Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Different Kind of Christmas

We had a really great Christmas!  We decided to do things differently this year and focus more on giving to people who don't have basic necessities instead of giving to people we knew who already have enough and asking for things for ourselves.  I read The Advent Conspiracy this year after finding out about it through our church last year.  I would highly recommend it to anyone and it is a very short book, which helps to fit into anyone's schedule too.  :)  So we did hand made gifts, which of course the girls love to do, we asked people to donate any money they would have spent on gifts for us and we were able to make donations to the Charles Mulli Foundation as well as to our church's Advent Conspiracy projects to help Syrian Refugees as well as a really cool organization in St. Louis that helps immigrants who have come here but are now struggling.  I really loved the focus we were able to have and the stress we did not have and the girls were really happy to get to help out others.  We really loved it!

We also learned about Christmas traditions in other countries, of course including Ethiopia.  So we learned about Ganna, both the holiday and the game, and the three circles of the church.  We learned about Timkat, the celebration of the baptism of Jesus celebrated on January 19.  When I told the girls about the game they play, yeferas guks, A thought it was such a funny name she laughed and spit water across the classroom.  I love learning more about Ethiopia and the wonderful culture. I think about our babies over there and wonder what their life is like and if they're being taken care of and then I think about all of the children that already exist around the world who are most definitely in broken situations, unthinkable situations, they are not safe and they are not taken care of, and it breaks my heart truly and deeply.  I just pray to God to show us direction on how we can help and to move the hearts of others to become informed and find ways to help.  There are so many wonderful organizations all around the world and sometimes we can give prayers, or money, or mission trips, or adoption, or child sponsorship, or Operation Christmas shoeboxes or anything to let people know that we care. 

There is so much that each and every one of us can do.  Just do something......

 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  Matthew 25:40

Sunday, December 9, 2012


'Tis the season to talk about giving.  This year we've changed our perspective on giving.  I guess we have been slowly over the last few years, but I read The Advent Conspiracy and really loved it, so we decided to skip gifts or  do homemade gifts this year and donate to the Charles Mulli House instead.  

It got me thinking about giving, though, because I think that this time of year people focus so much on obligatory giving, giving certain amounts as well as focusing on feeling guilty about what we can't give.  I have definitely had times in my life when I have been able to give more than others, but I've realized that giving doesn't have to be just about money.  I remember when I joined the Methodist church the promise was to support it with prayers, presence, gifts and service.  I remember someone along the way saying that there are times when each of these is more prevalent and that we can be happy about focusing about what we can give.  

My girls are so great about giving what they can, whether it is toys or books or clothes that they have, or money that they have gotten, or sending a card or a text or email.  I have learned from them, and from God's guidance that if we just focus on what we can give and not feel guilty about what we cannot give, it brings forth so many more great opportunities to participate in giving every day.  

Some examples that I have found inspiring and helpful are: giving someone a book or movie that you watched and don't need to keep, giving someone a text to let them know that you are thinking about them, offering to pick up someone's kids, giving someone a card (handwritten is pretty rare these days!), when you go through a drive-through and realize that you could afford your bill if it was $5 more you can get a $5 gift card to give to someone who doesn't get to eat out a lot, giving your time to pick up something for a friend at the store, letting your kids mail a picture they drew to someone, sending a text of a Bible verse or a picture to someone, giving an invitation to someone to meet for tea after the kids go to bed, offering to watch someone's kids so they can do some shopping or go out on a date night, giving time to take food to a shelter that someone else collected, making some extra food to take to someone so they don't have to worry about a meal, giving extra coats or gloves or hats so someone else is not cold, giving Bibles (we can usually find them at Dollar Tree), giving time to help someone with a project, volunteering to help at a short term project at church or school, and even giving a smile to someone who doesn't expect it.  

Giving really does breed good feelings and community and can change someone else's day.  I have also notice that the spirit of giving leads to the desire to find more ways to give.  Try to find your own creative ways, especially now during the season of giving.  You never know what kind of effect it could have on someone else.  

So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?  He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”  Luke 3:10-11

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I know that one of the things that I search other adoption blogs for is a great fundraiser idea.  I thought I would blog about some of the ones that we have had.  We started the process about a year and a half ago, so we have been doing intermittent fundraisers for a while now. 

Garage Sales-We have probably had between 4-6 garages sales already.  We email all of our friends ahead of time and ask them to start saving up all of their junk.  We try to let people know a couple of months ahead of time, then a month or so and then we start picking items up, and then we send out a last minute reminder about a week before.  Our first garage sale was MASSIVE!!  The funny thing is that we do not have a garage.  LOL  We had some wonderful friends volunteer their double garage to store everything and then hold the sale at their house.  That first garage sale made us $1000!!  We had so much stuff that we had another one the Wednesday after with the leftovers.  Since then we have tended to take whatever is left right to donation spots, because we do not have storage in our house for much, so it takes over the whole basement.  At that particular garage sale, we even had someone stop by and ask if he could pick up any of our items that we had leftover to take to Joplin, since it was soon after the tornado had hit there.  We have also had people mention that they were having a garage sale in the next couple of weeks and we have offered some of our leftover items for them to sell.  We  have tried to resell items on craigslist or at Once Upon A Child, but that hasn't really worked out for us, so we just choose to donate and bless others now with the leftovers.

Bows-Last year I decided I wanted to learn how to make bows, like the girls hair bows.  My mom's best friend is awesome at it and she taught me how to make them.  So, I made up lots and lots of bows and we sold them at craft fairs last year.  It did take a lot of time, but I just  made them slowly at night and gathered up lots of types.  The holiday ones went really well and I've heard that school colors and sports teams go well too.  We were able to sell them at a homeschool craft fair that was only $20 per table as well as at a church who, when they heard that it was a fundraiser, gave us our table for free! 

Fundraising sites-We have joined some fundraising sites, like Ordinary Hero and 147 Million Orphans, but we haven't had too much from these.  We haven't really promoted them too much either, though.

Yogurtland-A local business, Yogurtland, let us do a fundraiser where we were able to keep 10% of the profits from a 2 or 3 hour period.  We did check with a couple of bigger restaurant chains (Chic-Fila and Applebees, etc.) and they said that they really only do that for bigger organizations.  It might be worth it to look into more local places, though.  This is one we would like to try again.

Water Bottles-Sounds funny, right?  Well each time we did a craft fair we printed up labels and put them on water bottles and gave them away or sold them for $.25.  Last year we promoted Ordinary Hero and this year we promoted Chris's quarter rings and attached a link to our blog.  People are definitely happy to take a free water bottle!!

IPad drawing-When the IPads first came out, Chris bought one and we did a drawing.  We sold tickets for $20 I think, and then we did the drawing with a video of our daughters drawing the winning name and posting it.  We also guaranteed we wouldn't sell more than 100 tickets so each ticket would be a guaranteed 1 in 100 chance of winning.  We didn't even sell a full 100, so the odds were even better.

Quarter Rings-Right now we are focusing on the quarter rings, because they are really so cool and people were really interested in them at the craft fair.  Chris also has a real talent for jewelry, unlike my many hours learning how to make bows including hot glueing my fingers to the point of major blisters!  We promise we will get a link up here for the rings soon.

The other thing I would recommend to anyone is just to be open to what God can put in your path.  We have had opportunities where we could just say that we would do something for someone "for an adoption donation" and we have just needed to be open to opportunities we hear about.  We have also had friends just hand us checks out of the blue! We also have a separate account just for the adoption, so all of our money goes right into that.  Obviously, anythings we don't have money for in that account comes out of our regular account, but it is a good way to keep it separate. 

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I didn't think it would be so hard to leave my job.  I know I only work part time, and on the flip side I know that it's been a part of my life for 10 years.  It's the relationships I've built that are hard to say good bye to.  I told all of my students this week and many of them were upset or sad or even angry at me.  One of my students tonight came in and I knew she was upset, so I asked her if she was mad at me.  She said that she wasn't as long as I would be coming back at least by next year.  I said I probably wasn't, so she said that yes she was mad at me then.  :)

My problem is that I get really attached to kids.  God made me a caretaker by nature which makes me good at some things, but not so good at letting go.  I hope this will make me a good adoptive mom.  I think it would make me a bad foster mom, but some of my wonderful friends who do foster probably have just as hard of a time letting each precious child go, especially if it is to a less than great situation.  

Someone told me today not to doubt in the dark what you are sure of in the light.  So I won't.  I know that it's the season to let this job go, so I will.  It will be hard to say goodbye, but isn't it always?  I have to focus on what I am saying hello to instead of focusing on what (and who) I am saying good bye to.  

I heard the song, "All Things Possible" by Mark Shultz tonight as I was driving home.  

Even when it feels like my heart is breaking
Hold on, there is strength
Knowing I belong to the One who’s making
All things possible

I know mountains can move
I’ve seen what You can do
In my weakness
So my heart will believe
If I wait I will see
My God doing, what only He can do

My God is strong and mighty
My God is faithful
My hope is in the Lord
For He is able

Look it up.  It's a great song.  It's uplifting and reminds you of the strength and power of God.  Our future children are going to have to say good bye to their country, their comfort that they have known, their caregivers, etc in addition to whatever else they have had to say good bye to in their lives.  I have faith that God can use me to remind them that all things are possible.  

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Matthew 19:26

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New Fundraiser

Chris has started a new fundraiser for the adoption!  He studied different kinds of art in college, including jewelry and metal work.  So, when he saw a video about how to make rings out of quarters, he wanted to try it.  They're really great, and you can read the imprint of the quarter on the inside and outside of the ring.  I will post some pictures on here as soon as I figure out how!

We are going to have a link on this blog where you can order them, but right now he's working on making enough for the Homeschool Craft Fair next weekend.  So, if you're in the St. Louis area on Saturday, November 10, come to West County Assembly of God Church, 13431 North Outer 40, Chesterfield, MO, 63017.

We also hope to be able to make some out of coins from different countries (Ethiopia, China, India, etc.) and Chris has played around with some coins he got in Guatemala last year.

Yet again, God has been faithful in bringing us our next fundraising opportunity!!

On a personal note, it looks like someone will be taking over my tutoring position in a few weeks, so that will be a big and exciting change for us.  We also received our adoption numbers this month, and our siblings numbers went up by 3 spots again (i.e. we are further away from adopting a sibling group), but it makes me happy that it means that more families are making the decision to be open to siblings, so that more siblings can stay together.

Feel free to email me or Chris if you are just so excited to see the rings, and we can send you pictures.

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Friday, October 19, 2012

Recommended Reading List

I've been wanting to post with some amazing books I've been reading in the last year or so.  Last summer our public library started an Adult's Summer Reading Program and the girls challenged me to do it.  I really love to read, but taking the time to do that is not something I have been good about.  Add on television and internet surfing and I really hadn't read much before that.  SO, I found some books to start reading, and each book seemed to lead to another book and now I've compiled a list of some great books!

Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo-This book is really great!  It's not too long and it's the story of a family's unlikely encounter with Heaven written in a really beautiful way.

7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker-I love reading the way Jen writes.  She is so funny, but she definitely challenges you to look at your life and why we do what we do along the way.  I seriously laughed out loud throughout this book and then decided to read Interrupted by Jen too and it was great to see what happened in her life before she wrote 7.

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis-Wow!  This book is so amazing, as well as Katie's story.  Her whole life is just open to wherever God leads her, and he has already led her on an amazing journey.  I would recommend this inspiring story to anyone!!  You can also look into Amazima Ministries which is her foundation.

So, this started a whole set of Africa books (gee, I wonder why!):

It's Not Okay With Me by Janine Maxwell-This is a hard book to read.  It is one woman's amazing journey of falling in love with Africa, but it is very difficult to read the conditions of many of these children's lives.  It's truly unimaginable, but we all need to have awareness and step (or jump) out of our  comfort zone to truly care for others.

Father To The Fatherless: The Charles Mulli Story by Paul H. Boge and Bruce Wilkinson-The story of Charles Mulli was brought up quite a bit in Janine Maxwell's book, and it is an amazing story!  He was abandoned as a child by his family, gave his life to God as a teenager and made a wonderful life for himself and then ended up giving it all up to devote his life to helping street children in the same situation that he was in.  Our family is even planning to use the Charles Mulli House as our Advent Conspiracy project this year!

So, there's a start if you need a new book to pick up!  I have many more that I'm working on (Grace Based Parenting, Simplicity Parenting, A Place At The Table, Crazy Love and of course all of the Feingold information) and even more that I have on my want to read list (Too Small To Ignore, GRACE, The Connected Child, Barefoot Church, etc.).

As an update to my job quitting, as of early this week, it looked like I was going to be staying on for a few more months, but then as of this afternoon, I may already have replacements for one job!  It will all happen in God's perfect timing.

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Friday, October 12, 2012

Leap Of Faith

I have been praying for a long time to be better at hearing God's word and understanding what he wants from me.  A few weeks ago, I just knew that we were going to see M's occupational therapist at church the next day.  It was a feeling, a sureness and a peace about it.  I certainly doubted this sureness, but as we were going to pick up A at Sunday School, we sure did see her.  We knew that she went to our church, but we had never seen her before now.

 I think God was preparing me to know what it was like to hear His voice.  Last Saturday night, I just knew that I was supposed to quit my job.  I really enjoy my job (I work part time as a tutor for kids with special needs), but we are trying very hard this year to simplify our life.  We have tried to make our house simpler, our schedule less cluttered, our homeschooling simpler and just focus on what is important and what works.  So, I know that the time we are spending with me preparing for my job, doing paperwork, having meetings and then attending work is not part of the plan right now.

It was sad to email my boss and tell her, and I know she was surprised-the school year just started a month ago.  I am staying on until they find people to replace both of my positions (I am actually at two different schools with two sets of kids), but I have complete faith that the right people will step forward when the time is right.  I have second guessed myself on this, but I know that it is the right decision and I know that God knows what is ahead and how to best prepare us for it.  That makes it exciting!

The other big change we are trying around here is that we (mostly M) are going on the feingold diet.  This is a diet for ADHD which removes all artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, and some other big words that I am unsure of right now.  :)  At this point we have been doing it almost a week and she may be getting sick of eating the same foods since I'm not sure of a lot of ingredients and recipes yet, but we are noticing differences.  So, this is of course another reason that having more time at home to prepare food and learn all about this will be great!

I'm sure our future adopted child(ren) will be grateful to be entering a home that is less chaotic and hopefully cleaner and more organized.  :)  Maybe I can even start seeing what kind of Ethiopian foods are feingold-friendly!  LOL

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Monday, September 3, 2012


We just got back from a weekend at Girl Scout family camp.  The first night I just could not sleep.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe the people talking outside, maybe a small child kicking me a little, but none the less I was awake a lot.  I am a person who likes to check things and make sure everything is okay, especially my kids, so I woke up whenever they moved, kicked the wall, coughed, etc.

It got me thinking about moms around the world.  I have been reading a lot of powerful books lately, which I want to blog about soon to share some wonderful reading recommendations.  Many of these are about Africa or India and the ways of living there, especially in poorer areas.  Even while camping, I could protect my children by getting a cabin, bringing nice sheets and blankets, packing lots of things for "just in case" and despite all of that I knew that if we needed to, or just wanted to, I could drive them home in an hour.  But what if I couldn't?  Parents all over the world have children and love them and want them, but do not have a house for them and do not have food to give them and certainly do not have extra clothes and educationally stimulating books and toys and money for enriching classes.  How terrible would that feel to love my children and want to protect them and help them and encourage them, but have no resources at all to do so?  It breaks my heart.  It also makes me pray that I will remember this when we are deciding how to spend our money, and to realize that I am no different than that mom across the globe who loves her children and wants to give them food and clothes and a house and all of the opportunities that I want to give my children.  Yes, this is really what I think about when I am up in the middle of the night in the middle of the woods.  Oh, and my husband said that the cabin we were staying in to "rough it" for the weekend was bigger than the house he helped build for a family in Guatemala.

On a lighter note, so that this is not such a heavy post, we do have a funny story (well, it's funny now) from this weekend.  We were all supposed to bring white elephant gifts from our homes as prizes for BINGO and the kids were looking at them before the game started.  Well, A right away saw this little stuffed unicorn that was definitely well-loved, but she just loved it.  She actually won the second game and picked out the unicorn.  She loved on it all through the rest of the night, until me, her loving mother, took it from her for her to go to the bathroom, set it on the pillows that I was holding and ended up leaning over and dropping it down the long hole of the camp potty.  She was so upset and I felt terrible!  However, thanks to Amazon, we have a new little unicorn arriving on Wednesday.

The Bible verse of the day on my phone seemed to be a good one to memorize, short and to the point: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Romans 12:21

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Blog Post

Sometimes I can be a perfectionist, although  you wouldn't  know it by looking around my living room right now.  I think that's why it's been difficult for me to start our blog.  I didn't know how to start and I wanted to find the best way to start.  Well, there is no best way and this whole experience is passing by and I'm ready to start blogging with God's help.

It's odd to realize that if we had gotten pregnant at the time that we applied to our adoption agency, we would have a 6 month old baby by now.  Since we have been blessed enough to go through pregnancy twice, I can say that there is definitely comfort in the time frame.  Although you always know that something could go wrong, there are regular doctor's visits, fun things to plan for and a definite time frame.  Adoption is nothing like that.  There are periods of excitement and anticipation and periods of waiting and periods of frustration and periods where life goes on and you almost forget you're adopting for a few days.  It is a scary and wonderful test of patience and trusting in God's plan.

Adoption is also sad.  When you get pregnant, you are just so happy and when you have the baby, you're even happier.  With adoption, I feel like a transplant patient, waiting for something tragic to happen to someone else so that something great can happen for me.  I want our child or children, but I don't want them to go through what they are going through or what they will be going through.  I would never want that for the two children that I already have, but it will be happening for our future children.  It's messy.

I just read a blog from Jen Hatmaker tonight about the ups and downs of their first year with their adopted children and I love her candor and honesty.  Being a parent any way is hard, but doing it to children who have been broken is even harder.  It's a different path, but God never promises us an easy path, especially if we choose to ask him to make the path for us.  He promises us rewards we couldn't even imagine, but not without a cost.

So, I've made it through my first blog posting!  Now they don't have to be perfect, just real.  :)  I'll finish with M's absolute favorite Bible verse:  "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life".  John 3:16