Saturday, January 18, 2014

Balloons for Babies ~ Twice As Nice!

I just got home from having dinner with a great group of friends which doubled as our first planning meeting for our next Quarter Auction! I'm so excited! Many of you may remember that we did a Quarter Auction last April along with the Rhodes family who were in the process of adopting their daughter Klemi.

Klemi came home about 6 months ago!!

We are teaming up once again with our amazing friends from A Sea of Hope Orphan Ministries and our awesome family and friends (from local and afar) to put on another Quarter Auction. Hands down this has been the one fundraiser that we have done in this past year that everyone is still talking about. And, it was also one of our most successful. I am going to create another blog with more details on the Quarter Auction itself , MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW for Saturday, March 8th, but for now we're also bringing back our popular Balloons for Babies fundraiser within a fundraiser that we did last year!

 We are so blessed by Quality Catering and the Gallery who donate this awesome space and set up to us to use!

That picture is from last year's QA here in Martinsville. If you look at the first table you'll see that the balloons are attached to large cards. Every balloon in this picture was a 'Balloon Baby' sponsored by someone, most from within our adoption community.

At the beginning of the auction we drew everyone's attention to the balloons and asked everyone to read over the cards on their tables, and others, throughout the night. Then we asked them to find a child or family who appealed to their heart and take that card home and commit to pray for the child/family that they had chosen and/or consider donating to the grant if the child/family they chose had one.

So, here's how it works:

You can sponsor a balloon for a waiting child or an adopting family of your choice. If you would like to sponsor a sibling group on the same balloon you may do so.

UPDATE!! : Now when you purchase a balloon, your child or family will be featured in two locations!! My friend Daniell's family is also in the process of adding a son to their family, and they are also hosting a Quarter Auction! This one will be in Washington State and proceeds will go to help the Settles family bring home 'Hudson' Click here to learn more about Hudson's family and to follow along on their journey!

So now when you buy a balloon to sponsor a child or family you will actually be helping at least three families: Ours, the Settles and the Family You Sponsor/The Future Forever Family of the Child you Sponsor!

And, for the same donation price, the exposure will be doubled for your child/family. Every sponsored child/family will be featured in both locations and both audiences will be encouraged to look through all the balloons and take home a child/family to pray for and help as they feel led!

Balloons are $10 Each

You can make a $10 tax deductible donation to our FSP on Reece's Rainbow here

Once you have made your donation, you will receive an emailed receipt, forward the receipt to along with the information about the child or family you would like to sponsor.

 If the child is available for adoption on an adoption website, you can just email me the link and I can copy and paste information.

 If you are sponsoring a family or would like to sponsor your own family please let me know if the family has a blog where people can follow their journey and the link to any grants where people can donate money. If it's a RR family you can just send me the link to their FSP unless there is any thing additional (photos or external grant links) you would like to have included.

Here are a few examples from the cards from last year so that you will have an idea of what will be included, although feel free to customize the information when you email it to me!

These were front and back cards.

This year the cards will probably all share a similar template to save time, but I promise to make them pretty and eye catching. I will most likely do something in keeping with the A Sea of Hope starfish theme.

Many of the little ones pictured above now have families in the process of bringing them home! "Maggie" is being adopted by an amazing family who will also be bringing home three other children! See their story here

If you are looking for a child or family to sponsor there are many to choose from on the Reese's Rainbow website!

To see children who are still waiting for their forever families click here While you're there consider signing up as a Prayer Warrior for a child and help be a part of their journey into a family!

To see families in process of bringing their children home (all special needs, international adoptions) click here
Reese's Rainbow just recently launched a Family Warrior program which gives you a chance to come alongside a family in their journey and support them through prayer, sharing their story, offering moral support, etc.

If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me an email at

Thank you all for your continued support for our family as we work to bring our son home! We leave in 20 days for first trip! Please continue to cover our family in your prayers.


Monday, January 13, 2014

For Those Moments

I think it's a country song that's popularized the saying, "Life's not about the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away."

Sometimes those moments are kind of expected, like the first glimpse of a precious new life

My newest niece

She was worth driving in the snow for.

Often they come in the middle of the ordinary moments of life, like when stopping by to visit a friend who is under the weather.

Usually when I go visit Mandy I can expect that her son Sam is going to be thrilled to see me come in the door. If he's anywhere close by he'll come running with shouts of 'Cubbah Cubbah' (Brooke in Sam speak) and hold out his arms to be picked up so that he can give hugs and kisses. 

Me 'helping' Sam rollerskate at a birthday party recently

It always brightens my day, as I'm sure it does for everyone else that he probably greets the exact same way, with the exception of the Cubbah part :)

But, tonight when I walked in the front door, I got a different greeting and it was a moment that took my breath away. 

You see, about 2 years ago Mandy and Marty added Sam and Vaylo to their family. And, while Sam was this dynamic spitfire in an adorable little package that seemed to always be on the move, his brother's life had been a lot different. At 7 Vaylo didn't walk, didn't talk and  he seemed pretty locked into his own little world.

For the past two years I've had the privilege of watching as this whole family has loved on Vaylo. I've watched him learn and grow and come out of his world and into ours more and more.

 I remember how he didn't want to make eye contact, how the only way to really 'play' with him would be to let him lay his hand, palm side up in the palm of my hand and then clap his hand with my other one. I remember how if I tried to pick him up he would get upset and reach for the floor or try to throw himself backwards.

But his Mama and Daddy, his brothers and sisters they just loved on him just as he was. And, I started to notice that he would seek out interaction.

 Vaylo pulling up on me one night when I watched the kids 

Laughing at kisses from brother

Did I mention he makes some of the best faces?

 With physical therapy and lots of support from a house full of brothers and sisters to play with he started taking steps.

 Picture from when he first started walking with support a few months after coming home 

Vaylo walking around unassisted this past Christmas

I had seen pictures like this one and a video of Vaylo walking by himself. 

But, tonight when I walked in the door, Vaylo looked up from his toy on the floor and then not only did he stand up, by himself and walk to me, he held his arms up to me to be picked up...and he looked me in the eyes, engaged with me, babbled to me, pretty sure he said my name in there :) 

And, from the outside looking in this moment must have seemed so ordinary. I played with him in the middle of chatting with my friend. Sam did eventually come in and give me hugs too. We talked about our upcoming trip to see our boy and another friend's adoption process. There were no bells and whistles going off, just ordinary life taking place.

After about half an hour I got in my car, ran some errands and headed home. But, I just kept smiling. I prayed with a heart overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Gratitude for God's goodness and mercy in bringing this precious life into a loving family, gratitude to get to do life with the kind of people willing to say yes to the hard stuff. 

I'm so thankful to get to witness the extraordinary, the moments that take my breath away and fill my heart with joy.

God doesn't promise us fairytales, He never promises that following Him will be easy.

But the harvest......

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In This World You Will Have Trouble

But take heart for I have overcome the world. John 16:33

If you need proof that adoption is Kingdom work just follow an adopting family on fb and you will most likely notice a pattern. When a family decides to adopt, when they get ready to make progress, when they make progress, or just when they're cruising along trying to do life ~ Satan goes on the attack.

For example since we've started the journey to bring our son home we've dealt with every thing from having a car get totaled to our gas logs and our heat pump going out in the middle of Winter to me nearly cutting off the top of a toe on a soup can lid, needing sinus surgery and having to replace our roof. Dozens of other things from sickness, unexpected bills and repairs and more have come up in the 12 months that we have been working to bring our boy home.

And, every single adopting family we know has dealt with the same thing. Satan hates adoption. I know it, I've seen it, I've lived it. Christians know that the closer you get to the center of God's will for your life the harder the Devil will work to drag you down.

And, so often with adopting families the area where we struggle, where Satan knows we are weakest, is with money. Most of us go into this process fully trusting that if we are willing to say yes to what God asks us to do then we can trust Him to provide. But, then we do fundraisers that have mediocre results or that fail. We humble ourselves and feel like beggars just to often be ignored. We get weary and we get frustrated and we cry angry tears. In some of our darker moments we may even pray angry prayers and wonder where our God went; wonder why we struggle so hard to walk this path that He asked us to walk. Maybe we even question if this was really His plan for us.

And Satan smiles.

Our family has been in some of these dark moments but every one has been used for redemption. From every dark place where we were on our knees and asking, "Why" God showed up and showed that He had a better plan. We've learned to trust and to lean in and to totally give every thing back to Him.

And every single time we've need the money to be there, it has been. That includes a time I mailed a check that I didn't have enough money to cover. But, God provided and our process never slowed down due to a lack of funds.

But, imagine you're a Mama who has committed to bringing home a precious little boy with Down Syndrome from across the ocean. You knew it would be hard. Your husband is in the Navy and you know he will be gone during part of your process. You're used to holding down the fort, being a single mom to your three boys, homeschooling and keeping life on track. You do it, without complaint because this is the life you signed up for when you married a man with a calling to serve this country.

You know that fundraising will be hard when you live thousands of miles away from your closest friends and family, but, you know this precious boy is your son and if God is calling you to it how do you say no? So you start and its hard but the money comes, sometimes in the nick of time, sometimes draining all of your resources and savings, but, you're thankful that its there and your process keeps moving forward.

But, what happens when you have those papers in hand that you've waited and prayed for, that you joyously received...then you realize you don't have the money you need to be able to send them in and now your process is stalled.


That's it. In the world of international adoption this is a tiny amount, I've seen ten times this amount come in in days. Daniell 's family has needed this amount for a week. I know it hurts. When you've done all you can do, when you've begged and pleaded, sold things, saved, drained your finances, stayed up baking until all hours of the night...and you fall short.

And you know the Devil is on attack because day before yesterday while trying to do every thing she could to raise the last of the funds they needed, Daniell cracked her foot. She is in an aircast and in pain. Her three boys are doing their best to help Mama out and she is still trying to get fudge packed up and shipped to fulfill orders that had already come in.

But, you know what I think? I think this Mama deserves a break. She deserves our help and support. She doesn't need to be up on a cracked foot trying to bake fudge. So, church, friend, family I'm asking for your help.

$700 is all that's needed to pay the last of their upfront costs and keep their process moving! Praise the Lord!!

That is only 70 people donating $10 each. You can do so here

Bring Hudson Home

Or you can make purchases that will help bring Hudson home.

1. You can go to Ginger on a Mission on Etsy. She makes awesome handmade wallets, reusable bags, purses and more. AND 50% of all sales go to the adopting family of your choice. To designate that the proceeds from your purchase go to the Settles family: Add items to your cart, when you're done underneath the last item there is a 'Notes to Seller' section, in this section put that you would like for the proceeds to go to the Settles family adopting Hudson at this link

2. Buy a "Hello My Name Is Child of the One True King" tshirt. I have been planning to update the blog to make the shirts easier to order and to update shipping charges (hoodies are more $ to ship than I had anticipated) but for now go here to see available colors, sizes and options. $10 from the sale of each tshirt or long sleeve tshirt and $7 from each hoodie will go to Daniell.

 *To order message me at and I will give you a total and instructions for paying, DON'T donate to our family's FSP*

3. Daniell is selling fudge and some of her amazing photography over on her Sailing to Our Starfish blog. But, please keep in mind that she is currently injured so if you want to order these things, please do,but allow some extra time for her to get them to you. I know it's hard to wait, I had some peanut butter fudge before Christmas and am drooling over the idea of the PB&J fudge, but, I can wait till Daniell can walk without pain to get some :)

And, please cover this family in your prayers. Please share this blog, or share Daniell's blog and their family's need. Share their YouCaring page, blog about them, share on fb or twitter. Let's use the power of social media for good today and get them funded. Hudson should not have to wait one more day for his family for a lack of funds!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1 Year Anniversary Update ~ We have Dates!

One Year. It's been one year today since we sent the email saying that we wanted to make Ian our son.

It seems like the year has gone by in a blink. It seems like its been a lifetime that we've been waiting.

It's been a crazy, busy, beautiful, hard, amazing, life-changing year.

It's been 12 months filled with :

Prayer. Frequent, constant praying. Prayers for our son an ocean away. Prayers for this crazy process that has hit more bumps than we ever expected. Prayers of heartfelt gratitude poured out in joy. Prayers where the words would barely come when we had those moments of  "Why is this happening..." Prayers of every emotion possible, poured out to the One who we know planned all of this, even the hard parts.

Fundraising: We have been so blessed by you all. Our family and friends, our church family, our adoption community, and complete strangers who have come along side us to sew seed into our adoption. People who have stood with us to say that our boy is worth it. Yes, it has been hard at times, exhausting and frustrating at times. But, I've gotten to see God work time and again. And, every single time, the money has been there when we needed it to be.

Fundraisers we have done in the last 12 months: 3 facebook auctions, 2 yardsales, 2 Bingos (including the one that we had to cancel but that turned into a huge blessing), 1 Quarter Auction (but stay tuned we have one planned for early Spring!), 3 online giveaways, Thirty-One, Rada Cutlery (Which we are doing again), Lila Rose, 1 Spaghetti Lunch and Dessert Auction at our Church, Hello My Name Is T-Shirts (which are still available for purchase), 2 vendor events, 1 Oktoberfest, 1 Craft Show plus all of the necklaces, bows, ornaments and crafts that I have been making.

We could not have done any of those events without help from our family and friends with the planning, donating of items, volunteering etc. I just can't say thank you enough to everyone for all that you've done. Even just having people 'like' my facebook posts about our adoption and fundraisers, comment and message that they are praying for us, sharing our story with others; It builds us up, it encourages us and we appreciate it all and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Paperwork: We completed our homestudy which included local and state background checks, classes, and basically revealing the most intimate details of our lives, finances and family for review. We completed USCIS (Immigrations) application, FBI background checks, and dozens of other forms, all of which had to be notarized and then apostilled before going into our Dossier and going over to our son's country to be translated and authenticated so that we could be submitted to the proper government authorities there for approval.

All of that while trying to lead our 'normal' lives, homeschooling Nicholas who is now in the 2nd grade and who turns 8 in just a couple of weeks. Starting grad school for me, then taking a break when I realized it was just all a little much. Steve's been working 6 days a week between his full time job at the Post Office and his part time job stocking at Kroger. We try to make the most of Sundays and spend time together as a family. Nick started gymnastics this year and is really enjoying it.

In the beginning one of my best friends whose family has completed back to back international adoptions in the past three years gave me some great advice. She told me that we still had to live life with Nicholas, that even though it feels like our lives are on hold when we're adopting, our kids' lives aren't. And, so we've tried to make holidays and every thing else special even though we feel like a piece of our family is missing. I won't lie, it's been hard at times, we all feel it. But, now we're at the point where we can say, "This was his last birthday, his last Christmas etc. without a family," and that makes it a little easier.

So what do we have to show for all of the craziness of the last 12 months you ask? Well....

We got our approval in the form of our written referral on Tuesday (My Birthday) and got confirmation of our travel dates today..WE'RE GOING TO MEET OUR SON!!!!

It took a year. It took longer than I had hoped and planned. But on February 7th we will board a plane in DC and fly to Eastern Europe! And, on February the 10th We will meet our son for the first time.

Please pray for all of us!

Please pray for Nicholas. He will be staying at our house with my mother in law with both of my parents and other family members helping out with taking him to his activities and keeping him entertained. But, we have never been away from him for this long.

Please pray for Ian. We found when we got our written referral that he was very recently transferred from his orphanage to a group home. We believe that this was most likely a good thing, group homes are usually smaller and have other benefits compared to an orphanage setting. But, any change for a child can be scary and unsettling. He has new caregivers, has to make new friends, is most likely going to a new school. And, we don't know if he has any idea that he has a family. We've been praying for his heart since we knew that he was ours, please join us. For 8 years he has not had a family, even if he wants one it will be new and most likely scary for him.

Please pray for Steve and I. Steve has never flown...ever. I've never flown internationally. I was able to book flights with just one layover so I'm hoping that will cut down on the stress of changing planes. Please pray for favor over our travel, for safe travel, and all of that good stuff.

Please pray for our family who will be helping with Nicholas.

And, please continue to pray for all of the children still waiting for their families to find them.

Also, one of my goals for the New Year is to be better about blogging. I am working on revamping the blog now so it will be easier to find stuff.

I'm hoping to make the tshirts easier to order and am revamping my jewelry making and going out of the bowmaking business. So, if you haven't already, please join our site over on the right hand side of the blog so that you can continue to follow along on our journey. I don't think I will be able to post pictures publicly from our visit with Ian so if you want to be able to follow along with us in country I will post details soon on how that will work.

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support this past year!