Sunday, August 16, 2015

Blessings Abound

It has now been nearly three weeks since we began our fundraising journey.

I have been so amazed at the caring, kindness, and generosity we have been shown by friends, family, neighbors, and even a few strangers these past few weeks.

While our fundraising mission has only just begun, I am so encouraged and energized by how many people have offered us their time, their pop cans, trailers, tables, clothing racks, prayers, facebook shares, and more.

I've been putting at least a couple of hours in each night into this process, but I can see the first fruits of my labor already,  which is so encouraging!  Back when I was sitting in the movie theater in March hearing God's calling  that now is the time for us to take action, I just couldn't push aside the fear, the doubt, and the worry about finances.  And of course with every "But God..." protest, I was met with the answer of "TRUST ME." I had no other choice but to do just that... We dived into this journey feet first, knowing that in order to see this mission through, we would have to rely on the help of others.

Fundraising in and of itself is a very humbling process. Asking other people, especially strangers, to give of their time, money, or resources is never a comfortable process. Fundraising for yourself is even more humbling than I had imagined it would be.  I had so many reservations about asking others for help, but knew  that I wasn't asking on my own behalf, but rather on behalf of an orphaned child who deserves a loving home and a forever family.  That fact alone doesn't mean that it's really any easier to ask people for their money, time, or support, but it does remind me that I'm not asking out of my own selfish desires.

As my last post mentioned, we kicked off a T-Shirt sale which ends tomorrow.  I had no idea what to expect with this venture, but since it was a zero-investment effort, I figured it would be worth giving a try (not to mention I just really wanted some shirts to wear to help us spread the message about our journey!).
In hindsight, it was totally worth doing, even though it has amounted to about 1 hour of my time every day for the past three weeks.  There are certainly faster, easier ways to raise money, but what I love about the t-shirt sale is that when it's all said and done we'll be able to see so many others wear a shirt that I designed, and then hopefully show pictures of all these loving friends and family to our adopted child.  I'm hoping that by the time the sale ends, we will have made almost $500 profit from the sale... not a huge amount of money, but every little bit helps!

Another thing I've been pouring my time into is gearing up for a Yard Sale Fundraiser event.  We will combine the yard sale with a bake sale and popcan drive.  I've got a HUGE banner coming from one of the Facebook groups I belong to, it's been making it's way around the country to adoptive families for use... what a wonderful "pay it forward" idea!  I've been spreading the word on Facebook, and also made flyers that I've been passing out around our neighborhood.  A few neighbors had sales this weekend, and generously offered to pass out flyers at their sale for me (I hesitate going door to door handing them out as we've had a few suspicious individuals knocking on doors lately and it's go the neighborhood a bit on edge).  So far I've had one person drop off pop cans, another friend drop of items, and a large number of people tell me they are looking forward to helping us out on that day and are saving up items for us!  I feel so very loved and honored to know so many wonderful people.

Here are just a few of the crazy blessings we've experienced in the past few weeks:

-One neighbor whom we've never met dropped off three huge bags of pop cans within minutes of me posting in the neighborhood group about our fundraiser
-Another "stranger neighbor" (someone from my neighborhood association Facebook group that I've never met) is letting us borrow 4 clothing racks and 10 tables for our sale
-A random stranger from one of the adoption groups I belong to on Facebook was having trouble ordering a shirt so she sent me all of her personal information and credit card number so that I could get one ordered for her! wow!  I felt so humbled that a total stranger would entrust me with that information!
-Another "stranger neighbor" got my email address from our yard sale flyer that I post and then blessed us with a $50 paypal donation

And the kindness continues on a daily basis...  God is certainly proving his point that if we trust in His Goodness and Faithfulness, he will provide the way for us to bring our child home.

We are so thankful that we chose this neighborhood to move into last year... it is such a family-friendly place to be, and has a big, beautiful park right in the middle of the neighborhood that we cannot WAIT to introduce our child to! As much as I'm trying not to get my hopes up for anything to happen shy of 18 months, I would really love to bring home our child next summer.

Another thing I'm so thankful for is having found a great church to call home.  While we haven't been able to get into a solid routine of weekly attendance this summer due to being out of town so often, it has become so apparent to us what a close-knit "family" this church body is, and we cannot wait to become more involved. (If you are looking for a great church and are in the Grand Rapids, MI area, you should check out Madison North too)
Today's message was based on John 15:5   "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

What an appropriate message for this season of our lives!   It is so true that apart from God's help, we certainly could not accomplish this mission on our own accord.  This journey is going to be long, exhausting, emotional, expensive, and at times, discouraging.  But we can rest in the confidence and assuredness that God will see us through, and He will provide for all of our needs along the way.
Today the speaker told a story about a clematis vine, and how it will attach to anything it can find.  In his case, they had one which had no trellis to climb, so it had began wrapping itself around tulip stems.  Of course the tulips died off, and the vine had nothing to "climb" and ended up right back on the ground.  They ended up clipping out the dead tulip stems and pulling them out of the grasp of the vine before finding something more sturdy to lean the vine on.

How often do we wrap ourselves around things that fade away, only to find ourselves right  back on the ground, rather than growing Up and Outward as we were meant to do?  I know I've caught myself clinging to my spouse, my career, my friendships, my education, and so many other things in my life for meaning and fulfillment, only to find my heart still empty and yearning for more.  Until we wrap ourselves around the never-ending love and support of our Savior we will continue to fall down, ceasing to grow in the way that we were intended to.

And so we will strive to abide in the Lord, and trust that he will deliver us through this journey.
 This isn't an attitude of "Well, God will take care of it so I don't have to..."  
We will do whatever we can to bring our child home to us.  We will scale back our budget, we will sacrifice nights out, we will spend our evenings and weekends pouring over paperwork, trimming flyers, researching fundraising ideas, sending out thank you cards, and anything else we can do to help speed this process along.

For right now, it's focusing on the yard sale and getting our paperwork process started.  James also needs to apply for a passport and we need to start ordering copies of documents for our Dossier.

I heard from the home study agency on Friday, and they will likely be contacting us soon to begin that process as well.  I will do another update when we learn more about what the home study process is going to look like.

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