Lemongrass Photography: The first picture of all 5 of us together
As many of you know, our friend Andy Bauermeister is running a ONE HUNDRED MILE RACE in Leadville, CO on August 17, 2013, and through this race, he and his wife Lisa are raising money to help Tucker and other orphans come home. You will never guess what happened YESTERDAY!

76 families donated $5009!!!

This means that our family now has enough funds to pay all our final fees and travel costs to bring Tucker home!

When Ryan and I began this journey and decided not to build what we called our "dream home," we had $25,000 saved to put in our "Adoption Savings Account" (Praise the Lord!). Then we held the puzzle fundraiser, and thanks to the donations of 124 people, we were able to put another $5,254.75 ($170.26 went to Paypal fees) into our Adoption Savings Account. Thanks to the help of many people, we were able to raise another $1,343.28 by holding a multi-family garage sale over 3 days. This brought us to a grand total of $31,598.03.

We are Dave Ramsey people to the core and have been for 6 years. His guidelines changed our lives and how we handle our finances. We knew we would probably have to dip into our "Emergency Fund" to pay for the rest of our adoption fees, which are difficult to predict when you don't know how much your airfare, hotel, etc. will cost because you don't know until the last second when you will even travel. This is when Lisa and Andy approached our family about the current fundraiser they are holding called #runningtuckerhome. Their goal has been to raise $5,000 for our family, and any money that we do not use to bring Tuck home will be given to other adoptive families. Then, as if that wasn't enough, they are trying to raise another $5,000 to bring other children home. I mean, seriously, who has friends like that?? Apparently, we do! I have seen so many adoption fundraisers over the past year, but I have NEVER seen adoptive parents' friends raising money for other adoptive families, too.
As of this moment, EIGHTY families have donated a total of $5,134 toward #runningtuckerhome, and we don't even know most of them. This includes sweet Grace, a twelve year old young lady who held a China-themed babysitting night and raised $431. God is lifting the hearts of people to continue giving to now help other children come home. It is amazing! My friend, Jessica, designed #runningtuckerhome t-shirts, and 50 people signed up for one (thank you!!!). That means approximately $500 will soon be added to Lisa and Andy's fundraiser total, putting them even that much closer to the $6,000 mark.

Andy runs ONE HUNDRED MILES in 18 days, which means they have less than 3 weeks to reach their goal of $10,000 for orphans. I seriously think they can do it! Many of you have stated that you would like to donate, and I want to encourage you to follow through with that decision. Every penny donated will be used to help families who are waiting, just like us, for the day they can bring their children home.
Thank you for always for your prayers,  your generosity, and your love as we wait for our LOA.



As if it wasn't enough to hold a fundraiser to raise our final funds to bring Tucker home, as well as give an additional $5,000 to other families to bring their children home, Andy and Lisa Bauermeister have taken things to one step further. They have teamed up with our friend Jessica Limeberry (Lemongrass Photography) to design an incredible t-shirt. These shirts cost $20 each, and $10 dollars of each shirt will be put toward Andy and Lisa's Running Tucker Home fundraiser, for which they have already raised $4,370 as of today. It is INCREDIBLE to see so many people rise up to support this awesome cause of helping our family, as well as other adoptive families.

So far, 30 shirts have already been purchased, which means that $300 has been raised for the fundraiser. AMAZING!!! I cannot wait to see Ryan and the boys in these shirts.

If you are interested in placing an order, follow this link: RUNNING TUCKER HOME T-SHIRT

Worried about sizes? Follow these links for size charts:

Crew Cut Shirts: Men and Women's Shirts

V-Neck Women's Cut Shirts: Women's Shirts

Kid's Crew cut shirts: Kids Shirts

Toddler Crew cut shirts: 2T, 3T, 4T Shirts

I cannot wait to see people wearing these awesome shirts!


Light in the Darkness

As much as I hoped that the five days in May would be my low point in this adoption journey, last Thursday through Saturday were the darkest days I have experienced thus far in my adult life. (This is actually a good indicator of how truly blessed I have been the past 13 years!). However, when you are stuck in that kind of dark and desperate place for 3 days, it's hard to really think rationally about the situation.

After I posted my last blog, I got news that really shook me to the core. Our LOA could still be weeks or months away (not because anyone said that but more because there was just no way of knowing how much longer we would wait, and there had been no sign of things changing any time soon), and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. After hanging up the phone with our social worker, I collapsed to the floor and cried harder than I have cried in my adult life. It was a pure miracle that Ryan was home when it happened, as he is never home that time of day. I am convinced that God placed him there knowing that I would need him to hold me. I sobbed and sobbed the most horrible, hyperventilating cry of my life. All I could think was of Tucker being stuck in an orphanage for the next 3 years because our files didn't transfer from an old computer system to a new computer system. The crying only ceased because I remembered we had family pictures that night, and I didn't want to be completely swollen and awful looking for them. I scraped myself off the floor, made my way to the shower, and just sat there with the water raining down on me, too worn to even pray.

"Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:26-30).

These are the verses I read that very day during my daily reading. It was no coincidence. The pain in my heart felt like "groanings too deep for words." It brought me peace knowing that the Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf when the hurt was too deep to pray. Romans 8:28 has been one of my main verses in this adoption, and no matter how badly things have gotten, I have continued to believe that God is still working for my good. I just wish it didn't have to hurt so bad or be so hard! God surely called us to this adoption journey, and He will see us through.

Aside from getting our pictures taken, I spent the next two and a half days in a state that bounced back and forth between numbness and utter despair. All I wanted to do was isolate myself from everyone and everything and just hide. I am not proud to admit that to all of you, but I my goal is to always be authentic with you and not paint a perfect picture that doesn't exist. Adoption is filled with excitement, beauty, and love, but with the good you also experience pain, heartache, suffering, and longing.
"My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him." (Derek Loux)
Just as it was no coincidence that my daily Bible reading led me to read Romans 8 last Thursday, I also do not believe it was a coincidence that a very special event was held last Friday night. As I mentioned before, our friends Lisa and Andy are holding a fundraiser to help pay for our final fees to bring Tucker home, as well as help other adoptive families with their adoption costs. Their goal is to raise $10,000, and as of today, people have donated $4,110!!! Is that unbelievable??? People are really rising to support Andy in his 100 mile race, and in turn they are bringing "the least of these" home to their families. We do not know 95% of the families donating to this cause. The whole thing is just so humbling.
I want to highlight one very special contribution that was made by a 12 year old young lady named Grace who attends our church. Lisa contacted Grace a couple weeks ago to share information about the fundraiser with her. One of Grace's missions is to help couples maintain healthy marriages by providing babysitting services at an affordable rate so that they can experience date nights together. Every other Friday she babysits the children of 3 families for $10 per family. Isn't that incredible? She is 12 and totally gets it! Grace told Lisa that she wanted to pray about how she might get involved and that she would get back to her soon. When Grace contacted Lisa, she shared that she wanted to hold her Friday night date night event, but she wanted to donate the proceeds to help bring Tucker home. As if that wasn't amazing enough for a young lady to donate her hard-earned money to help our family, she decided that she wanted to make it a huge event!
With the help of her cell group (other middle school students), her family, and additional adults, Grace opened up her Date Night babysitting gig to 37 children, our boys included. The minimum donation was $10, and she planned a full 4 hour evening filled with China themed activities. All the children got to learn about Tucker, who he is, where he lives, what he eats, which games he might play, etc. Check out this itinerary!

When we pulled up to Grace's house, we saw all of these kids standing in the driveway playing games. There was a sign-in table, name tags, and many volunteers. We were just blown away! When we signed up for this journey, we had no idea how the people around us in our community would pull together to bless our family. Although Ryan and I tried to put into words how grateful and humbled we are, I don't think anyone will ever understand the impression this night left on our hearts. I really didn't even know Grace before this event. Two days before the Date Night, I wrote Grace on Facebook to say thank you for planning such an amazing event.

I wrote, "Grace, I can't express to you how grateful and in awe I am for the gift you are giving our family. Your thoughtfulness, generosity, and passion is something most adults struggle to achieve. I am having such a hard couple of days waiting now 110 days for our final Letter of Acceptance all due to technology issues...and your special event for our family is one of the bright thoughts I have in the midst of heartache to bring our son home. Thank you will never be enough!"
She responded, "I would love to take credit for this, but it's the Holy Spirit that put this on my heart."
Seriously, wow. She gets it, you guys, and she is 12 years old. TWELVE.
We are blessed to experience this kind of love, and I am so excited that this is only the beginning of the friendship between our families.
When families were arriving and signing in their children, three very special little ones (pictured below) left me speechless. When their parents explained to them that they were going to Grace's house to help raise money to bring Tucker home from China, the little boy got the money from his piggy bank and said he wanted to donate it to our family. His two younger siblings followed suit.

Three very special children whom I will never forget
Big, crocodile tears fell from my eyes to see these small children be so generous, all to bring a child home to his forever family. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be in a position to accept piggy bank money from children. I was humbled. Here are some pictures from the night's festivities!

Noah and Liam with Grace

Rachel and Jason, Grace's parents

My friend Beckie bringing her kids to the special event!

Visuals ready for the discussion about Tucker and China

The gong used to help kids know when to change stations

No Chinese party is complete without fortune cookies!
Chinese Dragon craft
Beautiful children.
Noah and Rachel teaching the kids about Tuck and China.
Learning so much!

Moses enjoying noodles during Mulan.
Making prayer lanterns to Pray Tuck Home

Ryan and Liam sporting their orphan t-shirts

Two of the sweet volunteers who helped make the night a success!

Grace, Rachel, Noah, and me (after shedding many tears of gratitude) at the end of the night.
While Noah and Liam enjoyed a full evening of China-filled fun with the Long's and all of their friends, Ryan and I went to one of our favorite restaurants and enjoyed a delicious dinner together. We then met up with several friends whose children were also at the Long's house.

Ryan and me enjoying a kid-free evening with some of our dearest friends

Dalia and Kevin - stop the cuteness!

Jess and Matt enjoying S'mores!

Brett and Claire - love these two!

Andy and Lisa (masterminds of the #runningfortucker fundraiser) - love their hearts!
As if the thoughtfulness and hard work to put on such a night as this wasn't enough, Grace was able to raise $430 to our family to bring Tucker home!!! Isn't that incredible?

All because a 12 year old young woman prayed and followed the Holy Spirit's lead.

We stand in awe.

You want to know what is really wild? This event took place on the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY to when God called us to adopt. On July 19, 2012, God spoke to my heart and said, "This is what I'm asking you to do." One year later, we know who our son is, and we are that much closer to bringing him home. On July 19, 2013, God used a 12 year old girl to lift our spirits during the most difficult days of our adoption journey. Grace's beautiful LIGHT broke through the darkness caused by my despair, hopelessness, and heartache. Her mother, Rachel, said something I will never forget. She said that part of our church family is missing right now with Tucker's absence. I cannot wait until Tuck comes home and feels not only our love, but the love that has been growing in the hearts of our family, friends, and church family. Thank you to all of the families who allowed their children to experience such a special night and who made donations to our family.

We are blessed.



Well, we hit Day 111 in waiting for LOA today. Never in a million ba-jillion years did I think we would still be waiting. In fact, there was a time I thought we might be in China right now. Instead, we are at Day 111 with no end in sight.

Friends, this is hard. So very hard.

I hit another lowest of the lows yesterday and the day before. It was awful. Feelings of hopelessness, anger, bitterness, frustration, sadness, despair...I felt them all. I was angry at God for allowing this to continue...for allowing my son to continue living in an orphanage. I have complete faith that He can change the course of our situation this very second if it is His will. So far, it hasn't been...not yet.

Not yet. And there lies the key: HOPE. It is buried underneath the rubble of sadness, desperation, anger, and bitterness, but it is still there. Today when I woke up, I began praying before I even opened my eyes - not for myself - but for so many people who are waiting for God to answer their prayers: a friend waiting for a birthmother to choose her, a friend waiting to be pregnant, a friend whose husband was very seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, and a woman whose son died the day after she brought him home from China. So many people who are waiting on the Lord right alongside me.

I believe with all my heart that the Bible is God's word and that in it lies the answers to all of our questions. The Bible provides me with every single TRUTH I need to know.

In ALL THINGS, God is working for my good. (Romans 8:28)
His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
God called us to adoption and is using this to open others' eyes to the least of these (Acts 22:14-15)
Suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope. (Romans 5:3-5)
I should rejoice in my suffering (Acts 5:40-41)
God wants me to share my feelings with him because He loves me (1 Peter 5:7)
God sometimes makes people wait much longer than they prefer. (Acts 13:17-19)
He will not leave Tucker as an orphan. (John 14:18)

God will do what He has promised. (Romans 4:20-21)
After we have suffered for a little while, God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. (1 Peter 5:10)
These are some of the TRUTHS that sustain me through this adoption process. Most of the time, I find peace and encouragement in these truths, but I'm going to be honest with you, I have experienced heartbreak with an intensity that hurts to the core many times, as well. I ache to have Tucker in my arms, to see him play with his brothers, to watch him drink a cold glass of milk and a full meal. I long to give him a bath, wash his feet, dress him in clean pajamas, read him a story, tuck him into bed, and kiss him goodnight. The longing is an ache that never goes away. Thoughts of my son are always with me, nearly every minute of every day.
Last Saturday night, we were having a pool party with friends, and I was having a blast. Noah jumped off the diving board for the first time (HALLELUJAH!), Liam was swimming around with his puddle jumper on, and I was surrounded by so many people I love. I was smiling and looking around, having been lost in the experience for a few hours when it hit me square in the face.
Tucker wasn't there. He wasn't in the pool. He wasn't eating watermelon with the other kids. He wasn't riding on his daddy's back. He is still in China, feeling just as far away as he did the first time I saw his face on January 23rd.
I had a friend recently share with me that she really sees adoption in her future...not today or tomorrow...but someday. The mix of emotions I felt were so extreme. On the way hand, I was SO excited about all of the wonderful things she will experience in the adoption process: love and support of family and friends, friendship with other adoptive mommas, a new child to love, the redemption of an orphan, the spiritual growth she will endure, the closer relationship she will have with the Lord. Then, I also thought about the heartache she will experience. The longing, sadness, hopelessness, and despair she will go through while she waits to bring her child home.
Unfortunately, the China adoption process hasn't seen a major challenge like this since the SARS epidemic. It's hard to believe, but this new database is working for every single part of the China adoption process with the exception of LOA, which is what we are waiting to receive. For whatever reason, those of us who had preapproval to adopt our children before the new computer database was put into place are just STUCK. In the meantime, people who have received preapproval AFTER the database was implemented have started to get LOA...meaning they have waited sometimes less than a week. Imagine the devastation in my heart when I learn of those things. This is when I plead and cry and kick and scream for God to answer our prayers. It is hard.
Everyone who goes through the adoption process will tell you that every hurdle, every heartache, every hardship was worth it just to get to their child. They say they would go through everything all over again if they had to in order to bring their child home. Thank goodness for hindsight! It's so encouraging to us waiting mommas.
All I can do is think of the many, many blessings God gives us on a daily basis, remember His truths, and remind myself that Tucker is being taken care of by his nannies. God did not call us to this...He did not connect our hearts to Tucker...only to leave us. He will not abandon us in our wait. Until we hear the three letters we have been dying to hear for 111 days, we will keep hoping and praying that God will end this soon. 
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