Monday, April 9, 2018

The Willis Family


This month I would like to introduce you to the Willis family.
Michael, Lindsey, Ella, Ben, & Molly...


They are in the process of adopting from China.  I always ask my families to share a little about themselves and their adoption story.  Here is what Lindsey had to say about theirs...
"Michael’s parents adopted his little sister from Russia when she was 18 months old, and he has always talked about wanting to pursue adoption. My grandparents adopted my uncle, and my youth minister and his wife adopted their two boys—adoption was familiar to me, but it was never something I actually considered for my own family.
We started having more friends and friends of friends post blogs and fundraisers as they began their adoption journeys. I read all of them and bought all the t-shirts. Again, I never thought this was something I’d be doing, but I was intrigued. Michael and I would talk about adoption sometimes, but it was never very serious.
We moved to our new house in the summer of 2015, and we started getting to know our neighbors. We met our (now) pastor and his wife, and one of the first things we talked about was how they were getting reading to begin the process to adopt from China. I remember walking home from their house and Michael smiling and saying, “We’re definitely doing this.” I still wasn’t convinced, because it seemed so scary and crazy and just not like something I could ever do! But as I watched these friends go through this process and bring their precious girl home, it became so obvious to me that this was what God had planned
for our family.
We started talking to our kids about adoption, and they were ready to go to China! They find things around the house that they tell me we need to save for our “baby” when he/she comes home. They pray often for him/her, and they’re so excited! We all began learning more about adoption and how it is such a CLEAR picture of the gospel. Seeing the families around us love the kids they have adopted has profoundly deepened my understanding of God and His heart for His people.
That’s a TINY part of the story leading up to our decision to pursue adoption. So why are we adopting? Because God loves us. He loves orphans. He is about the business of setting the lonely in families. He has allowed us to begin this journey, and we couldn’t be more grateful. We know that God designed our family before the foundation of the world, and we can’t wait to add one more!

Why China? 

Michael spent three months in China teaching ESL after his sophomore year of college, and I currently teach ESL online to kiddos in China. We live right down the street from our pastor and his wife who adopted from China- we had the privilege of watching them go through the entire adoption process and bring sweet Hattie Jane home! Our other friends from church brought their little girl home from China a few months later. Michael attended a seminar where one of the speakers talked about international adoption, and he suggested that one way to choose a country was to choose based on a place you already have a connection with. We definitely have a connection with China, and we can't wait to bring our little one home!" 

It is my favorite thing to hear how God stirs people's hearts toward adoption, and many times you hear that the wife starts feeling led that direction before the husband.  That's how it was in our case, but I loved hearing that Michael was on board before she was. 

For their necklace, the Willis' chose Exodus 14:14, "The Lord will fight for you, you need only BE STILL."  I love this verse so much and especially how it relates to their situation.  Adoption is not easy.  Many times it can seem impossible...the waiting, the finances, the transition, the trauma, etc.  BUT God fights for the orphans, and He fights for the families willing to open their hearts and homes to them. That doesn't mean it's not still hard, but it means He's with us every step of the way.


You can PREORDER this necklace now from the shop, and it will be delivered in 3-4 weeks.  Half of it's proceeds will be donated to the Willis family to help cover their adoption expenses.  If you would like to donate further to them, please visit their fundraising page.  Thank you so much for your support!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Meet the Joys

March 21st is World Down syndrome day.  For those who don't know, Down syndrome is a result of there being a 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome, so the numbers 3/21 are special to those of us in this community.

In honor of this day,  I reached out to the Joy family who I knew were in the process of adopting another child with Down syndrome from China and asked if we could help support them.  In the past (and sometimes still) China has deemed children with DS "unadoptable" so I love it when families like the Joys step up, shout their worth, and prove them wrong.

 I asked Marta to share some of their story, and here's what she had to say...



"We are Kevin, Marta, Greyson, Kasia and Mila — adopted from China last year. God opened our hearts to Down Syndrome right before we brought our Mila home last year. 
Around the same time we saw Elora's face and fell absolutely in love. We hoped there was a chance she would be ours. We began sponsoring Elora - so that she could receive a life saving heart surgery. Despite the doctors saying Elora was too old and that she was inoperable — thousands prayed and fought for this girl! Donations from followers poured in as Meredith Toering at Morning Star Foundation garnered support. Elora's surgery was a great success. 
The next hurdle would be getting her orphanage to write her file. WACAP - Elora's agency fought for a year to get her file to be written to - no avail. We waited and waited and finally we sent in a photo of us with Mila to show the orphanage that children with Down Syndrome are loved, wanted and cherished dearly. After 9 months of pleading and prayer we received a phone call --- Elora's file has indeed been prepared! We are so very excited to bring Elora Meredith Joy home! 
Isn't it awesome that because of their persistence and strong love for her, this sweet girl now has a family?!  I am just so excited for them!

Elora means God’s light, so the Joys wanted this included in their necklace.  Half of the proceeds from this "Shine Your Light" necklace and any other orders placed this month will be donated to the Joy family to help bring Elora home!  

Friends, let's rally around them and help bring her home!  Head on over to the shop to place your order!  You can follow along with their story on Marta's Instagram @chosenforjoy.  Also, if you would like to make a further donation, you can do so here.
Hundreds of children with Down syndrome are still waiting for their families to find them.  If you happen to feel your heart tugged in this direction,  you should visit www.reecesrainbow.org where you can see the precious faces and profiles of some of these waiting children.  And even if not, there are many other ways to be a part of orphan care....you should still go check out this awesome organization!    God bless, and thank you for your support!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Support The Lintons

Hello Friends.  I hope you have enjoyed the holiday season and are off to a great start this new year.  We started ours with lots of sickness along with a surgery, but thankfully we are now on the mend and getting back to business!  

I'm excited to launch a new fundraiser this month for the Lintons. They are in the process of growing their family through adoption. 




I always ask my families to share a little bit about them, and here is what they had to say.

"Hi! We are Joe and Regan Linton. As far back as when we even began talking about marriage, we knew that adoption was going to be part of our story. Now, after four years of marriage, God has made it clear through His wonderful ways that the time has come to follow through on His plan for our life. We asked God to send us and he has decided to send us all the way to India to find our daughter! We have decided to name her Gracyn Andree and will call her Gray. Y'all, she is already loved by so many. The adoption process is a scary and exciting one but we believe that where there is great love, there are great miracles. We know, because we have seen it already through this process, that Jesus is moving Heaven and Earth for our little girl. We covet your prayers for us and for Gracyn!" 



Let's help them bring their sweet girl home!  Joe and Regan selected the saying "Trust Without Borders" for their necklace, and they will receive half of the profits for each one that you order.  So head on over to the shop now and help support this precious couple. 




Also, if you would like to make an additional donation you can do so here.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Meet Emmett

Y'all! Look at this sweet smile! This is Emmett, and he is looking for his forever family.


I recently stumbled upon his profile, and he has stolen my heart!  I am going to donate a percentage of all of our sales from now through the end of the year to his adoption grant through Reece's Rainbow.

He attends school and is doing very well.  He plays well with other kids and follows instructions.  He enjoys watching TV and focuses on it well.  He is able to follow instructions from adults and listen to their conversations.  His caretakers say that he sometimes looks like a little adult when he is walking in the yard.  He performs well in school and knows all the names of his classmates.  He colors, plays with blocks, and sometimes dances at school.

Isn't he just precious?!  I would love to help his family find them and help them with the funds.  Madison Adoption Associates currently has $6000 in agency grants available for his adoption through their agency.  You can visit http://www.madisonadoption.org/waiting-children/ for more details.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Headed to Hannah

Hey Friends.  Thank you to all who supported the Manuel family.  They are currently in China and are enjoying loving on their sweet Henry!

This might be a little confusing, but there is another Manuel family headed out next week to bring home their daughter.  I met Katie years ago through social media.  We both had sons with Down Syndrome close to the same age.  Then, we ended up going through the adoption process close to the same time.  Her son, Eli, and my daughter, Hai-Leigh, just happened to be from the SAME CITY in China!  Because of her, I was able to reach out to the foster homes that cared for my daughter and ended up with pictures of her from birth to when we brought her home.  What a blessing!

Katie and her husband are about to head back to China to adopt again and are in need of some extra funds before they go.   We decided to throw together a quick fundraiser to help them.  Here is a little bit of their story...


"Hi there! We are Michael and Katie Manuel and we are the proud parents to 5 (about to be 6) amazing children.  Feeling like our family was complete, but still desiring to make a difference in the lives of orphans, our family decided to host a special 12 yr old girl over the Christmas holidays. We saw her picture and knew she was special. Her name is Hannah.  She is 12 years old and rocks an extra chromosome just like our son, Carter! We had a plan to share her story daily so that the world could see how amazing she is, and she could find a forever family during her time in the U.S.   Little did we know, she would steal our hearts.  From day one, both our family and this sweet girl made a life changing connection with each other. We also found out that she would be the very first child with Down syndrome to ever be adopted from her orphanage!   We are so excited that a life in America is so bright and beautiful and full of opportunity for this sweet girl.   We are trusting the Lord for the provision to bring our daughter back home as quickly as possible. We will actually be traveling very soon! Funding another adoption was not the game plan for our family, but we know the Lord will provide through overtime, fundraising, and grants. We are beyond thankful for the opportunity to adopt again, and have our friends, family, and community rally around us with support and love.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!" 

 Y'all, isn't this awesome?! I am so excited for them and am eager to help them out!  I have updated the inventory in the shop to what I have in stock.  The only necklace that will be a PREORDER is the "LOVE CROSSES OCEANS" China necklace.  It only seemed fitting to add it even though it's not in stock.  Between now and August 21st, half of the proceeds from all orders will go to this family to help them bring home sweet Hannah.  So head on over to the shop and support this family! Thank you in advance for your purchase with a purpose!!
 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Meet the Manuels

Y'all, look at this face!!!


This is Henry! Isn't he precious?! He has a forever family that hopes to have him in their arms by the end of the summer. They are the Manuels...


And here is what they had to say about their adoption:

"An international adoption was something I've always said that I personally wouldn't do.   Too much paperwork, the expense, the time and energy....but over the last 3 years,  adoption has grown stronger and stronger in the hearts of all our family members.   We hoped if we ignored it, the idea would just go away (and we prayed it would)   Then in September 2016,  we finally surrendered to God's continuous, persistent voice and took the first step of finding a local in-state adoption agency but all the doors were closed so we timidly and with extreme caution, checked out an adoption from China and the doors were thrown wide open.  And I can say that since that time in September, not one obstacle has blocked this path towards adoption.    We were quickly matched in November with a little boy, Henry Joshua,  who will be turning 2 in Fall 2017.  And now, we will be traveling in late summer 2017 to pick him up and we can't wait to meet him.

I chose the quote "Love is Brave" for our necklace, because I feel like my Christian life hasn't been very brave.  I have done a lot of ministry and taken risks, tried new things, traveled to countries but have never actually stepped out in complete scary faith, obeying God's voice and done something that didn't really seem to fit into my plans or make sense.  We've seen adoption to be extremely costly, painful, emotionally taxing to families, so it took us about three years to really submit and get over our fear and step out in faith and love, no matter what the cost will be.   However,  as we have stepped out in faith,  God has come alongside of us and eased our fear and reassured us every step of the way.   I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was last year at this time. 
  

Adoption is definitely a huge leap of faith.  It is challenging, but so rewarding.  We want to help Mindy & John with their remaining adoption costs, so we have designed this "Love is Brave" necklace.  Half of its proceeds will be donated to the Manuel family.  Would you please consider helping them bring home sweet Henry?  Just visit our shop to make your purchase with a purpose.  Thank you so much, and God bless you!

Also, if you would like to further support this family, please visit www.Gracehavenhome.com and specify that you are giving to John & Mindy Manuel.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Gibson Family Fundraiser

Hello friends! This next fundraiser we are launching is for a cause that is very near and dear to my heart.  We want to show support to The Gibsons, a local family whose daughter was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor towards the end of last year.


I recently had the privilege of meeting and photographing this sweet family.  I was very inspired by them and admire their strength and joy during this time.  I asked them to share some of their story, and here is what they had to say...

"Emilie is our amazing 9 year-old girl and best friend to her big brother, Alex. She began to have headaches over the summer while swimming and we eventually made our way to a neurologist who ordered an MRI.

On September 9th she had her MRI and within an hour we got the results no parent should ever get and immediately headed up to the hospital. Emilie had a rare brain tumor called a DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma).

We quickly learned that pediatric brain tumors are now the #1 cancer killers of kids and DIPGs are the worst. 50% of children with DIPGs do not make it 9-12 months past diagnosis.  We were lucky in that after a biopsy at University Health in Shreveport, 6 weeks of radiation at St. Jude in Memphis, and 5 weeks of immunotherapy in San Francisco, her tumor shrank around 60%. 


In our every three week trips to continue immunotherapy, we try to make the shot experience as painless as possible through crazy hats that Emilie delights in making the entire family wear.  Due to this, she has accumulated a large collection and once received a few smiles while wearing a bunny eared hat through airport security.



San Francisco has become part of our drive to make as many special moments as we can through food trucks, a trip to Alcatraz, and multiple visits to the sea lions, and Emilie never disappoints with her sweet, witty, crazy, and dancing disposition.  She has held her brother’s hand all through wizarding at Harry Potter World in Orlando, has thrown the first pitch at Airline High School’s softball game, and has raced in a car simulator at the Bossier sheriff’s station. 

Then there is our everyday life which is filled with friends and family along with her competitive spirit during favorite card and dice games such as Qwixx. 
 A regular week involves mostly school and her greatest passion, swimming, which is where our family motto has evolved:  Just Keep Swimming

The shadow of DIPG hangs over our family, but Emilie’s name means “rival,” making her a fighter who will continue to fight.  We have all been forever changed by the events in this past year, and we keep moving forward with an additional reminder to “Never Tell Us The Odds” and to come out the other side swinging."  


The Gibsons are taking life one day at a time and making the best of each moment.  Having been through a very similar situation with my own family,  I know the financial struggle that can come during a time like this.  We want to try and help!  I asked them which necklace they would like for me to design for them, and they chose Emilie's motto "Just Keep Swimming".


This necklace has recently been added to the shop and is available for PREORDER.  From now until June 18th half of all proceeds from not only this necklace, but ALL online sales will be donated to the Gibson family to help with their expenses as they travel back in forth from Louisiana to California.  Please consider purchasing a necklace and helping them!

Also, you can follow their journey on their Facebook page, "Friends of Emilie Gibson".  If you would like to further support them, you can visit their Go Fund Me page.

They have also been inspired to create the NWLA Childhood Cancer Awareness page on Facebook to help other families traveling similar journeys to not feel so alone.  

Thank you so much for your support!  Please keep Emilie and her family in your prayers.