Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Greatest of These is LOVE...

The one thread that has been consistently woven throughout my adoption journey is Love.  Jesus is love and his plans for our lives are filled with this powerful message.

Love does matter most.

Love is what drove me to pursue my girls.

Love is what kept me going when the battle was overwhelming.

Love is what filled my heart the very first time I laid eyes on both of them.

Love is what pulsed through my body the first time I held them.

Love is what pierced people's hearts to root for us, to pray for us, to give lavishly to us, to encourage us, and to carry us home.

Love is what motivated Dr. Jon and Dr. Greg to perform outstanding procedures for my daughters so that they might move forward with confidence in life.

And Love is what continues to move me to extend the meaning of family to our precious Baby Jujube.

Love really does matter most and when we do our part to spread more love everywhere we go, love wins.

Here is the link to see our follow up on The Doctors.  The segment was done in two parts -for Roopa and for Munni.  Both links are below.  We are blessed because Love is indeed the greatest of all.

The Doctors -Roopa
The Doctors - Munni

If you would like to spread more love to help bring Baby Jujube home, please consider purchasing one of our amazing t-shirts.  I pray that you would wear a smile each time you wear it and that you would brighten the day of those whose paths you cross.  Thank you!!!
There are styles for the whole family! Regular crew necks, ladies v neck, and youth.  Click here to order yours :) 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Spreading More Love!

They're BACKKKKKK!!!!!  Several people missed the Love Matters Most - Spread More Love t-shirts campaign the first time so they're back!  They will be on sale until Memorial Day Monday, May 30th!  They are American Apparel and SUPER soft and comfy!  The Campaign page lists the links for both adult and youth sizes YAY!  Also, there are fun summer colors:  lime green, raspberry, teal, black, grey, and black :)

All proceeds go towards Baby Jujube's adoption!  Please consider buying a shirt and know YOU are changing the world for one!!

Click here to purchase your shirt!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Love Matters Most

Back on the fundraising train!!  I get filled when trepidation whenever I start fundraising. That fear turns into humbleness and pure joy at seeing all those who step up to help change the world for my girls!!!  I hope our littlest coconut is surrounded by the same love!!

This t-shirt is American Apparel and SUPER comfy!  The campaign runs through April 25, 2016.  You can purchase one here!

In the climate of our culture today, I think  this message of love is more important than ever.  I hope you buy a t-shirt and spread more love everywhere you go 😀.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Modern Twist...

Here's the story
Of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls
None of them had hair of gold
Like their mother
The youngest one she longed to hold...

We are excited to share that we are adding one more chickadee to our family nest!  Munni, Roopa, and I are thrilled to be on this journey one last time to complete our family!

I am about 3/4 of the way through the home study and half way through the dossier.  There are so many exciting things for us on the horizon, and this littlest princess is at the top of the list!  I am not yet matched with a child but we pray for Baby #3 everyday.  Summer will be a very exciting time for us!  We would appreciate your prayers as we embark again on this amazing journey to bring home our precious, awaited baby girl!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Reflections and New Horizons

The last 5 or so months have been incredible in regards to the truths that Christ has been teaching me.  He has also been preparing me for a new season.  He has reminded me of all that he has accomplished in my life and is giving me glimpses of some things to come.  He is calling me to step out in faith in a way I've never done before.  And it's scary.  I will save the details for later but in the meantime, I hope to encourage anyone who may be in a similar season :)

Two books in particular have been instrumental in getting me to the place where I am now - ready to free fall for God.  Imagine Heaven: Near Death Experiences, God's Promises, And The Exhilarating Future That Awaits You is a book unlike anything I have ever read.  He interviewed over 3,000 people from all walks of life and all places who experienced Heaven and then had to come back.  It's amazing to hear the similarities that they described.  It's a book I would recommend for anyone to read - you will finish it and yearn for Heaven!  The second book is Restless:  Because You Were Made For More.  Whoa!  This book could not have come at a more perfect time in my life.  Again, you will be changed by this book and your relationship with Jesus will never be the same.

These two books, the bible, and a ton of prayer time have imbedded these truths in my heart:

1) God loves you more than anything you could possibly imagine.  Nothing you do, have done, or are planning to do can change that.  You can't earn his love.  You can't lose his love.  You can be a heroin addict or tee totaler.  You can be the most honest person alive or the biggest liar.  You can be a murderer or a life saver.  It doesn't matter because His love is not conditional on you and your actions.  His love is because of his essence and who he is - Love.  No matter how bad you may think you've messed up, STOP.  That is a lie from the pit of hell.  Nothing, and I mean nothing will change his love for you.

2) Having faith in Jesus and stepping out of the boat for him will ALWAYS look/seem/appear absolutely insane to our culture and world.  This is purposeful on God's part.  The more you grow and step out, the more the unimaginable will be accomplished through you so that we can boldly say, "Only God."

3)  He created you to be AMAZING!!!  In each of us, he deposited unique gifts and talents that only we can use to accomplish his purposes!  We are vessels for his love.  He wants to use your uniqueness to spread his love to those who cross your path in this life.  You are the only one who is you.  I am the only one who is me.  I have this conversation with Munni all the time.  I tell her to look at our flower garden and ask her, "How boring would it look if we only had roses?"  What makes our garden beautiful is the variety of flowers - all different shapes, sizes, color, and fragrances!

I am humbled today reflecting on what Jesus' resurrection means for me ~ the things he endured so that I might live and spend eternity with him.  He can take anything and bring new life to it.  The one thing I always wanted was to be a mom.  I made crappy relationship choices and found myself at a point in my life where the "traditional" way to have children was not an option.  But you know what?  God put that dream of being a mom in my heart and he brought it to fruition.  What I thought was dead, he resurrected.  And not only did he resurrect it, he made me a mom in a way that was beyond ANYTHING I could EVER have imagined!  My girls are the biggest blessings to me and a constant reminder that God is the master of the impossible!

I hope to encourage anyone who may feel God tugging at their heart to take that step of faith ~ whatever it may be ~ to know that He will accomplish something so amazing and unique through you that when you get to the other side, you will wonder why you ever hesitated!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Life Lessons and Honeybee

We have a new member in our family!  This is Honeybee :)

She has such a sweet face!

She is a 14 year old boxer who was on the verge of going to a shelter where undoubtedly, she would meet Mr. Sleepy :(

And then God intervened because he wasn't finished with her yet :)

Last year was an incredible year and  I will never be able to articulate all of the emotions I have felt.  We have had the highest highs and the lowest lows.  I am beyond blessed that I get to be my girls' mom and I am eternally grateful that I am privileged to walk through life with them.

My adoption journey started in June of 2009 when I prayed all summer for clarity if I should move forward to adopt as a single.  That fall, I started researching and praying about where to adopt from and by my birthday in March, I was in process to adopt from Nepal.  From that point on, my faith took a journey like the wildest roller coaster I could ever imagine.  Six and a half years later, I sit here and try to process everything.  I have met so many amazing people through this journey and have made beautiful friendships with other adoptive moms.  We have wept together, prayed together, ate cheese popcorn together, laughed together, celebrated together, gone crazy together, and most importantly, grown in our faiths together.

I was talking to one of these dear friends the other day and we came to the conclusion that the adoption process was a refining fire to help prepare us for the actual gig of parenting a child with trauma.  We have battle scars from fighting for our children.  It has taken a toll on all of us.  Jesus tells his disciples to count their costs and pick up their cross in order to follow him.  The cross was not easy.  It was painful - excruciatingly so - and heavy to bear.  At one point, the soldiers had to force Simon to pick up the cross and help Jesus.  Notice that Simon did not volunteer.  Everything the cross represented, no one wanted to be a part of it.

For the past month or so I've been learning so much about myself.  I feel like Jesus has been stripping me of baggage that I've been carrying around for too long.  He's been opening my eyes like never before to the way I want to live my life.  Becoming a mom has impressed upon me even more how important my daily words and actions are.  One of Munni and Roopa's favorite games to play is what they affectionately call, "Mommy daughter."  One of them is me and the other rotates being the daughter.  It's very sweet to watch.  Until  you start hearing some of your words come out of their mouths and see some of your actions re-enacted.  It makes me cringe.  But I'm thankful that God shows me these things because it encourages me to continue to strive to be a better mom.  I was thinking about the cross and how my adoption journey and motherhood is my cross.  It might sound weird to say this, but I couldn't be more thankful for this cross I bear.  It has exposed my selfishness in a way that nothing else could.  And isn't that the root of all sin?  Putting ourselves before Christ?  I want to live my life selflessly.  I want to love in ways that will be a blessing to others.  And that type of love costs.

The other day I had a heart to heart talk with Munni.  We have a family bed and the girls rotate who sleeps next to me.  Usually, it's fine.  Lately however, Roopa has been struggling with fear and just needing to sleep next to her mommy.  Without me even having to ask or suggest it, Munni has told us that Roopa can have Munni's turn.  I told Munni when we were talking about it later that I was so proud of her because THAT is the kind of love that Jesus talks about when he tells us to lay down our lives for others.  I told her that I know that sleeping next to me is so precious to her and it's something that she REALLY wants, so for her to sacrifice that in order that her sister will feel comfort, just completely blows me away!  I can see in her sweet face and the tears in her eyes that it costs her greatly.  However, the life lesson that she is gaining from this is huge.  I pray every day that my girls will have tender hearts and compassion for others.  I hope to model this for them.  I want our little family to be a blessing to others.  It's easy to have compassion when it's convenient, but what about when it disrupts life?  What about when it comes at a personal cost?  In those circumstances, I hope that we will choose to be compassionate.

So how does all of this relate to an old dog?  I get alerts from a boxer rescue site.  Right around Christmas, I was scrolling through their page and I saw Honeybee's photo.  I read her description and my heart sank because I thought there is no one who will take a 14 yr old dog.  I thought about how hard it would be to become attached and then lose her in a relatively short amount of time.  People usually don't like to sign up for that kind of pain.  I went on with my day and the rest of the holiday season.  However, God was using all I had been learning and brought it to fruition a few weeks later.

Last week, I bought the book Imagine Heaven.  It has been an incredible read.  It's a compilation of over 1,000 interviews of people who have had near death experiences.  The author compiled all of the similarities that these people experienced in their interaction with Heaven.  One commonality was the panoramic movie of people's lives.  While watching this movie, they described seeing how each of their actions - both good and bad - affected other people.  This really struck a chord with me.  I'm in a season where I'm trying to be acutely aware of my words and actions.  I thought back to my conversation with Munni and her sacrifice of love for her sister.  I thought about the effect of her compassion for Roopa and how beautiful it is.  Then I thought about the cross and how Jesus completely changed everything it used to represent.  Through his sacrifice and resurrection we are redeemed.  In place of death, we now have redemption and hope.  I thought about how my girls have been redeemed through adoption.  It made me realize on such a deeper level that through heartache and sacrifice, something so much greater can be born out of it.

The next day, I received another alert from the rescue site.  Honeybee was still listed.  I got a twinge in my heart and I knew we needed to take her into our family.  I had a long discussion with both of the girls explaining that because of her age, she probably won't be with us for long.  I told them that she will probably have accidents in the house, which will require us cleaning it up.  I told them that she might not be able to take normal walks.  But I finished by telling them that we have an opportunity to give this sweet dog in her last days a family who loves her.  Roopa told me, "Mommy, let's make her happy!"  Munni said she would feed her and clean up her messes.  She also told me that she wanted to change her name to Honeybee because she was too pretty for the name she currently had :)  I became obsessed.  I emailed.  I waited 30 seconds and then texted.  I waited another 30 seconds and then called and left a message because I wasn't sure if it was a landline or not.    A long 45 minutes later, I received a text back.  Yes, she was still available!  We exchanged information and set up a pick up time at Ikea - the halfway point.  They also sent me another picture of her.
She looks so sad :(

When we finally met Honeybee, I was shocked at how thin she was.  It wasn't just old age thinness - it was thinness from neglect.  She jumped right into my car and never looked back.  I spoke with the owner who had her since she was a puppy.  Five years ago, this owner went through a gigantic life change and unfortunately, Honeybee was pretty much forgotten.  I truly don't believe that it was from ill will - I know this person is completely overwhelmed even now.  But just to give you an idea, we called Honeybee by her given name multiple times, by all of us at different times, and she never once responded.  As in, not even an eyebrow raised or ear perked.  And by the pictures below, you can see she wasn't really eating.
She probably needs to gain between 12 and 15 lbs

It's painful to look at her
The first night in our house, she was completely stressed.  I was heartbroken for her.  She had 3 immediate accidents even after going potty right before coming inside.  She had the long drool and refused to eat any of her food.  We ended up going to bed early and she managed to snuggle between Roopa and me.

Roopa was so excited to snuggy with her!

The next morning, I woke up and took a shower.  About 30 minutes later, Munni woke up and Honeybee with her.  She came out of the bedroom and greeted me with the signature boxer wiggle!!  I was ecstatic because with that wiggle, I knew she was going to be ok.  The only problem was that she still wouldn't eat her food.  I tried giving some of Simon and Rollie's and she wouldn't eat that either.  I did a ton of research and ended up buying some high caloric gel and a rotisserie chicken.  Jackpot!  Then I found out about "satin balls."  We bought the ingredients and whipped some up and again, success!  These are high calorie meatballs made for malnourished doggies.  I then tried a can of chicken chunk dog food and she ate that as well.  I feel so at peace that we found her some nutritious food that will help get some weight back on her.  She is the sweetest little lady and Simon and Rollie have been perfect gentlemen.  She is such a little blessing to our family and she is a daily reminder that even if it's inconvenient, the return on compassion is love.

They are becoming fast friends!

Living the dog's life... passed out on my lap :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Whole Lotta Everything

This summer was filled with every emotion imaginable.  I am extremely grateful for the moments of joy and peace because those moments helped get us through the rest.  By the end, I was completely worn out. Spent. Exhausted. Empty.  Ready for a new season.  One of the blessings that came out of the hard times is that I really grew in the area of taking it one day at a time.  Although I am far from perfecting that, I definitely reached a new level.  There were numerous circumstances of which I had no control - and that forced me to surrender each day to the Lord.  

During one overwhelmingly emotional week, God clearly spoke to me - at my bird feeder.  It was in the morning, the girls were still sleeping, and I was making coffee.  I looked out the kitchen window at the early morning sun and saw that the bird feeder was dangling empty from the Birch tree.  Ugh.  One more thing for which I was responsible.  The dogs were looking at me expectantly, waiting to go outside, and I was feeling overwhelmed.  I know that probably sounds stupid, but I hadn't been paid since the beginning of January so every little responsibility seemed like a mountain on my shoulders.  I told myself I would fill it later and kept going about my morning routine.  But something kept gnawing at my heart and finally I decided I would walk out to the tree and fill it.  I grabbed the half full bucket of bird food and went outside.  The dogs ran around the yard being their normal, crazy selves.  I walked out to the tree, head down, and unhooked the bird feeder.  This particular feeder has the middle part with the glass windows for the seed and then two wire sidebars for suets.  As I unhooked the feeder, it spun around and on the side I couldn't see when I first grabbed it, was a small sparrow who had gotten himself wedged into the wire suet holder.  It startled me at first!  The tiny sparrow stared up at me.  I set the bucket down and sat on the rock to try and help this little bird.  He was stuck so tightly that I was afraid I would break one of his wings or little legs.  As I gingerly moved him to determine if it was better to push him through or pull him back out, I felt God whisper to me, "You've spent 15 minutes caring for this tiny sparrow.  How much more do I care for you?"  And then the verse popped into my mind:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." - Matthew 10:29-31

Tears ran down my face as I continued to free the little bird.  When he finally emerged unscathed from his temporary prison, he sat in my hand and looked up at me.  It seemed as if time stood still.  That little sparrow and I held eye contact while he sat in my hand.  What an incredible lesson God taught me through that sweet, little bird.  And then the spell was broken and he flew away.  I could feel joy and peace flood my heart.  Throughout the summer, I revisited that moment many times.  When things got hard and I started to worry and doubt, I was able to focus on that touchstone which God so lovingly gave to me!

Here are some of the ways that God completely blessed and showered us with his love!  In June, the girls were in a mini-documentary about adoption.  This film is being entered into numerous film festivals and will be released in November during National Adoption Month.  The best part is that the film is being donated to the Cincinnati Children's International Adoption Clinic to help raise awareness about the plight of orphans around the world and the health issues that accompany many of them.  You can check out more about the group Found, here.  I can't wait to see this at the CIA's fundraiser in November!  Also, this year BOTH Munni and Roopa will be in the fashion show!  Munni is already planning their outfits lol!

One of the biggest factors contributing to my anxiety was trying to figure out childcare for Roopa once I returned to work in August.  I found an amazing nanny who loves Jesus and loves my girls.  This was a HUGE answer to prayer.  Those mamas who have adopted and haven't had their kiddos home for long, understand all the complexities involved with having to leave your child in the care of another.  Our nanny has a beautiful heart and is an incredible blessing to us!  She even bought the girls these adorable shirts!
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" - AMEN!!!
Securing childcare for Roopita relieved a ton of pressure off of me.  Next, I was able to focus on both of the girls' medical procedures.  Due to scheduling conflicts, the procedures were pushed back until August.  On the 12th, I re-adopted Roopa in the state of Ohio and then immediately after the court hearing, headed to Wisconsin to meet with Greg Gion at The Medical Art Prosthetics Clinics & Anaplastologists.  I can not say enough about Dr. Greg!  He is an extremely talented, kind, and compassionate man.  He worked tirelessly for two days, crafting the cutest, little, prosthetic nose for Roopa!  It's an incredibly complex process and I learned so much from it!  We are truly blessed to have been able to work with him!
They love to match!  Traveling in style :)    

Roopa with her new prosthetic nose!
Once we got back home, I had to do a photo shoot :)  

Roopa is seriously nonstop comedy!
A week after we returned home, I had my first day back to school and Munni had her scar revision procedure.  It was more difficult and heartbreaking than I could have imagined.  God gave me supernatural strength to keep it together throughout the procedure.  I knew I had to be strong for her and I couldn't let get anything in the way of Munni knowing that I was there for her 110% to comfort and love her.  I wrote more about it here.  I don't want to revisit that ever again :(

My beautiful Munni Bird right before the procedure

Last minute snuggles with her little sister before she went back for the procedure
I will never be able to express my eternal gratitude to Dr. Jon Mendelsohn.  There aren't enough words to describe his compassion and kindness.  This procedure was unlike anything I would have ever anticipated because of the emotional triggers and flashbacks.  Even the nurses were crying and had to take turns leaving the room to wipe their eyes.  His professionalism coupled with his empathy was beyond anything I have ever experienced.  Blessed doesn't even describe how fortunate we are to be able to work with him.  My thankfulness runs deeper than words and to know that he is committed to my daughters' physical and emotional healing is a priceless gift!

Some wonderful friends dropped by with some "cheer you ups"  

The next day :(
These were an unexpected delivery from Dr. Jon!  It was the first smile in two days :)
Dr. Jon knew her nickname is Munni Bird.  This just shows his thoughtfulness sending her Birds of Paradise!

The wristbands were a big hit in the healing process!
I made this collage to show the immediate differences.  She still has several more procedures to go, but with each day it looks better and better!

looking beautiful and happy :)
Roopa has been struggling a bit with me returning to school.  It's a juggling act meeting everyone's needs and making sure I get some alone time with each of my girls. 
Roopa is so fun!
We were able to spend quite some time at a dear friend's pool.  Much to Munni's delight, they also have a pear tree.  On Labor day, she was finally able to pick a pear!
Everything about this picture makes me laugh!
September 11th is Roopa's "Happy Birthday" as she likes to call it :)  For the past month, she has been talking about turning 4.  I got a very pleasant surprise email from her orphanage.  They sent her an ecard birthday wish and said they have pictures from her first birthday.  They are still trying to find them but the fact that they remembered her birthday and sent a card, I know that she is greatly missed and was loved deeply.

Shortly after I was matched with Roopa, Munni and I celebrated her 2nd birthday.  We thought FOR SURE we would be celebrating her 3rd together as a family.  Instead, we celebrated another birthday without her home.  FINALLY, we got to celebrate Roopita's 4th birthday!!  She loves, loves, loves Doc McStuffins.  One of my very good friends makes cakes for fun.  I asked her if she would make a cake for Roopa's first birthday celebration with us and thankfully, she agreed!  I was blown away when I saw the finished product!!!  And not only did it look amazing but it was delicious!!!  THANK YOU CATIE!!!!!!

Doc McRoopa!!

I mean, how adorable is this cake??!!
When we were in India, we were gifted all of these beautiful, traditional Bhuj dresses!  These two had been planning for weeks which ones they would wear for Roopa's big celebration!

My two Indian princesses!!
Even though the rain forced us out of the original park plans and back home, Roopa had no trouble digging right in and opening her gifts!

She was so happy to get Doc McStuffins!

I love her so much!

Mommy Roopa!!

Being silly :)

This whole summer I have spent hours reflecting on God and his goodness.  One day I was having a philosophical discussion with a friend and it struck me that one of God's greatest gifts to us is hope.  Where would we be without it?  I look at my girls and that theme resonates so completely in both of their lives.  Each day is a new day - filled with hope and promise!  Hope leads to redemption and redemption leads to love.  For without love, there would be no redemption.  When I see Roopa and the joy that fills her little heart, I get a lump in my throat.  I think back to May of 2013 when God gave me the vision for the Spread More Love t-shirts.  I didn't know about Roopa yet, but God did.  And I can't think of a more appropriate quote that describes Roopa.  Everywhere this little girl goes, she puts a smile on stranger's faces.  She brightens days and brings happiness and laughter to others.  In the essence of her being, Roopa Joy spreads more love.