Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beauty in the Rubble...

At an orphanage in Haiti.  Their home is no longer standing, but you still might catch a beautiful smile.

Tents are placed where houses used to stand.

She is precious.

Drawing on the wall that used to enclose this orphanage.  This must have been something the children saw a great deal after the earthquake.

So much rubble.

They sang for us.

Day One in Haiti...

Hello and good morning to all of my wonderful blog readers!  Yesterday we arrived in Haiti, and it was a long but good day!  Drop by our photography blog to see a couple of pics and our timeline of events!  Thanks for stopping by!

Nina Mullins Photography Blog

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Great Expectations and Fantastic Causes...

People are always asking us if we want a boy or a girl.   Well, the answer is always, "Wes is leaning toward a boy, and I am leaning toward a girl."  So, we have told the agency that we are open to either gender.  Of course, given the fact that there seem to be more boys than girls coming up for adoption in Ethiopia, I have a feeling we will get a little boy (But I don't care!  I can't wait for a boy OR a girl!).  That doesn't stop my mother from continually buying things for a little girl, though.  My parents were up this weekend, and she walks in the door with this adorable tutu.

Ummmm....yeah.....love it, but won't look so great on our little Wesley Jr.  (no, that's not what we are going to call him).  And then my mom and I stopped by the Gap yesterday, and strolled through the kids section.  I am really starting to enjoy dreaming about what our little baby will wear.  Girls clothes seem WAY cuter, but we'll figure out how do dress our little man too.  That didn't steer us away from the clearance section, though, and once again we found something SO cute.  My mom couldn't resist, and she bought this awesome little coat and pants combo.  I LOVE IT!

So we may get a boy, but we'll have plenty of clothes for the girl we get next (if she doesn't come first, that is!).

Another little tidbit I'm excited about is this BEAUTIFUL necklace I just received in the mail.  I mentioned it briefly in my last post, but you seriously need to check out this organization again.  The website is 147millionorphans.com, and they are selling necklaces for another organization called Amazima Ministries.  This organization works with people in Uganda, and well you just need to check them out.  Buy all the necklaces you can!  You'll help feed those in need!

Aren't these GORGEOUS?!!!  I LOVE my necklace!

*Oh, and as a side note, we are STILL waiting for our partner agency in Atlanta to approve our home study.  They are taking FOREVER, but I think they are pretty busy.  But once that is done, our agency in Kentucky can send our entire dossier to them, and then they will send it on to Ethiopia.  Oh pray that it happens soon!
**We will be in Haiti this coming week (pray for us while we are there, that God will be glorified, and that we get to pour out the love!), so our blog will be a little silent for a few days, but I can't wait to return, and start some great giveaways!  Yay!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Awaken My Heart, Oh Lord...

It is no secret that in recent weeks I have succumbed to random outbursts of tears and crying.  It seems that any blog about adoption ruins me....in a good way.

In my lifetime I have spent time in the streets of Ghana, Nepal, and India: three countries with some of the worst poverty you will ever witness.  Each time I have returned home, I have felt almost numb....or perhaps 'unaffected' is a better word.  For those of you who know me well, you have heard me talk about the struggles I have with feeling a deeper compassion for the people I have worked with in these countries.  The knowledge of their poverty is in my head, but a deeper, God compassion, deep within in my heart, seems to be lacking.  It has always bothered me, and made me feel that I lack in the department of love and compassion.  Sometimes it has made me feel that I have no heart at all.  I have worked in Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying in Calcutta several times, but in all the volunteer duties that needed to be accomplished in a single day, I often ended up on the roof, hanging wet sheets on the clothesline.  I wasn't rushing to be with the woman who desperately needed love.   This home is a place for the outcasts of India.  It is a place for those who are close to death to come and spend their last days in peace and love.  I watched patients come in struggling to breath.  Some came in with little or no capacity to sit up or eat.  I remember one woman in particular.  She had just been brought in, and had a huge gaping wound on her calf.  Maggots had infested the wound, and I watched one of my friends work with one of the sisters to remove the crawling and infected flesh.  The woman lay there with little to no emotion on her face.  Only silent tears fell.  It seemed like she was too weak to even feel.  And even in all of this, my heart lacked.  I was fascinated by the two women who were cleaning this woman's wound, but I felt so little compassion for her.  Not because I didn't want to.  I knew the love God had for this hurt soul.  I was well aware of her need of love.  ALL the knowledge was up there in my head, but it still felt like my heart was unstirred.

As we have embarked on this adoption journey, I feel like I am coming out of some kind of deep sleep.  My heart feels like it is coming to life.  I pray that it is not a momentary thing, that it will not only last for a few months, but that it will continually grow and move in me for a lifetime.

Yesterday a friend of mine pointed me to yet another blog, and said that I should read it, and that I would probably cry.  Ummmmm.....Yeah....that was a no-brainer.  I immediately read it, and the waterworks began.  If you haven't been there yet (which I am sure many of you in the adoption world already have), you MUST stop by her blog.  It is titled, Kisses from Katie.  It is written by a young girl who lives in Uganda.  Oh, and did I mention she is only 21 years old?  Oh, and how 'bout she has 14 children?  Yes, you read that correctly.  14 children.  Tears have poured as I have read through her various posts.  She speaks of the radical Christianity Jesus calls us to.  She speaks of a life of love, lived in such a way we may not have imagined.

It is worth the read.  And after you have had a good enough cry, you might as well drop by 147 Million Orphans and buy one of these beautiful necklaces.  I did.  And you'll help feed some hungry stomachs too.  And in the midst of all that, you'll feel yourself come to life just a little bit more than day before.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Queen of Sheba and Tiny Cups of Coffee

So ever since we made the switch to Ethiopia, I have had several adoptive families mention Queen of Sheba restaurant to me.  It's an Ethiopian restaurant in Louisville, which is not far from Lexington, so last week we made plans with some friends (Mark & Lindsay!) to head over and try food we've never had before.

It is a simple little restaurant, but the food is delicious!  The service was very good too.  I have never been so clueless about food in my life, and NONE of us knew ANYthing about the menu we were looking at.  Alicha Sega Wot?  Timatim Selata?  Beyaynetu?  What?!  Yeah....So we basically told our server to recommend and practically order our food for us.  We ended up with two main items:  Gored-Gord, which is fresh prime lean beef cutes sauteed in Ethiopian spices, and Doro Tips, which are chicken cubes sauteed with onions, jalapeno peppers, fresh tomatoes, garlic and Ethiopian spices.  As you can see in the picture, it is served on one big plate, on top of Injera (kind of Ethiopia's answer to crepes).  The pile of cooked leafy greens is Gomen Wot (collard greens!).  And then I'm pretty sure the cooked lentils are called Misir Wot (the red beany looking stuff).  And the best part was that we got to eat with our hands!  I know I'm a total dork for getting excited about that, but it takes me back to my days in India and Nepal.  There's just something so enjoyable about scooping food up with your fingers.  With Ethiopian cuisine, you usually use the injera to pick up the meat and vegetables.  SO fun!

Doro Tips


Using Injera to pick up meat.

After the meal, Wes and Lindsay got some Baklava (not so sure if this is an Ethiopian thing as well as Greek, but it was delicious none-the-less).  Wes also ordered the traditional Ethiopian coffee.  For some reason we were all fascinated with the coffee pot itself.  How cool is that thing!  And I don't know why, but they give you an itty bitty coffee cup to drink it with.  It was way too strong for me, but what coffee isn't.  Oh how I wish I liked coffee.  Well, when we go to Ethiopia, I will choke it down, because I am not going to miss out on the traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony!
REALLY cool coffee pot.

REALLY tiny coffee cup.

So that was our outing at Queen of Sheba.  I am SO glad we went.  I want to soak up as much as the Ethiopian culture as I can before Baby Mullins gets home!

Wes, Nina, Lindsay, Mark

*oh and if you're interested in a really cool giveaway, stop by Reflections:  another adoptive-mother-to-be's blog!

Friday, April 16, 2010

7 Months Waiting...

Yes, today marks seven months since we started this international adoption journey.  Since then we have changed country programs from Nepal to Ethiopia, and we have completed two dossiers.  It took me about 9 days to complete the first one, and then about 3 weeks to complete the second (I get a little dossier obsessed, so it's better to get it done quickly).  God spoke to our hearts and said that the thousands upon thousands of dollars we would need to do this (adopt that is), was nothing to Him.  It wasn't difficult for Him, so He told us not to worry.  We have seen the generosity of God's people overflow into our lives.  We have seen $5,000 checks from someone we barely knew, arrive in the mail.  People have taken what little they have, and have bought hats and t-shirts to help bring our baby home.  I can't count the times I have cried throughout these seven months.  Even now, as I sit here and write this, the tears our flowing, because I am swept away by the love of God.  I am swept away by the love of God that flows through His people.  In the moments when you feel like the Body of Christ has forgotten what it means to pour into the Kingdom, a woman you barely know, with tears in her eyes, might tell you that she wants to direct her tithe toward bringing your baby home.  Speechless.  I have to fight the guilt I feel at times, because I feel like such an undeserving child.  It feels like God's kindness and generosity never stop coming, and I want to make up for all He has done and is doing for us.  But it's impossible.  I know I can't make up for it.  It is His sweet and glorious grace that saved my life, and again it is His amazing love and grace that continually flood my very being in this day, as He makes a way to increase our family.  And none of this because I have earned it.  Oh how my Father seems to love to lavish His love upon us!

This week God has really ministered to my heart with Steven Curtis Chapman's song, Heaven is the Face.  Even though it was born out of the loss of his adopted daughter, I find so much hope in this song.  No matter how many times I hear it, when he starts singing the bridge, I just want to shout at the top of my lungs, because the promise of God's glory and promises fulfilled are beyond compare!

"But in my mind’s eye I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space.
All the cancer is gone,
Every mouth is fed,
And there’s no one left in the orphans’ bed.
Every lonely heart finds their one true love,
And there’s no more goodbye,
And no more not enough,
And there’s no more enemy."

What an amazing picture of Heaven!  What an amazing picture of God's heart, and how He always intended it to be.

When we started this process of adoption, I pondered so many things.  I thought about the changes that a child would bring to our lives.  I thought about the difference our child would make in the lives of others one day.  But it seemed that my heart still lacked the depth of understanding of God's heart for adoption.  And when I say this, I am still so far behind in this lesson of true and pure religion.  But an understanding, none-the-less, is beginning to bud.  In this past month, as we have moved forward with our adoption from Ethiopia, I have noticed a change of heart in my own self.  I have noticed the righteous anger that begins to boil up when people speak so flippantly about the lives of the fatherless.  I have been overwhelmed by the compassion I am beginning to feel for these children, greater than I have ever felt before.  It feels like somewhat of an awakening.  It is good and fulfilling, but scary at the same time, because I know with great knowledge comes greater responsibility.  Our lives will never be the same again.  

And even though Wes may not always speak up as much about our journey (yes, I know.  i am the chatty one!), I know his heart and mind are continually being stirred.  I teared up and laughed all in the same breath yesterday as he played a short recording of a spontaneous song he sang when he was home alone.  I laughed because he said his voice was all over the place, and as I listened, I learned he was right.  lol  I teared up because he was singing about meeting our baby for the first time.  Over and over again he sang, "We're comin' to get you.  We're comin' to get you.  Gotcha day here we come."  Gotcha day....I can't even imagine what that day will be like.  Will our baby be smiling and cooing?  Or will they be screaming at the pasty white stranger that is holding them?  I laugh when I think about it, because I know it will be a beautiful moment no matter what, but I also realize that it may not be as romantic as I hope.  But, come what may, they will be ours and we will be theirs.  That's something to get excited about.  

Seven months have passed, but Gotcha day is comin' soon....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Adoption and the Limited Edition Maker's Mark Bottle: Calipari Edition

Okay, so usually bourbon and adoption aren't two words you see in the mix together, but this week they are.  It has been a bit of a whirlwind of a day, but what a blessing of a day it has been.  To make a long story short, our local ABC station, WTVQ, came over to our home tonight to do a story on our adoption from Ethiopia.  When the reporter called me, she told me she would be coming in about an hour.  I gave a very non-chelant, "Sure, that sounds great!" but a little bit of urgency set in.  The house was a CRAZY mess, and Wes was at work.  After calling several different numbers, I finally got a hold of Wes and said, "The news is coming over in an hour!  Can you come home now and help me clean?!"  So, I piled stacks of papers in boxes, clean laundry was thrown in a pile in our bedroom, carpets were vacuumed, and Wes cleaned the heck out of the kitchen, which is where we ultimately had the interview.

The wonderful Jacqueline Sprague interviewed us.  She asked a lot of good questions about our adoption journey, but seemed genuinely interested at the same time.  We were both really impressed by her.

So tonight the story aired at 10pm and will be coming up again at 11pm.  They introduced the story by saying that there was still a chance to get one of those coveted Calipari Maker's Mark bottles, and the source of that bottle was a couple who was selling it to raise money for their adoption.  That couple, of course, is us.  :)

We are still trying to figure out the best way to go about selling this bottle.  Ebay?  Craigslist?  Some kind of silent auction?  Well, in the next couple of days we will have it up for sale in one form or another (And if any of you have any better ideas, please let us know!  We are open to suggestions!), so keep your eyes open, and just remember that 100% of the proceeds from this bottle (and everything else we sell!) will go towards bringing our little boy or girl home from Ethiopia.

Handmade hats by my amazing mother, Ia Williams.

Right now we have got T-Shirts for sale, and we are still selling several UK hats for $25 each.  (If you are interested in the hats, just let us know by dropping us an email at mullinsadoption@gmail.com)

Tonight, once again, we just realize how blessed we are, and how special this interview was.  Hopefully it will not only help us bring our child home, but it will also raise awareness for the need of the some 147 million orphans across the world who need forever families.  Consider ADOPTION!!!  It's not easy, but we know it's worth it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Coach Calipari and the Small Miracles...

I don't know why I keep getting blown away by the amazing provision God keeps giving us, but I do. He keeps surprising me, and overwhelming me with His goodness.

Okay, many of you know that I live in Lexington, KY. It is not one of those places people really know anything about, though. When people think Kentucky, they either think about the Colonel and his chicken, or they think of toothless hicks that marry their cousins (the latter is more of an unfortunate stigma....marrying your relatives is not that common these days!). Of course, there are some of you avid basketball fans that DO know at least one thing about Lexington, KY: Lexington is home to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, and more specifically, the greatest men's college basketball program in all of history (okay, maybe some of you won't agree, but that probably just means you are a tar heel, blue devil, or hoosier...yuck). So with that tradition, comes a whole slew of insanely fanatical fans. Year after year, much to the chagrin of other schools, Kentucky blue dominates the stands at each SEC and NCAA tournament. KENTUCKY. FANS. ARE. CRAZY.

Well, last week, Maker's Mark (Kentucky is also the whiskey capital of the world) put out a special Calipari edition (all blue, of course, with Calipari's face on it). John Calipari is Kentucky's new head coach. He is insanely good! Last year we went to the NIT for the first time in FOREVER. This year, coach Cal started, we went to the Elite 8, and 5 our players are now projected to be in the top 15 draft picks (four of them are freshmen!) Well, in just a couple of hours, all 25,000 bottles sold out. That same day people were selling them online for twice the price. Well, I managed to buy one from a guy who sold it to me for just a little over the regular price (because I told him we wanted to sell it to raise money for our adoption). Last Saturday, 1200 tickets went on sale on Tickemaster to nab a coveted spot in line at Keeneland (our local race track), where Calipari would sign those 1200 bottles. Well, those tickets (which were free, by the way) sold out in less than a minute. And yes...you guessed it...we got one!

So this morning, I got into line, and I had spot #79. Not too shabby. There were thousands of fans there (plenty of the 1200 brought friends and family), and it was a bit chaotic. I watched as a news crew interviewed the guy who got the #1 spot in line. I kept thinking about walking up to them, and telling them our adoption story. I decided against it in the end, and instead just prayed, "God, if you want a story done on us, have them come to me." Didn't really think that would happen, but I knew God could do it if He wanted to.

So they whisked us (or should I say "whiskeyed us"....Bahahaha!) through the autograph line. Calipari didn't even look up. His eyes were down, set on the task before him....sign 1200 bottles as quickly as possible. Who could blame him? As I walked away from the table, three ladies that seemed to work for Keeneland started raving over the hat I was wearing. Another one of our not-so-public fundraisers was selling Norwegian Knit hats, many of which had UK in the design. There was a lot of, "Oh my, I LOVE your hat! Where did you get it?" I promptly told them that my Norwegian mother had made it, that we were selling them to raise money for our adoption, and we were doing the same thing with the Maker's Mark bottle (which was now signed and held closely to my body so there was no chance of me dropping it). Well, in the very next instant one of the women's eyes light up, she grabs my arm and says, "Oh the news has GOT to do a story on you!" She quickly leads me outside and yells over to the local news crew, "You have to do a story on this girl!" From there, they interviewed me, and I told them about our upcoming adoption of a little boy or girl from ethiopia. The reporter took down all my info, and that was that. As I walked away from them, another news crew stops me and asks me if THEY can do a story on us. I said yes, of course.

As I walked away, I got my things together, and decided to head back over to the building where the signing was taking place. I wanted to thank the woman who introduced me to the news team. A couple of policemen gave me these stern looks, as if they were going to clobber me if I went any further...as if I were going to try and attack the coach. Well, the woman spotted me, and walked over to me. I thanked her for caring about our story, and she proceeded to tell me that her daughter had given her baby up for adoption, and that she understood how important it was for us to adopt. Ummmm....yeah....tears....flowing.....How could I not cry? I was so overwhelmed.

So that was my morning, which all happened before 8:30am today. I prayed a simple prayer, which I didn't think would turn into anything else, and then God TOTALLY does all the work and makes it happen. AMAZING!!!

At about 11am, a woman calls me from the first news station that interviewed me. She asks me for more details about our adoption, and then says she would like to pitch it to her boss, and do an extended interview with both Wes and I. Again....floored....I told her I would LOVE that! So on Sunday, as long as there are no national tragedies or other things that could take up their slots, they are planning on interviewing us. Can you believe it?! Yes, it's possible that it might not happen, but I don't even care! I am just in awe of how good God is, and how much He cares about this adoption and our family. AWESOME!

So this is one of my longer posts, but I just had to share all the goodies of the day. So stinkin' amazing.

Coach John Calipari signing my bottle.

The crazily coveted Maker's Mark bottle.

The hat I was wearing today that grabbed the woman's attention who pulled me over to the news crew.

Some of the hats we have sold this year.  All hand made by my amazing mother, Ia Williams.

Here's a short segment of the signing, and there's a teeny tiny snippet of me close to the end.

*UPDATE on April 13, 2010:  Well, the news station did not get back with us this past Sunday, but like I said before, it doesn't matter, because God is in control.  We got our little snippet on the news that day, and who knows what will happen next!  We have such peace that God will provide in every way.  We are SO excited to see what creative ideas God comes up with next.  :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dossier Complete!!! Again.

Yes, you read that correctly.  We have completed our dossier!  Yes, this our second dossier completion in about 6 months.  One for Nepal, and now one for Ethiopia.  My friend Angela thinks I should go into some kind of dossier business because apparently I'm a whiz with the paperwork.  lol.  Yeah right.  I can only contain one person's stress (my own), but not somebody else's.  So now it will head off to D.C. and then off to Ethiopia!  Woohoo!  I know...seriously exciting.

About a week ago I posted my gripe about Ohio, and its seriously SLOW processing of Wes's birth certificate.  Well, I put out a plea on facebook for anyone living in Columbus to pick it up for us.  I didn't really think anything would come of it, so I asked Wes if he thought I would be crazy to drive up that Friday and get it.  He said, "Yes," but was cool with it.  And then I checked my facebook messages at about 11:30 on Thursday night, and lo and behold, there was a message from someone saying they would pick it up for me, and also bring it to Lexington that very next day since they were coming in for Easter anyways.  So a shout out to sweet sweet Blythe, a girl I only met once when I was shooting her sister's wedding last summer.  It amazes me sometimes when people go out of their way for someone who's practically a stranger.  Thank you, Blythe!

So here I sit, with no more paperwork to do, and no more documents to obtain.  And once again, we wait....

Each day the anticipation grows greater.  It seems a little more real with each passing day.  Of course, once the dossier flies across the world to the wonderful continent of Africa, I'm sure the reality of it all will subside once again, as the waiting game truly kicks in again.

Right now, we are focusing on raising our funds.  We have raised almost all of our agency and foreign fees (just $1900 left!).  Next we need about $13,000 for our two trips to Ethiopia.  Seems like a lot, but I figure that God has gotten us this far, and He won't fail us now.  My friend and I figured today that if all of my 500+ facebook friends bought one t-shirt, we'd have almost all of our expenses covered.  Wow.  Wouldn't that be amazing?

Well, Cheerio... until next time....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

2 Week Fundraising Blitz!!!

Okay, we finally have T-shirts!  We got the design and rights to sell these shirts from another wonderful adoptive mother.  So here we go.  We have two designs:  One for women, and one for men.  Personally, I am a HUGE fan of the men's shirt, and already have some women that want it instead of the women's, because it is so supremely AWESOME!!!  But I seriously LOVE both of these designs.

Okay, so we are going to take two weeks on this blitz, so don't wait until the last minute!

100% of ALL Proceeds will go toward the adoption of our little boy or girl from Ethiopia.  We need all the help we can get!  In addition, you get to raise awareness for the need of adoption across the globe.  There are an estimated 147 MILLION ORPHANS across the world!  Help us make it 147 Million Minus ONE!!!

*Keep in mind that we will order the shirts AFTER the 2 weeks (around April 19th).  

Women's Simply Love Africa T:

The Women’s T shirts come in 2 styles.   You can choose from the women’s UNISEX FIT:  these are NOT slim fit and will fit like a unisex/men's cut.  You can choose from the women’s SLIM FIT: this will fit slim, form fitting, with cap sleeves.  Ladies- you will want to order up 1 to 2 sizes bigger for the slim fit shirt.  The black T has Tiffany blue swirls and the saying on the back- Love Will Always Find A Way.  The verse Phillipians 4:6-7 surround Africa.  
Women’s Options:
  1. Unisex fit- roomy just like your hubby’s T shirts.
  2. Slim fit- form fitting, longer in waist, with cap sleeves. 

Hunter Green "Man Up" Africa T:

The Men’s T shirts are extremely soft and fit regular men’s cut.  The army inspired shirt has black and red colors, and the saying on the back  “Man Up. Protect and Love the Fatherless."  The verse Philippians 4:6-7 surround Africa on the front.

Men’s Options:
1.  Unisex- fits regular men’s cut

*Update:  I have had several women say they like the "men's" shirt, so now I have made it available in slim fit too!

** Update April 19, 2010:  All Shirts have been ordered, but stay tuned for fun giveaways and future t-shirt fundraisers!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Were all Americans born in Ohio?

Okay, so perhaps you're wondering about the title of this post.  Well, it's just sarcasm, really.  I mean seriously....how long can it take to get a stinkin' birth certificate in the mail?  I was born in Vermont, and got mine in 3 days.  Wes was born in Ohio, and it's been 3 weeks already since we ordered it.  I called today and they said it would take "a couple more weeks", whatever that means.  She also said she had about 2,000 applications from Florida alone.  I guess everybody born in Ohio goes to Florida at some point or another???

Well, she told me the easiest thing to do was to drive there myself, or to have someone pick it up for me, that it would only take 45 minutes that way.  Fabulous (she says to herself sarcastically, again).  So, anyone out there in adoption land want to drop by 225 Neilston Street in Columbus, OH tomorrow?  I'll send you anything you need.  :)

This is the only thing holding up sending our dossier to Ethiopia.  Ugh.  Well, as usual, I just have to go with the flow, because there is no other option.  :)

Thanks for stopping by my sarcastic gripe for the day.

The End.

p.s.  On a GOOD side note, we just got $2000 for our adoption!  YAAAAYYY!!!  We brought our crappy car by a dealership in South Carolina, and we mentioned that we were going to give all the money from the car to our adoption fund.  Well, I don't know what kind of magic the guy finagled, but between the fact that my dad has bought his last 5 cars from him and the fact that we were giving all the money toward our adoption, he gave us $2000.  THANK GOD!!!