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! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Humbled & Excited!

Do you remember a time when the community surrounded you and any attempt to express your gratitude fell short? 
Maybe it was a wedding or a baby shower where you just felt overwhelmed and undeserving of all that people had done for you! I've definitely been there before. 

And this week, I find myself in that place again. 

Humbled. Grateful. Excited. Overwhelmed by the undeserved love of the community surrounding our adoption. 

As I read through the list of 18 people who have stepped up so far to do fundraisers for our adoption.... I am speechless. 
Then I look at all the shirts that have already been ordered.
All the raffle tickets that have already been bought (before the fundraiser is officially announced).
All the people who are stepping in and saying "I want to "shop" your fundraisers!
I am whatever is beyond speechless.

Only God.
Only God could move on the hearts of His people to love and support. 

So thank you.
Thank you for your amazing response to Project 30 so far!! 
We love each and every one of you guys!

A few people have asked for an "update" on the fundraisers, so here ya go! 

The goal for Project 30 was 30 fundraisers for my 30th birthday in October! So far we have 18 (yay)! Some of the fundraisers have already started, some will start soon and some will last through the entire month of October. If you want to keep up with everything that's going on... please "LIKE" our Project 30 Facebook page! 

Here is a list of all the fundraisers we have so far! Please consider supporting us by participating in some of these fundraisers!

  1. Megan Manuel is having a bake sale! She is located in Clinton, so if you are in the area please consider buying some goodies!
  2. Alicia Mattern is selling our Project 30 T-shirts! They are 20$ each including shipping. These shirts look awesome! Don't miss out. More info is posted on our Project 30 Facebook Page.
  3. Tracy Mattern will be auctioning a handmade picture frame the week of October 11-17. We will do this online so please be on the lookout! 
  4. CJ & Danielle Stewart will be auctioning a wooden piece from Old Camp Kickapoo. Stay tuned for details.
  5. Diane Beddia is having a yard sale all the way up in Boston, MA! 
  6. Erin & Adam Rees will be hosting a Crossfit Clinton WOD open for anyone to come and workout! Details to be released soon! Please consider coming and working out to support us!! It will be a blast!
  7. Morgan White is hosting an online show selling her makeup from Younique! You don't want to miss it!
  8. Karen Bedford made the precious Ethiopian baby dolls that I posted on facebook the other day. They are so cute and will be auctioned online the week of October 11-17th!
  9. Amy Sherman is having a Yeti Cooler Raffle! Details will be released soon on how to purchase tickets!  
  10. Hannah Wallace and
  11. Amy Stackler are hosting a Noonday Party in Clinton. Noonday is beautiful jewelry made by beautiful women across the world. It is an amazing ministry! This party is open to everyone, so if you want to come just let me know and we will get you the info! Think of it as more of a "LADIES NIGHT" because it is going to be a blast! We are trying to get as many ladies to come as possible! This will be on Tuesday night October 13th!
  12. Brittany Wilson is donating her proceeds from her shop (Fresh Picked) at the Antique Mall of the South in Ridgeland for the month of October! So go shop!! 
  13. Jennifer Crane will be doing photography sessions during the month of October in Madison, Ridgeland and Reservoir areas. More info to follow! Great timing for Christmas card photos!
  14. Lee Blackburn is probably the most giddy person I have seen regarding Project 30! With the help of some great friends, Lee is having a Rifle Raffle just in time for hunting season. Apparently the gun is very awesome... (he's gonna kill me)... I just don't know anything about guns so I should probably refrain from attempting to say details! He will announce the details very soon!! 
  15. Alison Schmelzer is graciously donating her proceeds from the children's consignment NEW 2 U on October 1-3!
  16. Holly Leach
  17. Jessica Followel
  18. Ashley Richardson are all 3 still working out the details of their fundraisers! Will keep you posted! 
Seriously... Doesn't reading all those just make you joyful? It brings tears to my eyes to see The Village coming together! The Village doesn't just consist of these 18 names, but it consists of the TONS of unnamed people who are MAKING THESE FUNDRAISERS POSSIBLE!! 

So thank you, thank you, thank you!!

If we stopped now.. my heart would be more than content!
But if you feel prompted to help us reach the goal of 30 fundraisers... please let me know and I will help you brainstorm of fundraisers! It can be a teeny tiny fundraiser! Every dollar counts! 
Something easy too is donating something to be auctioned can count as a fundraiser!

Love y'all much!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

3 years on the waiting list!

I would like to share a story with you. Please engage in the seemingly irrelevant details and try to resist the temptation to skip ahead. 

A mother and her two sons went to a store to buy balloons. The mother decided to purchase 3 solid color balloons and 2 "happy birthday" balloons. 

The boys gleefully watched the employee air each balloon up with helium. First the blue balloon, then the gold, then silver and finally the two birthday balloons. 

The cashier rang each balloon up individually and passed them to the mother. As the mother grabbed each balloon, she noticed that the solid balloons all had white strings attached to them. Then she noticed that one birthday balloon had a blue string and the other had a yellow. 

The family left the store with 5 balloons in hand. 

As the mother was closing the door of her van, she noticed one of the birthday balloons had gotten loose and was flying away. She ran after it. She tried her hardest to grab the blue string on the balloon. Unfortunately she was unsuccessful. She stood in the parking lot watching the balloon fly away. 

Exasperated, she sat down in the van and her oldest son said, "Mom! Now we only have one birthday balloon!" 

"Oh well," replied the mother. "We really need to get home." 

They drove home. 

When they arrived home, the mother opened the back of the van and was simply shocked to see all 5 balloons inside! 

3 solid balloons
2 birthday balloons

"What in the world?" She said in astonishment. "There must be some mistake. This is impossible!" 

Questioning her sanity, she said to her oldest son... "Please tell me that you saw the birthday balloon fly away in the parking lot!!" 

He replied, "Yes I did." 

She grabbed the balloons and examined the strings attached to them. 

They were just as they had been in the store. All the solid balloons had white strings. One birthday balloon had a yellow and one had a blue string. 

"There has got to be a mistake!" 

So she rushed to find the receipt from the store. 

She thought to herself, "surely they sold me 6 balloons and I didn't notice. How else would I still have 5 if I lost one in the parking lot?" 

She examined the receipt. 

Then she paused. 

There were only 5 balloons listed on the receipt. 

Astonished... She checked and re-checked. 

Everything was just as it had been when they left the store. 

It was unexplainable. 

Or was it? 

Yesterday was our 3 year anniversary for officially being on the waiting list for Malachi. DTE means that was the day our Dossier was sent TO ETHIOPIA. 

It was a bitter sweet day. When we first began this journey, I never dreamed we would still be waiting to see Malachi's face after 3 years. I wish I knew when this roller coaster of a journey will end... But I don't. 

So we wait.

Yesterday I did a lot of reflecting on our adoption journey. 

The pain of the wait has been real. But the pain hasn't necessarily been soley a longing for my child. In the past 3 years I have learned that this adoption journey is actually more about my relationship with God than my son in Africa. 

God placed me on this journey to draw me closer to Himself. 

In His love, He has used the pressing circumstances of adoption to expose my unbelief. He has exposed my true thoughts about His character. 

I have doubted the character of God. 

Is He good? 
Is He faithful? 
Is He Just? 
Is He able to do the impossible? 

I didn't just ask these questions. I wrestled over them. My heart ached over them. Just ask my sweet friends who have drug me through the trenches these past 3 years. 

I shared a blog post a long time ago about not being able to sing the lyrics "nothing is impossible with you" because I didn't truly believe it. I felt like adoption was impossible and that God wasn't able to complete it. 

So what does the balloon story have to do with all of this? 

I am the mother. 

I am the one in the story. 

And yesterday... As I tried my hardest to figure out what happened with those balloons... 

I stopped. 

And I realized that the real miracle wasn't the balloon (although I was pretty... Umm.. Freaked out)

The real miracle was that I actually BELIEVED that God was able to do the impossible. My mind was tempted to settle with the idea that it was  "unexplainable." 
But for the first time, I stepped into belief that God was able to do a miracle. 

Six months ago I would have been a huge skeptic and said that something "weird" just happened, or that I was surely wrong about the balloons. Rationalizing would have been easier than believing in a miracle. 

I will never know for sure what happened yesterday with those balloons. And honestly, it doesn't matter. 

What matters is that my faith grew the instant I believed God was able. 

And as I reflect on these 3 years... It has been hard and dark at times, but to taste the goodness of The Lord makes it completely worth it! 

I am so thankful He loves me too much to leave me as I am!