Thursday, November 19, 2015

We are here!

We are here! Landed at 2:30 Thursday afternoon. After we arrived we hung out at the airport while we waited on several other families to arrive. 2 families were delayed and won't be here til today (I think one of their flights was actually canceled). Say some prayers for them. I know that must be stressful! We finally boarded the bus at 6:00 and arrived at the hotel at 8:00. It was only supposed to be a 30 minute drive. They were "having traffic jam." Ah, the traffic in China! After about an hour to check everyone in, we finally got to our room at just before 9 pm. 28 hours of travel with only a few 30 minute or so naps on the plane. God's strength was certainly holding us up. Praise the Lord!

It's 5:45 Friday morning here. We've been up since 4:30. Got about 5 1/2 hours of sleep last night. I'll take it! We go to the Great Wall and Summer Palace today. The weather is not so ideal-- in the mid 30s and a "wintery mix". Regardless, we are hoping for a fun day! Prayers for our bodies to adjust to this jet lag!

Here we are on the plane, ready to take off.

Half-way there!

About to land--look at the snow on the ground! (It doesn't actually look like that in Beijing right now, but may by the end of the weekend!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Time To Go!!

I can’t believe we leave for China TOMORROW!! Our lives are about to be forever changed. Zach’s life is about to be forever changed. So much praise to give to God! It’s been a long ten months, but the journey is not over yet. We need prayers, please! Lots and lots of prayers! I’ve put together a “calendar” of specific prayers for each day. Would you please take the time to pray for us each day? Share with your friends and your churches. Share with anyone who is willing to pray. We believe in the power of prayer and the more people praying for us the better!

Natalie will stay at home while we are gone. My mom and aunt will be taking care of her the first week and Todd's parents will keep her the second week.

For the duration of the trip: Prayers for safety, God's protection, and health for Natalie and our parents who will be caring for her while we are gone. Prayers for safety, peace, and good health for us. That our bodies adjust to the jet-lag easily (there will be a 14 hour time difference). That we bond with the other families who are traveling with us (there are 12 other families!!). Prayers for all the other families, as well. For Natalie to be at peace and not miss her mommy and daddy too much. And for us that we don't miss her too much.

Tuesday, November 17th (today): Pray for us to have peace about leaving. That we rest well tonight. For Natalie to have peace about us leaving. For wisdom and knowledge as we pack a ridiculous amount of stuff into two suitcases, keeping it under 44 lbs each (in-China flight regs).

Wednesday, November 18th: We fly out of Nashville at 6:30 a.m. and land in Detroit at 9:13. Our flight to Beijing leaves at noon and we will arrive in China at 3:10 Thursday afternoon (which is like 1:10 a.m. here.) Weather is supposed to be yucky in Nashville the morning. Heavy rain and wind. Prayers for safe travel. For smooth, uneventful, & on-time flights.

Thursday, November 19th: We arrive in Beijing, unpack and settle in.
Friday & Saturday: Sightseeing in Beijing to help our bodies adjust to the time difference. Weather is looking a bit chilly. Mid 30s and SNOW. Prayers for safety as we navigate the city. We will have a guide. That we stay healthy and adjust to the jetlag.

Sunday, Nov 22nd: Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou. We leave at 8:30 a.m. and will just unpack and settle in once we get there. Prayers again for safe travels. They are predicting 3-5 inches of snow in Beijing Sunday. When we arrive in Guangzhou, it will be 87 degrees. Crazy!!

Monday, Nov 23rd: Gotcha Day! This is the day we will meet Zach and welcome him to our family. He, along with 4 other children from his orphanage and several nannies, will be traveling 8 hours from Shantou to Guangzhou. They will bring the children to our hotel. There are 3 other families adopting kids from Shantou (one family is adopting twins!). What a blessing for them to have familiar faces during this transition in their lives. Prayers for peace in Zach’s heart. For him to not have any fear and to trust easily. Prayers for us the Holy Spirit to lead us in helping him transition and easing any fear he might have.

Tuesday Nov 24th: We have our appointment with Civil Affairs. This is the day our adoption is finalized!

Wednesday, Nov 25th: We will have various adoption appointments this day and do a little sightseeing. Prayers for everything to go smoothly at these appointments and for safety as we navigate the city.

Thursday, Nov 26th: Happy Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for this year! Zach will have his medical exam this day. Prayers that he is healthy!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday (the 27th-29th): We mostly have free time to sight-see and just chill with just one appointment- a “paperwork party” at the US Consulate on Saturday.

Monday, November 30th: We have our consulate appointment where we apply for Zach’s US Visa! Prayers for a smooth process.

Tuesday, December 1st: We pick up Zach’s visa and pack our bags and prepare to come back home!

Wednesday, December 2nd: We come home!! We will fly from Guangzhou to Beijing. From Beijing to Detroit (13 hour flight). Then from Detroit to Nashville. We are scheduled to arrive in Nashville at 10:37 p.m. Wednesday night. We will have been traveling for more than 24 hours at that point. We will need some BIG prayers this day! For ourselves who will be exhausted, but mostly for Zach, who will be getting on airplane for the first time ever. That he’s calm. That he’s able to get some sleep on the plane. That he transitions smoothly to his new home. That he’s able to get some sleep in his new bed. That we’re able to get some sleep. That all of us adjust to the jetlag and remain healthy.

Thursday, December 3rd: Natalie will stay with her Gigi and Pops Wednesday night, so that we can focus on helping Zach acclimate to his new home and hopefully get some rest. She will come back home Thursday to meet her new brother! Prayers that her heart is prepared to receive her new brother as a member of our family and that she shows him love and kindness. That she feels safe and loved by us. That she adjusts to the changes.

Thanks for all of your support and prayers!

“The earnest prayers of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b)

“You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, so that the son can bring glory to the Father. Yes. Ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” (John 14: 13-14)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pure Joy!

We woke yesterday morning to pictures of Zach in our inbox. Pictures of his "your getting a family" party. We sent the cake, along with a care package about two months ago. We didn't think we'd actually get to see pictures before we got there, so we were pleasantly surprised when I opened my email to find these! Before, people would ask, "does he know he's getting a family?" "We hope so," is all we could say. Now we know that he knows. And just look at that smile!! It is PURE JOY!

These pictures came at such the perfect time in our journey. The "to-do" list is almost all checked off and we are just waiting for next Wednesday to come. Trying to prepare our hearts and our home to receive him into our family. I pray that his heart is begin prepared, too. That he will feel safe and at peace with the transition. Will you pray for that, too? A week from today, y'all! We will be on a plane to China to bring this sweet boy home!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

On to the Finish Line- We got our TA (Travel Approval)!!

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

And what a race this has been! We can finally see the finish line...and Jesus is definitely there, standing with Zach, as he waits for his family to come get him. And running with us as we count down the days to China. We will keep our eyes on Jesus! We got our TA this week and plans are finalized as of today. We are going to China in 19 days! We will leave on November 18th, welcome our son into our family on November 23rd, make it all official on November 30th and fly home December 2nd!

It's hard to believe it was a year ago TODAY that I flew to China for the first time, having NO IDEA what God had in store for my family. What a life changing trip that was. For us. And for Zach. God pulled the trigger and I took off running. Looking to Him every step of the way. To try to determine where He wanted us to go with this. It has been quite the adventure this past year--fundraising, paperwork, more fundraising, more paperwork, waiting, paperwork, and waiting some more. It's hard to believe we're almost at the finish line! We just have one more stretch to go. 19 DAYS!!

The race is not over, yet! We still need your prayers! Lots and lots of prayers, please. Prayers for all of us and we prepare to welcome Zach into our family. Prayers for God to prepare our hearts for his home coming. And prayers for Zach that his heart is prepared to join our family. That he feels God's love and peace, instead of fear and anxiety as he makes this huge transition.

We want to thank each and everyone of you who have been a part of our journey so far. Please continue to follow the blog, as I plan on posting more before we go and while in China. There will be some specific prayer requests to come, too! China, here we come!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fundraising. Check! (no pun intended!)

I typed this up a couple of weeks ago, but just realized I never posted it! From a few weeks ago...

Holy Cow! What a whirlwind the past few months have been. God has been SO GOOD in providing for this adoption. When we started out, we knew he would guide us as to what we needed to do to raise funds and that he would bless our efforts and provide every penny we need. We had no doubts. BUT, we did not expect to be this blown away by his awesomeness! To look back and see the amazingness (is that a word?), it is nothing short of a miracle! He has provided over $30,000 for this adoption in just a few short months! I mean, that's a salary for some people. It's simply miraculous, I think!

We just finished our final fundraising event- a Both Hands project. While our goal for this fundraiser was initially set at $10,000, we were pleasantly surprised to find out (another little miracle from God!) that there was a grant through an organization called Reece's Rainbow in Zack's name for a little over $2000! Which means that whoever adopted him would be granted that money to go toward his adoption. I mean, WHAT!?! Someone had been advocating for our son and we didn't even know it! A friend of a Facebook friend who is active in orphan advocacy, who happened to be advocating for Zack and wasn't aware that we were in the process of adopting him, told my FB friend about this grant. She in turn told me. Thank you, God!! What an amazing surprise. So, we really only needed to raise about $8000 in our Both Hands project. We have met that goal! Praise God! Funny thing is we considered canceling the project on a couple of occasions. Once in the beginning when we were struggling, and I mean struggling to find a widow who was in need of help and was willing to accept the help. Who knew it would be SO HARD to find someone to help! It took us about 6 weeks and several candidates to find Mrs. Francis. We are so grateful for her allowing us to serve her! The second time we considered canceling was the night before we mailed out the sponsorship letters. We were so stressed at this point, as we were knee deep in the final phases of paperwork, Todd was still recovering from his accident and we had a to-do list a mile long of things that needed to be done to get our home ready for Zack to come home. We just couldn't fathom how we would be able to organize this project, too. It was horrible timing. We almost called the whole thing off, but after praying about it over night, we just couldn't bare the thought of calling Mrs. Francis and disappointing her. So we decided that we would go through with it for her. And, of course, God blessed our efforts! And we were able to bless her.
Take a look at the video we made to show the projects we did at Mrs. Francis's house.

And...if you're wondering about the puzzle...well that is finished, too! It took us FOREVER to put that thing together, but we got it done, eventually. We still have to write all the names on the back and frame it, but it's on our list of things to do! Here's a picture of the completed puzzle.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gearing Up for Both Hands!

We have been SO busy these past several weeks--between preparing our home for Zack's homecoming, the final bits of paperwork, and getting ready for our FINAL fundraiser--life has been CRAZY! We are so grateful for all of our friends and family who are working with us on this project. Let me tell you about Both Hands. A group of friends and Todd and I will be completing a service project THIS SATURDAY working on a widow's home. We are raising sponsorship for our day of service. (Just like a 5K or golf tournament) Our goal is to raise the last bit of money for our adoption, which is estimated to be about $10,000. Now this is the "high" end of the estimates, so if we don't raise that much, we know, we don't NEED that much! We are trusting God to provide every penny we will need. And he knows what that is!

Click this link to learn more about our project and to "meet" our widow.

We'd appreciate any support you'd be willing to give to help us reach our goal! Please feel free to share, as well!

Also, we received some cute pics of our little guy last week. We also learned that he likes to sing, dance, and play ball. And his favorite color is yellow! In the midst of all of this stress, these little updates help us to stop and refocus on WHY were doing all of this! "Let us run with endurance this race that is set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus." (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Learning through Trials

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

When “bad things” happen, God will use those things for good. While this most recent trial was hard (one of the hardest things we’ve ever experienced), we knew there would be lessons learned through it all. We know that God uses every circumstance to draw us closer to him. To shape us to be more like him. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 crossed my path several times during the weeks following Todd’s accident. I believe these are the lessons we were being taught.

Rejoice always. I tried, although it was hard, to rejoice in this situation. From the first moment I found out. I rejoiced that Todd was alive. That he was conscious. I tried to count every blessing I could find in the whole situation-during the 2 hour car ride to the hospital, through the sleepless nights with Todd and all the pain he was in. I reminded myself and him to rejoice in the little blessings—that he didn’t bleed out as he laid there for 4 hours. That he came to and managed to pull himself up the stairs. That his friend got up early to get some water because he had a migraine and found him when he did. That he wasn’t paralyzed. That he wasn’t a vegetable. That the parts of the brain damaged weren’t “significant” areas. That he could walk and talk and remember. That they expected a full recovery. That he didn’t die! And if we can rejoice about these things in the middle of all of this, we can rejoice always! Everyday. For every second of precious life we have. Even when we are tired. Stressed. And just plain don’t feel like it.

Pray continually. We believe in the power of prayer! That Friday before the accident, I was having a blue day, just emotional and feeling discouraged about the fundraising project we were working on. I just had an uneasy feeling about the weekend--with Natalie and I being in Birmingham and Todd being in Florence. I sent a text to my girls and asked them to pray for me. I’ve never done that before, but felt compelled to do it that day. Looking back, I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to do that. We were covered in prayer before Todd fell down those stairs. I believe that prayer is what helped me keep it together when I got that phone call. That helped me make it through that 2 hour drive to the hospital, not knowing what to expect. I immediately sent a message to my same girls and told them what had happened and that we needed more prayer. Friends, family, and people we don’t even know, have been praying continually-- from before the accident and even still now. That prayer is the reason Todd healed so quickly. The reason we were showered with support and meals from friends and family. That prayer is what kept us going and got us through this tough time! We are so grateful for our prayer warriors! And we are so grateful for God! Who is so AWESOME!

Give thanks in all circumstances. I’m not gonna lie. I struggled with this part. This has been, I think, the biggest lesson I have learned. That and humility. At first, I was grateful, counting every small blessing I could find. But after we came home and Todd started healing. I was exhausted. I became angry. I was angry with God. I was angry about having ONE more thing on my plate. Well, this experience threw me into a servant’s role, of being the sole caregiver for our daughter and additionally for my husband while he recovered. I was forced to put both of them and their needs before my own. Well, of course, I found myself grumbling and doing it with a not-so-happy heart. Poor me. I don’t have any time for myself, etc. During that time, I read a devotional about doing things with a servant’s heart. “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) Instead of saying “I have to…”, say “I get to…” And count your blessings. My thoughts have changed from, “I have to give Todd a bath! At 6:30 in the morning (sometimes 5:30)! Before I have my coffee! Ugh!” to “I GET to give Todd a bath. Thank you, Lord that he is here. That I have a husband to bathe. And if I have to give him a bath every day for the rest of my life. I will. And I will do it enthusiastically (well, maybe once my coffee has kicked in!). Because I am so grateful to have him in my life.” It’s been a great lesson in humility and gratitude. One that has been carried over to my parenting. Two very important qualities that will be greatly needed when we bring Zack home.

Throughout this all we have been so grateful for our faith. I honestly don’t know how people get through tough times like this without God. And while we’ve learned a lot, I still have much to learn and I fail daily! But at least now, I’m able to recognize when I am being selfish and remind myself that I am so blessed to have the little messes and the minor inconveniences because I have a beautiful daughter and husband to share my life with that cause those messes and inconveniences! And I shift my attitude to a more Christ-like one.

All this to say, when you find yourself in difficult situations, you are likely under attack from the enemy. Pour yourself into the word of God. Know that he’s upholding you in his hand. Take the negative thoughts captive. Think on the true, noble, praiseworthy things. And press on! God has a plan for you. It will be worth it in the end and you will be a stronger (AKA more Christ-like) person.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Do You Believe In Spiritual Warfare?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9a).

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:10-12)

Spiritual warfare. I’d heard of it. I’d read about it in the Bible. But I had never really experienced it before (well, if I have, I didn’t realize that’s what it was!). Well now, I get it. A spill down some stairs. A broken wrist. A severe brain injury. Two days in the CCU. Three weeks and counting of recovery. Our family was under attack, still is! There have been several “attacks” over the past several months since we started this journey. Mostly small ones. But this! This was the real deal! This had the potential to destroy us. Our family. God’s plans for this adoption. For a little boy’s future. This was HARD!

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, just before they took Todd back for surgery on his hand, I read this verse, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen!” (1 Peter 5:10) I held on to this truth through this whole ordeal. The armor of God! And when my faith started slipping, when I started doubting, God reminded me of this verse. I knew that the Holy Spirit was talking to me by showing me this verse. Reassuring me that everything was going to turn out okay. Later, I felt compelled to look that verse up and read the entire passage. So, I read, just two verses prior, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9a). Spiritual! Warfare! This is what this is. I recognized it. So I was able to arm myself!

Many have asked, “Will this affect your adoption? Will it delay things?” How tempted one could be to throw in the towel and quit. God must not want us to do this. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be easier? Wouldn’t he protect us from all of this? These are all thoughts that we could be tempted to think. There are so many reasons not to follow through with this adoption at this point. Forget the “what-ifs” that are swirling through my head (what if something else were to happen to Todd after we bring Zack home and I have to raise a child with special needs on my own, etc, etc.), but also the “This is too hard. This following God thing.” and the “How in the world are we going to afford this now?” when the reality of the added financial burden sinks in, as medical bills will soon be pouring in, income will be less with Todd not working for a few weeks, while we are still about $10,000 short of what we need to complete the adoption. So many reasons to quit. To stop following God on THIS journey. But because we are armed with the armor of God, we know. We know these thoughts come from the enemy. Trying to destroy a beautiful plan. This is spiritual warfare! And so we WILL! NOT! STOP! We’ve got our eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. We’re off and running and we are not turning back! (Philippians 3: 13b-14, The Message). We have God on our side and this is HIS thing. He wants us to bring Zack home. He wants to show the world his awesome power through this story. “Sing to the Lord for he has done glorious things; let this be known to the world.” (Isaiah 12:5). God has carried us this far and he will carry us through this. To. The. End. HE WILL PROVIDE every penny we need! No doubt!

So, no. This will not affect our adoption. We will keep on moving forward! We hope to have our RA any day now. And we still hope to travel in November. And when this is all said and done we will say, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Thanks to all of our friends and family for your support and prayers through all of this. Please continue to pray us through this and all the way to the end of this journey?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

We are DTC!

Our dossier was sent to China a little over a week ago (DTC= Dossier to China) and according to Fed Ex it was delivered last Monday (June 29th). Now we wait! Next steps:

1. Receive LID (log-in-date), which is the date the that our paperwork is logged in in China, sort of like our place in line.

2. Receive RA (referral acceptance, aka, LOA, letter of acceptance). Current wait time from LID is about 2 months.

3. Receive our TA (travel acceptance). Current wait time from RA is about 2 months.

4. Travel! Usually 2-4 weeks after receiving your TA.

So...We're thinking it will be sometime in November when we travel. Trying not to focus too much on the time lines though and remembering that it doesn't really matter what the averages are because God is ultimately in control and we are on HIS timeline!

In the meantime, we prepare a few more pieces of paperwork to be submitted once we have our RA, complete a couple more hours of training, and continue to raise funds for the remainder of expenses. A blog post is coming soon on our upcoming Both Hands project...our final fundraising effort!! Please continue to pray for our family and for Zack as we get closer to bringing him home!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Few Updates

So it’s been a while since I’ve has been…well, CRAZY! We are still waiting for our USCIS approval. They received our application on April 20th and they tell you it takes 1 ½ to 2 ½ months to get. We went for our fingerprints last Monday, which they schedule for you (which was only 3 weeks after the receipt date, which is pretty fast, I think) Recently, I’ve seen people reporting getting approval within about 6 weeks. We are hopeful this will be the case for us, which would mean we would receive it sometime the 1st week in June. Fingers crossed. This would be helpful in getting our notarization, certification, and authentication done earlier and allowing us to hopefully be able to send in our dossier early. My goal is to turn in our dossier the first part of July. However, we KNOW that this is all in God’s hands and that everything will be done in His perfect timing! But patience is not my best trait! "It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by hi own authority." (Acts 1:7)

So fundraising…WOW! Can I just say that we’ve been doing this crazy fundraising thing for four months? Four months. That’s all!?! It is unbelievable to me that we have raised $21,000 already! I’m serious. How can this be? It is nothing short of a miracle. Again, I CAN NOT express how incredible grateful we are to God, first and foremost, but also to the people who have helped us out by spearheading fundraisers and for those who have so generously donated to our cause! Thank you! From the bottom of our hearts! Thank you! Speaking of “thank yous”, I so apologize that I haven’t properly and/or formally thanked all of you who have helped with these fundraisers and by donating. We HAVE received your money. We DO appreciate your efforts! Thank you! I am WAY BEHIND on writing thank you notes. I have the best of intentions. I really do. In the beginning, I sat down every Sunday and wrote notes for the donations that came in that week. I thought I had a good handle on it. But now I’m SO behind…like weeks. Months. BEHIND. So if you have contributed, please know that we are so grateful and that you WILL get a thank you note. Eventually! "With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible!" (Matthew 19:26)

We have just finished up a MAJOR fundraising event…the oh-so-dreaded GARAGE SALE!! For Natalie’s adoption, we held three, yes three, garage sales-one at home, one in Birmingham, and one in Tupelo (where Todd’s parents lived at the time). We raised a lot of money, but oh. My. Goodness. It was A LOT of work. We swore we would NEVER have another garage sale, as long as we both shall live. Well…I’m here to tell you, we did it again. Just one this time, but it was BIG! It was two weekends ago. And if it weren’t’ for a free massage the next day and a free vacation the week after, I might still be recovering! Talk about God’s perfect timing! (Long story on the free massage—it was a real one and by a professional! And the free vacation was a work trip for Todd—5 days at THE BEACH—no kids. Thank you very much!) So we did this Garage sale thing once again and we had SO. MUCH. STUFF donated to us from friends and neighbors. Stuff just kept pouring in! We held the sale for two days and the people just kept coming. We hardly had a break. We made over $3300 just selling mostly “small stuff”. And we still have several “big” items that we now have listed on Craigslist that we hope to sell to add to this total. I have to say, I AM ready to have my garage back…stuff, be gone!

The Noonday Jewelry party was also a success. We had a great turnout of ladies and sold lots of jewelry. Ten percent of sales went to our adoption fund, which turned out to be a little over $200. I am so grateful for Heather Loden for opening up her home and hosting this event! We are also so grateful for Belle Cromwell, who was the Noonday Ambassador for this party! She so generously and unexpectedly matched what was raised (plus some) from her own pocket--$300! Thank you so much, Belle!! So this party raised a little over $500 to help us bring Zack home! If you want to learn more about Noonday, order jewelry, or host a party, click here to visit Belle's website.

So after the garage sale we decided that we would take a break from fundraising for a little while. We now have enough money raised and saved to get us through everything up to the travel costs (we think/hope!) Well…seems God is ready for us to keep on truckin! We applied to do a Both Hands project a few weeks ago. I didn’t really know if we would be chosen to do it. For some reason, I expected we wouldn’t. Well, we got a call two days ago…WE'VE BEEN APPROVED! So, onward! Both Hands is a very cool thing! In a nutshell, Both Hands help families fund raise for their adoptions. A family gathers a team of volunteers and Both Hands coaches them to coordinate a service project fixing up a widow's home. The family and their team raise sponsorship for their day of service and the funds raised help an orphan be adopted into a forever family! More details about this project to come! We are very excited about this opportunity--not only about the chance to raise the remainder of the money we need to bring Zack home, but also for the chance to serve a widow while doing it! "Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." (Philippians 2:4)

More to come with details about this project. Stay tuned…

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Guess Who's "Paper Ready"?!?!

So, remember the little guy I talked about in my blog while I was in China? The two-year-old who has Down syndrome and a cleft lip/palate? Click here and here to read those posts.

Well...he's "paper ready"!! And he has had his lip repaired (which I already knew because I asked about him back in December, but I haven't seen pictures of him with his repaired lip until now)! His file is coming soon to America World Adoption Association. And He needs a family!

So, I was asked to write up a post for AW's blog about him to tell his story and to help find him a family. They posted it today...with recent pictures of him! I'm so happy to see him so happy!! Now, I want to find him a family! Will you help me? Maybe you've been considering adoption? Maybe you know someone who has. Please share this little boy's story with everyone you know. I just know his family will find him!

Here we are together!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Muffalettas, bread, and jewlery...oh my!

Wow! We have had so many wonderful people working so hard to help us raise funds for this adoption. We are so incredibly blessed! Just a little update on a couple of fundraisers that family and friends have been doing to help us bring home our son!

First, the muffaletta and hummus sale my family did at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Hoover turned out to be a HUGE success! I posted after the first weekend that we were so incredibly overwhelmed just by the generosity we received that weekend. My family took pre-orders again after every mass the next weekend and then took a break for Easter weekend. Then, the week after Easter they were busy, busy making hummus and muffalettas to be delivered after the masses that following weekend. They ended up making more than 250 containers of hummus and about 225 muffalettas. So many people were so kind to volunteer their time to help my dad assemble the sandwiches and package everything. Thank you so much to: Joe and Pam Sinopoli, Brenda Boyd, Stacy Rohn, Marie Bateh, Cindy Crook, Heidi Monte, and of course my parents! Thanks also to my sister-in-law, Heidi Monte, whose idea this was and who helped organize the fundraiser and to my brother, sister, and brother-in-law for all of the time they spend after mass taking and delivering orders. A special thanks also goes out to Najis Pita Gourmet in Birmingham, who so generously sold my dad the hummus ingredients at a significantly discounted price and donated several packages of pita bread! We ended up raising $8673 after all expenses. This fundraiser far surpassed our expectations and we feel so incredibly blessed and grateful!

Second, Todd's mom decided to do a fundraiser making her delicious homemade honey wheat bread several weeks ago. She sold the bread mainly to her neighborhood via the neighborhood Facebook page and raised $466! Another amazing blessing!

Finally, a friend of mine, Heather Loden, hosted a Noonday jewelry party at her home yesterday, where 10% of the sales will go toward our adoption. The party will be "open" for another week and a half, so if you want to order any beautiful jewelry (mother's day is just around the corner!), you can order by visiting The really cool think about this jewelry is that it is all handmade by women from impoverished areas around the world and the profits go to these women to empower them and help them provide for their families. Really cool stories you can read about on the website! I don't know the total we have raised from this fundraiser, yet, since it is still open. But I will update soon!

I read a passage in the Bible when we had just begun this journey. Two of the verses stuck out to me: Deuteronomy 1:9, 13 "You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone...choose some wise, understanding, and respected men from each of your tribes and I will set them over you." When I read these verses, I related this to our fundraising...the enormous amount we had to raise is "too heavy a burden" for us to carry alone. I knew that we would need "wise, understanding, and respected men" to help us raise these funds. This truth is unfolding so amazingly, as so many people have stepped up to help us. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts! And most of all, we thank God for working his miracles in our lives!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Puzzle Update- Week 9

So we got a little behind in our puzzle assembly. We have been so blessed with donations pouring in over the past few weeks, we simply could not keep up! Thankfully, over the weekend, we had a little help from Gigi and Pops and were able to catch up! We now have 677 pieces assembled! We are 2/3 of the way finished. Please help us spread the word and continue to add pieces to our puzzle. Each piece is $10 and we will put your name (or whatever name(s) you wish) on the back. You can buy as many pieces as you'd like. When it's finished, we will frame it with double sided glass and hang it in Zack's room, so he can see all the people who helped bring him home!. Here's a picture of our progress!

Home Study- Complete! On To the Next Steps

I just reviewed the draft of our Home Study Report! Our social worker said that it should be finalized by the end of the week! Yipee!

The next step in the process is for us to apply with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), which can take 6-8 weeks to get approval. This part seems to be pretty simple (once you fill out the 16 page application!) While we wait for that approval, we will continue the "paper chase" gathering all of our dossier documents. The good news is that almost all of the documents needed for the dossier have been gathered and notarized, we just need to get them all certified and authenticated, which seems, at the moment, to be a daunting task! Then there are just a few small things that will require a little work on our end that don't have to be notarized like making copies of of our passports, and putting together a couple of family photo pages.

If you're wondering what certification and authentication involves--just about every document in the dossier has to be notarized. Then, each notarized document has to be certified at the state level (the state in which it was issued) and then authenticated at the appropriate Chinese Consulate. There are several Chinese consulates and each state has a designated one. Since we had to order certified copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate (from Alabama-where we were married, Louisiana-where I was born, and Ohio-where Todd was born), we've already sent those documents to the appropriate state for certification. Once we get those back, we will send them to the appropriate Chinese Consulate (LA and AL go to the Houston Consulate and OH goes to the New York Consulate, both of which don't allow you to mail the documents. You have to use a courier service). Here's the daunting part. All of our Tennessee documents not only have to be certified at the state level, but at the county level, as well (TN is one of the states that requires this extra step)--the county where the notary holds their certification. Of course, we ended up with notaries from three different counties we have to receive certification from. From there, we take it to the state, which thankfully, we can just drive everything up to Nashville and take care of in one swoop. Then, Tennessee's assigned consulate is the Chinese Embassy in D.C., which requires each document to be additionally authenticated at the U.S. State Department before going to the Embassy. So, yes, that's FOUR certifications/authentications PER DOCUMENT we have notarized in TN, which if your curious is about 15 separate documents.

Also during this waiting period before we complete our dossier, we will be working on completing the required training, which includes reading three books on adoption (the first one of which has been very good and informative so far) and 12 hours of online training (10 are China specific and 2 are for adopting an "older child").

The great news is that as soon as we can get all of this completed, we can submit our dossier to China because we now have enough money to make the payment that is due with that step!! All praise and glory be to God!! It will all have to be submitted to our social worker no later than the end of July so that it can get to China by August 15th, which is our deadline for holding Zack's file.

Once the dossier is submitted to China, I believe it will be 2-3 months before we travel. Not 100% positive on that timeline, yet.

Many have asked if Zack knows that he's being adopted. At this time, he does not. Once we receive our official referral approval (RA) from China, they will tell him and we will be able (required, in fact) to send him care packages (with photos of our home, family, etc., to help him begin to adjust to the idea of coming home).

Please continue to pray for us during this long journey: For us to persevere through these next steps. For our documents to arrive safely and timely to the designated places and back to us so that we don't lose any documents or have to do any over. For us to continue to be blessed with the funds needed to pay the fees for the future steps. And prayers for Zack, that he is healthy and happy, and has a sense of peace and knowing that he is soon to have a family.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Not Our Story

We have been so incredibly blessed over the last two weeks. If you've been keeping up with our blog, you've probably noticed that our thermometer has jumped $7,000 since the last post, putting us almost at the half-way mark for our just two short months, we've raised a whopping $11,581. Isn't that amazing!?! It's miraculous! God is SO GOOD!! When he wants something to happen, you better believe it's going to happen! Just say "yes" and let him do the rest!

Most of this increase is from a fundraiser that my parents and siblings have decided to hold at their church in Hoover, AL, Prince of Peace Catholic Church (The church we belonged to before we moved. The church where we were married). Dad is making his delicious muffaletta's and his soon to be famous hummus. It's famous in our family already. Best hummus I've ever had. So Todd and I attended all the masses (ehem! FIVE masses) this past weekend. We spoke after each mass to tell "our" story and to kick-off the fundraiser (well, we only ended up getting to speak at four of the masses. We didn't get to speak at the Saturday evening mass. Long story. But four was plenty!) We took pre-orders after each mass. To say it was successful would be an understatement. When we left Sunday night, we had already raised $4100. And they're taking orders next weekend after each mass, too! Boy, my dad's going to be busy cooking in a couple of weeks.

And just in a week's time, another $2500 has come in (a $500 donation from the Knights of Columbus at Prince of Peace, a check for $1000 from a couple who was moved by "our" story at church...complete strangers! Angels, if you ask me, and two $500 checks from family members, angels, also!). After each mass, people came up to us and told us how great "our" story is. It felt a little awkward saying, "thank you". And after I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that the reason is because it's not OUR story. God is the author. He is the one writing this beautiful story. We are simply the main characters; going where he leads. If God is calling you to do something, GO! No excuses. He will provide you with everything you need. He will make miracles happen to show his power. Let him work through you. We are so blessed to have this opportunity and to witness first-hand his almighty power!

"With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20)

"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows me, than I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on Earth, for in these I delight." (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

"But let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord" (2 Corinthians 10:17)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Mayor's Granola Update

So, I mentioned before that Todd's cousin and her kids decided to do a fundraiser for us selling homemade granola. Well, we received the money from the fundraiser last week and they raised $500! We are feeling pretty blessed right now!! God is good! Thanks so much, Josh, Dava, and kids!! We love y'all!!

Art Attic Fundraiser

In the beginning, I had the idea to do a "paint party" night as a fund raiser and asked one of my friends who is an art teacher to teach it. Next, we needed to find a space. I was in the process of trying to get permission to hold it at our church, when I realized I would also need a ton of brushes and easels. So, I thought, "why not contact all the local art studios who hold classes like this and see about borrowing brushes and easels". I sent out emails to several local studios, really not expecting to hear back from anyone. Shannon Haas, from the Art Attic, called me the next day! After talking to her, she agreed to let us use her supplies. She then offered for us to hold the event at her studio and she offered to teach the class! So amazing! Again, I cannot express how grateful we are for Shannon volunteering her time, studio, and supplies and making this such a fun evening for everyone! If you are in the Franklin area, please attend an art class at the Art Attic at some point either for an "after hours" party or for your child's birthday party. She was a wonderful teacher and just an awesome, generous person! Also, please take a minute to "like" her Facebook page, too. I will be going back for sure for a girl's night and once Natalie is old enough, we will have a birthday party there, no doubt! Thanks so much, Shannon!

The Fundraiser was a huge success! We had 17 ladies come out to paint and everyone had a blast! We raised $840! And thanks so much to everyone who came out to paint for supporting our adoption!! It was such a fun night!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Puzzle Update-Week 5

We have sold 197 puzzle pieces! Only 803 more to go! We are so grateful to those who have supported us so far-from family and friends to people we don't even know. Thank you to Cindy Riley and family, Andrea Akridge, Lauren & Joel Nussbaum, Nikki Bullock, Jim Purdue, Amanda Peltz, Theresa & Martin Ellerbrock, Jeff Perrin, Chris & Stacy Barnett, Nick Strickland, Karin Conlon, Brett Byer, Garrett and Julie Rogers, and Sandra Keenan! It's so amazing to see God at work. We love how he is weaving this story into the lives of so many people all over the country. Please continue to pray for us during this journey! We are almost finished with the home study. Just a few more pieces of paperwork to gather! We'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” (Joshua 3:3-4)

It was the Christmas season right before our daughter, Natalie, turned two. She was in awe over the Christmas lights. It was just after Thanksgiving so only a few houses had lights displayed, but she wanted to see more. Christmas lights, in their bright, twinkling fashion, were a new and unfamiliar phenomenon to our little toddler. So exciting, yet with some amount of uncertainty. So my husband told her “keep your eyes peeled.” And she did and would become so excited when she spotted some. And every time, she got in the car, she would request to see Christmas lights and then would say, “I keep my eyes peeled.”

It’s sort of like that when you are on a journey following Christ. In Joshua 3:3-4, Joshua tells the Israelites, as they are about to embark upon their journey into the land the Lord promised them, with some amount of uncertainty and anxiety, ““When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” In other words, “keep your eyes peeled” and the Lord will show you the way.

As we travel along this adoption journey, I have found myself in moments of uncertainty. Are we doing the right thing? Can we really do this? Are we doing all that God wants us to do to show his mighty power? Are we doing enough? But this verse that I read this morning reminds me that if we “keep our eyes peeled”, God will show us the way. We’ve definitely never “been this way before”, so we are relying 100% on God to lead us. And he will show us signs along the way. It may not be as obvious as seeing the arc of the covenant, but if we “keep our eyes peeled” and pay attention, he will show us. Some may be big, obvious signs, but mostly, I believe, it will be through small, subtle signs. Signs that are easy to miss if we’re not paying attention. He will speak to us through his word (which if we’re not reading it, we’ll miss it), through other people, and through the miracles he will demonstrate along the way.

Some of our “arc of the covenant” sightings (aka, God’s signs that we are on the right path) have been:

• Several recent contributions from unexpected (and some unknown) people

• People whom God has placed in our lives recently. One being another family who lives just 15 minutes away from us who is adopting another boy from the same orphanage, one of The Mayor’s friends. I mean, what are the chances? And what a blessing! Another person being Shannon Haas, the local artist who has volunteered her studio and time to help us raise funds, whom we had never even met before.

• And, of course, certain Bible verses that cross my path over and over again, as if God is shouting to me these messages.

And if we keep paying attention and looking to the Lord to guide us, we will “know which way to go” for every step we take.

"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you." (Joshua 3:5)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Poker Night and Art Attic Fundraisers

Poker Night
We held a Poker Night for the guys last week as a fundraiser and next week, we will have our "Ladies' Night" fundraiser. Poker night was a blast! We had 12 guys play and raised $670. Here are some pictures of the guys having fun!

Art Attic Fundraiser
Local artist, Shannon Haas, has so graciously volunteered her time and studio to host a paint class. And 100% of the proceeds will go toward our adoption. The class will be held Thursday, March 12th at 6:30 p.m. at her studio, The Art Attic, in downtown Franklin. If you live in the Franklin/Nashville area, we'd love to see you there! The cost is $40. Heavy hors devours will be served. BYOB. Space is limited, so RSVP soon! You can comment below to RSVP.

We will painting a 12 X 12 of this beautiful bird's nest!

Check out Shannon's website at and the Art Attic at

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tax-Deductible Donations

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, you may do so by visiting the America World Eternal Family Program page. You can donate to America World by check or credit card. If you donate by check, there is a form to complete and mail with your check, which can be downloaded from their website. For the designated family, put "Todd and Tara Roof". Please note, they do take 5% of your donation to go toward processing fees. Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers. Prayers are much needed right now!

Puzzle Update

The puzzle continues to grow! And we continue to feel blessed! We have almost completed the border of the puzzle. Just 21 more pieces to go! Thanks so much to our Aunt Theresa and Uncle Martin, Jim Purdue, and Amanda Peltz for purchasing puzzle pieces this week.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Mayor's Granola

I received an email earlier in the week from Todd's cousin's wife in Indiana and she told me that they had just read our blog and decided to do a fundraiser for our adoption. They were busy all last weekend making homemade granola and granola bars that they titled "The Mayor's Granola" and selling it to their neighbors and family. Their children helped make and sell it too! And their oldest son even pitched in some money from his piggy bank! How amazingly sweet!! We were completely moved and humbled by their generosity! She sent me these pictures (I okay-ed it with her to share here).

Thank you so much, Josh, Dava, Simeon, Kaya, and Theo for all of your effort to help us bring "The Mayor" home!!

Puzzle Update

57 more puzzle pieces sold this week! Thanks so much to the following families for your support: Cindy and Kevin Riley, Jennifer Knox, Nikki Bullock, Luke and Christine Ellerbrock, Josh and Dava Brown, Andrea Akeridge, and Lauren and Joel Nussbaum! We are so grateful for your generosity! As you can see the puzzle is coming along.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Puzzle is Off To a Good Start!

As of Sunday night, 40 puzzle pieces have been purchased! Here's what it looks like so far! We're off to a good start! We want to thank the following families for purchasing pieces: The Dodsons, The Rushings, The Prestridges, The Chad Kidd family, The Brian Kidd family, Brandon Nussbaum, The Kincaids, and The Tompkins! Your names have already been added to the backs of your pieces. Thank you for your support!!

Each Sunday, we will add pieces to the puzzle for those that have been purchased that week. My plan is to post a picture each week. Please share this information with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, as we still have a long way to go to get to 1000 pieces!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Anxiety Sets In

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Round one of paperwork came through my inbox earlier this week-the referral acceptance paperwork. This is usually comes later in the game, but because we already have a child identified we are getting this paperwork before we’ve even been officially accepted into the program. I began to feel a little anxious, mainly because I didn’t have a clear picture of how this was all supposed to go. I am a planner and need to know what to expect each step, preferably a nice little time line. I can do this… a little bit at a time…I thought. (Ha! In hindsight, “I” cannot do this, but I know God can!)

But then, yesterday our official “you’ve been accepted into the China program” paperwork came through and a few minutes later the “let’s begin your home study paperwork” came through. I printed 100 pages off easily. 100 pages! Seriously! I sorted through it all, making sure I had all the attachments that were listed in the email, and organized it into stacks. Then began to read through the material. One document gave us a nice little overview of the process, with a handy little flowchart, which made me happy. I love a visual! But as I looked at each phase (there are 5 main phases) and the hefty fees that are due at each phase, I realized that we have almost completed phase four (the referral phase) and have just started phase one (the “Begin the process” phase). And the fees, oh my, the fees! I started to panic a little, I could feel the anxiety swelling inside of me. How are we going to raise this money this quickly??

After talking on the phone to the social worker who will be completing our home study yesterday, I asked her “What’s the fastest we could possibly bring “The Mayor” home?” Her answer was, of course, a ballpark, but she said realistically, depending on how quickly we get the home study and dossier completed, it could be six months. Six months!?! That’s like in…well…six months! That’s not very long to raise the money. Thoughts started swirling in my mind…I need a timeline, I need an action plan, I need to figure out when and how we need to raise the money, I need deadlines! SLOW DOWN! We don’t HAVE to make it happen this quickly! This is really happening! This is REAL, y’all! I tried to slow my mind and give my worry and anxiety to God. I know that this anxiety and worry comes from Satan. He wants to derail us. He wants to make us quit. He doesn’t want us to complete God’s work and purpose. He wants to make us doubt God. But, we know this, so that’s not going to happen!

I slept restlessly last night, despite me telling myself this. I had the first stress dream of I’m sure many to come. I woke up with anxiety in my heart! Then I checked my email this morning…my daily devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries (If you don’t subscribe to this, I highly recommend it), entitled “How do I Stop Worrying”. Isn’t it amazing how the Lord speaks to us and the avenues he uses to make that happen? The key verse was Philippians 4: 6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” How I needed to hear that this morning. I closed my eyes and prayed “Thank you, Lord, for the gifts you’ve given us, for the miracles you’ve already made happen along this journey, and for the people in our lives and the support and prayers that we have already experienced. I pray that you show us the plans we need to make for fundraising and direct our steps every second of the way. I know that this is your calling and your will and I know that you’ve got this! I know that you will make miracles happen and we will raise the money needed and complete the paperwork all in your perfect timing. Amen.” And then…peace.

So here we are. We are in the works completing phase one and four, simultaneously. We are going to compete the agreement paperwork for AWAA (Which, by the way, I don’t think I mentioned before, but the agency we are using is America World Adoption Agency, aka AWAA, AW, or America World) and get that returned early next week. And we have our first home study interview scheduled for February 9th, so we will begin working on that paperwork soon. And we will take it one step at a time. Prayers, at this point, are much needed, for us to focus and trust and rely on God and his perfect timing, for miracles in fundraising so that we have the needed fees for the next phase. Thanks for your prayers and thanks for your support!

For those of you who are curious…here are the phases:

1.) Begin the process- complete agreement paperwork and begin the home study. Once the home study is finalized we apply with USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services) and wait for their approval, which can take 6-8 weeks.

2.) Dossier building- Ideally we work on this while waiting for approval from the USCIS and submit the Dossier to China as soon as that comes through. And some of this is duplicate information from the home study. The dossier is a compilation of paperwork that represents our family to the CCCWA (Chinese Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption), who will review the documents and approve us (or not) for the adoption. It typically takes 4-8 months from application to Dossier submission. Once China receives our paperwork, we then have a “Log in Date” (LID), which is what you would need to review children who are not on the “Waiting Child” list.

3.) Waiting- which is the phase you enter when waiting for a referral, which could take anywhere from months to years. We will skip this phase, since we already have identified our child.

4.) Referral phase- This is the phase we’ve almost completed. This is where you get child’s file to review, take to a medical professional for review and consult and then complete the “acceptance paperwork” to send in for “Electronic Acceptance” (EA), then all documents have to be submitted, I believe, again by in hard copies (?) for the official “RA” (referral acceptance). Not exactly clear on this phase, just working on the EA paperwork at the moment, which can’t be officially sent in until we have a completed and approved home study. Once this paperwork is submitted and we have our EA, we have 6 months to submit our dossier or we lose our referral, our “Mayor.”

5.) Travel phase- complete travel preparation and spend approximately two weeks in China completing paperwork for the adoption finalization.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Psalm 119:45 “And I will walk at liberty and ease, for I have sought and inquired for Your precepts.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Won't You Be a Part of Our Journey?

We want to invite you to be a part of our journey. To help bring Zack home. To be like Jesus to the least of these. There are many ways you can be a part of this journey, including prayers, supporting our fundraising efforts, sharing our story, and financial contribution. '

It’s no secret that international adoption is very expensive. It is not “buying a child” and I don’t believe others are actually profiting from the fees. The fees go toward paying those people who are working hard to manage the paperwork, navigate the system, making sure that the children being adopted are legally up for adoption and that the families and children are safe while traveling. The fees also include travel expenses covering a two-week stay in China with a 24-7 in-country guide/interpreter to ensure the safety and well-being of the families and children. The total cost is estimated to be somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000, probably on the lower end because Zack is a “special focus” child and the adoption can happen pretty quickly. Depending on how fast we gather our documents, complete the paperwork, and of course make the payments that are due at various phases of the process, we could possibly bring him home in 2015. With that said, it’s going to take a miracle to raise this much money in such a short period of time. Mountains will need to be moved! We have made adjustments to our household budget and plan on saving every extra dime to put toward this adoption and we will be applying for grants, but the reality is that we will have to raise most of the money through fundraising. We need your help! And we need your prayers! There is no doubt in our minds that we will raise this money. We believe that when God calls you to live out his purpose, he makes miracles happen. We have witnessed these miracles time and time again in our lives. We’ve already experienced our first financial miracle on this journey. The first, we know, of many to come. You need at least $5000 just to begin the process, which of course we didn’t have just lying around. However, after meeting with our CPA a couple of weeks ago, we got some very good news—we owed significantly less for our January quarterly estimated tax payment than we had saved for. So, we had enough money to begin the process. Praise the Lord! We've officially applied, reviewed Zack's file with a medical professional, and we are accepting the referral. Next step is to begin the home study. We'll keep you posted as we progress along.

If you would like to help and be a part of this journey and a part of Zack’s story, there are several ways you can do this.

1.) Prayers. Lots and lots of prayers!

2.) We are kicking off our first fundraiser-a puzzle piece fundraiser. It is the largest fundraiser we will be doing and will be ongoing until we travel to China to bring Zack home. Read about it below.

3.) We will also be selling various handmade items as ongoing fundraisers. Consider purchasing one of the items and/or spreading the word to help us sell the items. Details to come very soon!

4.) We will be holding at least one garage sale to raise money for the adoption. The date is to be determined. If you are cleaning out your closets and getting rid of anything, especially larger items (furniture, electronics, exercise equipment, etc.) please consider donating the items to our garage sale. If you don’t live near us, consider holding your own garage sale or list the items on craigslist or eBay to raise funds for our adoption. Email me if you have something to you’d like to donate.

5.) We will likely be holding other events to raise funds throughout the year and will inform you of these events as they are being planned. You can support the events by sharing the information with others or by helping with the event in some way.

6.) Consider hosting a fundraising event at your church, work, or in your community to help us raise money or if you have a talent, such as photography, baking, or crafting, consider selling your goods or services to donate a portion toward our adoption.

7.) And last but not least, share our story with everyone you know! You never know who might feel compelled to help us provide Zack with a family.

Puzzle Piece Fundraiser
The first and largest fundraiser we want to share with you is our Puzzle Piece fundraiser. Every person who donates to our adoption becomes a part of our story; a piece of our puzzle. Here’s how it works:

We have purchased a 1000-piece puzzle (We were looking for a 500 piece puzzle, but the one I loved had 1000 pieces) Here it is below. Isn’t it beautiful?

Each piece costs $10. You can purchase one piece or multiple pieces. Maybe your small group, book club, co-workers, etc. want to chip in a dollar or two and purchase a puzzle piece together. Or maybe each one of you wants to buy a puzzle piece on your own. For every piece purchased, we will write your name on the back. The goal is to get all 1000 pieces purchased so the puzzle will be complete and we'll be $10,000 closer to raising the money we need to complete our adoption.

This isn’t going to be easy! 1000 pieces is A LOT of pieces. We won't get all 1000 pieces purchased unless the word gets out! So please help us by sharing this with friends and family. Share via email or Facebook or any other social media outlet.

When the puzzle is all put together, we will frame it in a double-sided glass frame and hang it in “The Mayor’s” bedroom. And one day, we will take it off the wall and read to him all the names on the back and tell him how God’s love was shown through all of YOU who gave so generously to help bring him home to live with his forever family!
We’ll post pictures as the puzzle comes together so you can see how this beautiful story unfolds.

To purchase a puzzle piece and become a piece of our puzzle, you can email me at Let me know how many pieces you would like to sponsor and the names for each. You can then mail us a check or donate using the PayPal button on the right hand side of this blog. Please note that there is a 2.9% + $.30 service fee that is taken out of each donation when you donate through PayPal.

Also, very soon, we will have an option to make your payment through America World’s Eternal Family program so that your donation can be tax deductible.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, January 16, 2015

Adoption Journey...Round Two

So we are officially making the announcement that we are beginning our second adoption journey! After visiting an orphanage in China in November, Todd and I will be adoption internationally! Jump over to my blog post on to read the story of our decision if you haven't already. And my apologies to those of you who were following along with our first adoption story. I just realized I never actually finished the story. The last post, ironically, was on the day Natalie was born. We received THE phone call on January 2nd and Natalie was placed in our arms the next day. Our lives were forever changed. I guess in the whirlwind of getting a baby so quickly and unexpectedly, I forgot to actually blog about it! Here we are three years later...and the journey is beginning again.