Thursday, October 27, 2011

You are invited!!!

Well, I am attempting to post from South East Asia, so there's no telling how this will turn out :) I am having an amazing trip and have met so many new, precious friends!

The purpose of this post is to invite you to our adoption fundraiser on Nov. 11 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Springlake Subdivision Clubhouse off of Thomas Street in Tupelo. Some very thoughtful friends of ours offered to organize a fundraiser for us to help with the cost of the adoption, and we are forever grateful for their kindness and generosity to help us bring baby Asher home! We will be selling hamburger plates, baked goods that you can buy and freeze for Thanksgiving, our adoption fundraising t-shirts that have scripture on them, marble scripture coasters, and the Ugandan paper magazine bead necklaces from the 147 Million Orphans organization. The great thing about these beads is that half of the money goes back to the orphans in Uganda for meals and provides the Ugandan women with a trade so that the cycle of poverty can be decreased. So many lives are blessed through this organization! We will also have some handmade
items that friends have made for sale. So come out and do some Christmas shopping for a great cause!

So many people wonder why families have fundraisers for adoption. It was mine and Chad's conviction that we would take a back seat on this and wait to see what God would do. We knew that if people wanted to help us bring Asher home that He would lay that on the hearts of the people. Many people are oblivious to the costs of adoption and often ask us how much it costs. Our adoption costs between $25,000 and $27,000, depending on travel costs. This is on top of the amount we were unable to have refunded by our last agency. And the hard cold truth is that we do not have $30,000 sitting in the bank. It has been our conviction all along that when we ran out of money we would just get a loan. This will likely still be a reality for us, but we are excited to see how God will provide.

He has already provided through sweet Monica in our church donating her airline miles to help out with adoption travel costs. This was our first adoption donation and we were blown away at the precious gift she gave. One of my sweet friends, Stephanie, donated 100 marble scripture coasters for us to sell. She makes them by hand. They are beautiful and we so appreciate her giving of her time and resources to help our family.

It has been a strong conviction of ours to not beg people for financial support for this adoption. We want people to give out of the over flow of their hearts IF God leads them to, not out of obligation. I can tell you that I know first hand that the cause is a need all around the world. And that only He can convict a person of their need to help...i am living proof :) There are hundreds of millions of children who will never have a chance to come to know the Lord unless adoption becomes a reality for them. And being a part of that to me is an amazing privilege. That He would call us to be a part of His sovereign plan. Not all people are called to adopt, but ALL Christians are called to defend the orphan by helping in some way.

There are so many examples in the Bible where Jesus commands us to care for the orphans.

"Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow."
Isaiah 1:17

"You are the helper of the fatherless. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more."
Psalms 10:14,17-18

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
James 1:27

"Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families."
Psalms 68:5-6

"When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do."
Deuteronomy 24:19

"Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows."
Isaiah 1:17

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice."
Proverbs 31:8-9

"I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"
Matthew 25:40

So, if God is leading you help change a life forever, I hope you will come fellowship with us on Nov. 11 and do some Christmas shopping! We are so humbled to have friends who would be so kind to help ease the financial burden of this adoption. We can't wait to see what God does!

This is the t-shirt design. The shirt design will be on the front of the brown shirt and will be a tan color.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Malaysia/Taiwan or BUST!!!

I can hardly believe that in 15 days I will be holding our new baby boy for the first time.  I tear up just thinking about that moment!  It's really amazing how this all came about. 

Chad and I had decided when we moved to Tupelo that it would be my turn this year to go on an international mission trip.  He is traveling all the time, so it is really hard for me to get away.  Our missions pastor knew I was wanting to go on a journey this year, so he asked Chad if I would be interested in going to Malaysia.  Of course I was so excited to have the opportunity to go minister to missionaries and their sweet families.  Our church is sending over a team to do VBS type activities for the missionaries' children while the missionaries are in a marriage retreat.  These missionaries serve in very dangerous parts of the world where you are persecuted for sharing the Christian faith.  I'm sure that the time they have to spend alone without children is extremely rare.  It will be such a blessing for us to be able to provide them with some time to connect with their spouses each day.

When we got our referral at the end of July, I got out the map to see exactly where Taiwan was (yes, I'm geographically challenged...geography obviously was never my favorite subject:)  Much to my delight it was somewhat close to Malaysia and this had my wheels turning.  Of course I googled to see how long the flight would be between Malaysia and Taiwan and it was only 4 hours!  I could not be 4 hours away from my baby and not go meet him!  So we began to start checking the price difference it would be for me to make that extra leg of the trip.  Our missions pastor was so great to help us get our flights arranged so that we could spend a few days with Asher on the way home.  I was so excited that our Children's Director at the church, Rebecca, agreed to go with me!  I'm happy to have her as my travel friend and photographer!  I love His ways...that He knew I would be on the mission trip that would be so close to Asher!

This week I have been running around like crazy trying to get things ready to go.  Shots, malaria prevention medications, supplies for the VBS, etc.  One of the things that I needed was an Ergo baby carrier, and I really wanted the black one with the camel color hood.  I have been looking at these things for months online.  I knew I would need one with a newborn adopted baby since it is so important in the bonding process to have them close to you as much as possible.   They cost  $115 plus $25 for the infant insert.  Ugh!  We have scaled back on so may things financially since answering God's call to adopt.  It is SO expensive, and every little penny counts.  I had been trying for a week to find the very best deal but even the used ones on eBay were going for $90.  So after stressing out about where I was going to buy this Ergo all week, I decided I had waited too late to order one online and had planned to cave in and go get one at a local baby store after MOPS on Thursday.  I was sitting at my MOPS table and saw a new mommy with her baby in a sling.  We were talking at my table about how cute the sling was when I said I really needed an Ergo and that I was going to get one after MOPS.   A sweet new friend next to me told me that she had one in the trunk of her car that she had bought brand new at the flea market for $25!  She said that she didn't have any plans to have another baby anytime soon, but that she bought it just because she knew they were really expensive and it was such a great deal.  Then I asked her what color it was...YEP!  Black with a camel hood :) What a blessing!  I wrote to thank her and received the sweetest reply that I will share a portion of with you:  "I love watching the way the Lord works the extraordinary in ordinary events. To be honest that ergo was meant for you, it really isn't like me to buy something I don't need (and trust me we have no plans for baby anytime soon). "  I love what she said about God working the extraordinary in the ordinary.  He does care about EVERY minute detail.  And although this story may sound really silly to some, it was a blessing of encouragement to me on a journey that has gotten very long and weary at times.  Thank you sweet Ashlee for being that blessing!

So, of course the first thing I had to do when I got it home was try it out...
...with Annlee's "daughter" Keelee!

Deuce wasn't digging the Ergo :)
Now all I have to do is finish packing and counting down the next 15 DAYS until it's Asher that I'm carrying in that Ergo! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blog resurrection day!!!

IT’S ALIVE, the blog that is!!! And yes, we are still adopting :)  I have been on a blogging hiatus for several months now, largely in part to being crazy busy with dossier paperwork and partly from just being paralyzed by a blah season in my life.  I don’t think from kindergarten to doctoral PT program that I have ever completed such a gruesome paper trail as dossier preparation.  We had until the week of Christmas to finish our dossier so that it could be sent to our country before the first of the year (we have omitted the name of the country we are adopting from due to agency request and privacy in the blogging world but will be glad to share with you if we know you).  These were certainly crazy days leading up to the end of the paper trail process, especially when mixed with being pastor’s wife, Mommy, Sunday School teacher, MOPS coordinator, part-time PT, and the list goes on.  I’m pleased to tell you that we are paper ready as of the end of December!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the adoption world, this means that we do not have to do ANOTHER PIECE of paperwork until we go get our baby!  Praise the Lord!
Aside from sheer craziness of being busy, I had a period of time after we submitted our dossier that I was just BLAH!  Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  It’s weird to me that I could never exactly put my finger on why, but it lasted all throughout January.  One night Chad asked me what was wrong.  And can I just say that I love that God has blessed me with a man who knows me to my core and can recognize when something is just not right.  I hope you all have a relationship like that with your spouse.  You know how we are as women, at least me anyway.  I’m fine until someone asks me what’s wrong.  And then the waterworks begin.  I began to tell him how I didn’t know what was wrong.  That I was just in a blah kind of state.  Now that I look back, I think it had a lot to do with fear.  Fear of the unknown with the adoption.  Fear that our house in Louisiana that’s been for sale for over a year would never sell.  Fear that we wouldn’t be able to fund this adoption on our own.  Fear of not being busy with paperwork anymore and now just having to be still and wait.  I hate how Satan can paralyze us as Christians with fear and unbelief.  Well, a funny thing happened that night as Chad and I sat there on the bed and talked.  God spoke through circumstances as He often does.  I told Chad that I wanted to stop crying and watch American Idol.  So we began to watch and this contestant comes on with a story about her family.  Her father begins to tell a story about how the country they were living in had forced people to leave with nowhere to go because of their race.  Would you believe that he said that they were from the country we are adopting from and that we could tell he was obviously of the Roma class?!?!  This is the exact people group we are adopting from, and are adopting from here because of the cycle of oppression these poor people go through.  On American Idol.  Who’d a thunk it!  And then literally 5 minutes later I get a text from someone very dear to me acknowledging our new baby.  This was a huge deal to me because it was the first sign of excitement and acceptance of our adoption I had seen since telling them about it many months ago.  I love my God!  That He is so AMAZING that He can pull you out of anything by the speaking of His Holy Spirit.  I pray that He continues to refine me daily.  To burn away all of the sin in my heart.  To form me into His likeness.  To help me reach my ultimate goal of bringing Him glory.  It’s not always glamorous to be real in front of people, but I pray I can always be real.  As I heard my favorite bible teacher Beth tell it, you can’t have a testimony or a healing without first having some wounds.  I’m thankful for such a merciful healer.  
I have some pics for you to see of what we have been doing.
dossier checklist
This is the dossier checklist that is finally COMPLETE!  It felt SO good to put all of those little dashes on there :)
  notice of action
This is our notice of action.  It’s an important piece of mail we were looking for daily after we submitted our I-600A form.  It puts you in the system for FBI fingerprinting appointments.
FBI fingerprinting
This is us at the McCoy Federal Building in Jackson, MS.  Originally our fingerprint appointments were for December 22 in Memphis.  We wanted to spend a few days before Christmas with our families in south MS, but were not going to be able to do that if we had to be in Memphis on the 22nd.  It is very hard to change these appointments.  You can only do this by mail and it draws out your time frame of dossier completion.  So, I used my connection :)  My Daddy is a MS State Senator, so I called in a favor.  To my delight he was able to have our appointment changed to Jackson on Dec. 20th and we were able to celebrate Christmas with family before having to travel back to Tupelo for Chad to preach the Christmas Eve service.  Just one glimpse of God’s goodness along the way.  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28  
dossier done
This is the day we completed our dossier!  I think our social worker thinks we are nuts!  Have we told you how much we LOVE him!  If you are called to adopt, please let me share with you how wonderful New Beginnings has been. 
 mailing dossier
This is my sweet little helper that I took with me to mail the dossier.  We are doing our best to let her be very involved in getting her new baby brother or sister home!  She is so excited for that day!
Last piece of mail
This is the day I got the LAST piece of mail!  It is called the I-171H  or the Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition.  I’m sure our neighbors think I’m crazy…from going out to check my mailbox a gazillion times a day even in my PJs at times to jumping up and down and squealing when it finally came!
 photo book 1
This is the book of family photos that I made to send over to our country with the dossier.  Most countries focus on your financials, combing through W-2s and net worth statements, but our country really focuses on family pictures and whether or not your family seems like a good healthy family to raise an orphan.  I put this book together so that they could get a glimpse of our family, praying that they will see the love we have to give.  This is the front cover.
photo book 3
This is one of the inside pages.
photo book 2 
This is the back cover.
 Annlee's drawing sister
This is a picture Annlee drew at church.  I think that she has made up her mind on what the gender of the baby will be!  I’m so thankful that she is so excited about adoption that she has included our baby in her family portrait!
I spoke with the founder of our adoption agency this week.  She is leaving tomorrow to go over to our country where our dossier has already arrived and has been translated.  She will be calling us next week with an update.  She is hoping that she might get us a referral while she is there (this includes a picture, social and medical history).  This may be a long shot since this is a new program, but our God can do amazing things!  We are believing that His timing is perfect and that we will be matched with a precious child at just the right time.  Please pray for the matching process!
gottcha day pic
I thought I would end this post with this picture that Annlee drew  yesterday.  I was explaining to her what a Gottcha Day was.  This is the day you get your baby.  She adamantly told me that she thought it would be May 14th :)  She then drew this picture on a sticky note that is now affectionately place on our refrigerator.  Can’t wait for that day.  And how cool would it be if she were right on target?!?!  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fun Fall Days

We've had lots going on over the past few weeks.  Here are a few of my favorite memories from early fall...
Elvis and Priscilla only seemed fitting for our first Halloween in the birthplace of the king of rock and roll!  They had so much fun at their first FBC Trunk or Treat.  And no, those aren't wigs, just lots of teasing, hair gel, and black hairspray!  My sweet husband got to wash and comb all of that out while I was at choir and ensemble practice :) Sorry baby!
My two favorite guys at Deuce's FBC Day School Fall Festival.  My man is shrinking!  He's lost 45 pounds in 2 months!  So proud of him for getting healthy!
This is my sweet baby girl at the Panda Pride Celebration at her school.  She was the Panda Pride Award recipient for being positive, prepared, and polite.  I love how excited she was...can't you see it in her little squinty eyes?
And this is the fun they got into as we were moving out of the house we rented when we first moved to Tupelo.  No televisions to watch so they had to ride the stick horse around the yard and found some interesting accessories in Mommy's closet!
This is their first night in the new rental house.  I am proud to report that they have spent every other night in their own beds!  A miracle indeed!  God has so blessed us with them being such troopers with all of the change this year.  Yes, another rental house, another temporary home.  I'm so thankful that this world is only a temporary home for us if we are in Christ Jesus.  I try to remember this every time I get down about still having a house for sale.  That none of this "stuff" down here really matters.  As I was eating off of my paper plate at lunch today using my giant bottle of Morton's salt as my impromptu salt shaker, I was thinking a lot about this.  Just how silly "things" in this world are.  I'm often reminded of this old gospel song that goes like this..."This world is not my home I'm just a passing through.  My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue."  Although we have lived almost a year with all of our stuff one state away, we have had everything we need.  Just shows me how much of what we have is a want, not a need.  So for now, we have settled in to another temporary home!  Hope to be here until our house sells!
As a birthday present to her Daddy, Annlee performed at halftime on the field at MS State.  She had a blast at the mini cheerleader clinic and her Daddy loved watching his girl cheer for the Dawgs!

Posing for the finale of the dance they did to Ghostbusters!
These boys love their Dawgs!  GO STATE!
I think we may be singing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" :) 
Annlee just had to make a pallet the night before Deuce's birthday party.  Chad, Mama, and I had gone up to the church late that night to decorate for the party.  Don't worry, Papa was at the house with the kids!  We came home to find that she had gone to get her favorite picture to help her sleep better and laid it on the floor beside her.  It's a picture of her and Chad at the beach.  Of course that made me cry.  I'm such a softy!
During his second year of life, our sweet boy has become OBSESSED with Disney Pixar Cars.  He has more than I dare to count, and can call each one by name.  He loves to line them up in a particular order (I'm afraid he may have a touch of my OCD :).  He can sit for hours playing with them, creating dialogue between them as they fight each other or help one another hilarious to watch.  This boy cracks me up!  What a blessing he has been to our lives.  He is such a lover, always ready to give a smile and hug to anyone he meets.  I also especially love his cute little deep voice!  It's so funny.  Happy Birthday Deuce!  I can't believe my baby is 3!
Deuce loved his birthday cake with the piston cup on top!
This is what Annlee drew in church on Orphan Sunday.  Notice the I heart orphans she wrote.  So precious!  I heart that baby girl and her precious heart :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Orphan Sunday

Sunday, November 7, was Orphan Sunday throughout the world.  We celebrated at FBC Tupelo through worship, preaching, and videos that increased awareness of the orphan crisis our world is facing.  Chad preached two very powerful messages on our call to care for the orphans and living in total obedience to God's call on our lives.  You can listen to them here.  You will be blessed, but beware, you may be convicted at what God may call you to do ;)  You can also watch any of his other messages on our church website or by searching iTunes podcasts for FBC Tupelo.  I'm so blessed to have been chosen to live my life with a man who loves God so passionately and inspires me each day to love and live for Him even more. 
We were sporting our adoption t-shirts for Orphan Sunday!  My shirt was designed by my precious friend Amy and was sold to support their Ugandan adoption.  Amy's awesome husband Matt is our Student Minister.  You can follow their journey at  Chad is wearing a shirt from 147 Million Orphans that I talked about in my very first post. 

What an amazing day this Sunday was in the life of our church!  I cannot even begin to tell you of how many have contacted us to let us know how the Holy Spirit is convicting them to be a part of helping decrease the orphan population.  I hope to do a post soon with excerpts from some of their e-mails.  We will be hosting a Mercy Conference at FBC Tupelo this weekend along with New Beginnings to educate the public about adoption, foster and orphan care.  This conference is free to the public.  Registration begins at 8:30 and  the conference concludes at 12:00 p.m.  So excited about this day!  Please come learn how you can be used to make a kingdom impact!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let the waiting games begin!!!

YAY!!!  Guess what this is?!?! 
 It's our completed and notarized copies of our home study and our I-600A that was mailed off TODAY :)  Can you tell I'm excited?
And this is our A-MA-ZING social worker, Marcus.  He did a phenomenal job with our home study, and painted such a precious picture of our family.  He has been such a joy to work with!  We received a call from our case worker last night at European Adoption Consultants and she told us that this was the first time she had ever reviewed a home study that didn't need any corrections.  And again, Marcus ROCKS!  We are so very thankful for the way God has directed our steps thus far.  So what is the I-600A?  This is the Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition that goes to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Sounds fancy, huh?  To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what it is, I just know it's the next big step towards our sweet baby!  (I'm not much of a researcher HA!) And I've heard all of the adoptive Mamas talk about how this is one of the things you really have to wait on.  Once this is processed, we will get a FBI fingerprint appointment in Memphis.  In the mean time we have tons of papers to gather for our dossier completion.  I'm so excited to wait!  Sounds silly, I know, but this song I love keeps popping into my head.  It's called While I'm Waiting by John Waller.

While I'm Waiting :
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

Oh how I long to worship and grow in the Lord while I'm waiting!  It's definitely gonna be worth the wait!

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry."
Psalm 40:1

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We've been BUSY!

As we have been told and are learning firsthand, adoption is a long and tedious process!  We have been very busy over the past few months.  It's been hard to keep such a big secret, especially when there's so much stuff to do throughout the process.

This is the first of the paperwork we had to complete for our home study.  Each paper you see has about a million stapled behind it.  Well, maybe I'm pastorally exaggerating :) Those pastors like to do that HA!
Here's my man getting fingerprinted by the Lee County Sheriff.  He was so gracious to us!  He gave us a warm welcome at the front door, and walked us back to fingerprint us himself.  Everyone told us that was really rare.  No, we're not super special, he's a member of our church :)  He is such an encourager to Chad, and that makes me smile!
 My turn...all clear, whew ;)
And the blood work begins.  If you know Chad, you know that he is a BIG OLE BABY when it comes to needles.  Yes, this is the man who will not go to the doctor because he is afraid that he will have to get a shot.  And if it does get so bad that he needs a shot, he declines it and takes a two week prescription med instead.  I love him!
And here is my crazy husband's best passing out pose!  The nurse was cracking up at us.  I'm sure she thinks we are nuts, but we have to document every step and throw a bit of humor in there!
We traveled to Austin, TX, for the Together for Adoption conference.  We were able to learn tons about starting an orphan ministry in the church, and met lots of new friends!  The speakers were amazing as was the worship.  I love Christian conferences!  What a refreshment to my soul this weekend was.
 Excited to be learning so much!
Love the girls from 147 Million Orphans, Gwen and Suzanne.  They sell the most awesome shirts and beautiful handmade beads created by Ugandan women.  The proceeds help feed the orphans. 
 This slide speaks for itself!
 Writing the first of many checks...this REALLY makes it seem real!
My precious Annlee painting our announcement poster that we used to put on our blog and to show the church for our announcement.  She has been such a trooper keeping the secret for so many months.  We had lunch one Sunday with a sweet family in our church who adopted from China years ago.  I had told the mother about our plans to adopt.  As we were eating lunch we started to talk about it, and Annlee gasps at me with really big scary eyes and runs over to say, "Mommy, you let out our secret!"  It was priceless.  She was taking this secret seriously!  She watches Beth Moore with me on Life Today sometimes.  After Beth speaks, they highlight orphans and children who have been sold into slavery for you to support.  I think watching this and sponsoring Sandra from Uganda through World Vision have really put a love in her heart for orphans.  She has ended every prayer for months with the same line, "God please let us adoct (her version of adopt) a baby!"  I love her sweet little heart. 

We are so excited to be on this journey and cannot wait to see how much more real our God will become to us through every step we take.  The journey will be long and hard at times, but we are trusting in a mighty Lord.  We covet your prayers daily! 

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-3 (New King James Version)