Of Birthdays, Of Reflection, Of Praise

So yesterday was my 34th birthday.  Yep.  Thirty-four.  It doesn’t matter how I write it, numerically, phonetically, word sentence…thirty-four just seems like a large number.  I find myself absorbed in the largeness of it, in the grand scheme of all that has been accomplished, and in all that yet remains.
I remember when I was younger, I was obsessed with the “big” birthdays—the milestones.  I couldn’t wait to be 10 because I was double digits.  I couldn’t wait to be 13 because I would be a teenager.  I couldn’t wait to be 18 because I would be “grown” and able to make my own decisions (HA!)  I couldn’t wait until I was 21 because I would be legally able to do any and everything I wanted to do.  I would officially be a woman in my own eyes.  Until I discovered I couldn’t rent a car without extra payment, then I couldn’t wait to be 25 lol and finally couldn’t wait to be 30. 

Funny how we spend a lifetime of waiting to be the next age.  The next big thing.  Until we hit a certain mark and we find ourselves wishing that time would slow down just a little.  A little slower to enjoy flowers or loved ones.  A little slower to enjoy energy and less responsibility.  I mean, one day you wake up and you realize life is something much bigger than a number and if you don’t slow down, you’re going to miss the point of it all.

Today, I chose to walk around with a HUGE smile on my face as I celebrated all the great t hings that God has done for me in 34 years.  I am alive!  I have several very great friends and associates who did not live to see this day and I weep for them in my heart.  Still, I believe wholeheartedly that I will see them again.  I don’t take it for granted that I’m here.  When you lose someone who is as healthy as a horse, with a spirit just as unbreakable, at the tender age of 23, you recognize that time is fleeting.
I have a family!  I grew up an only child.  I remember sitting and wishing for an older sister to protect me from  bullies.  I remember hoping to one day meet a father who would wrap me in his arms and love me and protect me from the world.  When I grew up, I was blessed to receive all of that and more.  I have so many sisters either through blood or marriage that it is ridiculous.  I not only have a great honorary father who loves me as his own, but I have a wonderful relationship with my birth father who dotes on me when given the chance. Add to that, a dynamic praying mother, a tell-it-like-it-is phenomenal honorary mother, awesome spirit-filled and loving in-laws and more nieces, nephews, godchildren, and family that I could ever sneeze at and I am exceedingly blessed.  Now…top all of that with a husband who is truly a man after God’s own heart, a son who is my very heartbeat, and now a soon to be precious princess daughter, and I am more than blessed in all things.

I have a reasonable portion of health!  I wake up every morning and have the activity of my limbs.  I can walk.  I can talk.  I can touch.  I can wave my hands and my tongue is able every morning to say “Thank you, Jesus!”.  I am so happy to be able to look at 34 as so much more than a number. 

Finally….I am loved.  I really am.  I just got a call from my front office.  As I walked outside my office, I see my husband standing in the hallway.  He has a HUGE sheet cake, this beautiful balloon bouquet, and the most perfect card I think I’ve ever received from him.  This is a big deal because my husband doesn’t do birthday deliveries to work.  We usually celebrate our birthdays in private (minus my proposal/surprise party several years ago).  For him to take the time to gather these items, deliver them, and then return home to “prepare” a birthday dinner mean more to me than anything simply because he took his time to do so.
I think I have to summarize my birthday with the words of one of my favorite songs….

I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some lonely nights
But when I look around and I think
Things over...all of my good days,
They outweigh my weary days - I won't complain….

God has been good to me
He's been so good to me
Better than you or this old world could ever be
He's been so good, He's been so good to

Happy Birthday to me!!!!!

I'm Getting Nervous...

Can I be honest?  I'm so nervous about the upcoming fundraiser.  I kind of feel funny about that nervousness.  I know God is going to let everything happen the way it should happen, but I still feel the butterflies in the pit of my stomach when I think about this event.  I find myself wondering if people are really going to show up.  I wonder what it means if they don't.  I shouldn't think about it all.  It's just...well...I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can for my daughter.  When she is older, I want to be to show her pictures of all the people who came out and supported her.  Even if they don't purchase or donate a dime, their presence means so much to me.  My husband once said something that made so much sense to me.  He said the best thing you can offer someone is your time.  When you don't have a dime to your name, you can offer your time and it means more than you can ever know.

 I know this to be true.  Before I met, dated, and married my husband, I was a single mother.  There were times that things were difficult.  I wanted to take my son to plays and movies.  There just weren't funds available at the time to do so.  Before I could get sad and sullen, he and I would ride over to the park.  We'd swing, slide, climb jungle gyms, and talk.  We built great memories and today he still mentions those times to me as some of his favorites.  He doesn't mention bikes or toys or books.  He mentions Mommy Son nights and walks, my making his favorite meals and watching TV movies with popcorn.  It is my time that means the most to him and that is what I want so sincerely for our daughter's fundraiser.  I would like people to think this event and this purpose is so important that it is worth their time. But I recognize that my nerves are having fun with me.

I am looking forward to this week of promotion though.  I'm planning on visiting our neighbors, hitting social media, and seeing what happens from there.  One thing is for certain though... I am looking forward to character photos with the mascot.  Stay tuned for that!


Of Like Minds & Experiences

It’s funny how a person can have the most vexing kind of day, the kind of day filled with frustration, and then in the blink of an eye all of that changes.  Yesterday, I was admittedly a bit frazzled.  I was thinking about how rapidly the deadline for Honeybee’s payment was approaching, knowing that God was and is going to work it out, but frustrated at my perceived lack of progress in the support of our daughter.  I recognize now that a lot of that was the trick of the enemy intent on making me focus on the illusion of failure instead of the reality of God, His Grace, and His POWER.  Nevertheless, I was heavy hearted and, in a moment of pure vexation typed the quoted phase “Fundraising Frustrations, adoption”.  Please understand, I didn’t really expect anythingto pop up, maybe a few additional links to grants we have already applied for or ideas we’ve already tried.  What came up was a perfect hit.  I saw staring back at me “Fundraising Frustrations” and the word “adoption” highlighted in the Google query.

Curious, I clicked on the link of a blog entitled “No Distance Too Great”.  Immediately after clicking on the blog, I felt compassion, understanding, and empathy.  But it wasn’t from this blog to me.  It was from me to them.  The blog belongs to a beautiful hearted couple who are also in the process of adoption.  The particular post that was listed in the Google Search showed some of their feelings and physical manifestations of fundraising anxiety that I could relate to.  As I read their post, I felt the frustration of the writer because I was walking through it too.  I wanted to reach out and let them know they weren’t in this alone, that someone else was experiencing the same pains.  I wanted to let them know that the prayers they were praying and the scriptures they were seeking in encouragement were the same that crossed my screen and devotions…But I was afraid.

I didn’t know these people.  They didn’t know me.  I didn’t want them to think I was some weird person coming out of the woodwork.  What would I say?  What if they took it the wrong way?  Maybe I should just leave them alone.  I prayed.  Should I contact?  Again, what would I even begin to write?

Then, I noticed there was a separate link that read “Contact Us”.  In that beautiful page was a phrase “We also appreciate any words of advice or wisdom you could impart on us!”  I thought “okay, Lord” and quickly composed an email that thanked them for sharing the information, let them know that our family was walking through a similar journey and included a blog that contained some great fundraising ideas that have inspired some of the fundraising we’ve been able to use for our daughter.  I also told them about those fundraisers, wished them well, and covered them in prayers.  Finally, I apologized if I caused any inconvenience or offense and pressed send feeling sheepish, but comfortable that God had allowed me to find their blog for a reason.  I honestly didn’t expect to hear anything from them at all.
But I received a response.  It was simple, straight forward, and wonderful.  I read it and smiled as the word “like-minded” appeared in my mind and swelled in my heart.  The email was exactly what I needed and though I was only trying to help, it was I who was helped most of all.

I’m thankful for the blessing of encouragement and the understanding of similar journeys.  I am thankful for a phrase that was given in my head to pull a blog on a site that could have taken me anywhere in the world, but took me to a family of like-minded Christ-loving individuals walking a similar path instead.  For that, I am exceptionally grateful.

For those who are feeling especially generous, please visit the YouCaring site of the wonderful couple who showed such love and compassion to us at http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/every-child-deserves-a-family-/185954.  I'm sure they would appreciate it.

Philippians 2:2-8:  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord to one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (KJV)

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:


Should I or shouldn't I...crowdfund

I came across an older article earlier today that discussed the benefits of crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and YouCaring.  CNN did a good job covering a family raising funds for an international adoption and infertility treatments, and likewise the trend for other prospective adoptive families to do the same.  http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/09/pf/crowdfunding-adoption/

Our family before being our daughter's placement
As with most of the digital stories these days, the comment section was open and opinion was mixed as to the use of the tool.One commentator spoke of her own adoption and thought it was in poor taste for persons to use the tool at all.  To her, it seemed the children were being "bought and paid for" and left a bad taste in her mouth. Others agreed with her, but several did not.  When searching the Internet for current opinions on the use of crowdfunding, I found several links where posters had similar thought processes.  It gave me pause to my own use of crowdfunding and the motivations behind it.

First, I respect the opinion of all of the posters. Certainly, some have closer experiences than others.  But I felt a bit miffed.  My husband and I are currently using the YouCaring website to assist in funding our adoption.  Someone posted that if we cannot afford adoption, we should not do it.  Hmmm...I understand their thought process, but how many people do you know who happen to have 14K for adoption agency fees just sitting in their pockets.  [And] how many children are sitting in the system right now because the fear is adoption is not affordable.

Our adoption agency was very excited to see a young, married, African-American couple as they had several requests for this type of adoptive family.  There is a deficit of them and based on the discussions we have had with our friends and family, money is the primary reason.  So, if my family asks people who feel led to donate so that a child can join our family, I see no issue with that.

However, I recognize that we're new to this and I could be viewing things incorrectly.  So, what do you think?