Wednesday, August 31, 2016

4 Years DTE

Four years ago today was one of the most exciting days in our adoption journey. We had completed all of the necessary paperwork and it was finally shipped off to Ethiopia! We were officially placed on our agency's waiting list.

4 long years have passed since that day

Quite frankly, I'm not sure whether today is a day of celebration or a day of mourning :-)

I have so much to say about what God has been teaching us and why we have chosen to stay the course on this crazy ride to Ethiopia (versus switching to another program which would be faster) but I may have to save all of that for another post.

For now... My hope has been renewed. My hope that this adoption may eventually actually happen :-)
Honestly, my heart is scared to get hopeful because I've had much heartache during this journey. However, my hope is in God and not in an organization. I am learning to trust that He is faithful.

In July, our agency issued 3 infant referrals. In August they have issued 5 referrals (not sure of the ages). Those numbers have been unheard of in the past few years! Ethiopia is divided into regions and while many of the regions have completely closed their doors to adoption... One region recently RE-OPENED their doors and our agency has a new orphanage partnership there! This is extremely exciting!

Think of our waiting list as a line. You are placed in order based on your DTE date. Our DTE date is 8/31/12.
The last infant referral I saw the family had a DTE of March 2012 (so that's a family just 5 months ahead of us in line).
And then on the toddler list... We actually recently got skipped for a referral!! A family whose DTE date was December of 2012 got a 2 year old boy just a few weeks ago. I know it sounds crazy but it actually excited me that we got skipped. It means we had a chance at a referral if we weren't on hold for baby girl.

So.... I have new energy to get busy updating all of our paperwork!! We can officially come off hold once Tate is 6 months old (so December 22). Once she is 6 months and all of our paperwork is up to date... We are officially eligible to receive a referral! We are pretty close to the top of the list. We are unofficially #24 on the infant list and #15 on the toddler list. But like I said, many of the people ahead of us are on hold or don't have their paperwork up to date for some reason! So we are actually higher on the list than those numbers!!

I know I sound excited. I kinda am. But I'm also realistic. While it could be this spring finally seeing his face... International adoption is very unpredictable and it could be much much longer.

Pray for our hearts!

For today, we are thankful God has loved us enough to take us on this journey which has ultimately resulted in us getting to know HIM more... Trust Him more... Love Him more and be more like Him. Isn't that always the goal? Even if it's painful.

Happy 4 years DTE!! We are coming for ya Malachi!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Very Overdue Blog Post!!

Hey Guys!
The last time I blogged was in October!! Geez!!
So, PROJECT 30 in October was simply AMAZING!! We had so many fundraisers (thanks to our "village") and we ended up raising......
10 thousand dollars!!
thank you. thank you. thank you.
We could have never done that without you guys!!
We are considering ourselves "fully funded." Yes, there may be surprise expenses that come up, but we feel confident that we are very close to the total amount that we need to bring this baby boy HOME!! We do have lots of left over shirts that we will sell in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for those!!
Here are a few photos from that week.
But these are only a few photos I had on my phone. There were so many other amazing fundraisers!!
My husband's gun raffle turned out great! He raised around 4K just on the raffle! Thank you to everyone who helped and bought tickets.

Megan Manuel did an awesome bake sale! She even delivered the goodies!

We had a Noonday party (pictured above). We also had a Trades of Hope party but I don't have any photos on my phone.

Proceeds from a Brittany's antique booth!

Crossfit Clinton hosted a Saturday WOD!

Outdoor Movie Night at the Gates' house!!


Another photo from the Crossfit WOD!

I could spend the rest of the blog talking about how amazing it was to see our village come together! Amazing things happen when people join together around a common cause!
So why am I just now updating on a fundraiser that happened in October??
On October 24th I wasn't feeling "normal." I decided to take a pregnancy test "just to rule it out."
To my complete and utter shock... it was POSITIVE!!
Seriously, I paced around the house sweating! Can I reiterate the word "SHOCKED??"
Pregnancy was the farthest thing from mine and Lee's minds. God had different plans!
One week later... BAM.
Nausea. Fatigue. The fullness of the first trimester hit me!
I am so thankful for Lee because there were days that I just laid on the couch and let the boys run wild. It was a rough 3 months!
I'm feeling better now!
It's a GIRL!!
We are thrilled!
 So how does this effect our adoption?
We filled out all of the necessary paperwork to remain in the program during pregnancy. We are officially "on hold" with our agency until baby girl turns 6 months old.
After baby girl is born we will update our home study as a family of 5. When she is 6 months old we will come "off hold" with our agency and be eligible for a referral (so around December 2016).
While "on hold" we still continue to move up the waiting list!
Which means that by the time we finally come off hold, we should be very close (hopefully) to the top of the list! We are praying for a referral in 2017!!!
We are currently #29 for an infant and #16 for a toddler!
Lots of changes coming up in the Blackburn household!
Thank you so much for journeying with us!

Friday, October 9, 2015

You guys are AH-Mazing!!

Seriously. Amazing! 
It is a beautiful thing to see such an outpouring of support for our son! I was telling a coworker today that though Malachi may feel very alone right now... There is a multitude of people here in Mississippi eagerly awaiting his arrival! Project 30 is tangible proof of that! 

My birthday week is next week! 

I wanted to write an update on the Project 30 fundraisers although I am confident and hopeful that they have been filling your newsfeeds :-)

We have 28 fundraisers!! We only need 2 more to reach the goal of 30. 

I want to be as effective as possible in this blog post so I am going to try to "group" some of them together. 

Online Silent Auction:
6 of the fundraisers will be silent auction items on Facebook next week, so stay tuned! 

These adorable handmade dolls are one of the auction items! 

Crossfit Clinton WOD
Next Saturday, October 17th at 10 o'clock a.m. 

Sign up and come work out!! You don't have to be a "super athlete" to come work out! Just put on some sneakers and come on out!! It's going to be so much fun (plus you'll get a good workout in). 

Here is the link to sign up!

It's $20 and you get a cool tshirt. 

So. Go sign up. Now! 

Yeti Cooler Raffle

Amy Sherman is having a raffle drawing for a Yeti Hopper 20! This is an awesome cooler!! 
The raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20.

You can Facebook message Amy Sherman for a paypal address if you want to pay via paypal. Or you can pay by cash/check! 

The drawing will be held on Halloween! 
But don't wait to buy your tickets or you will forget :-)

Rifle Raffle 

Another awesome raffle item we have right now is a gun raffle that my husband is doing! 

The above photo is before the custom cerakote job by Dixie Precision Rifles and the below is after. 

This is a brand new Remington Model 700 VTR .308. It has an Oculus scope with BDC reticle. The rifle is valued at $1,700! 

Just in time for hunting season! 

Raffles are $10 for 1 ticket. 

Bonus raffle opportunities:
$50 you get 10 tickets (5 extra tickets) 
$100 you get 20 tickets (10 extra tickets)
$250 you get 75 tickets (50 extra tickets)

Drawing for the gun will be held next Saturday after the Crossfit Clinton WOD! 

Fresh Picked Shopping 
Brittany Wilson is giving the October proceeds from her shop "Fresh Picked" at Antique Mall of the South in Ridgeland to our adoption! So go shop!! 

Photography Sessions

Amy Beckley Photography is offering family mini sessions on October 25th! Amy is an amazing photographer! We have used her for years. She has done both of my boys' "itty bitty baby" photos 
Book your session today! You won't regret it! 

Jennifer Crane is also doing photgraphy sessions and is a fabulous photgrapher! 

Here is what she is offering:
30 minute session for $60
46 minute session for $85

You will have copyrights to all digital photos. Sessions available the weekdays of Oct. 12-16th starting at 5pm (except Wednesday). 
Weekend sessions for October 10-11, 17-18. 

Sessions located in Madison, Ridgeland and Reservoir. 

Outdoor Movie Night
 Our friends, the Gates, are having an outdoor movie night! Everyone is invited! It's going to be a blast, so if you are in the area please stop by!! 

Online Tupperware Sale

Kristin Blackburn and Susan Shaw are doing an online Tupperware fundraiser. This ends on October 17th so make sure you get your order in! You can always use some new Tupperware! Plus, 40% of the purchase goes towards our adoption! 

Garage Sales

We have two garage sale fundraisers! 

One is happening in Massachusetts thanks to Diane Beddia! So if you happen to live near or know her, please consider donating some items! 

Another garage sale is happening locally in Madison. 
Alison Schmitz is having a garage sale on Saturday, October 17th from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. 
It will be at 449 Pine Ridge Drive in Madison. 

If you live in the Jackson area, please send any donations her way! Or if you love a good garage sale, please go shop!

3 Jewelry Parties!  

1) A Noonday Collection Party. This 
party will be hosted by Amy Stackler and Hannah Wallace in Clinton, MS on October 13th at 7! Please, please feel free to come over! It is going to be a blast. 

You can also order online! 

2) Keep Collective Social this is an online sale by Jessica Thornton. Keep Collective has some awesome jewelery so get online and check it out! 

3) A Trades of Hope Party: This party will be hosted by Pamela Arnett in Brandon (near Flowood) on October 20th at 7pm. If you're in the area please stop by! It will be a lot of fun! (Yes I have changed the date a few times! Totally my fault)

If you can't make the party you can order online. 

Lemonade Stands 

Maggie Varner and her kiddos are having a lemonade stand! If you know her, message her for details and go get you some lemonade! 

Make-up Sale 
Morgan White is hosting an online Younique Makeup sale! She just had a baby so I will get back with you guys on details of the sale! 

We have 4 already completed (or almost completed) fundraisers!! 

My sweetest adoption buddy, Megan Manuel, baked and delivered these delicious treats today!! She had close to 30 orders!! Literally warms my heart! 

Our t-shirts have been ordered and will hopefully arrive next week! Thanks to everyone who bought one! 

Alison Schmelzer's childrens consignment sale is over! 

The FIT for FALL 100 Mile Challenge is well underway! The people completing this challenge are doing an amazing job of staying active!! Thanks Decatur Running Group :-) 

That's all folks! Project 30 is already the best birthday and best ever adoption fundraiser!! 

You... The Village... I can't say thank you enough! 

Praying baby Malachi home to meet his village! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jewelery & Clothing Fundraisers

Many of the Project 30 fundraisers are underway! Yay!! 

I wanted to take a minute to promote 3 fundraisers that fall under a similar category. 

Jewelery & Clothing 

These fundraisers not only help us as an adoptive family, but they also help women across the world. These are the perfect gifts for Christmas! 

So here are the 3 fundraisers. 

1) A Noonday Collection Party. This party will be hosted by Amy Stackler and Hannah Wallace in Clinton, MS on October 13th at 7! Please, please feel free to come over! It is going to be a blast. 

You can also order online! 

2) Keep Collective Social - this is an online sale by Jessica Thornton. Keep Collective has some awesome jewelery so get online and check it out! 

3) A Trades of Hope Party: This party will be hosted by Pamela Arnett in Brandon (near Flowood) on October 22 at 7pm. If you're in the area please stop by! It will be a lot of fun! 

If you can't make the party you can order online. 

A special thanks to Amy Stackler, Hannah Wallace, Jessica Thornton and Pamela Arnett (also Emily Cooley) for these 3 fundraisers! Thanks for being the village! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Our trip to Czech Republic

Many of you know that we recently returned from a mission trip to Czech Republic. Words fail to describe the experience we had while in Czech Republic. God is up to some amazing work and we were both encouraged and strengthened during our time there. 

Czech Republic is a beautiful country. All week long we were amazed by the beauty around us. 

We drove through rolling hills filled with trees, livestock, villages and fields. 

We saw extremely old and beautiful castles with rich history. 

On top of the castle walls, we could see as far as our eyes could possibly see. 

Inside the walls were more beauty and history. 

Even the conference center where we stayed was filled with beauty. 

Even though we felt as if our eyes had seen so much beauty since our arrival... Two days before we left the country we drove into Prague to tour. Those of you who have been to Prague laugh because you understand the beauty of the city. 

These photos are such a vague comparison to the actual beauty of Prague. Seriously, every photo I took almost aggravated me because it didn't even come near to capturing the true beauty of what I was seeing with my eyes. 

The city is FILLED with beautiful cobblestone streets. We navigated all day through the city walking on cobblestone. 

We passed by the astronomical clock in old town square. People gather to watch it do "it's thing" every hour. 

We crossed the St Charles Bridge and the views from it are purely stunning! Photos were simply unable to capture the beauty. We took about an hour to walk across the bridge because we were so struck by the history and beauty. 

Yes that dark spot on top of the hill is an amazing, beautiful castle! 

Finally, we began our up hill journey to Prague castle. The hill was steep but COMPLETELY worth it! 

Overlooking the side wall. 

We walked through the gate. Wes (the missionary in Czech) showed us photos of the Nazis and Hitler standing in front of these very gates that we walked through. 

We entered into the cathedral. We were awestruck. I didn't even want to take photos because they did it no justice. 

We walked outside the cathedral and more breathtaking views awaited us! 

Then... As we were standing outside looking up at the beautiful architecture around us... 

Wes Stafford (the missionary living in Czech) asked a question. 

"Everything that you have seen... All of the beautiful architecture of this city, castle and cathedral.... Does it make you want to worship God?" 

We were silent for a moment. 

I wanted to answer the question honestly. 

It felt as if my answer should have been "yes" because of the vast beauty around us. But my honest answer was "no." 

Yes, the things we were seeing were beautiful but they did not make me want to worship God. If anything, it drew my heart to think of man. 

Thankfully Lee answered before me and he confirmed my feelings. 

He simply said, "No. It's beautiful but it doesn't make me want to worship God." 

That moment stuck with me. 

As I remember our trip, none of the physical beauty of Czech Republic strengthened my faith or made me want to worship God. 

Do you know what DID make me want to worship God? 


Not the church. 

Meet Radim. 
He is the guy on the left facing the camera. Radim grew up in Czech Republic. When he came to America, he was not a believer. This trip was his first time to return to Czech Republic as a Christian. He was both excited and nervous. 
His life has completely changed since he became a Christian. 
This is his childhood church. 
In this photo, Radim is translating the history of the church to us. 

Watching Radim on this trip made me want to praise God. God truly gives us new life. Radim stepped back into a country completely redeemed. 

Watching the lives of Wes and Sherie Stafford made me want to praise God. These two packed their bags and moved across the ocean to share the Gospel. The left family and all they had ever known behind to share the love of Christ in a foreign land. 

Praise God. 

Walking into a local church that has a ministry called "Majak" (Lighthouse) made me want to praise God. 
Young Czech believers give up their Friday afternoons to pour into the lives of kids who come to Majak. They love Jesus and desire to share the gospel in a dark world. 
Watching these 6 Czech believers continually sacrifice their time to share the gospel made me want to praise God. 

Being able to share a meal with both American and Czech believers as if we were family made me want to praise God. 

Watching them extend love to the workers of the restaraunt who were both exhausted and overwhelmed made me want to praise God. 

Seated around this table are 6 Czech believers ages 20+ who gave up their weekend to learn more about Jesus. 

7 Americans who traveled across the ocean to disciple local leaders. 

2 missionaries who live in Czech Republic. 

Simply sitting at this table was overwhelming. Two languages. 15 believers. Two nationalities. Different ages and seasons of life. 

Yet one common goal: To know more about God and to share the gospel with a lost world! 

This made me want to praise God. 

Watching Nela share the gospel using a concept that we learned at our church here in America was awesome. She shared in the Czech language and Radim translated for us.

This moment made me want to praise God. 

Worshipping God together in both the Czech and English language made me want to praise God. 

All of the Czech believers present this weekend spoke English. However, Tomas is deaf and though he can speak English (which is amazing), he has a difficult time lip reading English. So Martin (pictured above) did an amazing job translating all weekend so that Tomas did not miss a thing! Tomas eagerly did not want to miss a single thing! Tomas probably had to work harder than any of us as he lip read and took notes on a huge amount of material. 

Watching these two all weekend made me simply want to praise God. 

At the end of it all, I wasn't touched by the physical beauty around us. 

I was inspired, encouraged and strengthened by watching the glorious work of The Lord in the lives of all His children. 

For in the end... seeing His work in people's lives is what makes me want praise Him! 

We love Czech Republic. We love our new friends (our brothers and sisters). We love and adore our Heavenly Father who allowed us to have a small part in furthering His Kingdom!