Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Walking On Water

For those of us who grew up in church, we are very familiar with the Bible story of Peter's water walking journey. For the benefit of those who don't know it so well, here's the Kara Notes (similar to Cliff Notes, but my name's not Cliff...so I'm calling them Kara Notes! )...

It was right after Jesus fed the multitude with one little boy's lunch. Jesus sent the disciples in the boat ahead of Him to the other side while He sent the crowds away and went up on the mountain to pray alone. Way out in the water, the disciples spot Jesus walking on water and think they're seeing a ghost! Jesus immediately speaks to their fear and says, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter, apparently the bold one in the bunch, says if it's really Jesus, that Jesus should command Peter to come to Him. Jesus takes him up on it and simply says, "Come!" So, Peter hoists his legs over the side of the boat and starts walking on water, his eyes focused totally on Jesus. But then something happens...perhaps the waves splash up on his feet and legs or the wind whips his hair in his face, but all of a sudden, Peter realizes the very real danger of being that far out in the water without a boat. He takes his eyes off Jesus and immediately begins to sink. He cries out, "Lord, save me!" and Jesus reaches out His hand to him saying, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Then they get back in the boat and the storm is over. (If you want to read the actual account of this story and not just my humble paraphrase - check out Matthew 14:22-33)

At this point, if you are still with me, you may be wondering why in the world I felt the need to share that story on my blog. Well, the answer to that is pretty simple...because today during my Quiet Time alone with God, He showed me just how much Peter and I are alike! I can't tell you how many times I've heard that story and thought, how in the world did Peter have enough faith to get out of the boat and not make it all the way to Jesus? Oh, how many times I've judged Peter for his lack of faith! I very piously sit back and think, if it had been ME looking Jesus in the face, I NEVER would have taken my eyes off Him! You know what they say about the word NEVER? Yep...you should NEVER say NEVER...because it will ALWAYS come back to haunt you! ;)

I can tell you, as I sat down on the couch this morning with my cup of coffee, my Bible, and my prayer journal to meet with God, Peter was the farthest person from my mind, let alone his water walking journey! It wasn't even part of my Bible reading...so as I started writing in my prayer journal and suddenly realized just how much I was like Peter, I knew it came straight from God...and boy, was I humbled by it! Even as I was writing in my prayer journal, I came to the realization that I needed to share it with you. While I only intended to retell what I learned in my prayer journaling this morning, right now, I have a very strong conviction that I just need to let you read it for yourself. So, I'm going to do something I don't often do, and share with you word-for-word what I wrote in my prayer journal today. If it somehow helps you, then even better. All I ask is that you not judge me unkindly for stepping out in faith and sharing from my heart. As I said, when I wrote this journal, it was intended as a private conversation between God and me alone...but, as He sometimes does on rare occasions, I feel He wants me to share it with you, as well. :) So, here goes...

Heavenly Father,
In the midst of the craziness of my life, I feel that time is both moving too fast and too slow at the same time. Too fast, in that so many things seem to be happening all at once. Too slow, in that I want this adoption to be completed yesterday! And yet, there still appears to be no way for this adoption to happen. I need some assurance, Lord. I don't want to doubt - I want to believe You will make this happen. I want to have unwavering faith. When I look around at all You have already done, I feel like such a fool for doubting You. And yet, when I look at how far we have to go, I get so afraid. (Side Note: As you will see, this is the point where God pointed out to me that I was like Peter!) I guess I'm like Peter on the water. When my eyes are focused on You alone, I feel like nothing is impossible. But when I look around at the waves (in this case, adoption costs), then my fear grabs hold and I start to sink. And once again, I must cry out, "Help me, Lord!" - just like Peter!
I used to wonder how Peter could have enough faith in You to get out of the boat in the first place, and yet lose that faith half-way across the ocean, and become afraid of the waves. Didn't he see the waves before he got out of the boat? Of course he did - but that wasn't his focus then. His focus was on You! But when he took his eyes off You and looked around, the danger of the waves became his focus and he began to fear. When he began to fear, he began to sink. While he was sinking, he returned his focus to You and called out for help. You reached out and drew him close to You.
I see that in this situation (our adoption). When my focus is on You, and only You, then I believe with my whole heart that this adoption is going to happen. But all it takes is for someone to ask how far along we are in the process - perhaps like the waves splashing up on Peter's legs and feet - and then I realize how far we have to go and that becomes my focus. When I focus on how little we have raised compared to how much is due, then my faith begins to fade and my heart begins to sink! I become overwhelmed with the thought that it won't happen and once again, I call out, "Help me, Lord!" - and EVERY. TIME. You come through! Thank you, Lord! Amen

Notice that at no point in my journaling did God tell me HOW He would provide...but He showed me instead what I needed to see more than any amount of money in our adoption fund...His faithfulness to always be there, to always provide what we need when we need it! I've had a couple of people remind me lately that even if this adoption does not happen, that God's will would still be done. And they are right - no matter what answer God gives, it is always according to His will. I realize that these individuals are mostly concerned for how we will handle it God chooses to answer differently than we hoped. And, I can share with you (and them) that if His answer is no, then we will indeed mourn the loss...but we will also accept His will and trust that He has something better for us! By the same token, can I also share something very cool with you? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that I have come to a point when I was so overwhelmed with the thought this adoption wouldn't happen and was ready to give up...at that very moment, God shows up in some way to renew my faith....just like He reached out His hand to Peter as he was sinking from doubt! So, I have to believe that He has a plan. I don't know what that plan is or from where the help will come...except that it will come from the Lord! This morning, a verse popped in my head even before I began my Quiet Time...it was from a Psalm I learned in RefresHer (our Ladies' Bible Study class at church) some time ago. And so, I will close this blog post with it...

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the mountains -
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip -
He who watches over you will not slumber;

Indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you -
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;

The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm -
He will watch over your life.;

The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

God Is At Work!


Lately, I've felt quite like the beggar. I feel like all I've done is beg people to buy a T-shirt, attend our Spaghetti Dinner, or purchase from one of our many Avon fundraisers - all so we can bring our son's sibling home. If you know me at all, you know how uncomfortable this is for me! I hate asking people for money. I hate asking for help of any kind! I'd much rather be self-sufficient. But, God has reminded me over and over that He did NOT put me on this earth to be self-sufficient! If I were able to be self-sufficient, I would not need to depend on Him - and I would become my own god...and what a poor, ineffective god that would be!

Last night, I went to church pretty much like every other week...and yet, God had greater plans for that meeting! He totally met me face to face in that worship service...it was like coming home! I'm humbled to admit that my church attendance lately had become just that...attendance. I'd check the box off my mental "to-do" list - yep, attended church this week - filled my chair, sang the appropriate songs, read along in my Bible, and listened patiently to whatever the pastor had to say before moving along to my Bible & Life Group to meet with friends, where we would read and discuss God's word. This all sounds great...after all, isn't that what a "good Christian" does?

Problem is, I knew it was supposed to be different. I knew there was supposed to be more. How did I know? Because I'd felt it! Growing up, there was nothing I loved more than being at church! My maternal grandfather was the pastor of my childhood home church and his love of God was contagious! If the doors were open, my grandfather was there...and I wanted to be by his side! At the conclusion of each service, I looked forward to walking out to the foyer with him and shaking the hands of the congregation by his side. Not only did I love God and His church...but I also loved His people! This was the highlight of my week!

Not only did I love being at church, but I also just enjoyed simply being with God, no matter where I was! He was always with me and I knew I could talk to Him any time of any day...He was always my closest confidant! I remember many times at night having long conversations with Him after I'd gone to bed. I don't know that I realized then what I had...but I sure knew when it wasn't there anymore! Somewhere along the lines, I "grew up" and lost my child-like faith.

But, last night, my faith was renewed! It was totally unexpected...and I couldn't have done anything to prepare for our orchestrate it! It started as we sang praise songs at the beginning of the service and the phrase "ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE" kept jumping out at me from the screen (our church puts the words to the songs on screens at the front of the church). Everyone else in the building seemed to think that the words just flowed with the rest of the song, but to me, they stuck out light bright lights on a billboard! Immediately, I began to think about our adoption and how impossible it seemed that we would be able to make it happen. Then I realized that WE are not the ones who will make it happen...God will! What is impossible in our own strength is totally possible with God! My heart soared as I, for the first time in a long time, fully worshiped God! I reached for David's hand and gave it a squeeze...he squeezed mine back. Without sharing a single word I knew we were one in our shared worship of the only One that can make the impossible possible!

During the invitation part of the service, where the congregation is invited to share with a pastor a decision that God has laid on their heart and/or pray at the alter, David leans over and asks me to go to the alter to pray. David had no idea how much this simple request meant to me! For several weeks, I wanted to do just that at the invitation, but I felt God holding me back. I felt like He was telling me that I needed to wait on David to lead in that area. So, I submissively prayed quietly at my seat each week, praying also that when the time was right, God would lead David to take the initiative. When David leaned over and suggested we pray at the alter last night, I knew in that moment that my prayer had been answered! As David prayed for our family and this adoption at the alter, though I could not hear every word he said over the music playing, I had a calm assurance that God did and that He would answer our prayer and give us this desire of our heart!

I cannot explain this faith to you...it's something you have to experience for yourself. But, I can tell you that Hebrews 11:1 defines it this way: "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see" (NLT). If that doesn't describe our adoption journey, I don't know what does! :) If I look only at what I can see with my own eyes, I see a bank account lacking in the ability to pay the adoption costs, I see numerous fundraisers that have failed to provide as much as we had hoped, and I start to lose hope. But, if I set my focus on God and His promises, and have faith that He will bring to completion the work He has started in us and our family, then I have to believe that He will provide a way where there seems to be no way. And when He does, He will receive ALL of the glory for it! For He alone can make this adoption happen! :)

So, as I conclude this blog post, I will not ask you for any money. If God lays it on your heart to give, then I pray you will follow His leading alone. But, what I do ask you for is your continued prayers. Some of you have shared with me that you wished you could give to us financially, but all you can offer us is your prayers. We need those most of all! God already knows how this will work out and He has a perfect plan. We trust Him to work out all the details. He knows who needs to give and who simply needs to pray. So, if you heart is to help us, and so many of you have already expressed that desire, then I simply ask you to pray and ask God how He would have you help. Maybe He wants to use you to pass the word along so that He can use someone we haven't met yet to meet the need. Maybe He wants to use you to sell tickets or promote our fundraisers. Maybe He wants you to give a specific amount. Or maybe, He simply wants you to pray for His will to be done. Whatever HE is calling you to do, that's what we want you to do! Nothing more, nothing less. God's resources are unlimited...and He loves to use His people to do His work...so whatever part in that He has called you to do, that is the most important thing you can do for us! :) Thank you for being a part of this journey with us! You are very important to us...and even more important to God!

If my blog post today seems a little odd to you, or you have no idea what I'm talking about...then I would love to answer any questions you have. If you don't have a personal relationship with God, then my prayer for you is that you will give your life to Him and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Without Him, we would have no hope! It would be my greatest honor if this journey leads to an opportunity to share that hope with you! :)

So in closing, if I may, I'd like to borrow a line from Tiny Tim in Charles' Dickens' A Christmas Carol (with a slight modification) and say, "God bless you, everyone!"

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Shopping? Oh Yes, I Did! :)

I got my first taste of the Black Friday Fever several years ago when, as a preteen or teenager, I went to Wal-Mart at midnight with the adventurous ladies in my family. The frenzy, the deals, the fun! I was hooked! It quickly became something I looked forward to every year...and this year was no different! :)

My shopping buddies have varied over the years...sometimes with family, sometimes with friends, and occasionally, as I was this year...solo! With my assignment from Santa and armed with the most organized plan I've every had, I headed out my door at about 9:30pm. Now, for those of you who know me, you may be a bit surprised that I enjoy Black Friday shopping as much as I do because it puts me smack dab in the middle of two things I usually avoid - (1) large crowds and (2) shopping alone at night! But there's just something about Black Friday that draws me out.

Obviously, this year we are very tight on funds as we seek to adopt our son's biological sibling, so we must make every penny spent count! While Christmas is certainly not about the gifts, it is still a very magical time for children and part of the fun is opening gifts. David and I agreed that we would NOT buy each other any gifts, because we are hoping to bring the ultimate gift home in June when Christopher's sibling is born! At the same time, I don't want Christopher to feel that this adoption is taking anything away from him. While the amount of gifts will be less, and certainly less expensive, than in years past, we feel it is important that he still have gifts under the tree!

So...I planned my attack with more organization and planning than I ever have before! As usual, I looked through all of the sales circulars in the paper yesterday morning and set aside the ones for stores I planned to visit. Usually, this is about where my organization ends...maybe with a few items marked or circled to guide me in my shopping...but not this year! I went back through my stack and sorted them by opening time. Then I went through each one and made a list by store of the items I was considering for purchase, as well as price or discount (depending on how it was listed). I loaded this list on my phone for easy accessibility while shopping and weeded out a couple of items. All this was done before we headed out for our Thanksgiving dinner with David's mom and brother!

After a great Thanksgiving dinner with Mom J and Chuck and some visit time, we headed back home, put away leftovers, and I finalized my plan before heading out. My plan was to head to Toys R Us first, since they opened at 9pm, I thought maybe the line would be pretty much gone by the time I got there. I thought wrong! In the picture above, you can see the line was in full force! In fact, it was wrapped around the parking lot. I took the picture & debated about getting in line or not. I decided to go for it...I'm not really sure why. It's not like there was anything in Toys R Us that I was chomping at the bit for...just a couple things I wanted to check out...only one of which I actually purchased - a $2 stocking stuffer! But...while standing in said line, the lady behind me told me about a Black Friday app. Having nothing better to do while waiting in line, I decided to download it (a free app) and began checking out the deals listed. It was this app that directed me to my big purchase at Toys R Us...an organizational thing for the vast amount of Legos that grace the playroom (most of them from David's childhood).

Shopping in Toys R Us was by far the worst experience of the night! For someone who is a bit claustrophobic (hence the reason I avoid crowds of people for the most part), this was daunting at best. I was barely in the door when I found the Lego thing and was trying to maneuver around to get it in my cart when the not-so-nice employee told me I needed to clear the aisle. What a great way to start! But...I got it and made my way around the store to check out the other items on the list (figured I was in, might as well check them out)...decided against two and bought the stocking stuffer. Then came the maze to the check out! I had to weave my way back to the other side of the store and then made my way to the check-out. The same employee who had barked at me coming in the door was there to inform me again that I was not playing this game appropriately (thought somewhat nicer this time)! I was already feeling dazed and confused...thankfully, my friend Loretta was there to direct me (she was next to get in line)! Apparently, I needed to find the lady with the balloon and weave my way through shelves to get to the point where this employee could direct me to the check-out. Problem was...I saw no lady with a balloon. Silly me, I thought she'd be holding a helium balloon that would be easy to see. I actually found the end of the line on my own, and as I was weaving my way through, I spotted the employee with the balloon held down by her side. Oh my! I finally made it out of the store 2 hours after I first got in line...most of that time spent in line either trying to get in the store or get out! ;)

After tucking my purchases in my car, I saw my friends Ryan & Amy, who were smart enough to go to Wal-mart first and come back! I handed off my cart to them and chatted for a few minutes, then made my way to Wal-mart. A few things on my list...one being the LeapFrog Tag because we have a USA map that has gone unused because I didn't realize when I bought it for our schoolwork this year that it didn't come with the Tag! Finally made my way to the toy aisle and the ONLY one they have is PINK!!! I could just hear Christopher on Christmas morning, "PINK?!? That's a GIRL color!!!" I hesitated a bit, frantically searched the aisles to see if maybe, just maybe, a green one had been put down somewhere (it hadn't)...then made the executive decision to get it anyway. I figured I had time to exchange it for a green one before Christmas, so why not. Picked up a couple of other little things and made my way to the check-out. While waiting in line, I marveled again (as I had at Toys R Us) at just how many people brought their kids Black Friday shopping...and not just babies, but school-age kids, too! Wouldn't that defeat the purpose? Oh well...who am I to judge? I finally reached the little kindly gentleman who directed me to my assigned register. I'm standing behind this guy who tells me all about his $198 32" HDTV in his buggy. You'd think he was trying to sell me on it! While I'm sure it's a great deal, a $200 TV (no matter how great it is) just is not in the budget this year! He stops his sales pitch long enough to tell me someone else got out of a line if I wanted to take advantage of it...I did!

Next stop, Kohl's! This was my Angry Birds stop. Christopher is absolutely crazy about angry birds...obsessed might be a better word! ;) I scored some pj's, a t-shirt, & a card game for Christopher...all angry birds! Time to head for yet another line. This line started at the back of the store...never a good sign! While waiting in line, I got to see my friends Linda & Tonya. About 10 minutes into waiting, I come to a sign that says, "From this point, you have a 15 minute wait to the register" - wait...am I shopping or at a theme park! ;) Can I just say that the signs along that line (yes, there was one that said 10 minutes, too) were no more accurate than the theme park lines? Actually, maybe the theme park line estimates are more accurate! I was in line for no less than 30-45 minutes! While in line, I overheard the woman a few customers ahead of me give a play-by-play of her husband's misadventures at Best Buy Black Friday shopping! Poor guy!

As I shopped Bealls and Target, I ran out of steam. I found nothing at Bealls that I felt fit into the budget...so, I walked over to Target. Found a couple of things I was looking for and checked out. For the first time that evening, I walked right up to the register, with only one customer in front of me! Gotta love it! As I walked out of Target, I realized I'd left my keys in the buggy at Bealls! Panic coursed through me and visions of waking up both my husband and son to come get me ran through my head as I bee-lined it back to Bealls. Thankfully, I found my keys at the customer service counter in the back - someone had graciously turned them in! Thank You, God!

At this point, I'm ready for you to put a fork in me...I'm done! As I'm driving home, though, a wild thought goes through my head and I decide to check out the OTHER Wal-mart to see if they might have the green Tag I was looking for. Sure enough, they've got two of them. I only need one. I'm good! So, I make my way up to the front where FIVE employees are standing in front of the customer service area, doing nothing but chatting with each other. I ask one of them about exchanging the pink one for the green one and I'm informed that the customer service department is closed. WHAT?!? The store is open, right? This IS a 24 hour store, right? Shouldn't customer service be open when the store is (particularly when there are people to work it?)? Apparently not! I was informed that it was all about the sales and no exchanges or returns would be done until 7am. I glanced down at my watch, almost 4am. Nope, not gonna wait 3 stinkin' hours for customer service to open! So, I do what any sleep-deprived Black Friday crazy shopper would do...I bought the green one, too!

I headed home, got a few hours of sleep before the precious seven-year-old who was blissfully unaware of my all-night shopping adventure decided I needed to get up so he could watch TV in my room (the only working TV in the house). So...I sent him to ask David to start a pot of coffee for me (a caffeine drip would have been better!) and I got up! :)

Twelve hours after leaving the last store, I was back at that same customer service desk returning the pink Tag. I was not amused at the suggestion of painting it green instead of refunding my money. Poor guy!

As crazy as it was, as much as I feel like I've been run over by a truck...still, I'm sure I'll be at it again next year! Hopefully, buying for two little blessings! :)

Hope everyone had a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING, a save Black Friday adventure (if you went on one), and may I be among the first to wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Praying For A Miracle

I just got off the phone with Kirk, the Executive Director of the adoption agency. He was following up with us on the progress of the adoption. Part of that included Kirk wanting to know when he could expect to see the $15,500 part of the adoption that is due now, or some portion of it. My heart fell as I had to tell him that we only have $350 raised so far.

The very scary reality we are facing right now is that if we don't come up with a significant amount of money very soon, we may lose the option of adopting Christopher's sibling, and that totally breaks my heart...especially when I consider what that could do to Christopher!

So, here's what we need to make this adoption a reality. We need $5,000 in the next few weeks, just to cover the expenses that the agency has already paid out for the birth mom. If we can come up with that, they will set up a monthly payment plan for us to pay off the remainder of the adoption costs. The agency wants to make this a reality as much as we do, and because of that, they are bending backwards to work with us as much as they can.

PLEASE be praying!!! I know God can make this happen...and I'm hopeful that he will make it happen! We just need a God-sized miracle for it to happen! :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spaghetti Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraising Event!

Several weeks ago, a local personal Chef, Sebastian Mazzotta offered to cook a spaghetti dinner for us as a fundraiser. Our biggest challenge was finding a location to host the event...but now, we have all the details and ready to announce that our spaghetti dinner will be held Monday, December 5th at Our Savior Lutheran Church. The church is just off Airport-Pulling Road, behind Sam's Club. The cost of the dinner is $10 for adults and $5 for kids (ages 10 and under). The dinner will include spaghetti with marinara or meat sauce (your choice), garlic bread, salad, dessert, and drink! Dinner will be served 5-7pm and take-out will be available. If you wish to buy tickets to the dinner, please see me or David. We are selling tickets prior to the dinner so that Chef Sebastian knows exactly how much food to prepare! :)

In addition to the spaghetti dinner, we will also host a silent auction. We are in the process now of collecting items/gift certificates for the auction. If you have your own business, we would greatly appreciate it if you would consider donating something from your business for the silent auction. It can be a single item, a gift basket, or a gift certificate - whatever you are able to do. If you have business cards, I would be happy to display them next to your donated item so that those who attends the dinner will have an opportunity to take your business card. If you know of others who have their own businesses, please pass the word along to them. Anyone interested in donating can email me at jansenadoptionfund@yahoo.com for more information. :)

If you are local and would like to help sell tickets, email me for more information! We need all the help we can get to pass the word around! :)

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

You have most likely heard the old saying..."How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" That is what it's like raising money for our adoption! I've never been one to ask for help...and it is even harder for me to ask for financial help. So, raising the funds we need to complete our adoption has really been a huge step out of my comfort zone! But, the cause is so important, and our funds are so limited, that I just don't see any other way!

This past weekend, we were part of two events to help us raise funds. On Saturday, we had a holiday open house event already scheduled with some other friends who also have direct marketing businesses, but it turned into a fundraising event - at least for a couple of us. Obviously, my Avon sales are going toward the fundraiser...but also, my friend Tonya Haskins donated her Pampered Chef earnings from the event toward our adoption! She made this decision on her own and I couldn't feel more blessed! I just found out today that her donation brings us $52.54 closer to our goal! :)

On Sunday, the owners of SquareHead Playground gave us the run of their facility to have an Avon inventory sale/fundraiser. They said if any of their customers came to play, the customer could just donate whatever they would have normally spent for admission toward our adoption fund! It wasn't a very busy day...but I am thankful for Jennifer Hansen, Jim & Betsy Evans, Mom Jansen (David's mom), and a couple others who came by to support us! As we were packing up for the day, a man drove up in a van with three little girls. He said they used to go to Dinosaur Playground and wanted to know if they could come in to play. I told him that they could come in and mentioned the donation to our adoption fund. He only had plastic on him, no cash, and there was only about half an hour left in our time before other people would be coming in to set up for a birthday party, so I let them come on in to play anyway. As he left, he said he was going to the bank to get some cash and he'd be right back. I didn't really expect him to return...but just as we were making a final run-through before leaving, he pulled up in his van and handed me $40! He wished us luck on the adoption and said he hoped that would help! :) So...with his donation and the other purchases, we raised almost $100.

To date, we have just a little over $300 in our adoption fund. Even though that is a significant amount of money, when I look at the amount that's due in just a few weeks ($15,500)...not to mention the full cost of this adoption (approximately $32,000), it makes what we've raised look like peanuts. And then I start to face the realities of what will happen if we can't raise the money...and I get scared. It's in that moment, that God shows up to remind me that He is still near...that He still cares...and that He still has a plan!!! :) Last night, I was in a frenzy of putting in Avon orders and answering phone calls/emails when my cell phone started ringing. I looked at the screen and saw that it was coming from a 334 area code (an Alabama area code - which is where I grew up)...I didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway. Boy, am I glad I did!!! It was a dear friend, Debra Thornton, whom I'd gone to church with in Montgomery. We had lost contact after I moved here 12 years ago, but had gotten reconnected through Facebook. She also has an adopted son and had been praying for us in this adoption. She said she felt like she just needed to call me and tell me that this adoption was going to happen! There is not another thing she could have said that I would have needed to hear more at that moment! It was almost like God Himself placed that call because it spoke right to the fears I was experiencing! There is no way Debra could have known that's what I was feeling...I've tried so hard to put up the brave front and portray only the positive. I don't like to focus too long on the negatives...mainly because it just feeds the fears already brewing within me!

When you suffer from infertility, it's a pain like no other. A pain that no one can fully understand until they have walked that journey. You want so desperately to do the one thing that every other woman on the planet seems to be able to do except you...conceive a child. You watch the news and see reports of women selling their babies for drugs, abusing children, or leaving them to fend for themselves...and you wonder, why them? Why do they get to conceive these blessings that they obviously don't recognize as blessings and I can't? Worse yet, you hear the staggering statistics related to abortion, and you wonder why God chose to allow them to conceive a child they would kill and leave you barren, when you would love and cherish that child forever. Or even in happy moments...a friend who has also struggled with infertility finally conceives and gives birth to a child or you hear on the news that the Duggars are expecting their umpteenth child...both of those are great news and you are genuinely happy for them and wouldn't take the joy away from them for anything...and yet, you still feel the emptiness of an underutilized womb. It hurts, it's sometimes embarrassing, and you feel inadequate as a woman.

For those of us who have chosen adoption to build our family, it comes with it's own highs and lows. You must be ready for the roller coaster ride! On the one hand, you are thrilled with the idea of bringing a new life into your home...regardless of whether that child is coming as an infant or older, domestic or international, foster or private. You have hopes and dreams of what it will be like when your child is first placed in your arms...or for those adopting older children, when they first enter your home. For those of us adopting infants, you get a thrill out of walking through the baby section of the store and dreaming about the day your baby will come! But, reality has a nasty way of rearing its ugly head in the midst of your dreams. It first shows itself in the mounds of paperwork that must be completed before anything else can be done. It also makes an appearance in the form of the agency & other fees related to the adoption. And of course, it loves to show up in the home study process, when your very ability to become a parent (or a parent again) rests in the opinion of another human being! And let's not forget, for those of us who are adopting an infant through domestic adoption...the very big reality that a birth mother can change her mind and all our hopes, dreams (and money!) seem to quickly swirl down the drain. Thankfully, the worry that the birth mother will change her mind is the least of our worries...but I don't want to neglect those who face that very scary reality! Eight years ago, I was one of those...and to be honest, it does still nag at the back of my mind every now and then. But, we have the added blessing of knowing the birth mother of our children and knowing that when she placed Christopher for adoption, she never once wavered in her decision. It wasn't for a lack of loving him...quite the contrary! She loved him so much that she wanted the best for him...and she knew the only way she could do that for him was to allow him to be adopted!

Boy...I have really gone off on a tangent here. :) But, I'm just sharing a bit of my heart. I hope you don't mind. Maybe, it helps you see things from my point of view a little bit. Maybe it will help you understand better the feelings of a friend facing infertility or going through adoption. Maybe you are that friend facing infertility and/or adoption and this post has put words to the feelings you couldn't quite express. If any of those are true, then this opening of my heart was worth it! With that in mind, this post would not be complete without a "Shout Out" to my friends in my "Holding On To Hope" group at church (you know who you are)! This is a group of precious women who are also on the infertility journey or have lost a child to miscarriage or death. These precious women have given wind to my wings and helped me in more ways than I could ever put into words. They have become such close friends that they are more like family to me...and the support they have shown for this adoption has been overwhelming! I am blessed to be a part of this precious group! Thank you, ladies for everything! :)

So...back to my original question...how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And though the amount we've raised so far seems so small when compared to what we need, I know that my God is bigger. He fed a multitude with one little boy's lunch...2 fish, 5 loaves of bread. I don't know about you....but to me, that's not a lot of food & my brain has a hard time comprehending just how that played out. But, that's where faith comes in. Faith is believing in what we cannot see. We have faith that we will wake up tomorrow...we can't see it yet, but we believe that it will happen. And I have faith that God will provide what we need, when we need it to make this adoption happen! :) And, that's all I need to know...God is good! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blessings


One of my favorite songs is Blessings by Laura Story. The refrain of this song says:

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

This is certainly true about adoption. It wasn't the way I thought I'd build my family, it certainly isn't the "easy" way, but the blessings are worth it all! It's funny, just a few weeks ago, Christopher and I were talking about God's answers to our prayers. He couldn't understand why God wouldn't just give him whatever he asked for. I told him that sometimes God does answer
our prayers the way we want, but sometimes He has something better in mind. I told him how I had prayed for a baby to grow in my tummy, but God had something even better in mind and gave me Christopher! I told him that if God had answered my prayer for a baby to grow in my tummy, I would have missed out on the blessing of having him as my son! This satisfied him, and the conversation seemed to be behind us...but, now that we are in the process of adopting Christopher's sibling, the conversation keeps coming to my mind.

When I look at the amount of money that is needed to complete this adoption, I'm just overwhelmed with exactly how much money that is! The money wasn't even a consideration when we made the decision to proceed with this adoption, but now that the excitement of hearing the news has worn off a bit and we are faced with the reality of just what we've gotten ourselves into, it's sometimes a little scary! A dear friend asked me the question I hadn't yet allowed myself to ask..."What happens if you don't come up with the money?" The sad reality is that Christopher's sibling will be raised by another family.

That thought alone is enough to break my heart (and cause fear and worry). To know that Christopher has prayed for a sibling, that a biological sibling is available for us to adopt, and that money is the ONLY thing keeping us from making that happen...I don't even want to think about that possibility! Thankfully, that's where FAITH comes in! I have faith in a HUGE God...a God who loves David & me, Who loves Christopher, and Who loves this little unborn baby. This God, my Heavenly Father, brought this opportunity to us...and I have FAITH that He will use His people to perform a miracle and bring this little baby home! :)

God is already showing up in ways that give me hope! So many people have asked how they can help...not to mention friends, family, and even people I haven't met yet are already doing what they can to help! I'm just overwhelmed with thankfulness for each and every one of these precious blessings! :) I'm just amazed at how God is already using His people to bring this precious little baby into our family!

If you are wondering how you can help financially...here are some things we are working on:
  • AVON fundraiser - you can click on the link to the left or go to my website (www.youravon.com/kjansen) and click on Online Events to get to the fundraiser. When you click "Shop My Online Event" the proceeds from any purchase you make online will be applied to our adoption!
  • Purchase a CHOOSE LIFE T-shirt for $10 each ($12 for 2XL and 3XL). The shirts & design can be seen in an earlier post. If you are interested in purchasing one or more of these shirts, or would like more information, email me at jansenadoptionfund@yahoo.com. Sales for the T-shirts end November 30th.
  • Donate to the Jansen Adoption Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank! We just opened this account today! You can go to any Wells Fargo branch and let them know that you wish to make a deposit into our Adoption Fund. You will need to give them our name & that the account was opened in Naples, Florida. The account is nicknamed "Jansen Adoption Fund" - and any Wells Fargo employee should be able to identify that account. :)
  • Holiday Mingle & Jingle - If you are in Naples, Florida area, this is a fun event you may enjoy! And, all the proceeds from AVON and The Pampered Chef at this event will benefit our adoption. Details below:
  • On Sunday, November 13th, I will be doing a HUGE Avon inventory sale at SquareHead Playground (1895 Seward Avenue, Unit #1) from 10am-2pm. This is a great opportunity to get some BIG discounts on items I have in stock and help us with our adoption, as well! If you are not familiar with SquareHead, it is an indoor play area with a bounce house and other items for imaginative play! The kids can play while you shop! :)
  • Spaghetti Dinner - A local personal chef (a friend of a friend) has offered to cook a spaghetti dinner for us as a fundraiser! Thanks to a dear friend, we have a location - Our Savior Lutheran Church (behind Sam's Club) and I'm just waiting on a confirmation of which date works for the chef...so, more details to come! :)
  • Yard Sale - We will have a yard sale in January...and we are willing to take donations if you have things of value around your house that you would like to donate. We don't have room to store anything, but as we get past the holidays and get a date set, we'll post it on here. Just wanted to mention this so you could be thinking about it. :)
Obviously, the most important thing you can do for us is to PRAY!!! If you are able to help us with our adoption fund, great! But, we also recognize there are many of you out there who are struggling financially - so, please don't feel pressure to give, unless you feel God is leading you to do so! :) Pray specifically for God to provide in His way so that He gets all the glory! If you want to do something more to help, you can let your friends, family, and co-workers know about our adoption fund and share this blog with them. If they feel led, then they can help in whatever way they like! :)

Thank you!
Kara

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

T-SHIRTS....Get Your T-shirts Here! :)

That's right, folks!
The Jansen Adoption Fund T-shirts are now available for pre-order! :)

I am so very thankful to Gary Ragsdale of Cornerstone Graphics out of Gadsden, Alabama and my cousin Katie Edwards (who does the sales for his business) for putting these T-shirts together for us and giving us the opportunity to sell such quality shirts in order to raise the funds we need to complete the adoption of Christopher's sibling! :)

Here is a close-up of the design...
You can pre-order your shirts during the month of November! We will be closing pre-orders at the end of the month so we can get the shirts made in a timely manner. They should be available by mid-December...just in time for Christmas!!! :)

These shirts come in your choice of three colors - pink, blue, and black (as pictured above) and in both youth sizes (S, M, L) and adult sizes (S-3XL). Youth sizes S-L and adult sizes S-XL are available for $10 each, 2XL and 3XL are available for $12 each.

If you are interested in purchasing t-shirts to help us bring Christopher's sibling home, please email me at jansenadoptionfund@yahoo.com with the color(s) and size(s) of the shirt(s) you would like to order. I will let you know how to send in your payment via return email. We will need payment at the time you place the order so that we can pay for the T-shirts to be printed. :)

If you are interested in collecting additional orders for us, let me know and I will email you the order form. We appreciate anything you are able to do to help us! :)

Thank you! :)

P.S. If you are in need of any graphics design work done, I would highly recommend Cornerstone Graphics! They have really gone above and beyond in helping us with this project! If you are interested, I'll be happy to share some contact information with you...just let me know! :)