"If I were to ask God why He lets poverty and injustice exist, why there are so many orphans and why He does nothing about it, I am SURE He would ask me the same ..."

author unknown

About Us

My name is Jessica and my dear sweet hubby is Kelly. We have three beautiful girls, big sis and little sis plus our newest little baby sis :) Welcome to our site where we will blog about our journey to grow our family through adoption in Africa.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Application is in the MAIL!

It actually went in the mail yesterday, but I have been so busy and sad, I haven't felt like putting it on here. I am super happy that it is finished. We were waiting on a last reference and our family picture that needed to be included in the application. We should hear from AWAA in 10 business days!

Why have I been so busy and sad? Well, I spend half of yesterday at co-op and the last part of the day watching our friends' house be packed into a moving truck, helping cleaning up their rental house. Then, last night their 4 oldest children spent the night at our house and I took them back to their parents this morning. We said our goodbyes and they are off to Colorado. :( It's been a hard day knowing they won't be a church tonight or PE tomorrow. I'm sure there will be tears from my girls (and probably me) periodically the rest of the week.

All in all, two very different emotions pulling at me, excitement at what is yet to come for our family; and serious sadness that we have lost a family that we so dearly love spending time with.

Tomorrow, I will post something much happier...pictures of the girls finished room.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crazy Love

This post is in response to Linny's blog. My first post is really long and ended up being out tithing, you can read it here if you'd like.A little about us: We attend In Focus Church and have been members for only a short time, but we are quickly making it home. (We moved from a very big church to a smaller church in the same town.) We do tithe, and we are excited to be giving God what is really already His. I am getting to know the middle school girls at our church as I help as a small group leader. They are such a delight and I pray that they will love Jesus as much as I do now as an adult and as much as I wish I had when I was their age. Our church has a brand new ministry to bring awareness about orphans and adoption that my husband and I are hoping to be a vital part of, it's kick off is actually this Sunday! We are raising money for our adoption of a child that we know God has hand picked for us in Ethiopia. We know God will provide what He has called us to! Any money donated to us will be used to pay for the adoption. Here is a list of the estimated costs.You can email me any questions at ss.scrappers@gmail.com

"Test me on this", says the LORD

Asking for money can be easy for some and very hard for others. I have friends that can be handed a fundraiser and will run with it without batting an eye. I have other friends who feel ill at the thought of trying to sell a single candy bar for their kid's school :) I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I am not ashamed to raise funds for a good cause, but I don't want to put my hand out for something I don't need.


As I think about this (and have for the past two weeks), I also realize that money is a source of pride that I seem to be taking some time in dealing with. I have been confronted with over the past weeks with the real need all over the world in my research of orphans and the real wealth of the nation that I call home. I don't consider myself wealthy, we live in a small home, a family of four, on a a single income. I was just reading this article, and even though we are at the very bottom of the middle class scale, I am ashamed. It's sad how much we as a country have and yet we are in a tough economy.


The other thing about money I have been confronted with over and over this week (okay Lord... I'm listening) is tithing, as in 10%. Even though I grew up in the church, this is a new idea to me. I grew up in a very legalistic church and I remembering being told that the old testament is an example, that the new testament replaced the old. So when I think of the tithe, I see and example, but I just always thought you give what you can. For years, we gave sometimes, sometimes not. For a couple weeks now, God has been really speaking to me and telling me to test Him on this. Then, we had this great sermon on money just this last week. The thing that stuck out to me was that you may have to feel it to give God what He is due.


Now I know our need to not as great as some, Kelly has a good job and we have made the choice to adopt (well, is it a choice if God lays it on your heart?). But what I have realized that as we try to get enough for our adoption, God still wants me to give back to Him. That means we will have to double what we have been giving. Yep, we have been doing great at giving consistently and though I feel like patting myself on the back for that, we are at the 5% mark, and I don't even want to write that here. Pride and humility all in one sentence!


Now, you're probably wondering where all my ramblings on are coming from. This post started out when I read this blog that I follow because the title was Crazy Love. Now, I though she was talking about this book that I have heard great things about (also ever the past 2 weeks!)...nope, she is talking about giving more and more away. She is asking, what is your need? Does your family tithe? That put the tithe front and center in my mind again! So here I am rambling on.


A conclusion for me, we have been halfway there on tithing and will be starting to test God in this

Malachi 3:10 says

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 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 you will not have room enough for it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Donate button fixed

Chip In donate button fixed! You might have not noticed it, or even known it was messed up, but the silly thing was trying to charge shipping for donations. OOPS! Anywho, it is now fixed, and hopefully it won't give anyone problems. If you hadn't noticed it, look down the page a little and to the right! :)


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Garage Sale

So, our first yard sale to raise funds for our adoption happened today! Though I barely have the energy to form a complete thought, here is the outcome. We had 8 different families donate items for our sale and we made a total of $370 (after a $25 ad in the paper)!!!! We are so excited and blessed. Thank you to everyone who donated and who prayer for us today. So here are some pictures of today that I took while it was slow.

Here is a picture of the mess before it was all out and organized.
Organized and waiting for customers!
The children "discussing" prices. :)
Opposite side of the driveway.
View from walking up the driveway.

And, the girls ran a lemonade and cooke sale once it warmed up, I forgot to get a picture :( I'm sure the will do it at the next sale.... A big thanks to their older buddies Ralyn and Amory who did all the hard work for the little stand and who were also a huge help to the yard sale!

Friday, March 19, 2010

We need to look less to the computer for answers...

We need to look less to the computers and look more up. This is a realization I have come to today. A hard one because I was a child/teenager when computers took off. My generation lives on the computer, we look for answers on the computer, we communicate on the computer. Besides the fact the the computer is lessening the depth of our relationships (that's a whole other post)...the computer makes us look to God less and less for answers.

I realized this as I joined a Ethiopia adoption yahoo group so I could hear other parents stories, know what bumps they have encountered and so on. I probably joined at a really bad time with all the accusations flying and all the country changes going on right now. Or, maybe some people are always like this.

Instead of feeling full of information, feeling encouraged, I was shocked by the doomsday attitude some are taking and the pointing fingers that is happening all over this group. They are scared that the country will shut down completely, some have been burned by other countries or agencies and have become cynics. Some were very kind and uplifting, but it did little to lighten the heaviness of my heart.

Then came a link to an Australian News Article with the note to check out some of the comments at the bottom. I'm not sure I read why she suggested it, but I went to the article and found a one sided news piece with the same accusations as I have read in the past couple weeks. But was so disheartening was the comments. I was simply shocked that people could be so uncaring and selfish.

2 Tim. 3:2
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy....

I saw this in the comments after the article. I saw it when people closed their eyes and thought people were cruel for not adopting an Australian child, but instead adopting an orphan in Africa "taking them away" from their culture and lifestyle. I saw this when I woman said this :
"I find the whole notion of rich (relative to Ethiopians) westerners paying buckets of money to purchase a child to meet their own needs repugnant. Imagine how many children an infertile couple could save with the money for 100s of children in Ethiopia itself rather than justify their own desires by suggesting they are saving a child.
I was devastated to discover I was infertile but life sucks and not everyone can have children. Get over it. Buying and removing children from developing countries to meet our personal needs is plain wrong."

And then I realized, I need God to fill this empty spot more than I need information, more than I need to hear it from others who have gone before me, more than I need to read others opinions.

Please don't misunderstand, online support groups and being informed are both important in this process. We know we can't go into the adoption (and especially the international arena) with our eyes closed and without knowledge. But, what I am saying, the internet is such a great tool for Satan and it's so easy to plunk in front of the keyboard and forget that I have an all knowing and loving Father who would love to show me the way and guide me in this journey.

So I banned myself from the computer that night, and I changed my settings to only "view on the web" for that group and I prayed God would be with those who have such a negative outlook on life.

For me, I plan on doing a little more praying before I start googling.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Money, vacations, money, house, money, car, money, clothes, etc.....

I beautiful post from an adoptive mom here.
I have been thinking lately just how sad I feel when I see us (Americans) with so much and yet we are not happy. I have more on this topic and my own thoughts to come soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Confusion

It's 11:15 and I have had a really long day. My head hit the pillow and I should have been asleep, Kelly was, me...wide awake. You know how sometimes, you are so tired, but your brain just won't stop. Usually I can think on a couple things and finally drift off. Not tonight, maybe it was me being over tired, maybe God was tugging at me to not go to sleep quite yet. Either way, I wish I had rolled over and found this out in the morning.

I don't even know why I am so stressed out or emotional, but I am. We were pretty sure we were settled on Ethiopia and on an agency. But today, I had just been feeling unrest. As I quietly eased out of bed to browse on the computer while I unwound to soon head back to bed, I went straight to the other blogs I follow that I haven't checked all night and found out the the Ethiopia adoption process has had a big change. As of a couple days ago, parents were required one trip, one week to go pick up their child. Now, parents will BOTH be required to go before court and state that they want to adopt their child and then the have to come home, returning about 3 months later to pick their child up.

This not only will add a significant amount of money and time off of work, more time someone has to watch our girls, but what I know already would be the hardest part....meeting my child and then leaving Africa without him or her.

The part I am confused the most about and I have been sitting here asking God....what am I supposed to do with this information? Of the 3 blogs that I read this on, the families are already accepted into the Ethiopia programs, but we haven't put our country decision to paper.
What do I do with this?
What do I do with this?

Okay, I have had my pity party, I am going to read my post from last night about God planning out all of our days. He knew this was coming, I just wish that in the morning, He would leave a note by the coffee that says something to the effect..."Dear One, this is what I would like you to do......with several steps laid out :) A girl can dream.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Adoption is NOT God's Plan B!

I love it, but I can't take credit for it. It was said on a video during our adoption seminar by Brian Luwis of AWAA. It was kind of an aha moment for me as he talked about thinking early in the marriage that adoption was "plan b" for when "plan a" didn't work. Though I never actually thought it or said it, I probably would have gone with this idea.

Adoption was for those couples who tried and tried but couldn't have babies of their own. Since Kelly seemed to just walk past me in the hallway and I would get pregnant (okay, so not really...but you really don't want me talking about that here, do you?) I just never thought of adoption. We had 2 beautiful girls the "regular" way, I loved being pregnant (yes, I'm one of THOSE women!) and I had wonderful babies (wait, wait, don't leave! what if I tell you they were terrible 3 yr olds, will you stay?!)...I had just never considered adoption for us.

One of Brian's points was from James 1:27

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

God knew what He was saying, if we take care of the orphans, God knew that there would be some kind of imprinting on our hearts, we would walk away different people. We couldn't go back to our lives unchanged. One of those orphans that you actually had contact with would steal your heart, and you would go back for them. God's plan, but not "plan b". Brian used this scripture to bring this point home, some who know me, may know this scripture is one of my favorites. Near and dear to me since our very hard year that Kelly was away in Iraq.

Psalm 139
(one of my favorite parts)
vs. 1-5
LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, LORD.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.

(scripture to Brian's point)
vs. 16
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all [my] days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

God knows when a child is not going to live with his or her birth parents. We know that sin is the reason this world is broken and God has a plan for each of us before we are knit together in the womb. Boy that makes me smile! I am so glad that someone knows the game plan. And even though I am a control freak, and God continues to teach me, He is in control, I am glad He knows the plan, I would fret and try to fix everything if I had it laid out for me ahead of time. Come on, I know most of us would try a little "fixing" if we knew what was coming ;)

So adoption isn't "plan b", God knew what He was doing! If your not convinced yet, let me finish with one more point. I sure hope adoption is God's first and foremost plan for me, because I am adopted and so are all the other Christians I know. Unless you can trace your ancestors to Abraham (how cool would that be!), then you are adopted into the family of God.

He calls us sons and daughters and tells us that we are co-heirs with Christ.

Yeah baby, that's adopted at it's greatest!!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Decisions!

There is nothing to dampen the adoption mood like bad press. There was some accusations about an adoption agency (not the one we are thinking about) going into poor villages in Ethiopia and offering families the option to put their children up for adoption. There were also accusations that families were paid for their children. I don't know who is right, I don't know if someone is lying, but this heartbreaking and terrifying to me. I would never want to take a child away from a loving family that could provide for them. I do want to provide a home, love and a family for child that does not have anybody. A child who would live their days out in an orphanage if not for adoption, that is the child I want.

There is a level of risk and stepping out in faith with international adoption. We understand that, but we need to constantly pray that God leads us. That He leads us to the right agency, the right country, the right child. I know He has a plan! That will get me through!

On a another note, we will almost have our first program fee thanks to some awesome family members. They know who they are and we are both surprised, delighted and completely blessed by them! Thank you, thank you!

Also, we will be having a yard sale very soon. If anyone is local, we would gladly accept donated items for the sale. Please just let me know, I will even come and pick up items!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My hubby is the bomb!

I totally scored in the hubby department and I just had to share with you all just how great he is!

Today, he made a big sacrifice and sold his surround sound system!!!! Y'all this, is a big deal for him. (okay, I know I just said y'all, but when I tried different words, it didn't sound right!....I have officially lived in SC for too long!) He loves his movies with the "theater" experience and I know that it was a big deal to part with this. He even did it all on his own, put it on craigslist, and there you go...a day later, we have our application fee and them some!

We have both been thinking of things we can part with to get some extra adoption money, me selling some of my stamp sets; him, selling some video games. Then he decides he can get rid of the speakers. In a month or two, we may try to have a big yard sale and call on local friends to possibly donate their "junk" to sell, but for now, we are looking at our own stuff.

I know he will miss it, he was a little sad :( Truth be told, it was cool, but we just didn't use it very much. It's hard to watch a movie like 2012 (last night) with the bass blasting when the kids just went to bed 20 minutes ago and they aren't quite asleep. One of them either wants to know what we are watching or someone complains that our movie "woke them up".....as if they even had time to fall asleep!

So anyways, we will be filling out our application (between painting) this week and sending it in! It is just so crazy that this is really happening! My mind is turning with all that needs to be done : spring cleaning for homestudy, getting the girls room and the 3rd bedroom the way we want them, and funding the adoption. If you think of us, pray as we make some decisions with the application and decide on which fundraisers to start with.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why not adopt from here (the US)? Why Africa?

Well, I didn't actually think we would be answering this question as much as we have, but this seems to be the number one question. Naturally, with some people I smile and give them my reasons and I chuckle afterwards because I fully expected it. Then others ask it and I get a little rubbed wrong under the skin. Well, I'm in a pretty good mood this morning so I thought I'd tackle this question in a mature tone ;)

First, let me tackle the why not adopt an American? Well, for us... we know that there are orphans here is the US in the foster care system. Sadly these children are not necessarily in the foster care system because both of their parents are gone or their parents are too poor to take care of them, but for a host of all kinds of other reasons. Though foster care is not perfect and broken in many places, these children know what it's like to live in a nuclear family setting. They have plenty of clothes and food and will receive an education if they stay in school. The second part to my decision to not adopt a child from foster care, many of the children are older and have a host of problems (many of which are not of their making). This said, I want to protect my children and not bring in an older child that might disrupt the birth order of my kids and make for a very hard family adjustment. The NOT part is only very small in our decision. The main reasons are the WHY AFRICA?

Why Africa? Even more than the why not the US, we feel like it's the reasons that we SHOULD adopt from Africa. If you look at my statistics page at the top, you will see the staggering numbers. Some are worldwide, but many of the numbers are for Africa and they will break your heart if you think on it enough. As I typed this last sentence, 2 children became orphans in Africa because of AIDS. In Ethiopia alone, which is about twice the size of Texas, there are 4.3 million orphans. These children grow up in crowded orphanages never knowing the love of sole providers. The babies won't get the constant holding, cuddling, and playing that my girls alone would provide and baby sibling, not to mention the mommy and daddy cuddling and playing. In most countries, when children turn 16 (sometimes as early as 14), they are handed a couple hundred dollars and they are sent on their way..... no family, no support. As I write this, I want to yell, WHY NOT? Don't tell me we don't have enough money or enough room. Americans with their $40,000 cars (an adoption - $25,000) and our 2000 square foot homes. Come on! Families used to (and still do) raise children and make them share a bedroom, gasp!

Okay, okay, I seem to have lost some of my cool that I had a the beginning of my post....deep breath. We as Americans are just so removed that we can easily go on with our days and then actually ask, why. Amazing and so, so sad. We are not all called to adopt, I understand that. But I do wish that we were more compassionate as a nation. The reactions that we have had over the past week show me that we are not quite as compassionate as we "think" we are.

Simply know this, Kelly and I have been called to help in some small way, this is the way we feel God is leading us. :) We hope you find your way to help.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Choices

I never knew there were so many choices in adoption. First, there are the choices of domestic, foster care, and international adoption. Then you decide if you want a newborn, older baby, or older child. Not to mention, once you've decided as we have:

International,
any age baby, hmm, maybe under 15 mos,

now you have to decide where (we've narrowed down to Africa, now we have to decide on a country), what age, gender and the health of a child.

It all seems like so many choices, yet what is so comforting and I keep reminding my kids of this, God has already chosen our child for our family!

Psalm 139:16 tells us:
"You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed."

Now, we have been looking at an agency that we've been drawn to, AWAA, we've been reading about their Africa programs and only seem to qualify for Ethiopia. :) These things are so wonderful because I can see God's hand guiding us thru the decisions. The girls have had some input here, Big Sis would like a Chinese orphan and Little Sis an African orphan. They have different reasons, but one of the better ones was when Little Sis said that she didn't want a baby from China because the baby would grow up to speak Chinese (she's quite worried we wouldn't be able to communicate as a family). Oh, to have an innocent mind!

Naturally, the girls have also been weighing in on gender also, they both want a brother. Now again, Little Sis would like an older brother, but I'm not sure we are going that way this time ;) So, Kelly and I have been talking about boys and girls and running it around in our heads. I've told everyone to remember that we don't get to pick gender in a pregnancy, so why now? But God seems to be putting little boys in my mind thru little things because I tend to lean toward a girl (hey, I already know what to do with girls!). Yesterday I was just reading about how most families waiting for adoption want girls, it's sad to me to think people will somehow be easier attached or love will come easier to a girl. I know a couple little boys from my friends that are so squeezable and I love them and their not even mine! What worries me is the wild, loud little boys that love to knock down blocks immediately after the tower is built. (This describes those squeezable boys to a T) I just don't see myself dealing well with he destruction of my house for fun ;)

Did I mention my girlfriend of 3 boys is trying to pray a boy into my family?!

Who knows what we will actually put on the application, maybe we'll put both and leave it entirely up to God. Before bed last night, Kelly told me to pick heads or tails and we flipped for it, he says God already decided with that, so there you go! LOL! Decisions, decisions!

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