7.13.2014

Puzzle Fundraiser: Pay It Forward Update

Compliments of Lemongrass Photography
In June 2013, one hundred twenty-one families made contributions to our puzzle fundraiser to help bring Tucker home. In just nine days, those 121 families donated $5,425! We are still so humbled by your generosity, and our spirits were lifted during that very long wait for our Letter of Acceptance (LOA). We purchased a frame and hung the finished puzzle in Tucker's room before he got home. Now, every morning when he wakes up, every afternoon when he takes a nap, and every evening when he goes to bed, we are reminded of the 121 people who helped bring our son home through that fundraiser.

When we announced our puzzle fundraiser, we made a special commitment to the donors. Ryan's employer provides a $5,000 reimbursement for adoption costs, and we stated that if people donated $5,000 to our family, we would pay forward that $5,000 from Ryan's company to another adoptive family. So, not only would donors be helping our family bring Tucker home, but you would also be helping another family bring home their sweet one.

Well, I am SO EXCITED to announce that after many conversations with friends, we learned that one family has decided to grow their family through adoption. Although I cannot announce who this family is just yet, I wanted to let you know that our family has followed through with our commitment to the donors of our fundraiser, and we paid forward your generosity to this family, giving them $5,000 toward their adoption thanks to YOU and YOUR GENEROSITY to our family last June and to God who loves us all so much, HE adopted us into his family. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about this very special family!

We talk to Tucker every day about China. He has asked us why we came to China to bring him home. We tell him that God loves him so much that he asked us to be his family and fly all the way across the world to bring him home. We tell him that God wanted him to have a family, and God wanted us to have a son...all because He loves us.

And you know what Tuck says?

He says, "Mommy, I happy home."

Me, too, buddy. Me, too.

Compliments of Lemongrass Photography
 

7.06.2014

Andy's Second Journey to Leadville

Many of you have followed our family's adoption story for quite some time, and you might recall my posts last year about Andy and Lisa Bauermeister's #runningtuckerhome campaign. Andy ran 100 miles in the Leadville Trail race last August to push his body to its limits and to help raise funds to bring orphans home. He successfully completed this race in 28 hours and 44 minutes! Andy and Lisa's friends and family donated $11,120 to the fundraiser last year! You can read my follow up post HERE. After giving our family over $6,000, they gifted $1,000 to five additional families who were going through the adoption process. You can read this post and this post to see the chosen families. We are still so thankful for the money given to our family through this fundraiser! We were able to pay for all of our airfare (nearly $5,000), and the rest was applied to final travel expenses.

Because Andy is absolutely crazy incredibly inspiring, he is running another 100 miles on the Leadville Trail this August, and once again, he is raising money for orphans. Instead of choosing specific families, Andy has decided to partner with The Boaz Project, Inc. Not only does this organization provide adoption assistance to families, but they also work directly with people helping orphans in both India and Russia. Coincidentally, Noah's Bible Club at school raised money for The Boaz Project, Inc. this past year. He was happy to do extra chores around the house to raise money for this special organization.


Over Memorial Day weekend, Andy ran across the entire state of Indiana to accomplish a great feat while also training for Leadville and raising money for The Boaz Project, Inc. Andy finished the entire 150 mile trek across Indiana in 39 hours and 57 minutes! You can read all about his adventure HERE. Check it out! Ryan even made a debut by providing an aid station for Andy early in his weekend adventure. :)

To date, Andy has raised nearly $1,000 for The Boaz Project, Inc. I know so much of Andy's success with this race will attributed to both his physical condition and his mental stamina. Last year, he said that his ability to continue pushing his body to extremes was knowing that he was helping families bring home their children. Will you consider helping Andy's efforts in supporting The Boaz Project, Inc. this year? All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE and can be completed online through the following website: https://fundly.com/runin-for-orphans. We received our receipt from The Boaz Project, Inc. just a couple weeks after making our donation.

God asks that all people care for the fatherless in some way, and Andy has decided that through his passion for running, he can help orphans. I hope you will consider donating to his fundraiser to support The Boaz Project, Inc.!

Lisa and Andy just after he crossed the Leadville finish line in 2013

6.17.2014

Noah's 6th Birthday Letter

How did this little guy...


 

 
 ...grow up and turn into this big guy?

Last Day of School
Last Day of School
Kindergarten Graduation
Kindergarten Graduation
I remember when I opened all of my baby shower gifts, all the moms would write something like, "Don't blink your eyes. They grow up so fast!" or "Treasure every single moment." They weren't kidding. The past six years have gone by so quickly, and although I loved his baby years, Noah is more and more fun with each passing year. I hope I always feel like that! I treasure the relationship we have, and I really adore this kid. So, without further ado, here is my letter to my first born son.

Dear Noah,
Six years old. Six. How did this happen? I don't know where the time has gone or how you grew up so fast, but I'll tell you this. The past six years have been the best years of my life. Before you were born, I was living a life focused on myself and what I wanted, needed, and desired. Your dad and I had a lot of fun together after we got married, but it was you who brought us even closer to one another. We became a family when you were born. We stopped choosing ourselves and started choosing you. For three years, it was just the three of us, and we had SO much fun.

Since that time, you have become a big brother not only to Liam but to Tucker, as well. We tell you all of the time, but I want to write it in this letter, too. God chose you specifically to be the oldest brother in our family. He knew how well you would rise as a leader. He knew how you would model kindness, compassion, honesty, obedience, and discipline. God knew that you would show your brothers how much you love Him. You model true unconditional love for all of us, and we all benefit from knowing you. Your daddy and I are so thankful that God chose you to be our first son. You've helped us learn how to be better parents. You've taught us how important it is to apologize when we make mistakes. You've given us courage to talk about our faith. You've helped our hearts become more like our Father's.

The past year has been one I'll never forget! A year ago, you, Liam, and I were taking trips to the Children's Museum, having play dates, and swimming with friends while your dad was at work. We were waiting for Tucker's LOA, and you saw me crying in desperation to your dad one afternoon when I thought it would never come. True to form, you colored me a beautiful picture and wrapped your arms around me, assuring me that everything would be ok. Then you started kindergarten and just amazed me! Noah, before I knew it, you were reading and writing sentences and really growing in your knowledge and skills. In October, you were so strong and courageous as we said our goodbyes before we left for China. I remember having lunch with you at school the a couple days before we left, and I was just holding back the tears. I didn't know how I would be away from you for so long. I know I cried the entire way home that day. I think this pictures really captures how relieved I was to have my arms around you again when we got home!

October 25, 2014
When Tucker first came home, it was a hard transition for all of us, but it was you, Noah, who showed us that we were a family before I felt like we were. You had patience, compassion, tenderness, and real love for Tucker from day one. We made fun memories throughout the year, and one of my favorites was staying overnight in different hotels over spring break.

Pizza in South Bend
Soon after you started swimming lessons, and the progress you made was incredible! You went from not being able to doggy paddle to jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side of the pool on your first day. I was blown away! You made the decision that you were ready to learn, and you worked hard those two weeks. Your became more confident and had so much fun with Coach Chase. You have two more weeks of lessons in July, and I can't wait to see how much more you progress.

As soon as you finished swim lessons in April, you began playing coach pitch baseball. When you spent a lot of the first game daydreaming and playing in the field, I wasn't sure if you were ready to really focus and play baseball. However, you quickly showed me how wrong I was. You got super focused, started making plays in the field, and grew strong and stronger at bat. Your dad and I had so much fun watching you play this year! I already can't wait until next summer.



Noah, I am so proud of you. I am proud of your heart. I am proud of your mind. I am proud of the way you use God's gifts for good. I love how much you love Jesus. I love how serious and sensitive you are. I love how focused and driven you can be. I love that we can sit down and have a real heart-to-heart conversation together, and then ten minutes later, we can go play classic Nintendo games together and conquer Zelda. I love that you invite me into your world and your interests, and you share your feelings with me. I hope that never changes...that it never stops. I hope that I always create a space where you can be yourself and share your heart with me. I hope that in 12 years, you will be a man who still displays all of these wonderful attributes that you have today. I am so thankful that I get to be your mom. It's a privilege knowing you, playing with you, and living life with you. I love you, Noah! Happy 6th Birthday.

Love,
Mommy

5.06.2014

A Letter to Liam: 3rd Birthday

Today my baby turned 3 years old. I still can't believe it and experienced so many emotions throughout the day. We set up the streamers, got the donuts ready, and as soon as Liam woke up, Ryan got Noah and Liam out of bed so that we could sing Happy Birthday to our precious Bert Bert (I can't believe that nickname has stuck so long). Liam LOVES attention, and he was the happiest little guy watching us walk into his room singing to him. He slid off his bed, took one look at his streamers, and ran to me saying, "You're the best!" He planted a huge smooch on my lips and started running through his doorway.


May 6, 2013
May 6, 2014
He nearly ran down the stairs once we mentioned that his birthday treat and presents were downstairs. We again sang Happy Birthday and put a big chocolate donut with sprinkles in front of him with a candle flickering. He blew and blew and blew but could not get that candle out. Finally, with some concentration, Liam finally got it! Five seconds later he started asking if he could open his presents. I mean, do you blame him?

May 6, 2013

May 6, 2014
Liam opened his Ninja Turtle swords, as he calls them, and immediately began showing us his "moves" with them. He has played with Noah's set for hours, which has resulted in lots of electrical tape to keep them together. We though Liam would enjoy a new set, and he surely did. He then opened his second gift. Ryan and I have been especially excited about this present. Liam learned to ride a bike with training wheels right after he turned 2 years old. Liam had been using Noah's old bike, and because Liam is so tall, he was really starting to outgrow it. We bought him a new Planes bike, and after he finally got all the paper on the box, he was surprised to see that his bike was not inside the box. We watched the Grinch Stole Christmas a million times around Christmas, and every time something goes missing, we always say that the "Mean Ol' Grinchy" must have taken it. So, we told Liam that the Mean Ol' Grinchy must have his bike, too! We suggested that he try to look in the basement for it. Liam went running down the stairs with Ryan and the other boys trailing along. I loved capturing his sweet smile as he found his treasured bike! This one fits him so much better, and Liam LOVED riding his bike all over our basement. #unfinishedbasementperks
 


 









 
We got Noah off to school and began our Do-Whatever-Liam-Wants-To-Do Day. He chose Duplos, so we built a dog house for a little while. Then, after I got the little boys dressed, we ran to Target to pick up some birthday party items. We are having a combined birthday party for all 3 boys this Saturday. First over lunch, we will celebrate with the boys' grandparents, my brother, his wife, and their daughter. Then, Noah has a baseball game early evening. Last, at 7:30 p.m., we are having around 40 people (friends, their kids, Ryan's sister, and her kids) over for an outdoor movie party! We're having so much fun planning these parties, and we cannot wait to celebrate, as Noah's birthday is just over a week, too. 

Enjoying our picnic. Liam was determined to have his cheese stick in the picture
After our trip to Target, I packed lunches, and Liam, Tucker, and I went to the park for a picnic. The weather was beautiful, and we had the best time sitting on a blanket together eating our lunch. Afterward, Liam decided he wanted to "go on an adventure," so rather than playing on the equipment, we walked around the perimeter of the park exploring and making discoveries. I told Liam and Tucker about dandelions and how you can make wishes and blow out the seeds like a birthday candle. We discovered lady bugs galore (a sign of all the Travel Approvals my China momma's received today!), watched butterflies flying around, pretended that trees were our homes, stood on stumps and big rocks, ran as fast as we could on the trails, climbed a tree, and went on a bear hunt. Liam's favorite part, I think, was when he got to be the boss and told Tuck and me when we could start walking and when we had to stop. He is bossy by nature (definitely my kid), and he thoroughly loved telling us what to do. :) 
 
 

 
 

 

I think this part of the day was my favorite. Being fully engaged with the boys just fills my heart! After we finished up at the park, I put the boys down for their naps. They fell right to sleep and stayed that way for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When Liam woke up, he saw the streamers in his doorway, and asked, "Is it still my birthday?" When I said that it was, Liam shouted, "Yesss!" After Noah came home from school, all three boys played with their swords and fought bad guys along the tree line at our house. :) Ryan got home from work, and we left to have dinner at Mrs. Curl's, Liam's choice. They ate all of their dinners and enjoyed ice cream cones and time at another park afterward. 

We came back home, the kids took quick showers, and then I laid in bed with Liam for the longest time. He asked me to rub his back and to sleep in his room with him. He is quite the cuddle bug, but I told him that his daddy and I needed to spend some time together. Liam let me go after being reassured that as soon as he woke up, I would be home with him to play again all day. I gave him a kiss goodnight, wished him Happy Birthday again, and closed the door. My baby is 3...still so young but getting so big. These are precious years, and I am so thankful to have been home for the past six months with the little boys.

Speaking of being at home, last week I made the very difficult decision not to return to work next year. I have struggled for the past four months, and ultimately, I know this was the best decision for my family. I miss my coworkers and the children, and I really do love my job. However, right now, I know that being home with Tucker while he continues to bond and adjust to life in our family is so important. I have also seen how much Liam LOVES having me home. He is really vocal about it and doesn't like when I'm away for long. I know I will blink my eyes, and they will all be in school full time. I am trusting that an opportunity for work will open when we decide it is time for me to go back, and I am so thankful that my superiors have all been so supportive of my decision. I am counting my blessings. Now for my letter to my precious baby boy.

My Sweet Liam,

Today I experienced such a roller coaster of emotion. You turned 3 years old at 2:42 a.m. while we were both sound aleep. I remember your birth with such great detail, and not only did you come into the world with power and force, but you have been making waves ever since. Like I've written before, you changed my life with your precious smile. Because of you, you opened your daddy's and my heart to help 19 other children receive new smiles just like you. Operation Smile and Love Without Boundaries are our two favorite organizations to help kids with cleft lips and/or cleft palates. We are even sponsoring a little girl named Sadie in China through New Day South because she had CL/CP, too. We know God has blessed our family, and giving money to support kids just like you brings such joy to our hearts! Only 81 more surgeries to go to reach our goal of 100 children whose smiles will be made new thanks to your life!

After taking pictures of you this morning, I compared them to pictures I took last year. I still cannot believe how much you've changed this past year. I actually got really sad and even upset with myself when I saw the pictures. I became so convicted of how consumed I was with the adoption process. I remembered days of taking you to the park but not being able to fully enjoy myself because Tucker wasn't home yet. While I know that is a really normal feeling, I wish I would've just allowed myself to be fully engaged with you in the present rather than wishing for something that God would bring in His perfect timing. You went from this round little 2 year old to a taller, stronger 3 year old. I look at pictures from last September, just before we left for China, and you were just a little guy. In only 6 months, you have changed dramatically. It makes me sad because you are my baby boy! 

Because you are home full time with Tucker and me, I know this transition to us being a family of 5 has been more difficult for you than for Noah. You went from completely ignoring your brother, Tucker, to having so many times of incredible fun with him. You like to boss him around (again, you are definitely my child), and you can be pretty dominant (ahem), but your heart is in such a better place than it was six month ago. You love your sweet "brotha Tucka" so much, and you guys have a blast! You like to teach him new things like how to build or which color is which. I remember one morning when you climbed up into a chair to feed Tucker his breakfast even though he was totally capable. You guys can scream and laugh and fight and play, but when you make a mistake, you give such great apologies to him and seal them with a hug and a smooch. 

Your relationship with Noah continues to grow strong. You look up to Noah so much, and when you play, you keep up with him so well. You love Ninja Turtles and Ninjago, both cartoons I never would have let Noah watch at your age. You love riding bikes, playing catch, swinging swords, and swinging together. Tucker slept until 11:30 a.m. last Saturday, and you and Noah played for FOUR HOURS together and had the best time. I love watching you play with your brothers!

If you were to ask anyone how they would describe you, I would bet they would say you are HILARIOUS. You really are! I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "I was just sitting there when all of the sudden, this thing Liam did popped into my head and made me just crack up!" We feel the same way. As I read my letter to you when you turned 2, I wrote the same thing that you were just so stinking funny! You always seem to catch me off guard with your humor, too, and it leaves us both cracking up.

Liam, you are the happiest kid when you first wake up in the morning. I love the way you squeeze me so tight with your hugs. Your kisses are precious...a little long and wet, generally, but they are SO you. You experience emotional extremes. Your happiness is PURE JOY, the contagious kind that makes everyone around you smile. Your anger is sharp and loud, making you a bit impulsive. We're working on it. :) Your sadness is heartbreaking as those big crocodile tears spill down your cheeks. You can been wailing after a hard fall, and then all of the sudden, you will just make the decision that you are ok and immediately stop crying in an instant. You are protective of your brothers yet will do anything to get a reaction out of them. I always tell Noah that you just want his attention, even if it is negative attention. You just want people to watch you and will do the same thing 100 times and want us to watch every single one of them. I love your "moves" but joke that I will homeschool you because you are so charming. When a pretty girl comes over to our house, you will invite her to the basement or to your room. Please stop. You are 3, and it makes me want to lock you up. I love how much you look like your daddy but are super ornery like I was as a little girl. 

I feel like I somehow missed part of this past year by not being fully present with you, and I am so thankful for another year at home to grow closer to you. I've really started reading your children's Bible to you, and you love it. You are making connections between the stories from the Bible and your life. I am so excited to watch you experience the world through the eyes of a 3 year old boy. I look at pictures from the past year and realize how quickly time goes by. I don't want to miss out on these precious years of your life. Thank you for bringing me so much joy. You make me laugh and smile and shake my head all the time. I pray that God can help me be the best mom for you and your brothers. I am thankful that you were born, that you had a precious smile, and that you led our family to help other children just like you. If it weren't for you, Tucker might still be in China. Instead, he is home with us, and you get to play together every day. It is such a gift to have you home together! I can't wait to see how God continues to use your life to teach me how to be a better mom and how to live my life filled with purpose and meaning and unconditional love.. I love you so much!

Love,
Mommy

p.s. This is my favorite video of you ever! Your daddy sent it to me when I was away at the C4C Retreat in March. It perfectly captured one of my favorite parts of your personality.

video

4.27.2014

A Letter to Tucker: 3rd Birthday


Dear Tucker,

Tonight as I rocked you, I found myself singing the very same song that I sang to you in China the first night I held you in my arms. The sweetest part was hearing you sing those words right along with me. It is our song, Tuck, and for the rest of my life, I'll think of you when I hear it.

Hearts beat fast.
Colors and promises.
How to be brave.
How can I love when I'm afraid to fall.
Watching you stand alone.
All of my doubts,
Suddenly goes away somehow.
 
One step closer...
 
I have died everyday waiting for you.
Tucker, don't be afraid.
I have loved you for a thousand years.
I'll love you for a thousand more.

As I rocked you, I was thinking about that first night, how tiny and light you felt in my arms. Tears ran down my face in disbelief that we were finally together that night. You fought sleep for a few moments, and I assured you that you were safe and could go to sleep. Soon after, your eyes closed, and you fell asleep so peacefully in my arms. That night was such a gift, and I will never forget it.

You've been home now for six months and two days. I miss China all the time and cannot wait to go back someday. I know you are so young, yet you have incredible memories from your life before our family. I long for the days that you have the language and ability to share more with us. Last week, you and I were looking through a book together, talking about different kinds of fruits, animals, household items, etc. I turned to one specific page that talked about members of a family, and there were two pretty Asian girls next to one another. You pointed to them immediately and said, "China!" It was precious. Then, I saw a CD called Little Dragon Tales: Chinese Children's Songs on our Lifeline Facebook group and played the free samples of each song for you. I could have sworn that when I played one specific song, you looked at me with tears in your eyes. It broke my heart. I try to show you pictures of your time in China with your friends and nannies to help you remember and to honor your life before our family. I recently sent 20 pictures of you to your sweet nanny through another mom who recently adopted a little boy from your orphanage. Thanks again, Betty!




I was told that your nanny was so happy to receive them! I will always love this woman. She is so very special. I believe with my whole heart that you are alive because of her. I really hope that we can go visit her together someday.

Speaking of special people, I also found myself thinking about your birth mom while I rocked you tonight. I wondered if she, too, was thinking about it being your birthday tomorrow. I wish I could tell her you are safe and that we love you so much. I wonder where she lives, what she looks like, and wonder if she has dimples like you. I think about your birth father and wonder about his story. Do his eyes sparkle like yours when he smiles? I know as you grow older, you will think about them, too. You will have so many questions, and I know we will rarely have the answers you desire. I can only imagine the emotions you will experience. All I can promise you is that we will create a space where you can feel safe and loved as you process all of your thoughts and emotions. We will always be your family forever and ever. We can pray for your birth mom and birth dad. They gave you life, and we will always be grateful for that, my love.


You have changed so much in the past six months. You have gained nearly 6 lbs., and I am guessing that you have grown at least a couple inches. You understand so much English now and are saying more and more new words all the time. You have been so healthy and made it through surgery and recovery with flying colors. You adore your brothers, especially Noah who is very tender and loving to you. I know you enjoy your time with Liam, too, but that kid can be down right crazy sometimes. His playful chasing and squeezing hugs can overwhelm you, but you are learning to trust him, too. When your daddy comes home from work, you run to the door as fast as your tiny legs can carry you. No matter what time of day, you greet him with a loud and happy, "Good morning!!" We love it and don't have the heart to correct you because it is so cute.

Tuck, our relationship has come so far. From China to now, we have had quite a journey together. You have taught me so much about the way God loves us - so unconditional and with such grace. Even when we turn from Him, He pursues us still. Our beginning was not easy, and I had to dig deep in my attempt to love like God. Even when you brushed me off and turned away from me, I knew the only way we could build our relationship was to keep pursuing you just like God. With time and many prayers, our roots grew deeper and our love for one another grew stronger. I am so thankful for a God who redeems and reconciles, sweet boy.


Tucker, God is the creator of life, and your life has a purpose. I know your beginnings were unlike your brothers, mine, or your daddy's. Just remember that Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was born in a situation that did not align with the values of His time either. Nevertheless, a more important person has never existed.  God chooses unexpected heroes to accomplish His works. He takes ordinary people like you and me, fills them with His purpose, and His Kingdom is impacted in powerful ways. If you are willing to give your life to Christ, He can do incredible things through you regardless of your beginnings, your mistakes, or your shortcomings. God uses the least likely people to accomplish great things. David was the youngest and smallest. Moses was of poor speech. Yet, God used their lives in powerful ways. How will you let God use your life?

You have already changed your daddy's, Noah's, Liam's, and my life in such extraordinary ways. I have received letter upon letter from our family and friends the past week, sharing how you have impacted their lives, as well. They are all so special, and I hope they will speak to your heart someday. More than anything, I want you to know and believe that you are valued, loved, important, desired, enjoyed, secure, and treasured. I can't wait to watch you grow and change over the next months and weeks and years. We love you so much! Thank you for changing our lives and helping us understand what truly matters in this life.

Love,
Mommy


4.21.2014

A Favor for Tucker's Birthday

For the past couple of months, I've been thinking about Tucker's birthday. This will be his first birthday with our family, and I know it will be an emotional day filled with celebration. Last year, we sent him a birthday cake and gifts to the orphanage where he was able to celebrate with friends, and this year he will celebrate with his family and friends at home!

April 2013
For those of you who have followed our journey, you know that I am a pretty open book. In fact, my blog is titled "My Passionate Balance: Living a Transparent Life in Hopes of Inspiring Happiness in Others." I have shared the highs and the lows of our adoption journey. With great detail, I have described the heartache I felt being half the world away from Tucker. I wrote about the joys of each step that we became closer to reaching him. I took you to China with me, telling stories about each day we spent in Beijing, Chongqing, and Guangzhou. I've also opened my heart and talked about the challenges that our family experienced transitioning to life as a family of five. I wrote about the rejection I experienced and how my own bond with Tucker took time and effort. I wore my heart on my sleeve in hopes that others could...

...see the amazing gift of adoption.
...understand the joys and sorrows of this journey.
...open their hearts and minds to the idea of adoption for their families.
...start praying about their family's role in orphan care.
...learn about another aspect of this world with which they are unfamiliar.
...give themselves grace and believe that it is normal to have difficulty with attachment.
...understand that it is God, not us, who gets all the glory.

Someday, Tucker is going to learn that I have written all about him, his past in China, our adoption process, and his life since coming home. I can imagine how this might bring him both happiness and sadness. He will have so many details from this very special time in our lives. At the same time, to have the intimate details of his life in plain view for all to read might hurt. This is part of his story, though it is told from my perspective and through my eyes. I continue to write about Tucker, our family, and this journey that continues despite his adoption being complete because I believe with my whole heart that God is using it in powerful ways. I have received email, Facebook messages, phone calls, and text messages from people who have been impacted by our family's story. I do not believe that God spoke to me on July 19, 2012, asking our family to adopt Tucker, just to bring him home. I believe He has a greater purpose, and bit by bit, I am able to see planted seeds come to fruition.

So this is my favor that I'm asking from you. Every year for my sons' birthdays, I write them a letter and post it on my blog.

I would like to invite you to write Tucker a letter for his birthday, describing how reading about our adoption journey, his life, and his story has impacted your life.

I will print each of the letters and save them for him to read when the time is right. With your permission, I might share pieces of what you write but will keep your name anonymous. Tucker's birthday is April 28th, which is a week from today, and I would love to have all of the letters by that time. Thank you for your consideration! I cannot wait to read your special letters to our son. My hope is that your letters will bring him comfort and help him understand how God has used his life and his story to impact others for His glory. Thank you for helping with this very special gift that we look forward to giving Tucker someday!

Please email all letters to lettersfortucker@gmail.com.

4.13.2014

Passion Into Action: Fundraiser Results

Whenever I have a big idea, I tend to get really excited about it. I spend hours researching, learning, creating, and developing. In this situation, I spent hours looking at t-shirt ideas, choosing the types of fonts I liked, which layout I wanted, which verse would be perfect, which colors would be appealing, and which statement to make. I exchanged over 30 email with a guy at Fund The Nations trying to get the design just right. Then, just before I shared my idea with the world, I started to doubt myself. I began to wonder if anyone else would really want to join this campaign.

I thought maybe 50 people would buy shirts.

Maybe 100 at the most.

I had no idea what God had planned for this fundraiser.

My Passion Into Action blog post was shared more time than any other post I've ever written, and it was viewed over 6,800 times. I cannot begin to express how amazed I was at the excitement behind our this fundraiser and this campaign! This fundraiser was part of the larger Forget the Frock movement that encourages people to wear something that really matters to church on Easter Sunday. I chose five incredible charitable organizations as possible recipients of the funds raised, and for each t-shirt purchased or donation made, a vote could be placed one of those five organizations: Love Without Boundaries, International Justice Mission, Charity Water, Wishes For Our Heroes, and Village of Hope.

Are you ready to find out the results of the Passion Into Action campaign?

FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FOUR SHIRTS WERE PURCHASED!
 
FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY DOLLARS WERE DONATED!
 
FOUR THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED, FIFTY DOLLARS WAS DONATED TO THE WINNING CHARITY!!!

And as for the winning charitable organization....drum roll please.....

The Passion Into Action 2014 winner is LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES with 240 out of 434 votes (55%)!!!

Other results are as follows:

International Justice Mission: 63 votes (14%)
Charity Water: 35 votes (8%)
Wishes For Our Heroes: 31 votes (7%)
Village of Hope: 66 votes (15%)

As a reminder, Love Without Boundaries began in 2003 after a group of adoptive parents came together to help save the life of one tiny boy in China. LWB provides humanitarian aid to orphans and impoverished children in China through education, foster care, healing homes (homes for orphans with serious medical issues), medical attention (hospitalizations and surgical procedures), nutrition, and orphanage assistance. Check out a video HERE.

Here is a breakdown of how the funds were used:

Total Money Collected (donations and t-shirts): $8,213.00
PayPal Fees (for t-shirt transactions): $277.11
Cost of T-shirts: $3,160.30
Cost of Shipping Bags/Labels: $52.74
Cost of Shipping: $372.85

TOTAL AMOUNT DONATED: $4,350

Now comes the exciting part. I was able to spend Friday night making donation after donation to Love Without Boundaries. In fact, I made so many large donations that my bank shut down my debit card for fear that a security breach had taken place. No kidding! I had to call costumer service after 9:00 p.m. to ask them to turn my debit card back on so I could finish the donations. Because you all decided to participate and bought t-shirts to wear on Easter Sunday, participants of the Passion Into Action campaign are helping NINE different children served by Love Without Boundaries. Keep reading for details and pictures of each child. Descriptions are provided by LWB.


Wanda: Medical Treatment (Guangxi Province)
Amount Donated: $510

Sweet Wanda has a blood disorder called Thalassemia, a condition in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. When she starts feeling fatigued and short of breath, Wanda needs to be admitted to the hospital for a blood transfusion. After her treatment, she starts feeling much better but is needing transfusions every two months or so. Wanda will now receive six months of treatments thanks to this fundraiser and other donors who covered the first $1,000 needed.


Carlos: Healing Home (Shanxi Province)
Amount Donated: $600

Carlos was born with a unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. He was also born with congenital syphilis but was successfully treated as soon as he came to LWB's Starbridge Healing Home. Carlos has needed extra care and specailized feeding by the healing home nannies in preparation for his cleft surgery, anticipated to be done at LWB's upcoming Cleft Exchange in April. Sponsors will receive monthly updates and photos of this tiny baby boy. Sponsorships are $50 per month, and our fundraiser is providing one full year of sponsorship for sweet Carlos!


Celeste: Healing Home (Fujian Province)
Amount Donated: $600

Baby Celeste joined us at Heartbridge in January of 2014. At 11 months old, she weighed only 4.7 kg (just over 10 pounds). Celeste had just been through heart surgery, and once she is strong enough she will also need surgery for megacolon. At this point Celeste does not feed well, so her nannies are doing their best with frequent, small feedings. Hopefully the rest of Celeste will grow to match those big beautiful eyes in a hurry! Sponsors will receive monthly updates and photos of this tiny baby girl. Sponsorships are $50 per month, and our fundraiser is providing one full year of sponsorship for sweet Celeste!


Amanda: Healing Home (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $600

Amber is almost 3 months old and weighs just over 7 pounds. She was born with an intestinal obstruction and congenital syphilis. She has received surgery on her intestinal obstruction and has been successfully treated for syphilis. She needs some extra care as she recovers from her surgery before transferring to foster care. Sponsorships are $50 per month, and our fundraiser is providing one full year of sponsorship for sweet Amanda!


Gideon): Foster Home (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $480

Gideon is five-month old. He was born prematurely and only weighed 1 kg. He is doing well now and loves to be held and talked to. He will "talk" to you and smile happily. He likes a quiet environment and gets fussy if there are too many people around.  Gideon has spent several months in a Healing Home and is now due to return to his hometown and enter of foster care program. Each sponsor will receive a monthly report and photos of this gorgeous little boy. Our fundraiser is helping to support Gideon's foster care placement for a full year!
 
Rob: Foster Home (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $480

6 month old Rob has just been discharged from our Anhui Healing Home back to his hometown of Huainan where he has entered our foster care program. Rob is described as cute and active.  He loves to babble and giggle.  We are looking forward to seeing him settle with his new family over the next few months. Each sponsor will receive a monthly report and photos of this gorgeous little boy. Our fundraiser is helping to support Gideon's foster care placement for a full year!


Meng Ting: Secondary Education (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $240

This beautiful young lady, Meng Ting, is a high school student in LWB's Anhui Secondary and Higher Education Program. Meng Ting in currently in her second year of high school and is working hard to try to make a difference in her family’s lives. Meng Ting had surgery when she was young to correct a condition that causes her to have severe headaches. Her mother and father also having ongoing health problems that require daily medicines. Despite these difficulties Meng Ting’s parents get up early each day to work on a relative’s farm just to earn enough money to pay for day-to-day essentials. Life is hard, and little money is left to pay for their daughter’s tuition. Meng Ting is so grateful to be given the opportunity to remain in school and to work toward a brighter future. Sponsors will receive quarterly photographs and updates on this incredible young lady’s progress and will make a difference not only in her life but also in the lives of her hard-working parents. Our fundraiser has helped fund Meng Ting's education for a full year!


Harley: Education (Guangdong Province)
Amount Donated: $400

Harley is a cute three year old in LWB's Believe in Me Shaoguan School.  He has a cleft lip & palate that we hope will be repaired soon. Harley attends our pre-school class in the Believe in Me Shaoguan School, Sponsors will receive quarterly reports on Harley, along with access to many new photos of him & his peers! Our fundraiser is helping to fund his education for more than a year!

Adoption Assistance Grant
Amount Donated: $440
One of the basic beliefs at LWB is that every child deserves a family to call his or her very own. We have helped over a dozen children find their forever families with our adoption assistance grants.
LWB's adoption assistance grants are offered to children in China's waiting children program to help make their dreams of a loving family a reality. These grants are offered as funding allows. It is our hope that an adoption assistance grant will give a child that little boost needed to be chosen by a loving family. Our fundraiser is helping to begin a brand new adoption assistance grant! Here are three children who are waiting for their forever families and who currently have grants toward their adoptions.

 

 David: $3,000 LWB Grant Available
 Luke: $3,000 LWB Grant Available

Victor: $2,245 LWB Grant Available plus $4,000 Reece's Rainbow Grant
For all of you who participated in this Passion Into Action campaign, I hope you are more than excited about how much money you helped raise and how many children are being impacted by this fundraiser. A good idea is only as good as the people who support it! I can't thank you enough for helping making this fundraiser more than I ever could have hoped. I want to thank my husband, Ryan, for helping double check every single order and for taking HUGE boxes filled with ready-to-ship packages to the post office. I also want to thank some of my very best friends, Dalia, Claire, Kerri, Lisa, Beckie, and Christy for helping me sort through all 434 shirts, package them, check and double check, and finally weigh, seal, and print shipping labels for all packages. My precious "twins," Liam and Tucker, rode around with me for over two hours while I dropped off  local orders. I couldn't have done this without all of you!!
Please take pictures of your family wearing your shirts this Easter and share them on social media with a link to this blog post and use the hashtags #forgetthefrock and #changestartswithone. I can't wait until Easter 2015 to do this all over again!