Friday, September 27, 2013

Adopt Without Debt Giveaway Winner! UPDATE with 6-WINNERS!

Thanks SO much Julie for giving away one signed copy of Adopt Without Debt! I was blown away by 81 entries!

The winner is: Lauren Wilson!

Lauren, send me an email at yestoadoption @!

UPDATE!!! :)

Julie Gumm is amazingly generous, yall! After I announced the winner, she tweeted me asking if I wanted to draw 5 more winners to win a free e-version of the book! Heck yeah!

 So Abby, Lindsey, Susannah, Mindy, and Shannon S., you get a free e-version! How exciting!!!!

Send me an email!

If you didn't win and still want a copy... you can get it for as low as $7.99 on Julie's website.

Thanks again for entering in the giveaway, and for Julie for being such a generous author!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Adopt Without Debt" Giveaway! (CLOSED)

A few years ago, I attended an orphan care meeting at our previous church, and typed up a list of adoption fundraising ideas that were mentioned. I've slowly added to the list, and that post has been my most visited post I've written. In fact, it is what has brought most of my readers to our little blog! I do not claim to be an expert on adoption fundraising, and I'm so thankful that one woman chose to really research the topic that is obviously SO important to families who are deciding to adopt. Adoption is expensive but manageable if you have the right resources and determination.

With that said... I have a VERY exciting giveaway for you this week!

Julie Gumm's book, "Adopt without debt" is a great tool for you or other families to use! Even if you are not considering adopting, it would be a helpful read as you encourage other families in the process.

Here are some book reviews:

I receive calls on my show all the time about how you have to go into debt to adopt. Julie Gumm is living proof and a testament to the fact you can adopt without ANY debt. I highly recommend reading “Adopt Without Debt” if you are considering adoption.
Best-selling author, national speaker and nationally syndicated talk radio host
I’ve been waiting for a book like this for almost a decade now. The reality has been that finances are often the biggest obstacle to adopting a child. Thanks to Julie Gumm that reality is going to change. Adopt Without Debt should be read by every prospective adoptive couple. It’s that helpful.”
Director of Together for Adoption

Julie Gumm has graciously offered to give away one signed copy of her book to one of you! Isn't that awesome?! There are several ways to enter, and I'm going to draw a winner on Friday, September 27 around noon CST. 

Please visit the actual blog link to enter the giveaway on Rafflecopter! Enter in as many ways as you can!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 16, 2013

Glimpses of Hope

I always struggle with knowing how much to disclose about Israel. I follow blogs of other kids with special needs, and recently a mom with a child who has CP wrote a very realistic update, which was so encouraging to me. I know there may be other mamas with special kids reading this, and I hope that our story encourages you to know you're not alone.

The other day Israel got a new accessory: orthotics (leg braces). These are to help him because he has really low muscle tone, and his legs can't bear the weight of his body so that he can stand/walk. Our local Children's Rehabilitation Services paid for these for us! It is a huge blessing.

Things like his braces and glasses are outward signs that something is "different" with Israel, which makes it hard for us. I love my son and wouldn't trade him for anything, but I get sad FOR Israel sometimes.

The other day, we took the kids to a birthday party with a bunch of small kids in various ages. There were kids around Israel's age, younger and older, who were just running in circles around the birthday party. They were climbing the stairs, running around, playing with balloons, etc. Meanwhile, Israel was sitting off on the side, completely happy, just babbling away and clapping. I had to help him eat his food while the other kids sat on a blanket eating together. After dinner, the kids lined up and received cupcakes and ate them together, then continued running around. I put Israel on the blanket with them after he finished his dinner, and he watched the other kids until they took off and he was left alone on the blanket. He just sang and smiled on that blanket.

I ended up going to the bathroom and tried to hold back tears. It is so hard sometimes. I want so badly for Israel to be able to participate with his peers. I want him to be able to run in circles, stand in line for a cupcake, and sing happy birthday with everyone else. He is so precious! He is such a happy boy and has no idea that he is different or missing out on anything. But that may change. And his peers will realize that he needs help and that he can't play with them in the same way. Will they still try to play with him? Will he be left out?

It just makes me ache. I long for Israel to walk and talk. But I must, I must trust in God's sovereignty. I must rely on God's grace for Israel and realize that God's plans are bigger.

So, Israel got braces a few days after the party. It was a long day and Will and I were both a little disheartened (I'd been in a slump since the birthday party). We treated Israel with lunch out, then took him home. We have started doing what we call "Israel Cheer Time" at night, when we work on his physical therapy. We normally "walk" with Israel by holding him by the hands and kicking his legs out one at a time. He will lock his knees and just stand there, not helping at all.

But that day was different. When we tried to "walk" with him, he not only picked up his leg but he BENT HIS KNEE. Will and I were both sobbing as we walked around the house with Israel, cheering him on. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to us, it was the first glimpse of hope we've had in a long time.

We've done Israel Cheer Time several times, and he continues to bend his knee. We are so proud of our son for making some small progress!

Here's our son in some of our other PT settings at home. I've never posted pictures like this before on the internet, because I was too proud to admit this is our life. But I'm not ashamed anymore, because this is part of our son's story, and God is using it for His glory.

Israel's stander, which he has used for about a year, almost every day:

Israel's contraption to encourage crawling:

I'm so thankful for our therapists and social workers, and Israel's teachers at school who have worked with our son, helped us and advocated for our son to have the resources he needs. This has been a humbling experience and we are reminded that there is nothing we can do to heal our son but the Lord will when or if He chooses. God is giving us the grace we need for each step, and we are trusting in Him to bring beauty from ashes, as He always does.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Edith: One Month Old

Dear Edith,

You are one month old! The last month has flown by. We were so excited to meet you and have been so blessed by having you in our family. It is amazing how much we loved you immediately. Your dad and I talk about how we did not realize that there was a gap in our life until you came. You are so precious and we are so thankful for you!

You aren't really doing much these days, yet we can't help talking about how all the "nothing" that you do is so stinking cute. Your faces when you sleep, wake up, stretch out.... you have us completely smitten. You were born with chunky cheeks and I'm afraid that you may just be a chunky baby! You love to eat, girlfriend! You are a great sleeper and will sleep 2-4 hour stretches at night. You also sleep a LOT during the day. We aren't on a set schedule yet, but you sleep way more than you are awake.

You are already starting to fit in 0-3 and 3 month outfits, although you were so tiny when you were born. You weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces at birth, then went down to 6 pounds 15 ounces when we left the hospital, but you had regained to 7 pounds 7 ounces at one week old! Yay Edith! We are glad you are growing and are so healthy. God is good!

We are loving dressing you up and snuggling you. Even your brother doesn't seem to mind you anymore, and he likes to reach for you and pet you. Only once has he accidentally smacked you in the head, and you forgave him pretty quickly.

We love you so much, our Diva Princess! That is the name we have affectionately deemed you. You are our sweet, sassy girl and we are so thankful for you.

Much love,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Four Weeks In

Welcome to the brain dump of the last four weeks! Ready to dive in?

Edith is four weeks old (she will be one month old in just 2 days!). Four weeks have flown by, and I feel like we have come a long way in just those few weeks.

Israel is doing much better with Edith! He has had a few hard nights, including one giant meltdown (while we had company, of course) and I think that the transition of Edith + some other things he has going on led to that. I've had to rock him to sleep a few times, and we're letting Israel take the lead on making sure that he feels secure and loved. I know we've been home with Israel over a year, but attachment is a lifelong process and we want Israel to always know that his place in our home is secure and that we want to meet his needs immediately.

In general, Israel doesn't pay too much attention to Edith most of the day, but does want to reach out and touch her sometimes. We let him "pet" her and have to remind him to "gentle touch" because he gets really excited.

Will and I have been knee deep in schoolwork. He just finished a 30 page paper and is working on another one! I started my fall grad school classes a week after Edith was born. It has been very different from my summer classes, because it is much harder to utilize my time on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Israel is at school. Between taking a shower, nursing, pumping, and getting Edith to sleep... sometimes it seems like I only get a good 2-3 hours of work in my whole day! I've been submitting less than quality work, but just trusting that the whole faithfulness not excellence mentality will pay off again.

The other day a friend was trying to encourage me to slow down with school. Will and I are both confident that this is the season to just get it done. I would much rather finish it in one year and be able to move on than drag out my MSW. It is hard but it will be worth it.

Other life events have included hosting my friend Stacy and her 3 kids (two of which lived at Hananh's Hope with Israel!). It was a great visit! I'm also selling a bunch of stuff at our local consignment sale this week, and it feels really good to purge some junk! I went to the sale yesterday to shop and ended up being really overwhelmed. I've been searching for the perfect double stroller to fit in our car trunk and haven't found one. My friend Beth is letting me borrow a stroller until I can find something out. That has been a huge worry for me: how do I transport two babies? This week at church I wore Edith in the moby wrap and pushed Israel in the umbrella stroller.

My husband is a college pastor, and our college ministry EngageJSU has really taken off this fall! I was able to go to the first service of the semester and it was incredible to see the sanctuary filled! We've had 5 baptisms this fall and several students have accepted the gospel. This has been so exciting! We're thrilled that the Lord is showing our ministry favor and excited that our students have really invested in the ministry. If you want to get excited with us, look at #engageJSU on twitter to see what our students are saying!

We've had meals delivered 3 times a week, and will until next Wednesday! That has been a HUGE help, especially in the early days when it physically hurt me to stand to cook. I feel like I'm barely accomplishing things some days, so having meals delivered by our friends has been so helpful.

Speaking of physical recovery, I am finally starting to look and feel like myself. I forgot that my feet had bones in them, I've been looking at cankles so long! I can finally wear one of my wedding bands again after months of being too swollen. Nursing is going really well and I'm really thankful that Edith and I are having that experience.

Edith is definitely not on a schedule yet. I nurse her when she wants and she sleeps off and on without me paying attention to the time. Second child? Yes. She's still sleeping in our room in a pack and play at night.

So, when people say "how are you doing it?" I want to laugh. We're making it! Some things are being let go (like the cleanliness of my house), my participation in our college ministry, etc. We also cut our cable so we won't get trapped into watching TV at night and can prioritize our time as a couple. Will takes Israel on a walk/run every day and that has been so helpful. I couldn't imagine doing this season without Will!

Please keep praying for us during this busy season. God is faithful!
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