Fundraising Friday: someone gave us a fundraiser!

How's this for creative support: someone gave us a fundraiser! A friend of the family made us a basket of 100 cards to sell as a fundraiser! She took the photos around her house, neighbourhood, and on vacation and crafted them into these darling cards. They are blank inside and perfect for lots of occasions!

We're selling them for $2.00 each or a package of six for $10.00. If you've been in the grocery store card aisle lately you'll know that's a STEAL of a price. And hopefully your card recipient will be touched that the proceeds worked to change the life of a child (and his family)!

This morning my mom was searching around the house for a birthday card she "swore she bought" and we snatched the opportunity to make our first sale. Only 99 cards to go!

Take a look at these pictures, visit the listing in our etsy shop, shoot me a message on facebook, or grab me in a person sometime to make a purchase. Really- who can't use a card??



All the choices (click to enlarge):

Back of the card:



Some humor for the wait

Humor is a good coping mechanism for the long wait of adoption. When we first announced our adoption plans my friend Jenn- a fellow expectant adoptive mother- joked with me that while we don't have to endure the morning sickness, discomfort, or contractions of pregnancy and birth, the paper-cuts are just TERRIBLE. :-P

John likes to joke that we heard the first year of marriage is the hardest, so we skipped it (we lived apart for the first year due to immigration issues) and now we hear the first year with a new baby is the hardest, so we're skipping that too!

Har har.

My brother and sister-in-law (soon to be!) blessed us with a donation this Christmas and made us laugh with this card:



The best gifts make you cry and laugh at the same time, which this one truly did. Merry blessings, merry laughter.

PS: Check out our thermometer! Pushing $15,000!


Fundraising update and Christmas reflection

It's been almost a week since my last post and though I'm always sorry when I can't post at least twice in a week, I have a GREAT reason! I've been crazy busy stamping and beading for our necklace fundraiser! We've sold 33 necklaces so far and I have three more to stamp tonight. I'm so thankful. I'd love to make it to 100 sales before our adoption. I'm praying!


Does anyone else feel like it is too soon to be Christmas? I don't know if it's the warmer weather or the fact that Christmas is on a Sunday this year, but I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that Christmas is only two days away. In my mind it's still October.

With Christmas so suddenly approaching, I've been thinking a lot about this little boy we're pursuing. I wonder what his Christmas will be like and how it will be celebrated. I pray his nannies give him lots of love and kisses. I hope he laughs with them. With the other children in his orphanage. I wonder where his birth parents are... if they are living. I wonder if their hearts are heavy.

Lots of questions and only one answer: to pray. I pray that God will wrap his arms around him and bless him with a strong sense of both peace and hope. I pray that Christ will whisper in his ear, "They're coming... your mom and dad... they're coming."

And I pray with gratitude because I am blessedly assured that no matter what, God's got this little boy and He will use his life for His own glory.

That's the point, after all. The point of adoption, the point of family, the point of Christmas, the point of life. Not doing good, not raising a child, not giving gifts under the tree, or warm family moments. Ultimately the point is God's glory. And, as John loves to say, ultimately nothing will rob God of his glory.

Gloria in excelsis deo!


Fundraising Friday (a day late) and Sunday Supplication (a day early)

This Fundraising Friday is brought to you by... Saturday evening!

John's computer died a few weeks ago and mine is currently at the Apple store in repair, so we have been using our phones and a friend's borrowed computer lately (thanks Brad!). Although it looks like our thermometer hasn't moved in a while, it is creeping upward! I hope to get my computer back this week and update that thermometer soon! Between donations, coffee, jewelry, and money spent, we're somewhere just over $12,000 right now!

Thank you to everyone who has bought a necklace already! I spent the whole day stamping, beading, and mailing today and completed 15 necklaces! Phew. It has been incredibly encouraging to receive all the orders and encouraging notes with them. People I've never even met are sending the warmest notes with their stories of infertility and/or adoption. I feel so BLESSED this weekend!

If you've shared our blog or etsy shop with friends, THANK YOU! Keep spreading the word!

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, so here's our Sunday Supplication a day early:

1. Praise God that all the communication issues between our agencies were resolved and our file is with our case worker! With the holidays upon us, we won't hear from her until January, but we are able to start some required adoption education courses in the meantime. Progress makes us very happy!

2. It looks like the Russian government is changing/firming up some adoption requirements which means that instead of taking two trips, one short and one long, we will likely be taking three shorter trips to Russia. I had a bit of panicky moment when I first read about this, but after some thought and prayer am feeling peaceful about it. We are trusting that God's grace will guide us through this whole process, two trips or three. He is in control and we are simply to trust and obey. Prayers for our peace about this are much appreciated!

Many thanks and much love.


Jewelry Fundraiser!

At long last my supplies have arrived and I am so pleased to begin our jewlery fundraiser! I was inspired to learn the art of metal stamping and jewelry making after I wore a piece with the phrase "have faith" during our infertility struggle. Now that we're adopting, that phrase still rings true. Have faith that God will bring our family together, by his plan and in his timing. Each of these pieces has a special meaning and has been hand stamped with great love. A few thumbs (mainly my left thumb) were injured and a few tears shed, but I have greatly enjoyed the preparations for these. They will be made to order and I will be praying for their owners as I stamp!

All the profits from these necklaces will go toward our adoption costs. You can purchase them from my etsy store under the name "jillianmb8" or click here.

Necklaces are $20 plus shipping. (If you go to our church or frequently see me in person send me a message on facebook or shoot me an email and we can skip the shipping step!)

(Also I'm on a borrowed computer because ours is undergoing repairs so please excuse any wonky-ness or typos in my listings or next few posts!)

Necklaces (see my etsy listings for their meanings):





Photo Post

In anticipation of telling and re-telling our future child's adoption story, I've been taking lots of pictures of our journey along the way. I don't have a growing belly to capture in photos, but I do have a growing mountain of letters, cards, and gifts! In pictures, our adoption so far:

The first "public" step: putting together our adoption announcement and fundraising letter.


And addressing them all! A labour of love.



We had a little "this is really happening!" moment of glee at the mailbox. We each put half the letters in. Camera phone + clouds = blurry picture, but you get the idea.


First gifts for our child! I got to open them on my birthday which was great fun. A stuffed elephant from Tante Annette, a dear family friend and this beautiful quilt, lovingly made by a former neighbor Rhonda (who incidentally taught both my sister and my mom to quilt!). I can't wait to see him cuddle with the elephant snuggled up under this quilt. Be still my heart! :)


We LOVE reading all the cards and words of encouragement through email or comments. We are saving all the cards in a box to show to our child someday!




Our journey; our testimony

It's hard to know where to start or even what to leave out and what to include when it comes to our adoption journey, but I'm going to try share what I think are the important parts because our journey to adoption is filled with so much of God's grace. And when God gives you grace, you just want to talk about it.

If you've read our "About Our Adoption" page, you've read that adoption has always been on our hearts. Personally, I started dreaming about adoption before I met John. My best friend growing up was adopted and it always seemed like a perfectly normal way of building a family. As I grew older I remember seeing World Vision commercials on television, becoming aware of suffering in our world, and longing to do something to ease the pain. As a teenager I remember going to a Christian rally of sorts for teenagers and singing songs about becoming a "history maker" and a "world changer." Though adopting a child might not change the entire world, I was always aware that it would at least change my world and the world of the child God gave me.

John grew up in a family blessed by the adoption of his sister, and my dear sister-in-law, Amanda. My mother-in-law has incredible stories about her adoption and I don't think it can be described as anything but divinely ordained.

When John and I were dating and studying the Bible in college we both had a sense that adoption was something we needed to consider as part of living out our faith. Once we were married and talked about our family size we settled on the idea of having two biological children and then adopting to add one or maybe two more children.

When I look back now I laugh at how lightly we planned. We said things like, "We'll have 2 kids and then if we want more we'll just adopt." Turns out, there is no such thing as "just" adopting. Adoption is much less of a "sure we'll do that" and more of a "my entire being has been raptured by this conviction" kind of a decision.

My fiercest desire in life has always been to become a mother. After John and I were married we knew we wouldn't start a family right away, but that didn't stop me from day-dreaming about motherhood. Once I decided on a degree path for my master's, we calculated my estimated due date for a full-term baby and as soon as it hit 2 week past my graduation date, we started trying to conceive.

I read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" and started charting and noting fertility signs. I filled my body with fertility boosting foods and vitamins. I used ovulation predictions tests so we would have the best timing. And we excitedly began our journey to conception.

The first 3 months past and I dealt with the disappointment that I wasn't one of those lucky women who got pregnant right away.

After six months I started to worry, but turned my anxiety into making sure I was healthy. We had John tested for fertility and everything came back clear.

After nine months I had a sense that something was wrong and I really started grieving each month. I dealt with a lot of anger. I learned how to lament. I cried and sometimes screamed out to God. "Why??" was the question always on my lips. At times I could not sing the praise and worship songs and church because I only felt one emotion: pain.

Laura Bush talks about this pain of infertility and describes it better than I ever could. She says:

The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?

As John and I went from fall to winter to spring in our conception journey, we started to consider that God was calling us to adoption on a timeline quicker than our own. Over the summer we attended a couple adoption seminars and began to pray sincerely about God's will for our family. At first my prayers sounded like, "God, I pray with all my being that you would bless me with a pregnancy and a child. And if you want us to adopt please show us. But I really want to have a biological child first." Gradually they moved to, "Lord if adoption is your will for us then please change my desire to get pregnant." And by the time October rolled around I found myself actually hoping that I would not be pregnant because I was so excited about the idea of adoption. Only God could change a heart like mine!

Our final decision came down to three events: first, on one September morning I found myself particularly sad about the future of our family. I felt desperate and filled with grief over the fact that it had been more than a year and 14 failed cycles of trying to conceive. I had to do groceries that morning and prayed that God would guide me to an encouraging song or broadcast on the radio. On the way to the grocery store I heard two very lame Christian radio songs and a few commercials. Defeated, I pulled into the grocery store parking lot. Before I parked, however, the radio station began to broadcast a show about- what else?- adoption. I sat in the car listening for 20 minutes with tears streaming down my face, convinced that God was indeed calling me to adoption.

The second event happened only that night. After I shared my grocery store parking lot experience with John, I spent some time looking at pictures of children waiting for families. From local listings to overseas, one particular child caught my eye. A little 17-month-old boy in Russia. I turned the computer screen around to show his picture to John. Sitting beside me in bed, John's shoulders softened and as he breathed out, touched by the picture and story as I was. That night we sent an inquiry email. "Just to see."

I was a goner after that night, but John still needed confirmation. So we went to visit a trusted godly couple we knew who had also adopted from Russia a few years ago. After an evening of sharing stories, wise counsel, and prayer, John was convinced that God was calling us to take the next step and start the home-study process in pursuit of this little boy.

The third event was going to see a fertility specialist. The appointment was very positive and we felt very encouraged about our ability to conceive, with assistance, and were even offered some financial discount from the specialist, who must have felt a special affection for us after discovering that we both belong to the same church denomination. But after spending time in prayer we both kept thinking about that little boy waiting for a family. This was quite the turn-around for me, as I had spent the last year+ longing to be pregnant and start our family with a newborn.

It wasn't an easy decision, but it wasn't very hard either. I truly believe that God answered my prayer and changed my desire to match his will. I still want to experience pregnancy and childbirth someday, but for now I am so excited about our adoption that God has eased my longing. I have a joy that I can only describe as the perfect peace of knowing that I am in the center of God's plan for my life.

Numerous emails and lots (lots!) of paperwork later, we're in this and we're not turning back. We're open to God's will in this adoption, whatever it may be, but we're certain that wherever his will leads, his grace will meet us there.

Through this whole journey our biggest fear has been how to finance the adoption. I know I say this a lot, but it is seriously such an overwhelming figure that I cannot express how much affirmation we have felt through all the donations that have come in. It seems a peculiar thing to wonder, but many times I questioned, "What if we are wrong? Or what if God calls us to this but then doesn't provide?"

God has called us to bring our whole selves and all our need before him and he has been so faithful so far! One verse that resounds in my head is Malachi 3:10, where God says, "Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

Floodgates? Thrown open.

I feel so blessed that I cannot even put it to words. There are still a lot of things that make me anxious about our adoption, but I know without a doubt that God's grace will be wherever he leads. I am learning to simply trust and obey.


Sunday Supplication

Prayer request for this week is for communication. Our two agencies (home study and placing) need to put together an inter-agency agreement before we can start our home study. We discovered last week that somehow a few emails between the agencies got lost. Pray that whatever the technical issue is will be resolved and communication will resume so we can move forward. Thank you!


Fundraising and Finances Friday!


We've had another incredibly blessed week with fund-raising! Every day this week another envelope arrived in the mail with a donation inside (getting the mail is my new favorite daily activity!) or another email update arrived in my inbox with a donation notification. Some donations come from dear friends of years past, other from new relationships we've developed over the past months or years. Every gift humbles us and fills us with gratitude! THANK YOU!

One family moved us especially deeply by deciding together to forfeit Christmas gifts this year and donate the money to us instead (still gives me chills). Amazing.

We're up to $7,685 received in donations/fundraising monies! Another week where all we can say is: WOW!!! We've been joyfully writing thank you cards every night. What huge blessings.

We've also had offers to help us with our fundraising meal and an offers to donate to our raffle!

I've ordered the last of my supplies for jewelry making and hope to *finally* have those available in a week or so!


From the donations we've paid for: a $500 application fee.

From our funds we've paid for: our home study and our home-study review (because our home-study agency is separate from our placing agency). Total: $3,100

Which brings us to a total of $10790! (!!!) We're just over 30% of the way there! Thank you all for your support, be it through money or through prayer. You encourage us in ways that words cannot express.


Coffee for LOVE!

This morning I opened my mailbox to a great surprise: our first $5.00 cheque ("check" for my American friends ;-) ) from our coffee fundraiser! Thank you to whoever purchased that bag of coffee! You made my day. And it's my birthday-eve today, so that's saying something!

For all you coffee lovers out there, here's an opportunity to feed your addiction and feel good about it: click here (or on the icon at the end of this post) to get to our online storefront at JustLoveCoffee and make a purchase! Once you enter the site from our link you can navigate around freely and $5.00 from every bag purchased will go toward our adoption costs!

There are lots of options including fair-trade and green coffee for the consciously minded.

Our goal is $300 from the coffee fundraiser: that's 60 bags sold. Only 59 more to go!

Coffee makes a great gift too- especially for those generic gift games everyone seems to play at the office or at large family gatherings.

I'd love to say THANKS to you if you make a purchase so leave me a comment when you do!


Child of my Heart

This morning a dear friend came to visit me with two of her little ones. She brought with her a gift that touched me so deeply: a beautiful Willow Tree figurine called "Child of my Heart." When I look at it I can almost feel the embrace of our future child; the heavy weight of his body on my hip... the warmth of his forehead on my cheek... his soft breath on my neck.

That embrace can't come soon enough.


The statue came with a verse that reads:

"Child of the world,
Into my heart you came--
Bringing sun into my life,
Making family our name."

Not a child from my body. Not yet a child in my arms. But already a child of my heart.


Sunday Supplication

Last week I asked for prayers that our home study would begin. We did hear from our home study agency and they said they had to finish writing up an inter-agency agreement between our home study agency and our placing agency; I had hoped this would happen by Friday, but I have not heard back yet. Sooooo.... this week our prayer request is the same as last week! That we can finally get our home study underway and that, once begun, we could complete it as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next phase. Thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers!


Fundraising and Finances Friday!

Since "Fundraising and Finances Friday" has some funky (ha!) alliteration going on,
I thought Fridays would be a good day to post about our fundraising progress. As I
said in my last post, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity we have
been shown! Thank you!

I also already expressed my anxiety about the cost of this adoption, and that's part of my
motivation for sharing the financial details of our adoption. When we were preparing for
our adoption I read a number of blogs and while I loved the stories, I was often frustrated
with the lack of detail on this subject. Maybe it's because the cost of adopting is a weird
thing; no one wants to put money and children together. Buying kids is not what adoption
is about. The cost of adoption is not for the child, it's for all the paperwork (and boy is there
a lot of paperwork!), agency, legal, and travel fees.

So I'm going to be a little gauche and talk about the financial details, in the hopes of
encouraging other families who are considering adoption themselves.

The "deets" so far:

Fundraising: You are SO GENEROUS! We've received $4460 in donations so far
(wow!). The donations have come in amounts from $10 to $1,000: I mean it when I say
no amount is too small. It adds up!

I've been practicing my hammer swing for some hand-stamped jewelry pieces I hope to sell.
I'm waiting for supplies in the mail, but hope to have them available in the next few weeks!

We've also been working on getting our grant applications together. We can't submit those
until our home study is complete, so we have some time to get them all together.

We're also going back and forth about this fundraising meal we want to host at church: we're thinking end of January or early February and can't decide whether we should do a dinner or a breakfast. I am leaning toward a breakfast b/c I think families with children (or really anyone)
is more likely to be free for breakfast on a Saturday than dinner. (Since we both work during
the day Saturday is our only option.) Thoughts?

Finances: We're working with two agencies: one for our home study and another one
(out of state) for the rest of our adoption. So far we've paid a $500 application fee and a
$2,500 home study fee.

That brings us to a total of $6,690 (see thermometer)! We're almost 20% of the way to our
final cost of $35,000! I am so encouraged and feeling very blessed. I've been walking around
singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!" a lot lately. :-)
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