Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One Little Word

     Shortly after Thanksgiving, we kicked-off our fundraising efforts with an amazing company called MudLOVE. A purchase from MudLOVE provides clean drinking water for one week to someone in the Central African Republic. These handmade clay bracelets have been such a blessing to our family and to others. Over the past month, we've ordered over 160 bracelets with words like agape, hope, blessed, faith, inspire, smile, hope, believe, create, and pray. In the last few weeks, we've unpacked 3 little boxes filled with a bunch of little words that have meant something to someone. One little word with a big impact...a daily reminder.

     As I sorted through each shipment, I packaged every bracelet into its own small bag with our Thank You card. Because we order in bulk, I always order more than what I have accounted for or sold. Fortunately, I've been able to order in increments of 5 which means if we have at least 1 person interested in a word...I'll go ahead and order it...and try to sell the remaining 4 bracelets. Inspire. Blessed. Faith. These words have been repeat orders with all 3 of our shipments. Grace. Hope. Strength. We've also had more than a few people request these little words too. Just before I placed our first order, a friend/coworker of mine requested the word "redeemed" on a bracelet. Our first shipment came and I packaged up her "redeemed" bracelet...tucking the other 4 away and making a note that they were available to sell. 

     Over the next few weeks, I kept thinking about these "redeemed" bracelets. I hadn't had anyone show a lot of interest in this particular word. And then I got to thinking about what that word even meant...to me. Did I truly understand the word myself? And then it hit me...like a ton of bricks. One night, as we were having a {fairly typical} "dance party" to our GOD IS GOOD playlist on iTunes, MercyMe's song Greater came on. Our kiddos know the lyrics by heart...and so do I. But this time, as we galloped around the living room, the lyrics spoke to me a little differently.

"Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I'll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world"

     Redeemed. He calls us redeemed. He calls our kids redeemed. When others might tell our kiddos they're not enough, He is greater than others...He is greater than any hurtful words or actions that might come their way. What a prayer for our children. In that instant, I knew exactly why I had those 4 remaining "redeemed" bracelets. 

     With New Year's Eve upon us, I've been seeing a lot of posts about people's one little word for 2015. Brave. Thrive. Create. Grow. Be. Grace. The list of words goes on and on. And while I may not have a word (yet) for 2015, Eric and I decided to gift our kids with their own OLW...not only for 2015 but beyond. 


     We sat the kiddos down tonight and played this song and danced our usual crazy dance. And then we explained our prayer and hope for them with their own "redeemed" bracelet. The smile on our oldest's face was priceless...so proud...so thankful. Landon was excited and obliged his mommy for a picture...but he's 3...so he asked if he could take it off so he could play basketball. And that was OK! This is their one little word much farther than tonight, much farther than 2015...and I'm so thankful for the future opportunities that we'll have to remind them about our prayer for this little word and its role in their lives.

     And if you'll notice in that picture below, we have our first gift to their brother or sister who we've not yet met. Because our prayer for our next son or daughter is that he/she knows He calls them redeemed too. Not only will he/she be enough for us, but they will be enough for our God.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Go Fund Someone Else

     Adoption is expensive. You've probably heard that, been told that, or perhaps you've even experienced that yourself. Bottom line: I know I'm not shocking you with anything you didn't already know. So when it comes to talking about the financial aspect of adoption...you probably aren't surprised when I say that I get a little queasy and weak in the knees just thinking about how we're going to fund this journey. This area was definitely a big fear factor for us as we decided between domestic and international adoption too. But as I began to engage with the adoption community (on social media in particular), I began to learn that fundraising was frequently used to raise money for the adoption process. This (new to me) concept of fundraising was equally as frightening as coming up with the money on our own. But I had seen several adoptive families raise money for their adoptions through a variety fundraisers...t-shirt sales, garage sales, auctions, handmade goods, etc. And as I participated in some of these fundraisers, I began to think about fundraisers our family might be able to do. I even began to formulate some ideas of my own. But as soon as the ideas began to unfold, fear quickly set in and made the present moment a little harder to breathe in... and then it became hard to comprehend just how we could make anything happen. Would anyone support our family's fundraisers? Times are tough. Money is tight. People have struggles of their own. So in these particular moments, I decide that we can't and won't fundraise. And then the vicious cycle begins again and I become fearful again about the financial aspect of growing our family.

    Now back to the title of this post...My friend and sister-in-law encouraged me to set up a gofundme site. I had heard of other adoptive families using this...so I decided to give it a try and set up our site. I edited our information about a million times. Did I use the right words? Did I use too many words? Was the goal too lofty? Was it not lofty enough? Was I really putting my trust in the Lord about this aspect of our adoption? I didn't even know anymore! After longer than it was probably supposed to take for me to complete the process, I hit the OK button and our profile page was complete...almost. Gofundme really encourages you to link your profile to Facebook. In fact, even after I hit "NO" when it asked me to connect to Facebook...it popped up another screen that asked me if I was "sure"...talk about peer pressure! But I can be stubborn...so I declined it again. And for the first three days, I received email after email from GoFundMe asking me to connect it to Facebook because that was the best way to receive donations. But I was too fearful. I can't ask people to donate money so we can grow our family. That's absurd!
     My sweet friend (who had encouraged me to set up our gofundme site) asked to shared our link on her Facebook business page...and I was so nervous about what would or wouldn't happen that I almost didn't "like" her status. Not only did I not want it to show up on my feed, I also didn't want to self-promote. See what I'm talking about here? FEAR! Giving up before I had even started...not trusting in Him. But God quickly revealed to us that while we can fund others' adoption journeys, others can and will fund our own personal journey too.
     Fast forward a week or so later...and I sat with our bible study girls at our last get-together before we would break for Christmas. My friend (who has been such an ENCOURAGEMENT in our adoption journey already) handed me a sheet of paper and said it was her "order"... Naturally, this raised questions among the group and forced allowed me to share my desire to use the company, MudLOVE, to start a fundraiser for our adoption. In this life, there are times when we need the push and encouragement of our friends. God has been so gracious in placing people in our life that can be His hands and feet. We began our MudLOVE fundraiser that day...because of that friend. And the response to our MudLOVE fundraiser has been overwhelming. Shortly after that night at bible study, I began to receive text messages from family and friends... with order after order...because they had shared our fundraiser and people wanted to purchase the bracelets we were selling. In a few short weeks, we have already placed and received our third order- totaling nearly 160 bracelets!
     On top of this...we've been humbled by people who have donated through our gofundme website and unexpected checks given to us in person or in the mail. Just in the last few weeks, we've received over $900 dollars to help with our adoption journey. This amount doesn't even include what our MudLOVE bracelets will add to our adoption fund. Wow. Just wow. Our family is going to grow. Eeek! And it's going to grow because of Him! Why can't I remember that?! It is His plan for us to pursue adoption and we are speechless at the favor He has shown to our family through this process already. Merry Christmas Eve to everyone! What an amazing gift we have been given in the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Lost

     During one of our church services this summer, our worship leader shared that he had been convicted that week about praying for the lost. As he continued on about his conviction, he asked the congregation to think of someone who might be lost...someone who we could pray for and lift up. Then he asked us to take a moment so that we could pray for that someone. I remember being overwhelmed with the feeling that I should pray for our son or daughter. For all we know, he/she may already be out there. We won't know the exact age of our child...but he/she could be out in the world right now...lost...needing to be found. So I did exactly what our worship leader asked us to do. I prayed. I prayed hard. I prayed for protection. I prayed for health. I prayed for love. I prayed for hope. Hope for our child, hope for us.

     On the first Sunday of Advent, our pastor spoke about the power of hope. He reminded us that hope comes from a place of darkness. Sometimes I think it's easy to associate hope with something good and not something that comes from darkness. Personally, I can say that there have been moments of darkness in our last year or so. But I can also say that out of our darkness, has come light...The Light. Naturally, I have a song that's been playing in my head and heart for the last week or so...

For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who've prayed
For all who wander
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope

     This is the bridge in Lauren Daigle's song Light of the World and it's been the cry of my heart during this holiday season- as I think about our son, or daughter... about anyone who might not know our Savior. 

     Will this next year or so be filled with more moments of darkness and hopelessness- for us and even for others? Of course. John 16:33 says, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Did you read that second part? He has overcome the world. God can and will bring us out of those dark places because He is the Light of the World. He meets with those who are waiting. He satisfies those who are hungry. He listens to those who've prayed. He finds those who are wandering. Behold our King who brings hope to places of darkness. We are so thankful for the hope that the Light gives...and we cannot wait to share this Light with our son or daughter.