"" Life A Bit Sweeter: August 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back on Track!

Yesterday, I was able to do just a bit of a 'sharing' of my being stuck in the adoption process and feeling overwhelmed!  Glory to God that His mercies are new EVERY morning.  After re-focusing, your prayers, and some practical guidance from a friend named Pat who is a fellow adopting mom, I was able to get together a list of "Things to Do" and I feel like I'm back on track!  Praise God!

Now that I have a plan of action, I can see my way clear and tomorrow will be a full day of checking some things off the list.  So excited that the adoption train is leaving the station!  Final destination....Ethiopia!!!!

Here's a little victory song for overcoming yesterday's hurdles....

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Supermom....I've Got to Turn In My Cloak!

I am a self-proclaimed supermom, superwoman, and perfectionist (well as close to humanly possible as you can get to trying to make something perfect.)  I've always been like this....I love it but it can sometimes also be my downfall.

In my latest supermom/superwoman adventures, I find myself in a bit of a pickle with this adoption.  So....it's been a week since I blogged....so not cool!  I really enjoy writing and it's a great outlet for me.  I think lately I've just been simply overwhelmed by all that must be done.  There's still paperwork to be notarized and turned in that has me totally confused.....so I ignore it which is not good at all!  Then, there's the attention needed to get some major fundraisers done.  It's so much that it can really feel like a full-time job.  The huge blessing from thisweek is that I met with a group of friends who are helping out with the planning of the fundraisers.  This is huge because I'm not one to ask others for help.  I never want to be a burden to others so generally, my rule has been that I try to do as much by myself and then I'll ask for help.  The least little moment that I feel like I might slightly be a burden, I turn away and take my superwoman cloak back.  I know...it's terrible but God is growing me in this area.  It's taken some time bu that character flaw runs deep into my childhood after my mom passed away.

My honey is not so much the adopting dad who is right there filling out forms, chatting it up on the adoption yahoo groups, or in the know about adoption lingo like DTE (dossier to Ethiopia).  Be sure to not misunderstand this as him not being excited about his daughter coming home.  He's thrilled about Selah and can't wait to hold her in his arms.  But perhaps your marriage looks something like ours....or maybe not so much.  (smile).  In our marriage, my husband is more of the 'cheerleader' type...he's not a paperwork guy and for as long as we've been married, he steers clear of forms.  When we go to the doctor's office with the kids....yep, I get handed the clipboard.  When the kids start school and the mountains of paperwork come home such as contact sheets, classroom policies, and supply list....yep, the kids come straight to mom.  They don't go to dad because they know giving it to dad means that he'll say, 'Show it to your mother.'  When it was time for us to purchase our first home, I kept the binder with all of the important docs so I'm not totally surprised that adoption paperwork is any different.  Me on the other hand, I'm not so innocent.  There are certain things that I steer clear of that are totally all his such as all yard work, taking the trash outdoors, bringing the trash cans back in from the curb, dealing with the kid's major boo boos, taking the lead on what sports activities the kids will play each season and getting them to those practices....yep, that's all his to take the lead.  I guess we've just created an unwritten 'understanding' in our marriage about certain tasks.  But now that this mama is overwhelmed, I really need to ask him for help because I really am stuck to say the least.  Yet, I know that asking him to help with it will mean me having to release the time in which it is done and how it is done...remember I said I was a perfectionist about things....forms are no different.  Or....maybe I just need to ask one of my girlfriends to walk me through this tough piece....but then I get stuck with who to ask.  We are so close to handing our dossier in but feeling also so very far away.

So, right now....there are docs to process.  We received a notice in the mail last week that freaked me out.  USCIS told us that our home study needed to be amended because a piece of our home study wasn't written as they would have liked.   I spoke to our agency's home study coordinator about it and she's trying to work it out with USCIS without having to amend the entire home study.  We'll see.  I guess to put fire under our feet, the paper informed us that if it were not completed accurately by a certain date in October, our I-600A would not be approved.  *sigh*  I know it will get done, it's just the frustration of it, that carries a cloud in my head of yet another unfinished task.

Sorry for this mind dump, but I needed it.  Sometimes everything isn't peaches and cream in the adoption journey and because I am such a transparent person, I think it's important to document the highs and the lows.  As I think about it, I think mommy really just needs a good time out....a day with no one but me, a hotel bed, room service, spa treatment, and no iPhone so that I'm not tempted to plug back into the world as I decompress.  A girl can dream, right?  (If you made it all the way to the end of this post.....thanks for letting me bend your ear....love ya much!)  As Nicole puts it, you're just one of those good girlfriends....thank you!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oh, How He Loves Selah

Today at church, my heart was arrested by a song that concluded our worship experience.  It was John Mark McMillian's "Oh How He Loves Us'.  I've heard this song several times and each time, I have loved it...but today was a little different.  Today, my heart was arrested because as I listened to the passion rendered through the lyrics about God's love for us, I began to think about Selah.

Take a listen to Kim Walker singing this amazing song:

Wow, God!  As I thought about my daughter, Selah, I was just blown away to know that You love her so much that You would choose to stir the heart of a woman (me) on the other side of the world to fight relentlessly for her -- a child that I have never seen but the potential of her future grows stronger day by day in my heart.  You love Selah so much that You would choose to use a family --one of the most unlikely (us)-- to be a part of something so miraculous.  The world says that she is just one in a growing number of millions of orphans who should be left to her 'own people' to take care of and figure it out --in other words whether they know it or not, they are saying let her suffer or even worse, let her die.  God loves Selah so much that I can't pretend that I don't feel the call in my heart to pay a 'ransom' for her.....why not?  God did it for me and I can never repay Him for that act of grace and unselfishness.  So God, if you love Selah that much and she is your child, I'll love her like only a mother can because you have loved me too, like only a Father can.  In the words of my pastor, you have been gracious and firm with me.  You have been extravagant in your love with me and you have been firm when you are calling me to do something out of the ordinary that is not popular ---like adopting Selah.  Thank you Lord for allowing me to be a part of this beautiful story of love and redemption.  You have proved your love for me over and over and I can't wait for Selah to learn that you have done the same for her.

I'm pursuing her the same way that You pursue me....unashamed and relentless.  I am forever changed by Your love.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Grown-up Food & Fun in Adams Morgan

This past Tuesday, 5 couples from our adoption agency went to dinner together.  Susan, one of the adopting mommies, coordinated everything which was awesome!  All we had to do was show up!

The venue was Meskerem, which is right in the heart of Adams Morgan in Washington, DC.  Adams Morgan is a very culturally diverse neighborhood that offers lots to do and see.  We went during the week but if you pop over to Adams Morgan on the weekend, it's all the way live!

Tony and I were the third couple to arrive so we followed suit of what accidentally happened....girls on the left.....boys on the right...."just like school," one of our dinner companions joked!  LOL.  From the back to the front, the couples included Susan and Ed, Jennifer and Chris, me and Tony, Stacey and Evan, Monica and Fred.  We ate good and laughed hard.  We were snug as a bug in our corners but it was FANTASTIC because I felt like I was with old friends.  I think one of the greatest things that I appreciated was that it was a night for me and Tony with no kids, adult conversation, and all couples.  I don't think we've ever been out to dinner with just couples which was a welcome change for us.  Tony and I have a mix of friends who are married and single and I've always wanted to have friends in common who were couples.  So this was a huge blessing!

I feasted on Zilzil Tibbs which are strips of lean beef, sauteed in butter, onion and herbs.  (My food portion is the first photo above and Tony's shrimp was to the right of my beef.)  Of course, I used my injera to sandwich it together since Ethiopian food is eaten with hands only, no utensils!  I loved the injera even more this time around compared to the other Ethiopian restaurant Tony and I visited on our anniversary.  As Susan pointed out, the batch we had was less fermented.  (Either way, Selah, mommy is getting used to it!  Yay!)  Tony ordered Watt Shrimp which is sauteed in Meskerem's unique, hot and spicy berbere sauce.  I don't know what he was thinking about when he ordered it.  The poor thing couldn't enjoy it because his stomach was bothering him so the spicy food wasn't a match.  Despite his stomach not feeling so well, he hung in there all the way to the end of dinner.  Love that man!  smile

If you've never eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant, you should know that the food was served on a common  platter with injera (spongy bread) underneath the food.  Because there were 10 of us, there were two of these platters.  The large platters rest on a colorful straw woven table called a mesob.

After about a couple hours together and lots of laughter and shared stories, we said our good-byes and vowed to do this again.   Even Tony who who wasn't feeling well that night said that we needed a repeat of the night.  We're already scouting out which restaurant is next.

As of Tuesday's dinner, all of us were still in the paperchasing or waiting stage but our friends, Monica and Fred, received their referral on Thursday!  Congrats Monica and Fred! Next up for a referral from our dinner group...Susan and Ed!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Naming Our Daughter....

We're at a place in our adoption where we feel that it is important to name our daughter.  This choice is not because we feel that it's just something 'cute' to do or because we're bored.....goodness gracious....we've got LOTS to keep us busy these days!  We feel it's important because as we fight, save, and raise funds to bring our daughter into her forever family, we need to remind others and ourselves that she is not just another statistic.  She is a child with a heart beat, future, and something amazing to bring to the kingdom of God.  Every single child within the 147 million orphans worldwide has a face and potential.  I remember at one point back in 1979 when my birth mother died, I became a part of the orphan count but because I had a name and a face, my birth father's family took me into their home and claimed me forever as their own daughter.  I need to do the same thing for my daughter.

So without further ado, here's introducing our daughter's name....

How do you pronounce it?
I'm continuing to do the research to make sure this is correct in its original translation so if you have any great resources, please point me that way

Why Selah?
Biblically speaking, Selah is often translated to mean in the Psalms as 'to pause'.  It's also been considered to  indicate an instruction to the reader to stop and consider carefully what has been said. In effect, it's a reinforcer: reflect on the above, because it's important.

This is so important for the way that Selah has come into our lives.  As I've shared before, we were living a pretty comfortable life with our 2 boys who are old enough to take care of a lot of their own needs.  Besides helping out our friends and family when they were in a pinch, we in many ways lived in our own little middle-class bubble.  Don't get me wrong, we loved people but served people in the way that Jesus speaks of......I'm not so sure.  Not that helping people locally isn't significant and necessary, but it was almost as if God needed us to pause and reflect on our comfortable life to see that there is a  world beyond the one that we knew that is in dire need of hope.  It was like a STOP MICHELLE JUST FOR A MINUTE!  Come see what I see. See what breaks my heart and let me break yours for what breaks mine.

I look forward to people asking me and Selah how she got her name because it's an invited opportunity to share about God's radical love for each one of us.

So, yep!  That's my baby girl.  (In case you were wondering, her middle name will more than likely be one of her given names provided by whomever in Ethiopia named her.)

Mommy loves you, Selah!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Where Do I Begin......Lots of Great News!

Have you ever been so full and overwhelmed in a good way by so many great things happening in your life?  This past week has been one of those WHOA God, hold on let me catch my breath kind of weeks.  I'm so full with his blessings that I've had a difficult time blogging because I couldn't figure out where to start.  So, I think the best way is for me to just dive in to what's been happening this week:

  1. We were approved by Lifesong for Orphans' Both Hands project!!!!  This is HUGE, COLOSSAL because it means that when someone decides to make a donation, they have the option of going through Lifesong for a period of time so that they can receive a tax-deductible donation.  Bigger than that though is the fact that we'll be working on/repairing the house of a widow in the months to come.  I am super excited about this project.  Check out our initial post about our Lifesong Application here:  http://lifeabitsweeter.blogspot.com/2010/07/lifesong-for-orphans-helping-widow.html
  2. Received the sampler pack of fair trade coffee we are selling through Just Love Coffee!  Oh my goodness!  It came in a priority mail envelope and the envelope in the mailbox smelled yummy!  I requested ground coffee and they only grind each bag upon each order.  I can't wait to brew my first cup but first I need to grab a good friend to drink it up with me!  See our fair trade coffee site here:  http://www.justlovecoffee.com/lifeabitsweeter
  3. Celebrated with one of my bestie (yes, I said bestie) adoption girlfriends on the announcement of her referral!  I adore Melissa and wish we lived closer so that we could share a cup of coffee and cry tears of joy together about the referral of her daughter.  Check out my buddy Melissa over here:  http://thelemanskis.blogspot.com/2010/08/big-news.html
  4. Started working with a great group of friends who are helping with a fantastic fundraiser!  This is monumental for me because I'm not good...okay comfortable, asking people to help me.  The problem with this character flaw is that there's no way I can get through this adoption with just me and Tony operating alone.  In the words of one of girlfriends....yes, Naneka again....I have to do whatever necessary to fight for my daughter and bring her home.  As my pastor reminds me, this adoption journey is so not about me so some things as scary as they are to me, I'm going to have to do them scared!
  5. Received our appointment for our biometrics fingerprinting with the US Government!  Woo hoo!  This is so huge because this approval would give us the approval of our I171-H form which allows us to move forward with sending our dossier to Ethiopia and ultimately going on the wait list.  (Now of course, there's that little matter of the $7700 that needs to accompany the dossier but I'm believing God is going to partner with us or us with Him to do something amazing for us to get closer to the $7700 and bring His daughter home.)
  6. We've selected and agreed upon a name for our daughter!  This is fantastic because although we don't know who she is yet, she's had a growing place in our heart.  We have been going back and forth about what to name her.  We've come to an agreement and I am happy, happy, happy because I'm ready to refer to her by name.  So.....you'll have to wait til next week when I'll announce her name.   (Those who know Tony....no tricking him into telling you!  As older people say....he can't hold ice water!)
Thanks for sharing in our joy this week!  Love y'all for caring enough to check in on us via our blog.

(BTW:  The cute little "I Am Blessed" necklace above is available at this cute little Etsy shop: click here)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Two Pairs of Shoes for the Price of One!

This past Saturday, I made a run to Annapolis to get my first pair of TOMS.  If you've never heard of TOMS before, well let me tell you, they are THE MOST comfortable shoes I've ever owned in my life!  I decided to give them a run for their money (so to speak) by wearing them to work.  If you didn't know, I work at my church, Zion Church, full-time and of course, Sunday is our busiest day.  During the week, I am the Pastor's assistant and on Sundays, I'm also responsible for quality control at our 4 services.  This basically means making sure everything is running well inside the sanctuary and if not, make sure it gets fixed quickly!  I often get pulled from all directions inside the sanctuary, outside the sanctuary, upstairs and downstairs because of my roles.  If you could only imagine, I run A LOT!  In fact, quite a few people call me a road runner because sometimes my pace is fast and furious to get from one thing to the next.  That means for me, stylish shoes and comfort go hand and hand.  I need to be discrete so wearing high heels is not the tool of choice BUT I need to be cute too!  (smile)  So this Sunday, I was totally amped about wearing my TOMS and asked one of my favorite people at Zion, Deacon Bramble, if he'd grab a few staged shots of me to post on the blog BUT because I kept talking about my TOMS all day long (and yes, taking them off so people could actually see and sometimes feel how cool they were), there was no need for staged shots, he just caught me in motion!

I've been wanting to invest in a pair of TOMS for a while now but just didn't get around to it.  But this past weekend after attending the Willow Creek Summit and hearing Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie speak, I knew I had to go snag me a pair immediately!  I am now absolutely sold on TOMS and their mission!  Basically, they have what's called a One for One business model.  That means for every pair of shoes you buy, they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need!  Say what...shut your mouth!!!  LOL!  Yes, it's absolutely true!  In fact, this September, TOMS is on schedule to deliver their ONE MILLIONTH pair of donated shoes.   That is ONE MILLION CHILDREN in the United States and developing countries who are in need.  Now that is corporate responsibility at an entirely different level!  There's so much about TOMS that I could share with you because I love what they are doing.  In fact, I love what they are doing so much, that I am seriously considering purchasing only TOMS shoes.  No other shoe in my closet can do what this shoes does.....offer hope to a child and their family.  When you ask founder Blake Mycoskie what's so important about shoes, he'll tell you:

Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:
  • A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
  • Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
  • Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.
So, if you believe in great deals and buys, where else can you find a deal like this???
One pair for you and the other pair for a child in need.

But in the words of my grandmother, "I can show you better than I can tell you!"  With that said take a look at the video footage here to see how TOMS is making a difference and why they do what they do:

So in 2011, here's one of my stretch goals.....One Day Without Shoes.  I wonder if my church family might participate with me?  What do you think?  What about you?

Wanna purchase a pair of TOMS online, go here.
Wanna go to a physical store to try them on, go here to find your local store
Wanna stay connected with TOMS blog, check it out here.  
Facebook?  Check them out here.
Twitter?  Tweet with them here

Let me know when you purchase your pair!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Every Penny Counts!

Every penny counts and yes, I mean that literally!  Do you know those people who walk past pennies on the streets? Oops....sorry...are you one of them? LOL!  Well, this mama sure isn't one of them.  I'll pick them if they're heads or tails, wet or dry, dirty or sparkly clean?  Why?  Because every penny counts in bringing my little girl home!

....and if you're asking...yep, I'll take that change in your sofa, under the sofa, in your car seats, under the car seats, in your car beverage holder, on the floor in your room, under your bed, and the one that you use to do the magic trick to pull out of a child's ear!  Yep, because SHE'S WORTH EVERY PENNY!

my latest penny find...near a parking meter by my tire....i guess the person before me didn't want to pick them up after looking for their quarters to insert into the meter.  I'll simply say......THANK YOU!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Reader's Comment that Left Me Speechless

Back on July 26th, I published the blog post entitled "I Dare You".  Well after posting that a wonderful reader left this amazing comment that I completely understood the place that her heart stands.  It just really touched my heart....and I thank her for sharing hers....praying for you guys Sandi.

I'm posting this because my hope is that although I don't know Sandi or how to get in touch with her, that you guys would partner with me in praying for Sandi and her husband.  Let's pray together that whatever God has for them, that they would stand peacefully together in God's perfect Will.  ("For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless."  ~Psalm 84:11)

Now here are Sandi's words....
Below is what I wrote to my husband today. He fears the cost & the fact that he will be 45 by the time an adoption would be finalized. I am so broken over this because he is not ready & I am. So I wait & I pray...

by Sandi "Spark"

I feel as if God is preparing my heart for our daughter.
My heart is filling with love for a child who I have yet to see
in a way that is nearly impossible to explain.
Those around me don’t understand the longing and the ache that is in my heart.
This longing will not go away until I can hold my daughter.
I long for her. I lose sleep thinking about the journey she will face
before God allows me to come for her.
So I wait and I pray for this child of ours,
this child who we will not be able to hold in our arms for years to come.

She has not yet been born but I know that God, in his infinite wisdom,
will bring her into this world at exactly the right moment.
She will be formed in a delicate womb across the seas.
She will have beautiful almond shaped eyes
and a smile that will light from within.
My eyes search crowds and find a moment’s respite when they rest upon a child with my daughter’s eyes.
The tears well up only for a moment
as my heart feels the pain of not having her with me.
For my time has not yet come.

I prayed for the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His.
My heart is broken for the orphans...all of them.
My heart breaks for my daughter.
She will be left in the care of strangers with the mere hope that one day she will have a better life.
She will.

In my heart I see rooms lined with cribs filled with sons and daughters
waiting, waiting...
They have no value in a land of breathtaking beauty.
My daughter will be there in one of those cribs waiting, waiting...
but not for long...

I want to be there for my daughter.
I want her to know that even though her birth mother had to make a heartbreaking choice
that God has formed her to be ours.
I want the arms that hold her until we can meet to hold her with love.
I want those around her to be filled with compassion and caring.
I will pray for them to receive many blessings
in return for loving and caring for her until we meet.

Though we will have different features, in our hearts we are the same.
In my soul I am connected to this little angel
as closely as I am connected to the sons who came from me.
In God’s perfect timing she will be ours. She will be treasured. She will be loved.
Until then I go on longing for the daughter of my heart...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Got Friends?

Hey gang!  We're shaking up the map!  Since last week's update, guess what?  My hometown heard the call and responded!  Maryland is on the map!!!  Yay, Maryland!

That means we moved up to number 191 out of 5000!!!! That is great news. I love seeing that thermometer on the left over there moving up.

But ya know the love doesn't stop there right?  Since our last aerial map update, our 5000 for 5 donations have come in from the great adoption loving states of Kansas, and South Dakota!  My little girl is going to know that she has friends far and wide!!!  I can't wait to show her how much she's loved.

So that got me to thinking....ya know those wonderful ads that ask people 'GOT MILK?'  Well, I wanna know if you GOT FRIENDS?  Who do you know?  We have some states left on our map that really wanna show some love I'm sure but I just need you to tell them about us.  So let's do a small roll call to see who we'd love to see represented on the map!  Anybody know someone who may want to consider donating from......

Washington, DC....oh wait, let me call up Barak really quick....hold on.....(smile)
New York

What other states do you have family and friends?  See here's the thing I learned this week.  You never know what people are willing to do until you ask!  People are willing to give in small and large ways to great causes and forgive my bias but I think this is a GREAT cause.  So can you do our little girl a favor and just ask your friends to consider donating?  Tell them about this sweet family over here (smile) that is getting their home ready to bring in an abandoned child that has the potential of a bright future.  Send them on over to our donation website and let's see what happens friends!

Here's the link to send them to:  http://5000for5.blogspot.com/p/donate.html and if they want to know about our story, send them on over to our regular blog at http://www.lifeabitsweeter.blogspot.com/

So....got friends?

Love ya'll and thanks for the support! (...and yes English majors I know that ya'll is not correct but in my own southern way, sometimes I just love it so bear with me...smile)

RED HOT Testimony!

So there's been some great movement in our adoption process in continuing to save the money for our adoption.  Since our last update, we've begun saving towards our passports and dossier!  I just love the fact that we can start putting the word dossier in our vocabulary!!!!  Makes me wanna say it loud.....D-O-S-S-I-E-R!!!  Dossier!

Well in moving towards that goal, I have what my friend Naneka calls a RED HOT TESTIMONY!  On October 1 and 2, First Baptist Church of Glenarden (my church home prior to moving to Zion) is hosting their annual women's conference.  This conference tends to get quite a bit of foot traffic and offers an opportunity for vendors to display their products and services.  Yours truly had a deep desire to sell some of her fundraising goodies to help bring baby girl home....and I mean I want her home soon so I am working overtime to pull out all the stops!  Well, the conference vendor space is a bit pricey and out of my reach but I thought I would maybe ask about 10 of my girlfriends to sponsor me.  Well, I was on the phone with a relative who has been really supportive throughout this journey.  I like to bounce ideas off her to see what she thinks.  In that conversation, I shared with her my desire and plan to ask my girlfriends to donate towards the vendor table.  She thought it was a great opportunity and told me I should move forward.  Well not even 30 minutes later, she sent me a text to call her as soon as possible.   Long story short, she and her fabulous husband decided that they would sponsor the table for me to sell our t-shirts, necklaces, and fair trade coffee!  WOW GOD!  There you go again!!!!  So we're all set now, the check has been submitted thanks to my special family members and we'll sell our items at the women's conference and are praying for lots and lots of sales!

Thank you God and thank you to all of your angels here on Earth that are answering the call to partner with us to bring our daughter home.  I know that you all can't see her face yet and I have no idea about whether she's even born yet or not.....what I do know is that she is growing stronger in my heart day by day.

By the way, did you catch what I said above about us selling fair trade coffee?  Yup, the Life A Bit Sweeter Cafe is now open for business!!!  LOL.   Through the generosity of the visionaries at Just Love Coffee, we now have a coffee store open that carries fair trade coffee.  In the days to come, I'll explain exactly what fair trade coffee is because quite frankly, before this adoption process, I had no clue!  Just being honest.  Now that I know, I believe there is absolutely no other way to buy coffee and you should consider the same.  So hop on over to our coffee store, peek and around  and buy some coffee to get your morning started!  Our familly earns --can you guess--- yup, FIVE DOLLARS for every bag of coffee you purchase.  Come on over and check out the goodness!  http://www.justlovecoffee.com/lifeabitsweeter

We thank you for your kindness, prayers, and generosity!  Keep it coming because she needs her mommy and daddy!

Love ya'll!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I absolutely love it when kids 'get it'!  What is the "IT" that I'm talking about here?  I'm talking about when an 11-year old girl named Sami pushes times into her day to make necklaces so that kids in a far away nation can have a basic need met--shoes!  I mean think about it.....She could be making necklaces to save to buy a ticket to the Justin Bieber concert, an iPod, or new clothes but NO, this GIRL GETS IT!  She gets that the world's needs are so much greater than her own material desires.  She gets the importance of living a life of servanthood.  Why does she get IT?  I'm convinced that she gets IT because her parents GET IT and they're teaching their children by their example.  (See their family's adoption blog by clicking here.)

As soon as her mom announced that her 11-year old would be blogging now and that she would be selling necklaces to benefit the kids of Children's Hope Chest, like many other families, we were celebrating and of course buying.  So in my buying, I purchased one necklace with the plan to give it away BUT when I received it, it was soooo cute that now I can't part with it BUT THAT'S GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!

SO HERE'S THE GIVEAWAY:  Today, you have the opportunity to win one of Sami's beautiful bottlecap necklaces.  All you have to do is drop by her blog and leave her a comment stating why what she is doing matters or makes a huge difference, especially starting at such a young age.  That's it!  (Your comment must be dated August 5th and can appear in any of her blog posts.)

Even if you don't want to win the necklace, please go leave her a comment.  I want us to send her such an outpouring of love for what she is doing that the enemy doesn't have a chance to make her think that her act of sacrifice and giving doesn't matter.  She's starting early so let's encourage her.

Once you leave a message on Sami's blog, just come back here and tell me which blog post heading you left your comment!  I'll draw a name late Thursday night and will announce the winner at the end of this blog post.  The winner will be able to pick any one necklace of their choice currently on Sami's blog and I'll have Sami ship it to the winner.

I recently asked Sami to answer a few questions for me, take a look at her responses.....

Why do you think it's important for your family to adopt?
I think it is important for my family to adopt because every child deserves a family and we have more love to share.
Why do you think it's important for your family to adopt?
My mom has a blog and I thought it would be a great way to spread the word about my necklaces.  I love writing and technology.
What made you decide to give 100% of your proceeds to Children's Hopechest?
I am giving 100% of the proceeds to Hopechest because I don't need things and others do.
Peace, Love, Do Good,
Don't you just adore her?

Our Winners!!!

I am sooooo proud of the work that Sami is doing with the bottlecap necklaces and it touches my heart to know that the purchase of one necklace will go towards putting shoes on the foot of a child.  With that said, I had no choice but to award all 3 of our entrants with the bottlecap necklace.  Congratulations!  Please be sure to contact me at michelle365@me.com to let me know which necklace design you'd like and where to ship your necklace. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Adoption Myth #2: We Can't Afford An Adoption

Generally speaking for most families, this is the #1 reason that often discourages a family from opening their home to an orphan.  Clearly, my family would be no different EXCEPT it's just been an incredible faith walk for us.  Because I'm going to share with you from the experience of international adoption, I'd love to hear parents chime in who are/have adopted domestically about the costs incurred whether going privately or through an agency.

To get to the nuts and bolts of it, we estimate our total adoption costs to be approximately $31,000.  Yep, that's a down-payment on a home, almost one year of state tuition for one of our kids, or perhaps even a new car.  I know that $31K could do lots in our existing family but in terms of the greatest impact on the kingdom RIGHT NOW for our family, we really believe this is it.  I mean God is going to have to come clear down from heaven to tell me that we're going the wrong direction to make me think otherwise.  That's how strong I feel that this is where God wants us to be.  Now does that mean that fear doesn't exist in my heart about where these funds are going to come from?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  There are several days when I'm marveling at how much money we've saved, how many necklaces we sell, or donations that have arrived out of the blue BUT THEN there are other days when it feels like things have just outright dried up!  As I cry out in my tears as other families are moving closer to picking up their kiddos and we are at a stale mate, through the hollowness of my tunnel of tears, it goes something like this.....HELLO, HELLO, HELLO.....GOD ARE YOU STILL THERE....THERE....THERE?  The funny thing is that often through the kindness of someone else who as my friend Pastor Jeff calls them people who are JESUS WITH SKIN ON....I clearly hear echo right back....I NEVER LEFT, LEFT, LEFT.  Oh, how I love Him.

To be totally honest with you, if you ever want to test your faith, see your faith strengthened, and become even more intimate in your relationship with God, I dare you to ask Him to break your heart for something that breaks His that is beyond anything that you can accomplish in your own power.  There is NOTHING in my capacity that can fund this vision by myself but you know what, GOD HAS COMPLETELY ENLARGED MY TERRITORY AND MY LIFE EXPERIENCE.  I have grown in ways that are unimaginable.  I OFTEN have to look back in the mirror because I can't believe this is MY life.  Glory to God when you exchange your Will for His.  He funds the vision.  He uses others to partner with you to make it happen.  I have been SO BLESSED by the number and diversity of people who have come into my life.  People whom I would have never met otherwise.

But back to the MONEY FACTOR, the hangup that many people have is that orphanage leaders and governments are getting fatter pockets by exploiting children through this process.  What do I have to say about that?  YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT but that's when it's up to you to do your homework.  Human trafficking is very real throughout the world.  Slavery has not ended.  It's important that before you sign with an agency, that you look at their financial history, leaders, and the full disclosure of the breakdown of the fees.  In the case with our adoption, our fees goes toward things like processing documents in the United States and Ethiopia, background checks, passports, home study by a certified social worker, travel and lodging for two trips to Ethiopia for me and Tony, some fees to pay the workers at our agency --yes, they have a family and have to take care of them too, orphanage medical care for our child, and the list goes on and on.  (If you'd like to see a breakdown, send me an e-mail at michelle365@me.com and I'd be glad to share it with you.)

So can me and Tony really have the capacity to whip out a check and complete our adoption?  ABSOLUTELY NOT but as another adopting parent encouraged me once before, "But my God owns a cattle on a thousand hills and all I need is ONE!"  It's been awesome seeing God move and being able to participate in a miracle in the making.  Feel free to join us in our journey or take a look below about how God has moved in the lives of others to fund what is really HIS desire for the fatherless to be set in families (see Psalm 58:5-6).


Monday, August 2, 2010

US Healthcare is Still a Monumental Blessing

Especially here in Washington, DC where healthcare is one of those topics that is very controversial, we may complain about our options, but in comparison to many developing countries, we are doing EXTREMELY well.  Not only do we need to help orphans but we must also take a step back and help families in struggling countries who do not have access to the basics that can save their family.  Take a look...

Liya's Ethiopia Diary from ONE Campaign on Vimeo.

Bringing one child home from a country such as Ethiopia does make the difference for that one child but creating safer birthing environments/resources for moms and basic care to children is a much larger issue that we can't ignore.  This always brings me to the question of "Why was I birthed into a country like the United States with so much opportunity and availability of funds and someone else was birthed into a land of poverty?"  As I ponder that question, I come back to the fact that we (those with plenty) are responsible for helping those with little.  It's one of the things that I will have to account for at the end of my life....poverty locally and internationally abounds and I cannot ignore it.  (see Matthew 25:31-46). 

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
 34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
 37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
 41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
 45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Popcorn & A Movie....come hang with me!

Perhaps Sunday is your day to kick back, catch-up at home, or do something fun with the family.  Well, today, how about curling up with your laptop, some popcorn or other snack of your choice and watch this awesome documentary about Ethiopia entitled African Spirit:  The diversity of Ethiopia's Culture and Wildlife.  It's close to an hour long but you can come back and watch it in segments.  As I'm posting it, I'm into 43 minutes of it but it's bed time.....gotta be at work early in the morning - our first service starts at 8:30am and we don't wrap-up the last until 2pm.  So....I'll catch the rest tomorrow.  It was very intriguing and I have not always been the documentary type.

Kick back and relax....tell me what you liked or learned and because I enjoy food....tell me what you were snacking on when you watched.  For me it was homemade macaroni and cheese and some 'organic' lemonade (lol) that I picked up at Whole Foods.  Hopefully, tomorrow when I come back to finish watching it will be something healthy like watermelon and cantaloupe.


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