Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big Blog Giveaway Is On - Enter Here and Now!

And so commences the BIG BLOG GIVEAWAY. The lucky winner of this giveaway will win an autographed copy of Tom Davis' new book Priceless. Because I think great things -- like my girls -- come in pairs, I am throwing in something else that I am loving right now, one of Raven and Lily's recycled sari bags. The bags are stylish and functional and have sold really well at our We Heart Orphans parties. This bag will be great for taking your sunblock and your new copy of Priceless to the beach this summer! So here's the lowdown on how to join the party:

1. To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post saying you want this cool stuff and telling me how long you have been reading this blog (I'm curious!). Simple.

2. You can get an additional entry in the contest if you post about the contest on your blog. Make sure to tell me in your comment that you've done that so you get your additional entry!

3. If you don't have a blog, you are still welcome to enter, you will just have to come to my house and babysit my kids - for free. (Seriously, if you aren't a blogger, you are still welcome to enter. Just post a comment saying why you'd like to win and how long you've been reading this blog.)

The winner will be announced next Wednesday, July 1st, here on the blog so make sure to check back to see if you've won! If you win, please email me your address and I'll send your goodies your way!

Want to hear more about Priceless? Here's my review.

Priceless tells the story of one man being thrust into the dark world of sex trafficking where he becomes an unlikely hero who puts his life on the line to rescue girls from sexual slavery. Priceless is based on the reality that Tom has seen in his work with orphans worldwide and his passion for fighting for justice for vulnerable children is palpable in his writing. While I prefer non-fiction accounts of current issues like human trafficking (Tom Davis' non-fiction work Red Letters was hugely significant in our decision to pursue an African adoption and is one of my favorite books) and don't generally gravitate toward Christian fiction, I found Priceless to be engaging and a good choice for more of a casual Christian reader who might not find a gritty non-fiction title on this issue appealing but who would pick up a related fiction book. As a work of fiction, Priceless serves as a entry point to make a difficult and uncomfortable topic accessible. It would work well in a Christian book club setting as it serves as a conversation starter about a deplorable, and yet incredibly important, issue in our world today. Our orphan ministry will be hosting an end-of-the-summer book club event featuring Priceless that will cap off with a Skype conversation with Tom Davis. He will take questions from readers and share more about how we can fight to bring justice to victims of sexual slavery - many of them orphans -worldwide. In short, Priceless attempts to tell a story that needs to be told again and again and again until we abolish the heinous practice of enslaving and exploiting human beings. As Christians, we need to be on the front lines of the abolitionist fight against human trafficking as were our brave predecessors like William Wilberforce 200 years ago. I applaud Tom Davis for trying to rally the troops toward this fight with Priceless.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blog Giveaway!

This week, I will be offering a fabulous BLOG GIVEAWAY in honor of Davis' birthday! I will be reviewing Tom Davis' new book Priceless and giving away a free autographed copy to one lucky blog reader. In addition, I am throwing in one of our hottest sellers at our We Heart Orphans parties, a nifty catch-all bag made from recycled saris by our much-loved Raven and Lily.

These special people will be helping me choose the lucky winner.

Make sure you check back tomorrow and if you've never posted a comment before, this is your chance! No more lurking! Stand up and be counted...and win a great prize. Details to follow!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Good Man

On a day that calls for the celebration of dads everywhere, we girls in our little corner of the world send all our love and gratitude out to a man who gives of himself every single day to make sure that we are healthy, happy and safe. He is a man with endless patience, an introvert who somehow ended inhabiting a world with three very talkative women. And yet even when two of the little women in his world have used up his word allotment for the entire day before breakfast, he still finds the grace to keep on smiling and engaging with them about their misadventures. His grace also extends to obliging one overly-enthusiastic Mommy with Big Plans who seems to recruit him for endless projects related to our orphan ministry or our Little Ladies, often at a cost to his already-depleted reserves of time for other loves like fishing and surfing. And he has a sense of humor that brightens our days and allows him to laugh when his eldest looks at the gorilla at the zoo and says "He's hairy - like my dad."

He loves his girls and his heart breaks because of injustice - not unlike His Father. There is nothing more attractive than that in a man. When I collapse next to him in bed each night, I often tell him what a good man he is. As the cliche goes, those are hard to find. We three girls are blessed to know him and to be loved by him each and every day. Happy Father's Day, Davis! We love you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crafty Ladies

We have some very crafty women in our family. And while I'm not so sure I'd put myself in the "excels in handicrafts" category, I am very grateful to have women in my family who do. For Junia's 4th birthday, she was blessed with many lovely gifts but her favorite - hands down - has been the new friend that arrived for her party with Gammy and Poppa. To give this gift context, I have to rewind to a time when I was Junia's age. My favorite doll was a huge rag doll my mom had made for me named Sunshine. She was as big as me and I carried her everywhere. She guarded my bed every night and proved to be a good friend for many years. One of my favorite things to do with her was to take the elastic straps on the bottom of her feet and strap them to my own so that we could dance together.

Now fast forward almost 30 years (ouch - hurts to put that in writing) and I have a little girl of my own who on her birthday pulled out her very own Sunshine from a very big box with her name on it. The most special part of all is that her Sunshine looks like her - thanks to a lot of Rit dye and an extreme makeover. I have teased my mom for years about being a pack rat but I will now keep my mouth shut. My sweet mom had saved faithful Sunshine in some box in the garage and schlepped her from house to house during many moves over the years. And now for her granddaughter's birthday, Sunshine was restuffed and dyed (many times and with considerable input from Poppa who stood by the sink saying "More red...more blue..." until he felt the skin color matched Junia's to his satisfaction) to create a loving cocoa companion for one much-loved little girl born on the other side of the world. She also now sports delightful corn rows that end in bright colorful beads. Amazingly, that well-loved fabric still looks great even after all these years. To be sure, Sunshine will be loved for many more years by a little girl who carries her everywhere and makes sure she stands sentinel as she sleeps. They've also been known to take a spin together on the dance floor in our kitchen.

Thankfully, another rag dog from the past also hopped in the sink for the makeover session Gammy orchestrated. She was refashioned into a little friend for Eden and Eden has named her "Ashley". We have no idea why given that she does not know anyone named Ashley.

On the note of crafty ladies, I couldn't talk about touching homemade gifts without posting a picture that I've been wanting to put up for awhile. My mother-in-law, aka Grammie, did all of the bedding for the girls' room before they came home including two complete sets of twin bedding and a crib set, all of which involved handmade patchwork quilts. No small endeavor. They are to die for. She recently gave us the final touches for their bedding - these amazing rosette pillows that took hours to make as each petal is individually sewn. We now have two little girls in "big girl beds" as Eden recently discovered how to climb out of her crib. Their room could not look cuter now that Grammie's completed handiwork is on display.

These precious examples serve as a testimony to what orphan care can look like. We all have gifts that we can use to bless children who are or were orphans. Within our own family, we have witnessed gracious, loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins embrace just two of the world's orphans using what God has given them - time, talents and treasure - to do their part to knit them into our family fabric. The same has been true in our larger "faith family" here in our community. I share that because I feel it is imperative that orphan care - and adoption in particular - be framed in terms of faith. As adoptive families waiting for children to join our families we can get so caught up in planning and reading and planning and searching the web and planning and ... that we forget that God is involved at all. Ultimately, when we choose to use what we have been given to love orphans through adoption, we are doing so as an act of faith in a God who loves. A God who loved each one of us enough to adopt us as His own. Yes, there is risk involved in adoption and it's good to try and be prepared for a variety of scenarios but the bottom line is that if God calls you to do something you have to trust that it is He alone that completes the good works He begins. Adoption is a good work and we are blessed each and every day to see how God is completing this good work in our family as lavishes His love on His two precious daughters that we are lucky enough to also call ours.

Friday, June 11, 2010

One Fabulous Day Turning Four

I am finally getting around to posting pictures from Junia's big birthday bash. I'm not posting these to be one of those braggy bloggers who use their blogs to self-aggrandize. Seriously, I'm not. However, if I'm honest, I will admit that I secretly have fantasies of having one of my parties show up in Sunset magazine. I really love to throw parties. I am one of those dorky people who spends time before a party shooting pictures of place settings, flowers in vases and food on trays knowing no one will ever look at the pics but me. I guess I keep thinking someday Sunset may just hear about what I'm up to and call. We were lucky enough to have our friend Raya, who also happens to be a professional wedding photographer, bring her camera along to Junia's party. She shot over 500 images and got some really amazing Sunset-esque pictures of our fabulous day. I just couldn't resist sharing. Highlights of the day included taking rides on Smoky and Holly (two miniature ponies who joined us for the big day), eating way too many cupcakes, and trying out hula hoops for the first time. Another highlight was having all of the dads in the horse-shaped bounce house. Nevermind that their combined weight of nearly 800 pounds almost knocked the entire thing over and gave the Mamas a bit of a scare. Eden was ecstatic about the horses. We wonder if she is going to be a veterinarian given how much she loves animals. And Junia just beamed when her entourage of little besties from church gathered round to sing her Happy Birthday. Sadly, we ended up with a false start on the big song when I lit the cowboy boot decoration on fire along with the candle. Those stickers are apparently not flame retardant! All in all, it was a lovely day celebrating a lovely girl who has changed our world forever.

I was talking with another adoptive mom at the party about how things like birthday parties are different when you have adopted kids, especially ones with history like ours. We have little girls who by God's grace are now thriving. But that was not always the case. Our daughters are precious girls whose lives have literally been redeemed on a physical level. Not so long ago they were very sick, very thin and hungry and now they are dressed up in cowgirl boots riding ponies in their backyard and eating too many cupcakes. Yes, so many (far too many) more orphans remain but for these two little girls - orphans no more - theirs is a story of new life blooming. It reminds me a bit of the story of Lazarus brought back to life after so much sadness. When God redeems a life, you celebrate. And celebrate we did. God has lavished His love on our children and in that we rejoice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

We Heart Orphans Party and Our Cowgirl

We have a We Heart Orphans party scheduled for this coming Monday at this great couple's house. They are a couple we have known since we were newlyweds doing high school youth ministry. They were both high schoolers when we met them! Now they are all grown up, married with two kids, and passionate about God's heart for orphans. We are excited to see how God is going to use this young family as an ember in our community burning with the story of God's amazing love seen through His adoption of all of us as His children and through His tangible love for the fatherless in our world today. There are probably going to be 20 people coming. Please join us in praying that God does a work in the hearts of those who are coming and that He brings exactly the right people to hear the message I will be sharing (pray for that too please!). We are blessed to know people like Kelly and Ryan who are putting their faith into action. We will be featuring the fabulous Raven and Lily at this party. This company is a wonderful supporter of women in some of the world's poorest countries and they are also now a supporter of our ministry to orphans. We are proud to be working in partnership with them. We heart Raven and Lily! Sophia and Kirsten, you ladies are amazing!

On another note, today's Rootin' Tootin' Cowgirl Birthday Roundup was a huge success and much enjoyed by one very excited little girl. More to come...