Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Love Endlessly the Sterling Silver Necklace!




I couldn't be more excited!!!
I'm absolutely bursting with JOY to show you what we've been working on for several months behind the scenes!

If you remember, we were frantically working on fundraising for Esty's adoption...and I got this crazy, nutso idea to PAINT CANVASES to auction off as a fundraiser.

I was scared.

I'd never done that before.

But I stepped forward in fear and trembling and painted. The auction?  

It totally blew me away. We made more money than I could have ever imagined off 20 paintings.

If that didn't shock me, what happened next certainly did. 

One particular painting, Love endlessly, went crazy. As people bid on it, they asked for t shirts of it. Those went into a 3rd printing for Valentine's day last year. Then, at the prompting of a sweet friend, we had blank notecards created to fundraise for Gable.

And THAT has gone amazingly well...being for sale in a local floral shop as well as a bakery taking it and creating AWESOME bundles with her baked creations...all to help bring our Gable home. (And a fabulous local shipping company is donating their services to make shipping these bundles around the country possible too!) WOW!!! We are so stinking blessed. Thank You, sweet Lord.

And now, my dear friend who owns Mountain Girl Silver (we've never met in person, but when a woman has 10 baby name disks...you start to stand out as a customer! ;)) has done something else absolutely astonishing.

I asked her if she would be interested in using the wording "love endlessly" for a pendant that we could fundraise with. Her answer blew me completely away.

Listen to this: she requested vector art of the original painting and asked if she could take it to HER art department and to create a CUSTOM stamp from my design. She paid for this entirely. Otherwise, there would be no possible way to have that handwritten cursive "endlessly" stamped into silver. Then, she pitched an idea back to me...

Let's use these awesome necklaces not only to fundraise for Gable...but let's create a permanent part of Mountain Girl Silver where we use this design to help fundraise for OTHER adoptive families working to bring their children home. (More about this program to come!) *giggle*

I. Was. Speechless.

And then, I cried.

(I think often how MUCH I would have missed out on if I had shied away from that first painting auction!)

So as it stands tonight (launch day!) you can purchase these AWESOME necklaces of love endlessly directly from my blog.  Click here!! After the final page is ready over at MGS, you can purchase directly from there. 

Just a note about her products: they are TOP NOTCH. That's why I went to her. I have loved her work for years and years. All of her pieces are solid sterling silver. Her chains are incredibly strong and she is top quality. So these are individually hand stamped on her "La Vintage" pendant and if you buy BEFORE FRIDAY February 6, 2015 you will receive yours in time for Valentine's Day! :)

So, sweet ones, if you want to help Gable home (and dudes...we are MEDICALLY EXPEDITING HIM HOME SOON) then order yourself or your loved ones a necklace!!! You will be part of something BIG!!!

Love endlessly,

Amy



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Friday, January 30, 2015

Downshifting.



A car that is driving at highway speeds has two options when it comes to slow down for a stop:

a) The brake can be applied;

b) If the car is manual, the driver can take the transmission slowly from 5th gear, to 4th gear, to 3rd gear and so forth. The car will slow.

Now in the event of an emergency, there is only ONE option: the brake!

I must admit it, I've been living my life at BREAKNECK speeds. For years. And honestly, I thought nothing of it. However the toll of those years of self propelled velocity have taken their toll. My body crashes HARD when the stomach bug visits our home...because I have no reserve. 

I've burned all reserves up in daily life.

I've burned the candle at both ends...getting up early for a quiet devotional time followed by a workout, shower and then getting the kids up and out the door for school. I've stayed up getting all the kids in bed, attempting to have time with my husband at the end of the day and practically pass out as my head hits the pillow. And the in-between time? I've been rushed, harried and driving myself to do more more more more.

I honestly I thought I was making Him pleased by all I was accomplishing each and every day. And they ARE good things. So I was pretty surprised when I heard God tell me to SLOW DOWN.

But it truly confounded me, He was telling me to cool my jets.

In the past year, I've experienced two deep melt downs. Deep. They frightened me. I shared with a friend about them and she was warm and embracing. She had actually walked this path before and she has been advising me. She shared that God told her, "slow down or you'll be dead in a year." 

YIKES!!! That was a bit alarming!

She has proven to be a fabulous guide for me in this endeavor.

My friend wrote this amazing article called Sabbath in a Fallow Field, and I strongly encourage you to read it. She shares how God instructed her to peel back 75% of her activity and merely do the 25% left.

Honestly, it totally scared me. What might be left if I were to peel back THAT MUCH of my activity??? Is it even humanly possible with 7-almost 8- kids???

I came to realize that her percentages were not necessarily mine. God is telling me to downshift my life. To do less, to slow down. To listen more, to meditate, to bring back communing prayer.

I obediently deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone. Guess what I found? I spent that same time I used to do posting pictures and scrolling...looking at decorating ideas on Houzz. 

I began to sense a problem.

My issue isn't too much activity. It's a harried heart. My spirit is trying to chase things that will not satisfy.

And guess what? Those new hours I spent on Houzz while I waited for a doctor to arrive for one of the kid's appointments...began to grow something new in me. And it wasn't pretty: discontent.

I began to look at my stuff with greedy eyes. I wanted to change things. I wanted to update things. 

Again, the Sweet Spirit of the Lord spoke to me, "that is NOT what you want...you want Me."

I remember back to a time when I had a most vibrant experience with Him. I had only 3 children then and woke up at a shocking hour to pray each day for upwards of 2 hours. It was not a burden or a "have to" it was a true DELIGHT. I missed that.

I am not sure what happened, and I won't waste time trying to understand. We know we have an enemy...and he does NOT want us close to God's heart. I can say that after our son Oskar died so suddenly, our lives were radically turned upside down and we moved to our current location and began serial adopting. (Hahahaha, but you KNOW I'm calling it straight!)

I have begun to recover an inner prayer dialogue with my Savior that has been so sweet. A closeness that truly was impacted by the Ice Pillars that He hung over our house. Do ask me about this experience in person, I doubt I'll be able to do it justice in written words!! IT WAS AMAZING!!!!

I asked him to guide me in what to study during this time and here is what He has put together for me so far:
Hearing God by Dallas Willard;
Found by Micha Boyett;
A study with a group of women called Chase by Jennie Allen;
and something I've just begun this week: Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

This has done wonders for me learning to downshift to a slower pace. I am still moving forward, yet not over scheduling, not saying yes to too many good things, not scrolling like a mad woman on my smart phone and even NOT setting goals for the New Year. I am continuing to tune my heart to my Lord and hear what it is HE wants me to do each day. 

Often, I am shocked. He doesn't seem to care very much about the laundry, the dust bunnies or the clutter.

He cares about my heart.

Do you need to downshift? What will this look like for you?


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Love Endlessly Notecards...Bringing Gable Home!




These are busy days as we all prepare for the holidays. It's a challenge to hold our to do lists at bay in order to quiet our hearts to prepare for the season, don't you think? I find my mind filled up (especially as I'm trying to sleep at night!) with ways to earn funds to bring Gable home.

I'm so thrilled to say that our Mercy shirts for Gable were very well received and we sold 80 shirts with 101 former orphans listed on the back of them! So happy! Can't wait to see all those names on the back! GOD IS SO GOOD!

I had a wonderful event at the Burr House...a local open house where I took art and other crafts and sold them for Gable's adoption. I  was able to earn another $700+ for sweet boy's adoption fund! WOO HOOOOOOO!!

I'm so excited to share with you yet another product for you to help earn funds for Gable's adoption.

Remember that Love endlessly painting I made for Esty's adoption auction? Well...we now have it in notecards!


These are excellent quality, printed on heavy card stock and ready for you to write your own personal message to whomever you choose! 


Remember the thrill of getting an actual LETTER in the mail?? You can give this joy to others now...on the Love endlessly cards! And you can feel like a rock star because your purchase helps bring sweet Gable home so we can love on him endlessly!


Packs of notecards and white envelopes are NOW FOR SALE!! You can order these using the "SHOP" tab above or by clicking HERE. Each 8-pack sells for $15. You can also pick up cards at The Weeping Willow florist in Pettisville, if you are local.

These are perfect gifts for teachers, post carriers, hair dressers or any one you need a small gift for!

Thank you so much for supporting sweet Gable!



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Saturday, November 22, 2014

First Fundraiser for Gable--Mercy Shirts!!!!

Hey EVERYONE!!

I'm bursting at the seams with excitement to roll out our new fundraiser shirts!!


Read more about this design below.


WHY in the world are we doing this AGAIN????


He is why.

{Oh my heart.}

We need to get Gable home so we can properly care for his cancer. (Hepatoblastoma.)

And to love on him silly.

Oh those chubby cheeks!!

This design is something I created over the course of a few days (with some awesome feedback from a few of my peeps!) based on an image I saw in my mind from Hosea 14:3, "In You, O Lord, the orphan finds mercy." The silhouette is specifically God the Father holding our little Gable...safe and sound in His arms of love...but it is to represent the loving care He gives to EACH of our children.

And all of us who have adopted these precious treasures formerly known as "orphans" KNOW what a blessing it is that the Father has mercy on them (and us) and unites us together in heart.

What is going to make this Tshirt/hoodie EXTRA SPECIAL is that it's going to have names of YOUR beloved children on the back! What?? That's right! ALL of our precious kiddos get listed on the back en masse as orphans who've been shown mercy from our gracious God.
This is an example of what our shirt will look like with YOUR children's names on the back!

Yay!!!

The back space is going to be limited, so this will be open for your submissions and T shirt and hoodie orders only for TWO WEEKS. We want to get right on printing and shipping these out to you so you'll have them in plenty of time for Christmas giving! Cut off date for orders will be DECEMBER 7, 2014.

Order using the tab at the top "Mercy Shirts for Gable" or click HERE.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Older Child Adoption is So Hard


Jesus is the Light, our Hope
Older child adoption is a beautiful thing...but at the same time it's a deeply hard thing.

And when the face of the child is SO beautiful, SO smiley, NO ONE CAN IMAGINE that it's not all sunny and rosy all the time.

But it's not.

Plain and simple.

When you've fended for yourself for ten long years, in an institutional environment, you learn to survive.

And those skills? They were reinforced again and again in her previous life. They are what made her STAY ALIVE.

You have your life whirl-winded off to another land, another culture, language...you wear different clothes, eat different foods, go by a different name, begin new things like walking, school and self care...

but the old habits are still lying underneath. Ready to rear their ugly heads.

Ready to be employed when deep emotions start to surface.

They worked before! They will work again!

But, well, not so much.

Not here. Not in a family.

My sweet friend sent me a message today. Her perspective on parenting and WHY this might be so hard:

Deeply praying for you all during what looks like a potentially long hard road with her. It's obviously a heart issue...and she's had less than one year of her 11 years of ANYONE teaching her what that even means. You're stuck/privileged (depends on the day how you see it, I'm sure) with having to make up for 10+ years of no one teaching her right and wrong and positive vs negative attention and lying and how to be in a family and the list of what we teach our kids is soooooo long!!! It's hard enough when we get to start from the beginning of their lives!
Praying for wisdom and endurance and extra measures of grace for you to give to her, and a softening and opening of her heart to all you've been trying to teach her in these last 10 months!

And isn't that the truth? It's HARD when we start with our children at birth! Let alone massive trauma at the front end! And don't forget to factor in atrocities suffered in the years while waiting for a family. How could we think that we can teach her what she needs in a few months?

We don't. But, on a daily practical basis, we expect things from her to keep our family functioning...afterall she's CAPABLE, but then again...she's not because of so many, many factors.

Older child adoption is hard because we are starting past the middle! We've lost formative years, laying groundwork and building trust. Trying to go backward to fit it in doesn't work because there are paradigms pre-existing in those places in her brain...and they were critical to her survival. I can't in one word, one week, one month, one year say ANYTHING to debunk them. 

It's a slow, plodding work.

Times like these I see the inside out yuck of my own black heart and sit in awed wonder at the grace God has on ME.

Please pray for Esty. Pray for us as her parents. Pray for her siblings. These things affect us all, wear on us all and we need to remember that we are called to this, no matter what.  (This is why adoption is intense ministry!)

We must cling to the hope of Christ in it all.


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Then and Now…the Difference a Year Makes!!



Around this time last year, I was madly fundraising and sharing this picture of Esty turning TEN years old…alone, in an orphanage.
Then...and now!

This morning, I had the thrill of surprising her at school with balloons, her favorite cookies, a party hat and a birthday sash! Tomorrow is her actual birthday, but we did a party in her class as a surprise!

And oh my...

WHAT. A. DIFFERENCE. 

One year.

What can be accomplished in the course of a year by a MIGHTY GOD?

He raised 100% of the funds necessary for us to adopt Esty. (Another MASSIVE thank you to every one of you who helped!!!)

He allowed us to get to her in the NICK OF TIME as she was severely ill and went septic the same week we got her out of her orphanage.

He allowed us to find good healthcare in China and provided the antibiotics necessary to save her life.

He brought us home safely, in spite of nasty winter weather.

He has cemented our family together at the heart. This has not been without struggles as older children who are adopted do struggle. But we are a family who embraces one another fully, with great thankfulness to the God who has done it.

He has provided for the hundreds of hours we have spent at doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals in every way: financially, childcare, transportation, emotional and physical strength.

He has healed Esty of some massive things that have been going wrong with her body for a long time.

Esty has become a champion at all her personal care. (This is a HUGE ONE!) 

She is no longer relinquished to the corner and sitting in a wheelchair. She is walking with AFO's (ankle-foot-orthotics) and quad canes! She is riding a bicycle! 

She can put on and take off her massive TLSO (thoracic-lumbar-sacral-orthotic) (back brace!) by herself. And she never has ONCE complained about it. She wears it 20 hours daily.

God has opened her mind to receive a new language…Esty now speaks English nearly 98% of the time. (And I constantly pray that she maintains some of her Mandarin!)

God has taught her what unconditional love feels like. He has used us in this process. It has been hard, as we are so fallen, but He has done it in spite of us.

He has given her laughter. Hearing her laugh, knowing she is safe and that her future has begun is a most amazing and rewarding thing.

And so tomorrow, we celebrate our dear gift named Esty! We can't wait!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Gable's Story…from Another Perspective


We all love a good story…and today I'm going to give you a unique opportunity to observe the adoption of Gable from another angle…my new friend Mimi's.

Who is Mimi? She's a rockstar, Jesus-loving, momma to 11 children. She has adopted some, given birth to others and is a beautiful testimony of walking with God through the hard very hard things.

She's also the momma I was connected with to learn about Gable's special need: hepatoblastoma.

Cuz I had NO CLUE what that meant. (other than "scary cancer.")

Why is Mimi an "expert-in-residence" you may ask? Because her own sweet son has this very same cancer. (Above is a picture of Mimi holding sweet baby Asa.) I received Mimi's name and contact information within 48 hours of learning about Gable. 

But read on to find out JUST HOW EXCEPTIONAL it is that we were connected!

Here's what Mimi blogged on her blog just yesterday:

I haven’t mentioned it here, but a funny little blip came across my radar two months ago.  At that point, we were truly just holding our nose above the drowning waters, knowing we were past the big waves. I got a random message from someone I know very loosely.  She knew Asa had liver cancer and asked if I would be willing to offer counsel to a family who was considering adoption of a child with liver cancer. Easy answer.  But, of course.  And I sat back and began to watch God show off.

Two years ago, not too long before Asa came along, a little boy was born to a Chinese couple, a little boy with a big liver tumor that made his belly stick out like Asa’s did.  And the same couple, I’m sure distraught with the one child policy and the thought of their only heir being imperfect, sickly, left that babe at a hospital.  Diagnosis: hepatoblastoma, the one in a million kid cancer that Asa had, the one that Texas Children’s, one of the few hospitals in the states that treats this cancer, only sees 10 cases a year from all over the southern US. But what happens next is entirely strange.  Instead of getting pitiful orphan care, this Chinese boy got top-notch, cutting-edge medical treatment.  He was stabilized, whisked in and treated with chemo-embolization – chemo straight to his liver and he went through exactly what Asa went through, the horrid secondary effects of sloughing off tumor, called tumor lysis, and he victory of all victories, survived.  It was a long hard road, but it appears, as it does with Asa, no more cancer.  He was put in an orphanage, group type home and he thrived, but no one adopted him, because that big C word, it’s scarier than a lot of more obvious physical disabilities.

But along comes a family, a family who has experienced their own loss, a family who just so happens to speak Mandarin, but God has yanked them up and dumped them in the rural central US, filled their home with a few other physical disabilities, and left them, left them a few hours from the other major hospital in the US that deals with this one in a million chance cancer.  Their house is full, very full, but along their radar comes a smiling face, a familiar face, because dark eyes and round faces are still on their hearts, and a boy named Jun Jun captures them.

And then I was called for counsel.  What is hepatoblastoma?  What does this mean?  Do you understand these medical records?  I was called, the parent of a child treated not only for this cancer, but with chemo-embolization, not a standard procedure in children in the US for this cancer.  Tony and I may be the only parents in the US at this time that would have that experiential knowledge regarding a child. Explain that. You can’t.  But God.


The story departs to a weird, seemingly diverted path at this point.  After all the discussion, the couple who inquired suddenly decided that they weren’t so sure that God was calling them to this child and went to prayer and as back up, they held their arms out and handed Jun Jun to us, the only other couple without gross fear of his condition.  And we were left for a week or so to wrestle in prayer for this boy, and wrestle with the fact that we are a bit older than this couple.  During that week, God turned the world upside down on behalf of this boy.  People began offering this other couple serious money for adoption expenses, expenses on an adoption they weren’t even decided upon, an adoption they hadn’t even announced.  Someone offered to take their special needs kids while they went to back and forth to China – twice.  After this and prayer, it became abundantly clear where Jun Jun was supposed to be.  And after jumping a few more hurdles, last week Jun Jun was cleared by China to be adopted by this family.

And today I sat in church and listened to a man speak about God’s heart for the widow and the orphan and I was again reminded through another story that God truly moves mountains upon their behalf and again, I saw God weave deep redemption from suffering. Dark doesn’t win.  Light does, no morbid second act where all goes wrong.  Great joy! The end game is settled. 



Did you catch that??? There was SO MUCH in what Mimi wrote…let me lay it out so you can marvel over what our MIGHTY GOD has DONE!

* Gable, an orphan, has received TOP NOTCH cancer treatments in China. Amazing. What he has had done is considered experimental in the United States. (Incidentally, he's also had a successful liver resection meaning he will not need a transplant and run the risk of his body rejecting it or being on anti-rejection drugs for his life.)

* We live just 5 hours from one of the two BEST hospitals for treating hepatoblastoma. And we already take Esty there.

* Mimi is a parent of a son who is STILL going through treatment for his hepatoblastoma. After the icky cancer treatments failed him, he was given the kind of chemotherapy that Gable had as a last resort. It is working, but it is UNBELIEVABLY RARE that I would be connected with a parent in the States who has had experience with this type of treatment. (And she loves Jesus!) At one point along the way, she asked me if I had any clue how crazy it was that I was able to talk with her about all of this. I didn't…"was it rare?" I asked. She answered, "BEYOND RARE!!" Yep. That's God at work!

* Mimi was along for the ride while Brian and I wrestled in prayer about actually adopting again. (Oh we were SO DONE. We are so busy. So overwhelmed. So spent. BUT GOD.) She was able to cheer alongside, pray alongside and root for us as we sought to say YES to God. 

* We were promised finances to bring Gable home before we ever said yes to his adoption. That has NEVER happened before!

* We have precious people who are asking us if they can stay with our children when we travel to bring him home. (As a momma, this is one of the big concerns when adopting internationally…and God has taken care of this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.)

I thought you might enjoy hearing a little bit of the back story to how we arrived at our decision to adopt Gable…from that unique perspective that Mimi has shared.

Following God continues to prove to be a wild adventure and it is SO MUCH FUN to see how His hand weaves all the millions of details together for our good.

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