Puzzle Fundraiser: Four Days Later

Ryan and I are completely overwhelmed with gratitude to all of you who donated to our puzzle fundraiser, shared the fundraiser, and prayed for God's provision! When we held Tucker's puzzle fundraiser, 121 donations were made, and we reached our goal of $5,000 in just 9 days. We were blown away and could not believe the generosity of our friends, family, and coworkers. To be completely honest, when we launched Tyson's fundraiser, I had my doubts that we would reach our goal. I have wondered if people are tired of reading our adoption posts, and I questioned if our friends, family, and coworkers would feel the same desire to help us. Whenever those thoughts came to mind, I had to remind myself that God would provide exactly what we need to bring Tyson home.

Reflecting on what transpired last week brings me to tears as I write this. In FOUR days, our friends, family members, and coworkers made 82 donations and surpassed our goal by donating $5,055 to our family!!! Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts. We cannot believe how quickly and generously you all provided for our needs.

Here is some fun information by the numbers (you can take the school psychologist out of her school but you can't take the school psychologist out of the girl)...

FIVE THOUSAND FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS: the total amount of money donated to our family.

TWENTY-ONE: the number of donations made on Day One.

TEN: the number of donations received on Day Two.

FIFTEEN: the number of donations made on Day Three.

THIRTY-SIX: the number of donations received on Day Four.

TWENTY-EIGHT: the number of donations provided by our local friends and coworkers.

TWENTY-THREE: the number of donations given by other adoptive families.

SIXTEEN: the number of donations provided by Ryan's and my high school or college friends.

NINE: the number of donations made by family members.

SIX: the number of donations given by family friends.

ONE TO ONE HUNDRED FORTY: the number of puzzle pieces sponsored in one donation.

FIVE TO SEVEN HUNDRED: the number of dollars donated at one time.

EIGHTY-TWO: the number of times I thanked God for His provision to bring Tyson home.

Truly, thank you so very much for your incredible generosity! Hopefully you all received your personal thank yous by email, your Facebook wall, or through private messaging if your donation was made anonymously. We cannot express our gratitude, and thanks to God's provision through all of you, we should hopefully have all of the money needed to complete this adoption! To encourage all of you who are considering adoption but worry about the cost, here is a breakdown of our funding!

$12,970 - Adoption Tax Credit from Tucker's Adoption
  $5,106 - MudLove Bracelet Fundraiser
  $5,000 - Surprise Gift from Loved Ones
  $5,055 - Puzzle Fundraiser
  $4,500 - Adoption Grant #1 Received
  $3,000 - Adoption Grant #2 Received
  $1,500 - Adoption Grant #3 Received
     $500 - Adoption Grant #4 Received
       $51 - Gift from Noonday Representative
$37,682 - GRAND TOTAL

ISN'T THAT UNBELIEVABLE?! When we began this adoption process, we truly only had $8,400 to pay for our initial costs. We had no idea how the rest of the money would be provided, especially with me not working this year in order to be home with Tucker a bit longer. However, after seeing family after family take this leap of faith and have every dollar needed to bring their child home, we had GREAT FAITH that God would provide.

We are so grateful that after adopting Tucker we were eligible to receive the Adoption Tax Credit, as it greatly helped us with Tyson's adoption costs. As many of you remember, 460 MudLove bracelets were purchased for $10 each, and every time I went to pay the invoice, my dad and Danette had already paid the wholesale cost. We are so grateful still for that gift from them and many of you who purchased one or more!

Something I haven't mentioned, yet, was that we received a huge surprise one night. One evening, I was sitting in the kitchen when I received a text message from a loved one. This person said something to the effect of..."My husband and I have some money that we've been looking to donate..." I honestly thought she was going to ask me the name of good orphan care organizations. In the next sentence though, she said, "...and we feel like God is leading us to give this money to your family to bring Tyson home. We prayed about it separately, wrote down numbers, and came back together. We had both written down the same amount to donate to your family. We'd like to give you $5,000." 

Instant tears.

Ryan was standing nearby and quickly began asking me what was wrong. He thought something terrible had happened. If only you could have seen his face when I said, "Babe, X and Y want to give our family $5,000 to help Tyson come home." He could not believe it. How do you even thank someone for a gift like that? We are so grateful that God interceded on our behalf and that these loved ones followed His leading.

I have just shared information about our puzzle fundraiser in this post. So amazing! Here is a chart to show how many donations we received of each dollar amount (I'm letting you see my inner geek...haha!). Thank you to every single person who donated, whether you gave $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $35, $40, $50, $80, $100, $200, $300, $500, or $700! Because of you, we should be fully funded for all of Tyson's adoption costs!

Very early in our adoption process, my sweet friend Carroll Lane let me know that she attended a Noonday party, and the Noonday representative wanted to donate a portion of the sales to our adoption. Isn't that amazing? She didn't ask anything of us but simply made the donation, and I have no idea who she is. The generosity of others always amazes me!

Last but not least, I applied for 6 different adoption grants. This was a new experience, as I did not apply for any of them during our first adoption. We were extremely fortunate to receive 4 of the adoption grants from the following organizations:

JSC Foundation
Show Hope
Forever Families Foundation
Families Outreach

Knowing that hundreds of adoptive families apply for these grants, I cannot explain what an honor it was to be chosen by each of these four organizations. We will be forever grateful and are excited to make future donations to them in order to help them provide grants to other families.

All of these efforts - ours, yours, and these amazing organizations - are directed at bringing one very special boy home to his forever family. I am so thankful that I get to be his mommy for the rest of his life. Tyson has lived for 18 months and 10 days without a family, and soon, he will be surrounded by 5 people who love him so much. This opportunity to be a mother to all four of my boys is surely one of the greatest honors of my life.


Three Days Later

Pieces on the left side are sponsored! 
We cannot describe our gratitude for your incredible generosity. Just 36 hours after beginning our fundraiser, here are some details about where things stand. 

15 new donations were made!

$835 was donated in the past 24 hours!

Only 365 puzzle pieces remain! 

We have received $3,175 in totals donations so far!

Thank you for considering our fundraiser and cheering us on as there will soon be one less orphan in this world. Praise God! If you would like to partner with our family to bring Tyson home, please follow this link:


Forty-Eight Hours Later

The left side is fully sponsored after 48 hours!!

In the last 24 hours of our puzzle fundraiser...

...10 new donations were made to bring Tyson home to our family!

...126 new puzzle pieces were sponsored!

This means that our very generous family and friends donated an additional $630 to our family, bringing our total to $2,340 so far!

We are celebrating and cannot believe that in just 48 hours, almost 50% of the puzzle is sponsored already!

Thank you for your prayers and consideration to help Tyson join our family! We appreciate your support SO very much. To make a donation, please click the following link:


Twenty Four Hours Later

The left side of the puzzle has been fully sponsored in 24 hours!! Praise God!!!

To say I am in awe and completely astounded is an understatement!! In just 24 hours, we have received 21 different donations to sponsor 342 puzzle pieces. Donors have already sent us $1,710 so that Tyson can join our family!! Isn't that unbelievable?? We truly have the most generous and supportive people in our lives. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for this fundraiser and have made donations so far. I have trusted God's promise that this adoption would be fully funded, and to see Him provide through all of you brings tears to my eyes!

If you are interested in partnering with us to bring Tyson home, please visit the following website. You will find a fun slideshow with videos of our precious son! Thank you for your consideration.


Operation Loving Tyson Home

I cannot believe that we are so close to bringing Tyson home! My heart leaps and my stomach flips thinking about it. USCIS granted Ty's immigration approval last Tuesday. I am hopeful that we will receive our new case number (called a GUZ #) tonight in order to apply for his visa (Form DS260) to enter the US. Once we receive his GUZ number, I will request a PDF that states this new case number and send a copy of the PDF and the DS260 receipt to our adoption agency. IF this can all take place by Wednesday, it is our great hope that our agency representatives across the ocean can drop off all our paperwork at the embassy in China Thursday their time. I am cautiously optimistic that this really might happen! The paperwork will be processed at the embassy for 2 weeks, and then we will officially be waiting for TRAVEL APPROVAL!!

During Tucker's adoption, we launched a puzzle fundraiser to help raise money to bring him home. The donations we received brought me to tears over and over again throughout each of the 9 days it took to meet our $5,000 goal. Tucker loves his puzzle so much, and it serves as a great reminder to us of the many people who helped him come home. The puzzle is set inside a frame with double sided glass, allowing us to see all of the people who donated.

We would once again like to invite all of you to help bring our newest son, Tyson, home. We have ordered a 1,000 piece puzzle from Venus Puzzle and are grateful that they once again gave us a great discount! Friends and family helped assemble the puzzle (THANK YOU!), and we love the way it turned out. Our goal is to raise $5,000 to bring Tyson home through this puzzle fundraiser. For each $5 donated to our fundraiser, we will write your name or your family's name on the back of a puzzle piece. A $10 donation would equate to 2 puzzle pieces, $20 to 4 pieces, $50 to 10 pieces, and so on. Every single donation is appreciated no matter the size!! Donors will be helping us afford our final fees to bring Tyson home, and we will be eternally grateful for your generosity! 

I was out of town this weekend and got home late this afternoon. I retrieved the mail and found a card from a family friend who wrote the kindest note to our family. He included a $500 check to put toward our adoption costs! Ryan and I were speechless. What a gift and what timing as we launch this fundraiser tonight! We wrote his name on 100 pieces a couple hours ago. Already, before we've even begun, God is providing for our family through this man. ASTOUNDING! We are 1/10 of the way to our goal already. It is my hope to post regular updates to show you how much of the puzzle is sponsored. Thank you for your consideration to help our sweet baby boy join our family!

Please click the following link to watch a special slideshow we made in honor of Tyson. You will get to see clips of the two videos we have received of him in China. Get ready to fall in love. He is a doll baby!


The Storm

Last night I was lying in bed, thinking about how soon Tyson will be home with us. We received his immigration approval this past Tuesday, and many times, families receive Travel Approval approximately one month after that approval. This means somewhere around May 7th, we could receive the green light to travel. Very exciting stuff!

When I think about Tyson coming home, I can't help but wonder how our attachment and bonding will progress this time around. Having Tucker in our arms for almost 18 months now has shown me that even if my relationship with Ty is difficult at first, eventually with time, love, and intentional parenting, our bond will grow. Tucker has given me hope and experience to know and believe that truth. 

As a mom, I am constantly learning. I try to be intentional in my parenting, and we focus a lot on our children's hearts. The Bible is full of verses about the importance of a person's heart, as it is often the epicenter of their behavior. Matthew 15:18 starts out by stating, "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart...." If we want to influence our children's behavior, we must investigate and influence their hearts. When my children are unkind or disrespectful, I always ask them, "What is happening with your heart?" 

When Tucker joined our family, I think his heart was broken. He loved his nanny, and he was taken from her. He had friends, a routine, and a life, and our presence changed everything he knew. His heart resisted me, and although that response was understandable, my heart felt wounded. Tuck's heart was probably angry, sad, and scared. My heart felt rejected by him, and I carried great bitterness about some other hurts that were happening in my life at that time. These heart issues greatly affected our early relationship. 

Time heals many wounds. I prayed daily that God would stir up a great love in Tucker for me and in me for him. With each month, our relationship grew stronger. Ephesians 4:31-32 states, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." I was able to forgive the source of my anger, hurt, and bitterness, and my heart began to finally experience deep healing. Because my heart was filled with greater love and grace, I was able to pour out that love and grace even more to my family. 

But I have to be honest. I am not a perfect. I have made mistakes along the way. I am learning as I go. Sometimes I follow very sound parenting techniques, and I am on fire in my role as a mom. Other times, my behavior is the product of my heart, which can be critical, selfish, and impatient. When our children have experienced our unconditional love from the moment of their conception, I think they can love us unconditionally even when we make parenting mistakes. However, for our children who are adopted, the ones who did not receive our unconditional love at the beginning of their lives, a more significant rupture in the relationship can take place. I have to humble myself, apologize, and be intentional to repair the relationship when a rupture takes place with my children, especially Tucker. In time, Tuck's trust and love for us has grown exponentially, but I still very intentionally tell him that he is loved, wanted, safe, protected, and cherished every day. I tell him a that I am so thankful that I get to be his mommy, that he gets to be my son, and that he is home forever. 

Last night while thinking about Tyson and wondering what he was doing on the other side of the world, I began to pray that Tucker would continue growing in his love and trust for us. Soon after a great storm began outside. As the rain poured down and the thunder crashed loudly over our house, I knew it was a probably matter of time before Tucker woke up. Storms have always scared him, including when he lived in China. He has told us about the window in the room where he slept and how the storm outside scared him in China. I don't know if the nighttime nannies provided comfort to him or not; regardless, these Spring storms terrify my sweet boy.

All of the sudden, a blood curling scream came through the monitor. I went running into his and Liam's room and reassured Tucker that I was there and that he was safe. He climbed me like a monkey climbs onto his momma and wrapped his arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, and toes around my body, burying his head into my chest. He gripped me with all of his might. I held him tightly and assured him, "You are safe. You are home. Your family is right here. Mommy is right here. Daddy is here. Liam is safe. Tucker is safe. Noah is safe. We will protect you. Our house is strong. You are ok." These words of comfort went on and on as I rocked my trembling little boy who was still clinging to me with all of his might 10 minutes later. A song quickly came to mind, and I began to sing...

There's no space that His love can't reach
There's no place where we can't find peace
There's no end to Amazing Grace
Take me in with your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go, never leave my side.

I am,
Holding on to You. 

(And I realized, I was holding onto Tuck)

I am,
Holding on to You.
In the middle of the storm,

(Seriously, a storm?!)

I am Holding on,
I am

I am,
Holding on to You.
I am,
Holding on to you.
In the middle of the storm,
I am holding on,
I am

Love like this, Oh my God to find!
I am overwhelmed what a joy divine!
Love like this sets our hearts on fire!

I am,
Holding on to You.
In the middle of the storm,
I am Holding on,
I am

I am,
Holding on to You.
I am,
Holding on to you.
In the middle of the storm,
I am holding on,
I am

I had chills all over my body singing that song to my sweet boy who has lost so much but has gained even more. In the middle of the storm, I got to the be one to hold him and reassure him and provide him with comfort and security. What a privilege!!!

We don't have to adopt these beautiful children...WE GET TO. And to this day, I am so grateful for the opportunity and privilege it is to hold them, love them, and reassure them during the storm.  

Noah and Liam spontaneously covering Tuck's ears during the weekly tornado siren 


Easter 2015: Passion Into Action - Over and Out

Once again, thank you to everyone who ordered shirts this year to make our Passion Into Action campaign a huge success! I have loved seeing these colorful t-shirts all over social media. Thanks to everyone in these pictures and many, many more whose pictures I do not have, we were able to donate $4,208.25 to Kindred Image to support Pastor Lee's ministry in South Korea. Let's never forget what Jesus teaches in Matthew 25: 34-40 and commit to serving the least of these for the rest of our lives!

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


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