Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Simply perfect!

O.K. so a while ago I mentioned the photo pages we had to complete for our Dossier.  Finding the "perfect" pictures seemed to be a more arduous task than one might have expected.  I posted on a previous post, "picture perfect" , that I was sure that the pictures they were asking for were definitely not the pictures I had captured through my lens.
BUT ... to my surprise, I was able to round up a few pictures and get the job done.  The pages and the pictures are far from perfect.  As I look at them,  I realize these are the ones that will be staring back at whomever is tasked with matching our family with our precious Levi.  It's a little overwhelming to think that someone will read through our Home Study and peruse through these small four pages of photos and come up with what they believe is a son who will be the "perfect" fit for our family.
I am reminded with a great sense of peace, however, that none of that will matter.  The Lord knows already who our Levi is.  He doesn't need my imperfect photo pages, a picture of the inside of our imperfect home, pictures of us doing "Family activities" or formal pictures to make that perfect match.  And indeed, though our Levi will be as far from perfect as these pages are  ... he will certainly be perfectly placed in our home by HIM!


So, check!  Photo pages are DONE!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The T's are super cute!

The Africa T's we are selling are super cute!  Here's a few pictures of some of my favorite people adorning theirs.  Don't miss out on getting yours.  They are limited to what we have in stock.  

Canyon ... proud of his "Levi" T

Granny and PiPa wearing their's to our local "Faithfest" Saturday.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Fundraiser T-shirts!

Hey friends!

Just in time for Black Friday ... our new Africa Fundraiser T-shirts.   We have ordered these shirts in various sizes but once that size is out then it's gone .. so don't wait!
They are really cute.  The ladies fit seems to run small to me.  I fit perfectly in the small but if I wanted it a little looser, I'd size up by one.  The mens is a regular fit.  The ladies small would work great on a little bit older girl too.
To order, click the "add to cart" to your left.  They are 20$ each with 2$ shipping total ... no matter how many you buy.

Remember, when you purchase one ... your name will go on our puzzle for Levi.

I need to get some better pictures of them ... but didn't want to wait to get them loaded.  I'll come back to it again.

Here's for now,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sometimes ... we don't know the whole story!!

Seriously good stuff!

O.K. so back in July, Doug and I signed up for the mission trip to Ethiopia for this next February through Visiting Orphans.  Little did we know when we paid our deposit, the Lord wasn't just wanting us to visit the orphans, but he had a child in mind for our home.  Just shortly after, Doug confessed knowing that we were being called there to adopt.  Quickly the paper chase began.

As we have worked on the paper work, the reality of the needed expense to complete the adoption began to loom like a cloud over our head.  I began to put together fundraisers and watch as the Lord began to bless us with funds through our bake sale, garage sale, T-shirts and coffee.  Still ... simply getting Levi home would take all we had and the reality of an extra $6,100 for us (combined) to go on the mission trip in February became grim.

This past week I sent our good friend and the Executive Director of VO a personal e-mail letting her know that with certainty, there was no way we could send Doug on the trip.  If all goes well, we hope that in late spring and early summer we will be making two trips there to bring home Levi.  As my precious hubby works to run two companies, an extra 10 days away and that expense was no longer a viable option.  In the e-mail I asked when the latest time was I could remove myself from the team.  Although in my heart, I have just known that the Lord had something for me on this trip ...  it would take a miracle to provide the funds needed.
She replied and encouraged me that there would be many trips to come.  Doug and I are on the Board of Directors and our passion for Visiting Orphans goes far beyond one 10 day trip but that very soon they'd begin booking flights.

Two days later, an e-mail arrived from our team leader extraordinaire letting us know that Amanda was settling in on our flights.  Soon, she'd be confirming those.  With that confirmation would come expense and so I knew that the Lord was telling me we had to decide.  Through my tears I sent her an e-mail removing myself from the team.  This is just a small portion of what I wrote:

After your e-mail and much prayer, I think I should pull myself off the February team.  At this point, getting Levi home will take all the fundraising we can muster.  I know he has a plan for me to be there on a team one day soon.  I am indeed looking forward to many trips with VO.  I have such a huge praise in this process though.  If it weren't for this trip and me asking Doug to go ... which spurred him to find himself feeling led ... who knows if we'd be on this journey yet.  I think it gave Doug a long hard look at what it means to step out.  While he wanted to serve, his heart was saying all along he had a son ... after he said "yes" to going ... the Lord took his YES and ran with it!  I don't get to go to Ethiopia for 10 days .... but I get to bring Ethiopia home with me for a lifetime.

I closed my computer and went back in the living room.  Doug was sitting at the kitchen table working on his laptop.  As I went back to folding laundry, I looked up at him and through my tears confessed "I just pulled myself from the team ... I wanted to go so badly".  

BUT ... sometimes, we don't know all of God's story for us.  

Little did I know ... the Lord had made a way for me.  Little did I know, my name was secure on that team.  
Little did I know ... Doug turned right around and sent Amanda an e-mail telling her I was indeed going to be on that trip.  Little did I know ... I was about to receive THE MOST AWESOME CHRISTMAS GIFT!    "Cristie just let me know she emailed you to take her name of the list for the mission trip (she was quite upset).  I am emailing you because it is her Christmas present that she is getting to go...SO PLEASE DON'T TAKE HER NAME OF THE LIST.  Her parents and I were letting her know this weekend because she wasn't going to take her name off the list until next week."
The next day my parents arrived.  I wasn't expecting their visit, however, it's not uncommon for them to drop in and see the kids.  Mom was bringing over a pot I'd need to cook green beans for 35.  We visited and then my Mom handed me a red envelope.  She said they had found it for me and wanted me to have it.  No idea what was inside, I casually opened the card to find these words:
"Merry Christmas!!  This coupon is good for one Mission trip to Ethiopia in February, baby sitting included".  On the card they wrote "We hope you enjoy this gift, we will!  You better bring lots of pictures!  God's Blessings, Mom and Dad".

You'd think I would have lost it in tears.  I didn't.  Surprise!  I think I was more in shock that I was really going.  I think the reality is, that in my head I had thought for some time that the possibility was impossible and so I had mentally checked myself out of the trip.  In that moment ... my head filled with "to do's" and my heart filled with so much gratitude that I had no clue how to process it all.  

So there you go!  I seriously just received the most amazing gift.  I am going to Ethiopia on one of the most amazing teams in February!  I will get to hold and love sweet children.  I get to be the hands of Jesus to them.  I will get to see the land of our son's birth ... I will get to see where he is!  I will get to be a part of what I have longed to be a part of for 3 years.  I am headed to Ethiopia and all the praise goes to the Lord for making the way ... and my parents who are the most amazing vessel for it to happen!

Now .. you can start praying.  I have much to prepare and my head is swimming in what it will mean for my children for me to be gone for 10 days.  Pray for Doug.  He'll be a single Dad for 10 days.. though he will be blessed to have the most amazing grandparents to see him through it.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Several thousand reasons ...

"Someday they will ask, why do you do what you do"?  Those are the words that came from our pastor's mouth yesterday during his message.  "You can't really know me, unless you know HIM", he said.  He went on to explain that unless you know Jesus, you won't really understand or know our pastor.  Why?  Simple.  To understand the way he thinks, reasons and does the things he does then you must know first the one who is in him ... moving him to do those things.  Without knowing Jesus, you won't fully understand what motivates our pastors actions and any other believers for that matter.  He also said that when asked about his faith, he always first shared the two greatest commandments 1.) Love God 2.) Love Others.   If you can share that, then many will ask the how and then you can share about Jesus who is in us, and doing it through us.
He shared that his greatest desire one day was not that his children would say "Wow, my Dad's whole world was us" but rather "My Dad's whole world was HIM ... Jesus and loving him".
When they are little, children will simply follow and do what their parents do.  They don't ask, they simply receive and believe.  It is when they begin to grow older and into those teen years that they begin to ask for themselves "why do my parents do what they do"?

Leaning over to Doug I said "Why do my parents always talk about orphans and adoption"?   Giggling, Doug replied, "Why does my family look like the nations"?

So what does this all have to do with our journey to Levi?  Well, several thousand reasons!
You see, we have pondered and thrown out over and over the thought of taking Canyon, our oldest son on one of the trips to Ethiopia with us.  He's 10, wise beyond his years, and a pretty easy going kid.  It seemed something that we could "handle", taking him on a 16 plus hour flight and into a place with unspeakable poverty but, Dakota, our 8 year old, to be honest ... not so much.  She's super wise and super bright but "adaptable" and "easy going" would not be words I'd use to describe her.  The thought of taking her half way around the world with us was, well, out of the question ... until yesterday.

As Scott shared I realized that one day my children will ask "Why do you spend so much time bringing awareness to the orphans ... why do you do what you do"?  I realized that to truly understand why we do it ... the best place to begin (besides knowing Jesus!!), is to see it and live it!  James 1:27 says that "pure religion is to visit the orphan in their distress".  He tells us to "visit them" or in Hebrew as it means, "to literally care for their needs".

There is nothing more that I want than my children to grow up serving the Lord, wherever that may lead or go.  My perspective for my "Successful" parenting badge has changed so much since they were born. I used this think if my kids went to college, got married, gave me grandchildren and were "successful" in their jobs and life then I could say I had done a good job.  Well, that perspective has taken a major shift.  I care less about college (though we still give it much value and encourage our kids there), and less about anything this life has to offer.  No, now there would be no greater joy and accomplishment as a Mommy then to raise up children who love Jesus so much that they simply ooze Jesus wherever they go ... in whatever they are doing. 
So well, frankly, I pray that taking my two oldest kids to Ethiopia will open their eyes to the fatherless and give them HIS heart for the orphan.  
And yes, I pray that one day when they are older and they ask "why do they do what they do ... why do we care for the orphans" that they will be able to remember seeing Jesus on the streets of Ethiopia and in the eyes of the fatherless they met.  He says to visit them because I believe when we do, we receive his heart for them!  Next to loving Jesus, that is my greatest prayer for my kids!

SO .. if I want my kids to grow up living it, I have to give them opportunity to do it, see it and believe it!  What better way than giving them the opportunity to be a part of it?

Indeed, we have several thousand reasons (ie .. dollars) to consider.  As we save our penny's and fundraise, we're asking the Lord to confirm this journey for them too.  Would you help us pray that over?
And if you are reading this and have brought your own children on such trips, I'd love to hear from you any insight you can share.  They both want to go on the second trip ... the one where Levi would come home.  3 kids on flights home sounds horrifying, but then again, won't Levi be adored and excited to meet his older brother and sister and share his journey home with them!  Yes,  I'm typing through my tears ... I could rest in that thought all day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Oh what a glorious day!  I hadn't gotten to check the mail yesterday because I was so busy preparing for an adoption seminar last night so this afternoon, I wondered down to the mailbox not expecting anything but bills!
To my glorious surprise was our long awaited appointment from Homeland Security for our "biometrics" appointment (fingerprints).  This appointment is the last thing that USCIS will (hopefully) need from us before they provide the I-171 saying we can indeed bring an orphan into this country.  In layman's terms ... this is our country's o.k. for Levi to pass through Immigration upon our arrival into the states.

So, to answer the "how long" question:  We hope by Christmas that our paperwork will be sent to Ethiopia.  From there, it is all God ... our leg of the journey ... our sweat equity in paper chasing is done. We then just wait for his splendor when they officially match us to Levi.  When they do, we'll get a call from our agency who will then send us his medical information and his pictures.  From there, we wait on things such as a court appointment in Ethiopia (travel trip #1 - provided we "pass court", he then becomes legally OURS).    We then have to come home without our little man (yes, you can start praying now) and await an "Embassy Appointment" (travel trip #2).  On this trip, we will be forever united with our son.  On this trip ... he is COMING HOME!   How long will all this take? HMMM ... that's a million dollar question.  We hope that by late spring/early summer our home has two additional little feet running around but in the end, only the Lord knows the timing and who Levi is so we wait patiently and expectantly for that day!

Today, we celebrate ... we're one step closer!

Friday, November 12, 2010

On pause and backlogged

There hasn't been much news in the adoption front.  As many people have asked recently, I call this "adoption on pause".  We have sent our I-600A paperwork and home study, birth certificates and marriage license into USCIS (Immigration Services) and are just waiting on a biometrics fingerprint appointment.  We got a teaser letter in the mail the other day.  When your on the journey to adoption, you begin to stalk your mailbox for anything with a return address of "Department of Homeland Security".  A few days ago, I checked the mail and there it was, the famous envelope  not so envelope.  It was only a letter telling us to be expecting the appointment letter.  ARGH!  So, here we are, we are on pause.  One more virtue you learn during an adoption ... patience.  The next step after that will be to wait for them to send our 'I-171".  With that last document, our paperwork goes to Ethiopia and then we will be stalking the caller ID for phone calls from the area code 703 ... America World's offices.  One day soon, on the other end will be our family coordinator to tell us about our son.  THAT is the call I cannot wait to receive!

In the meantime, I'm trying to do some updating on our family blog of all that has gone on in the past few months.  I am in backlog mode for sure and so negligent of posting updates there.  So much going on, I just haven't taken time to sit down.  Guilty as charged!  Anyways, jump on over to our family blog and check it out.  You will see several posts titled "Backlog blog post".  I still have several to do ... sadly ... but this is a start.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Go check out Visiting Orphans and purchase your T-shirt today!  You will be entered into a drawing to win a free mission trip to one of the 13 countries.  This is an awesome opportunity!  And ... check out those awesome T's!  REALLY!  They are awesome!
Go now ... what are you waiting for?  GO ... buy ... lots of them ... and share this with your friends and friends of friends.  He said "Pure religion is to visit orphans in their distress".  Just think, you could do so .. for FREE!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Treasures galore!

This past Saturday we had the massive garage sale that we had been working on.  To say it was a success is minimizing it for sure.  It was a ton of work but in the end, the Lord provided abundant provisions and blessings.
First, I have to give a huge Thank you shout out to my "Director" of Garage Sales; Chris Halvorson and his wife Amy!  They knocked on our door a few months back with a proposal we couldn't refuse.  We were humbled to say the least that they'd offer up their time and energies to help us organize and coordinate it!  Little did I know, Chris is the Master of all Masters at selling junk treasures!
For weeks we began collecting stuff upon stuff.  My garage was full to the brim, Chris's garage was full as were two large storage units.  To add, the day before Doug set out with his Dad at 8:00 am to begin collecting large furniture items that many friends around town were blessing us with.  By 12:45 that night we were finally calling it quits and heading home from our garage sale site to get a few hours of shut eye.  We had also already sold many of the large items and made a hefty profit and we hadn't even officially begun!   5:00 am came quickly and I'm not sure I slept much thinking about all the stuff that was sitting on the driveway and lawn of a precious friends home (who was out of town).  I suppose in the end, it was all STUFF anyways, so if it was stolen "oh well" ... but that many hours of work behind me made me lay awake much of the night asking the Lord to be the watch guard.  Indeed he was!  We arrived at 6:00 am with everything untouched.
By 6:30 am, we had buyers - serious buyers!  By 11:30, Chris was selling kitchen sized garbage bags for 5$.  Anything you can fit in this bag for 5$ he'd say.  Within just 10 minutes, we'd made another $100 and honestly, they were paying us by now to do the clean up.  Shortly later, it became 3 bags for $10, then each bag $2.
By noon we began to clean up the remainder of the stuff and put it into large trash bags to haul away, even while a few still sifted through a mound of clothes and trinkets.  BUT ... to the Director's praise, he finagled a construction worker across the street to pay us $30 for "Todos" stuff.  We laughed as we loaded every last item in the bed of his pick up and watched what would have been a massive "Good Will" haul and more work drive away!  AMEN!  In the end, he was blessed too.  I'm sure next weekend, their will be a massive garage sale with a lot of nice clothes for a $1 an item somewhere on the South side perhaps.
So, the sum total of the day was first and foremost too many blessings to count!  Thank you to Chris and Amy Halvorson!  Thank you to Christi and Levi Pool for hauling items and working your tails off at the sorting party.  Thank you Danielle Patteson for working until the wee hours with us and making all the sorting of clothes fun!  Thank you to my precious friends Brian and Courtney Garrison for providing us your beautiful home and perfect garage sale site!  I wish you could have seen it.  You would have laughed and would have never believed it was your home and driveway!
Lastly, thank you to the many many friends and friends of friends who donated on our behalf.  Your treasures brought our journey $2,400 closer to Levi!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!
And of course, the one that should never go unnoticed or praised is the Lord who had a hand in every detail of the weeks leading up and the days of selling!  He far exceeded our imagination as always!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his 
power that is at work within us."  Ephesians 3:20
Check out the shoes and clothes!

I'm sure the neighbors were loving us!  

Early early in the a.m.  Just a small glimpse of one area.
Many asked about you, Levi.  This sign brought lots of conversations.  Some heard about international adoption for the first time.  Some were amazed!  Some looked puzzled ... but all were excited for YOU!

Doug bartering with a buyer

Check out the people!  From 6:30 on, it never stopped!

5$ bags ... they stormed the clothes and started stuffing!

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