Friday, February 21, 2014

So... Handmade it Is!

Okay, so I guess I was incredibly wrong when I assumed that you all would like a break from the handmade exchanges.  I had the lowest number of sign-ups that I have ever had for the Magazine Exchange.  And because I really am passionate about the Choose Joy Raffle Fund, I decided to add a second exchange for this fundraiser.

Introducing the Letters & Numbers Exchange.

Just as a reminder and in case you didn't read the post about the Magazine Exchange, we are raising money for the Choose Joy Raffle Fund. 

What that means is that we don't know exactly who the recipient will be yet.  Here's why: the recipient will be one of the attendees of the Choose Joy Conference.  If you are not familiar with Choose Joy, it is a one day, faith-based conference in Southern California for people struggling with infertility and/or desiring to grow their family through adoption.  The best part is that at the end of the day we raffle off a huge mason jar {and I mean HUGE} full of cash for one lucky attendee to use towards growing their family.

It was my favorite moment of the day last year.


You have to hear the winner Kristi's story:

I am choosing Joy.

Yesterday I went to an AMAZING event hosted by Emmy Blakely called Choose Joy. The event was about surviving infertility and adoption. When a friend of mine told me about the event, I was excited because finally, there was a conference acknowledging a very sensitive and often shamed subject. But of course when I woke up yesterday and started to get ready, my anxiety kicked in as anyone who knows me knows that I don't like big social events and I don't like talking about my feelings to complete strangers. Hoping Stephanie would call me saying she was sick, I delayed getting ready but it was now time to suck it up and head to O.C.

When I got there I kept to myself and tried to take everything and everyone in. As I looked around the walls slowly started to come down as I realized that every single man and woman in here was on the same journey as me. Sure, our locations on this road were in different places but there was a sense of "we are in it together". As the speakers shared their stories, my hardened heart began to break and messy tears rolled down my face. I started to pray for these women, that they would get through whatever hurt they were going through and that they would come out of isolation. It was safe for me to pray and think about everyone else because talking about my story or telling people I was hurt was too hard and quite frankly no ones business.

As the day rolled on my friend told me they were selling tickets for a cash prize that was to go to any medical treatments or adoption fees. I found the ticket lady and faithfully spent the last of my $25.00 allowance on 5 tickets. I thought "how cool is it going to be for someone to win this money." I know how expensive this journey can be and any financial break is a HUGE blessing.

It soon came time for the raffle and as everyone pulled out their tickets, I told my friend "I am not going to look at my tickets until they read the winning number a second time. I won't win because things like this don't happen to me." As they read the numbers I started to pray for the winner and for that jar of cash, that it would bring peace and comfort to the couple that received. The numbers were called and no one jumped up, I then peaked at my ticket and then looked at my friend and said "I think I won!" I then screamed "Oh my gosh, I think its me." With cheers and laughter I walked up to the stage and asked the people to double check my ticket because surely there had to have been a mistake. But their wasn't.

As I received my prize and looked at all the faces I had grown to love that day, I started to cry in disbelief and shock.

As the night ended and I walked to my car, put the jar with the glittery gold top in my back seat I just sat and cried. Then I felt Jesus telling me, "Kristi, I AM HERE. I know your heart, your hurt, confusion and your loneliness, and your fears."

As I drove home, I decided not to call Matthew as I needed to take it all in myself.

When I pulled into the drive way and into the house, Matthew asked me how it went. I started to cry and handed him the jar. "I won this for our adoption" Also in disbelief and shock, he started to tear up. When I told him how much I won the tears over flowed. "Kristi, this is the EXACT amount we needed to reach our adoption fund goal." We just sat there and stared in amazement. And then it dawned on us. OF COURSE OUR GOD KNOWS US. How is there not a God who orchestrated the entire event that I would find the ticket lady at the right time and buy a set of tickets which included the winning numbers? How is there not a God who put it on complete strangers hearts to donate to a fund that was the EXACT amount we needed for our adoption?

I still can't believe that Jesus chose to bless me, the one who kicked and screamed into the doors and who guarded my heart because it was the safe thing to do. But of course he did, his love and grace is unconditional. I am forever grateful for Jesus and Emmy for putting on an event that changed my heart and my life forever.
XO


Are you crying now, because I am even though I know this story and have read it many times.  It's one of my faves.  And you wanna know the best part?  Kristi will be at this year's Choose Joy... as a speaker!  Sharing her story with a new group of hurting women.

If you participate in this exchange, you will be a part of the next Kristi's story.  How cool is that???

Last year the pot was over $2700!!!  That is a huge number.  But I know we can do better this year.  Will you help me make it better?

Sign-ups for the Letters & Numbers Exchange are now open.  Click here for more details and to register.  Once again, there will be a minimum $5 donation to join, all of which will go to some special person that God is orchestrating to be at Choose Joy to win this auction to grow their family.

Spread the word... let's make it another amazing story of God's glorious provision!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's that Time Again

Okay friends... it's time for the next @theadoptswap Exchange!

This one is going to be a little bit different for two reasons:

1. THIS IS NOT A CRAFTY EXCHANGE

& 2. I DON'T KNOW WHO THE RECIPIENTS WILL BE

Let me explain.  First of the the exchange part.  I really wanted this exchange to be one that absolutely ANYONE could participate in, so this time we are exchanging something that you can purchase for just a few dollars, you can find anywhere, and will be inexpensive to mail:

it's the...


I love magazines!  I love to read, but in this season of my life I don't get that luxury.  When I get into a good book I. cannot. put. it. down.  I ignore anything and everything around me and read, read, read until I am finished.  That doesn't go over well when there are babies to be fed, diapers to be changed, and people who actually want clean clothes to wear.  So for now, magazines have to do.

I love buying a new magazine!  I totally have a ritual with them:

First, I flip through the entire magazine looking at the pictures and removing any annoying subscription cards or perfume samples... gotta get those things out of the way.    

Then I go back and read the parts that looked interesting enough to read and skim the rest.

Then I go back again and pull out anything that is worth saving... decorating inspiration, clever products, a good recipe... you get the idea.

Then I pass it off to someone else.  I am not a hoarder.  I hate unnecessary clutter.

So for this exchange you will purchase a fabulous magazine and pass it on to your partner.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  And hopefully it will be one your partner has never seen before, and now they will have a new favorite magazine!

SIDE NOTE: When you sign up for the exchange, you will list any magazines that you have a subscription to so that your partner will be sure to get you something new.

I encourage you to try to find something fun and maybe a little obscure. There are SO MANY magazines out there {have you been to Barnes & Noble lately???}, and I am always finding new ones that excite me.  It doesn't have to be a magazine that you already know... it could be a NEW favorite for you too!

Now for part 2 of what makes this exchange different: we don't know exactly who the recipient will be yet.  Here's why: the recipient will be one of the attendees of the Choose Joy Conference.  If you are not familiar with Choose Joy, it is a one day, faith-based conference in Southern California for people struggling with infertility and/or desiring to grow their family through adoption.  The best part is that at the end of the day we raffle off a huge mason jar {and I mean HUGE} full of cash for one lucky attendee to use towards growing their family.

It was my favorite moment of the day last year.


You have to hear the winner Kristi's story:

I am choosing Joy.

Yesterday I went to an AMAZING event hosted by Emmy Blakely called Choose Joy. The event was about surviving infertility and adoption. When a friend of mine told me about the event, I was excited because finally, there was a conference acknowledging a very sensitive and often shamed subject. But of course when I woke up yesterday and started to get ready, my anxiety kicked in as anyone who knows me knows that I don't like big social events and I don't like talking about my feelings to complete strangers. Hoping Stephanie would call me saying she was sick, I delayed getting ready but it was now time to suck it up and head to O.C.

When I got there I kept to myself and tried to take everything and everyone in. As I looked around the walls slowly started to come down as I realized that every single man and woman in here was on the same journey as me. Sure, our locations on this road were in different places but there was a sense of "we are in it together". As the speakers shared their stories, my hardened heart began to break and messy tears rolled down my face. I started to pray for these women, that they would get through whatever hurt they were going through and that they would come out of isolation. It was safe for me to pray and think about everyone else because talking about my story or telling people I was hurt was too hard and quite frankly no ones business.

As the day rolled on my friend told me they were selling tickets for a cash prize that was to go to any medical treatments or adoption fees. I found the ticket lady and faithfully spent the last of my $25.00 allowance on 5 tickets. I thought "how cool is it going to be for someone to win this money." I know how expensive this journey can be and any financial break is a HUGE blessing.

It soon came time for the raffle and as everyone pulled out their tickets, I told my friend "I am not going to look at my tickets until they read the winning number a second time. I won't win because things like this don't happen to me." As they read the numbers I started to pray for the winner and for that jar of cash, that it would bring peace and comfort to the couple that received. The numbers were called and no one jumped up, I then peaked at my ticket and then looked at my friend and said "I think I won!" I then screamed "Oh my gosh, I think its me." With cheers and laughter I walked up to the stage and asked the people to double check my ticket because surely there had to have been a mistake. But their wasn't.

As I received my prize and looked at all the faces I had grown to love that day, I started to cry in disbelief and shock.

As the night ended and I walked to my car, put the jar with the glittery gold top in my back seat I just sat and cried. Then I felt Jesus telling me, "Kristi, I AM HERE. I know your heart, your hurt, confusion and your loneliness, and your fears."

As I drove home, I decided not to call Matthew as I needed to take it all in myself.

When I pulled into the drive way and into the house, Matthew asked me how it went. I started to cry and handed him the jar. "I won this for our adoption" Also in disbelief and shock, he started to tear up. When I told him how much I won the tears over flowed. "Kristi, this is the EXACT amount we needed to reach our adoption fund goal." We just sat there and stared in amazement. And then it dawned on us. OF COURSE OUR GOD KNOWS US. How is there not a God who orchestrated the entire event that I would find the ticket lady at the right time and buy a set of tickets which included the winning numbers? How is there not a God who put it on complete strangers hearts to donate to a fund that was the EXACT amount we needed for our adoption?

I still can't believe that Jesus chose to bless me, the one who kicked and screamed into the doors and who guarded my heart because it was the safe thing to do. But of course he did, his love and grace is unconditional. I am forever grateful for Jesus and Emmy for putting on an event that changed my heart and my life forever.
XO


Are you crying now, because I am even though I know this story and have read it many times.  It's one of my faves.  And you wanna know the best part?  Kristi will be at this year's Choose Joy... as a speaker!  Sharing her story with a new group of hurting women.

If you participate in this exchange, you will be a part of the next Kristi's story.  How cool is that??? 

Last year the pot was over $2700!!!  That is a huge number.  But I know we can do better this year.  Will you help me make it better?

Sign-ups for the Favorite Things Exchange: Magazine Edition will start this Saturday right here on my blog.  Once again, there will be a minimum $5 donation to join, all of which will go to some special person that God is orchestrating to be at Choose Joy to win this auction to grow their family. 

Spread the word... let's make it another amazing story of God's glorious provision!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sometimes I Suck

Do any of you have that person in your life that you should be an example to, but somehow they always seem to see the ugliest side of you?

There is a young woman in my life that I feel this way about. 

I have known her family my whole life. And a few years ago she came into my daily life. She became like a little sister to me, and I was enjoying pouring into her life. 

But then something happened. We had a falling out. And while we both had some responsibility in what happened, the truth is that the WAY it happened was my fault. I let things fester, and then in a moment of very intense stress I took it all out on her and threw a year's worth of frustration in her face. 

I was the older one. I should have been able to handle it better. And I didn't. I failed. And I went from seeing her often to not seeing her much at all. 

And while things have been fine between us, it has never been the same. I blew it for being a person she looked up to. 

And then last week I blew it again. 

I made a comment on Instagram in a moment of frustration {there is clearly a pattern there, I should really learn to shut my mouth in times of frustration} that threw her under the bus. And I really didn't mean to, but in looking back at it, it totally did. 

And she, the much younger {supposedly much less mature} woman wrote me a very nice, very mature email calling me out. 

And all I could think was... dang it!  I suck. 

So why is it that sometimes with the relationships that matter most, we fail most?  

I feel like this friend has seen my ugliest character traits. And when I think about what she must think of me... it's not good. And it makes me feel like all the people who think I'm great are wrong, and she, who knows the "real" me, must think I'm such a fony baloney. 

But you know what that is?  It's Satan trying to tell me that I'm not good enough. Because {as my pastor always says} the only thing that is true about me is what God says is true. 

So what does God say is true about me?

I am a sinner in need of a Savior. 
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

I am called to love. 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Nothing I can do will change the way God feels about me. 
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:8

So how does all this apply to the situation with my friend?  The truth is that we all fall short of being who God wants us to be. But He loves us anyway. And that's how we are called to treat others. To love them anyway, despite the fact that they fall short of our expectations. 

And so here's what I can do:
Ask for her forgiveness. 
Pray that she is willing to give it. 
But know that even if she doesn't, I am still called to love her and be an example to her. 

So I will just keep trying to do better and be more Christ-like the next time. 

And you know what I find {because unfortunately this isn't the first time I have been in the situation of letting someone down}, when you humble yourself, admit your mistakes, and ask for forgiveness... it is usually given. But even if it's not, you have just won victory over Satan who would like your guilt to fester inside of you and perpetuate the ugly. 

This morning I am praying that my friend will forgive me, that God will give her the ability to see past my ugliness and have a renewed love for me that is unhuman {I know that's not really a word, but it's the most accurate way to say it... being able to forgive others who hurt us really is not a human trait}, and that she will allow me to try again to be better at being her friend.  

Is there someone from whom you need to ask forgiveness?  Does someone in your life need you to forgive them {even if they haven't asked you to}?  Do it today.  Don't let it fester.  Don't let Satan continue to claim victory.  Let others know that you are His disciple by the way you love.