Wednesday, July 9, 2014

June-July Update: Foster Youth Graduation, Adoption Celebration, Car Accident, Fireworks Booth, Dossier Prep...Nap.

So the last four weeks have been a bit insane. "A bit" is an understatement. Super-duper insane is more accurate. As you can see from the title of this post, we have had our hands full with some pretty intense events.

Here's the recap:

Foster Youth Graduation

As the Program Coordinator for City Without Orphans, Tulare County, I get to do some really cool things with some super cool people. Case in point = Attend the ILP Foster Youth Graduation Dinner with thousands of dollars worth of donated raffle prizes in hand.

Each year the Tulare County Independent Living Program (ILP) hosts a graduation dinner for foster youth who have completed high school. Traditionally, there is a raffle but this year, due to budget cuts, the county did not have the funds to purchase the prizes. Three local churches stepped up and committed to providing the raffle gifts. The county couldn't believe the generosity of the faith community and the value/quality of the gifts. Not only were there 15 rad raffle prizes, but each graduate was given a devotional and $50 Target gift card as well.

It was such a great event and so fun to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these amazing and deserving kids.



Adoption Celebration and Banquet

 June 22nd was our church's 2nd annual Adoption Celebration and Banquet and, just like last year, we SOLD OUT! We had over 90 items and services donated for our raffle and silent auction and had to combine many of the donations so that it would all fit on the 20 plus tables we set up. We enjoyed an evening of delicious food, Hutsells Homemade ice cream (if you are in the Valley you HAVE to try their ice cream!!), amazing raffle and auction prizes, and, last but not least, the wonderful Gospel Whiskey Runner's concert. It was a fabulous evening, with our final amount raised of $17,775! These funds will be divided between our church's Lifesong for Orphans account (to be available in the form of grants for our adopting families) and our "Post-Adoption Support" fund. 

Some of our amazing donated raffle items. 
Tables, linens, chairs, decor = all donated!!
The Lord brought the masses! Every seat filled!!
Tim and our dear friend, Deborah, selling raffle tickets.
The amazing banner made by Kim Rico. The perfect theme for this adoption process. 
We are so grateful for all the volunteers who donated countless hours helping organize the event and the over 250 people who attended and celebrated with us. So, so blessed the generosity of our church family.

Car Accident

Just a few days after the wrapping up the banquet and before launching into the fireworks booth, I was picking up Tim from work (because our Pilot was at the transmission repair shop...yea.) when we were hit by another driver. Though all the people involved were ok, our car was not. The front left tire took the brunt of the impact and the axle was broken as a result. The car was towed from the scene and later pronounced "totaled." Since our Pilot was still in the shop, we had a day or two as a "no car" family until we could pick up a rental and snag the Pilot back (unfixed) from the transmission shop. The rental is now returned, the insurance check has been cashed, and we are living life as a "one car" family as we search for vehicle number two.


Fireworks Booth

I spent much of May and June prepping to sell fireworks. Having never grown up in a city where street fireworks were legal, it was a whole new world for me. Our church recently merged with another church who had dibbs on a fireworks booth. The city of Visalia only allows 27 fireworks booths so there is 12 year wait to work one. One of our pastor's generously offered the booth to the three families of our church adopting internationally as a means of fundraising. We all eagerly jumped in, knowing that this was a huge opportunity to make some money. Because none of us had every managed a fireworks booth, we had little to no idea of how much work was actually involved. Let me put it this way, we sold over $29,000 worth of fireworks in 4 days and we earned every. single. penny. Of course, the week of July 1st through the 4th was record breaking heat. Sitting in a plywood box on top of asphalt in 107 degree heat is not something your average person would volunteer for, but guess what? We had over 36 volunteers over the four days who did just that. Many of the volunteers I had never even met before and there they were, sweating next to me, so I could get money to bring my baby home from China. What a gift. What a picture of the body of Christ.
Unpacking 2000lbs of fireworks.


Setting up the booth.
Ready to sell!!
The Lord showed us so much favor through the entire process. Our original location fell through and so we scrambled to find a spot for the booth. We landed in a Walmart parking lot. FAVOR. When the fire marshall came to approve our set up, he asked me how in the world we landed in such an amazing location. I think he called it "prime." He was right. By 6:30 pm on the 4th we had SOLD OUT. Completely cleared the booth of all fireworks except a few bricks of Ground Blooms. The next morning when Tim and I went to our drop off appointment, the fireworks crews couldn't believe we were only returning a single box. FAVOR.
S O L D  O U T!!

We are still calculating expenses and sales tax but we are hoping that each of the three families will be able to walk away with about $4000 from the fireworks booth. So much work. So worth it.

As if the sweet location, amazing volunteers, and incredible selling out of fireworks wasnt enough blessing, God had the wife of a local news channel drive by our booth and call her husband to tell him to share our story. On Friday morning ABC 30 showed up and did a great spot on our fundraiser. Follow the link to check it out:

http://abc30.com/157897/

Nap

With the past few weeks being as crazy as they were, we are now finally entering what feels like "summer vacation." The kids are enjoying VBS and swim lessons this week, I actually went grocery shopping, and our laundry is getting washed AND folded!

As far as the adoption paperwork goes, we are hoping to have all of our dossier documents completed and notarized ($10 per signature) by July 23rd (our 9 year anniversary) and will then mail them off to be state certified ($20 each document) and then mail them off again to be authorized by the Chinese Consulate ($25 each document). Our prayer is that every step will go smoothly and we will be ready to send it to our agency in the first week of August and they will be ready to mail it to China on August 22, the Friday after my 30th birthday!!!

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing ways He continues to provide the finances for this adoption. He is so faithful. Every check we've written has had the cash in our adoption savings account to back it up. Pray that our faith would continue to increase as we watch our Father provide.

Also, please pray that all the final details needed in finalizing our dossier would fall into place so that we are ready to send everything to China mid-August.

Lastly, pray that we find a car soon. Tim has been diligently searching, test driving, and praying for the exact car that the Lord has picked out for our soon-to-be family of five. With three car seats in our near future, a mini-van is on our radar. Pray that we would be wise in making the purchase... and that our Pilot's transmission would be healed.

God could do that, you know :).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Update: Home Study Approved

Holy smokes batman, it's been a long time since I've posted an update! Where do I even start...Excuse me while I scroll through instagram to remember what the last 8 weeks have looked liked.

Our biggest accomplishment in the last month was (drum roll please) completing our home study!! We are now an approved adoptive family and can be matched with a child from our agency's special needs listing. Did you read that?? We are now waiting for a phone call or email from our social worker with a name, photo, and medical info of our son or daughter!! The call could come later today or it might not come till September. For now, we just wait on God's perfect timing.

Standard Goods, our Etsy shop, has really taken off these past few weeks. We were so excited to be featured on Etsy's home page for a bit and that really drove traffic to our store and revved up our sales. Tim and I spend most every evening now cutting, oiling, and sewing leather goods. When we launched our lil' etsy shop back in October, our goal was to earn $5000 by the time we submitted our dossier in August. If sales continue at their current pace, we are estimating our total sales to be close to $8000. WE ARE OVERWHELMED by the favor God has shown us in this venture. Tim and I often joke about the reality that we are working to fund this adoption through making purses and dog collars. Never in a million years...

We recently sent off a few of the largest checks I've ever written to our agency. It is so awesome to have the money in our savings account to back up those checks. Even now, as the account begins to dwindle, we have such confidence that when the next payment is due, the money will be there. This process has been such a faith builder for our entire family. It is not uncommon for the kids and I to get the mail and for them to ask, "Is God mailing us money today?" I love that at ages 3 and 5 they already have such a testimony of God as a good provider.

Our dear friend and incredible photographer, Kelli Avila, blessed us with some adoption photos for us to use in sharing our story. I love them all so much!





To our son or daughter in China, 

We are working so hard to bring you home!! See you soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Update

Ready for another update?

Makers Market

We had a great day selling our Standard Goods pieces along side other great, local artisans at the Embellish & Restore Makers Market. We sold over $450 worth of our leather goods and made some great connections which we are hoping will grow into other fundraising opportunities.





Homestudy Paperwork

We finished our homestudy paperwork and mailed it, along with a $2900 check to our agency!! We have scheduled our first Home visit for next week and hope to have our homestudy approved by May. There are a bunch of grants we are wanting to apply for (and maybe a Kickstart-ish campaign) but we've been waiting until our homestudy is done and approved to apply. Pray it all continues to move forward smoothly and quickly!



Beach Day

Between adoption paperwork, Standard Goods, and life in general, we've been pretty swamped. Last Saturday was supposed to be another super busy day but after a series of unrelated events, all the busyness was canceled and our day totally opened up. What do you do with a free day? Go to the beach, of course!! 







House Prep

We really have no clue when child #3 will be home. It could be nine months, it could be twelve months.  But we know they are coming and we know we need to be prepared. With our first home visit coming up in a few days, we started to have a more serious conversation about bedrooms/beds/cribs etc. Because we don't know the age or gender of our child yet, it is all one big guessing game. We had moved the guest room bed into Jane's room to create space for our Standard Goods workshop. Though Jane loved having the huge bed in her room, it took up tons of space and made it really difficult  for her to play in her room. A few nights ago, Tim and I started talking about looking for a trundle bed for her room to create space for her and allow for an additional bed, in case we are matched with a sweet girl. It was a super fun conversation and reminded me of the chats we would have during my pregnancies as we would dream about nursery decor, baby names, and wonder if the baby was a boy or girl. 

24 hours after having the bed conversation, I was looking on craigslist and found an ad that had just been placed for a gorgeous daybed with a trundle for an incredible price. We picked it up last night and the kids have been playing on it and in Jane's room all day! 




It has been so fun to do some type of "nesting" as we prep for our adoption. There is so much more to be done and so much we can't do until we have a match but the simple action of buying a bed with a second bed in anticipation of what might be, definitely upped the level of excitement in our house!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Prayer Requests and Darling Magazine Feature

I kinda feel like I've been hit by two trucks. One truck was made out of feathers and marshmallows and the second truck was carrying cattle or something. Seriously, as the work load continues to increase with Standard Goods and our adoption paperwork, God's blessings continue to increase as well. Both hit hard, one is just way more fun to collide with than the other. All that being said, we could use prayer!  

How to Pray: 
  • We are SO close to being done with our home study. We are just waiting on getting a few papers back from our doctors and then need to finish our personal applications. I was actually about 80% done with the 22 page personal app when my computer lost it's mind and lost my work. So there went about 10 hours of thinking and typing down the toilet. Fun. Pray that we would continue to maintain a good pace with our paperwork and that no more time would be wasted due to technology. Pray that the paperwork being filled out by our doctors would be done correctly and quickly so we can get our home study approved and begin to apply for grants. 
  • Our sewing machine is still not working at 100% so Tim is having to drive to the "on loan" machine to sew our leather pieces at night. Such a bummer and hassle and waste of time he could be spending home. Pray that we would figure out what is going on with our machine and have the time to fix it.
  • Pray that we would gain wisdom and discernment for managing this new small business God has given us in Standard Goods. As the business grows and the orders pile up, we need to know how to best allocate our time and our resources to maintain a steady flow of sales but also to keep from burning out.
  • Pray for our baby in China. Pray that they are safe and being loved well while we work and fight hard to bring them home. 
A HUGE Praise:

Tim and I are being featured this week at Darling Magazine as their "Embodied: Courageous" story! I LOVE Darling Magazine and am still in a bit of shock that they are sharing our adventure with their readers. It is a bit dream like, for sure. These interviews and blog spots and shop features are such great exposure for not only our story but in raising awareness of the need for adoptive families. Opportunities like the Darling interview are always such a gift to our family and, we hope, help to encourage others to consider what God might be calling them into in regards to loving the fatherless. 

Be sure to check out the interview and leave a comment on the story!




Monday, March 10, 2014

Homestudy Update, Kate and Linny Deals, and Rags to Stitches Feature

We are off and running with our Homestudy!! After six months of waiting, it feels so good to finally be able to fill out paperwork (Though I know I probably won't be saying that for long).  These last few weeks have been a bit of a blur so I wanted to write it all down to make sure I don't forget a single detail :).

As of this weekend we are about 80% done with the paperwork side of our Homestudy. Our physicals are scheduled for this week and we're waiting for certified copies of our birth certificates and marriage license to come via snail mail. The parent training modules are actually really interesting and we're hoping to have all of our courses done by the end of this week. That leaves the personal application- a 22 page document full of questions about our family, marriage, childhood, faith, etc. It is pretty intense and requires a lot of quite time to think and then articulate those thoughts. Since "a lot of quite time" doesn't really exist in our house, this part of the Homestudy seems to be taking the longest...

Our goal is to have our Homestudy mailed out to our agency by mid-April. We are also trying to chip away at pieces of our Dossier as well, though that list will require at least 4 chalkboards to display. Geez Loueez.

On the fundraising side of things, we are BLOWN AWAY but the sales we continue to have at Standard Goods. Seriously, we thought our little leather shop would be a fun way to raise money during the holiday season but God definitely had other plans. Our leather goods are now on display at two local boutiques in Visalia, have been a featured deal on Brickyard Buffalo, and have been shipped to 35 states!!

BUT WAIT-THERE'S MORE...

This week we have two HUGE events going on for Standard Goods that we are hoping everyone will check out:

1. A handful of our products will be featured at Kate and Linny at discounted prices. Kate and Linny is a fabulous new online pop-up shop and the ladies running the show have been incredibly encouraging and gracious to us in wanting to share our shop and our story. 


2. I am being featured as the "Mompreneur of the week" at Kate and Linny. Head over to their blog to read my interview! 

3. Alissa at Rags to Stitches is featuring our story and highlighting our leather clutch on her blog today! You've got to see her beautiful pictures and read her sweet words about our adoption adventure. 


We are seriously so overwhelmed by the opportunities God is putting before us to share our products and our story and bring in the funds we need to bring our baby home. 

I am so excited to announce that as of this month, we are MORE THAN HALF WAY FUNDED!! 
Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Full Heart.

This morning I received a call from the Branch Director of our adoption agency. She was just checking in and wanting to encourage us in these early stages of our home study. She recalled how excited she was to move our names from the "Potential Family" white board to the "In Process" white board. She then told me about a recent file for a young child in China with limb difference and how each time she comes across a new file like that, she thinks of our family. She encouraged us to keep working hard on our fundraising so that we are able to accept a referral as soon as our dossier is submitted in August (we will need to write a $13,000 check to send in along with our acceptance). As I began to crunch the numbers in my head, I felt fear slowly start to creep it's slimy fingers into my heart. 

After the phone call I ran across town to pick Sawyer up from preschool. As we were walking to the car he was recalling his morning in chapel and said, "Mom, God's love casts out all fear." With that declaration of truth from my five-year-old I began to feel the grip of fear loosen. I was so thankful for the sweet reminder that because of God's love, I have NOTHING to fear. 

Not two minutes after we walked into the door of our house, I received a message from a family friend we've not seen in quite a while. They felt God calling them to donate to our adoption adventure and wanted our address. 

Fear = Gone. Heart = Full. 

Abba Father is going to get us to China.