Raffle Closing Soon! Drawing on Saturday

Last Chance! Our Fundraising dinner is tomorrow, and the Raffle is closing to online submissions at 12:00 noon on Saturday. Check out all the prizes!

(Not pictured are 2 months of weekly piano lessons with Jen Barr [$10 donation] and a Scentsy Wax Warmer Gift Set from Laura Hess [$5 donation])

To donate and enter the raffle just Click on the image below and leave a message with your donation stating which prize you’d like. 

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We would love to have you come grill out with us, but attendance is not required to win. It’s from 5-6:30 Open-House Style (come-whenever-leave-whenever). We have Gluten Free and Vegan options as well!

I’m seriously considering breaking into those essential oils right now… I could use a little “Stress Relief” and “Tranquility”!

Though I’m not sure why I’m stressing when we bought enough food for 200 people for less than $400. And that includes tablecloths/decorations/plastic-ware. And we have plenty of people helping, so we should be all set.

I think my 2 biggest fears are (1) that no one will be able to come and (2) that we will have TOO much help and people will be bored.

Oh wait, make that 3: that we should probably make some kind of short thank-you speech and I will get all choked up before I can even get a word out.

But then I think about the real focus of this dinner: our baby.

Our baby who may very well be kicking around in his mama’s womb right now. Our baby who is very-much loved by this woman who is making such a difficult choice for her child. Our baby that will only be ours because so many people have contributed to help make it possible for us to bring this little person home someday.

We finally had the chance to put our names in for a baby this week. The baby is due in October, and while chances are slim that we would be chosen on our first opportunity, my heart goes out to this baby and its mama and to the couple it who will be its parents.

Thank you all again so much for your support – both financially and emotionally. Please continue to pray for our family, our baby, and for their birth-parents.

And we hope to see you at the grill-out! 6950 Peace Church, Middleville, MI 49333

Goosebumps

Coincidences happen all the time.

My husband and my brother have the same birthday.

Both of my grandmas were named “Marge.”

My mom decided to name me “Cheyenne” when she was only 9 years old, not knowing that my last name would be the exact same letters: Cheney.

Thanks, Mom.

Sometimes coincidences give more meaning to your life. Like when my mom had to have her first colonoscopy and found out that her nurse home-schooled her kids too. We heard about it for the next 12 hours after her surgery. That common bond really put her at ease.

Or maybe it was the drugs. Either way, apparently this coincidence made her first colonoscopy a very meaningful experience.

And then there are coincidences like this:

Remember my post last week about the results of our Garage Sale? I talked about how God has given meaning to our heartache of infertility by giving us a “new song” of praise that it led us to this path of adopting. I spoke of Psalm 40:

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a New Song in my mouth – a hymn of praise to our God.”

An hour after publishing this post, we were singing these very words in church. Literally a New Song to us – I later discovered our Worship Pastor actually wrote the song.

Talk about coincidence.

I need to start carrying a purse just so I have tissues on me. Good grief. Thank goodness we had already “greeted each other.” Boy would they have been in for a surprise when they shook my tear-coated hand.

I’m not kidding, next week I WILL have tissues on me. Because if that wasn’t enough, this week I sat down next to Tyler in the row and opened up the bulletin to discover that the sermon was titled “Adopted.”

Crazy, because I had just finished placing announcements about our Fundraising Dinner in everyone’s mailboxes at the church.

Fundraising dinner announcement

And guess who was preaching? Our Worship Pastor.

Darn it, I should have known. He has it out for me, I think.

Except that he had no idea I was going to hand out invitations to our dinner. Nor do I think he even knew about our dinner. It’s a pretty big church – we really don’t know him or his wife at all.

At the climax of the sermon, he shared his story of how his “foster” sister became his sister. From a name that represented a life of mistreatment and indifference…

… to a new name that represents her new life in a family whose love for her knows no limits.

I tried to not look at him as his emotion broke his otherwise seamless presentation. Seeing his emotion made holding back tears too hard. But his family was sitting, sniffling in the row right in front of us. Good grief… it was no use.

Following his story, he proclaimed that as Christians, we have been adopted by God. It is our identity. And as such, we are called to a life of hospitality to children who aren’t necessarily born to us- whether that be through adopting a child ourselves or through supporting adoptive families.

Meanwhile, people all around us held our picture in their hands, with an invitation to help us bring our baby home.

*whew* (holding back tears again)

Did you get goosebumps?

Some coincidences are more than a weird accident.

Sometimes… God acts on our behalf before we’ve even asked.

The Final Count / A New Song

I think back to where God has taken us since our struggle with infertility. I felt so broken them. And so weak for my inability to persevere with faith in God’s goodness. I knew He would give us a child one way or another eventually, but didn’t understand why He was making it so difficult. People would say things like “It will happen when you’re ready” and “God’s just preparing you to be an even better parent.”

It was crushing to hear those things actually.

When we finally got pregnant I was so excited. Yet, my heart was weighed down with guilt because it was at a time when my doubts were the greatest. I knew there were others struggling with infertility whose faith was much deeper than my own. Couples who were much more deserving and had been waiting even longer than we had.

For the first few months of my pregnancy, I wrestled with this, “Why did we have to wait so long? Why  did God answer our prayers when I was at my weakest? Was it because He gave up on me?

These answers have come since then:

Because God’s timing for our daughter’s life to begin was not all about ME. Much of our future in this world hinges on timing, and Elise’s birth has a purpose too.

Because Christians must endure hardship just like the rest of the world. How else can we be relevant to a hurting world that doesn’t know Jesus? It gives us an opportunity to stand by someone else when they face the same struggles and to remind them that God cares, even when the answer to our prayers seem so far off.

Because God wanted to teach me – who always wants to be perfect and please everyone – that I can’t earn His favor. He loves me just.as.I.am. While I was broken and worn out on faith, He stepped in and showed me Grace.

Let me repeat that: While I was BROKEN and WORN OUT on faith, HE stepped in and showed me GRACE.

And finally, because God was preparing us for our next child. We never would have considered adoption before because of the cost. But once we were met with so many obstacles to conceive, we began feeling God calling us to adopt. And ever since deciding to start the process, we have been overwhelmed with our growing, synchronized excitement for adopting our second baby.

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Our garage sale was these past three days, and I’ve been a little emotional, to say the least.

Friends and family running over to drop off baked goods before a vacation.

Strangers coming to the sale and just slipping us $10 and $20 bills without even giving us a chance to properly thank them.

So many people telling us to “keep the change.”

One woman even coming to share her story and introduce us to her newborn baby… that SHE just adopted.

Lots of encouragement from adoptive and foster parents as well as adoptees.

And so, so many donations of money, garage/bake sale items, and time.

On our own, we would have had our sale on our dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Instead, our father-in-law opened his house in town up to us for the community-wide garage sales in our home town.

On our own, we would have sold a few books, my pre-pregnancy clothes, and a some odds-and-ends home decorations that I don’t know how to decorate with. Instead, OVER 30 people donated items for us to sell.

On our own, I would have had to take a whole week of vacation time to prepare. And taken anti-anxiety medication. Because of a dear friend and our father in law, most everything was sorted and priced by the time I came to help set up on Wednesday.

On our own, we would have sold 3 types of cookies. Because of 12 different people, we had zucchini bread, apple pies, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, muffins, dog treats, peanut brittle, and *drum roll please* 12.types.of.cookies!!!

On our own we would have been lucky to raise $200. But because of our family, friends, and community, we raised…

Are you sitting down?

Are your tissues ready?

Might as well forget tissues. Grab a sponge.

$5,079

Bringing our Adoption Fund up to $10,614.Fundraising Thermometer

God has taken us from brokenness to the most overwhelming joy and gratefulness. We thankful for our hardship, because it has put a “new song” in our hearts. These last 3 days we were met with gifts and encouragement every time we turned around. We have never felt more loved and can’t wait to share news of this baby with the many people who are helping us bring our next child home.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, an hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and revere and put their trust in the Lord.

Many O Lord,  my God, are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us no one can recount to you.

Were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare…

I cannot conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

Psalm 40:1-3, 5, 10

Why My Car Smells Like Hobby Lobby

When we first were considering doing a garage sale I thought, “My father-in-law lives right in town, maybe he will get more traffic than we would out here in the country. On a dirt road.”

I thought, “Last year I sold almost $200 in 2 days at my friend’s subdivision garage sale… every little bit helps.”

I thought, “We have so much we don’t really need” as I started a pile of clothing, DVD’s, books, 2 of the 3 necklaces I own, and home decor that haven’t been used in ages, but was met with protests of, “It’s perfectly good _____ and we might want it someday,” by my husband.

I did NOT think people would start bringing us totes and car-fulls of donated items.

I did NOT think my father-in-law would buy the contents of an abandoned storage unit from an auction.

I did NOT think my parents would have 3 trailers-full of donations for our sale.

I did NOT think a friend would actually.donate. her CAR!!!

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I did NOT think our aunt would donate a gorgeous 7-piece bedroom set.

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I did NOT think people would bake us 15 different types of cookies; an assortment of pies, breads, and cupcakes; and 60 jars of barbecue sauce.

I did NOT think joining the “Lake Odessa Garage Sale” group would result in 3,000 people wanting to buy our stuff.

Ok, that last one was an exaggeration, but only slightly!

 

So here we go! My car smells like Hobby Lobby because it’s full of silk flowers and vases that my coworker brought to me yesterday. And when I say  full, I truly mean FULL. She had even more, but I didn’t have room for it all. She seemed so disappointed…

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wpid-img_20150602_052131932.jpgWell, we have $15,000 left to raise and I think with everything that everyone has donated, we should be able cut that down by more than $200.

Holey Moley, people. Our baby is so very loved already. Thank you… 

I think I’ll just not bother wearing eye make-up for the next few days.

First News of a Birthmom

It’s been a long two-and-a-half weeks since getting approved to adopt. On average, our agency has 3 birth-moms a month looking for a families for their babies. Probability was not high we would have received news of a birth-mom before now, but with adoption you never know.

So of course I’ve been as attached to my phone as a 6th grade girl.

I was counting this week out and getting ready to jump in the shower after digging in the dirt (aka assisting my father-in-law with converting the whole front of our house into lovely flower beds. And by “assisting”, I mean my father-in-law probably did 95% of the work.)

*hangs head in shame*

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And then my phone ding-ed.

It was an email from our adoption worker about a birth-mom due in September.

And guess what else?

Twins!

*faint*

 Twins… a lot to consider. When we were first asked about our openness to adopting twins we said, “Sure, bring it on.” But the reality is that twins AND a 2 year old AND working full-time just sounds a bit overwhelming. Elise still needs so much attention, and both of us being occupied with a baby may not be a very easy transition for her.

But on the other hand, who gets to choose what’s easy? 

Also weighing-in on our decision are the preferences this birth-mom is looking for: Monthly visits, more if possible; a stay-at-home-mom situation; and a family that doesn’t yet have a child. None of these “preferences” are set in stone; birth parents will read all about us and our preferences for openness and make an informed decision.

 

We have until June to give our official answer, but surprisingly we both haven’t felt any “nudge” like these could be our babies. It’s especially surprising to me, because I’m usually the idealistic, rescuer type who would be open to taking any baby. Without a doubt though, there is some couple ready and excited about these babies and we still pray for a beautiful future for them.

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Meanwhile, we are revving-up for our garage sale that’s happening June 4-6. We have TONS of stuff that has been donated to us:

Clothing in all sizes

Furniture

Lamps

A Car

Yes, seriously, A CAR. I posted on facebook asking if anyone wanted to donate their “yacht, car, or house” for our sale – totally in jest. And then one of our good friends texted me saying they just bought a new car and wanted to donate their old one anyway. I just can’t believe you people… ❤

We will also have baked goods – basically every-flavor-cookie imaginable as well as some pies, barbecue sauce, vegan energy balls… the list keeps growing!

I realized today that Lakewood’s last day is June 4, so I hope to draw some people to the bake sale since the sale is adjacent to the school parking lot. So if your kids go to West El, come stop by for some Last-Day-of-School Treats!

Hope to have more news soon of other birth-moms looking for families, but for now we’ll keep busy while we wait!

New Raffle Prize from Old Orchard!

What juice do you crave on humid days like today? For me, it’s ice-cold grape juice.

My amazing friend Dana from Old Orchard hooked us up with a new Raffle Prize! It includes:

FREE Juice for a Year

(in the form of 52 “VIP” free product coupons, each redeemable for a free 64oz bottle of Old Orchard juice, any variety, up to a $3.49 value)

2 Tervis Tumblers

2 Old Orchard Watermelon Lip Balm

1 Men’s Cutter & Buck Quarter Zip Sweater

1 Women’s Nike Golf Quarter Zip Long-sleeve Shirt

1 Reusable Shopping Tote


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Approximate Retail Value: $290! 

To get in on this Raffle, just click here, donate $10 to our Adoption Fund, and when it lets you leave a note after you donate saying something like “Juice.” Or you can always donate in person too and let me know how many tickets you want. 40 days left till the drawing! Which probably sounds like a lot to you, but since we are doing it at our benefit dinner, I feel like we have sooo much to do before then! (And no, you do not have to be present at the dinner to win!)

New OOB Logo

Hope you win! I actually really wish you could ALL win, because ALL your support – whether $5 or $500 – means so much to us. All I can say is an overwhelming “thank you.” We promise to pay it forward whether by giving ourselves or by teaching our kids to be generous people like you!

(To see the rest of our Raffle Prizes, click here)

 

Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?

Our approval yesterday went great. We signed some papers and handed over our profile book. The adoption workers discussed what to expect next, which basically was anything. Every birth-mom is entirely different, and every adoptive family is different. It’s impossible to predict how long it will take for us to be chosen, but now we are officially a choice.

So of course in the mail today I opened the box to find a letter from Bethany.

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So sweet of them – a bill for $5000. Thankfully, we have been very used to limiting our spending and have saved up enough so that with the $2200 you have given us, we don’t need to panic or take out a loan!

Which means only $14,000-17,000 more to go!

Which leads me to the common question we are asked:

“Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?”

A great question! I wondered the same thing and checked on other agencies and other options for adopting for less. I was surprised to find that Bethany actually had the lowest cost of all the agencies I looked into. The short answer is this:

  • Birth mother expenses (hospital, housing, food)
  • Government and legal fees
  • Counseling with potential birth mothers
  • Adoption agency overhead and expenses
  • Advertising on your behalf

The only real way to bypass such incredible expenses is to adopt from foster care, which is no cost. And while we may do this in the future, foster care means two significant things we don’t feel ready for: (1) Agreeing to support the goal of re-uniting the child with their parents and (2) most-likely adopting an older child. With Elise not yet two years old, we felt ready to grow our family, but not ready to disrupt her birth-order or expect her to handle having foster-siblings coming and going from our home.

I believe back in 2012 there was a $12,000 government refund for adoption. Now, they have made up to $12,000 tax deductible. Which to me, makes no sense. At a minimum, why isn’t the entire expense tax deductible? Just sayin, it should be.

In addition, my employer offers $5000 reimbursement – which was amazing until I realized that I will not be paid for any leave I take because I did not give birth. So I am thankful for that, but will be using it to cover my leave. And taking that time is extremely important in adoption because the adoptive parents are not who the baby has heard and smelled and felt since conception. So much of the research supports new parents taking as much time as possible to bond with and nurture an infant.

So while the cost was EXTREMELY overwhelming at first — and still is somewhat of course — I’ve been amazed at God’s faithfulness throughout. Every single gift has been… an indescribable blessing. Not just because of the towering cost, but because people care. God cares. I was so disappointed when I found out my work did not win a $1500/employee bonus that we were favored for. The timing and amount would have been perfect. But God – through even more meaningful means – provided exactly what we needed. Thank you for every gift, friends – not just financially, but in your “congratulationses” (?), encouragement, and excitement for our family.