Friday, November 9, 2012

the jaw just keeps dropping

IMG_76215 This year ORPHAN Sunday just so happened to fall on the same day as the Orange County Buddy Walk at the Angel Stadium- where our cities unite to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness as well as promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome. In honor of the charity or, more preferably, a person, you raise funds and/or gather a group to Walk (about a half mile) around the perimeter.

Cool, huh?

The first year I walked, back in 2006 with Jacob, there must have been scarcely 10 families. This year armies of people flooded that field. Think tailgate party, but with real purpose! It was absolutely amazing to witness… families/friends coming together for these precious cherubs with Downs. VALUED and LOVED, not abandoned or aborted.

More than that, something about this crowd screamed, not just camaraderie, but FAMILY. No really, for the actual Walk the announcer directed the masses to head toward the perimeter of the stadium, at which point people up and left everything - purses, strollers, food, blanket/chairs - bottlenecking the exits, they paraded with pride and joy and a sort of trust of one another.

As we strolled through a maze of pop-up tents donning banners of clever team names with faces to match, we scanned for one in particular. Remember the cutie-pie with DS I met at our Yard sale?


Did I ever tell you the whole family came by the sale the next day while we were closing up shop? Within two seconds of meeting me, her dad admits he’s been reading this blog and how with tears in his eyes he sent an email to his work asking if they could offer anything to help us get Ellie home.

Sure enough, I received an email not long after that: whatever amount they could raise through his company for the upcoming OC Buddy Walk will be matched and donated to our FSP through Reece's Rainbow.

Hold the phone, a matching GRANT??? I might've peed my pants. I'd JUST met these people!

Okay Lord, I get it. Surely I was not mistaken the morning of our yard sale when you clearly stated, “It’s not so much about the dollar you make, but the people you will meet. Um Hello! Points for God!
(in case you are catching up: we didn't make a ton from the yard sale alone, rather, the people we met FROM the yard sale.)

Over by 3rd base we finally spotted Sophia’s Entourage! We, of course, were welcomed with open arms and trays of sandwiches and cookies and cupcakes. We chatted, walked the perimeter, took pics, ate, played ball, and perused the numerous resources for parent’s of children with Down’s Syndrome.

It really was such a beautiful, unique event... one we will most likely attend for a lifetime.
wish i had more time to tell you about:

:: how we bumped into a Reece’s Rainbow success story – a resourceful couple and their adorable daughter Lona from the Ukraine.

:: how it became the perfect opportunity to expose our kids to this part of Ellie.. to soften their hearts to special needs – for starters, they are learning sign language.

:: how walking alongside a herd of what felt like extended family provoked a certain unexpected pride. I am a soon-to-be mother of a child with Down's Syndrome and I am so proud to be part of this... for her. One day soon she will know what it's like to be embraced, and loved, and given worth.

:: the idea of propping our very own tent right next to Sophia’s Entourage in a year’s time (praying)…what will our team name be? Ellie’s crew/gang/brigade/troops/army/_____?

:: how cool it was to randomly run into a friend from our small group and meet her 21 month old nephew with Downs… cutest thing ever!

:: how the kids swung a bat over the same home plate the Angel’s bat from and how Evan had no clue how to run the bases, but instead chased the ball. (LOL- priceless).
544774_10151488243349307_49637257_n copy

Tonight I came here to share with you all, with eagerness I came, and maybe a hint of fear (praying I don’t butcher the Lord’s work). But now, as I conclude, I’m awed, yet again....

The money they raised for the matching grant was deposited into our FSP as I pieced this post together.

We just hit 12k, my friends! A HUGE thanks to Darienne, Arnold and Sophia. I want to scream how amazing you guys are. THANK YOU!

And geez God, seriously? ah-mazed.☺

Thursday, October 25, 2012


even after the yard sale was said and done with, i only had to look around to feel overwhelmed...still. we had hardly put a dent in the 3 months worth of yard sale donations collected. some people proposed another sale in a better location, a few suggested Craigslist for the leftovers, but it just seemed like so many odds and ends to post, i.e. never-ending work.

i knew our next fundraiser would be an auction. there are a few boxes we stuffed under the pool table (the one we are selling), with all kinds of goodies to offer. an old highschool pal of mine is a buyer for various health food stores. she so generously supplied us with luxurious french milled soaps (i might have trouble giving them away) and boxes of burt's bees wax chapstick, and mrs. meyers soaps/cleaning supplies, and toothpaste (you know the healthy kind), and jams and syrup, and gluten free this and that, and pasta, and chocolate, and sugar! apparently it is a goldmine - as told by my sister-in-law who actually recognized many of the brands. my friend who passed off these boxes said it would be great for a silent auction, she mentioned i could create gift baskets.

light. bulb.

GIFT BASKETS would be the key to merchandising the odds and ends that didn't sell at our ginormous yard sale. i mean really, who can say no to a cute little gift basket?

so for the past few weeks i've been on a scavenger hunt, excavating really, to compile each basket. i put my fingers to work - snapped some pics and uploaded to Facebook.

VoilĂ !
52 baskets total.

my fingers and, well, God himself (who spoke to the hearts of the donors- whether materially or financially) raised a total of $1300+ in less than two weeks!

can you belive that?! and my house is STILL full of stuff! i've listed lots of the bigger items on craigslist  and am actually making progress on getting my house back to normal... though i think it might be a while. ;)

in other news, our home study is DONE! done done done! (enter happy dance)
we are now working on the foreign docs which is a major headache.
pray for us please. pray we can get this step done FAST with no bumps! 

WE ARE 1/4 FUNDED. in 4 months, people, 10k!
we are so blown away at how big our God is. the mountains He's moved,
the unique circumstances He's set at just the precise time.
the people we've met along the way!
im moved. 
there are no more words.

but we


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hands and Feet

This pic doesn't do it justice - there was SOOO much more spread across the lawn as well as 
inside the garage- 7 tables worth, also our living room was filled to the brim with more baby/mom items

This weekend was possibly the most physically, mentally, and emotionally draining weekends of my life (I only wish that were an exaggeration).. truly, yard sales are not for the faint of heart. What’s more, yard sales of this particular caliber.

It was insane. We had (and still have) a ridiculous amount to sell.  And thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those who dropped off their junk (or someone else’s junk), the sale would never have been possible without you! We are baffled by the kindness of friends and even friends of friends.

We’ve been collecting yard sale donations for months, which also equates to months and months of procrastination and panic, in my book anyway. However, by God’s good graces, He provided the perfect people at the perfect time to come alongside and help me pull it off. Props to, first and foremost, my sister-in-law, Caren who is here from Washington taking care of Papa while he recovers. Talk about timing! She was non-stop for days, staying up ‘til the wee hours sorting through and setting up... completely blowing my mind in every possible way. Love you, sister!

And then there were the random assortment of friends who showed up… whether they came to buy a cupcake to show support or arrive at 7am to set up camp, it was completely dumbfounding and I will never forget their sacrifice and kindness.. I hope to think I would do the same for a friend.

Since the beginning of this journey I knew God would be working on me, pressing me to relinquish my rights - my need to control. I put up a good fight. But the more I encounter His ways along the way, the more I’m realizing the passenger’s seat really isn’t that bad. ‘Cause it’s funny, every time I think I know something/anything, I find He thinks that’s pretty laughable. Why? Because He’ll go on to do something wild and so completely unpredictable. He’s asserting that He’s the one in the driver’s seat and that I can do nothing but enjoy the ride, hard work included.

SCARY! But fun.

After the sale Friday I headed upstairs to take a nap only to feel an overwhelming sense to write (clearly something I haven’t felt an urge to do for a while). I knew God had showed up that day. I couldn't stop thinking about it all. I couldn't sleep. I knew He wanted me to make a note of it. 

I now know why. 

Saturday was a flop. I woke excited, expectant, and ready for God to rain down just so. I had my heart set on $2000 and I felt even that was kind of low considering all the other adoptive mamas raving about their yard sale profits.. "$3000 in one day! $5000 total! this is the best way to raise a lot of money!” So I got stuck on their end results.  But after the last dollar was counted, and my sweet friend calculated the day’s dividends - a mere three hundred and eighty dollars, I wanted to cry. I blurted something like “was that even worth it!?” I was so focused on the funds instead of the word I heard from the Lord just one day earlier. 

Prone to fret and doubt, He knew I'd need a reminder. Oh how easily I forget His goodness. I actually had to go back and read that post again to remember what He said, that it wasn’t so much about the dollar made, but the people, the relationships being formed. That if I get her story out there He will do a mighty work through it. I wanted someone else’s story to be my story, but every time He's been quick to show He, and He alone, is the author of this pilgrimage. 

I'm on to the next fundraiser! A silent auction on facebook. I have a TON of really nice items left over... i don't think people/friends realized just who this stuff is from.. it's NOT junk. Most of the clothes are really nice. I have Seven jeans, Guess skirts, super cute dresses, clean baby toys and gear, books galore, a Tassimo coffee maker, vintage aprons, bars of fancy soap, etc., etc.

i was hoping to get some crafty people on board to donate an item they could make, or, just the same, items in your home we could resell at the auction.

THANK YOU, all of you, for your love and support! For your junk, your facebook shares, your baked goods, your tables, your showing up, your sales! THANK YOU a million times. i am so grateful to those on our team to bring our baby home. There are going to be so many more ways to help... big or small we are all working as His hands and feet!

Friday, October 5, 2012

That's my God.

Lounging on my bed, eyes burning, head throbbing, back aching, throat dry, I came away to rest-up…

Because tomorrow, like today, is going to be another crazy-exhausting-amazing-God day  - the kind of day where you know, you just know, He’s about His business.

We finally hit the lights at 2am. The garage looked like a freaking boutique. Organized and orderly, it was amazing -and it was ALL my Sister-in-law. Yeh, I ‘d say she pretty much saved me from a panic attack or two these past few months.. she isn’t easily overwhelmed, apparently!

this morning at 6ish we opened our doors…
and HE showed up
in the details mostly
connecting us to people in His distinct way
friends who…
looked after my wild brood and fed them chick-fil-a
lent a shoulder to cry on
took charge of sales
brought pumpkin spice lattes
drove from far-away places to rally behind us
shared resourceful garage selling tips and tricks
cheered on and came near to empathize
baked coconut  and pecan goodies
wrote checks just because
and gave just a little bit more, “for your baby girl.”

Then there were neighbors we never met who…
Became… what’s that?
Real community.
I started the day a bit doubtful even though I felt God speaking in the wee hours, in a dreamlike haze because 3 hours of sleep feels like being half awake:
“it’s not about the money you make, it’s the story being told. Her story."
I stood on the edge of my drive-way in deep convo with a customer
explaining how our journey began… and where we are in the process, i looked across the yard (you know cause I can’t look at people for more than a millisecond or my eyes bug out), and to my amazement there it was, a gianormous monarch butterfly flying as if in slow-motion above the neighboring house.
Orange and black, distinct and beautiful like the colors of Elizabeth’s puzzle.
That sight alone set my course back to the prize and I felt a light bulb being re-lit.

I smiled inside because I knew it was Him speaking
HE’s marking the course and she’s just a wee bit …free-er.

Sophia showed up -
a sweet, petite, four year old with Down Syndrome.
When I met her eyes, Ellie became so real.
I could see it. I could envision her home outside playing side by side her new BFF.
Her mom chatted with me about her longing for community, another parent to share the joys and struggles with.
She seemed so strong.
She seemed so real and normal and well, just my kinda gal.
she might have been mid-sentence when i began to bawl my eyes out
yes, she is a complete stranger and i don't even cry in front of my own husband.
I reassured her baffled expression, "happy tears! i swear... I'm sorry"
and time stood still for a sec. i saw ever so clearly
just how God is weaving this all together
that it's so much more than a dollar bill to make (to bring her home)
I saw the point He was trying to make.

Relationship, it’s what’s closest to His heart.

now for the cherry on top, get this?
we are $970 closer to our little light (WHHHHOOOOHOOOOO)... and i haven't a single doubt, He's mighty.

COme play a part! we will be out there from 7am to noon and with baked goods too!! ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the road of purification

evidently i fell off the face of the earth over here! Sorry! That's so unlike me. for reals blogging is a form of therapy for me. when i'm not blogging you'll know something's up.

what's up? oh nothing...

Papa is out of the hospital!!! as of last night. Praise God for His faithfulness, but man what a whirlwind of a trial.. even still as he recovers.

we are slowly but surely inching our way toward our Ellie. It's been a rough summer to say the least! and i'm praying that the worst is behind us, but i'm not so sure.

our homestudy is wrapping up with our training classes. that should be fun! Hoping we will learn a ton about the ins and outs of bringing a child home from a foreign country as well as any words of wisdom for some of the struggles that may arise. surely we know this will not be some happily ever after story once she's home; that said, i don't think we know fully what we're in for. educating ourselves as best we can for those scary "what ifs" is our major goal right now.

praying for lots these day. for Ellie's care, her health and safety, for her heart to be guarded from any extra heartache be it physical or emotional. and mainly for us to work out any issues we may have that could be potential problems for her, our already-here-kids, and obviously our marriage.

the reality is there is just so much i am feeling i need to work on these days. as hard as that is to publicize it's the truth. i feel more and more inadequate during this daunting wait.  i see God gently refining me through oh i dunno trial after {miserable} trial as He smooths out the muck in small and big ways, paving the way for all He has for us, for her, for His glory's sake.  it's so not fun to see your own sin and struggle with it and struggle and keep on struggling. it's ugly. defeating. especially since we are "more than conquerors.." and i don't always learn from my mistakes. im stubborn i tell you. command my flesh to die and there will be war.

I know it's all part of the pilgrimage. i am trusting that we are where we need to be right now. and that He is Fathering our baby girl like he says he is as, "a father to the fatherless.." I'm trusting He knows what he's doing. well, to be honest, my mind trusts but my heart is still catching up. or maybe vice-versa. ?

these past 11 days have been brutal. it's her birthday this month and she'll be 2! or maybe her birthday's come and gone. i know it's in September, nothing else - as much as i've pleaded for more info. and you know, it's heartwrenching to not know anything. my mood's been affected by all this more than i thought it would be. i feel down lately. i've isolated myself a bit, in hiding from the pain but of course feeling worse as i wallow. i know there are others out there who sympathize, i just haven't found many. what i mostly find through all this journaling is dead air. i want support and i have to realize that support most likely will not be found through a blog post. or fb friends' "likes". I need tangible people in my face. but somehow that's the struggle. to let other's in - in person. transparency on the net is one thing, transparency in live action is another.

by and by i will learn. no doubt the hard way. pray for me friends as i trudge forward on the road of purification.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

MIA and smiley stuff

so you may be wondering where the heck i've been...

i guess i assumed you were over at my other blog reading about all the ..."crap" that's hit the fan. if not, you may want to catch up. go ahead, i'll wait.

i tell you, the day we signed up to adopt Elizabeth was the day we felt the storm a-blowin in. you think i'm joking? of course we know the warfare involved in bringing such a beautiful little light into our family- how many lives she will change, how many souls she will touch. she must be something special 'cause the enemy is definitely closing in, but we aint going down without a fight. we ain't going down, period.

naturally though, things have had to slow down just a wee bit. appointments cancelled, paperwork put off, priorities readjusted. we are still praying for God's perfect timing in getting her home and with all the craziness going on it simply means... we are on schedule. phew! the homestudy will still be done by early September. and with that, our agency told us there is still a possibility of travel this year. but in effort to contain my excitement, i'm not putting all my eggs in that basket just yet.

i will admit i've been a tad side-tracked. the blows seem to be coming from almost every angle, our number one hit being my FIL's health. for 35 days now he's sat in limbo as Kaiser's hostage being passed off by doctors and dragged to and from various hospitals.. his case is complicated, rare, and risky to treat. we pray for a miracle. please please pray for him, will you? for a wise/quick decision by the chief docs, for a smooth surgery, and easy recovery, for comfort and for peace and most of all, HOPE.

just as soon as we know what is going to happen and when there will be a show to get back on the road...
*a yard sale
*a jewelry show
*a baby girl's 2nd birthday party?

on a much happier note! you should know, even through these difficult circumstance, we are totally smiling, like you can't knock the smile off our faces smiling, because some AMAZING people made some huge financial sacrifices toward Elizabeth's homecoming. i'm talking HUGE! check out our thermometer on the right... how cool is that?! we love you and we are so so so very grateful... the only way i know how to respond to that kind of kindness and generosity is to get the girl home and love her like she's never been loved before.

truly, thank you. you are participating in saving her life. giving her dreams to dream and purpose to live. she will know her true value by experiencing the hope and the love of Jesus. she will flourish as our daughter.

... thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

well here's to hoping for more to report very soon! thank you, sweet readers!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

God at work

i know i must sound like a broken record by now, but i won't let up, it is an amazing thing to witness firsthand, God at work! since we've begun this journey to bring Elizabeth home, the effect part of our cause has been absolutely astounding.

oddly enough, it's been the people we barely know or haven't been acquainted with in a while (long lost friends, friends of friends of family, great Aunts we've never met, old high school flames, mom's group peeps, neighbors, preschool parents, new friends, old bosses, co-workers) who've become the most eager to get involved. we continue to stand by: jaw dropped and humbled.

here's a few cool moments/updates:     PicMonkey Collageadopt
1. sending off our apps  2. free junk (next door to my parent's house) for our yard sale  3. my physical is complete  4.  she carries her sister's picture everywhere  5. blessed by a friend's hard work  6.  totally stunned  7. filling up the van  8. a sweet book for Ellie  9. her name handwritten  10. fingerprinting done 11. gasp! 12. the parking lot at psych eval

but wait there's more...
13. a super thoughtful friend of mine has a furniture refurbishing business. so in honor of Elizabeth, she named one of her pieces "the Elizabeth", SOLD it and is sending us the profits!!!
14. this new blog pal and fellow Russian adoptive mama not only gave a huge amount to our FSP, but then advertised our etsy shop on her own blog!
15. a photographer associate of mine is newly pregnant and ill with morning sickness.. so she has been sending her clients to ME! both of her clients (who do not even know me - or our adoption story) plus one of mine (just today) paid me DOUBLE what i had expected. =O
16. a neighbor ordered a customized banner for her sister's (a famous design blogger) baby shower!
17. a sweet old high school girlfriend of mine drove out from LA to drop off boxes and boxes of health food/goods for a silent auction we are hosting including 4 handmade vintage aprons.
18. a preschool parent is giving me orders for more bows every day.
19. another one of my preschool parents is trying to coordinate a benefit concert.
20. after praying over my decision to open my preschool doors this year, i filled all 7 spots in ONE day! all from referrals.
21. a dear friend is using her house as a drop off zone for her friends to bring their yard sale donations. she came by this week with so much stuff crammed into her van, they couldn't even look out the back window.
22. there has been countless "shares" of our journey, our photography, and our shop whether through facebook/twitter or blogger.

THANK YOU! i could never say it enough. Elizabeth thanks you (well... she will).

still need more proof God is at work? our homestudy will be complete - early! - at the end of the month, and then our agency recently called to tell us it's possible we may be traveling "if not thanksgiving-ish, before Christmas."  it's all just so much more than we can fathom. we are continually awed, continually blown away at God's most-innovative provision and abounding grace through this process.

besides the free money coming our way, we have done some big time budgeting homework with the infamous Dave Ramsey (i am so not a fan of his hardcore financial planning - but of course, she is worth it!). hence, Adam is signed up for some extra LONG shifts (there goes our summer), i got my etsy shop - chock full of Ellie clips and customized banners (my fingers aren't quite down to the nub just yet), the photog biz is taking off (praise Jesus), the preschool is starting up in the fall (hooray!) and, and we are still able to give regularly outside of our own adoption- it's pretty much all God's money anyway, and seeing that He's provided thus far, why not trust him with every cent?

would you believe it if i told you our Ellie account is up to $3,400?! i noted we need 6k by September, but truth be told, i have no idea what we'll need when. if we travel in November (which is a possibility) we'll need another 6k + airfare (aprox. $4,000). agh! it's pretty much a non-stop wave of fees. but we are trucking along, yet to fret over a dime, or beg or plead or guilt anyone for that matter.

so what's $36,600 more to the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, or ... the entire universe for that matter?

if you are wondering how you can help, we have plenty of sales/services/solutions to offer/encourage your involvement...

1) purchase a clip! or share Ellie's shop with your friends! the link is here! i tell you the truth: every flower is (tediously) made with LOVE!
the ellie clip

2) if you are local, book a session with me! see recent work here. i'm offering a seasonal discount right now. and my in-home photo studio is in the works in one of our spare ooms. babies and kids? bring 'em over!
summer session2

3) Purge your house and donate to our yard sale. there are three drop zones (email me for info)

4) Donate a good or service for our upcoming silent auction. examples include:

GOODS: crafty goods -handmade clothing, items & accessories, theme-baskets, event tickets, memberships, trip/vacation packages or timeshare stays, electronics - computers, DVD players, ipods, video game players, appliances & furniture
SERVICES: photography session, website design services, tax preparation, lessons - music, swimming, karate, auto -oil change, tire rotations, birthday party packages - pizza parlors, kid gyms, dental- teeth whitening, home services - pest control, landscaping, pool care, painting, furnace/AC servicing, spa/pampering- hair styling, manicure/pedicure, massage, spa treatments

thank you again for your time/help/encouragement! your efforts never go unnoticed.