Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guess who got their travel date?

WE DID!!!!! Can you believe it?

Last Sunday, I was so emotional at church.  Everyone who saw me after the service asked me if we had any news and I tried to cheerfully respond no.  But when they start singing songs about seeing Jesus, I can't help but cry- that will be the best day ever.

However, today was a GREAT day! My 9 year old actually said today was her best day ever- so far. That girl is so excited to see her sister- oh how I wish I could bring her with us!  We had a play date today with a friend's niece who has Down syndrome and Reyna was loving on her and she was loving her right back- it was so sweet!

So I received a phone call around 12:30pm. I was actually driving and when I saw who was calling me, I immediately pulled into a parking lot. I was hoping this was THE CALL. And it was!  We will be leaving on July 16th and arriving on July 17th in Maria's country! Do you realize that's my birthday?  I had been begging the Lord to either receive a travel date or be over there on my birthday.  I said to my daughter, "Why is the Lord SO GOOD to me?"  This is the best birthday gift I could receive.  I'm tearing up about it right now.

We didn't really get too much info except that we need to apply for our passports, which takes two weeks and if it's less than two weeks they charge you $300 more- yikes! So we had to head over to the Costco photo lab and get photos for our visas this evening, fill out really annoying paperwork and I will be overnighting it to the agency who does the visas.  We also need to get our flights booked but we aren't exactly sure about our return date yet- I think it's the 23rd.  Pray we get an available cheap flight and we find one that's short-er- oh and that we don't die in a plane crash.  Yes, all the crazy terrible thoughts are starting to pop up into my brain. You see, Satan is losing the battle to keep Maria in darkness and he is not happy.  So he is trying to at least put fear in me.

Someone asked me today if we still were short on funds and I said, yes, we need about $3000 more.  So what are our plans?  Well, the Lord has been daily providing the funds and the number keeps decreasing.  As of tonight we still need $2951.  I don't know how God is going to provide- this is His story after all and He wants to write it.  Every time I think I might know how the money will come in, God blows me away with His provision.  If you feel led to help us reach our financial needs, there are several ways you can do this.  If you live in the Santa Barbara or Torrance areas, I will be making Key Lime Pies and Cheesecakes and selling them for a $15 donation.  Santa Barbara pick up is Friday. Torrance is Saturday through Monday.

In addition, you can purchase a CD by my husband's Peruvian folklore band, La Semilla, for a $15 donation as well.  Use the chip-in on the right.

If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation, you can donate through our Family Sponsorship Page on Reece's Rainbow- box on the right.

And we thank you for your continued prayers.  My brain has so much going through it right now, it's hard to remember anything and focus.  I have made a one page list and am trying to organize and prioritize everything I need to get done in the next two weeks.

Praise you Jesus!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Heart full of praise

I am not here to talk about our garage sale today- it was a pretty disappointing turnout :(  Maybe everyone was at the Summer Solstice parade. But our thermometer has been going up! Actually this post is a result of what the Lord was speaking to my heart on Thursday.

In the morning, my two year old fell twice. Once leaving a bruised knot on her forehead and a scratched up nose. The second time, leaving a gauge right under her nose.  It was my free day- my friend was going to watch my kids for a couple of hours so I could get some free time.  Of course on my day, this happens. I was seriously thinking I might have to take Gigi to the ER to get stitches. 

Well, after taking it to the Lord in prayer, it looked like the bleeding was slowing and starting to scab over already.  So I ended up taking the kids to my friends house after all.  Earlier in the week I was feeling very exhausted from all of my pie baking and it was catching up to me.  I knew I needed to get out for a nice walk and get some endorphins moving in my brain. 

The beach was calling me.  I love the beach.  I love to walk at the beach and breathe in the salty sea air.  As I was walking, I started to pray and thank the Lord for this time alone. I started thanking Him for being able to walk completely almost pain-free.  I've walked this beach path many times and I began to recall one time about 18 months ago.  We were out as a family, the older two on scooters and the younger in her stroller.  About 10 minutes into our walk, I started to get sciatic nerve pain down my left leg.  I remember every couple hundred feet I'd have to stop and stretch out, just in order to make it back to our car.  I remember the pain I was in, both physically and emotionally. 

But today, I was praising God.  No sciatic pain, no leg pain and I was soaking it in!  Thank you Jesus for healing me!  Thank you for the ability to walk at the beach and enjoy a sunny day with clean air!  This day really rejuvenated my soul.

But as I was praising Him for my health, I began to think about other people around me who are suffering.  One of my friends has cancer.  That makes me sad. Another friend has a different struggle and questions the goodness of God.

But! I am so grateful for my friend and volleyball teammate from high school, Erica McNeal.  She has just published a wonderful book that is like a practical guide for supporting loved ones who are suffering or grieving.  I was able to download the ebook and read it in one evening.  I am so glad I did.  I sometimes don't know how to act or react towards someone in pain.  Especially if it's not something I have been through.  But Erica has done a fantastic job of giving practical suggestions and even guidelines on what not to do or say to your friends who are suffering.  Erica has written from the heart, based on her personal battle with cancer three times and the loss of five children- and she's only 33!

For the first four months, she is going to donate 100% of the profits to help three families: one battling relapsed cancer and two adopting children with medical needs. 

Please order and download Good Grief! now!  You will love the advice and will also be supporting three families in their time of need.  Here is her description of the book:

From my personal experiences through cancer and child-loss, I’ve written Good Grief!

This eBook is a resource guide filled with examples of the great support my husband and I received during our darkest moments, and the harmful words that stunted our recovery. It is only available here on my blog!

The problem is that people who are suffering don’t always know how others can provide tangible support because they don’t know what they need.

Their family and friends want so desperately to help, but don’t always know what to say or do. There is a disparity between the two that leads to conflict and unmet expectations – on both sides.

What You Can Learn From Good Grief!
Words That Can Be Misunderstood
Words That Encourage
Things To Remember
Actions That Are Intentional

For the first 4 months, all proceeds will be used in tangible ways to support 3 families:
Brian and Kelli Kremkau - Battling a relapsed cancer
John and Sonia Martin - Adopting a boy in need of a life-saving heart surgery
Joel and Megan Miller - Adopting two boys from Uganda, one with Sickle Cell Anemia

Please know that I understand that $14.99 for an eBook is high!

But, what my family is attempting to do is not really about selling an eBook – it is about tangibly coming alongside the above families. If I can provide some insight through times of tragedy AND help meet the financial needs of other families, it is a win-win situation.

Please keep in mind as you consider purchasing Good Grief! that ALL proceeds from every sale until October 11, 2011 are going directly these incredible people!

The eBook is just the cherry on top of helping offset the high cost of cancer treatment and bringing three orphans into their forever families!
If for any reason, you do not find Good Grief! helpful as you care for your loved ones in times of suffering, I will completely refund your money – no questions asked!

To learn more about the families receiving the proceeds, please see: 4 Month Fundraiser!

To check out my endorsements, please click here!
To read the FAQ’s of Good Grief!, please click here!
To immediately download Good Grief! straight to your computer, please click here!

After reading Good Grief!, I realized I need to listen more to people and not try to "fix" their problems or give them advice.  I already knew exactly what to do for my friend with cancer- A Key Lime Pie and a Cheesecake!

Thank you Lord for always being the same and for loving us when we are suffering and when we are not. You can't love us any more or less than you already do!  Thank you for being faithful and loving us even when we are not faithful! Draw us near to You, and help us to rest in You when we are in our darkest moments. You are worthy to be praised!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Santa Barbara Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk

Last Saturday was our first Buddy Walk experience.  We had the chance to represent Reece's Rainbow and it was so cool!  So many people learned about RR for the first time, while others shared how they had been Christmas Warriors for waiting children.  We got to share our story about our process of adopting Maria too. 

What a cool event! They had games for the kids, cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, bubbles and live entertainment.  We had fun playing with our friends with DS and meeting new ones.  It was a very encouraging day and we are so blessed to be in this community.

It was very bittersweet too.  The whole reason we were there is because of Maria. But- she wasn't there. I tried to hold back, but inevitably got a little emotional.  Luckily this was before the event started.

Please pray for the officials in Maria's country.  For some reason, they are not issuing us a travel date.  Our paperwork has been in country since April 14.  Maria needs to come home NOW! She does not belong in an orphanage or mental institution! Please pray friends.

And if God leads you, we still need around $3500 to pay for our first trip.  Will you help rescue an orphan?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Love my husband (Part 2)- Happy Father's Day

My husband was born in Peru, the fourth of 6 children. His family was quite poor, although his mother worked as a nurse and his dad a shoemaker by day and singer/performer by night.  When he was born, they had no bed for him, so they used a wooden milk crate and layered blankets in it. 

After his father passed away, he was really dealing with spiritual issues and after learning the truth about who Jesus Christ was and what He did for him, gave his life in surrender to God's will. He began a new life, attending church and instead of singing revolutionary songs, started singing in the church choir. 

During the years of terrorism, from 1980-1992, mostly headed by the Shining Path group, everyone was always living in constant alert. A car bomb could go off at any moment and as he recalls, "it was a really difficult time of my life."  He was in college at the time and one day there was a military raid on the school, hoping to ambush some of the terrorist supporters.  Somehow, my husband got stuck inside the school and they gathered him up with everyone else and locked him up in prison for a couple of days. 

He studied Electronics and later Industrial Engineering.  But he always had to put his studies on hold because he couldn't afford it.  He really struggled to support himself and whatever he had leftover, he would give to his mom, who had been left a widow.  He couldn't even afford bus fare to church on Sundays and would walk about 6 miles to and from church each Sunday. Bus fare was about 30 cents (I'm talking the late 90's here!)

Before he came to the states, he lived in a room in the back of his electronics repair shop.  He had no bed, but would sleep on top of the wooden desk.  He had no bathroom, so would have to go outside and around the corner to the front of the shop to enter the bathroom.  Most days he had coffee for breakfast, a regular warm meal for lunch and oftentimes he didn't have enough money for dinner and in order to make the hunger pains go away, he would just go to sleep for the night.

I cannot even imagine this kind of life. We have it so good here in the United States.  My family had some hard financial times growing up, but I can't even imagine the thought of one meal a day.  I am so proud of my husband.  He never talks about this to anyone, except me. He is very humble. 

When he was presented the opportunity to come to the U.S., to tour with his band, he had to quit his studies again, for the chance to be able to earn a decent living.  His band, La Semilla, was a group of Christian guys who played traditional Andean folklore music with the message of hope through Jesus Christ.  They toured all over the U.S. and the U.K. as well.  They also played at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.   My husband is the lead vocalist.  I fell in love with him partly because he wooed me with his beautiful voice!

After we were married, he ventured out to see if he could return to the field of engineering.  It was a challenge to begin a new life at the age of 37 and have to learn a new language.  God has been so faithful and has given my husband so many opportunities!  It has not been easy as an immigrant to get a good job.  But we have seen the Lord work at all times!

What I most admire about my husband is his faith.  He is very wise and noble and I believe it is his commitment to study God's Word that has brought him and us to this place.  I am proud to be on this journey alonngside him.  Sometimes he doesn't understand why God has blessed him so much while others back home still struggle.  God has given him a very compassionate heart. 

I think part of his decision to adopt has to do with my husband's past experience.  He knows what it's like to suffer, to be hungry, to be afraid and to lose a father (you can read my post here about his very special father).  To whom much is given, much is required. We may not have a lot compared to other people, but especially compared to where he has come from, we are abundantly blessed!

In honor of my husband on Father's Day, we are selling La Semilla's CD "Renaciendo."  I think you will enjoy the beautiful instruments, some peaceful songs, some lively and energetic.  Most are instrumental only, but the songs with vocals are in Spanish. 

We are offering the CD's at only $15 each and it includes shipping! Please purchase on the right via paypal.  We are only about $3000 away from our financial needs for our first trip. That's pretty much airfare for two! 

We are also still selling Ashley's Almost-Famous Key Lime Pies and Tracy's Cheesecakes to any locals.  I will keep taking orders as long as people still want to buy!  They have been a success and are very delicious. They are secret recipes given to me by Ashley Moreno and Tracy Phillips. Order yours now to help rescue and orphan with Down syndrome!

I love my husband and am so blessed that God gave him to me. Happy Father's Day, honey!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Financial Needs

Thank you to Adeye Salem who is graciously offering to linky her blog to blogs of adopting families in urgent need of finances. 

Maria is 3 1/2 and was born with Down syndrome.  We knew from her description that she would be perfect for our family.  And we were horrified to learn that so many orphans with Down syndrome and other disabilities are placed in mental institutions, hidden from the world, left to fade away without hope even unto death. We knew we had to act NOW!

We started our adoption process of Maria in October.  We have already spent about $12,000 for our adoption on agency fees, fingerprinting, paperwork, medical and psychological exams and Immigration.  We are currently waiting for a travel date to go to Eastern Europe to meet Maria.  The call could come any day now and we hope to be traveling in July. 

We have used our personal savings, retirement savings, held fundraisers, giveaways, garage sales, bake sales, and have applied for grants.  The Lord has provided everything we've needed exactly when we have needed it and we give Him the glory. We are currently about $4500 short for our first trip. But we still need financing for our second and third trips which will be about $15-20K more!  Yes, the number is mind-boggling, but when God told us to go, we said "Yes"- no questions asked!  It wasn't until later that we found out about the enormous paper trail we would be chasing, the $40-45K fianancial mountain we would be climbing or how our hearts would ache for our daughter who we've never met but know she was meant to be in our family. 

I am planning to continue my blogpost about my husband for Father's Day (Part 2), but I will reveal our newest fundraiser today! We are selling CD's of my husband's band La Semilla for $15 (includes shipping).  This is a Christian group that plays Andean folklore music with a modern jazz infusion.  My husband is the lead vocalist and percussionist and I love to listen to his voice.  Here is a sample of their music live:

If you'd like to purchase one, please click on the Pay Pal bar on the right.

Or if you would like to make a tax-deductible gift, you can click on the Reece's Rainbow link and make a donation there as well.

And thank you so much for your support!  We believe every child deserves a family. We especially covet your prayers (that our travel date would come soon!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I love my husband Part 1

Since it is almost Father’s Day, I’ve been planning a special post to honor my husband.  Tonight, though, I felt I needed to add a little about love and marriage.  Both of us are almost always exhausted.  I stay at home with the kids, homeschool them, take them to activities, shop, cook, clean, do all bills, adoption paperwork, adoption fundraising, etc. My husband works a full time job and a part-time job in the morning before his full time job begins, plays with his kids, brushes their teeth, listens to them and me, and helps me clean, fix and even cook sometimes!

I had a full day and was finally resting in bed and finishing up some computer business. He finished getting his assignment ready for tomorrow’s am job. He plopped onto the bed. “I’m so tired.” “Me too.“ “Are you going to get my lunch ready for tomorrow?” “No, I’m too tired”, was my reply.  He fell asleep.  A little while later, I felt the urge to get up and clean up downstairs, get some ibuprofen for my headache, and oh yeah, make my hubby’s lunch.  Now, I had NO intention of making his lunch tonight. I was too tired. He could figure it out on his own.  I now know the Lord had other plans.  He loves my husband so much, that He somehow helped me gather up the strength to get his lunch ready and coffee measured for tomorrow.  I realized it then that it had nothing to do with "feelings" of love for my husband or my attitude or that I’m a great wife J.  It had everything to do with the Holy Spirit humbling me and using me to bless my hubby and to bless me at the same time.  I’m telling you it was nothing less than supernatural.  Even when I don’t feel like “loving” I know that doing it will produce amazing fruit.

Thank you Lord for continuing to teach me and for blessing me through our marriage.  Next post, I’ll tell you about his milk crate cradle and his time in jail!

Love you, honey!