Monday, April 30, 2012

Giveaway: "From Ashes to Africa"

So today, I want to share with you a book I read about Ethiopian adoption. It’s called From Ashes to Africa, a memoir by Josh and Amy Bottomly. I read this book as we were starting the adoption journey, and I just loved it: funny, heart-felt, informative, but most of all, honest.



One passage, in particular, really affected me. (I’m about to get super real with you all, so please forgive me.)

"As we pulled up to the orphanage, [he] told us to prepare ourselves. The first time he had visited the facilities and seen the children, he had stayed in his car and wept. Stepping out of the car, I was immediately surrounded by children, ranging from the age of two to ten, many wearing the same turquoise-colored tops. Earlier, I had learned that the orphanage also served as an elementary school: half of the children were local kids, while the other half were orphans. It was easy to distinguish between them. The orphans wore tattered shirts, dirt-stained jeans, and holed-up shoes. When the children flashed me their beaming smiles, I noticed many with enflamed, licorice-colored gums and rotting teeth. Other children had noticeable skin abrasions on their arms and faces in webbed patterns…


I was led into a nursery where the infants were kept. What immediately stood out was the lopsided ratio between children and workers. For every eight or nine infants, there was only one worker to meet their needs. I was saddened to think of how many of those children weren’t getting the stimulation they needed to develop. In addition, I was somewhat taken back by the heavy smells of urine, sweat, and dried feces that stung my nose and eyes. Looking down at my feet, I saw a dirty cot with ten infants almost stacked on each other, all swaddled in mangy blankets, some sleeping, others screaming. The nurse told me there was very little room left for the babies…


I couldn’t help but conclude, This is not the way things were meant to be. This is not the world God created us for."   


This book was published in 2008, before adoption from Ethiopia was as popular as it is now. I can only hope that conditions in orphanages have since improved. More people adopting means kids stay in orphanages shorter periods of time, and the orphanages are most likely getting more of the resources they need from agencies.

But still, this scenario is literally foreign to us in the US. That’s why it’s important to spread the word and continue to support adoption.

So, that’s exactly what I want you to do! Please post about Give1 on your blog, Facebook, or just like us! We'll take Tweets and Pins, too! When you do, please leave a comment on this post, and we’ll choose a commenter at random on Friday night. The lucky person will receive a copy of From Ashes to Africa. (And for the record, the rest of the book isn’t this heavy or sad. There is a happy ending.)

Click here to learn more about the Bottomly's journey or to buy your own copy of the book.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Week, New Family

Hey hey everybody! How was your weekend? Anybody freaking out over Once Upon a Time tonight? I'm getting in the zone.

Ready to meet our new family of the week? Me too! This week we're hanging out with the Hill family. They (and their two little boys) are waiting for a baby girl from Ethiopia. Won't you consider helping ease that financial burden? I've been reading the most interesting book called Almost Amish and it teaches about the lovely bits of Amish culture, one of which is the way they support each other financially. It sort of reminded me of us, how we're all in the same boat, but sort of pass around the funds to those who need them at this time or that time. And I'm totally not Amish, though I sort of secretly wish I was (an unfortunate wish for a blogger), cause then I could make bread and hang my clothes, but anyway... My weird Amish point is that we should support this family in brotherly love and help carry this. Want to? Let's. Donate away.



***Here's where we'll keep our running total, which right this second is $5,844.56! A record-breaking week!***

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chosen Marathon

OK, I'm wrapping up WEEK 5 of my half marathon training. And this is why. The Chosen Marathon is in New Braunfels, TX on October 27th this year. It's a marathon and half marathon as well as an adoption celebration. Right up my alley. Except for this one tidbit...

I. don't. run. I don't exercise. This little half is like a big honking deal for me personally. But I can't really imagine a prettier time or place to do it if I absolutely must.

I always wonder what I look like when I'm running....

I'm looking for a team to join if you happen to be running or volunteering. You can raise money for your adoption, a friends', or an orphan care project. Anybody running? Obviously I'm going to want to wear a tutu as well.



Also, it's not too late to start training even if you are a sissy like me. If you start now you'll be go for October. Here's the schedule that I'm using (couch to half marathon). Don't make fun! :)

AND, entirely unrelated, but we got fingerprinted this morning! It was dead boring and anticlimactic, but I'm seeing the finish line!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unvitation

 Hey Folks,


First, let me apologize for weird spacing (or lack thereof). I have no idea what's up with the format today, but let's roll with it. I just wanted to share something that I've stumbled across. We've chatted about HIV on Give1 before, but I just wanted to touch base and have a look at someone else's story for a second. I know HIV can be a scary topic and at our age it's with good reason. I think we were brainwashed, you guys! Goodness, they scared us to death with all that back in 5th grade! But it's ok, we're getting wiser, and things have changed radically since then. There's been a huge increase in families willing to take on an HIV+ child. We're not sure if our child will be positive or not, but we've been educated enough to learn that it's something we can certainly handle if presented. If you happen to be one of those parents yourself, here's an example of a situation that may very well come up. This little girl was uninvited to a party because the parents of the birthday girl found out that she was positive and they were upset and scared. We are more educated because we're adopting from Africa, a place where HIV is an epidemic. Most people aren't. So we need to consider that the rest of the world doesn't know about advances in HIV because they don't need to. It's not like that here. We care more about eradicating lice. But we've got to remember to have compassion and understanding when people don't know what we know. But we don't want our babies hurt either. Yikes. A fine line. The social stigma is still there. The best thing we can do is spread truth.





IT IS NOT DANGEROUS TO INVITE HIV+ PEOPLE TO YOUR PARTY unless... you are having unprotected sex, sharing needles, giving birth, or breastfeeding! In that case, my 4 year old can't come to your party anyway! (Side note from Beth: that cracks me up)

 


Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God
So what do we do when people REFUSE to hear the TRUTH, and they instead choose to live in fear. I love these verses from the book of Timothy. It is no coincidence that Paul encourages us not to fear, and attaches that to shame and then suffering for the gospel.


 

We LOVE this family! We will continue to love them, and be Jesus to them the best we know how. We are saddened by their choice to reject the truth. But that is their choice, and I believe that is their loss! Because my daughter is AWESOME, and so is the rest of my family! {source of original blog post, which is totally worth reading in it's entirety}



This really has my wheels turning as it's honestly something many of us will encounter. I just came across this testimony from a beautiful HIV positive 14 year old. It's a miracle, really. Check it out.



[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRxDRzZxDbI]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We Hear You!

Yesterday we asked what you'd like to read more of on here and there was a resounding cry for updates! We hear you, and we've got some great updates for you. One of our own bloggers, Missy, is home with her babies this week!



If I could give any of you a taste of the the joy that has descended on this house, there would be NO more orphans. Everyone would fight over this opportunity, or to be chosen for this gift. The waiting list would be decades instead of months. It is LITERALLY Heaven on Earth in my house. And to think that if 7% of professing Christians adopted one child, there would be no more waiting children. If God prompts your heart to follow this path, consider yourself blessed and chosen.


Keep up with the Roepnacks on Missy's blog, the Oasis. She always has gems of wisdom.


And have you donated to this week's family, the Nunes? They are at $507 so far. Every dollar helps!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Want to Hear From You

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re scooching over on the adoption couch (so to speak) to make room for more families here on Give1. We started by supporting adoptions from Africa, and now we’re adding families adopting from Asia and Haiti. How exciting! That means more feel-good stories to follow, more reasons to donate $1 a week (or $3), and more reasons to subscribe to Give1 via email so you don’t miss anything!



I’ve always said that Give1 is like Daily Candy for the soul. One of the first things that drew me to Give1 as a reader was that it combined all the things I love: adoption, inspiration, parenting, do-good stuff, fashion… (Ok, I’m no fashionista, but I love that Beth gave me some great alternatives to the fleeces I threw on…did I just admit that?)

But since we’re growing, we want to hear from you. What do you love about Give1? And what do YOU want to read about from this blog? Do you want to see more recipes, more home d├ęcor ideas, more parenting solutions, more stories from families, more adoption-specific information for people starting or already in the process, more biblical inspiration? Leave us a comment and help us make Give1 your favorite go-to site.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Week, New Family

Hey guys,

How was your weekend? Ours was nicely busy with lots of sunshine, noisy kids, water balloons and maybe a margarita or two. Is it getting springy where you are?



Well, it's that time again. I'd love to introduce you to a sweet couple, Justin and Stephanie Nunes. They are adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia. Here's a word from Mom:

Adoption has been on our hearts for a long time. God made is very clear through situations with friends and random circumstances that we were to adopt right now.  Not even having the money for the application fee, we moved forward in faith trusting that God would provide, and He has every single step of the way! Our prayer throughout this journey is that God will be glorified and that we can have the opportunity to share with others about His adoption of us.  We are walking this road in faith, knowing that God will provide.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD7tPeA42Nk]

Don't we love them?! Yes we do! If you'd like to watch how it all plays out, you can do so at their blog, and if you'd like to help get this little guy home you can do that right here.

***So far you guys have granted the Nunes family with $924! Thank you!***

Friday, April 20, 2012

Adoption Art

[caption id="attachment_2269" align="aligncenter" width="570" caption="$18 on Etsy. Click picture for link to store."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2268" align="aligncenter" width="495" caption="$10 on Etsy. Click picture for link to store."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2270" align="aligncenter" width="526" caption="My favorite: I swear I have pinned this about a dozen times. One of these days, I will just buy it already! $35 from Sycamore Street Press. Click picture for link to store."][/caption]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Outdoor Sensory Stuff

Hey, you guys! We all know that all kids love sensory activities. Secretly we do too. Sensory activities help develop the brain as well as entertain the littles. Adopted kids often have some developmental delays due to lack of stimulation. Sensory fun helps repair some of the damage. And it'll free up a few minutes to switch the laundry over. Our newbie is not home yet (in fact we don't even know who he/she is yet), but I'm in serious nesting mode right now. Want to see what's on next week's agenda? Some outdoor sensory awesomeness. You can find all the plans for this whole project on Lowe's. We're doing the whole she-bang.

love all this. hubby's going to be busy next weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Praying for your Babies, Near and Far

Lately I've been on a path to learn more about prayer. New lessons come at me everyday! One thing I've been trying to practice more of is praying for others. I came across this awesome tool to help guide you in a prayer for your littles. The link to download is here, but the content as well as TONS of other gems can be found at Inspired to Action. You simply must pop by if you don't normally already.

And a few other sweet things I've found on Pinterest that can come in handy when helping the littles learn to pray for others. Some cute prayers sticks (fun) and a prayer book. Love.


Speaking of the littles, y'all don't mind if I show off mine, do you? Our family pictures just came back and they're so cute! I happen to be spoiled by having two photographers as my best friends, so we get some rocking awesome pics every now and then. ;) You can go here to see them if you want to peek.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baskets of Africa

I am loving these fair trade African baskets. I need about a ton of them. I'm particular eyeing these guys....

Market Basket  14" Across<br>20690

Gambibgo Pot  14" Across<br>20425

Market Basket  15" Across<br>8756

I've clearly got a turquoise addiction...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Week, New Family

You guys, I am so tickled to introduce you to a seriously awesome couple,  Colleen and Jussi Yrjana. Watch their video and tell me you don't want to adopt them. They've got their hands full with the adoption of their littles (a sibling set - two girls, 3 and 6) from DRC  and the impending arriving of their first grandchild! Stay in the loop on their blog.

I love love love this video. I cry happy tears like a goofball at the end!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/38726078 w=400&h=300]

Yrjana Adoption from Colleen Yrjana on Vimeo.


***We'll keep our running total here, which right this second is $729***


Also, be on the lookout for a book that Colleen has written, Carry Me to Kinshasa, due out soon. You can pre-order the book by emailing Colleen directly at hearts4africa@ymail(dot)com.



Ready to slam that donate button?! Let's get those little girls home!


*tiny side note: this is our first Canadian family! when you donate you should know that it makes a conversion and your US dollar (if you're American) will be charged a few cents more than usual. literally, just a few. but just a heads up. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This Totally Has Nothing to do with Adoption.

Sorry if that disappoints. Congrats if you're saying, "finally". :)





I arrived a tad late to the Project Life party. Like a year late or something, but I'm kind of slow on trends. But I'm with it now. Thanks, Pinterest. Let me be honest and I hope I'm not insulting here, but I've never been a huge scrapbook fan. I can't seem to create something cool out of nothing, and the task of dressing up a picture and journaling and layering and all that is a little daunting to me. But Project Life is a bit different.





You get a big binder and some of these page protectors and you don't have to fill a giant space, you fill a pocket. At first I only did pictures. Then I started doing a little journaling. Nothing fancy for me yet. I started out buying a starter kit, but never used it. I found that mine feels alot like me and so my paper choices are just a reflection of that.



The point is to document your daily life as it is, not always the super glamorous bits, but the daily. We have a lot of just chilling, playing, my art girls, homeschool, cooking, etc.





Anyhoo, I just wanted to share. I LOVE this little pet project of mine and I just wanted to share. Here's some links that you might want to check out.

Buy Project Life kit - You don't have to go this route, but this is the creator of PL and she's got some good basic stuff. I bought this binder (though now I totally wish I'd done a black leather) and these pages. You can also just get variations of them at Hobby Lobby or Michael's.

Inspiration... {instagrams + vellum}  {artistic layering}  {awesome journaling idea}

Free Printables {quirky cute} {days of the week stamps} {super bright and fun}

Not Free But Awesome {check box cards} {vol 25} {my favorites that i use all the time}

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Truth About Being "Paper Pregnant"

Recently Beth posted an article about baby fever. I can relate. I’ve been “expecting a child” for a year and a half now. They say that the homestudy and the paperchasing of adoption is like the first trimester of pregnancy. Being on the waiting list is like the second trimester. And of course, from referral to home is the agonizing third trimester.

I’ve been paper pregnant/on the waiting list for just three months, and I have a long way to go until we’re one big happy family. But I thought I would compare this adoption pregnancy to my first (biological) pregnancy…

First, adoption is so much different than being pregnant. (Yes, I realize I’m lucky to have been pregnant and have a healthy biological child.) Pregnancy is physically challenging; adoption is emotionally challenging. When you’re pregnant, every month brings a new physical ailment. Morning sickness is followed by the foreign feeling of belly kicks, then your back hurts, and you never can seem to get a good night’s sleep, etc. But each new ailment is reassurance that you’re making progress, and soon your child will be here.

Also, you can’t miss your growing belly, and everyone can see that you’re expecting a baby. Being paper pregnant, no one looks at you adoringly and says, “When are you due?” If you’re shopping for baby stuff at Target, people probably assume you’re buying a shower gift (and gasp, you’re not holding the registry list!).  I find myself trying to casually work it into conversations that “we’re in the process of adopting”. How lame! I don’t even know why I do this! Perhaps I just want to spread the word about adoption. Or more likely, I just want people to know that we’re expecting another child, which is incredibly exciting for us.

When you’re pregnant, you know to a certain degree when your baby will be in your arms at last. Based on this timeline, you know when to start decorating the nursery. You know your deadline for finishing the parenting and birthing books. You can even plan ahead for vacations and holidays for after the baby comes! What a luxury!

[caption id="attachment_2135" align="aligncenter" width="192" caption="Source: Unknown from Pinterest"][/caption]

Being paper pregnant, none of this is possible. There’s no sonogram to tell you how far along you are and how many more weeks you have left. Even if you wanted to know, you might not know the gender until your referral. Avoiding coffee and taking prenatal vitamins won’t do your baby any good. So for control freaks who need to do something – anything – to feel that they are controlling the process…Beware.

You also don’t know how old your child will be. Even a range of 0-24 months presents about 5 or 6 different sizes of clothes – so filling a closet with adorable clothes is just foolish until you get your referral. (Unless, of course, the clothes you are buying are on clearance and you’ve promised your husband you will buy only 2T and up clothes for your child who will be 2 years or younger…) And if your age range is even larger, how on earth can you get the room ready? Crib or bed? Farm animals or super heroes? (Fortunately, my ambitions can live on Pinterest for now...)

Here's the worst part: I honestly (and foolishly) thought adopting would be easier than pregnancy.

But 18 months in and many more months to go, I am so glad we chose this path.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ivey Handcrafted

So I want to introduce you all to my newest adoption mom friend, Tobi. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a girl from Ethiopia. They are hoping that 6th time’s a charm…yes, they have had five failed adoption attempts. (I wish that was a typo…)



Anyway, you’d never know all the heartbreak this gal has seen. She’s super fun and super talented. And she just radiates joy and hope. She started a business called Ivey Handcrafted to raise money for their adoption. I am so hooked on this whimsical, wearable art. Check it out:







She also makes really adorable dolls and custom clothes for little ones. You can score some of this goodness by going to Ivey Handcrafted on Facebook or Etsy.

And in case you wondered, as I did, Ivey Handcrafted was named after their future daughter. They settled on that name already, because it was Tobi’s grandmother’s name. How cute is that? Help Bring Ivey Home…and look oh so Anthropologie in the process.

A Post About Another Post You Should Read Instead...

We all love Noonday, but did you know they have a blog? True story. And it usually keeps you in the loop as to what's going on over there, and I'm a big fan so I gotta know what's up (P.S. If you don't know yet, the sewing school that we fundraised for is partnering with MATILDA JANE for a line soon! It actually makes me giddy! I can't wait!). Anyhoo, today Jessica posted a ridiculously good post about why you should shop. It's crazy insightful and eye opening.  And I'll be finally justifying another Noonday purchase as soon as I publish this. Here's a bit of the article. Go read the rest here. And shop here.

Beachside Necklace

“God, who is a worker, ordained work so that humans could worship Him through their work. Relief efforts applied inappropriately often cause the beneficiaries to abstain from work, thereby limiting their relationship with God through distorted worship or through no worship at all…. The goal [of poverty alleviation] is to restore people to experiencing humanness in the way that God intended. The crucial thing is to help people understand their identity as image bearers, to love their neighbors as themselves, to be stewards over God’s creation, and to bring glory to God in all things…… “

 The very essence of the items you buy validate the God-image in each of our artisans. We begin with their gifts and craftsmanship, affirming that  “God has indeed placed good gifts into every community."...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Africa Family of the Week

Happy Easter, everybody! I hope you're having a wonderful one!

Let me introduce you to the new family of the week, shall I? Say hi to the Woods.



They've been down this road before, and know the blessings and challenges adoption presents. A major challenge being a financial one. But that's what we're here for, right? Take a second to watch their video and become part of their babies' story.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSKISkQ3vr4]

You can follow their story as it plays out over here on their blog. And please do donate right here. Two MORE babies, y'all!

So far $3525 has been donated to the Woods adoption of the cutest hand and foot ever (and their owners). They'll be traveling this month so soon we'll be able to put faces to those tootsies!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Cool Activity

Hey guys,

Sorry I'm finding this at the last Easter second, but it looks like a really cool activity without a huge purchase list. I think we'll be doing this today. Click here for the full printout and instructions!



 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Haiti Family of the Week

Hey Everybody,

You were awesome this past week! Between all the families last week we raised around $3K for 3 families. That's awesome! Let's say hey to the new Haiti family of the week, the Gigures. They are adopting a two year old who is just darling. Check out this video of their daughter telling their adoption story thus far. My favorite line... "My mom promised my dad she wouldn't come home wanting to adopt..." I love it when we do that!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtJYA9OKTes]

If you feel so inclined to help this family out you can donate right here.


Here's where we'll keep our running tab which right this second is $610!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wait on the Lord

Psalm 27.14

I love this little gem that I found on Pinterest the other day. But I can't track down the source. Any clues, anybody? I just love it. Anyhoo, I found this appropriate today. Are you feeling the weight of the wait? But are you feeling the strengthening of your heart, too? Yeah, me too. Press on, my dears.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Baby Fever

seven slings

Well, guys, you've been here with me from the start. You've seen me have my heart set down 12 different paths. And now we have our path and we're in the wait. And here's a little something going on in my head. We're waiting for a 0-5 year old girl or a 0-2 year old boy. The approval for the 0-2's is built in, but the request for the 0-2's is new. What is up, you ask? I have no idea! I am NOT a baby person. I did not enjoy pregnancy or babyhood much. I gained 60 lbs both times (and no, they weren't 50 lb. babies, either). I had to evacuate my home both times for two separate hurricanes! I did not enjoy nursing. I did not enjoy waking up 4 times a night. Maybe I'm a freak. That's just how it is for me. BUT, lately I've been baby craving. Maybe it's that my youngest is now looking at 4 and my memory is getting foggy. But we just wanted to open our range up as wide as we could to see who God wants to put in this family and not be too limiting. Our wait could be 2 days or 3 months, we still don't know. And we now have no idea if we'll end up with something like an 8 month old boy or a 5 year old girl or anything in between. But here are some goodies I've been eyeballing. Baby fever, anyone? yellow and navy flower baby

Quilts by Namoo

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Africa Family of the Week

Happy Sunday, Everybody! I hope you're having a good one. I'd like to introduce you to the Sanford family. They have two little girlies who always cooperate for the camera (how do they do that?)! They are now in the process of adopting 4 siblings and will be traveling to Ethiopia at the end of this very month. Let's see if we can help get them there!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xVlzDfU5Cw]

Also, Kal Barteski is one of my favorite artists on the planet and she so kindly donated her talent to design these T-shirts for the Sanford's fundraising efforts. Check them out! I have several (for me and the kiddos) and they are my favorite T-shirts ever. I'm not much of a T-shirt girl, but I love the cut on these.  So that's one more way you can help our family of the week. Follow along on their blog to see the story unfold. And you can donate right here.


So far the running total is $851!