Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Generosity of Others and a Season Revisited

I can't explain the mixture of feelings in my heart as we prepare to leave for Ethiopia soon. Bags are starting to be packed, items checked off the list, and the countdown on our kitchen wall is getting lower. God is so good!

But I really want to say a blanket THANK YOU for those who are walking so closely in this process with us! Friends from previous seasons have been pouring so generously into our adoption fund. Just as we have been taking bold steps forward in other areas financially, God continues to provide exactly the needs that we have. Thank you so much to the recent donors Anna, Robert & Catherine, Walter, Jennifer and Bryan, Jason and Robin, Sarah and Matt, Ellison, etc. I wish I had kept a better list of the hundreds of people who have sacrificed for our son's sake. What a beautiful, humbling picture of the body of Christ joining together for the ransom of an orphan.

In addition to the over $1,000 we raised at our yard sale this week, I dropped off some of the leftover clothes to a local consignment store this week and was given $80 cash on the spot! That is exactly how much we need for both trips' visas. Specific provision, yall!

We have raised over $300 in the Tukula fundraiser (4 bags left!) which is a good chunk of our hotel fee while we'll be in country ($450-500 is estimated). 

Last week I visited my sister and two of her precious friends, Kim and Jen, let me have free access to their fabric stashes. If you are an avid sewer or fabric hoarder like me, you will realize what a generous gift this is! But what is MORE exciting than free, beautiful fabric, is the opportunity to teach a friend to sew tonight, so that she can raise money for the adoption of her future children. We will be using those fabrics to start her shop for their adoption fees. God is so faithful and provides so creatively!

Speaking of this friend who I'm sewing with tonight, I want to touch on the beautiful season that we are revisiting. When we left Raleigh last summer, we thought we were saying good-bye to the abundant adoption community that we had there. We had SO many families who were also adopting and had brought their children home. It was an incredible resource and support system.

In the recent months, we have been able to get to know another family in our church that is adopting a precious girl from China, and a family that lives 30 minutes away who is on the waitlist with the AGCI Ethiopia program for their first child. It is incredible to have people understand the emotions and process of adoption, but there's more exciting news! In the last few weeks, God has been stirring in our church family here. Several families (including my friend I'll be sewing with) have approached us to begin the discussion of adoption and foster care, and one family has already begun to take foster classes! God is creating a NEW community here for us to be a part of! God is so faithful, so generous, and so specific to meet our needs.

We are HUMBLED to be seeing the fruit of this season. I feel like I am bursting with joy over how tangible God's blessings are right now! Of course, by being in this adoption community, we are committing to walking the hard, sad, dry moments with these families too. The Lord knows we have had our share in those during our journey to Israel.

I just wanted to praise God with my fellow readers- asking for prayer for our new community, for the families who are researching adoption options and those who are wrestling with the idea right now. Pray for wisdom for us as we counsel families. Pray for provision for their needs, and praise God for his faithfulness in advance! Even when we don't see it, HE IS FAITHFUL!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gotcha Day Videos

I am currently procrastinating from packing. I am somewhat of an emotional roller coaster: super excited about meeting our son soon, anxious about passing court, and fearful of leaving our son in Ethiopia and making the longest trek home with empty arms. Ok I need to move on from talking about it-- it hurts just to think about that part of this trip!!!

So in the last few weeks a few people have posted "Gotcha Day" videos, which is basically a video recap of the adoption journey. I bawled on every single one, yall. I cannot wait to walk through those black gates and see my son! All of these sweet kiddos came from the same place our son is living in now.

Side note: the first video is of our friends, the Forrests, who were members of our church in Raleigh. Julie is such an awesome friend and encourager! I made all the shirts at the airport party for the kiddos! Love seeing something I made be a part of such a special day!

Journey to Little Sis from DJG on Vimeo.

Jada's Adoption Story from Longing for Africa on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jacksonville Yard Sale!

A few weeks ago we decided to do another yard sale here in Jacksonville. We didn't personally have a lot of stuff to sell, but we were overwhelmed by the blessing of our community! Sixteen families contributed, so let me start with a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to these rockstars: The Borders, Boyles, Staples, Scoggins, McGees, the {future} Madrids, Youngs/Peevys, Cardens, Browns, Parrises, Gossetts, Reaves, Monroes, Grandma Scoggins, our neighbors Amy and Brian, and Emily Barry. THANK YOU all for being so generous to us!

Just to give you an idea of how much stuff we were given, here is our garage the day before (and there were about eight boxes on the porch too!).

When we decided to do the yard sale on Saturday, February 11th, we were looking at a temperature of about 60 degrees here in Alabama. I was pumped that we would be given the blessing of good weather, so we went ahead and put an ad in the paper ($21 for three days!), bought our permit ($3 for good for 5 days) made a facebook event, and told everyone about our yard sale. As the ten-day forecast became closer and closer, the temperature slowly dropped and we were facing a 35 degree high for Saturday!

Will & I made a game-time decision on Friday morning of the 10th, and went ahead and started the yard sale that day. We put the signs out, updated our craigslist ad, and suddenly people were at our door! Our ad/ the signs said that it would start at 1pm, but there was a woman on our porch at 10:30!! We decided to go ahead and set everything out, and before you know it there were tons of people there!

Day 1's total: $610!!!

Friday night we went to bed early and prepared to wake up EARLY to begin Day 2 of yard-saling!

We woke up and the temperature had dramatically droped overnight! Sweet friends of ours, Prudence, Les and Micah, came over at 5 am, so I fixed them breakfast and we prepared to brave the cold and set the yard back up. Thankfully, everything was pretty organized from yesterday.

We put everything out on the yard by 5:30 and went inside to enjoy our breakfast and coffee, when suddenly we heard rain! We ran outside and covered up the books, thinking that the rain would soon pass over. The rain got a little heavier so we decided to bring EVERYTHING onto the porch or garage. As soon as we decided this it started SNOWING! At about 6:30, with snow falling and all, we had customers!

All the cars from our brave customers!

Although the snow stopped pretty soon after it started, the temperature continued to drop during the day. There was a freezing wind and we were all so cold! We decided to set up a little coffee stand (for free) for our customers!

We figured out that the yard was not ideal for shopping so we tried to set everything up in our garage as best we could- the walls tended to keep the wind out! I wasn't all that excited about having people in the garage, because not everything in there was for sale, but I had to get over it!!

By mid-morning, the reinforcements came! And by reinforcements, I mean three of our awesome college students who not only came to help but got us SO organized inside!

We had to literally close the garage door to keep shoppers out when it was time to wrap up for the day. I'm sure we could have kept going, but by the end of the day people were getting items for almost nothing because they were wanting to talk us down so low, and we were too cold to argue!

Our Day 2 total: $438!!

Which puts our Jacksonville yard sale total to $1,038!!!!

We could NOT have done this without our precious friends who donated items and those who came out to serve us! We thought about doing one more yard sale with all that we have left over, but we decided to just pass the items on to our church-wide yard sale to benefit the annual Honduras mission trip (the yard sale will occur while we are in Ethiopia).

Our neighbor came over on Saturday and she said to me, "If people are willing to come out here and shop in the snow, then I know God is going to provide a way for your baby to come home." What a testimony! It is so true that God worked above and beyond what would be reasonable for a freezing, last-minute yard sale. The fact that we made any money at all on Saturday blows my mind! Praise God!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Four Months Old!

Dear Israel,

Today you are four months old! This is also a special day because exactly FOUR years ago your dad and I went on our very first date! We had no idea then that there would be a precious boy in Ethiopia who would captured our hearts and make us love eachother more, and give us a bigger idea of how much God loves us!

Son, this past month we had several big things happen! First, we got some adorable videos where we finally heard your voice for the first time! It was just a brief coo, but it was so amazing and we have watched that video on repeat probably hundreds of times.

This month was also a very big milestone because your preliminary court date occurred. Baby it is so bittersweet for me to think that you are young and won't remember all of what is going on. In one breath I am so thankful that you won't remember any of the time we are spending apart, and that you'll really only remember life with us. But I am also grieved at the losses that are already occurring, as you are being separated from the culture of your heritage and the people who birthed you. I wish I could be there to experience every day with you so I could replay it all to you one day! I hope we will honor your birth family and Ethiopia as you grow up, I want you to be proud of your background and to praise God who orchestrated every detail of your life.

A week after your preliminary court date, we received the news that we have our court date and we will be on a plane very soon to meet you! After many sleepless nights we finally have a countdown until you are in our arms, Israel! You have no idea the joy you have given us already and we don't even know you. Baby never doubt that your parents love you and wouldn't move mountains to get to you! We are working very hard to have everything in order for you. Your precious community here has showered you with gifts and is just as ready to see your sweet face in person! We are praying daily for you and your caregivers! We cannot, cannot, CANNOT wait until we can finally hear that little coo in person!

This month you also were sick twice! I don't like hearing that you are sick, and to hear twice that you had to get on medications just breaks mommy's heart. I can't wait until you are home and I can be the one to rock you when you aren't feeling well. I can't promise that you won't be sick but I promise to love you and be there to kiss you when you aren't feeling well!

Sweet boy it pains me to think that each month passing is another month without you in our home. I know that when I write your five month letter, you still won't be here. But the good news is, we will have met you! We love you sweet baby. We miss you and we are counting down the hours until we can hold you and tell you that you are loved by us. We're coming Israel!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Every Good and Perfect Gift Comes from Above

This week has been so busy! Between putting up gifts from the baby shower, prepping for our yard sale this weekend, doing normal weekly scheduled things (volunteering, meeting with college girls, etc), keeping the house clean for various visitors, and packing for Ethiopia... I feel like my mind is constantly making to-do lists!!! I might just drive myself crazy by the end of this! But instead of focusing on the to-do lists I hope that I can redirect my thoughts: these are GREAT things and tremendous blessings from God!

Anyways, I wanted to post about a big PRAISE report/ update on our fundraising:

As of this morning, we have made over $400 in sales from the Tukula bags!!! And we have nine bags left folks! So hop on over to the "cute things for sale" tab because they have sold so fast this week!

As of yesterday, we received a $500 GRANT from the Southern Baptist Convention Adoption Fund for Pastors!!!! PRAISE the Lord! This is a one-time gift that we don't have to repay! When I look at our fees left to pay, I think of this as one month's fees for Hannah's Hope care (it is $500 a month) and so that is a wonderful gift from the body of believers!

This weekend we are going to have a MEGA yard sale in our yard! At first we thought this was going to be a smaller yard sale than our first two in 2010, but oh my, I have been humbled by the outpouring of generosity from our Jacksonville community! I can't wait to get it all out of our garage and into new homes! Haha :)

Thanks for being so generous to us, for praying for us and for PRAISING GOD with us as He provides for our needs and gives us opportunities to glorify His name!

Psst- I wanted to also shout out to Lauren for writing this post. It is a great encouragement to us, a fund raising family, and I wanted to send any skeptics her way! It is a beautiful thing to join together as the body of Christ and all play a part in orphan care. Go check it out!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby Shower!

This Sunday several precious ladies from our church hosted a BEAUTIFUL shower for us! They were so thoughtful in the way they decorated and planned for the event. It was so special to me because of all of the details that they used to make it personal! They even had little pictures of Israel all over the place (all edited here so you can't see him, sorry!)- and I loved showing off our little man!

The setup:

The hostesses:

It was also very special because my mom, paternal grandmother, and my mother in law all made the trip to visit! I am constantly spoiled by these ladies but they made a trip to show our Jacksonville family that there are some loving grandmas only a phone call away!

We got SO much stuff at the shower and it was so humbling to have the support of so many people!

This is what our nursery looked like this morning (via phone- sorry for the poor quality):

I promise to post another nursery update soon, as several things have been in place since the last pictures I posted! It is really coming together and that makes this mama SO happy! I can't wait for Israel to be here and to wear the cute clothes and play with the sweet toys! AHHHH I am so ready!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Three Things to Pray For

1. We found out Israel is sick AGAIN with the same infection that he just recovered from two weeks ago. Boo. This is the third time we've gotten the "he's sick" call and it is no fun! But even though we hate those updates, I am thankful that we get them at all. I am glad that AGCI keeps us informed so we know how to specifically pray for our little man! It seems that all the Hannah's Hope kiddos keep passing the same junk around to each other, which doesn't make any of us mamas happy! We're all about teaching our kids to share but NOT with germs! Hopefully this will give him a rock-star immune system but in the mean time please pray for him to feel better and for the medicine to protect him from future infections.

2. So although we just got our FDL fingerprints redone (they expired February 12, 2012) our CLEARANCE expires May 20, 2012. Which means we have to do a whole round of paperwork again to extend our clearance. Confused a bit? Me too. All I know is that PAPERWORK.NEVER.ENDS. I may have cried a bit when I looked at our new FDL and saw that it already needed to be updated. We don't want to take any risks that our nearly expiring clearance is what holds us up from bringing our son home this spring.

3. We're doing another yard sale NEXT WEEK! Yes I looked at the 10-day forecast and saw that next Saturday the high is 60 degrees! Beautiful weather for a February yard sale! Please pray for that day for us! We have had success with our last two yard sales (made $4,000 between the both of them) and although we highly doubt that is the the outcome of this one next week, any bit helps! With travel costs being around $5,000 per trip, plus facing the fact that we will have to continue to pay the $500 monthly care fee beyond April, we could use a little extra adoption funds if we don't for sure get this Lifesong grant! I spent about four hours yesterday pricing the goods that we have so far, and we anticipate a few more families donating so I think we will have a LOT of nice stuff to sell! Woo-hoo! So please put February 11th on your calendar- either come to shop or pray where you are! We need both :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Created for Care

Last year I went to the Created for Care adoptive mom retreat and had an amazing time! I wasn't able to go last weekend for their first 2012 retreat but thank goodness there is a second one in March!!!

If you are an adoptive mom please consider going! It is truly an amazing weekend of building each other up in scripture, teaching, and worship! I am so thankful for the friendships that were created and strengthened there. And although it is wonderful having supportive friends at home, there is truly nothing like having other mamas know exactly what you are going through!!

Here is the website- let me know if you will be there in March!
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