Easter 2015: Passion Into Action Fundraiser Results

I am so excited to share the results of our Easter 2015 Passion Into Action Campaign! This is the second campaign we have launched as part of the greater Forget the Frock movement. This year's theme was The Least of These, inspired by Jesus' words in Matthew 25:31-40.

"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 your 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.'" (emphasis mine)

This year we chose 5 different nonprofit organizations who are currently serving The Least of These: Operation Smile, Restore International, Kindred Image, Kupendwa Ministries, and Oxfam America. For every shirt purchased, buyers could vote for which organization they wanted to receive 100% of the proceeds. We received 137 orders this year, and families purchased a total of 413 shirts!!

The purchase of 413 shirts brought in $8,166.41. Overhead costs for this fundraiser were $3,958.16. The breakdown of those costs is below.

Ready to find out who won? Drumroll please!!!

The Easter 2015 Passion Into Action winner is Kindred Image (The Drop Box), as they received 144 votes (35%)!!! Thanks to your participation, we are able to donate $4,208.25 to this incredible organization!

Photo courtesy of David Kim

Additional voting results for the other AMAZING organizations are as follows. Please click their links to learn how you can support their efforts!

Kupendwa Ministries: 101 votes (24%)
Operation Smile: 85 votes (21%)
Restore International: 67 votes (16%)
Oxfam America: 16 votes (4%)

As a reminder, Kindred Image is a non-profit organization that works to support the vision and legacy of Pastor Lee in South Korea. After having a child with a disability, Pastor Lee Jong-rak brought several other orphans home from the hospital. One extremely cold, winter night, a woman abandoned her baby outside the gate of Pastor Lee’s home. This baby girl was disabled and nearly froze to death before Pastor Lee found her. Knowing that something had to be done, Pastor Lee built a "drop box" in December 2009. As of November 2014, nearly 600 children had come to Pastor Lee through his drop box. 

Pastor Lee & Brian Ivie (photo courtesy of David Kim)

Brian Ivie, founder of Kindred Image, read an article in the newspaper about Pastor Lee's work in South Korea and decided to make a film about it. The experience changed Brian's life, and he became a Christian while directing The Drop Box, which played in theaters earlier this month. Kindred Image continues to work alongside Pastor Lee on his mission in South Korea. 

Photo courtesy of David Kim

Photo courtesy of David Kim

Photo courtesy of David Kim

Photo courtesy of David Kim

Photo courtesy of David Kim

The $4,208.25 from this fundraiser will support Pastor Lee's efforts. Mothers who are considering using The Drop Box receive counseling, and those who choose to keep their babies receive Boxes of Hope, which include diapers, formula, and other essentials. They are striving to build a Rescue Center that is larger and more equipped where Pastor Lee and others can provide both crisis and long-term holistic care. A Maternity Shelter is a future project that will be a home for mothers, right next to the drop box facility, where they can receive counseling, temporary housing, relational rehabilitation, and much more holistic help. Kindred Image also hopes to provide adoption assistance grants in the future. Click the following link to learn about how you can make a one time or monthly donation to Kindred Image and please keep Pastor Lee, his wife, their health, their children, and this ministry in your prayers! 

As stated in their financial report, "...building the drop box was Pastor Lee’s desperate act of compassion, but building Kindred Image was Pastor Lee’s hopeful act of justice, addressing the issues holistically and looking forward to the day when the box is no longer necessary."

And I love that. The hope will always be that a drop box will not be needed someday. Until that time, let's all make the commitment to support Pastor Lee's efforts and organizations like Kindred Image that serve The Least of These. Together, we can bring the Kingdom to the chaos of our world!

Photo courtesy of David Kim

One last note - if you ordered shirts for this year's fundraiser, please wear them Easter weekend and post pictures on social media with the hashtag #passionintoaction2015 and #theleastofthese! Email pictures to easter2015passionintoaction@gmail.com, and I will post them on a future blog! Thank you to everyone who ordered a shirt to help make this year's fundraiser a success.


Liam's Big Love

Today I stopped by Earth Fare with Liam and Tucker to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch. Half way through the meal, I realized that we hadn't prayed before eating, so we stopped and folded our hands. I looked at Liam and said, "Do you want to pray first?" He nodded his head yes and said, "Dear Jesus, I wish Tyson was here all day. Amen." Tears welled up in my eyes, and I thanked him for saying such a sweet prayer.

I can't pretend to know exactly what God is doing in Liam's heart, but I do know this. Liam has BIG LOVE for each person in our family, including Tyson who is an ocean away. Liam feels every emotion with great intensity, and his love is no exception. When we first brought Tucker home, Liam really struggled to bond with him. He did not want to share his toys, his books, or his mommy with Tuck. Oftentimes, Liam would say, "Mommy, let's go play a game - just you and me." The transition was difficult, but with time, Liam found one of his very best friends in Tucker, who is just 8 days older than him. These twins play together all day every single day! If Liam chooses a toy car to play with, he picks out one for Tucker, too. Every time I pick the boys up from preschool, the second that Liam sees Tucker, he will immediately throw his arms around him and start kissing him on the cheeks. Tucker braces himself and screams through it (remember, I said Liam shows emotions with intensity), but they both laugh when I pry them apart. Every. Single. Time. I. Pick. Them. Up. 

Last week, Tucker was invited to Chick-Fil-A for a play date with a buddy from school. This sweet boy's mom was sharing with me that her son is very social, so she is always planning play dates. I remembered doing that all of the time when Noah was little, but I rarely schedule play dates now for my little guys. I thought about it for a few minutes and realized that I don't make play dates very often because Liam and Tucker have each other, and they play all day long. They are seriously the best of friends. I am so thankful for the love God grew in Liam's heart. 

When we first showed Noah, Liam, and Tucker their new brother's picture, they boys exclaimed, "Cool! Cool! Cool! Wow! Awesome!" Then, spontaneously, Liam said the sweetest thing. Watch below:

Liam: "I was a little tiny baby like that baby, and I was like...and I...and I was that baby."

Me: "What made you like that baby?"

Liam: "Jesus made me just like with my lip ripped a little." 

From the mouths of babes. Precious. I am very hopeful that Liam and Tyson will have a special bond to one another, and I look forward to seeing how they support one another in their shared medical need. I also love that Tucker and Tyson will have their shared Chinese heritage, and we will always celebrate their birth country. 

Ever since seeing Tyson and especially in the past few weeks, Liam clearly been thinking a lot about this brother across the world. The other morning, he woke up, and I hugged him. Liam looked at me and said, "Tyson's getting ready to go to bed, right?" I told him that yes, that was correct. We have mentioned that to the kids before - that Tyson sleeps while we are awake and vice versa, but to hear it come out of Liam's mouth first thing in the morning made me smile. 

We are all getting eager for Tyson to come home, and at the same time, I know these next couple of months are very precious. I wished away so much time while waiting for Tucker, and I promised myself I would never do that again. I am enjoying every single day with Ryan and the boys, and we are doing as much as possible before having a 1 year old in the house again. :)

In preparation for Tyson's arrival, we have officially moved Liam and Tucker into the same room. They are loving it! I also bought 3 large boxes of diapers. Oh my goodness, I had Liam and Tucker in one of those race car grocery carts with three boxes of diapers. If only my newly wed self could have seen the future me! People must think I am crazy, and we definitely are but wouldn't have it any other way. I cannot wait to see how Tyson joining our family impacts all of us. Sometimes I am afraid of the initial bonding and attachment that will need to take place because of our previous experience, but like everything, I know it will be temporary. Liam is a constant reminder to me how far we've come. Like Liam, we all have BIG love for Tyson, and yet I know that our love will grow deeper and stronger with time. Until then, we will keep praying him home to us. 


Praying With Expectation

Before I share what God has been teaching me this past week, I want to take a minute to thank everyone who participated and shared this year's Passion Into Action campaign. I cannot wait to share how many t-shirts were purchased, which non-profit organization won, and how much money we will be able to donate to them this year thanks to all of you! The shirts will be shipped to us in the next week or so, and once we sort, package, and ship them out, I will have the exact total of our donation. If you did not have a chance to purchase our shirts but still want to participate, check out Forget The Frock for their great design. All of their proceeds benefit Feeding The Orphans!

Off we go!

Last August many of my adoptive momma friends and I stayed up until midnight to register for the the Created For Care Retreat at Lake Lanier, Georgia. Since that night, I have looked forward to this special weekend with friends. One of my dearest friends, Dalia, came with me this year, and we planned to make the 9 hour drive to Lake Lanier together Thursday morning on March 5th. As luck would have it, a winter storm came through the South on Wednesday and continued overnight. Dalia and I left that morning an hour later, hoping that the roads would be clear by the time we reached Kentucky. For two hours we drove through Indiana without much trouble at all, though we saw several vehicles on the side of the road. After we reached Louisville, we were cruising along without any trouble when all of the sudden, we came to a screeching halt.

And we stayed there.

For 3 hours.

Our 9 hour drive slipped through our fingers. For the first hour, I was convinced we would start moving before too long. We snacked on an interesting combination of kale chips and donuts. The second hour, we learned the cause of our standstill. Over 200 semi trucks were blocking our path, as they could not get up nor down a huge hill just south of us. People had spent the entire nights in their cars. Dalia and I decided that a quick work out on the side of the highway was appropriate and laughed as we got burned some calories to T25. During the third hour, we found out that the National Guard was coming to help motorists. Dalia and I were sitting in the middle seats of my minivan watching The Help. All the while, I was grumbling internally because I knew this delay would prevent us from having time with my friends in Georgia that evening.

Post work-out

Then, it hit me. We had been sitting there for 3 hours, and I hadn't even asked God to help us. Has that ever happened to you? You stew about a problem and complain to yourself (and maybe to others), but you never ask God to help you solve it? That was totally me. So I finally prayed, "God, please just make a path for us. We will follow. Just make a path." At nearly the exact same moment, about a dozen cars went barreling down the right shoulder, making a path through the deep snow. Dalia got out of the car to see where they were going. We knew our exit was a half mile up the road, and that exit would pave the way across Kentucky, leading us to I-75. Dalia came back and said that they were getting through somehow. I then joined her, walking to the right shoulder, and sure enough, the cars hadn't gotten stuck. We talked the driver in the right lane, and that person immediately took off. Then, we told each of the three cars in front of us, and they also took off, following the path on the right shoulder. We jumped in my minivan and could not believe it as we passed dozens upon dozens upon dozens of vehicles, just sitting on that highway, one behind the other, with an open exit next to them. We made it to the exit and praised God that He had answered our prayers! I told Dalia, I felt like He was saying, "Amy, just ask me. I am right here."

South bound lane of I-65

We finally reached our cabin just before midnight, 15 hours after we left home. The weekend at C4C with so many wonderful friends was so good for my soul. Saturday night at dinner, I was sitting with my sweet friend, Lauren, and I told her, "I just want to hear This Is Amazing Grace during worship tonight. I loved that song the previous year, and I just my soul just needs it." I felt that nudge again, "Just ask me," so I did. About 30 minutes later, we got together in the main conference room, all 450 women whose hearts bleed for the fatherless. I can't remember now if it was the very first song or the second one, but you should have seen my face when I heard those first four notes and started singing This Is Amazing Grace at the top of my lungs! Once again I smiled and thought, "Just ask." I experienced this most intense, beautiful Kol d'mama de Kah during that song. I never wanted it to end!

Lauren and me at dinner
Earlier that day I had attended a session called Date With God. I blogged quite about a bit about DWG after attending C4C last year and was excited to see what God would show me this year. When I sat down to journal, and this is part of what I wrote.

Show me. Teach me. See me. I am here. Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me through the loss, the grief, the storm, the doubt, the hurt, the attack. I stand a year later and rejoice. I celebrate all you have done. I see the fruit that fell from my shaken tree. I trust you. My faith is so much stronger than before. Lord, I love this precious one in China. He is ours and is the one you called us forth to bring home. I want to know him. I know the plans you have for me. Plans to prosper me, my family, and Ty. Help us deepen our roots in your solid ground. Let us stand firm and rejoice where you have brought us AND where you are taking us. 

After journaling and praying a bit longer, I made my way over to the world map. I looked at the tiny peninsula where Tyson lives, put my hand over China, and allowed myself to feel him. Really feel my son who at that moment was sleeping in an orphanage across the world.

You see, we have walked this road before. I know what it is like to yearn and long for a child so far away. I remember all too well the days spent playing at the park or swimming at the pool, not really present because my heart was in China. I will never forget the desperation I felt, the urgency in my heart, to bring Tucker home during that 132 day wait for LOA.

I promised myself that I would not live like that again during this adoption. I would use my effort to pray for Tyson's protection, nutrition, safety, and love rather than despair in heartache. I would enjoy every single moment with my family until Tyson came home, trusting that my Father would bring him home in His perfect timing. We had experienced the fulfillment of God's promises during Tucker's adoption, and my faith had been strengthened during our wait, giving me the knowledge and confidence that Tyson will come home, too.

Just like last time, I watched as families progressed through steps of the adoption process while our family's case stood still. On December 9, 2014, our dossier (i.e., a large packet of information about our family) was logged into China's database. On December 22, 2014, just 13 days later, we received word that our dossier was Out of Translation. We then received Tyson's file, submitted our Letter of Intent to adopt him on January 15, 2015, and received PreApproval the very next day. Such an exciting day for our family! On the flip side, a review of our dossier was not taking place. We were at a stand still. January and February passed by without any movement. On a few occasions, I felt frustrated seeing others move ahead while we stayed in the same place. This opportunity for fear to creep in was quickly squashed with my faith. I chose to trust the Lord and His timing. This is the fruit of our labor from Tucker's adoption.

With that said, putting my hand on that map of China during my Date With God, closing my eyes and imagining my son lying in a crib inside an orphanage...the tears just fell. They streamed and poured to the floor, and I shared my heart with God. During that time, I told the Lord that I was ready. Ready to move forward, meet my son, and bring him home. I let myself feel my little boy across the world, feel his absence here and his presence there. The tears continued to fall. It was such a sweet moment and made me feel long to hold my baby boy.

Coming home from C4C, I felt not only celebratory for all God has brought us through this past year, but I felt ready to move forward in His calling on our lives. On Wednesday night I went to sleep, and for the first time and with a pure heart, I prayed that God would grant us our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) so that we could move forward in this adoption process. Thursday morning (March 12th), I woke up and felt such a strong desire for Tyson to come home. I posted on Facebook my first prayer request for LOA:

Today I would really love your prayers for movement in our adoption process! We have been waiting for our LOA again for quite awhile. Our dossier was translated on 12/22/14, but it hasn't been processed any further yet. Once we receive LOA, we should travel within 2 to 3 months. I am very ready to bring my son home! Thank you for your prayers!!

I also emailed my social worker and asked if she had heard an update. Around noon, I received an email from my social worker that said, 

Hey Amy, 
No new news today. I will continue to try and find out about your dossier and also your update. I know it is difficult to wait and I have noticed how peaceful you are. I will keep in touch and hopefully we will hear something soon.

I felt a wave of despair. Something had to be wrong. During Tuck's adoption, we got logged into the "old" database, and our information didn't transfer to the "new" database, which caused our very long wait for LOA. China had just updated their database over the New Year, so that previous experience made me wonder if this had indeed happened again. Were we stuck in the old database??

Several people had already left comments saying that they would pray, and one adoptive momma friend shared that she had been awake at 2:30 a.m. praying for our family. I hadn't asked for those prayers, but she was praying nonetheless while I slept. I can't think of a better way to love on our family than to pray for us!

I called my social worker, and as soon as she answered, I started telling her that I felt like something was wrong...that we were stuck in the old database again. While I took a quick breath, she said something to the effect of, "Amy, when I got to work, I checked the database, and your case is in the Match/Review phase." 


Were our prayers truly answered the night I prayed and before we had even asked everyone for them? While we were sleeping, and likely while my friend was interceding on our behalf at 2:30 a.m., officials in China had reviewed our dossier! I later learned that our dossier was actually through the Match/Review process, which means that our LOA has been issued!

I cannot explain the relief, the joy, and the celebration I felt and continue to feel days later. We went from standing completely still for nearly 3 months to leaping ahead to LOA. Praise God!!! 

Friday night and Saturday morning, I found myself rushing to fill out our next round of paperwork. I double and triple checked every letter and box and started printing everything. Of course, with only an hour to spare, I ran out of printer ink! I rushed to Target, purchased new ink, drove home, printed the documents, addressed an envelope, rushed to the Post Office, and overnighted everything to our adoption agency. They should receive it Monday by 3:00 p.m. 

Why did I bother rushing to overnight it when it could take a week or two to arrive? Because I am praying with great expectation for God to bring our LOA to our agency Monday. This past week, He has shown me 3 different times to just ask. He is a loving Father, and He delights in us. The Lord answered our prayers for LOA before we even requested them from all of you! He knew the intentions of my heart, and it wasn't until that Wednesday night that my heart was ready to move forward for the right reasons - because I want to bring my son home - versus the wrong reasons (other people are moving forward...why not us?). 

As our pastor recently said that our faith should be shown in our expectations and our actions. I am believing with great faith that God has the power to bring our LOA on Monday, and so my actions reflected my faith by rushing to complete that paperwork and overnighting it to our agency. Tomorrow is Monday, friends! Please join me in praying that this very special documents arrives at our agency, and we can move forward in requesting Tyson's immigration to the US. 

"...'According to your faith let it be done to you.'" (Matthew 9:29)

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