6 months after first trip.) Josh will stay home and man the fort, with the help of his Mom and my Mom. And our church has been so wonderful in coming alongside us, and they will be bringing Josh and the kids a few meals while I'm away.
I leave the kids in good hands, but that doesn't make it easy. I know they will be fine though, and we have Skype to communicate with each other. It will be hardest for me to leave my baby, Kaisa. She is only 14 months old and has only recently stayed one night at a time away from me. We originally planned on taking her with us on the first trip, we got her a passport and everything, but then we found out that children are not allowed inside the orphanage. Which meant I was going to have to leave her behind and wean her earlier than planned. Which has been sad for me, and frustrating for her.
It's very late, and this blog is getting to be kind of jumbled. So I will leave you with a little fundraiser info. Currently we have a $500 matching grant from a beautiful group of people who are passionate about seeing orphans be placed in families. What a blessing! We are so close to matching it too. When our FSP reaches $8040, our match has been met and an additional $500 will be added!
Family Support Page

Also, a generous friend of mine has put together a HUGE scrap book fundraiser! There are dozens of scrap booking material lots (all new!) for a fair price, with FREE shipping, and all money spent on fabulous scrap treasures go toward our adoption, and another sweet families adoption. See more details here:
Scrap Book Treasures

PLEASE, please browse the scrap booking sale and share it with friends. My dear friend Rachel put an awful lot of work into getting everything organized, photographed and set up online for sale. Let's try to make all her hard work worth the effort!

Just a sample of the many items available! Please Shop!