Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fully Funded!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil.4:19)

When we started this journey back in March, one of the obstacles in moving ahead was finances. We are, by no means, struggling to provide for our family but certainly didn't have an extra $32,000 laying around. That chunk of change seemed like good reason to keep pushing the idea of adopting out of my head. But God convicted us on a deeper level. Not only had he softened our hearts for his ministry of adoption but he vividly confirmed that he would provide in all things, even the finances needed to fund this adoption. We seriously had no idea how we were going to pay for it. My pride stood in the way of wanting to fundraise. The only other way was to deplete our savings and borrow the rest. Although debt is very unbiblical and not something we want to touch, I was able to rationalize the idea. The debt was for good reason, right? God forgives us if we're borrowing for a good cause! Um, not really. God spoke to us very clearly in March and helped us to understand that not only was going in to debt wrong but it was unnecessary. We knew, through prayer, that He was going to provide every dollar we needed. And he did! Of course he did.

Through generous donations, rainy day savings, Adoption Doughnut Day, t-shirt sales, Tales & Ales, Orphan Awareness event at Terra Bella, Saints tickets raffle, and lifestyle adjustments, we managed to raise $30,435! Because we received some unexpected Christmas gifts, we are able to apply the remaining $1,565 needed towards our adoption fund. To say we are overwhelmed would be the understatement of the year. All because of God's abundant grace, our adoption is fully funded at $32,000!

God also cleansed me of my pride in not wanting to accept help. God is a God who longs for us to depend on him. He created us to be in relationship, to be encouragers and providers to one another. We are his hands and feet on earth and by being prideful about accepting help, we would be denying our brothers and sisters in Christ (and God himself) the opportunity to be involved in this ministry! Your donations and all that you have shared with us come directly from the ultimate provider himself. He has worked through your hearts and hands to be a part of bringing Emily home. I praise Him for showing me truth in this, rather than allowing me to remain in my sinful pride. Who am I to decide how God should fund this adoption? Humility. It's a hard lesson to learn, yet a beautiful privilege to experience.

Thanks to so many of you who gladly donated and participated in our fundraisers. We hope the blessing is yours as you realize Christ used you for His glory! May I boldly ask for your continued prayers? We can't bring Mei Mei home without $32,000 but we certainly can't bring her home without your prayers either! Deep gratitude.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saints vs. Buccaneers Tickets Raffle

We have 2 tickets for the December 29th, Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, in the Superdome. It's funny how we acquired these. These tickets were donated for the silent auction portion of our Orphan Awareness and Adoption Fundraiser. A lovely family purchased the tickets and then donated them back to us! Very tempting, as Seamus would love to bring Brady to his first Saints game. However, we've decided to raffle them off to help with our adoption expenses. We're almost fully funded, y'all!

Both Saints tickets are Terrace Level, Section 638, Row 17, Seats 1 and 2. We will begin selling the raffle tickets now and will draw the winning ticket at 7:00pm on Friday, Dec. 20th. We are selling the raffle tickets for $5 each or 5 chances for $20. The winner of our drawing wins both tickets, face valued at $164 (really worth more since our Saints are rocking it this season).

If you would like to purchase a chance to win, you can pay a few different ways. The easiest way is to click on the "donate" button on the right of my blog page and pay through your Paypal account or with a credit card (or you can pull up your own account on Paypal and send a donation to lauraloman@yahoo.com). If you are on a mobile device, you must click "view web version" at the bottom of this page, in order to see the "donate" button on the right. If you pay this route, please leave a note with your name and phone number. If you'd rather pay with a check or cash, feel free to drop that in our mailbox anytime before next Friday evening. Or, send me an email at lauraloman@yahoo.com with your name and phone number and I'll email you back with my address where you can mail the payment.

Once raffle tickets are purchased, we will not send you a ticket stub. We will write each raffle entry on a card and will draw from these cards on Friday. We will video the drawing and post on our Facebook page Friday night.

Only 8 days until the drawing... Purchase your chance to win and please help us spread the word! These tickets would make a great Christmas gift! Good luck and GEAUX SAINTS!!!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Random News and Scattered Thoughts

Prepared for a bunch of random thoughts and news? Good, because that's pretty much how my brain is working lately. Random and scattered.

We are currently on day 25 of our LOA wait. I'll briefly recap what this means. 25 days ago we received a PA (pre-approval) from China to adopt Emily. We are now waiting for our LOA (letter of approval) which makes the adoption very official. The LOA wait typically takes anywhere from 2-6 months. We did receive some fabulous news on Wednesday that our dossier (our 1 million page packet telling them who we are) is OOT (out of translation). This is really good news because it's the step within the LOA wait that takes the longest. Once your dossier is OOT, you can expect LOA in about another month. Let me reiterate what I've said in the past... the Lomans will be doing a spastic happy dance when LOA arrives. I'll brief you on future steps as we get there. For now, please pray that our LOA comes quickly. If it does, it's possible we could travel in March, rather than our anticipated April or May timeline! While we wait... more paperwork.

I've begun nesting, as I did with all my pregnancies. Emily's room is coming together and I've even created a baby registry at Target! A precious girlfriend has offered to have a baby shower for me with close friends, in February. It's feeling so real! Also, I've met a missionary who will be traveling back to China in January and she has offered to bring a package back to be delivered for Emily! What a blessing! I plan to include an LSU outfit (can you imagine the cuteness?), a monogrammed dress, medicine, a recordable book, a photo album, and maybe a soft lovie. I may pack myself in the box so I can get my hands on our baby girl!

We did hear some really sad news yesterday. There is a little girl at Harmony House (with Emily), who has been matched with a family and they are fighting their way through the system to get to their daughter, just like we are. The little girl's originating orphanage has requested that Harmony House send her back and they have haulted the adoption indefinitely. How can this happen? Remember, this is a communist country where the state controls everything... EVERYTHING (we can't even send Emily's caretakers money without it going through the government). We don't know why this happens but apparently it's not uncommon. My guess would be that it involves money, as most things do. While you're praying for a quick LOA, can you also pray for this family, the baby girl, and that this scenario does not play out in our adoption? The thought alone makes me sick to my stomach. I just can't imagine the pain this family is experiencing.

Things are progressing nicely. It's exciting to see movement in the process. With Christmas approaching, it's all bitter sweet. There's so much to be thankful for and so many blessings being poured upon us. But Emily is a part of our family now and for her to be so far away is hard. We have her stocking hung and presents waiting for her arrival. We know The Lord will protect her this season, just as he always has. But there's a hole in our hearts, even as we celebrate the most joyous holiday. We know this hole will be filled soon enough. And for that, we are grateful.

    

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Minis for Emily Hope


Another blessed Saturday... Thank you AK Photography for offering to spend yesterday taking portraits to help bring Emily home! Because of Anna Kathryn, her amazing helper Tatiana, and 10 special families, $1,000 was raised yesterday for our adoption expenses! Can you believe our fundraising thermometer has almost reached $30,000?! Unbelievable. I can't wait to see all the beautiful pictures from yesterday!

Thanks again to everyone who has stepped up to help bring home our Mei Mei. We thought the finances would be one of our biggest obstacles in this adoption but because of so many loving hearts, and a God who constantly provides, we are almost fully funded! Makes me want to do it again! I know, I know, let's get Emily home first (that's what my logical hubby tells me anyway). ;-) I pray that we can return the generosity to some of you who may decide to adopt one day. We would be honored to walk with you every step of the way!

This was the last of our fundraising efforts. Since we only have a couple thousand to raise, this will come out of our future savings. We feel confident we'll be able to set this aside in time. Oh wait! We do still have several t-shirts left. We'd love to get these off our hands if you're interested in buying one for $20. Feel free to email me for size availability and other questions (lauraloman@yahoo.com) or click on the t-shirt link on my blog home page (view web version from smart phones).

Blessings to each of you this Thanksgiving! So much to be thankful for...


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Amazing Fundraising Event... Fun, Fellowship, and Fire!

Our Orphan Awareness Fundraiser on Saturday was a big success and we have so much to share about this wonderful day!

First of all, thank you to everyone who came out to support us and our mission to bring home Emily Hope. We were overwhelmed by your presence, hugs, words of encouragement, and donations for our cause. Because of your support, we raised $8,018 at this event! Seamus and I prayerfully decided to share $1,000 with (un)adopted. We felt a 10% tithe (plus a little extra) would be appropriate and we hope you agree. Take a look at our fundraising thermometer! (you have to view web version if you're on a smart phone) We are less than $5,000 away from being fully funded to bring home Emily Hope!

Thank you to Garth Thorpe, with (un)adopted, who shared in this great day with us. Your presentation was inspiring and we are thankful for your ministry in Christ's name.

Thank you to Joe Bergeron and some fabulous guys from St. Timothy UMC for sharing your music talent and so much of your time and energy. You guys rocked the square!

Mrs. Barbara from Bebe's Kitchen, the jambalaya was second to none! So many complimented the delicious food.

Evan McGinty, the balloon animals were a total hit with the kiddos! I'm pretty sure you had the longest line all evening. :-) Thank you for the fun!

There are hundreds of people to thank personally. I promise not to do that here. ;-) But if I could just give one more shout out to those of you who... donated, served, cooked, sang, worked, organized, ran errands, cleaned, stocked, sorted, popped, presented, and just showed up... THANK YOU! We are eternally grateful. Please know that each of you played an important role in bringing our baby girl home and even in changing hearts to bring other orphans home.

Speaking of changing hearts... Seamus and I were hopeful to raise a good bit of money at this event for our adoption expenses but this was not our primary goal for the event. We wanted God to be present, for Him to send His Spirit to open eyes to the orphan crisis and soften hearts for the ministry of adoption. This is what we prayed for. And this is what He provided!

After our presentation and lantern release, someone approached me and Seamus to share that he was thankful to be included in our day. Thankful to be included? (clear throat) Thank YOU! Then he proceeded to tell us that He was changed this night. He said when our lantern was released in honor of Emily Hope, "the deal was sealed". God had not only softened his heart to adoption but convicted him so deeply for this ministry that he'd decided he and his wife would adopt a son. Let me share that they do not have biological children yet, nor have they tried. Y'all. There is a generation of younger people so in love with the Lord that they are willing to participate in adoption before their desire to have children of their own. Mind blowing. I told this sweet man that our prayers had been answered. It was clear that God showed up on Saturday and impacted lives. We are forever changed by his testimony after our event. It is an amazing privilege to watch God work mightily in hearts.

So, about the lantern release... Ha! I'm laughing already. While planning the event, we thought it would be a beautiful ending to our presentation to have 50 Chinese lanterns released. Think "Tangled". In came 50 lanterns and they ended up being way bigger and way more difficult to light then we expected. Change of plans. Let's release 10 lanterns. Event nears. Lantern anxiety sets in. Change of plans. 5 will be pretty, right? Brady ends our event with his beautiful prayer and Seamus and Laura release a lantern in honor of Emily Hope. I must admit, it really was magnificent. Lantern #2 approaches, hole in lantern, not gonna' work. Seamus calmly walks to the sidewalk and begins stomping the lantern out. Ugh! All in honor of Emily Hope we are stomping lanterns out? Ha! Shoe catches fire. No really. Shoe catches fire. God graciously puts the fire out and we immediately signal to our volunteers not to light anymore. Phew! The whole lantern fiasco makes me laugh now but it seems uncanny that only one actually took flight. Emily Hope is one. She is one less. One less orphan in the world. I will remember that one beautiful lantern in the sky and it will always signify how Emily is ONE less.

There were a few people who stopped by to introduce themselves to us, as they too are in the international adoption process or have adopted. It was heart warming to meet them and hear their stories. It was even more heart-warming to meet the adopted children.

Seamus met a sweet lady in a Baton Rouge restaurant a few months ago after seeing her baby girl (clearly from China), and introducing himself. Turns out she and her husband also went through Lifeline to adopt a special needs baby from China! I was so excited to see them out there Saturday. I'm pretty sure I almost squeezed their little girl's cheeks off. Sorry, Vivienne! One of our best friends' little boy saw Vivienne and began screaming, "Daddy!! Emily's here!!" How totally stinking cute is that?

Before I close, I just want to reiterate something we shared at the event. If you are reading this and adoption has been on your heart in one form or another, Seamus or I would love to sit down to chat and pray with you about this. We want to encourage you and walk with you on your journey. We can answer questions and share some of our own fears and doubts. If adoption is not on your heart but you realize God's call for ALL of us to care for orphans, we would love to share other ways you can be the caring hands and feet these children need. You can message us through our Loman Adoption FB page or email me at lauraloman@yahoo.com.

Thanks again for all your support this past weekend (and beyond)! There really are no words to sufficiently express our gratitude. Just thank you.

Our fabulous photographer for the event was our sweet friend Anna Kathryn of AK Photography. She is truly amazing in so many ways. Check out these pics she took on Saturday!















Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Face of an Angel

The face of an angel, no doubt...





We received yet another dose of great news just yesterday. Emily's heart echo came back translated and our International Pediatrician in Birmingham studied the results and called to tell us that her heart is perfectly healthy! Her congenital heart defect has completely healed itself! The only very small concern left is the minor brain atrophy I mentioned in a previous post. They are calling it cerebral palsy but again, it is very minor. She is currently receiving some massage therapy for her muscles and improvement is being noted. Although we don't have a perfect picture of the CP, we do know that it doesn't seem to have affected her cognitive ability at all!

Our hearts are so full. We love this precious girl with all that we are. She is our daughter, plain and simple. She is our sister. She is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. But her real story is not our love for her, rather the love that Christ has for her. It's infinitely greater than our love for her.

This is the face of a child of God who is being redeemed! He has marked her from the beginning of time. She has been set apart, chosen to be a story of His grace. As my dear friend says, "Nothing is wasted". NOTHING. Not even her painful, sinful, heart-wrenching abandonment. God is redeeming this child in mighty ways and He wants the world to see how beautiful and loving Christ is, through the adoption of this child, and through the miracles we are witnessing right before our eyes. What an honor and privilege for Emily Hope. We long for the day we can tell her how God has deemed her an important instrument in His story. We may look at her story as one that is sad and broken and it certainly is, from our perspective. But God is so much bigger than her circumstances. He is taking the disgusting muck of her circumstances and powerfully transforming her life to make it an example of his redemption for us on the cross. Emily Hope, you are one blessed girl to be a mighty story for Christ. Furthermore, you are forever His child. He has made that so clear already and there is no greater blessing than that, sister.

Adoption is redemption. It is a beautiful story and picture of our abandonment because of sin and Christ's loving act to redeem us by paying the ultimate price... suffering death on the cross and separation from His Father. I pray that every time you see Emily's eyes that you are reminded of what Christ has done for us. Let her life tell the beautiful story of who our precious savior is.

Isn't she a total CUTIE PIE?! Eeeeeeeeeek!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thank you to all our Sponsors and Volunteers!

There are an overwhelming amount of people we need to thank! We will happily be thanking people for days, weeks, even months to come. There were so many details that went in to the planning of our Orphan Awareness fundraising event that will be happening on Saturday.

Thank you to Renee Cresap, our chair for the event. I don't have the words to explain how instrumental she has been. God knew Seamus and I couldn't organize it all alone and He so perfectly placed it on Renee's heart at the perfect time. Wow! Thank you, Renee, from the bottom of our hearts. And I know you want ZERO glory so here's to your request... Thank you, Jesus, for this precious friend!!

Thank you to all our precious friends (old and new) who have volunteered to work at our event. There are many, many people who will be behind the scenes and working different tables on Saturday. Thank you!! We love you so much.

We have had many businesses and individuals donate their services as well as items for our auction and funds to pay for supplies. I'd like to give a special shout out to these people now, in no particular order of gratitude. THANK YOU...

Barbara Kellar of Bebe's Kitchen
GMFS Lending
Coffee Rani
Great Harvest
PJs Coffee
OPA Graphics
Bridge Church
New Covenant Presbyterian Church
St. Timothy UMC / Joe Bergeron
Bosco's at Terra Bella
St. Tammany Linen
(un)adopted
The Malkemus Family
AK Photography
Pizazz Hair Salon
All Wrapped Up
GeauxTigersArt.com
Bmac Interiors
Simply Southern
Franco's Athletic Club
Animal Care Hospital
Smoketree Landscape
EMB Interiors
Fashions for Kids
The Looking Glass
Smoothie King
Rodan + Fields
Silver Plum
The French Mix
Cottage Antiques
English Tea Room
Kara Klein
Animal Health Clinic
Maria Barcelona Interiors
Laurier
Northshore Gymnastics
LA Academy of Performing Arts
Dr. Lisa Pellegrini
Melissa Maresma Photography
Bygone Beads
EmbroidMe Slidell
Krista Chance
Matilda Jane
Heidi Bowers Photography
Boh Environmental, LLC
New Orleans Saints
Levey Properties
Sandy Burke
Republic National Distributing Co.
Mike Storms Karate
Hope Richard Photography
Ban Soleil Sunglass Boutique
Cleaning by Misty
Neon Southern Lady



It's amazing to look at this list and think of all the people who were willing to help. We are forever grateful! Please support these local businesses as a thank you on our behalf.

We hope you can all join us this Saturday, from 3-6pm, rain or shine. Speaking of rain or shine, if the weather looks iffy, we will make the call on our venue Friday. If we decide to move it indoors, we will notify everyone through this blog and our Facebook page. If the weather doesn't look great, please check these sources and plan to come regardless of where it's held!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Introducing Emily Hope

We have been eager to share more about our sweet girl. So much has transpired over the past several days and we continue to gather incredible information every day. Many of you have been asking about Emily and we are now able to share so much about her!

Our daughter is 15 months old. She was abandoned when she was 5 days old, left outside an orphanage located in Northern China. This orphanage is called Baotou Social Welfare Institute and it is located in Inner Mongolia Province, which borders Russia. She lived at this orphanage for the first few months of her life. Here, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. She was transferred to another home in Northern China called Harmony House. Harmony House is in Langfang, China, part of Hebei Province. She has been at Harmony House since she was only a few months old and still lives there today.

It turns out Harmony House is an American run, Christian ministry! Many people have confirmed that this is absolutely a best case scenario for an orphan in China. You can read more about who they are on their website. http://harmonyoutreach.org/china/ Not only have we received this great news but have had the privilege of being in touch with the director and Emily's caretaker directly through email! Y'all, this is unheard of. So what have these emails told us?

We have received so many pictures from them and I must say... She is the most beautiful little angel we've ever seen. We think she looks like our Anna Grace! Her caretaker says that she is quiet and sweet. She loves to be held and sucks her finger when she gets sleepy. Oh to get my hands on her...

Emily clenches her fists and walks on her tippy toes which are indications of brain atrophy. Brain atrophy can occur if a virus attacks your body or in other circumstances as well. We won't know the extent of this until she comes home. We do know, however, that she is walking and developing in line with other children her age. Her development tells us that the atrophy is likely minimal, or possibly a non-issue all together. It's very rare for an orphan in China to be walking by 15 months (rarely are they even crawling at this point) but this great news confirms that she is being nurtured and not left in a crib all day. Praise God! We are still learning more about her heart defect and are currently waiting to have her recent heart echo translated for us. Reading it in Chinese doesn't tell us much! ;-)

When we first received her medical history, we were told by an international pediatrician in Birmingham that her blood levels showed some cause for concern. Based on her blood panel, it was possible she had a serious virus or worse... blood cancer or leukemia. Through prayer and many tears, we decided that even cancer couldn't prevent this angel from being our daughter. We chose to pursue her and at last, today we received an update that her blood looks fine and there is no reason for alarm. She is perfectly healthy, aside from her heart defect (which we will learn more about next week). Once again... Thank you, Jesus!

Our agency has a contact in China who arranges care packages to be delivered to the children. So you better believe we'll be buying some goodies for her soon! We are able to email her caretaker anytime and will have a list of questions for her soon. She is very sweet, loves the Lord, and is pretty fluent in her English writing.

I know you are all dying to see pictures. My logical, level-headed husband says that his impulsive wife is not to post any pics until we are sure we have "pre-approval". The nerve! ;-) You're probably also wondering when we will get to go get her. The timeline hasn't changed. Assuming there are no hiccups along the way, we will likely travel in April or May. Praying that paperwork is expedited so this little angel can come home soon. Hang on Emily Hope, we're coming baby girl!

Clearly, this has been a week of "WOW"s, a turbulent, emotional roller coaster ride. We are exhausted, my family has been eating fast food for a week, my house is in complete shambles, and guess what.... I couldn't care less. Needless to say, we are elated by all the wonderful surprises we have received over the past few days. This is not what we expected and once again, we give God all the praise and glory for the extra blessings!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

MATCHED! Forever Changed.

It is with pure joy in my heart that I am able to share with you that we have been matched with a precious angel. 8 months in to our adoption process, 49 days in the "waiting for a match" phase... on Monday, November 4th, we looked in to the eyes of our Emily Hope.

The Lord has done it again. He has provided. Of course He has. That's a promise he has made... to always provide for those who love Him. He provides despite my daily doubt that he really is who he says he is. Not only has he provided but he has once again gone above and beyond to bless us immeasurably. Our God who is too big to comprehend loves to bless us. He loves to gift us with joy... joy that reflects who He is. Why the creator of this universe loves me the way he does will forever be a mystery.

This precious child was marked by God before time began. She has been set apart. She is our daughter. She is HIS daughter. When I looked in to her soulful eyes, I sobbed. I knew. I knew the same way I knew when my 3 children were born. I knew she was ours as much as Brady is ours, as much as Anna Grace is ours, as much as Bryce is ours. Every doubt, fear, question has been thrown out the window.

We are forever changed from this point on. Things will never be the same. There is no ocean large enough, no legal document final enough, no illness severe enough, that could ever prevent us from fighting for this girl until the day we hold her in our arms.

The beautiful agony begins.

"Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east... bring my daughters from the end of the earth" (Isaiah 43:5-6)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooYWCAG3veo


PS- Pictures and more information about who she is to follow soon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

HER Waiting... The Hardest Part

I know, I've been quiet lately about the adoption process itself. There are many reasons for this lack of blogging.

First, there's not much to report on our progress. Today marks day 38 of our wait for a match. There's nothing we can be doing right now to expedite our adoption.

Another reason for my silence is all the planning that's going into our November 16th Orphan Awareness Fundraiser. We are extremely busy with this and frankly, I am quite thankful for the distraction.

Lastly, I don't talk much about this wait because it's flat. out. hard. We knew to expect this wait but nothing could have prepared me for how hard it has been.

The hardest part about this step is not the waiting itself. Yes, we are eager to know who our daughter is, but that's not very difficult. This adoption is not about us. It's not about the desire to grow our family. Growing our family is an added blessing but it's not cause for anxiety.

The hardest part about this wait is knowing that Emily Hope (and so many others) is sitting in an orphanage, experiencing neglect on many levels, and the reason we are not being matched is a matter of processing paperwork. There are millions of orphans in China alone but only a small percent are being made available for adoption to families who are willing and able. I read testimonies of friends visiting orphanages and their accounts of the many orphans just waiting there. What stands in the way of these children being handed over to Christian families in the U.S.? Bureaucracy, indifference, politics, laziness, pride. Most orphanages in China don't even allow international adoptions. While ignorance, pride and resentment rest in their hearts, many of these children don't stand a chance.

She is waiting. And we are ready for her. That's the hardest part. We will continue to wait and pray. I cry out to the God who loves these children infinitely more than I do. Please remove the obstacles that are preventing files from being released. Change hearts in China to make "the least of these" a priority. Change hearts here in the states to reflect God's heart, by fighting for justice for these orphans. Adopt. Fund. Pray. Go. Then trust. Trust that if we are being obedient in living out the gospel, the Lord will provide.    

I highly recommend adopting a child if you are a control freak. Your inadequacy to trust in the Lord will be squashed over and over and over and over until you finally realize that the Lord's sovereignty that you so boldly preach about is relevant in your own life. Sigh.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08s3GKRict8

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Countdown to... "Bringing Home Emily Hope" Orphan Awareness Event


Our "Bringing Home Emily Hope" Orphan Awareness event is only a month away. We are very busy ironing out all the final details and are getting very excited about the big day!

We've posted this event on our Loman Adoption Facebook page. If you don't "like" us yet, please do that. If you haven't seen our FB event yet, you can view details HERE. Feel free to RSVP while you're visiting our event page! The purpose of this event is to bring awareness to our community of the global orphan crisis and it also provides a tangible way to help in relieving this crisis. Proceeds will go towards the expense of bringing our baby girl home from China. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit (un)adopted, who we are so thrilled to have joining us for the occasion.

There are many ways to help, if you feel led. Whether it's through your time, your monetary donations, or just a heart to hear how you can love on orphans, all of these are valuable.

If you are interested in volunteering your time at the event, please email me at lauraloman@yahoo.com. We still need a few slots filled for the 3:00-4:30 time frame as well as 4:30-6:00.

Just coming to the event shows a tremendous amount of support for our family and
(un)adopted. There's so much to look forward to!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have some exciting auction items available to bid on at the event. This will be a great opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done, all while supporting some worthy causes. While you are busy battling it out on the bid sheets, the kiddos can enjoy complimentary popcorn, a bounce house, or have a favorite balloon animal made!

Thanks to Bebe's Kitchen, Cooking for a Cause, you can buy a jambalaya plate at the event for $7. We will also have water and soft drinks available for $1 and complimentary coffee and hot chocolate. Thanks PJ's Coffee!

Also available for your enjoyment... some excellent live music by Joe Bergeron of St. Timothy's Methodist Church and his posse of incredible musicians! Don't forget your blanket to sit on while enjoying all this food and music!

We will also be selling t-shirts and accepting donations at a "Loman Adoption" table. Garth Thorpe, from (un)adopted, will also have a table where he will gladly discuss the organization with you and answer any questions you may have. We are especially excited to share our adoption story with you and hear Garth give a brief presentation towards the end of our event.

We hope you can join us on November 16th! Please continue to pray for God to work through this event. All praise and glory to Him!

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Sneak Peek at our Silent Auction


I can't believe this is less than 6 weeks away! We are blown away by God's provision in all the details. It's coming together so perfectly and we have so many people to thank for this. We won't ever be able to sufficiently thank every person involved but we will certainly try!

For now, I'd love to share a glimpse of the businesses who have donated fabulous items for our silent auction. This is not a final list, as many simply haven't gotten their items to us yet. Again, this is just a sneak peek. A special thanks to all donors will come later. Get ready for some great Christmas shopping, y'all! THANK YOU...

Melange
Geaux Tigers Art
BMAC Interiors
Simply Southern
Franco's Athletic Club
Animal Care Hospital
Smoketree Landscaping
EMB Interiors
Fashions for Kids
The Looking Glass
Smoothie King
Rodan + Fields Dermatology
Silver Plum
The French Mix
English Tea Room
Kara Klein
Animal Health Clinic
St. Tammany Linens
Laurier
LA Academy of Performing Arts
Northshore Gymnastics

This is exciting stuff! There's still time to donate items if you are interested. We'd like to have all items by the end of next week but we will certainly accept them when you are able. :-)

If you would, please pray for our event as it draws near. Please pray that God would draw a multitude of people, that He would be the center of this gathering, that his gospel would be made known to many, that hearts would be transformed to love "the least of these" as Christ does.

Thank you for all your support. Seamus and I are blown away by your generosity!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Adopting a "Special Needs" Child from China

I've said it before... I love your questions. It means you're interested. It means you care. In past posts, I've answered "Why adopt from China?" and "When is Emily Hope coming home?". I'd like to chat here about a great question so many of you ask. "Do you know what Emily Hope's special need will be?"

We are currently waiting for our match, to find out who our baby girl is. So technically, we don't know exactly what her special need is. But that's not really the entire answer.

When we began this journey, there were a million things to consider. Our number one goal in adopting a child is to live out the gospel, to be an example of what God did for us.

<We were spiritual orphans, bruised and abandoned because of sin. God fulfilled his wrath on his only son so that there would no longer be any condemnation for us, no more guilt and slavery over our sin. Moreover, he did it so that we could attain the righteousness of Christ and the right to be called "sons" of God the Father (Christ is our brother!). He adopted us (the cross being the cost of our adoption) in to His family (Ephesians 1:5) and Seamus and I want to be a living example of that.>

We also wanted to meet the greatest need, simultaneously considering our 3 young children and needing to make a responsible decision for our current family. Early in to our adoption process, we knew that God was calling us to adopt from China and that His plan included adopting a special needs girl. This is where the greatest need is in China. Special needs children are throw-aways in this country.

I'd like to clarify that "special needs" means something very different in China than it does in the US. In China, anything less than perfection is unacceptable. In fact, their culture considers a severe birth mark a "special need". Even gender (female) can be viewed as "not good enough". The special needs of Chinese orphans range from birth mark, vision impairment, and developmentally delayed (all institionalized children are developmentally delayed, by the way... most catch up after adoption unless there is an underlying cognitive issue) to HIV and more severe disabilities. So, what does this mean for us?

Our adoption agency required that we fill out a "Desired Child Form". It allowed us to indicate the parameters for our adopted child... age, gender, which special needs we can and can't handle, and the severity of each of these needs. Of all the paperwork involved, this was, by far, the most difficult to complete. It was necessary and very important in making sure we are matched with a child our family can care for the way she needs. It took lots of prayer to get through it but God was faithful in making it clear. We ended up saying "no" to things I thought would be automatic "yes"es and "yes" to things I didn't initially think we could handle. God revealed exactly what he wanted to and reminded us of his promises to provide through caring for our daughter. So, how did we answer the form?

While we are open to a child with a more severe need than vision impairment, we have eliminated severe disabilities as an option. Some medical needs that our daughter may have include a congenital heart defect requiring surgery or a cleft lip and palate. She could be blind in one eye or have a deformity of her ear or hand (just examples). We have indicated that we can handle a minor need that is potentially correctable. It's possible she may have a need that can not be seen. If this turns out to be the case, we may choose not to share her need, to respect her privacy and allow her to disclose when and if she is ready.

Our hearts may be burdened for a wider range of children in another season of life. For now, we are comfortable knowing that we have followed God's will in all of our adoption decisions. We eagerly anticipate God's revealing of who our Emily Hope is! Please God, can you make it soon? We don't know who she is but God certainly does. And He will unite her with us in His perfect timing.

"Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 43:6)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Being "Pregnant" is Hard





My phone rings. Is it Logan (Lifeline social worker)?! Nope, just the bug man.

I click refresh on my email inbox 1,382 times. An email!! Oh wait, it's Brady's coach... not Logan.

If I check my Facebook groups again (even though I checked an hour ago), maybe there will be an announcement that a new shared list of waiting children will be released soon. Nothing.

Refining. Sanctifying. Humbling. I am thankful to be experiencing all this through the wait. I wrote about waiting HERE and all the wonderful plans God has through waiting. But if I'm being honest (and y'all know I don't have a problem being honest ;), I'm just weary today.

This past week or so (since the high of receiving our Log In Date) has been the most difficult week of the process thus far. I knew that waiting for a referral would be an emotional step and it has proven to be even more than I expected. I didn't expect to have a match a week after LID, nor do I expect to have one any time soon. But it's possible. And that's enough to make me crazy.

We set up Emily's new bedroom over the weekend. Thanks to great friends, she has a beautiful crib and furniture. She won't see her room for another several months but it's ready and waiting for her arrival... just like we are.

There are so many aspects (emotional and otherwise) of this process that I never understood before actually being in it. What's the big deal about waiting if you know ahead of time it's going to take a year or more? It's very hard to explain until you're in it. You go from pursuing adoption (like it's a process), to pursuing a specific child who you know belongs in your family. In God's perfect timing (I hope that's tomorrow), He will show us exactly who our daughter is. That's hard to wait for, y'all.

If you're a momma, you remember the anticipation you felt in the waiting room right before your ultrasound. Although she isn't born then, you get a glimpse of who she is. She can't come home to sleep in her crib just yet but oh the excitement of seeing her little profile. Maybe she's even sucking her thumb or jumping around. The pregnancy pangs are real and painful in both circumstances. I've carried 4 biological children (birthed 3 of them), and all 4 pregnancies were very difficult for different reasons but I'm not sure what's worse... the pain, sickness, and impatience through my biological pregnancies or the pain I feel with this "paper" pregnancy. At least with my first ones, they were tucked away, right there in my belly, for no one to hurt. They were with me every minute until they could come home.

I don't expect this to get any easier. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that when we are finally matched I may spend most of my days in anguish over when we can go get our little bundle. Can someone please remind me to feed my family during that time?

Grumbling and "woe to me" aside, I am truly thankful that this process is so difficult. Easy is never satisfying or rewarding. The joy of being united with Emily Hope one day will be so much sweeter knowing what we went through to get to her. When Jesus set out to rescue us, "easy" was not on his mind. He hung on a tree, and suffered hell, in order that the Father could be united with us!

I don't want easy. But if you could pray that my hard would lead to a deeper faith in Christ, that's my desire. I don't want any of my pain to be in vein nor do I ever want to lose sight of how thankful I need to be for the "real", rather than the "easy". If I'm focused on who Christ is, then hard is doable... even peaceful. "And the peace of God, which trandscends all understanding, will guide your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)                 

Monday, September 16, 2013

LID 09/16/2013

LID!!! Today is our official "log-in date" with China! This means our dossier has been authenticated, sent to China by our social worker (DTC), and officially logged in to the CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) database. For the past several months we have been working state-side through the home study process, Immigration approval, required coursework, etc. and now we enter a new realm... relationship with the Chinese government. Thankfully, our social worker will continue to act as a liaison. She, and the entire China team at Lifeline, are very experienced in all that needs to happen moving forward.

The next step will definitely end up being the most emotional experience thus far. We wait. But this time, we're not waiting on paperwork, government officials, stamps of approval, or reports. We now wait to receive a referral (deep breath). Not just a referral but a life. A little girl from halfway around the world will step in to our hearts very soon. I can only imagine the emotion that will overcome me when I stare in to the eyes of the little girl in that picture. They will be the eyes of our Emily Hope, the daughter we've been talking about, praying for, waiting to meet. Our lives will change drastically when we meet her on paper. Our world will be rocked. All of a sudden, we become terribly vulnerable yet incredibly sustained by our dependence on Him. It's at this point we realize there is no turning back. And we don't want to. God's call for us to adopt has suddently shifted to God's call to fight for our daughter. No, legally she won't be ours yet but at the moment God places her in our lives (even through a picture), she is ours. Period.

Will you please pray for us as we now wait for a referral? My prayer is first, for Emily Hope, wherever she may be. I pray that she is safe, protected from evil, that someone may hold and love her until we can get there. I pray for discernment on the day our referral arrives. I pray that God unites us with Emily Hope according to His will and timing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wanted

For my Emily Hope, for orphans around the globe, and for those who feel unwanted because they haven't met our Heavenly Father... You. Are. Wanted.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Amazing Day at Tales & Ales

As you know, we had a unique opportunity this past Saturday to participate in "Tales & Ales" at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. Not only did we participate but were chosen, by Blue Deuce Entertainment, to be the beneficiary of a craft beer raffle at the event. Between the raffle and selling our t-shirts at the event, we made $940 to go towards our adoption expenses! We can not believe that our fundraising thermometer now sits at over $18,000! As always, all praise and glory to God who is making this possible!

The fundraising at this event was an incredible blessing but even more of a blessing was the opportunity we had to share our story with so many people. It's a privilege to watch the surprise on people's faces as we reveal to them God's will in our lives and His plan for all of us. I'm sure that most people who attended this event were non-believers and it was awesome being planted in an environment where we could share good news with them and hopefully be a light. "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Praying that people who heard our story gave praise to our Father!

I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to. Thankfully, we had our hands full! I must give one more special thank you to... BLUE DEUCE ENTERTAINMENT! Russell and Ashley Doussan, your willingness to put us above other beneficiaries is humbling and we are forever grateful for your love and support. The event was a hit... y'all throw a good party! ;-)



Our sign at the event

Craft beer for the raffle
   

Monday, September 9, 2013

DTC 09/09/2013

DTC!!!!! Our social worker notified us that our dossier authentication is complete and she has sent our DOSSIER TO CHINA! We are officially DTC today. The CCCWA (China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption) will now log us in to their database and we will be notified when we have an official log-in date (LID). This generally takes between 1-3 weeks to receive. Stay tuned for an update containing our LID date... this will be another big step for us!

"Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!" (Psalm 150:2)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Adopt a Pie

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

That's God's call to every believer... to care for orphans and widows. It's simple. If we love the God who adopted us when we were (spiritual) orphans, the God who paid the ultimate price to have us in His home, then we will be compelled to love others with this same kind of love.

I understand how daunting the idea of adopting a child in to your home is. I'm there. I'm daunted. But you know our story is one where God stepped in and made a decision, not us. And I hope to encourage many of you, in the future, to discern if God may be calling you to this as well. For now, I'd like each of us to take a few steps back. Let's not focus on adoption (this may be the last time you hear me say that!).

I had the privilege of attending a ladies' gathering at Northshore Bible Church called "Adopt a Pie" last Monday evening. It involved an apron contest, a pie auction to benefit the McGinty adoption, and meeting some fantastic ladies. I can just hear each of you right about now... "aprons and pies on a Monday night, Woe... Laura is one wild and crazy lady!" I didn't win the "most unique apron" contest. In fact, I'm pretty sure I won the "probably shouldn't wear an apron... ever" title. What I did win was a beautiful cross necklace, handmade in Africa. Oh, and I "accidentally" won 2 pies in the auction... Oops!
                                                                               
               
  

The highlight of this night was a wonderful talk given by my friend, Angie McGinty. We heard about the McGinty's adoption story, the sad reality of so many orphans in need, and practical ways we can ALL help to fulfill God's will of caring for the "least of these." I am happy to write all about these ideas but I think I'd like to hand it over to Angie at this point. She wrote a beautiful blog post about what she shared at "Adopt a Pie." If you would, please take a few minutes to read her post and make the decision to help in one of these areas. http://themcgintysadopt.blogspot.com/2013/09/orphan-care-call-to-justice.html

Will you join me in grabbing hold of at least one of these this week?! Seamus and I are not in a position, at the moment, to give monetarily. We are obviously trying to save and raise funds for our own adoption. However, I commit to praying this week specifically for each of the organizations Angie mentions and for orphans around the world. I also commit to learning more about the foster care system, where there is a tremendous need right here in Louisiana. This may be a ministry God calls us to in the future and I'd love to start by learning more. Let's hold each other accountable. If you'd like to share what you are willing to commit to this week and beyond, I would love to encourage you on your journey!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tales & Ales


We have been presented with a unique opportunity to raise funds for our adoption! The owner of Blue Deuce Entertainment (who happens to be a friend through tennis) approached us recently and said that his company would love to help with our adoption expenses. We are always grateful when people are touched by our story and want to help. 

Blue Deuce Entertainment is involved in putting on a big event at the New Orleans Fairgrounds each year called Tails & Ales. This year the event will be held Saturday, September 7th from 4-8pm. Tales & Ales includes world class quarter horse racing, premium beer tasting, lots of food and fun. Every year at this event, Blue Deuce sponsors a raffle where attendees can purchase a $5 ticket to win a huge mound of premium beer from around the world. The proceeds are always given to a cause they deem worthy. This year, Blue Deuce has decided that "Bringing Home Emily Hope" will be the one and only recipient of all funds raised at this raffle!

We can't wait for the event and will take plenty of pictures! I'll be excited to share pictures, the amount raised, and more about our day, so look for an update on my blog after the event. If y'all can make it out, we would love for you to stop by for the raffle! Sounds like it's going to be a super fun day. For now, a special shout out to...

BLUE DEUCE ENTERTAINMENT... Y'all are awesome!!! We are so thankful for your involvement in our journey!
www.facebook.com/bluedeuceentertainment

Monday, August 26, 2013

When is Emily Hope Coming Home?

This is the question we hear more than any other. Everyone wants to know when we actually go to China to pick up our daughter. Man, we want to know too! The truth is, we really don't have an answer for that, only an estimation. I'd love to explain a little more about the process and timeline to give you an idea of why it's such a rough guess. I'll spare you the time frame on milestones passed.

Currently, our dossier documents are being authenticated. When this is complete (in about 1 week), it will be sent to China and we will receive a log-in date (LID) about a week later. This is an important step because it means we are officially in China's database to begin the process with them.

Once we have a LID, we are eligible to receive a referral. A referral is the package that has a sweet baby's picture, possibly a short video of her, any medical history and other information they have about her (possibly when and where she was abandoned, birth date if it's known, etc.). When we receive a referral, we have the option to accept or ask for another. When we receive a referral, we will not make that public until we decide, through prayer, that particular child is absolutely our Emily Hope. From LID to receiving a referral can take anywhere between 1 and 6 months. This time frame depends on so many factors. We are praying to have a referral before our November Orphan Awareness fundraiser. How cool would that be to honor Emily Hope by unveiling her sweet face at this special event?!

Once we decide to accept the referral, we send a letter of intent (LOI) to China, stating our desire to adopt that particular child. They send us pre-approval (PA) about 5-10 days after they receive our LOI. That begins another long wait.

Our PA date starts the wait for our Letter of Approval (LOA). The current wait for LOA is about 3 months but I have seen couples get LOA after a month and others wait 6 months. At that point, it's all in the hands of the Chinese government and how quickly they work on our case. Well, it's really in God's hands but you know what I mean. ;-) Receiving LOA is probably the most exciting news an international adoptive parent can share. It is the letter that means that China has officially accepted us to adopt from China and to adopt that particular child. There are plenty of scenarios that can cause China to ask more questions, request more information, or even turn a family down. When I post, "LOA!", there will be a serious party happening at the Loman household.

After LOA is received, there are several mini-steps that occur before we travel. These steps should take about a month, maybe two. These steps involve things like applying for her visa, scheduling appointment with the US Consulate in China, cabeling documents to the foreign embassy, receiving travel approval, and booking travel. Then we're crossing oceans to bring home our baby girl!

So many acronyms, so much information. It's all very overwhelming to us too! We finally have a good grip on the process, what's involved, and an estimated time frame. I just wanted to share this with y'all because I know sometimes it doesn't make sense when we answer your question with, "Could be 4 months from now, could be a year." We love you to ask us when Emily's coming home. So please, keep those questions coming! It means you care and that is big time encouragement for us.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Grass, Worms, Orphans

I actually wrote this post on 8/19. I was literally typing the last line when the mail lady pulled up and I ran to find our Immigration approval letter in the mail. I couldn't post twice in one day so I saved this. :)

Today was my Anna Grace's first day of Kindergarten. Mercy. After dropping her off (and holding back the tears), I got a lot done this morning as I was finally on my own with the day off of work. I love my kiddos but the summer was loooooong. I spent most of the morning talking to businesses about our event in November. Can someone please remind me why I was ever in outside sales? Seriously... Yuck! Our house had plenty of laundry and dishes waiting for me but I decided to put that off. I decided instead to mow the lawn and weed our front beds.

Disclaimer: I am by NO means a tree hugger but I'm just warning... I'm about to weird out on y'all.

God wooed me today as I completed the simple task of working in the yard. It was hot and hard. There were earthworms and bugs and even a snake (dead because my kids played with it yesterday until it died... but a snake nonetheless). I loved every minute of it... the sun on my skin, the sweat dripping down, the smell of grass, the soil under my finger nails, the buzzing of the honey bees all around me, the worms and bugs, and especially the cold glass of lemonade that my sweet neighbor walked over. I love God's creation and He so beautifully shared it with me today.

The fact that God revealed so much of His beautiful world to me today reminded me that I just don't do it enough. I pass by every day in my rush to get to work, cook dinner, or whatever else the day holds. It's easy to forget how special the little things are. Turns out, they're not so little. It's all created by God and if we would just behold them, we'd notice how spectacular they are, how spectacular HE is.

My experience this afternoon reminded me of how easily we just pass by the orphans of this world. They're all right under our noses, waiting to be loved, waiting to share their beauty with us, waiting to feel the love of Christ. But we walk past them, without thinking about it, without even knowing we're doing it. God wants us to focus on our work, our homes, our families. We bring Him glory when we are tending to these things. But He also wants us to take our shoes off and feel the soil in our toes. He wants us to enjoy his earth and give him thanks for it, and he also wants us to look past our living rooms and reach out to a hurting world.

Before Seamus and I were bonked on the heads about adoption, I'm pretty sure I was oblivious to God's love of orphans. I mean, I thought it was sad and all but I wasn't doing much about it. And the truth is, just because we're adopting a child doesn't mean we're doing enough. My very sweet friend Angie McGinty will be speaking Monday night at a local church's ladies' gathering. I will be there to support her and to hear all the practical ways we, as believers, can help relieve the orphan crisis and share the love of Christ. Oh yeah, and there's a pie auction to benefit the McGinty adoption... pie... I'm there. I am eager and excited to have her educate me on practical ways I can help. I'd love to share these ideas with you and will blog about that very soon.

God may be calling you to adopt an orphan. I pray daily that hearts would be softened to give homes to so many in need. And I ask that you be open to how he may be speaking to you about this. God may NOT be calling you to adopt. But He absolutely calls all of us to care for orphans. This looks different in everyone's walk. Some people are prayer warriors, some have financial means to donate, some have room in their homes for children in need, the list of gifts that enable a person to help goes on and on. I look forward to sharing ways we can all help. Keep an eye out for a blog post soon on ways you can get involved!

Monday, August 19, 2013

I-800A Immigration Approval Received

Another major milestone conquered! Woot woot!

We have been waiting for our USCIS (Immigration) approval since they received our application on June 7th. We found out that an officer had been assigned to our case on Tuesday, August 6th. She reviewed our file (home study, fingerprints, etc.) and approved us to be adoptive parents of a Hague convention country on Wednesday, August 14th! We received our approval letter in the mail today and immediately scanned it to our social worker at Lifeline.

Now what? While we were waiting for our Immigration approval, we were busy gathering all the required documents for our dossier (the packet that goes to China). Our I800A approval letter was all that our social worker was waiting for to complete our dossier. Now that she has every piece, she begins authentication (Secretary of State seal and other legal necessities). It takes 2-3 weeks to authenticate our dossier and then it's off to China!

I must say, completing this step and seeing our dossier off to China makes it more real than ever! It's clear that we are getting closer and closer to meeting our Emily Hope. It's all very bitter sweet because we are so excited to wrap our arms around her and bring her home but we know there's still a good bit of time that separates us. And we know that a lot can happen in that amount of time. It's daunting to consider. If you would, please continue to pray for our family. We are trusting in the peace of God that transcends all understanding. Please pray for that peace to cover our hearts every day and for our focus to remain on Christ, the only source of good. We understand God's providence, his holy hand holding our Emily Hope. But y'all, it's so hard to be on this side of our adoption. The tugging of my heart strings... harder and stronger as we get closer. I see pictures daily of the inside of Chinese orphanages, as other adoptive parents post the joys of picking up their bundles. I see babies in the background, in metal cribs (many without a mattress or blanket), on the floor, wherever, and I wonder if that could be our Emily Hope. I can't imagine the pain we will experience after knowing who she is but not yet able to go scoop her up. (Sigh) Yes, this is so real, all of it. We do long for the day we are looking back at this process when all the pain will have been so worth it!

Just a sidenote, I created a page to track our adoption timeline. You can go to that page (link on the top right column of blog) at anytime to see where we are in the process.

Also, we just placed another big order of youth and adult sized t-shirts. So, if you haven't ordered yours yet, shoot me an email (lauraloman@yahoo.com) or click HERE for more details!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bigger and Better than Death Valley?

I just want to remind y'all of what an amazing impact your encouragement has on us.

Seamus ran in to an acquaintance the other day. Like so many, he revealed that he has been following our journey through our Facebook page and blog. "I saw your adoption thing. I'm following you. I'm rooting for you!" Seamus was grateful and told me, "It gave me goosebumps. Like Death Valley on a Saturday night!" Okay, you may or may not be an LSU fan but if you are, you understand exactly what Seamus was talking about. You know the chills, the tears, the pride. It's overwhelming and AWE. SOME. If you're not... well, I'm really sorry. ;-)



My response to Seamus, "... but better." And it is, y'all. Your words of encouragement, your promises to pray for us, the hugs, all of it gives us the same feeling... times a thousand! It's hard to explain the effect every encouraging comment has. It's big. Way bigger than Death Valley.

So from our purple and gold hearts to yours (whatever colors yours may be)... Thank you for your encouragement. This journey is difficult on so many levels, and we don't want to go one day without it.

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1Thes.5:11)




Monday, August 5, 2013

Let My Lifesong Sing

God loves to be in relationship with his children. I'm humbled by the access I have to boldly approach His throne with my eucharist, repentance, and petitions. He doesn't just tolerate my prayers. He loves them. He longs to still my heart, for me to talk to Him, listen to Him. This is a mystery I may never figure out, this mystery that a perfect God who created the universe loves to be in relationship with me.

Yes, He loves my prayers. But they are far from perfect, I assure you (thank you, Jesus, for your blood that washes my imperfect prayers clean). Far too often my prayers are shallow, self-centered, lacking faith. They remind me of many of the songs we hear on Christian radio. My intentions are good but oh how easy it is to take my focus off of Him, even in prayer. Through my shallow requests, the Holy Spirit often reminds me that the answer to all my prayers is simple. It's all about who God is. My prayers (and my entire life) should be central to who He is. My prayer should always reflect how perfect, how sovereign, and how loving our God is. I want my prayers and my life to reflect who He is.

This is my prayer today. "God, you alone are good. You are completely just and completely merciful, both in perfect harmony through the cross of Jesus. Reveal yourself and who you are to our broken and hurting world. Burden my heart for what burdens yours. Let my life be a reflection of who you are, nothing else. Let my life song sing your praises!"


Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name
To the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Lord, I give my life
A living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be Your hands and feet

So may the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name
To the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Let my lifesong sing to You
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Let my lifesong sing to You
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Let my lifesong sing to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name
To the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name
To the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

Thursday, August 1, 2013

November Fundraising Event... New Information!

Progress... sweet, sweet progress. I wish I were talking about our Immigration status but I'm pretty stoked about what's recently been accomplished for our November Orphan Awareness Fundraiser.

First, a very special friend stepped up to take the lead and be chair-awesomeness over the event (or chair-lady, but I personally prefer "chair-awesomeness"). A special thank you to Renee Cresap for responding to God's lead on this. You are awesome, not just because of your dedication and faithfulness but because you are so stinking good at this!!

Second event news to report... we have our live music lined up and although I can't reveal the name just yet, I'm excited to tell you that there will be amazing praise music on the village square that afternoon! Put "bring blanket" on your calendar reminder because you're gonna want to stay put and relax for this gig!

I also had the opportunity to have lunch with an amazing lady named Barbara Kellar, who will be cooking our jambalaya for the event. She has a Facebook page at BeBe's Kitchen Cooking for a Cause where you can read more about her ministry. She has a beautiful heart for Jesus and specifically for orphans around the world. We are honored to have her cook for us and feel so blessed to have this new relationship!

I'm super excited to reveal the incredible partnership we have for our event. Without further adieu, we present... (un)adopted, a ministry of Lifeline Children's Services! "(un)adopted exists to provide a hope and a future for orphans around the world by facilitating a safe environment to disciple and equip children in need." I encourage you to learn more on their website but here's a little blurb about what they do:

We Go: Proclaiming the message of the Gospel to orphans worldwide to provide immediate and eternal hope for those who have never heard the good news. 

We Equip: Initiating planning and partnering strategies with orphanages, indigenous bodies of believers, government officials, businesses, schools, and homes, seeking to mentor orphans and equip them with job and life skills. 

We Disciple: Developing sustainable relational ministry models that mobilize the indigenous international church to care for the orphaned and impoverished with viable long-term solutions. 

We Facilitate: Facilitating short-term trips, multiple times a year, to expose churches, students, and business leaders to the plight of orphans, and to build relationships and trust within the international communities to begin affecting change and community transformation. 

(un)adopted will be available during the event to chat with folks about their ministry. They will give a presentation towards the end of the event to bring awareness about the global orphan crisis and share ways we can all help. We couldn't be more excited to have this ministry to partner with. (un)adopted is an organization that is dear to our hearts. They are gospel-centered in everything they do and provide hope for so many who wouldn't otherwise have it. We can't wait to welcome (un)adopted and see God work through them at our event! A portion of the proceeds from our event will go to (un)adopted, to aid in their ministries abroad.

We now have a rain plan in place! Thank you to our family at New Covenant Presbyterian Church for opening her doors for our event. If the weather is terrible, we still want everyone to plan for a great event in the fellowship hall of our church in Mandeville.

Thank you to Bridge Church for donating their block party trailer for our event! Because of their generosity, we'll have a big bounce house, a popcorn machine, and tons of other equipment to help make this event a success.

Last, but not least, we have several volunteers dedicated to specific tasks for the event. Lots of people have stepped up and we are forever grateful. If you are interested in helping, we still have slots open for set up (noon-3:00), clean up (6-8pm), and several tables at the event itself (3-4:30 shifts and 4:30-6:00 shifts). Feel free to email me or leave a comment here and let me know in which of these areas you would like to help. We would be oh-so-grateful if you'd like to be a part of this. We'd like to have all volunteers secured soon.

If you believe you have an item or service that you may like to donate to the silent auction, please let me know. One friend had the fun idea to auction himself! He's still working out the details but it will look something like him being a slave to someone for a day. Ha! Now that's one good friend!

Oh! Be sure to wear your Emily Hope t-shirts to the event (we may have to wear a long-sleeved something under it since it's in November). ;-) We'll give one free beverage to anyone wearing our t-shirt at the event!

Between now and November 16th, I'll be posting updates and reminders about the event. We will have flyers available as the event draws nearer. If you have any questions at any point, feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment. Be on the lookout soon for a page on my blog dedicated solely to the event. I'll update this page as details arise.

Reminder of Event Details:
Saturday, November 16th, 3-6pm
Terra Bella Village Square (rain plan: New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Mandeville)
Live Music, Food, Activities for kids, and Silent Auction
Orphan Awareness Presented by (un)adopted Organization


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Story for your Heart and BBQ for your Tummy

We have met some amazing people through our adoption experience. It's been really fun to see the Lord open doors and introduce us to other families who have been burdened for orphans. There's something really special about sharing encouragement with people who are living a similar life experience.

When we first began our journey, we were introduced to a very special family. I have mentioned them before but I'm dedicating this entire post to them (yeah girl, you can thank me later with some of Evan's homemade ice cream). Evan and Angie McGinty (and their 3 children) are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia and are also using Lifeline as their adoption agency. They happen to live about 2 minutes from us. When Angie and I met, it was eerie how similar our stories were and how similar we are. Seriously, Angie and I were finishing each other's sentences the first time we met! :-) But that's not why I'm writing about them.

They are determined and faithful in their walk to adopt a child in Africa. They have been changed because of their adoption in Christ and want to reflect that deep love. Evan and Angie have a rock solid marriage, incredible faith, and all the love in the world to share with another child. The only thing they don't have (like many of us) is a large chunk of cash sitting around to complete an international adoption. Seamus and I want to support them any way we can so I'd like to share their story with you here, as well as a way you can help this Sunday!

HERE is their sweet story of how their adoption began.

And here's Angie with her oldest daughter, Dixie, wearing their Emily Hope tees! They have been so supportive of us. Pretty girls!

The McGinty's church family is hosting a BBQ to help fund their adoption, this Sunday on the Madisonville lakefront (at the Maritime Museum). If you live in the area, wouldn't you love to join us for yummy, messy, good-cause barbecue??? Here's more information:


Hope you will join us this Sunday! The food will be plentiful and the company even better. :-) If you can't stay, feel free to pick it up and run.

Best wishes, McGinty clan. We love you to Ethiopia and back! (Angie has estimated that to be 17,136 miles of love) ;-)