"" Life A Bit Sweeter: August 2011

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?

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