Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 Simple Ways You Can Help Our Adoption...and Wrap Up Your Christmas Shopping Too!

Amigos,

As National Adoption Month ends and December gets into full swing, I wanted to share 5 ideas with you. If you'd like to take part in our adoption while we work to quickly raise grant money (see Libby's post below), then one of these options might be right up your ally!

1) Donate through the PayPal button on the left-hand side of this blog.

2) Order a copy of one of our books or 100% of the profits will go to our adoption fees.

3) Buy some amazing creative gifts and clothing from the NO MORE FOUNDATION and select the cause "No More Orphans".

4) Buy some tasty JUST LOVE COFFEE. Mmm... I'm going to brew some now.

5) Please, pray that we will find favor with grant-giving organizations.

Gracias,
Jeremy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Gift of a Detour

We have HUGE, amazing, life-altering news.

God has done a lot of dramatic stuff in our lives over the past 90 days, including designing a detour on our journey to China. My husband put it this way, "We are still going to China for our daughter, it's just that the road looked a lot shorter on the map, and now we are picking up another kid along the way."

Our son's birthmother is pregnant again and she asked us to parent this child as well. We already decided that we could not turn down a biological sibling, if that possibility ever existed. So, when we received the phone call from the agency who worked with us on our son's adoption, there was no hesitation.

I exclaimed a very excited and sure, "Yes!"

So in about 2 & 1/2 months, we will be blessed with a new bundle of joy. There are no words to express how grateful we are for the family God is weaving together. We are undeserving and humbled; blessed to be entrusted again by our birthmom. We love and admire her greatly. I'm so thankful for the gift she has given me.

The gender is still unknown. Little Sibling was not very cooperative with the ultrasound. But, they think this baby is a girl! We are exceedingly happy that J gets the chance to grow up with a biological sibling. I can't believe I will be a mother of two in two months!!!

We need a LOT of prayer as we prepare. Please, pray for our birthmom as she walks through this process and especially after the birth and beyond. We want her to have the amazing and happy life God designed for her. She is a blessing.

Of course, it is intimidating to be faced with new adoption fees and nearly no time to come up with them. Sooo much went into our China adoption (which that agency is keeping on hold.) We need favor with foundations and organizations who give adoption grants, especially those who give to keep siblings together.

We know God is in control of all of this. This baby is His. Thankfully, so is all of the funds necessary to bring this baby home. We're going to run in faith, knowing that He provides generously as we keep our hearts and hands open and obedient. As we're trusting Him, we're living in a state of calm and peace (for the moment anyway, ha ha).

Thank you to everyone who has been with us so far on this journey. Life is so unpredictable. It's moments like this when we get to be grateful that God will walk with us on the path we didn't see coming!

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P.S. As you shop for Christmas presents, please consider picking up some gifts from our "Coffee", "Store" and "Books" links. The No More Foundation, Ordinary Hero and Just Love Coffee are helping us get the funds needed for this adoption. Blessings!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Humbled and celebrating

When we needed help quickly, in order to cross the next threshold in our China adoption, so many friends rushed to spread the word. Old and new friends along with people we had never met sent in money. In fact, the person who won the iPad was a complete stranger to us, until now.


The support we received was overwhelming. It wasn't just the donations that put us so much closer to our little ladybug. It was also the endless words of encouragement and belief. It was as if God just wrapped us up in this enormous hug. The love that has been shown to us has been so amazing and incredible.

Thank you for every prayer and kind thought you've expressed. Thank you for telling others about our journey. Thank you for every dollar you sacrificed to bring our daughter home.

Shortly after sending our immigration paperwork to the U.S. government, we were able to celebrate friends who are about to bring home their son from Ethiopia...we were able to celebrate the news of family and friends who are now expecting biological children...we were able to celebrate God's sovereignty over all of our lives.

No matter how many starts and stops, no matter the long periods in the "waiting room", no matter the doubt and worry that threatens to steal our joy, we're humbled by the community of loving people who surround us. We're all in this together, and He's placed us in the good care of one another.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The winner is...



Words can't express our gratitude to every person who has encouraged, contributed and told friends about this fundraiser for our little ladybug. Yet, we'll still attempt to put those words together, on our next post...

Gracias,
Jeremy


Saturday, August 6, 2011

We're giving away a brand-new iPad 2! For realz!

We're excited and blessed with the news that our adoption agency has approved our home-study. This brings us one leap closer to our daughter in China. Now, we're faced with a new challenge: raising over $3,500 in the next couple of weeks in order to file our immigration paperwork and lock in our dossier. (We are now at 72% towards this goal!)


With this gulp-tastic deadline standing in our way, we were stunned with gratitude yesterday when some generous friends handed us a brand-new Apple iPad 2, 16 GB WiFi edition. Would you like to take it home? That's right. We're giving it away!


Here's how it works: We have a PayPal Donate button on the left-hand side of our blog. Beginning 8/6 if you:


Donate $10 then you get one chance.

Donate $25 then you get three chances.


After you've donated to our China adoption journey, you can take these actions for one additional chance.


1. Repost this on your blog or on your Facebook.

2. Tweet or email a link to this blog post to your friends.

(Don't forget to let us know you've earned the extra chance!)


The fine print disclaimer: In order for this FUNdraiser to happen we must raise at least $1,000 for the giveaway to be ON! (We reached this threshold on Tuesday night, 8/10!)

We will tally chances for donations received until 12:00 a.m. EST on Sunday 8/14 and we'll announce the winner here on the blog at 6:00 p.m. EST. Stay tuned!


This is NOT a r-a-f-f-l-e, please do not mention anywhere that it is.


Thank you for helping us beat this deadline, getting us that much closer to our daughter.


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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shared Joy

What a great anniversary! Thanks to our friends who let J have an awesome playdate while Libby and I enjoyed a day-date before the NO MORE launch. Thanks to all the amazing people we met this evening. It was so encouraging to see friends (old an new) who have passion for the Kingdom of Heaven to transform the world around us. What an inspiring day!

Gracias,
Jeremy

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grateful for all the goodness brewing...


Wow! This month has been filled to the brim with occasions to celebrate and rejoice. We have dear family and friends turning the calendar on another year. Our church hired a warm and gifted couple to lead the kids-youth ministries. Through facebook and twitter, we witnessed one family meet their son in Ethiopia and another adoptive family travel with their daughter to meet her biological family. This week, our adoption agency sent us a letter approving our home study. Next Sunday, we raise a mug to 12 years of marriage. Good times.

ForNoMore.org has invited us to be a part of the work they're doing connecting generous hearts with Kingdom-building causes. We're honored and humbled to be associated with the No More Foundation. I love their battle cry: "No More! No More Hunger and Thirst, No More Orphans, No More Slavery, No More Walking Alone... not on our watch. We are the body of Christ, the HOPE of the world, and if God so loved the world... so should we!" If you're local, please join us for the NO MORE Launch Party on Sunday, July 31st from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Tampa Underground, 1300 East 7th Avenue, Ybor City. In August, check out their site for all the many avenues where you can walk out the passions in your heart. You can start following @For_NoMore now.

Some of our friends have been asking about the coffee fundraiser we're doing. So, I should probably give some detail on the AMAZING coffees you can enjoy, all the while helping us nickel and dime our way to China, right? Yes, I should. Rob Webb of Just Love Coffee is an adoptive parent who supports an orphanage in Ethiopia through the sales of his small-farm, fresh-roasted, certified Fair Trade coffee beans. He's opened up his expert procurement and roasting to other adoptive families in order to further support adoption all over the world. When you order a lb. of this delicious coffee, $5 goes towards our own China adoption. This adds up and makes a big difference. Is the coffee good? In my opinion, it should be sold for least $5-$10 more than it retails. It's up there with the highest quality, independent coffee companies. Rob Webb roasts your beans right before they ship, meaning the bloom in your french press is HUGE! The aroma is delightful and robust. Just Love Coffee doesn't use computer-set roast levels. They use their 5 senses and years of experience to capture the perfect flavor of each rare bean. Yes, this is mighty good coffee. J is a fan, as you can see.

Whenever the mountains between us and China appear far too high to climb, we look into the eyes of J and remember all of the miracles our Father creates, constantly, over and over. He causes to be. Let's pour a cup and celebrate that fact together.

Gracias,
Jeremy

Sunday, July 17, 2011

His first language is music.

Over the past 16 months, our home has been filled with every-increasing laughter. Our son is a fearless performer who loves to make his folks laugh. J is always on the move, entertainingly testing his boundaries. One of his favorite activities is to turn on iTunes and tap the keyboard furiously until one of his favorite tracks plays. J loves music. Now, I thought I loved music, but I don't think we ever played nearly as much music in our home as J demands. Along with laughter, the most common sound in our home is a drum beat.

J will dance to just about any style of music. The song could be a 30-second iPad commercial. The beat may originate from the laundry room dryer. It could be Carl and the band covering Muse. Often it's the Glee soundtrack or his daddy's Joy Electric collection. J will immediately identify just the right dance move and - boom - he is off! But, he doesn't really like to dance alone. At minimum, he wants our undivided attention on the joy he's having. Mostly, he wants us to get in on the act. The more idiotic we look, the wider the smile on J's face.

He connects with us over this constant activity. It's as natural to him as breathing. Every day, he gets a new groove and wants to find a new beat to which he can jam. Just the other day, J discovered that he could get both feet moving at the very same time. The sheer enthusiasm this new ability produced in our son should be bottled and sold for a mint. J keeps pulling me over to his "Elmo" drum set (as if I have any skill that he hasn't already surpassed...) He connects to everything through music.

As our family grows, we're going to be filling this home with a lot of different languages and I'm sure that in our zeal to bring our kids' birth cultures to life in the day to day, we're going to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. But, there is something so beautifully inspiring about the organic connections that develop as we attach to one another.

J's tummy mommy told Libby and me about how important music was to her and her family. Before we had even seen his face on the sonogram, she extended an authentic wish for music to be valued in J's life. This language and the celebration of dance that it inspires connects J to his birth heritage and ties us into his story every single day.

We love to hear J's voice and can't wait to hear his thoughts through the many pathways of language. But, his native tongue of music will thrive as he grows and Libby and I will continue to fan that felicitous flame.

Gracias,
Jeremy

Saturday, July 16, 2011

J is gonna be a brother!

Even as I type this, my heart is racing with equal parts excitement and terror. Well, as you can see, our blog has undergone a major makeover, thanks to Designs by Jenn who did a wonderful job and was lovely to work with. If your blog needs a makeover, I highly recommend Jenn!

I'm sure you have also noticed an Asian theme......hmmm........is there a reason you ask? You betcha!! We are well into the process of our next adoption!! And Lord willing, we will be blessed with a daughter from the People's Republic of China!

We are now tightly strapped in for the thrilling roller coaster ride that is International Adoption. And my days have been filled with emotions ranging from sheer panic, joyful crying, anxiety attacks, massive frustration, and surprised relief. And I have come to acknowledge this: We are crazy and out of our minds. But we know that we know that we know this is the journey we are to take. Only God knows how this will play out. We are trusting in Him and His Sovereignty.

Please, Please, Please keep us in prayer as we need favor with government agencies, generous organizations giving adoption grants, and our community. We will be adopting a Special Needs child, so please pray for her and the care that she is currently receiving. God used our son's adoption to grow our faith in leaps and bounds. The way He provided the finances for J's adoption was nothing short of miraculous and now our faith has the opportunity to grow again. God is faithful. We are working and praying hard.

We have been so very blessed by the support of our family, friends, church community, and our ever-growing, large and mighty adoption community. Seriously, our little girl has so many people waiting to love on her----but the hubs and I are first in line!!!

"Little Ladybug, we can't wait to bring you home!!"

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laughter and politics



I haven't blogged in a very long time. There's a reason (besides the fact that I spend most of my day chasing this guy). We have some exciting news that I've been hesitant to blog about, but I'm gonna save that for the next blog.....he, he.

I wanted to talk about my little rockstar J for a bit before this blog starts the next chapter. So, how do I even begin to talk about J? He's amazing. I know every mom says that about their son. But I know we really got blessed my this boy. He's hilarious and inquisitive. He is super strong and super fast. If I let my roots grow out before breaking out the hair dye, I'm sure there would be a new crop of gray hairs. J is fearless and my nerves are paying for it. Things will be stacked and he will climb as high as he can.

As you can see from these pictures, we had his head shaved. He HATES to have his hair washed, combed, conditioned...etc. So we shaved it. These pics were taken by his Tia the day we got his hair cut. You can see in the first picture he's laughing. We were at a local park that has fountains and these three brothers ganged up on my son and were hitting the water so it would splash directly in J's face. They formed a semi-circle around my little baby to do this as they cackled and their parents looked on proudly. At first, my son did not like this at all and you could tell by the three boys' laughter and taunts to my kid, that these future delinquents were not playing nicely and knew it, but my son was resilient. Just as I was about to run over, J started to laugh.

Dealing with parents whose kids misbehave at playgrounds is new territory for me. And I wasn't sure how to handle it. Jax ended up getting sick of it and kept walking away from them and my husband tried his best to get him to play away from them, but they would follow. What are the rules? The parents didn't seem to mind that their kids were picking on a baby. As my blood boiled and I tried to find the words, the three kids glanced my way and I gave the mother of all death stares....the kind that would chill you to the core and I must say, they looked a little rattled. Am I proud about shooting death rays at children? No. But alas, I am guilty. And I fear what the future holds regarding playground politics and bullies. I pray I will have the wisdom and self-control to react appropriately. There's no escaping it. But just as I teach my son how to handle himself in those situations and how to play nicely, I will be reminding myself that I need to set an example and play nicely too....as I protect my kids. God help me.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

One Story of Sonship



My lovely wife has asked me to write an entry in the blog for nearly a year now. But, between being swept away by the joy of playing with J and being consumed with all the tasks of work and life, I haven’t had the energy to form a coherent string of words. I don't know if these will be coherent either, but I do know they are filled with delight and gratitude.

My lovely wife is napping, as is our son J (along with our scruffy puppy). Our home is very still and I’m listening to some new music by an old favorite through my iPod. We just attended a fantastic superhero-themed birthday party for one of J’s little amigos. Last Saturday, we walked the beach with our son for the first time; where he watched the sunset and attempted over and over again to dive into the waves. This life seems incredible and impossible to me. After years of longing for our son, we have been given this gift.

Just after its release, I listened to the audiobook of LOVE WINS by Rob Bell. My favorite quote had nothing to do with beliefs about heaven or hell. It had to do with parenthood. Rob Bell wrote “the Father’s love cannot be earned and it can’t be taken away. It just is.” The love we have for our son comes from the Father. His love transforms our hearts. His love widens our vision. God’s love is the only reason our hands can open up to receive any gift, especially the gift of adoption.

We were welcomed into the shared-parenting of J by his birth-mommy. God's love was the source of her ability to welcome us. Our parenthood was not earned, much like our adoption into the family of God is not earned. It just is. It’s a gift.

My lovely wife and I spend a lot of thought on how we will raise J and his brothers and sisters to come. The words Laughter, Joy, Encouragement and Forgiveness keep coming up in these conversations. We don’t want to squash or squander this gift.

I know I do not want to teach J things he will need to un-learn later on in life, especially about God and His grace. I want to show him by example that he can trust the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…the God of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Our hope is that J will open himself up to the incredible Love that never leaves you abandoned. Our desire is that J encounters Jesus and His winsome love. Our dream is that he will walk with the Spirit of Truth and not live in fear.

But, these hopes, desires and dreams aren’t fulfilled in “pre-packaged” programs and spoon-fed dogma. The Grace of God will seek and find J, through whatever wilderness has been set before him. The Good Shepherd will care for our son when he is questioning, doubting, grieving and even cursing the faith we will share with him. We are able to rest, knowing that our prayers are heard by the Father who adopts us out of a joyful, selfless love that we can barely conceive.

When J was a few weeks old, we would get up for his 3 a.m. feedings and read the Old Testament in order to stay awake. J and I read the life of Joseph together during those early mornings. We read about the dreams God gave Joseph and of his alienation from his brothers. We read of the love Jacob had for Joseph. We read everything: the dreadful losses, the dizzying successes. We read of years of plenty and years of famine. We read of deceit and struggle. We read of forgiveness and reunion. We read of God's Grace and how simply un-fair that Grace must be. Thank God.

My son will not grow up to be perfect. He will have weaknesses and he will face the enemy. But the lullaby medley that J falls asleep to is completely true. J can rest in its truth.

Jesus loves you.
Jesus loves the little children.
He’s got the whole world in his hands.
Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause everything’s going to be alright.

Gracias,
Jeremy

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finalization pics





Blogger Fail.

I have written this blog like 3 times along with posting a bunch of amazing photos and each time, once I clicked "publish", it would all disappear. This has been very frustrating as I seem to have less time or energy to blog as of late.

Anyway, I don't even know where to begin. So much as has happened since my last post. Do I recap our finalization? Christmas? His first birthday celebration?

Well, between the Finalization and Christmas, December was a crazy month. I need to send out another HUGE thank you to all who helped make our finalization happen. The money came in....every cent. And we couldn't be more grateful or feel more blessed. We have the most amazing friends anyone can ask for and even strangers sent in money. We have to give praise to God for reminding us how we are never alone.

My adoption world seems to grow daily as I continue to meet more beautiful families. I am so happy my son will get to grow up knowing so many other kids with families that look like his.

I know I need to post a ton of updated pics, but I am going to try publishing this small note to test if blogger has decided to like me again.

Hugs to all!