"" Life A Bit Sweeter: 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Ornament So Fitting

Just because I believe she will be in some ways just like both her moms. (smile)

Monday, December 26, 2011

I Thought She'd Be Home By Now...

but she's not. Some days, I wait patiently, trusting that God must have more prep that He wants me to do. Other times, I grow weary and tired of being in this stage of the process. Either way, I don't deviate from this truth....God is good and He is so in control.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two Beautiful Boys Need A Home....is it yours?

 Meet Amistad and Nikelus. These two amazing young brothers want nothing more for Christmas than to have a place to finally call home.  Please pray and ask God if just perhaps, you could make room in your home for two more.  They are remarkable young men and I just know that their forever family is out there. If it's not you, would you please do me a favor and share the link to this blog post? (http://www.lifeabitsweeter.com/2011/12/two-beautiful-boys-need-homeis-it-yours.html) We HAVE TO BE their voice! Please spread the word.

More than 700 children have found permanent loving families after being featured on Wednesday's Child. For information, please call 1-88-TO-ADOPT-ME.

We can do this for them!

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another Reason I Love Mocha Club....and you should too! (smile)

If  you didn't know, Mocha Club was so instrumental in helping us fund our adoption. We love, love, love Barrett Ward and Emily over there.  Barrett was so generous in allowing us to sell their "I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me" t-shirts as a fundraiser. It's not something they normally do and I went out on a limb in asking them....and that "Big Ask" paid off. So like so many others, they are a huge piece in the puzzle of our daughter's adoption.

But hey.....here's what's also so cool about them. Each month, along with many others, I give $7 per month....basically the cost of a two cups of mocha/coffee to support projects in Africa.  You get to choose which project category you'd like your $7 to support: clean water, education, hiv + healthcare, orphan care/vulnerable children, or women at risk.

It's so simple to start supporting their amazing projects that are making an impact in Africa. Click here to start donating today.  In the meantime, check out one of their "Missions in Action" episode videos:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meet Josiah White...A Beautiful Miracle

Meet Josiah White.  Watch the video but before you do, here's one of my favorite quotes from his mom:

"It's not about you. It's not about you fulfilling your family. It's not about you doing a good thing.  It's not about any of that. It's about obeying God. If He's calling you to do it, you need to do it and not just say you know how like we started out with making a list of well God, this is what I'm willing to do for You so here You go."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How Much I Have To Say About What's Going on in Adoption World....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mortellite Family Giveaway (Amharic Language Book/CD) - ENDS TODAY!!!

Possibly like you, I've met some F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S people along this adoption journey.  One of them is Kelly Mortellite.  Kelly and her hubby, Nick, are also adopting from Ethiopia.  We started chatting about fundraising and we've been keeping in touch ever since. Well, the Mortellites have the awesome privilege of participating in a fundraiser through a wonderful website called Give1Save1 (www.give1save1.com). 
Through Give1 Save 1, they are hosting a giveaway of five Simple Language for Adoptive Families - Amharic version guides. It includes a book/CD combo to assist families communicate with their child once they bring them home. I want, want, want one of those book/cd combos so you bet I'll be entering.  You can too so check out how here:  http://give1save1.com/2011/11/29/simple-amharic-for-adoptive-families/
 .....and of course, here is the cuteness of the Mortellites......

If you'd just like to donate to the Mortellites adoption, you can do so via PayPal here.  Remember our story?  Every single dollar, penny, nickel counts so let's give family!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Awesome Kiddie Hair Salon for Ethnic Hair

So this mama's been practicing and I still don't have a decent cornrow down yet.  Contrary to popular belief, including my own, unfortunately, all 'sisters' can't braid hair.  Now I can do a french braid, plait, twist, bantu knot and I've got a few other tricks I can even dish out when necessary.  Yep, this mama's been practicing to get ready for Selah.

What you may not know is that I have a 3-year old granddaughter.  She was at our house last week and as the day would have it, she was due for a new hairdo.  We had someplace to go that night and I was totally not up to taking her hair out, shampooing, conditioning, detangling, and the tears....oh yes, the tears!!!!  Without hesitation, I called up a kiddie beauty salon that's right in my community called Iconz Kids Salon. I've been wanting to try them out for some time to gear up for Selah and this was the perfect opportunity.  I called up the salon which generally stays booked with kiddie clients and as the beautiful day would have it, they could fit us in.  Off we went....and the verdict....I loved it!

This salon is very rare in that they cater to African & African-American boys and girls.  It's set-up just for kids.  Each station is complete with a tv & dvd and they keep great movies in stock for the kiddos.  There's a waiting room for parents.  From what I learned, the salon is owned by a Christian wife and husband team who also have an adult salon next door.  It's pure genius I tell you!  We were in and out in a couple of hours, including a deep conditioning and the tears which flowed and flowed but didn't make our amazing assigned stylist, Nesha, miss a beat.  She was great in recommending products for my granddaughter's hair.  I shelled out about $65 dollars for everything and let me tell you, it was well worth it.  With the use of a scarf, this style will keep for days and little miss muffin, or Pocahontas, as she likes to call herself loved it.  Being able to shake her hair and hear the music of the beads was just pure heaven for her.

There were only two downsides to my experience or things I'd put on a wishlist for this salon.  They don't accept debit/credit cards.  For me, this was a major blower because I rarely carry cash and they didn't share that with me when I booked the appointment.  This meant I had to go find an ATM and come back to pay.  With a toddler in tow, it wasn't my favorite option.  Yet, I have to say, they were very kind.  Secondly, for waiting parents, I'd suggest adding free wi-fi so parents can get some work done, or maybe even surf the net while they wait.....since I'm guessing the average wait time for your child is anywhere from 1-2 hours.

So basically.....this will be one of Selah's regular spots when mommy needs some help.   

Do you have kiddie salons in your area that cater to Ethnic hair.

Monday, November 21, 2011

We're #10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.....and 28!

Yeah baby! We're moving on up.  We're number 10 in the toddler girl line and number 28 in the infant girl line.  That's it....just wanted to share that little detail.  (insert my big ol' grin here!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We're #11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.....and 30!

Rain, rain go away. Come again another day.  Yes...the rainy season in Ethiopia is over and referrals are happening.  What does this mean for us?  Well....no, we haven't received our referral yet but we're inching on up in the line.  We're still in the infant girls category but we're also in the toddler girls line.  On the infant side, we're number 30 in line but in the toddler line, we're number 11.  Yes, yes, yes.

I've been away from blog land but that's what's happening in my world.  What's up in yours?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Who Are You???

More often than not on this blog, we focus on me, myself, and I.  You know my thoughts, my family, my adoption, my fears, my joys....you get the picture. Well.....let's pause for the cause of learning about one another and tell me about YOU! (**insert cheers and applause here--smile**)

I want to know who's reading this blog.  I want this to be a community so even if I know something about you, tell the other readers who will read these comments.  A little stuck on what to say? Here are some ideas:

Tell us:
  • about your family.
  • about this season in your life.
  • What's been your greatest joy this year? Your disappointment?
  • What type of work do you do? What's your passion?
  • How we can pray for you.
  • Something quirky about you.
  • What part of the country do you live in?
  • Do you blog? What's your blog address?
So tell us anything you want, we're listening!

Lots of love!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2 Children, Instead of 1?

It's a bit past 3am and I can't go back to sleep just yet until I type this post.  For the 3rd time, I've had a dream about a second small child with Selah --always a boy.  I haven't committed it fully to a blog post yet because I've been so afraid.  Afraid of what you ask, well let me spill it here:

-Afraid of what my husband would say.  I mean it was a miracle to me that he said yes so quickly to adopting one child...internationally at that.  I've thrown it around to him before after the first two dreams and he's not exactly saying no firmly but he's definitely not saying yes either.  So 2 children....

-Afraid of the additional cost of the adoption.  With no cut cards, I can simply say that the funds to adopt a second child are just not there. We've finished fundraising and quite honestly I'm thinking, how do you start fundraising again because you 'think' you might need to/be asked to adopt a second child?

-Afraid of the the costs associated with having 4 children.  I don't see where in the world we'd have money in our family budget to care for the needs of 4 children.

-Afraid that maybe I'm conjuring all of this up in my mind.  Ya know...what did I eat last night?  And then there's the fact that one of our agency's families had a similar situation and are now adopting not just one but now two boys.

-Afraid that I'd never want to split up siblings.....if any of this materialized.  This is exactly what happened to my brother and I after my mom died.  It's something my brother and I have been so firm about even with our existing children.   In fact it brings me to tears right now just thinking about it. We've held that if something happened to us and our children had to be placed with guardians, we'd never want our children split up.  This single act caused so much damage to my brother and I.  Although we ended up in the same state, it hurt more than anyone else could ever know.  Not only did we lose our mom and dad overnight but we also instantly lost one another.

Yes, I know that God is greater than all of my fears but let me tell you, fear is trying to whip my butt right now as I keep trying to couple it with the reality of what I see with our family and our finances.  Do we have enough love to care for two children....absolutely yes....but how would that affect our two boys???  Again, do we have the finances to care for two additional children.....not from my vantage point....but hmmm....what does God see in all this?  So....here I am stuck wondering.......are these 'just dreams' or is this all preparation for what's to come?  Pray for us friends.  I just sit here in tears because this is hard on so many other levels.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Than a Two Step....Zumba

Remember our Zumba event, well, here's a peek into what the night was about.  It was sooooo much fun! If you live in an area where Zumba is hot and need a fundraiser, this is one to consider.  Got questions about how to plan it, just leave me a comment here.

Let's get it girls.....and can't forget the guys who held it down that night.

Photos from Zumba Fundraiser from LifeABitSweeter on Vimeo.

...and here's the photo slideshow! I had no idea that Greg from GiggyMedia was going to do video AND photographs.  So blessed by his company for their generosity.  Seriously...go check 'em out if you're in the DC area.  (His info is at the end of the show.)

(Any lag in the video has nothing to do with the quality of the video. This is because of the streaming from the video host site I used.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Birth Mom's Birthday

Yesterday was the birthday of my birth mom, Karen or Kay as she was affectionately known. By my calculations, she would have been 62 yesterday.  She died 19 days before her 31st birthday.  I was just turning 5 the following month.  Life changed so quickly during those months and then the subsequent years for my brother and I as we split into separate homes.

I had such a GREAT time today as I sat with my Aunt Johnette and cousin John as they shared stories about how my mom used to sit on the couch, suck her thumb, and how much of a home body she was.  I ate every single one of those details up and always yearn to know more and more and more about her.  I yearn to know what her voice sounded like but people didn't record like they do now.  Instead, I inquire here and there with relatives to get more details. Photos of my mom are very rare and I only own one. She was totally not into the whole picture-taking thing....I'm beginning to think she was a total introvert....totally opposite of the little girl to whom she gave birth!  LOL.

As we move further into this adoption journey, I think more and more about Selah and her mom.  As she grows older, will she wonder about some of the same things that I do and have?  Will she yearn to know her birth mother more....her voice....her touch...her mannerisms?  I'm absolutely positive that the answer is yes.  I pray that God grants us the opportunity to meet her mother in order to learn as much as possible in our brief meeting. That meeting would be as priceless as the little girl she and I will share.

Every child needs a mother and a father for two distinct reasons.  I am so grateful that God loved me so much that He did not forget my deep need for a mother-figure/mother in my life. I remember my mom (Grace) who raised me as her child after my mom died, told me that she would never try to take the place of my mom. I am forever grateful for her articulating those words to me because my birth mother is not my past or a fading memory. She is very present in the pages of my life as I continue to grow and even sometimes reflect 'Kay' in pieces of me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Age Request Change & Home Study Update

Woo hoo! Yesterday afternoon, our social worker came by to do our home study update since a year has passed since our last home study approval. Things went well.

The one change:  we confirmed that we would like to increase our age range request just a little.  It was a hard decision just because of fears but heck...this whole adoption journey is often filled with fear of the unknown. It has felt like promptings from God to make this move but we also wanted to be sure.  To help with my fears about adopting a child a tad older, I called on my friend, Christine, who adopted a toddler.  Christine's candor, love, and support was such a huge blessing to me.

So what's next....we wait for our update to be written and then we wait some more to see what age range God chooses.  Who knows....we may be matched next year with a baby or perhaps even a toddler (about 2 years old).

Stay tuned........

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Used To Celebrate DTE Anniversaries....now, not so much.

I remember getting our dossier to Ethiopia (DTE) was such a happy day....January 7th! We were beyond thrilled because it meant we could begin the countdown to the approximate number of months it would take before we were matched with our daughter.  Like many waiting families, we would do something special on the 7th of each month to celebrate our DTE Anniversary.  First, we started off trying something healthy to eat but then my Paula Deen lovin' country self got bored with that and decided to serve someone in the community instead on these months.  It was fun...it was lively....it was fantastic counting down those months UNTIL we found out through our agency that the wait to be matched with our daughter would now be longer than the original 9 months or so. The wait grew to 12-18 months and at this point, I'm thinking perhaps even longer.  I know there are some good reasons for the extensions and our agency is working their tooshies off to make sure things are done ethically which I soooooo appreciate.

Although I've been busy with nesting and I am truly loving it, the truth about today is that for some reason it's hard.  Yep, it's one of those days for me.  I know all the pick-me up points and encouragements like "In God's timing" and "He's working it out behind the scenes".  Those are the same words I use to encourage other moms who are on this side of the coin.  I know that I have to be patient but in the meantime, what do I do with this aching mommy heart that longs for the face of a little person who I can only dream about right now.  It stinking hurts.  Yet, I know no matter how much this hurts today, right now....I have to take my heart, even while it's hung low to my Father.  It's only Him that can get me through this valley.

Perhaps I'll be ready to celebrate DTE anniversaries again but right now approaching our nine month mark in a couple of weeks doesn't exactly have me doing cartwheels......and that's real talk.

I almost didn't hit publish on this post but from the very beginning I promised to be honest about my journey....so here goes...............

Nesting: TLC Just for Me!

Nesting is absolutely glorious! I've been busy getting my house, family, and yes even me into a better rhythm.  Ya know when a mama bird is preparing her home or 'nest' for the arrival of her little baby birds.  This weekend, I got to focus on little ol' me! (smile).  I think it's super important that as women, we take care of ourselves and that we FEEL GOOD ABOUT OURSELVES! ....and seriously, with all of the running around that happens, often mommies put their care on the backburner.

Since I'm on vacation from work for 2 weeks to really focus on nesting, I decided this past weekend, there were 3 things that I did (started doing) that I'm so, so happy about:

#1.  Got my hair dyed....yep, I'm still my natural deep black but the strands of gray are gone! Gone! Gone! Gone! Woo hoo!

#2.  Got a facial.  I've had these little holes and blackhead-looking critters sitting on my face and I hated the way my skin look.  I went to see an aesthetician Sunday morning and she literally spoiled me rotten for about 2 hours.  At the end of my appointment, my dull, flaky, dry skin was glowing like nobody's business.  All this time, I've thought that my skin was dry when in fact, it's actually oily.  Go figure!

#3.  Started drinking water.  I know, I know, I know.  We should all drink water but this girly hates the taste and loves everything sweet.  Seeing as though I need to set a great example for my boys AND I love looking at my glowing complexion, water is going to become my best friend.  Yep, I even downloaded a water app on my iPhone....it's that serious! LOL.

What I love about this whole nesting process is that not only am I getting my dwelling house in order, but I'm also getting my physical body or home in order.  Life is good and I feel good too!

What do you do or want to do to take care of you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nesting: Organizing the Kids' Lives (Fabric Magnet Board)

Now that school's back in session, there is just so much to juggle...doctor appointments, school projects, football schedules, basketball schedules...you get the picture.  For me, putting these things in a file cabinet is not a good idea...ya know...out of sight, out of mind. Yep, that's right!  So, I needed a solution to keep it all together.  When I saw this board, I instantly wanted to start creating.....
BUT there was one problem.  I remembered that we'll have an infant/toddler in our home soon so a bulletin board with pointy tacks didn't seem to be a win.  Time for adjustments! I started thinking and realized that a magnet board might be a better alternative.  I was going to go with sheet metal but the sheets at my local Home Depot store were too small and they were pretty banged up.  Then, I found a cool tutorial using an Ikea magnet board and I was back in gear again.
...and voila! Here's our neat-o version complete with some racing car magnets I made for the boys.  I'm still trying to decide what kind of magnets I want to go with Little Miss Lady's board.  Each of kids have their own boards.  The boys are on the outside and Selah's board is sandwiched right in the middle of her big bros.  Love getting organized!

What's your favorite tip for organizing your kids and family?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nesting Has Begun!

If you were to look up the words "busy bee", you'd see my face right next to the definition....go 'head....go look it up. (smile)  Seriously though....I am a true busy bee.  I've been like this since 'forever'...well almost forever.  I love taking on projects, tasks, and learning new skills.  It's just the way that I'm wired.  I enjoy hard work and being challenged.  At the same time, I'm very clear that I can't keep up this same pace when Ms. Selah arrives home.  I truly believe with all my heart that God wants me to start now with making some transitions and better choices to bring better balance to our household, our life, and our future together as a family.  And if I don't....well this wait time is going to be EXTRA long until I get it together because he loves her too much.  So my friends 'nesting' has begun!

Don't get me wrong...we're doing pretty good as a family in terms of spending time together, running to activities, and just plain ol' living and loving on each other.  Yet, I'm also clear that when Selah arrives, she and our household are going to require a level of attention, bonding, and balance unlike anything that was needed after I gave birth to my two sons.

So follow along on this journey as I share some of my 'projects, routines, and milestones' that I'll be working towards over these next 7 or so months while we wait to be matched with our daughter.  (Yep, I'm thinking it may be that long before we actually even see her face or know who she is BUT....it's all good.  Her mama has lot's of preparing to work on for her arrival!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meeting Steven Curtis Chapman!!!

Okay...so when we first started the adoption process, there were two really great adoption agencies that I wanted to go with....America World or Gladney.  Although both are awesome adoption agencies, I really felt my heart tugging towards America World for our family.  The problem: doubt and thoughts of rejection started creeping into my mind.  I mean America World had sent us this amazing package of information and inside the package was a dvd sharing the story of a few families who had used America World, their thoughts, fears, and the joy of adopting internationally.  Along with their story was another chapter featuring the Chapman family and their heart for adoption.  I'm sitting in my office watching this dvd....crying and thinking...OH.MY.GOODNESS!!! Steven Curtis Chapman!!!!!!!! THE CHAPMAN FAMILY supports this agency enough to allow them to put their story on a dvd?!!!

Of course, the enemy started working overtime with this fear of the unknown....popping ideas in my head about how we wouldn't qualify for this agency.  The fear of rejection really is a beast.  I mean we didn't have any irregular things in our history but boy did I conjure up some thoughts about why they wouldn't accept us.  And then to be as transparent as I possibly can, throughout the dvd, I didn't see any African-Americans who were adopting internationally nor did I know any at the time.  At the time of my fear battle, I knew of plenty who had perhaps adopted domestically or were foster parents, which are fantastic options, but I knew no African-Americans, who had gone through the process of international adoption.  I kept looking at the awesome packet of info, on the website for the agency and thought....me and Tony, seriously???  How are we going to explain this to our family?  I was blessed to have scoured the internet and found a few African-American couples, including one in my area. I was still fearful but I felt God nudging me in the direction of applying for America World.  Okay, God.....high dive...here we go....in spite of my own fears of rejection.  So after going through the intensive application process, imagine my squeals when we found out that we were accepted into the Ethiopia program of our dream agency - America World!!!! ...and the rest is history.  We have LOVED America World, their amazing staff, and know that we made the best choice for our family.

So by now to bring this whole thing full circle....you know the regard (from above) that I have for Steven Curtis Chapman and his family, right? Well just imagine my excitement when last week as we are coming to a close in our fundraising, a really good friend of mine, Kimberly, invited me to attend a Steven Curtis Chapman concert with her and friend, Claire.  But get this.....we'd have backstage passes too!!!!  Shut up!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Heaven.

I've been soooooo super busy since 2009 with saving, fundraising, and filling out adoption paperwork.  Between working full-time, being a mom, wife, staying up late, and getting up at the crack of dawn, boy......I felt well overdue and longing for a refreshing.  This night of worship this past Saturday was exactly that.  We first went backstage and met their 'friend from a previous road tour', Michael W Smith and then to his right sat Steven Curtis Chapman.  You know what I did, right?  NO.....I didn't pass out! LOL.  I pulled out that America World dvd, my Sharpie, and quickly shared that we had just finished fundraising, and asked if he would sign my DVD.  He looked at the America World dvd and said, "I love these guys".  This was a full circle moment for me.  Back in the Fall of 2009 when I first saw this dvd, I would have never guessed that Chapman would be actually personalizing mine. This very moment in time continues to prove to me that GOD IS SO INTO THE DETAILS!  If I could only put into words, how paralyzed with fear I was back then when I got this dvd, perhaps you'd understand the magnitude of him autographing this very thing...ya know, that moment in time that gripped me with fear.

BTW: We were also blessed to participate in an AMAZING day of worship with Matthew West, Big Daddy Weave, Kutless, Jonny Diaz, and Sidewalk Prophets!  WOWZER!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zumba was a BIG Success!

Friday night was amazing! Zumba kicked my butt but it was worth every bit of the workout.  What a great way to conclude our fundraisers...Two zumba sessions...about 45 minutes each....ya know I didn't last, right? LOL.

Because the weather was HORRIBLE that night, it worked out really well that we sold tickets ahead of time.  In fact, we sold out of tickets 2 weeks prior to the event! (Yee haw!!!)  Tickets were available for a minimum donation of $10.  There were 2 ways to donate towards a ticket:

  1. Via eventbrite.com
  2. Through paper tickets that I created. Each was numbered and you could purchase via a designated 'Zumba Ticket Specialist' --basically my friends.
So there was one sweet incentive to get our 'Zumba Ticket Specialists' to sell their little hearts out.  We hosted a little contest....basically whoever sold the most tickets or received the most donations within a week would receive a $100 cash prize! True motivation.  Let me tell you.....the competition was thick! There was lots of trash talking and it was HILARIOUS! The winner turned out to be my co-worker and friend Cynde.  Believe me, the ticket specialists were on her heels but Auntie Cynde will basically do anything for Selah. I think she called everybody she knew, including her healthcare providers! Loved it!  To top it off, she took her winnings and donated them right back to Selah.  Love that even more!

There was a little lounge area where I played about 5 adoption videos for resting guests.We stocked the lounge area with cold bottled water, granola bars, and cheese/peanut butter crackers.
We had fun with a photo booth that I created out of pvc pipe and some brown/white giraffe fabric. It looked a lot better at home because the torrential rain and the fact that I forgot the base at home made it a bit shorter and a lot more fragile. It was all good though! We still got some flicks!  Speaking of flicks, another one of my co-workers --Trenace, had her hubby, Greg, volunteer his photography services. We hope to have those photos soon!

We started out with 1 instructor, Leslie, but then she recruited 2 more instructors --another woman and a guy! They were all PHENOMENAL!!!!!

There were still so many details but the thing that topped it all off is that another adopting mama, Kelly, drove 2 hours from Pennsylvania with three young women to participate.  What she didn't know was that another one of my co-workers -Tamara- and I were in cahoots to take any money that people gave at the door and donate it to this sweet mama and her adoption fund.  That part was phenomenal AND Kelly won one of the door prizes which was oh too special. We loved surprising her!!!!

There's so much more that I could share about Zumba but I'll leave with this one last important detail.  The Zumba fundraiser was a HUGE success! In total, the Zumba fundraiser pulled in before and after the event over $3,000 in donations. I'd say that was a true FUNdraiser!

If you're an adopting parent and want more info on the zumba fundraiser, just shoot me a line at michelle365@me.com.  Whatever you do with your fundraisers...make it fun...make it fit what you enjoy....and know investigate what would appeal to your target audience.  This has been a blast!

Monday, August 15, 2011

COMPLETELY Funded & 7 Months DTE!!!

I am so thrilled to announce that our daughter's adoption is COMPLETELY FUNDED! Yep....every single penny! Unbelievable to me.....believable that God is faithful....unbelievable that we got to be a part of such a grand miracle.  The fact that we are funded before we're even close to seeing her face blows my mind!!!

But get this....I know from my life and scriptures that God is able to do EXCEEDINGLY, ABUNDANTLY BEYOND what we can ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)  Yet, I was still so shocked when once we hit our goal, families and individuals continued to give because they wanted to start now on donations for us to take to Ethiopia for humanitarian aid! WOW.  What is so special about it all is that not only will their donations benefit our daughter Selah directly but now their donations will impact many more children in various parts of Ethiopia.  Thank you God!

When we first started this journey, I knew we could afford to take care of our daughter once she was home but taking care of the large expenses associated with the process of adoption....now that's another animal altogether.  The decision to save our money AND fundraise was a hard one because it was going to make me MAJORLY uncomfortable.  But I got over it and really moved into it when I realized it was not about me.  Christ paying the price/ransom for my life was downright uncomfortable, possibly even humiliating but He was obedient to what His Father asked Him to do.  He knew it was never about Him.  It was about 'them'...me...you.  To have such a perfect example in Him really helped me to move beyond my hangups and ultimately blessed SO MANY people who have now become so emotionally invested in our adoption and aware of the need of orphans.  In fact, yesterday, a friend at church, Gwen, talked about how Selah, our daughter, has really now become daughter to so many of them.  That just melts this mama's heart.  This video by Eric Ludy time and time again confirmed that we had made the right choice for our family to do whatever necessary to rescue and fight for our daughter. 

We couldn't afford to drag our feet. Like Ludy shares in the video, I was personally challenged to call up every one of my family and friends to get to my daughter (well....close to every one of them...I talked to many, even the ones that I terrified to call because I didn't know what they'd say). Some said no and it was heart-wrenching but for every no...it got me closer to the ones who would say yes they'd support our adoption in some capacity.  As we saved our share, we've had donors who have given 75 cents and we've had a couple of donors who gave $5,000.  EVERY SINGLE donation was instrumental and made a major impact.

To top all of this off, we suspected we were fully funded on the date of our 7 month DTE anniversary! We were still in the process of doing some counting with Lifesong for Orphans and incoming donations but I didn't want to publicly call it too early until we were sure.  Just to document it, I sent my cousin, Shelly this Facebook message late that night:
Thanks to so many of you for being on this journey with us.  It's been an amazing ride and there's still more to come as we figure out ways to best impact Ethiopia. Stay tuned!!!

Love y'all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Won!

Remember the bet my hubby and I made about who could sell the most Zumba tickets and receive the most Zumba registrations in a week......well yours truly won!  Nothing like a little healthy competition between me and my babe to bring our daughter home.  It was so much fun.  So maybe you're wondering how much did I win by....sorry honey.  I have to post this....the people have a right to now.  (smile)

He sold about $100 worth of tickets and I rallied any and everybody I could think of because I didn't want to end up mowing the grass.  I took in over $1,000 towards baby girl's donations! That was all in fun but seriously Praise God for the people who joined in the fun.  Smooches.  Smooches.  Smooches.

Now I have to get to planning that menu! You know he owes me breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed......so what do you think should be on the menu?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Necklace Design: Selah (40% OFF with Coupon Code)

(deal has ended)
Last August, I shared on our blog that we had decided to name our daughter Selah.  This was such a special moment for various reasons.  A couple of months ago, I began to consider whether or not I was making the right choice based on a conversation I had with a Ethiopian gentleman.  After continuing to give it further consideration and talking to some great friends, we've decided that in some way, her first name or middle name will be Selah.
 In honor of the announcement of her name last August, I've created a really special glass tile necklace with the word Selah on it.  The packaging is pretty awesome because it shares our story of how God arrested us out of our middle-class little bubble that we had made and broke our hearts for adoption and Ethiopia.

At the end of the little card that also serves as the packaging for the necklace, we ask you very candidly:

So...what’s the Selah in your life? 
What do you feel God nudging you to do? 
What has He been speaking to you?  Have you acted? 
If not, what’s been holding you back?  Selah.

Perhaps it's not adoption but what I know for sure is that God has something for every person to do that will stretch us beyond our comfort, causing total reliance on Him.  Ours was this adoption.....seriously, what's yours?

Purchase the necklace here for yourself or a friend.  What a great reminder as you wear it that God calls each of us to something bigger than ourselves.

P.S. For a limited time, if you enter the word ZUMBA in the coupon code at checkout, you will receive 40% off the cost of the necklace.  I love a deal! Don't you?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Don't Want to Mow the Lawn....so please help!!!!!!!!

So we can be a bit of a competitive family. We really like pushing each other which can be good thing....well... until you make a friendly wager with your husband, right?  So far, Tony has sold 10 tickets to the Zumba adoption fundraiser.  I have sold two. Of course that's given him bragging rights...and I wasn't having that so I made a wager with him.

The Wager: I bet Tony that I could sell more tickets for the Zumba adoption fundraiser than him by next Sunday, August 7th. Of course, he'd never stand down from a challenge so the bet's on!  
The one bonus is that donations can be included into that total.

What's at Stake: You guessed it! If I lose, I have to mow the lawn. Please understand that I have NEVER mowed our SIZABLE lawn before and I'm pretty okay with that. I hate the outdoors and it's pretty humid outside now so you have to mow it earlier in the morning. 

If I win and collect the most dollars/tickets from July 27 to next Sunday, August 7th, he has to clean the ENTIRE house AND make sure that I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner served to me in bed. I L-O-V-E it!!! So let's go team! I'm sure his boys will be trying to help him out so I have to get moving because I sure would love a clean house and meals served to me in bed for an entire day!

How To Cast Your Vote

Make a donation because you can't attend the event... 
     1. Go to www.firstgiving.com/michellemckinney
     2.  Vote with your donation by putting my name or Tony's name in the comments section.
    Purchase a ticket to the Zumba event... 
         1.  Go to www.zumba4selah.eventbrite.com
         2.  Vote with your ticket purchase by putting my name or Tony's name in the 'who referred you to this event' box.

      Since he's not typing this post, I sure hope you'll favor me, me, me this time, right? (smile)

      Saturday, July 30, 2011

      So She Thinks She Can Zumba!!! (Fundraiser Video Promo)

      So by now, you may know I'll do 'just about' anything for fundraisers that we dream up to bring our daughter home...that includes gettin' right silly! This week was no different.  Check out this crazy video promo with me and my friend, Trenace.  BIG thanks to Marty Cunningham for the camera work and putting it together, as well as Kristen for her hand in directing.  These are all my co-workers (believe it or not --lol) but they're actually more like family.

      Enjoy....and don't forget you can purchase a ticket at www.zumba4selah.eventbrite.com or if you'd like to donate but can't attend, hop on over to our partners at www.firstgiving.com/michellemckinney and let us know that you saw the video.  Many thanks friends!

      Thursday, July 28, 2011

      Final Fundraiser...Zumba! Zumba! Zumba!

      Yes indeed! Yes indeed! We are all set to host our final fundraiser on Friday, August 19th and I can't wait! As some of you know, I don't like to work out or eat healthy BUT I found something that I actually really like....Zumba! Don't get me wrong...I'm not the most coordinated chick in the bunch. Beyonce would totally pick me last on her dance squad....trust!  Yet, there's something about Zumba that makes me happy.  Sometimes I have taken the back row spot at the class and other times, I venture up to the front.  It's a great workout but it's so much fun.  So....why don't you join us and heck, if you can't come, purchasing a ticket at $10 will sponsor me and I'll shake my booty just for you.  LOL!

      Purchase tickets here:  www.zumba4selah.eventbrite.com

      Thursday, July 21, 2011

      Announcing Twins!!!!

      Not me sillies....but my friend, Chelsea who is an amazing photographer in Fairbanks, Alaska just posted their recent adoption of twins....and oh my goodness! They are soooooo super perfect.  Yes, I watched every single minute of this video and was in awe.  I totally felt like I was there as I watched this beautiful love story unfold that her hubby captured.  Check it out for yourself and then head over here to Chelsea's blog to see her amazing photography work.  I bet once you see her work, you'll be ready to throw on your heavy coat and head over to Alaska just for a session with MachC Photography!  Well, at least that's what I want to do! Ya think Sarah Palin will stash me in her suitcase on her next return trip from here in Washington, DC???? 

      Untitled from Chelsey M. on Vimeo.

      Tuesday, July 19, 2011

      Pink Never Looked So Good: New T-Shirts!

      So this is my girlfriend, Deborah.  She is all things international and a phenomenal mom.  We first met while working in the corporate world together.  Since then, Deborah has moved on to do bigger, better things.  In fact, check this out -- she owns an awesome business called Lessons From Abroad where she and her dynamic team teach children and adults foreign language and culture.  Check them out by clicking here.  Deborah's been a dynamic supporter of our adoption from the very beginning.

      So here she goes again....she's looking FANTASTIC in our newest t-shirt by Mocha Club.  Pink never looked so good on!  So much so....you have to snag one for yourself.  Just like the original Mocha Club shirt we were selling, this one also has the explanation of the shirt printed on the inside....quite clever!  Haven't seen the explanation of 'I Need Africa More Than Africa Needs Me' yet? Check out the YouTube clip...every single word shared is printed inside the shirt: 

      Beautiful message for a beautiful person like you!  Yep...even strong men wear pink so if you're a gal, grab one for your guy.  Sizes: XS, Small, Medium, Large, XL.  (Deborah is wearing a Medium in the picture above.)

      Ordering (requesting a t-shirt) is easy as 1-2-3!

      1.  Make a donation of $20 or more at our partner site www.firstgiving.com/michellemckinney. As a thank you gift for your donation, the shirt is all yours!  We'll even pay for shipping within the USA.

      2.  Put the words 'shirt' in the comments section when submitting your donation information. 

      3.  I'll contact you via e-mail to retrieve your size and mailing address.  (I currently have some shirts on hand but will need to place an order if we run out. In which case, please allow 7-14 business days for your shirt to arrive.)

      BONUS:  Your donation through our giving partner, First Giving, is tax-deductible. Double yay!

      Saturday, July 16, 2011

      Really....Why Are Our Medical Exams Always Drama-Filled???

      So....here we go again on our merry-go-round of lab work and physicals! As we prepare to update our home study, as with last time, the medical piece is never a piece of cake.  So we fasted this week and went in for our labs.  When I went online to review our lab results, I immediately realized that they did not pull all of the required labs to comply with our America World physical examination form.  So....I went to my doctor's office to let them know and it was agreed that we would fast again last night and then go back this morning to get the additional labs pulled along with a urinalysis.  Now please know that I REALLY enjoy food so fasting for me often leaves me crabby. My solution:  go to bed really early so that I don't have to deal with myself.  (LOL...yeah, it's that deep.)

      I got up this morning, kept myself busy with house work and was then off to the lab.  I arrived only to find that the labs hadn't been ordered and I'm thinking No! No! No! There's no way I'm going to fast again.  So the lab tech said they could just pull a 'rainbow collection' of my blood work and just wait until the doctor is back in on Monday to have her order the tests.  Cool with me!  So my blood was drawn, I tinkled in the cup (like a lady --lol), and was then headed home to get me some grub.

      Next up was my hubby....he didn't start his fast until later the previous night so he had to go to the lab later.  He arrived at the lab only to have them tell him the same thing about no lab orders being in the system.  He had the lab tech call me.  I explained what the previous lab tech did.  She said we really didn't need to fast for this second set of labs....I'm thinking 'oh great!' She shares her take on what needs to be done which is different from what the other technician had me do.  So now....I'm just hoping that somewhere in the middle of this madness, we get what we need before our physical exams on Thursday with our doctor ....and then on to the paperwork nightmare of dealing with Kaiser's medical form process.  The one highlight in this part is working with our doctor and her nurse.  They really are sooooo sweet.  But really....why are our medical exams for this adoption process always drama-filled???

      Tuesday, July 12, 2011

      New Orphans & Widow Glass Tile Pendant! FREE with Donation.

      Limited quantity available. (Will post here when supply runs out.)

      Whether you're an advocate for orphans or widows, or perhaps both, this necklace makes such a beautiful and bold statement.  "He fought for me.  I'm fighting for them." 

      On the back of the necklace the scriptures from John 3:16 and James 1:27 serve as a reminder of how He fought for me and what I should do about it.

      How did He fight for me?  John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

      How should I honor His fight for me? One way is by doing what He shares in James 1:27 for them:  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

      Make a bold statement and remind yourself each time you put it on that we are called to be His hands and feet by taking care of orphans and widows.  Hold the reminders of those two scriptures close to your heart.

      Great gifts for: Adopting parents, family and friends who are supporting your adoption, missionaries, orphan advocates, widow advocates...and others.

      Ordering (requesting a necklace) is easy as 1-2-3!

      1.  Make a donation of $20 or more at our partner site www.firstgiving.com/michellemckinney

      2.  Be sure to put the words 'necklace' in the comments section when submitting your donation information. Because of the various types of donors to our site, you MUST state in the comment section the words 'necklace' to trigger us to send you this special gift.  Note:  If you would like to request more than one necklace, your donation should be in multiples of $20. 

      3.  I'll contact you via e-mail to retrieve your mailing address.  (Because each necklace is handmade, please allow 7-14 business days for me to create your necklace.  I generally try to get completed on the earlier side of that time frame.)

      BONUS:  Your donation through our giving partner, First Giving, is tax-deductible. Double yay!

      Monday, July 11, 2011

      Fearless....well at least today! (smile)

      Well last, week -- July 4th to be exact-- I confessed that I had been procrastinating on getting started with our home study update.  Our adoption agency, America World (AWAA) sent us the info but based on how things went last year, I've been putting it off....BUT guess what? I got over my pity party and moments of fear right after I typed that post!  Yes indeedy!  That's one of the things I love about blogging.  It's so therapeutic because I get to blurt out all of the craziness and then usually, I'm totally fine.

      So....I filled out all of our paperwork! Milestone!  Here's a brief version of our remaining things to do:
      1. Get fingerprints done at local police station and then send them in to CJIS in Pikesville, MD.
      2. Drop off medical forms at our medical center for me, Tony, and the boys.  THIS PART IS THE PIECE THAT WAS THE NIGHTMARE LAST YEAR.  Get the forms notarized and sent in to AWAA.
      3. Get lab work done prior to physicals scheduled for next week....yep, 12 hour fast needed first.  Send completed forms back to AWAA.  (Our medical center takes about 14 business days to complete).
      4. Drop off child protective clearance forms off and obtain receipt.
      5. Send completed Home Study update form to AWAA.
       Now here's what the long version looks like....yep, I'm pretty much into writing out the details:

      Thursday, July 7, 2011

      Six Months DTE!!!

      Yes sir! Today marks 6 months of us waiting to be matched with our daughter.  It's so funny that we are here in THIS seat because I remember when we were still waiting to get our paperwork, I was in such AWE at those who were at this milestone.  So....we wait!

      Each month, we try to celebrate by serving others.  I don't have any specific pictures of what I've been doing to serve someone specific.  One really cool thing since our church's 'God is for the Poor' series is that I've been working with a homeless gentleman to prayerfully get him on his feet.  I learn a lot from him but it is his faith in God that always humbles me.  My kids know him by name and if they see him while we're out, they'll say, 'Hey there's Mr. Such and Such'.  They see me talking to him in the parking lot, giving him money, groceries, or whatever.  I just pray that they'll do the same and so much more in learning to serve others.

      So family............here's to 6 Months!  We're getting closer!

      Monday, July 4, 2011

      I Have A Confession

      Yes...I have a confession. I have paperwork anxiety. We found out last month that we had to renew our homestudy and clearances because it's been almost a year since we were first approved....darn lengthy process! (smile...okay...maybe I'm not smiling)

      I've had the update paperwork that our adoption agency, America World, sent to us but I haven't been able to budge yet.  Yeah...I've been extremely busy at home and work but I was busy when I went through this paperwork pile last year.  I was fired up and ready to take on the challenge.  The difference now is that I remember how difficult....I almost want to say horrible....the process was with our medical records and clearances.  We have an HMO plan and our providers go through a particular process.  Every single piece of it was tedious and sometimes the 'system' doesn't work as simple as I'd like.  We had to mesh our agency's process with our provider's process and both are pretty particular. So.....here we are...having to do this all over again--YET.....when I think about my daughter, it gives me just a 'little' push to beginning tackle this tomorrow.  Pray for us, our medical clearances, security clearances, that I don't get cold feet, and that things won't be as bad as I remember last time.

      Happy 4th of July! Hopefully, this is the last one we'll spend watching the fireworks as a family of 4.

      Friday, June 24, 2011

      My Very FIRST Adoption Airport Arrival!

      Remember my girls (Jenn, Stacey, Monica, Susan, and Bethany) who also live here in the DC area and are also adopting from America World???  WELL....Susan and her hubby Ed came home with their THREE children from Ethiopia and OH MY GOODNESS...it was more than I could have ever imagined.  The love, joy, and tears were beyond words.  Don't believe me??? Catch this.....BUT WAIT!  Among many others parts, one of my very favorite moments in the video is when Susan's son, "J", meets back up with his Ethiopian friend, "A".  Who but God could orchestrate something so amazing so that these two 'best buds' who lived in the orphanage together now also live only minutes from each other in America.  God, You Rock!!!  Take a peek....

      Hold on to your hearts though....Stacey and her hubby, Evan are leaving TOMORROW to go pick-up their son!  I don't know if my heart can take another one of these airport arrivals.............nah....yes, I can!

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      We Hit Another Milestone This Week!

      What another phenomenal week!  As we continue to chug along in saving and raising funds to totally complete our adoption costs, including travel, I am astounded at the love our daughter receives.  So on June 13th, I tweeted that I thought we could hit 88% completion of our adoption goal:

      Well we did it!  This morning, I entered the offline amounts and we made it with a few bucks over.  Beautiful! 

      Totally amazing that we may be totally funded through our savings and fundraising BEFORE we are even matched with our daughter! Who knew?!

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Rev Run on Adoption....gotta watch this!

      As we journey through this adoption process, I always find strength in hearing other family's stories.  Well, imagine my delight when I came upon this video today where Rev Run (of rap group Run DMC) TRANSPARENTLY shared their family's adoption journey at Catalyst West.  I loved every single bit of this because it was from a man's perspective.  You see, I know what we think about as women as we travel this adoption journey, but it was so great to hear Rev Run (ya know...a real dude) share what the adoption journey was like for him.  Trust me, all 3 videos are worth viewing.

      From Tragedy... (Part 1)

      To Love... (Part 2)

      **....and please (smile) don't ride him about his comment about loving his adopted child more than his biological children.  Take it into context and what he's really trying to articulate....in the beginning, he didn't know if he could love his adopted child the same way he loved his biological children.  In fact, he discovered that he loved Miley more than he could have ever imagined.

      A Dad's Perspective (Part 3)

      Whether a family decides to adopt a baby or a teenager, he's right -- adopting a baby (a child) will blow your mind!  Can't wait to see when our daughter gets here how she turns this testosterone-dominated house into a pile of mushiness! (smile)  I'll keep you updated.

      Big hugs,

      Saturday, June 11, 2011

      We're Closing the Gap!!!

      I am so excited because since my last blog post, we've reached another milestone!  We shared then that we had about $5500 left to complete our adoption.  Well, the word got out and we saw some amazing movement.  Everything from straight-out donations to t-shirt and necklace purchases.  Here is just a small sampling of how God moved people's hearts.  There was:
      • the widow without much money who donated $5 via my aunt Johnette (simply amazing and beautiful);
      • the adopting mom who keeps coming back to donate even though she's raising money herself;
      • my pastor who keeps putting the word out on his personal twitter and facebook page;
      •  friends who are repeat donors;
      • the family member who shocked me with $200 in an envelope...i literally screamed!;
      • the friend who keeps supporting and is now donating $20 every pay period;
      • the beautiful people who donated who don't even know us but just heard our story;
      • and truly...the stories go on and on.
      So I say a big THANK YOU! We are now only $3,713 short of closing the gap on our adoption costs!!!  Thank you for being a part of our daughter's adoption story.  What a beautiful story we are weaving together.  Collectively, I believe we'll finish this by the end of the summer!  *eek* so excited!

      Don't forget, when you donate through our partners via our First Giving page, it's a tax-deductible contribution!  Check it out here:  www.firstgiving.com/michellemckinney

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      We Couldn't Have Done This Without You!

      If you've followed our adoption journey from day one, you know that this has been a remarkable journey for us.  We started out as a family stepping out on faith with a big dream....a God-sized dream.

      From the very beginning, we were staring at a debt of around $25,000 that later grew to around $31,000 due to changes the Ethiopian government made to the adoption process.  Staring at that debt was well beyond anything we could ever do....but you know what?  The God we serves specializes in paying debt.  If you don't believe me, check out John 3:16 in the New Testament. (smile)

      ...and TODAY, in looking at our fundraiser thermometer, we see we only have about $5,500 left to finish out our adoption costs.  This is MONUMENTAL!!!!
      Why?  We are the average middle-class family without boat loads of money sitting in a savings or retirement account.  We save as much as we can and find cool ways to raise funds.  Most of all, we have seen what your sacrificed donations of $5, $10, $20, and $50 have done at chipping away at this debt.  It may have seemed little to you at the time, but your donations have meant the world to us.  We've been blown away in the past year by two separate $5,000 donations....and then how one of those donors decided to also do a donor match back in February.  Your stories of sacrificial giving amaze me and are making a difference in the life of a child who has grown in this mama's heart for the past 2 years.  Like today, receiving an unexpected donation did this mama's heart so good.

      We're at the home stretch family!  Will you partner with us to finish strong by donating today or this week?  Don't forget, your donations are tax-deductible when you donate through our partner at Lifesong for Orphans/First Giving.  As you've seen every little bit of sacrifice is changing the world....one orphan at a time.

      Love y'all!

      Tuesday, May 31, 2011

      God is in the Details

      Today, I had the privilege of witnessing God bring to fruition the beginnings of a homeless man's dream.  It really is an amazing story and I can't wait to share all of the details within the next month.  But for now, I'll share this about it.  The very thing that was just a wish of this wonderful man is becoming a reality even down to the details.  What's so wonderful is that the donor had no idea about the homeless man's wish.  The donor simply sent an e-mail to me and another colleague out of obedience for what was stirring in his heart.  When I got the e-mail from the donor about the specifics of what he wanted to do for someone, I was floored.  It was so specific and matched up exactly with the homeless man's wish that I thought for a moment this must be a scam.  After doing a tad bit of Google research and probing, I quickly realized that no...God had seen this homeless man and was into the details of his life.

      You know what that made me realize?  If God is in the details of this man's life, then surely He will be into the details of my daughter's life.  Where will the remaining $6K come from for her adoption?  I have no idea but God does and He's into those details.  When will I lay eyes on her for the first time?  God knows and is into the details.  Why is this process taking so long?  I have no idea but God does and He's into the details about why it can't happen today.  How this brings me such peace.

      I'm trusting that God is into the details of my daughter's life in the same way that He is in the details of this wonderful man whom He also call His child.  

      For you Zion Church folks who were wandering....yes, my daughter who I am adopting from Ethiopia is my Lazarus on the back of my puzzle piece. (smile)

      Monday, May 30, 2011

      What's the Scoop??? ....and I'm Not Talking Ice Cream.

      So...here's the scoop. The adoption process has been taking so long that we were informed by our adoption agency we'd have to update our home study. (insert tears here). Basically, this just hurt my heart because out of the entire process thus far, the home study was the hardest for us.  Last July, I remember so clearly how tough the back and forth was with our background and medical records....ugh!!!  It was tough to say the least.

      So now that I've sat a week in shock that the reality is that we have to do the homestudy update, I'm now ready to move full steam ahead this week and knock this right out!  Let's get it!  There's a little girl on the other side of the world waiting for me.

      Wednesday, May 18, 2011

      My Name is Michelle and I'm Addicted to Adoption Videos (smile)

      Yes, I have a sickness....

      I love, love, love finding new adoption stories on YouTube and Vimeo.  To be honest, in these slow-moving adoption days, it's one of the things that sustains this mama.  Here are a few recent ones that I stumbled across.  What are some of your favorites?  (Of course this addict would love you to leave the links in the comments section...LOL)

      Monday, May 16, 2011

      Be Still My Heart....Tiffany's Story Will Blow You Away!

      I first heard about Tiffany's story (okay...I know it's really God's story) from my DC/MD/VA adoption buddies over breakfast.  When I got back home, I wanted to read it for myself.  Now that I've read it for myself....I have to share it with you.

      Tiffany and her husband had been matched with this precious little boy and were all geared up to go get him and bring him back home.  But then Tiffany uttered a small prayer to God:  shatter my heart.

      So God did...in a MAJOR way.  NOT by coincidence, Tiffany meets Habtamu who becomes the catalyst for her prayer to God to shatter her heart...(read the first part of the story here: http://amomentcherished.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-answered-prayer.html)

      In the sweetest way, Tiffany finds that she is also 'mother' to this amazing, young, handsome little boy as well....(read that part of the story here...http://amomentcherished.blogspot.com/2011/03/rich.html)

      As if my heart can take any more of this story, Tiffany now fights likes any good 'mother' on behalf of her other boy who is thousands of miles away.  Follow their story and intercede in prayer on behalf of Habtamu and the many other children who find themselves living on the streets.  (read this final part of the story here...http://amomentcherished.blogspot.com/2011/03/other-boy.html)

      So love how God is into the details of our lives.

      Saturday, May 14, 2011

      Breakthrough: Two GREAT AHA Moments About Our Adoption

      Friday morning I was feeling a bit down but as I journeyed to my favorite Ethiopian Cafe in Silver Spring, MD, I received a great breakthrough of understanding about our daughter from a stranger.  It will forever ring deep in my soul...a local's view of Ethiopian international adoption and changing your adoptive child's name....some things to consider...

      Wednesday, May 11, 2011

      Adoption....Not Some Half-Baked Decision

      I was hanging around Vimeo looking at adoption videos and stumbled across this one....

      Did you hear what she said at minute 3:13? She says,
       "What it means to me to think that his mom gave him up so that he could have a better life is that I better not drop the ball.  I better be the mom that she wanted to be but wasn't able.  I take it as a huge responsibility."

      Enough Said.

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      4 Months DTE with NEW Focus on Celebrating!

      Hey Friends!

      I am so excited to share that as of May 7th, we are 4 months DTE baby!  That's right, 4 months ago our dossier (stack of adoption paperwork) made its way to Ethiopia to share our intent with the ET government that we would like to apply for adoption!

      Because many families celebrate their DTE anniversary each month in a special way, I decided that our southern-fried, Paula Deen lovin' selves would try one new healthy food option each month.  The first month we tried Kashi cereal.  The second month it was a milk taste test (almond vs. coconut vs. our regular vitamin D).  The third month, we jumped way out of the box and opted for sushi.  This was great but as I become more and more challenged to think outside of my own little world, I realized that I needed to change things up a bit.  Instead of trying new things to implement in our diet (I can do that any old time), we needed to shift our focus back to why we're adopting in the first place....the need to serve others and get uncomfortable.

      Beginning in May, as we celebrate our DTE anniversary, I will begin finding new ways to serve others through volunteerism.  There was no better way to get things kicked off than yesterday --- Mother's Day!  Yesterday, our Pastor, Keith, and his wife, Vicki gave away over two thousand roses to all of the women who attended.  The lavender thornless beauties are her favorite flower. We knew we would have leftovers so I asked Pastor Keith if I could identify a couple of places to deliver them.  He shared he was thinking exactly the same thing about donating the remaining flowers.  So....while my honey and the kids were preparing Mother's Day dinner for me, I decided to spend my time delivering flowers.  With the back of my truck full of flowers, I was off.

      My first stop was to a women's and children's homeless shelter.  What a blessing!  As I dropped the roses off, I was able to talk more about ways that I can further assist the residents in this transitional home.  In fact, today, I've started collecting disposable diapers and shower shoes for the residents.  I'm hoping that this is just the beginning for what my hands will do at this shelter.  So excited!

      The next stop was a rehab nursing facility where a friend's mom once stayed.  I remember this particular facility always bothered me because of the condition of the facility and the lack of care I 'felt' the residents received.  In fact, we moved her from there after the first couple of days.  No greater opportunity to serve than a place where I thought there was a problem.  (See a problem? Be a contributor to its resolution and not just a nag.)

      So in I go with the buckets of roses.  First reception...not so warm but that's okay, I was determined to keep it movin'....I had residents to see!  Imagine my surprise when I found out there were over 100 female residents divided up in the facility on two floors.  (Mind you...this chica had on heels today with a fresh pedicure.)  I quickly got over myself and loaded my arms with tons of flowers.  I had a ball as I went into each resident's room, greeted them, shared why I was there and then presented them with the roses from Zion.  I quickly made friends and then it was off to the next beautiful resident.  They were so appreciative and my heart was full.

      Now one of the funniest moments for me was when I hit one area of the second floor and the nurse said, oh there are more patients back there...enter the code.  (The fact that I needed a code to enter should have been my first clue.  *chuckle*  She never told me that this was the wing of the hospital that houses elderly patients with mental challenges.  Actually, I'm glad she didn't because I wonder if I would have been apprehensive about going....honestly, yes.  So picture this....me, sandal high heels, an arm full of roses....and my unawareness of peas or something green sloshed on the floor...boy do I hope it was peas!  LOL.  As I stood in the community room trying to figure out who to serve, while walking aimlessly, I hit the glop but was somehow able to keep my balance and still serve the residents and enjoy them all.   

      Throughout the course of my visits, I came upon some really sweet people and the one who sticks out is Ms. T.  We spent a little time together and she commented on how much she loved my nail color (they're a bright green...yep, I'm experimenting y'all --smile).  She said if she had a camera, she'd take my picture with my arms full of the roses.  I told her, I had one better...I had my camera on my phone and I'd take a picture of me and her together.  Bingo! We enjoyed our cameo together and I promised to come back to bring her a printed copy.  What a day! What a day!  Probably one of the best Mother Day's I've had in a really long time. Happy Mother's Day to you all!  (Sorry...I blocked out Ms. T's face a little to protect her privacy.)

      Thursday, May 5, 2011

      Smack Dead in the Middle!

      How do I begin to articulate what I'm feeling.  I'm not in a rut because I'm definitely not experiencing sadness or frustration or anything like that related to adoption.  Perhaps I feel disconnected because I've just been so busy at work.  Perhaps my disconnection is because I have been out of the loop with my adoption buddies via our Yahoo Discussion Group, Facebook, and Twitter.

      or...Is it just that this journey is just such a long one that I feel like a kid in the back seat with her parent in a dialogue like this:

      me: Are we there yet?
      parent: No.
      (few minutes later)

      me: Are we there yet?
      parent: No.
      (few minutes later)
      me: Are we there yet?
      parent: No.
      (few minutes later)

      After a period of time, the child just stops asking.  Maybe I've just stop asking, "Are we there yet?" in this land of the in-between.  Ya know...the land where we aren't in the very beginning exciting stages of the adoption filled with lots of action and we're no where near our referral yet.  So...I busy my hands to other things....and we wait.  Hopefully, I'll snag some time soon so that I can get plugged in again soon. 

      Saturday, April 30, 2011

      I'm Back!!!! Gotta tell you where I've been....so exciting!

      Hey there friend!  I'm so sorry I've been gone so long but I just finished being a part of the most amazing thing at work/church.  Pastor Keith has been teaching on the poor, in fact, the main point in each of the past 4 sermons was "God is for the poor." 

      For Easter Sunday, my boss/pastor decided to break us off into 5 teams, each with a budget.  The mission:  help a family in need resurrect a dead situation in their life.  The families were pre-chosen by our staff and it was a tough process to get down just to five but it was really as if God just stepped in and helped us wiggle it down.  Each family would be totally surprised by their blessing at the individual services.  Of course, the tricky part was making sure they came to their designated service.  I served as project manager for all 5 projects and also worked on the specifics of the 7am service.

      Here's a profile of the families:

      7am service: A third grade public school teacher who became homeless and was living in a shelter with her four children.  Our resurrection moment for them:  Among many other blessings, we purchased a home for her and her family and told her that morning that they no longer had to go back to the shelter.  The home was fully furnished.  Words cannot express the feeling when we showed the video of the home to her, the children, and our congregation. 

      8:30am service:  A family where the husband needs a  kidney transplant and is unable to work.  They have been temporarily living with the one income with their two children and really just need a helping hand to get them back on their feet and moved into a new place.  Our resurrection moment for them:  Among other things, movers showed up at the service announcing their move at no cost to them, 6 months rent paid in advance, and a $1500 gift card to Costco to get started in their new home.

      10:00am service:  A single mother with a 1 year old with 3 congenital heart defects and down syndrome has been struggling financially as she fights for her daughter's life.  The state medical assistance she receives for her daughter now helps to take care of most of her medical needs but it leaves her in a state of poverty as she still struggles to pay the rest of the bills.  (She's only allowed to make a certain amount of money each month to keep the state assistance -- in her case, it equals out to 4 days a month).  Because of all of the needs of her daughter, she had given up all that she needed. She was down to one pair of black pants that she rotates tops/blouses with and hadn't been to her favorite hairdresser in a while.  Our resurrection moment for them:  Among other things, a gift of $10,000 and after telling her story to her hair dresser, she donated 1 year of hair services to mom.  Simply beautiful.

      11:30am service:  A man who needed a double lung transplant which cost $980,000.  He would need to pay $180,000 of that costs.  He's not a rich man by any stretch of the imagination but needs the transplant because the doctors have estimated that he would only have 2 more years left on his life without one.  He's on public assistance and was just on the verge of having his utilities turned off because he couldn't pay.  The bulk of his family doesn't live in the area so he deals with much of this on his own.  When the team first started working on this one, God kept stepping in ahead of us.  The week before Easter, the government decided they'd go out of policy and pay for the transplant at 100 PERCENT!  Our resurrection moment for him: where do I start...among other things, 6 months rent paid, 6 months utilities paid in advance, 7 months of groceries delivered, a like-new donated car to replace his old car, maid service while he recovers from his transplant, and to surprise him even further, his family was brought in from out-of-town to share in this celebration moment.

      1:00pm service:  A single mother with six children wants nothing more than creating a better environment for her children.  The car she did have died and left them most times confined to having to ask others to get them to where they needed to be, including church.  Getting a ride with someone else as a family of 7, is no easy feat.  Most times when she was able to get a ride, although the children wanted to come to church, she had to pick which ones would get to go because they all wouldn't fit inside the car.  Our resurrection moment for them:  among other things, a like new Toyota Sienna mini-van!

      We were so blessed that we had the opportunity to partner with God to help resurrect what seemed to be dead situations in the lives of our 5 families.  Awesome experience for each of us and we witnessed some unbelievable God moments as we worked on-behalf of the families.  Our work isn't completely done, we will be walking alongside these families to help them sustain these resurrection moments.  If you're curious about what the families still need, take a look here.

      Wanna see it for yourself, check out the service here:  http://zc.sermon.net/sermonid/2669121
      The sermon setting up the moments is phenomenal!  You have to take a listen to it but if you're pressed for time and want to hop straight to the 5 epic moments, place your cursor over the video and drag the time lapse bar to minute 21:40

      So here's a question for you:  Are you willing to partner with God to help someone receive a resurrection in their life?  Who is it?  What can you do?  Don't be afraid to move.  I'm a witness that God is for the poor and will work alongside you to advocate on that person's behalf.

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