Thursday, October 31, 2013

That Whole Email Debacle

If you are signed up for the Christmas Exchange or the Kids' Christmas Exchange you should have received an email yesterday with your assignment information.

You may have noticed some mistakes in that email.

You may have thought to yourself... I thought it could be any handmade item? Do I have to make another garland?

You may have wondered why the Kids' Exchange emails talked about handmade items when they are supposed to be exchanging stocking stuffers.

Maybe you didn't receive an email at all.  {If that is the case, chances are that you had a typo in your email address on the registration form.  If you have checked your spam folder and still do not see it, please let me know.}

In any case, I am resending the emails today.  Of course I have to wait until it's been 24 hours since I sent yesterday's emails because Google has a limit of 500 emails a day on the mail merge feature.  Ugh.

So... if you have not received an email by the time you are ready for bed tonight, then contact me

Also, there is a chance that we will be heading to Utah in the next few days.  If so, my BFF Megan Larson will likely be taking over the email responses for this exchange.  So if you see an email from a girl named Megan... she's legit.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Secret I've Been Dying to Share

Two weeks ago I told you about the fact that we had met our needs for our adoption fund, but that I had decided to go ahead with the last fundraiser I had planned {The Christmas Exchange} and use it to bless another family... the Rallis family.

What I didn't tell you is that Kate Rallis and I had another goal in mind.

You see, Kate and her family are adopting their daughter through the foster system which means that they will have very few expenses.  The funds they needed were very specific: $1,500.

I knew we could raise more than that so I asked Kate if she would mind if we gave the extra money to another family that I have been wanting to bless and she was thrilled at the idea!

But here's the thing... the other family didn't know anything about these plans of ours.  And they are finding out right here along with all of you.  Isn't that fun???

Kate... take it away.  {I dare you to watch this video and not cry.}

Thank You from Kate on Vimeo.

So let me tell you a little bit about Tobi Weldon and her husband.  They tried to start a family for nine years.  She had to have a hysterectomy a few years into the process, so they sought a baby through adoption.  They went through FIVE failed adoptions.  FIVE.  Five devastating heartbreaks.  Five financial setbacks.  Many years of empty arms.

And then in June they brought home their Ivey.  Ivey is home.  And she is freaking cute.

But the reality of adoption {that I have mentioned many times} is that it is expensive.  And five failed adoptions makes it even more exensive.  And even though Ivey is home, the Weldons still have a ways to go in paying off her adoption. 

But today they are $669.42 less in debt than they were yesterday thanks to all of you!  And if you would be willing to help me again, I would like to bless them even more.  Those of you that participated in the Garland Exchange know that thanks to a friend's suggestion I collected extra garlands from many of you and have been selling them on Instagram.  I have already raised almost $2,000 and I am only about half way through the stash.  Well I'm hoping that you will be willing to do that again... for Tobi.  While you are making {or buying} your gifts for the Christmas Exchange, would you consider sending an extra one Tobi's way???  Then I will help her sell them on IG and we will help the Weldons pay off even more adoption debt!  Won't that be great???  I will have more details on this later {like where to send them and when}.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You made my wildest dreams come true by helping me to bless TWO families! 

If you or someone you know is in need of adoption funds, please click on the link in my sidebar to see how you can apply to be the beneficiaries of one of my fundraisers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

Obviously this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, and since November is also Baby Blakely is Coming Home Month, I am trying to prepare some blog posts in advance about the topic of adoption that I will be posting all month long in November.

I'd love your help. 

Are there any specific adoption topics that you would like to learn more about? 

Do you have any adoption related questions that I can answer or find someone to answer?  Remember, I am pretty much an open book, so ask away!

Do you have a story about adoption that you would like to share with my readers?

Please comment below and thanks in advance for your help with this!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Doubt Creeping in... Like a Flood

Lest you think that I am some super-Christian whose faith never waivers, rest assured that my weaknesses are very real and very strong. 

Yesterday, we were matched.  From the moment we saw this birthmom's application we both just had a heart for her. 

It felt right.

It felt like it was meant to be.

Even though there are a lot of red flags with this situation.

She took her sweet time choosing an adoptive family, and I had almost given up, thinking we must have been wrong.  Then she chose us.  And on such a special day.  And we felt very confirmed that this is our baby.

Then I got an email from our agency last night telling us that the birthmom doesn't want to even set her travel date until Monday, at which point she will be 37 weeks pregnant.  {Our agency is located in Utah and our birthmom lives in another state, but plans to travel to Utah to deliver.} 

This made me nervous.  And in crept the doubt, just hours after posting my confident announcement on Instagram... the doubt was there. 

I quickly researched the adoption laws in her home state, which sent me into a real tizzy.  It can take more than 50 days for the birthmom's rights to be permanently relinquished in her home state.  FIFTY DAYS.  That's over seven weeks... almost two months!

In Utah, where Penelope was born and where we hope this baby will be born, the law is that a birthmom can relinquish her rights 24 hours after delivery, and then it is final.  When we met Penelope for the first time her birthmom had already signed the paperwork.  So when I laid my eyes on that beautiful baby girl, I poured into her, knowing that she was mine forever. 

I had been told that it can be hard to bond with an adopted child, but that was not the case for us.  Nathan and I both INSTANTLY connected with Penelope... even more so than we had with Beau.  I had a c-section with Beau and I didn't get to hold him for almost four hours after he was born.  And even then I was super loopy from being all drugged up for surgery.  I remember holding him for the first time and thinking I must be a terrible mother because I wasn't feeling that instant connection.  I wasn't feeling anything at all really... Pitocin will do that to you.  So to instantly connect with Penelope was a blessing.  And I knew that part of the reason that I was able to do that was because I knew she was mine.  Forever.

The thought of not having that assurance for seven weeks totally overwhelmed me. 

Nathan and I decided to pray together before we went to sleep.  As I listened to my husband talk about the incredible blessing of the day, and tell the Lord that we know He is in control... I remembered the words I typed last week, and I felt better.  I went to sleep and slept soundly, knowing that God has it all in His hands. 

Then I woke up.  There is a reason that the Lord's mercies are new every morning... it's because we need them every morning.  I need them every morning.  Again I felt that doubt creeping into my heart.  I texted our agency and voiced my concerns.  They quickly texted back with exactly the words that I needed to hear.  More mercies. 

It is easy to let small doubt grow into full blown panic.  There is so much uncertainty in adoption, it makes it difficult to stand firm on the certainty of the Lord.  So I am taking today {and probably the next several weeks} hour by hour minute by minute.  I am repeating truth over and over in my head, and trying to push that doubt far out of reach.  In one minute I feel totally calm and peace that only Jesus can provide.  In the next minute I am letting my head wander into all the what-ifs.

If you want to help distract me from the what-ifs, go sign up for the Christmas Exchange.  Every time I get a cha-ching on my phone telling me that someone else has made a donation my heart sings.  Baby Blakely is coming home.  Baby Rallis will be coming home soon too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Today was 18 Years in the Making

Eighteen years ago today this super cute boy who gave me butterflies came to pick me up for our first date.  He took me to Knott's Scary Farm where I got to grab onto him every time someone jumped out at us.  It was a perfect first date.

Today I got to call this super handsome man that still gives me butterflies and tell him that we are going to have a baby very soon. 

We were chosen. 

We had to wait TWELVE days for this birthmom to make her decision, which may not seem like a long time, but when our last birthmom took less than 24 hours... twelve days seemed like an eternity!  But now I know why we waited twelve days. 

God had a plan. 

He wanted us to have this sweet confirmation of being matched on a special date.

Our baby is due on November 15th.  We don't know whether it is a boy or a girl. 

Right now we have two specific prayer requests:
  • That our birthparents would get to Utah quickly {that is where our agency is located and they are from another state}.  The sooner they are there, the sooner we will have more answers.
  • That God would continue to protect our baby that has had very little prenatal care.  We are so confident that God knew from the moment this baby was conceived that he or she was ours, so we are trusting in His almighty care.  
Thank you all for the support and love you have shown us.  We are basking in God's rich blessings today.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Handmade Christmas Exchange

Sign-ups for the next exchange are now open!

If you are 18 or over, click here to sign up for the Handmade Christmas Exchange.

If you are under 18, click here to sign up for the Kids' Christmas Exchange.

To read more about the amazing cause behind these exchanges, click here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coming Monday: A Handmade Christmas Exchange

Okay friends... the next exchange is coming.  If you didn't read yesterday's post, go read it to find out why this exchange is a little different from the last two. 

I am feeling like I am finally getting this whole exchange thing down.  Thankfully, there have been very few kinks in the road, but I have definitely learned a few lessons that will help me make this exchange the best one yet!

So are you ready to hear what the next exchange is???

Okay I'll tell you, but before I do please promise to read this whole post until the end

The theme of this exchange is "A Handmade Christmas" but it does not have to be handmade by you. Keep reading.

Last year I really wanted a gift that I could make for all my close friends, neighbors, the kids' teachers, extended family members... you get the idea. I had about 30 people on the list and I didn't want to break the bank. So I searched Pinterest until I found something I loved: homemade vanilla extract. I bought some pretty little jars, made a cute label, and looked like an alcoholic buying a case of the cheapest vodka I could find.  Then I packed it all up along with a lemon, a sprig of rosemary, and directions for simmering it all together to make the most fabulous home fragrance ever.  It was a big hit.

And that's the inspiration behind this exchange: an affordable handmade item that can be duplicated {by making it or ordering it} for an inexpensive gift.

So here are the two options:

Make something that you think your receiver could duplicate, and include simple instructions for duplication.

Order a handmade item that your receiver could also order, and include the information on why you chose this item and where they can purchase it themselves.

I have once again created a Pinterest board to help you get started brainstorming.  You can find it here.

Now, please KEEP READING.  I'm about to give you the nitty-gritty, the 411, the low down.

I have had a handful of people from the Hoop & Garland Exchanges that never received their gift.  It's such a bummer for someone to have excitedly sent out their package and never get one in return.  I'm sure its possible that some were lost in the mail.  I also think some were never sent.  And that sucks.  I am giving you three weeks for this exchange, so there is no excuse for getting it out late.  When you don't send it out on time people think they are not getting anything, and then they email me, and then I have to hunt you down, and then you have to come up with some lame excuse like "my dog ate it"... and it's a whole hullabaoo.  If you sign up send your package out and send it out on time.  It's that simple.

I am just the middle man, and sadly there is not much that I can do if you don't get a package.  There is a good possibility that I will be out of town getting a baby at the conclusion of this exchange, so I cannot promise that I will be able to contact senders or try to get new packages sent to you.  That's just the sad truth.  So if you will be devastated if you get gypped and send me hate mail... please don't sign up.

I was SO, SO sad to learn that some nasty emails were sent over the Garland exchange.  Apparently some feathers were ruffled when someone didn't get a prompt thank you for the garland she sent.  So here are a few reminders from my Girl Scout days: Be kind.  Say thank you.  Give generously and without expectation.  If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.  And if you don't include contact information with your package, it is very difficult for your partner to thank you.  {That one isn't from Girl Scouts... that's from me.}

Okay, enough of the Debbie Downer details.  Are you excited???  Then go sign up here, starting this Monday! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Praise and a Plea

I have some very exciting news to share with you guys... we think we have what we need to fund our adoption.

Well, let me clarify... with the garland instasales I will be having soon, and a couple of fundraisers that friends are currently running for us {10% of all October sales from She Does Justice and 50% of all sales from this Scentsy fundraiser}, we think we will hit our mark.

Because I am striving to be very transparent with this adoption {in hopes of encouraging some of you out there to heed the call}, I want to explain how this has all worked. The biggest chunk we are using to fund this adoption is a loan we are taking out of my husband's 401k account. Apparently the stock market has gone up recently, and we can now take more out of our account than we had originally planned. Next, we took some cash out of a credit card that is allowing us no interest through March of 2015. An interest free loan?  Sure!

Finally we have done some serious fundraising!  We have had not one, but two t-shirt campaigns which raised a total of about $3300. We have received large donations from a few friends totally another $1300. Sweet Amy Lou Hawthorne made a print out of one of my Instagram quotes and raised $400 from the sale of those prints. And then my amazing friend Kate sent me some of her fabulous necklaces and I raised over $1200 from selling those bad boys.  Oh, and how could I have forgotten Amy from Evy's Tree who raised $300 from selling her hoodies... the BEST hoodies ever. 

And then I have done these Exchanges.  First we had the Hoop Exchange, which raised about $1400, and then we had the Garland Exchange, which raised over $3000 plus an extra $1200 that I have already made selling the donated extra garlands that some participants made for me {plus some hoops that Richelle Paris and I made}.

Are you adding all this up???  If you are you should be at about $12,100 in just under two months.  That is amazing... I don't care who you are.

I don't think I can describe to someone that hasn't experienced it what it is like to know that friends and strangers are all cheering you on and sacrificing their money to bring your baby home.  It's overwhelming and humbling and amazing.  Period.  The end.

Now, in case you haven't picked up what I've been putting down... I LOVE ADOPTION. And I love helping other people adopt.  When I started doing these exchanges on Instagram I had about 1300 followers, and in the last several weeks that has grown to over 3000!  And since in the last several weeks I have mostly posted about adoption and adoption fundraising, I have to assume that most of these people love adoption too.  {Or at least love helping others.}  The adoption community is very strong on Instagram, and I have been so privileged to be a part of it. 

So last month when a follower on Instagram emailed me to ask if I would mind her copying the exchange idea for their own adoption I said... I can do you one better.

Now that we have reached our goal I would like to continue doing exchanges to help other families meet their adoption needs.  Starting with sweet Kate and her family.

Meet Kate and the rest of the Rallis family:

Hi, I'm Kate and I am married to my childhood friend, Mr. Sideburns. He also goes by Jason, but that's not as fun.

Mr. Sideburns is a gift to my soul. He leads me well, cares deeply for my needs, and gives me cute babies. Eight years ago, when we started planning our future together, I was very honest with him about my intentions. As it turns out, we had the same thing in mind: adoption.

This Friday will be our four year wedding anniversary and we have so much to celebrate. Our oldest son, Firecracker, will be three in November and our little guy, Sunshine, turned one in August. You can read more about my tribe on my blog, Sweet Goings.

We have prayed about adopting a child for years, but it wasn't until January of this year that we fully had peace to move forward. The outpouring of support and love has been amazing. We cannot thank Emmy enough for hosting this exchange, and all of you who plan to participate. This is the Kingdom stuff that gets me super giddy and makes me so proud to belong to Jesus.

Our family has one goal: to refuse small love. We thank you in advance for helping us to pursue this big love designed by our big God.

You can also watch this sweet video of them announcing their big news:

Rallis Adoption Announcements from Jason Rallis on Vimeo.

You can read even more about the Rallis family on Kate's blog: Sweet Goings

I hope you are just as excited to help Kate and her family welcome their daughter as you have been to help me and my family! 

Next Monday, October 21st we will kick off the next exchange: A Handmade Christmas.  It will be run very similarly as my last two exchanges.  I will still be hosting it and collecting the donations, but the funds will be going to the Rallis family adoption fund instead of to ours.

If you are a family in need of adoption funds, please stay tuned.  I need to pray about how exactly God wants me to do this, but I will likely put together a little application for families that would like to benefit from an exchange.

Thanks for letting me share my heart with you all.  And thanks for coming along side me to support the Rallis family!

Now come back Monday and sign up for the exchange here!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Adoption isn't my Only Platform

Obviously I am an adoption advocate. 

But there are other concerns in my world. 

In November of 2008 I was all set to fly out to Denver to surprise my BFF for her birthday.  Two nights before her birthday I got a desperate, panicked phone call from her telling me that Pete {her hubby} had a seizure and was being taken to the hospital by ambulance. 

I got out on the next flight possible, early the next morning.  Pete was in the hospital.  He had broken his collar bone when he fell and hit the dining room table during his seizure.  He was all drugged up and in a lot of pain, but they released him to go home.  At the time Megan had a 3 and a 1 year old at home, and was now caring for a husband who could not really do anything for himself... even brush his own teeth. 

I stayed for a week, and my mom and Beau came out on the flight we had originally been scheduled on, and we all helped try to get Megan prepared for what life was going to look like for the next few months: with a husband that was going to need a lot of care and couldn't drive {driver's licenses are often taken away after seizures}. 

It turned out that Pete has Epilepsy.  He had never experienced a Grand Mal seizure like this one, but it turns out that he probably had been having many seizures over many years.  He would experience "episodes" of kind of blacking out, but they had chalked it up to being overworked and exhausted.  They had no idea that he was actually experiencing Mini Mal seizures.

In the last five years Pete has had three Grand Mal seizures.  His latest one was just a few months ago.  This time he broke his shoulder and had to have surgery.

Living with Epilepsy is scary.  Every time Pete is late coming home from work Megan wonders if he has had a seizure at the wheel.  Every time he tunes out for a second, she thinks maybe he's having a seizure right there in front of her.  It's a daily thought. 

This week I received an email from my friend Jeannett of Life Rearranged.  Jeannett's daughter has Epilepsy.  She has seizures that last AT MINIMUM 45 minutes long.  This little girl's body has been through so much.  Jeannett is currently raising funds to help end Epilepsy and fund more awareness and research.  Please go read her post on their family's roller coaster ride with Epilepsy, and consider joining Team Jilly. 

Every dollar counts.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Waiting isn't My Favorite

When we adopted Penelope everything happened really fast. I mean REALLY fast.  We had only been signed on with our agency for a few weeks when we got the first call about a potential match, and then just a few weeks after that we got our next one. THE one.

From the time we got that phone call until the moment we held Penelope in our arms was 9 days. We were told on a Wednesday that they would be presenting us to this birthmom. THE NEXT DAY, less than 24 hours later, we were told she had chosen our family for her baby. Over the next 8 days we traveled to San Jose to attend my cousin's  funeral, cleaned out the nursery of the many boxes that had been dumped there when we moved into our house three months earlier, painted the nursery, painted furniture, went on a serious baby shopping spree to stock up on the items we hadn't needed in 7 years, made travel arrangements, borrowed snow gear, packed and left for Utah.  

So even though we had waited for almost 8 years to have a sibling for our son... the adoption process felt like a whirlwind.

This time around feels very different.  It has only been a few weeks since we have been considered a waiting family, but we have already been presented with five potential matches. That's already three more than we had with Penelope.  And we are still a waiting family. 

And these birthmoms are not local to our agency, so not only are we having to wait for them to make a decision... we are having to wait for them to even receive the profiles in the mail before they can make their decision.  Days feel like weeks. 

I know that God knew which baby will be ours before we even decided to adopt another baby.  I know that.  And I trust that. 

So we wait. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Always Learning

This month marks 18 years that Nathan and I have been together. We started dating at the beginning of our senior year of high school. In December we will celebrate 13 years of marriage. 

I can definitely say that I love my husband more now than I ever have. He is my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my filter. He sharpens me, challenges me, he makes me laugh, and he loves my babies. 

There is not a more perfect soul on this earth to be my match. 

And please don't tell him that I said this, but he is almost always right. He's wise. So I usually listen. 

Except this year I chose not to listen.

Last year in the middle of selling my August line of Day Planners I kind of had a meltdown and decided that I just couldn't keep up the pace that I had been operating at trying to run my business and care for my family. I decided not to do my January line.  It was a break I desperately needed. 

Only Nathan didn't want it to be a break. He wanted me to be done. My business had taken a toll on our family, and he said it was time to move on. 

But I wasn't ready to completely let go. So I came up with this brilliant plan to outsource my printing and keep the line going. 

He didn't like the plan. Not one bit. But I'm stubborn and feisty... so I did it anyway.

Then I wanted to do a January line because I had enough supplies {tabs, stickers, bookmarks, packaging materials} to do it, and I didn't want all that to go to waste. 

He didn't like it. Not even a little. But I opened my shop anyway. 

I have learned in our marriage that God often speaks to me through Nathan. I believe strongly that Nathan is called to be the head of our household, and because I know that he is a man that seeks God's will, I follow his lead in trust. Usually. 

This time I chose not to. I opened my shop and took orders for the January line despite Nathan's dissatisfaction with that plan. 

And then yesterday I woke up with the realization that I had made a huge mistake. 

Number one, I didn't sell very many planners. Not nearly as many as I expected to sell.  Which means that I would have to do A WHOLE LOT OF WORK for VERY LITTLE profit. Number two, we are about to get a baby. What was I thinking???  It's possible that we could get a baby before I could even get the planners back from the printer.  And then what?  Who is going to fill my orders?  Do I really want to bring home a baby and be stressing about getting orders filled??? Number three, I was DREADING doing the work that needed to be done. There is nothing fun left in my business. When your creative outlet becomes a burden... it's no longer an outlet. 

So at the risk of maybe making some people mad, and most certainly looking like an idiot, I decided to finally walk away from my business for good. I've been slowly and painfully pulling at that bandaid that should have been ripped off last Fall. 

I spent the last 24 hours canceling and refunding 137 orders. It was a bittersweet feeling, canceling those orders. As I went through the list of names, many of whom have loved and supported my business for several years, I prayed blessings over every single customer. I thanked the Lord for using this business to connect me with some amazing women who have blessed my life in so many ways. 

And then it was done. And I can't take it back. And I don't want to. 

And I am learning again why I should let my husband lead me. And I am grateful that he loves me even when I forget. 

And an era is over. And I am no longer a small business owner. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Being Public

Last week I connected with a new friend on Instagram and she asked me how I am able to be so public with my life. She said that she used to blog, but it sounded like she had a negative experience with a critical reader that had caused her to stop blogging. 

This is actually a question that I am asked frequently, and here's my answer: if you are not willing to share your story, then how is God going to get the glory?

I am not a private person, but it can still be scary to share. The other day I posted on Instagram about the fact that we were being presented to a birth mom, and I had to really think about it before I hit post. But I love adoption, and I feel strongly that one of the Lord's main purposes for my life is to advocate adoption, and so I decided that with this time around I was going to share it all. I think one of the things that keeps people from adopting is the fear of the unknown. So I want people to know. 

There are always going to be negative people that choose to share their negativity. For the most part, I have learned to ignore it. Or delete it. I try to let the truth that I know be louder. I am all about being authentic, which I think is really important in blogging. You have to show the good with the bad, the hard with the easy... people need to relate to you. But when you do that you open the door to the opinions of people who choose to judge you based on a snapshot of your life. 

When I first started my old blog {} I had a few haters. It really bothered me at first, and then I realized that it is just par for the course. Now instead of getting worked up, I delete comments and remind myself that the only thing that is true about me is what God says is true about me. 

Occasionally someone hits below the belt, and it hurts.  But then someone else thanks me for sharing my story, or tells me that something I wrote really hit home for them, or lets me know that they are considering adoption because of my family's experience. And I thank God for His sweet reminder and I keep going. 

Now let me just offer this disclaimer: I'm not an idiot. I realize it is 2013 and we are living in an era where privacy and identity need to be protected, especially for our children. I am ALWAYS mindful that there are creepers out there. I am careful when posting pictures of my children. I don't post naked babies. I don't post pictures of my kids standing in front of the sign that says what school they go to. There are some details of my life that I protect. But what I do put out there, I put out there in the hands of God. I know He cares even more about protecting my family than I do. And I trust Him to use my stories to bring glory to His name and purpose to my life. 

And you know what happens when you share???  Blessings are heaped over you that you could have otherwise missed out on. I cannot begin to tell you how much all the love and support that I get daily on Instagram has meant to me this year. It has been a rough year. And there have been many days that without the sweet encouragement from my followers and readers and friends... I would have completely lost my mind. The number of people that are praying for our family and this baby that is coming astounds me. Daily I get comments from people I don't know telling me that they are praying for me. That is an amazing, amazing feeling. To know that I am being lifted up from all over the country and even from other parts of the world is a huge blessing. One that I cherish. 

So that's my answer. That's why I chose to live publicly. Maybe that's why you chose to read what I write. And I thank you. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

On to the Next

Last week I posted on Instagram that we were being presented to a birthmother and birthfather that are expecting a baby in December... the day before my birthday and two days after Nathan's birthday.  We weren't feeling super strongly that this was our baby, but we decided to go ahead and be presented and let the Lord work that out. 

We found out this morning that they did NOT pick us to be their baby's family. 

So we wait for the next one.

In the meantime, I have had several requests for us to re-open our t-shirt fundraiser.  Apparently not everyone made the deadline.  The only thing is that to re-open it and have a successful campaign, we have to sell 50 more t-shirts. 

We are VERY close to having all of the funds we think we will need for our adoption, so if you are interested in helping us get there this week then would you consider buying a t-shirt?  THE DEADLINE THIS TIME IS OCTOBER 14TH... NEXT TUESDAY.

You can visit our Bonfire Page to make your purchase.  FYI... the "unisex" t-shirts basically mean that they are men's sizes that run about a size too small.  So if you would normally wear a men's large, I would order an XL.

Then you can rock you shirt and tell the world that adoption is amazing!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Seasoning from a Storm

A few weeks ago I shared this painting that I have on my dining room wall by Grace for Grace, and hinted at its significance in my life.

Today I want to tell you the whole story. It has to do with facing the storm. 

There are two ways to look at a storm in your life; you can view it as a victimization or a transformation. 

We all know the people that choose the victim route... maybe it's even the way you deal with storms. These people take the "why me?" approach. Why is this happening to me?  Why would God let this happen? Nothing good will ever happen to me. My life and circumstances suck. 

I definitely do not consider myself a victim. To me, that actually seems like such a passive way to live, and I have been accused of many things but being passive is not one of them. 

But if we're really honest, we all have a little bit of victim in us. 

When I was in my darkest moments of infertility I allowed myself to creep into feelings of victimization. I remember vividly my frustration with feeling like God must be trying to teach be something, and if I could just figure it out, then He would certainly let me have my baby.  I remember crying out to God, begging Him for mercy. I remember yelling at my ceiling after our first failed IVF, asking God why in the world He wanted us to be babyless and broke, since we were so convinced that He had led us in that direction.  

I felt alone, helpless, betrayed. I was a victim of my sucky, infertile circumstances. 

I remembered a verse I had heard since childhood: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." {Psalm 37:4} I loved God, so why wasn't He giving me a baby?

And then the Lord showed me that I was totally misunderstanding that verse. I wish I could remember where my epiphany came from.  I don't recall if I read it in one of my infertility books, or somewhere online, or if I heard it in a sermon... but somewhere I learned that this verse, Psalm 37:4, was actually one of the most misquoted verses in the bible. Often taken out of context. 

If your read further in that chapter, you see this: "Give your way over to the Lord. Trust in Him also. And He will do it... Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him." {Psalm 37:5 & 7a, NLT}. 

What I came to realize was that the key to this verse is the "Delight yourself inthe Lord" part, not the "He will give you the desires of your heart" part. If you are truly delighting yourself in the Lord, the the desire of your heart is His will for your life... whatever that may be. 

This realization changed my life. I knew in that moment that I had a choice: I could either seek my will or God's will. I could accept that God's will was going to be the best plan for my life, even if that meant that I was never going to have another baby, or I could try to manipulate my circumstances to fulfill my plan no matter what the consequences would be. 

I was pretty convinced that if I released my tight grip on my life, and submitted to the Lord's will, then He would say "No baby for you!" {With an accent just like the Soup Nazi.}

I have to admit, this choice was not easy for me. Part of me wanted to turn my back on God and maintain control. But my faithful and merciful God, that had walked with me through many trials, spoke loudly enough for me to hear and made me see that if His plan didn't include another baby it was because His plan was even better. 

So I finally released my grip.  It was scary. Terrifying, actually. But I trusted God. Fully. I think really for the first time in my life. 

In that moment I decided to stop being victimized by my storm, and to start being transformed by it. 

Things didn't get magically better in that instant. I still had moments of fear, sadness, disappointment, frustration... but the difference was that I trusted God that He had a higher purpose for allowing these circumstances in my life, and I was willing to go through the storm to end up transformed. 

Sometimes we go through storms and realize that this side of heaven we will never see their specific purpose beyond the fact that we are being refined. But in my case, with this storm, I got to see the clouds clear up and the bright, blinding sunlight appear. The day I held Penelope in my arms for the first time I understood everything God had brought me through. And I was thankful. Thankful that I had been seasoned with faith, hope, and trust in our Jehovah Jirah... the God who sees and cares. 

If you are facing a storm, remember above all else that God loves you and you are not forgotten. He has an eternal purpose for allowing this storm. It will be hard. It may be scary. It might be sad. But if you allow it... it will transform you. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

On my Knees

source: Breakfast at Yurman's

Today I am heavily burdened by some situations dear friends are facing.

Do you ever feel that? Like the Lord is just pressing down on your shoulders, pushing you to your knees for someone you love? I am feeling that today. I am feeling Him asking me to intercede. So today I am spending my day in prayer. Prayers in the shower. Prayers while I dry my hair. Prayers while I sit and wait for Penelope to be done with therapy. Prayers during naptime. Prayers. Prayers. Prayers.

Sometimes it's all you can do.