Friday, February 27, 2015

I Will Come to You

I have stared at his face.
Printed and reprinted the 7 pictures.
From this one... this one!
 *Gotta love those pink shoes.*
I've fundraised.
I've waited.
I've made packing lists.
I've started packing.  No, I haven't. Well, maybe in my mind.  No, I haven't.
I can feel him in my arms.
I can see myself chasing him.
And the beauty is that in 9 days he WILL be in my arms!!!

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:18

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If You Ask Me Why

Nearly 11 months ago my heart raced as I shared the heartache and burden I felt for abandoned children with my husband.  I asked him if we could add 'just one more' to our family.  Maybe even a precious child who is harder to place.  It was crazy for so many reasons.

*We were working hard to pay off debt, including adoption debt
*We were in a pretty good routine with all the necessary medical visits
*We would have two kids entering college within the next 18 months
*We have five sets of bunk beds
*We haven't added onto our house
*But mostly, we had about this much money:
 And an adoption process costs more than this much:

We knew we could supply all the love, nurture and care that our next child would need, but we didn't know how we would cover the cost of the process itself.  We surrendered.  We were all in.  Committed.  After all, we'd had some extraordinary fundraising results in the past.  (*My mistake: to trust my own efforts!*)

We spent much time in prayer.  We thanked the Lord in advance for what He was going to do, knowing full well this would never come to pass without Him.  We set out to change the status of a precious little boy whose file showed marked delays stemming from a neurological event prior to his birth.  He wasn't sitting up at 13 months.  He'd had a cardiology workup and a brain scan showing large pockets of fluid.  But we've seen this before.

As for the process, it's changed even since Khloie came home two years ago, and we would need a bundle of cash to get the ball rolling.  I was sharing our exciting news with a friend and asking her to pray for us when she informed me that her new business was doing so well she wanted to bless us with the funds to get started!

Then a family member whom we've never had the privilege to meet contacted us and said he and his wife wanted to help - and help they did!

We were asked to share our adoption testimony with a nearby church, and although these days it's difficult for me to even organize my thoughts, much less convey them intelligently, we agreed.  We were absolutely blown away by the love offering they gave!

We had enough to cover our home study and first agency fee.  

I felt I needed to get to 'work' at fundraising so I had a sweet friend design a t-shirt specifically for our family.  We called it the Treasure Tee, and it was simple, yet held the message of our hearts: 
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  
Matthew 6:21

In July, unbeknownst to us, our family was recommended to a business owner for adoption sponsorship.  He agreed to sponsor our family and ultimately would pay roughly one-third of our adoption costs!

And then there are the adoptive families.  Many also in the process.  And they choose to give.  

Over time we held a few giveaways, but over all I was feeling like a failure at fundraising.  

I finally asked the Lord to show me when to move and when to rest.  He kept telling me to rest, and I wasn't sure I was hearing Him right because sitting still isn't my nature.  But truth is, every time I moved, I proved I couldn't accomplish the task.  He had such different plans for us this time.

We decided to lay low on the fundraising and simply trust, all the while telling Him we would work hard and do whatever we needed to do.

In July we would have the best sweet corn crop since our first harvest in 2008, and we wondered if we could pull off a BBQ the middle of our 18-hour work days and on one of the hottest days of the year!  We only had less than two weeks to prepare, and we kept wavering back and forth as to whether it was a good idea.  Just when my energy level would plummet, the Lord would nudge me forward, affirming this was His idea and His provision.  We prepared pulled pork, sweet corn, strawberry sheet cake and brownies, and the cost was 'by donation'.  The volleyball nets, tents, straw bales and tables were all furnished by friends, and it turned out beautifully!  At the end of the night, we praised the Father for His amazing provision!

It was time to rest again.  We just didn't sense that we were to move forward on any particular fundraising.  We stretched our paychecks to the limit after giving a portion and saving a tiny portion.

Clayton was working extra hours, and then the unthinkable happened.  He fell from scaffolding, resulting in a broken ankle, a splenectomy, 15 days in the hospital, a slight complication, and three and a half months off work.  I was so consumed with my husband getting well and so grateful that he was alive that I put all thoughts of adoption fundraising on the back burner.  Yet, the Lord was working!

We were scheduled to speak at our friends' church for Orphan Sunday in November, but that was out of the question since we were in the hospital.  Instead we wrote out our testimony and sent a video for sharing.  And we were blessed with a love offering, even in our absence!

We also received another unexpected blessing while in the hospital ~ three short videos of our little guy.  He was running!  Climbing!  Responding!

In December a sweet friend offered to host an on-line auction a few weeks before Christmas, and even though our present circumstances were a bit overwhelming, we did it.  We received awesome items, and raised over $1500, thanks to our hard-working friend and our faithful Father!

Soon after, one of our on-line friends and auction vendors was praying about giving toward our adoption, and let us know that she and her husband were contributing the orphanage donation of $5700!

In the wait for our LOA, I completed many applications for adoption assistance grants.  We were blessed to receive four grants, the largest of which we just received approval for today, 10 days before we travel!

In the adoption process, there are few things we truly have control over, and that is basically the speed at which we complete the paper work.  The rest is completely out of our hands.  We've had some curve balls thrown our way during this process, all of which were beyond our control.  And maybe, just maybe, the Lord needed to show me that I cannot rely on myself.  That what worked yesterday will not work today when I'm trusting my own ability.

Even with some of the obstacles, it never occurred to us to throw in the towel.  Never.  Because whatever we are going through, there are multitudes of others enduring much worse.

We can romanticize adoption and make it all about happy endings.  We will post great pictures while we're in China.  We will watch our son blossom before our eyes.  And when he comes home, our friends and family will see a cute, active toddler who will meld into our family just like his siblings have.  We will no longer see an orphan living in a crowded room, sleeping on a plywood mattress, alongside others his age, all who gave up crying a long time ago.  Because whether they were wet, hungry, cold or thirsty, all the crying in the world wouldn't bring help.

We don't see the precious baby that was left, for whatever reason, on a curb, a doorstep, in a toilet, on the roadside, meant to be found...or not.
So if you ask me why we would endure the humility of fundraising, the ridicule of those who don't understand, give up some of the conveniences and comforts of this world, and add to our family at our age, I will tell you that we have been blessed.  Transformed.  Broken.  Ruined.  Thankfully so.  And we have been commanded 

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Luke 10:27

 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  James 2:15-17

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.  1 John 2:3-6

Thursday, February 19, 2015

40 Bracelets to Go...14 Days to Go Time!

Y'all just keep ordering - thank you!  
I do not want to return these bracelets.
I want to send a check for ALL of them.
Plus 10% of ALL proceeds raised.
So, let's go!!!

 There's a PayPal button in the upper right-hand corner of the blog.  And if you're viewing on a mobile device, simply scroll down to "View Web Version," click on that, and the button will appear!
You decide how many you want and how much you'd like to give!

Oh, and we still have our Treasure tees in every most sizes!  There's an order button for that too :)


Monday, February 16, 2015

TA, CA and Three Weeks From Today...

Three weeks from TODAY Kohlby will be in our arms!  Forever our son.  Orphaned no more.  Chosen.  Loved.

YOU have played a huge part in helping us bring him home!  Friends, family members, church family, long-distance-friends-whom-we've-never-met ~ you have prayed for us, encouraged us and given toward our fundraising.  

This is hopefully our very last fundraiser, at least for our family.  Ever.  I hope.  
Next week we will have to ship all the artisan bracelets that are not purchased back to the Apparent Project.  I would rather send them a check for ALL the bracelets, plus 10% of ALL the proceeds raised.
With nearly 100 left, that's plenty to go around!
My girls are wearing them; the basketball team is wearing them, and many of you are wearing them.
 Each one is unique.
And beautiful.
 And with purpose!
 Each one helps two!  A family in Haiti and our family. 
 We are several thousand dollars from our goal.  We know without a doubt that God will provide exactly what we need.  Exactly.  
If you've been waiting to order your bracelet(s), now is the time.  And it's so simple.
YOU decide how many you want.
YOU decide how much you'd like to give.
Use the PayPal button in the right-hand corner of this blog, and when you check out make sure you've included your address and the number of bracelets you'd like.
If you don't like PayPal, please email me.

*For viewing on mobile devices, please scroll down to "View Web Version", click on that, and then the PayPal button will appear*

Thank YOU, and to GOD be all glory!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oh, Yes, We Did!

We have Travel Approval in lightening speed!  And we have a confirmed consulate appointment too!  Details soon...
Kohlby, we are coming to China!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

They're here!  The bracelets are here!  And I love them even more now that I see them!

We have over 100 of them up for grabs.

Each one is uniquely handcrafted by Haitian artisans who are simply trying to put a roof over their head, feed their family and keep their children out of orphanages.

We pay the Apparent Project for each bracelet sold.  And the rest goes toward our race to bring Kohlby home next month!

We still need around $8000 to fund our adoption, and if we reach our goal we will pay it forward by sending 10% of ALL proceeds to the Apparent Project.

It's simple.
You decide how many you want.
You decide how much you'd like to give.
You can use the PayPal button in the upper right-hand corner of the blog, or email me for other options.
*On mobile devices you must scroll down and click on "view web version" of the blog to see the PayPal button*

To HIM be glory!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Woke Up...

 Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Psalm 106:1

This morning I woke up to ...

*Dishes scattered (not stacked) along every square inch of counter space, because that's the way they were when we left the house yesterday morning for an all-day doctor's appointment, got home just in time for kids' after school snack and left again for church, only to return for all-around bath time and last-minute homework

*Three bathrooms screaming for cleaning

*One load of clean towels on the kitchen table (thank goodness, because the bathroom cabinets are empty)

*At least ten loads of dirty laundry

*Enough crunchies on the floor to make me grit my teeth

*A Bible study to complete

*An unfinished sewing project on the kitchen table (opposite end of the laundry)

*Stacks of paperwork in order of priority on my desk

*A transcript needing final proofreading

*Two phone calls to be returned

*One dental appointment to be made

*One prescription to be picked up

*One birthday to prepare for

Are you right there with me?  I feel better knowing I'm not alone :/

We are conquerors!  Because we woke up...and we got up!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

I used to go to bed with the dishes done and put away, and ditto for the laundry.

I guess that was before I had a preschooler at home, six kids to get on the bus, one to pray off to high school, one to pray off to college, one to pray for in job training, one to pray for in marriage, and one to pray home from China.

So, I got up and praised the Lord.  I ignored all the things I really longed to have done yesterday and went instead to my Bible study.  Because while tidying up the outside does bring some calm to the chaotic inside, cleansing the inside brings the strength to change the outside in due time.

It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Psalm 127:2

Lord, help me to put the first things first, without grumbling and complaining.  Help me to keep You first, and give me strength to do what comes next.  May You alone be glorified.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Would You Partner With Us to Bring Kohlby Home and Help Families in Haiti?

Realistically, we are 4 to 6 weeks till travel!!!

We've been praying for a fundraiser that would, first and foremost, honor the Lord, and secondly, that we would be so excited to share that you might want to join us!

Here it is!
Pay-It-Forward Bracelet Fundraiser FAQ

*So, what exactly are you doing?
We're offering the handmade bracelets to you!
*How much are they?
You can choose the amount you wish to give and the number of bracelets you want to receive.
*Why are you calling it Pay-It-Forward?
That's the coolest part! It will cost us a certain amount per bracelet, but if we can reach our $8000 goal, we will give an additional 10% of all proceeds to the Apparent Project.  So your gift is two-fold: it helps bring a former orphan from China home to his family, AND it provides hope to families in Haiti!
*Where can I give?
The "Donate" Button on the sidebar will allow you to choose the $ amount and number of bracelets.

More beautiful bracelets

The mission of the Apparent Project:
"To keep families together... Besides redeeming family situations, the Apparent Project artisan guild is dedicated to redeeming creation and cleaning up Haiti's landscapes through producing unique 'upcycled' artisan goods."

Apparent Project- Beauty Changes Things from Corrigan Clay on Vimeo.

Would you join us?  
And feel free to share this.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Where We Were; Where We Are; Where We Will Be

We've had a crazy couple of months.  In fact, as I reflect on 2014, it's been a pretty wild ride. 

I'm so excited to share where we are now, and where we will be very soon!

We are literally weeks from traveling to bring Kohlby home.  Our Article 5 will be picked up on January 29, and then we'll be awaiting Travel Approval.  TA came in 3 days last time.  While I'm not anticipating that happening again, we know it's possible.

We have seen God's hand in every step of this process, from moving us to say "Yes" to providing the dollars as they were needed.  I know I've said it before, but we didn't have any funds to start the adoption process.  Yet, we knew we were to move forward in faith.  

He is so faithful to Himself!  Only He could have orchestrated what I'm about to share with you.  Back in June the Lord placed our family on the heart of an adoptive mama (JH), unbeknownst to us.  That mama contacted another adoptive mama (LP), letting her know that we were fundraising our way back to China.  The second mama recommended our family for prospective sponsorship to her friend and business owner (FS).  *I'm sorry for the anonymity, but we have promised not to share names, and these folks know who they are*
We submitted an application for sponsorship, and in July received the call that we were accepted!

There was no specific amount promised, only that the business would send a portion of its proceeds to our agency as they became available.  They sponsor adoption-specific funds, excluding airfare, lodging, meals and costs incurred if the trip were a vacation.

We presumed it would total a 'typical' grant amount of $3000.  Can I just tell you that it has far exceeded that amount, and the Lord has worked beyond our imagination through FS!  They are still sending funds to our agency almost weekly.

Neither we nor this business knew that our boat would be rocked in October when Clayton was involved in an accident that would whittle our budget to a frayed shoestring and distract us from fundraising BUT would cause us to rest in the Lord as we took care of first things first.  

*Update on my hardworking man*  I'm so proud of him for following doctor's orders and taking the necessary time to heal.  He was making an incredible recovery, and appeared he would not need either the skin or bone graft.  Recovery took a bit of a turn Wednesday, and the short story is that we will know Tuesday if additional surgery is needed to remove the hardware which has caused infection.  We would truly appreciate your prayers for healing!

In December another amazing family told us they'd been praying about how to give toward our adoption, and the Lord led them to give the orphanage donation: $5700!

And here's where we are: With weeks till we travel, we've put a pencil to paper and estimated that we are still $8000 short in funds.

For weeks we've been praying for the Lord to show us what our part is in raising the last funds.  For weeks the answer has been "rest."  

Then, a few days ago we felt peace about sharing our need and getting to work.

The next day another adoptive mama shared a fundraiser with me.  The more I read about it, the more it touched my heart.  But that wasn't quite enough to move forward.  

Because we don't just want to receive; we want to give.

And then the Lord revealed exactly what we are to do.  We have chosen the Apparent Project!  whose mission is: 
"To keep families together... Besides redeeming family situations, the Apparent Project artisan guild is dedicated to redeeming creation and cleaning up Haiti's landscapes through producing unique 'upcycled' artisan goods."

Pay-It-Forward Bracelet Fundraiser FAQ

*So, what exactly are you doing?
We're offering the handmade bracelets to you!
*How much are they?
You can choose the amount you wish to give and the number of bracelets you want to receive.
*Why are you calling it Pay-It-Forward?
That's the coolest part! It will cost us a certain amount per bracelet, but if we can reach our $8000 goal, we will give an additional 10% of all proceeds to the Apparent Project.  So your gift is two-fold: it helps bring a former orphan from China home to his family, AND it provides hope to families in Haiti!
*Where can I give?
The PayPal Button in the sidebar will allow you to choose the $ amount and number of bracelets.

We want to praise God for all He has done in our adoption journey, for stretching us and growing our faith, and we want to thank Him in advance for providing all we will need to get our boy home!

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:18


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Word for 2014 ~ GROWTH

One thing's for certain: we don't have time to get bored!
 In 2014 we experienced growth like never before, both physically and spiritually.
 In 2013 I was blessed to participate in a study of the Book of Hebrews...which would last through the end of 2014.  God so timely brought this study to me, as 2014 was filled with unexpected twists and turns for our family, but we were reminded that He never loses sight of us, is sovereign over ALL, and will give us the strength to run the race with perseverance.  We praise Him for that!

We celebrated many birthdays ~ 13, to be exact ~ starting with Daddy's in January.

In February we had snow, beautiful snow!
 And we celebrated Chinese New year!
(Kennah, Khloie, Kooper, Kasidi, Kayden, Kaeleb, Kinley, Kambry)
 There was prom - which I missed because we had a surgery.

We have so many reasons to celebrate...

We said "Yes" to bringing another treasure home!  Hello, Kohlby Zane!

 In May we celebrated Kolton's high school graduation!  He has completed his first semester of college and starts the second semester next week.  We are so proud of you, son! 

Daddy tried teaching the littles to pull their weight in the farming operation ;-) 
Praise be to God, we had our best sweet corn harvest yet!

 But before that, in June we celebrated...

 Kuyler and Caitlin's wedding!  We are so blessed to have such a darling sister and daughter in our family!
 Kolton and Allie got engaged, and in May 2015 we will add another beautiful daughter and sister to our family!

As a graduation and wedding gift, we took the family on a much-needed retreat with our amazing friends, the Smith family!

And four days later, Kasidi Joy had major surgery, which of course, she took like a rock star!

We had homecoming.

Celebratory steps in the adoption process!  Two months from now we will likely have Kohlby home!

 We've enjoyed LOTS of food!  This mama spends much time in the kitchen...and the laundry room.

 We spent time with cousins on their beautiful new place!

Kolton went on missions to Costa Rica!

One of the unexpected twists this year was when our precious friend (and like a daughter to me), Kaylee was in an accident that left her clinging to life.  The Lord drew us nearer to Himself, to one another and challenged our faith.  Kaylee's parents were an example of prayerfulness and faith.  Praise God, Kaylee has made a full recovery!

And who knew that our family would be challenged as well.  Clayton was in a serious accident that landed us in the hospital 15 days.  He is still at home recovering, but we believe he will make a full recovery as well and will be walking independently when we travel for Kohlby.  This event has left us completely dependent upon the Lord, who is always faithful, has grown our faith and changed our perspective.  Trust me when I say that God is good, all the time!

We have spent much time hunkering down as a family!

We've watched Kenzie play a ton of softball, summer, fall and spring!  She is a senior, after all!

 We are now watching a ton of basketball as well!  Trying to enjoy every second before she graduates!

Celebrating Adoption, the gift of salvation, and God's provision in bringing my friend, Stefanie's, Clementine Joy Home!

14 stockings is such a beautiful sight to me!  I love each and every treasure represented here!

S'long 2014!

As for 2015, I want read (the Bible) diligently, pray fervently, love with abandon and live fearlessly.

In the words of Jonathan Edwards, 
"Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so.
Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life."

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