Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Support Adoption and Project HOPEFUL, AND win some goodies!

Okay, this is another post about our adoption fundraiser.  We are only about 70 shirts away from being fully funded!  Woohoo!  AND, we are giving away two $50 gift cards!  You will get an entry for each shirt you purchase.  So we will have two winners!  Yay!  We sold 30 the first week, so we really need to get crackin' this second and final week of the fundraiser.  (All the T-shirt payment tabs are on the right side of the blog!) But, we are believing for above and beyond that amount.  Do you know why?  Remember how I said we would be donating to a ministry in Ethiopia with anything we made over our needed amount to fully fund our adoption?  Well, we are excited to announce that we are going to be giving everything over the needed amount, to Project HOPEFUL's Hope+ Sisterhood program!!!  If you haven't been over to their website, you need to.  It is an amazing organization whose "mission is to educate, encourage, and enable families and individuals to advocate for and adopt children with HIV/AIDS."  Their Hope+ Sisterhood program "seeks to offer HOPE to HIV+ mothers and to prevent unnecessary loss for their families."  Their website says:

"The HOPE+ program will provide a residential facility for up to 14 women infected with HIV and their children (HIV positive and not positive). Our goal is to rehabilitate them with medical and emotional care, provide job skills training, employment within in our facilities, and even micro-loans to begin their own small businesses so that they can secure a safe and stable future for their families. The children will also receive medical care, clothing, and an education."

How AWESOME is that?!!!  And if you haven't noticed these past couple of weeks, Project HOPEFUL's Twietmeyer family is making quite an impression in the media this week.  They are in a 5-page spread in this week's issue of People Magazine (with Kate Middleton on the cover).  Look, here's proof:
The usual cheesy face I'm so good at, and I'm also wearing my Project Hopeful shirt.
 So come on and let's raise some serious money for an AMAZING cause!  3 months ago, I was still scared of HIV and AIDS.  I knew nothing except for what I had learned way back when when Ryan White was in the news.  I thought it was a death sentence.  Now, because of Carolyn Twietmeyer and Project Hopeful, I know the TRUTH.  You can learn the TRUTH about HIV/AIDS too, right here:

And here's another glimpse at our t-shirts, just for review!
*remember that you will want to order the slim fit shirts 2 sizes bigger than what you usually wear!

Worth It - Africa- Unisex & Slim Fit (Cardinal)

Worth It - Africa- Unisex & Slim Fit (Charcoal)

Closeup of the back of the Africa shirt.
Worth It - Grunge- Unisex & Slim Fit (Charcoal)

Worth It - Grunge- Unisex & Slim Fit (Cardinal)

Worth It - Africa - Hoodie

Worth It - Grunge- Hoodie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2 Week Fund Raiser Blitz! Help bring our Twins home from Ethiopia!

Okay, it's finally here....our very own t-shirt design!  There were many stressful conversations trying to come up with something that truly expressed our hearts.  Who knew a t-shirt design could be so frustrating?!   On road trips and long walks we would talk about what we have gone through and learned this past year.  This adoption process has changed our lives, transformed our hearts, and given us a whole new vision for our future.  It has been hard.  It has been emotional.  It has been trying.  It has hurt.  It has felt amazing.  It has made us cry for joy.  It has taught us about God's faithfulness and provision.  It has blown.  our.  minds.  It has been a journey full of joy and pain all at once.  And as I was sitting at a conference one day, the same phrase kept hitting me over and over again....Worth it.  This process was worth it.  All that joy and pain and everything in between was worth it.  And then came the day when we saw the faces of our little ones for the first time.  Ho-ly cow.  Amazing.  And once again, we knew without a shadow of a doubt, that all these years of waiting to grow our family, it. was. worth it.  Every child is worth it.  Every life is worth it.  About a month ago I asked my adoption buddies to share some words they would use to describe the adoption process, and that is what you will find on the back of the first shirt design...not only our own description of the adoption process, but also that of many other adoptive families.

So without further ado, we want to present you with our adoption t-shirts!  We are going to be selling them for the next 2 weeks in order to raise the last portion of funds for our adoption.  We only have $3,000 left to raise, and then we will be fully funded!  Woohoo!!!  Can you believe it?!  We only need to sell about 130 shirts in order to bring that in!  Amazing!  I know we can do it together!   So please feel free to post about this on your Twitter accounts and Facebook walls.  We can use all the help we can get!  100% of ALL profits will go toward our adoption, and if we end up going over the needed amount, we will donate that to ministries in Ethiopia.  Wouldn't that be amazing to go over?! 

They are super soft Tultex shirts, and we are selling the t-shirts in both unisex and slim fit.  There are two different designs to choose from.  One has the continent of Africa on the front and back.  The other has just the front design, which is a cool grungy design with just the words, Worth It.  The wonderful Karen Billings of Karen Billings Design, designed both shirts.  She took our concepts and brought them to life!  We highly recommend her!
Keep in mind that you will probably want to purchase the slim fit about 2 sizes larger than what you regularly wear. (I wear a  medium in the unisex and an XL in the slim fit).  

Oh, and did I mention we are also selling sweatshirts?!  Yeah...they are crazy awesome!  I am so excited about them!  They are also really cozy soft, and a great buy for the winter season.

All Payment tabs are in the right hand column of this blog.

Happy shopping everyone.  Spread the word!!!

*All prices include shipping.  
Worth It - Africa- Unisex & Slim Fit (Cardinal)

Worth It - Africa- Unisex & Slim Fit (Charcoal)

Closeup of the back of the Africa shirt.
Worth It - Grunge- Unisex & Slim Fit (Charcoal)

Worth It - Grunge- Unisex & Slim Fit (Cardinal)

Worth It - Africa - Hoodie

Worth It - Grunge- Hoodie

*A very kind person has offered to help us with these shirts to reduce our initial costs, so we can't guarantee an exact arrival date, but we are going to do our best to get these done and sent out by Christmas.  We hope you will be patient with us!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The things that tide us over....

So everyone who has a referral (or has already gone through this before), knows what a HUGE blessing it is when people can go see your babies and take gifts to them for you.  It is simply amazing.  Whenever you feel like they aren't real...like this is all a wonderful dream...this makes them real again.  A wonderful woman who has been working in Ethiopia for the last month or two, agreed to take a couple of items over to the twins for us when she got a chance.  Well this past week, she got a chance.  This is what she wrote me the other day:
"I have seen and hugged on your beautiful babies.  Finally got to the orphanage... its the one with the orange door.. the owner/director (2 men) happened to be there when we finally were allowed in...after some talking with Berhano, and then to me, they both said go right on in and we got to go inot the room where your angels are.... so cute laying there in their little cribs. the nanny brought me your little boy first, he greeted me with a big ole smile.... so much hair... talked with him and cuddled him for a bit before handing him to berhano who also hugged and talked to him in amharic.. then got a hold of your little girl.. what a sweetie.. smiles too and very intrested in my nose... at first I couldn't see that they were twins, until I layed them together in their crib.. then I saw the remsemblence.... so sweet.. our visit was short and sweet and I gave the nannies the clothes you sent.. a perfect fit... Your babies are perfect and beautiful and wonderful... such a blessing to be able to hold them and hug and love on them..
thanks for letting me be a tiny part of yur journey...they are simpy beautiful."
Ah, be still my heart!  I loved the details about their smiles, and all of Alex's hair, and Eliana grabbing hold of her nose....  So so real.  So wonderful.   I love imagining that Ethiopian man speaking to them in Amharic.  That just strikes me as the most beautiful picture, for some reason.  I love hearing how they are starting to look different.  When we first got the referral, and were given seven pictures of each of them, I couldn't tell the difference.  I finally had to write their names on the back of the pictures so I would know!  Now they are starting to look unique and different.  I love it!  

Oh, how I long for the day when we get to hold them in our arms.  It's coming soon.  Can't wait.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Worth It...

We are about to kick off one of our last big fund raisers before we leave for Ethiopia in January.  We are going to be selling t-shirts, and the theme of our t-shirts is, "Worth it."  But before we do that (We should be kicking it off tomorrow!), I wanted to share a little bit of my heart when it comes to adoption and the story of every Christian's salvation.

I have heard so many people talk about adoption like it is some kind of cause.  Well, it's not.  It is not a trend.  It is not what's hot right now.  Simply put, it is the heart of God.  Many of us think about how adoption will affect ourselves and our families.  We wonder if we will be able to handle any difficulties that will come our way.  We don't know if we are willing to take on the baggage and difficulties that might come with an older child.  We don't know if we want to take the risk of adopting a baby with so many unknowns.  It is scary, and there are no guarantees that everything will be okay. 

Every time I think about these things.  Every time I am scared of the road ahead, God gently reminds me of my own adoption story.  He reminds me that once upon a time, I was lost.  I was carrying tons of baggage.  I was sick with sin.  There was no guarantee I would ever get better.  There was no guarantee that I would ever love Him with everything within me.  There was no guarantee that I would be a "good" child, that obeyed Him and sought hard after Him.  There was no guarantee that I wouldn't run away and leave Him.  And yet, without one single guarantee, and with all my junk, He adopted me anyways.  He took me in.  When I left my old life to be with Him, He made me a part of His family.  He didn't love me any less than His other children.  He gave me an inheritance.  He gave me every bit of His love that I could handle.  And that love He gave me was unconditional.  It was amazing.  It was life-changing.

And here I am today, a child of God.  I have a permanent home, and a Father who will never fail me.  I have failed so many times.  I have walked away from Him more than I would like to admit.  I have messed up, yelled at Him, rejected Him, and run from Him.  But in the end, I have always run back to Him, and He has always been standing there waiting with open arms.  On the nights when I felt so much sorrow that I could hardly breathe, He has embraced me and held me tight.  He has wept with me.  He has rejoiced over me.  He has loved me. 

What an amazing thing it is to be able to see this paralleled in the physical act of adoption here on earth.  We adopt children who have come from all kinds of backgrounds and who have no guarantees, not because it is going to make us feel good or fulfill our need for a family (although this very often happens!), but because it is the heart of God.  It is a beautiful reflection of our own adoption story. 

It is not about us.  It is about Him.  We were not put on this earth to feel good and have comfortable lives.  We were put on this earth to live life for God, to glorify His name, to share the truth of the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ.  And even though I so desperately want to be comfortable and live an easy life, I want to live for Jesus more.  And living for Jesus costs something.  Most of the time it costs us our comfort.  Sometimes it costs us our lives.  Isn't it funny that some of the things that are most important to God's heart, are some of the things that are most difficult for Christians walk out?  i.e.  Sharing our faith with others, Adoption, Giving time or money to those in need.

James 1:27 tells us that pure religion is caring for widows and orphans.  It doesn't get much plainer than that.  And yet, somehow that simple truth has alluded me for nearly 31 years.  It has alluded so many of us.  That doesn't mean that all of us have to adopt.  It does mean that all of us should be caring for the widows and orphans in some manner.  Are you doing this?  How are you doing this?  And if you aren't, what is keeping you from it?  Money?  Time?  Have you talked to God about it?  Have you asked Him what part you play in this "pure religion"?  If you haven't, you should.  This is serious stuff, people.  And it is serious to the heart of God.  I'm not here to judge your actions/heart or lack thereof.  Only God can truly do that.  But today I am here to challenge you.  I am here to challenge myself.  God has given me so much grace and has been so patient with me.  I can't believe I went so many years and never truly cared.  How could I not care?  Perhaps no one got in my face and told me the truth, because they didn't want to offend me or make me feel uncomfortable.  Perhaps I just wasn't paying attention, and was too wrapped up in my own problems to be able to see that this life is not about me.  Whatever it was, a shift happened this year.  God has made some drastic changes in my life and in my heart, and for the first time I feel like I can truly see.  I am truly beginning to understand the significance of my own salvation.  

I'm going to leave you with one final thought.  For all the discomfort that comes with a life lived for God...For all the discomfort that comes with sharing my faith with someone who may possibly reject the Truth...For all the discomfort that comes from deciding to sacrifice money or time or lives for the the poor, the needy, the widow, the orphan... IT.  IS.  WORTH.  IT.

It is worth it because God gave everything for my life.  He gave everything that I might be saved.  He gave everything that I might have the chance to spend an eternity with Him.  He looked at me....He looked at all of us....and He gave His only son, because He knew that WE WERE WORTH IT.  In the same way, as Wes and I walk this road of adoption, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that every tear, every heartache, every bump, every phone call, every penny, every roadblock, every rejection....it is all worth it.  Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God!  You looked at us and you said, "Worth it."  In the same way, we can look at our little miracles in Ethiopia and we can say, "Worth it."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Conan in India and things that make you smile....

 Okay, so sometimes it's just fun to post about fun things.  You know?  This has nothing to do with adoption.  This has nothing to do with anything of value really.  Well, unless you consider Conan and American Express to be vital parts of your daily lives.  Well, okay....maybe you do.  I mean, who doesn't love Conan?  On the other hand, I'm not going to be an advocate for American Express, because that would mean I was an advocate for debt and well....I hate debt.  (I know credit card doesn't equal debt, but come on....let's be real....most people are in over their heads with credit card debt.)

Anyways, I saw this commercial a couple of weeks ago, and it cracks me up.  I love it when Conan licks the silk to test it's perfection, and also when he does the classic "call me" signal to an old lady in the street.  And well....I love India, so that helps too. 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Toyota and "Lame" Parents...

Okay, so most of you have probably seen these commercials by now.  They feature this seriously cute kid who is the latest spokeschildperson for the Toyota Highlander.  But this kid being cute is about the only positive thing I can say about the commercials.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty much appalled by Toyota's latest attempt to sell a very expensive vehicle ($28,000-$43,000).  I'm not reviewing the Highlander here.  I could honestly care less about it.  It seems like a nice ride, but that's about all I have to say about it.

What really gets me here is the fact that this child is walking around talking about how lame his parents are because they own an old minivan (yes, he actually uses the word "lame").  He talks about how embarrassing it is to be seen with them in that van.


What kind of message is Toyota sending to kids in this country?  I know I shouldn't be surprised, considering the materialistic nature of our culture as a whole, but still....a commercial series that basically tells kids they should be embarrassed if their parents don't have a brand new shiny SUV like the Highlander?  Ugh.

Wes gets so mad each time the commercial comes on, and says he "can't stand that kid!"  I gently remind him that this kid is just an actor, and unfortunately it's a bunch of grownups that are spreading the word that having anything less than new is lame.

I think of all the amazing parents out there, who pour out love and grace over their children.  I think of all the parents who sell their newer cars, move into cheaper houses, work extra jobs, just so they can adopt a child, and give them a home and family, and a loving and fulfilling life they may not have had otherwise.  They may drive old vans, and have less cool technology, but they are anything but lame.

I'm sure I could go on and on, but I won't.  I wish I could do a commercial series about the importance of family and eternal things.  I would have the kid talk about how amazing his parents are, and how he'd much rather have a loving family, than an expensive car or gadget.  Do you think it would do well?  ;)

Toyota.  Today, you get a "Fail."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Showered with Love...

I've written many times about the years we have spent trying to start a family.  Throughout these past few years, I have been to many baby showers.  I have watched friend after friend have babies.  I have been happy every time.  But I have to admit, I always wondered what it would be like to be the one playing all the crazy baby games and opening all the presents, with all her dearest friends cheering on.  Yesterday, I didn't have to wonder anymore.  Yesterday, my sweet friends threw the most wonderful shower I could ever have asked for.  They put thought into every detail, from the invitations, to the food and desert, to the little chinese candy boxes, with pictures of Alex & Eliana on each one.  It was simply wonderful.  They have kept everything but the date and location a secret for the past month or so, and it was well worth it.  Thank you to Aimee, Lisa, Angela, Mamma and everyone else who helped make our shower the most beautiful and meaningful shower ever.  I love you all so much! (and also a special little thank you to my friend, Susannah Galan, who took pictures throughout the shower for me....she is another wonderful photographer with Alumbra Photography)

Traditional Norwegian Cake.  Delicious!  Like all the flags?

Africa sugar cookies.  Thank you, Erica, for selling these great cookie cutters!

This game will always beat me.  I didn't even attempt this one.  

My mom and dad, and friend, Clarice.
Photo by Susannah Galan

Cara & Lindsay win prizes simply for being born in November.
Photo by Susannah Galan

We had a little competition to see who could change the baby's diaper, feed them, and pack up a diaper bag the quickest...
Photo by Susannah Galan

Yeah, there was some kind of nasty brown goo on their little tushies...
Photo by Susannah Galan

Wes is a big cheater, and plays dirty....that's baby powder he tossed on my dress...But alas, he was the clear winner.  He calmly changed the diaper, got the formula ready, swaddled the baby, and packed the diaper bag well.  Me???  Well, the baby got stuffed into the diaper bag with the rest of the few items I managed to get in the bag.  Is it not okay to put a baby in a diaper bag???
Photo by Susannah Galan

Many of you have seen our "Musings from the Car" videos...They made us do one as Alex & Eliana in the back seat of the car.  We are complete dorks.
Photo by Susannah Galan

This is one of the many gifts we received.  Sweet M's is an awesome business that helps support families that are adopting!  Check out their beautiful children's items.  They have great prices, and everything is GORGEOUS!  I LOVE our bibs!
Photo by Susannah Galan

I'm so happy.
Photo by Susannah Galan

He is so darn cute.
Photo by Susannah Galan

That's my, "Look how cute!" face.
Photo by Susannah Galan

Many of the awesome gifts our amazing friends gave to us.

One of the several BEAUTIFUL sweaters my mom made.  This one is for Eliana.  Isn't it AWESOME?!!!

The happy parents-to-be!
Photos of Wes and I, by my Mamma, Ia Williams, with a little help from her daughter

I love this man and all of his funny faces.

7 years married, and marriage is so much sweeter now.

Thank you again to everyone who made this such a special event for us.  We will never forget it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Court Date....Finally.

So yesterday I am sitting at my desk as I realize yet another day has passed with no news of a court date.  They usually get it first thing in the morning since Ethiopia is 7 hours ahead of us.  Seriously, I felt like I was going to lose it.  It would be one thing if they had told us, "Hey, it's going to be a month before we know a court date."  If they had said that, it would've sucked, but we wouldn't be disappointed and hurting every weekday morning when they told us there was no court date yet.  Unfortunately, our agency and our staff in Ethiopia had no way of knowing it would take this long for our paperwork to be processed and a court date set.  So yesterday I literally had a begging session with God, banging my fist against the wall, "God please please please please.  God please please please.  I can't take any more of this.  I need something.  Anything."  I finally laid down on the couch around 11am to try and sleep an hour of the day away without having to think about this lousy date.  Well, at 11:35am, I got a call from our agency.  She had a court date!  I couldn't believe it.  Well, it was bittersweet when she shared the news, because we were assigned a court date of January 18th.  Yeah.  About 2 months later than what we were hoping for.  I cried.  I couldn't believe we would have to wait that long to be with our babies.  I couldn't believe it.  But at the same time, I was truly happy to have an actual court date.  I called Wes, and as I cried, he was Mr. Positive, and told me all the great things that would come as a result of us waiting 2 more months.  I secretly think Kari Gibson over at mycrazyadoption.com has been praying we would get a late court date...when I told her about the referral of our twins 2 months ago, she said, "Oh Nina!  Wouldn't it be amazing if you were in Ethiopia at the same time as we're there on our missions trip?!"  I said, "Kari, I better NOT be in Ethiopia then because that means it's going to be a LONG time until we get to see our babies!"  Again, who knows what God has in store?  ;)  Oh, and for those of you who know about Kari's big trip to Ethiopia, you know it's in the end of February, so you might be doing the math, wondering how we are going to be there at the same time if our court date is a month earlier....yeah....I failed to mention that Wes and I have decided to stay in Ethiopia from our court to embassy date!  So that means we could be there from 4-8 weeks!  Through an amazing set of circumstances, God has made a way for us to do this practically and financially.  So needless to say, we are kind of crazy excited about getting to spend so much time in Addis Ababa.  It's going to be amazing!

Well, I will leave you with yet another "Musings from the car with Wes and Nina" segment.  I know you missed seeing our awesome videos, so here you go....