Monday, November 25, 2013

updates, a name & a story about poop

Are you sick and tired of hearing us talk about raising money for the adoption?

Are you rolling your eyes at yet another "fundraising" post?

Yeah, me too!

I promise you my friend, I'm more weary of this "adoption fund raising" than you are.  Trust me.

Here are the facts:
1.  God has given my family a huge and unexplainable (apart from Him) burden for orphans.

2.  God has called Lee to be a pastor and me, a stay-at-home mom.  You do the math on income! :)

3.  The perfect scenario would be for us to have an extra, oh say, $30,000 sitting around so we could completely fund it ourselves.

And here is our prayer:
*That other Christians will heed the command of scripture to care for orphans.  For the Believer, it's not a suggestion, it's a command.  We are the ones to carry the burden for the fatherless.  Not everyone is called to actually adopt, but all Christians are called to do something.  So our prayer is that others will carry the burden with us through finances and prayer.   

So here's an update on where we are with the envelope fundraiser...

The Lord has blessed us in a huge way!!  I cannot begin to tell you how thankful we are for all of you who have claimed an envelope.  We've had 78 of the 150 claimed and that is amazing.  Many of you have taken more than one envelope and others have donated more than what was asked.  It's truly been humbling to see.  

There are still some envelopes out there that have been claimed but haven't been returned, so I can't give you a total yet.  I do know it's over $5,000 and that blows my mind!!

Click here to see details of the fundraiser.  Basically, we're asking you to claim a numbered envelope and then donate the coordinating number.  The numbers are 1-150 so you're guaranteed to not be obligated beyond 150.  Actually, it's lower than that because many have asked for the highest one available.  

We are praying for at least 100 to be claimed so that's just about 22 more!!  Please prayerfully consider claiming one!!

So onto an adoption update:

We will have our home study complete by the 2nd week of December which is a huge relief!  From then, we'll begin working on our dossier.  I'm told this is even more intense than a home study.  I don't know how that's possible, but we'll see!!  (Korea doesn't require one so we didn't experience that with Sam.)

At this point, we're still not sure of a timeline, but here are some things we "know."  (I say "know" because you feel like you never really know anything on this journey!)
*Once all of our paperwork arrives in China (which will probably still be a few months) we'll be waiting 1-5 months for a referral.
*After our referral, we'll be looking at 3-4 months (I think!) until we travel to get him.
*So if you do a little calculation, we'll maybe-possibly-who-really-knows bring our son home at the end of next summer.

And the sweet munchkin already has a name...

Elijah Raith Brown

I get chills seeing it typed out.  I just can not wait to have my quiver full and have my Elijah home in my arms!  Please Lord.

So onto poop...

Really?  Yes.

I must share this story because it's one of my favorites! 

Lee & I began noticing that Sam would not eat brown M & M's.  Just wouldn't do it.  (We used them as treats when he was potty-training.)

He would rather walk away and have none than put a brown one in his mouth.  

This continued for a while and we were completely puzzled by it!

While talking about this one day in front of Ellee, she sheepishly grinned and said...

"I just may have told him that they were poopy..."

That Ellee.  If you know her, then you can see her saying it.  She is truly one of a kind.  Somehow she has her brother fully convinced that brown M & M's are poop.  

We've tried everything to convince him otherwise but he's not buying it.  I gave him a handful yesterday and he ate every one except the brown ones and he threw those in the trash.  

Silly, silly kids.  

And I pray soon that we'll have one more silly kid to add to the bunch!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

encouragement (hopefully!) for the weary mom

I was sitting in an interview with our social worker for the adoption and she began asking those questions you hate to answer...

"Describe yourself in 3 words."

"What's your greatest struggle?"

"How would your friends and family describe you?"

Ugh - I can not stand to answer those kinds of questions!  I mean really...I'm sitting in an office with a lady that has a large amount of control over this adoption process...is that really an environment for which one should feel comfortable airing their dirty laundry?!?

Then she started asking questions that were more manageable...

"How would you describe your family growing up?"

"What is your relationship with your parents like?"

"Describe your mom."

Those I can do.  And after I answered the one about Mom, I began thinking about myself in light of how my mother parented me...

{Side note:  I didn't ask my mom for permission to share this stuff so I hope she's ok with it!  Love you Mom!}
Over the summer, I was down visiting my parents for a few days with my kiddos.  Somehow, my girls stumbled upon some of my old toys, crafts, yearbooks, cheerleading uniforms, and some other treasures from my childhood.  They found all of it stuffed in a trunk in my parents' attic.

My girls laughed and played with those things for hours and I had so much fun watching them enjoy things I enjoyed as a girl.

Later they looked at some old family photos.  They found these tossed into a box in a hutch somewhere.

Here's the reality of how my Mom was when my brother and I were growing up...

She would have never been Pinterest approved.  Never.  Ever.

  • Our snacks never had a theme and our lunch was never color coordinated.  As a matter of fact, I remember eating vienna sausages right out of the can.  What?!?  
  • Our school & craft projects were never dated or tucked neatly away in crates with colored folders.
  • Our birthday parties would've never showed up on Facebook for all to admire.


But here's the reality...

I would argue anyone to my death that I have the BEST MOTHER ever!  I really do.  She's full of love and compassion.  She listens and cares and loves deeply!  I have always been very close to my Mom (both of my parents actually!)  and am proud to call her one of my best friends.

Even as a teenager, she and I never had any major disagreements like so many do.  And...get ready for this one...we never argued a single time while planning my wedding. What?!

I adore my Mom and I have never ever felt slighted because my childhood memories aren't nestled away in a Pinterest-approved type of get up.  And it sure didn't hinder my girls from getting a glimpse into their Mommy's past.

Most moms are super defensive and critical and that's not my point at all, so before you crafty, super organized, Pinterest-perfect Moms get frustrated and go on the defense, hear me out...

I'm the opposite of my mom on most of those things mentioned above.  I really am... and it's kind of funny that I turned out that way!
For fear of sounding boastful,  I won't list specific things I do that Mom didn't do!  Just trust me... we're different!

Here's the truth though...I'm no better at being Mom because I keep color coordinated files of my children's school work.

And she's no better because she didn't.

I genuinely enjoy my label maker and files and big birthday parties -  that's why I do it!  It's fun to me!  Some of you moms don't care a thing about that....and that's ok!  It really is!

I suppose my point is this...

You were knit together by our Creator in a certain way.  Your unique ways play out in the exhausting, overwhelming, guilt-producing world of Mommy-hood!  

So find rest, weary Mom...

The Lord knew what He was doing when He gifted you in certain ways.  And it's ok if your gifts and interests are different than your neighbors, your Facebook friends and your sister-in-law!

It really is ok - this coming from one type of mom that was raised by a completely different type of mom!  


Sunday, November 3, 2013

If I were just a little braver, I'd answer "those" questions...

One day, when I'm feeling brave...the more appropriate word would be BOLD...I may respond to questions and criticisms that are floating around about adoption, why we're doing it, why we chose international as opposed to domestic, why we don't just "pay for it ourselves" and many others...

But the truth is, I'm not ready to jump off that bridge yet! Maybe one day soon...maybe...

The journey of adoption is a tough one my friend, and we continue to ask for you to intercede on our behalf...and on behalf of our sweet baby boy who is waiting in China!

But as we wait and pray and pray and wait, we continue to labor towards making and raising the funds to bring him home.

So onto our second fundraiser...

With the help of my amazing Daddy, we have crafted a few signs and such to sell with all profits - yes, ALL  - 100% - going towards our adoption.  I have created an Etsy store {called For the Love of Orphans} to make the transactions a little easier.  I hope to add items on a regular basis.

Here is the link - https://www.etsy.com/shop/fortheloveoforphans

:: Just a few examples::








There are several ways you can help with this if you are willing...

1.  Obviously - consider purchasing something for yourself or as a gift!  Everything you see is completely customizable in terms of size and color.  Just let me know what you'd like!

2.  Most importantly - please share!!  Share on Facebook, email your friends, PIN SOME OF THE SIGNS on your Pinterest boards.  Anything would be great because the more "traffic"- the more potential for sales.

3.  Become a "follower" of the store! :)

This fundraiser has been particularly difficult for me to launch because I feel so vulnerable with it!  These signs have been hand-crafted and hand-painted by myself (& Dad with some!) and it's been very hard to put those items out there.  It may not make much sense, but it's been a struggle for me.  I guess it's that fear of rejection because it seems so personal.  

But none the less, here we go!!

And a little update...

Our first fundraiser - the envelopes - has been a huge blessing to us!  We've raised quite a bit and we praise the Lord for that!  Here are some numbers we still have available if anyone would like to claim one.  And if you're completely confused about the envelopes, click here for an explanation...

#18
#23
#45
#65
#86
#94
#95
#107
#116
#123
#129
#136

There are others, but these are just a few!

********************

And on another note, I must say Happy 10th Birthday to my first born child!  It's hard to believe that I've been called Mommy for 10 years, but it's true!  This sweet girl is precious to me and such a gift to our family!






:: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow ::

Monday, October 28, 2013

if I must share a room...

...then at least make it fun...

So that's what we tried to do with these little monkeys...

Over the years, I have grown tired of looking at pink and purple in the girls' rooms, so I knew I wanted to go a different route when we moved into our new home last year.  I also knew I wanted them to have either bunk beds, loft beds or something like that.  Their room isn't super tiny, but I wanted to utilize all the floor space I could.  I also wasn't comfortable with them climbing up and down a ladder in middle of night if they got up.  {Overprotective you say??  Maybe...}

So onto the scene comes my sweet Daddy!  He and I began talking about ideas and plans and here's what we came up with...



The girls LOVED it!!  The picture below is blurry because I couldn't get them to sit still long enough to take it after they saw their beds for the first time! (Sam thinks it's pretty neat, too.  We're thinking up ideas for his room once his brother arrives!)
It took a few months to get the room just like we wanted it, but I think we're almost there.



The girls love the space under the beds because it's a "No Mommy Allowed" space.  I told the girls that they were responsible for their "area" and I wouldn't say anything to them about how it looked under there or how messy it got.  I only step in when things start seeping out from under the curtain.  Surprisingly, they don't let it get too out of hand!  But I'm thankful for a curtain that closes when they do.  {The curtains are made from ribbon and flat twin sheets.}  
 

A few signs I painted to add as accents to the room...



It's fun, functional and NOT pink and purple - everyone is HAPPY!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

grace.

grace
/grās/, noun

1.  the free and unmerited favor of God

I couldn't help but chuckle the other day when someone said to me, "Man, you have such amazing faith to be going through this adoption process.  I wish I could trust God like that."

Really?!?


Well, my friend, let me pull back the veil on my unbelief...


There are days when I'm not walking by faith, but fear.  Fear that it's not all going to come together.  Fear that the funds won't be there.  


Fear that our special needs child will require more than I know how to give.  


Fear of the many judgements of those that don't support what we're doing.  Yes, we know y'all are out there...


Fear because we were praying for more envelopes to be claimed.  


Fear that our son won't adjust to our family.  Fear that my 3 precious kiddos won't adjust to him.


Fear that it just won't happen.  


Every day I open the mail with great expectation as the envelopes from our fundraiser have started arriving.  (Side note - I thank God for each of you, by name, that have given!)


Today I opened the mail only to receive a nice bill from when Sam was in the hospital last month.  I was immediately gripped with fear when I saw how much we owed.  I mean seriously, how much did those banana popsicles cost that they fed him all night?!?


Shall I go on or do you get what I'm saying about the constant struggles with fear and doubt?


Yes, I have days when my faith seems so tangible, so real, so strong.  And for those days, I'm thankful.


But on the other days, I have to cling to this truth, even though my emotions and feelings are SO VERY far from it...



God's grace covers my unbelief.  God's grace covers my fears.  God's grace covers my doubt.

I am confessing this because I am asking for you to pray for our family as we journey down this road again.   I believe strongly in being transparent and honest and vulnerable.  So this is me, telling you, that we covet your prayers.  

be still my soul, the Lord is on your side

Sunday, September 15, 2013

this is unbelievable...


I'm super excited about our first fundraiser for the adoption and I really think the result is UNBELIEVABLE!!


This is how it goes..

**WE'RE SIMPLY ASKING YOU TO TAKE AN ENVELOPE**

We have a basket of 150 numbered envelopes (#1-#150)  that we're hoping to be claimed. 

Here's what will happen if you say "YES" to an envelope...

1.  I will send you a self-addressed, stamped envelope with a number on it ranging from 1-150.

2.  You will place the coordinating dollar amount in your envelope and drop it in the mail. (For example, if you get envelope #37, you'd put in a check for $37.00)

3.  The checks will be made payable to our agency, NOT US!! (Bethany Christian Services.)  We are - IN NO WAY- hoping to benefit personally from this, or any fundraiser, we're doing.  ALL the money goes directly to our agency.


SO...how do I get a number??

1.  You can simply say "send me an envelope" and we (probably one of my munchkins) will draw it out of the basket.  It will be totally random but you'll be assured that IT WON'T BE OVER 150.  

2. OR request an range.  For example, tell me to send you an envelope ranging from numbers 10-20 or 50-60 or something like that.  (This has been the most popular way so far.)

3.  OR request a specific envelope number.  

*You can donate the money as an individual or get a group to join you - a sunday school class, small group or friends!

****THE UNBELIEVABLE PART***
***THE AMAZING PART****  

If all 150 envelopes are claimed, we'll raise over $11,000!!!

WHOA!! I find that absolutely crazy!!  My skeptical self did the math a few times because I just couldn't believe it!  But it's true!

So we pray that you'll say YES to an envelope and help MAKE ONE LESS ORPHAN!!

*You can send me a Facebook message

*You can email me - mindybrown25@gmail.com

*You can leave a comment at the end of this post

Please just let us know your mailing address and if you'd like to request a range, a specific number or get a random envelope.  

EVERY SINGLE ENVELOPE MATTERS!!  ALL of them - from #1 all the way to #150 - so please don't hesitate because you need to request a low range of numbers.  

**And please feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that has a heart for adoption and a heart for helping make one less orphan**

thank you, thank you, thank you

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brown...party of 6


"We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes."  -David Platt

To say that "everything changed" would be a ridiculous understatement for our family.  

When we brought our Sam home in March of 2011, we had no idea how our lives would be completely altered.  Wrecked, really.  And in the absolute best way ever.  We had no idea that the passion that burned strong in us to care for orphans would be ignited into a roaring flame.

It's true - we can ignore the orphans of the world.  We can look away from the images.  We can enjoy our comfortable and secure life without a thought, much less a burden, for the "fatherless."

the orphanage in Korea where Sam was
But once you see them.  And once you hold them.  And once you stare at a room full of beds with babies - babies that have probably not been held in days or weeks or even months - everything changes.

And it's safe to say that change came for every member of our family.

Even our sweet girls began to feel the burden of caring for orphans and began asking {over & over} when we could adopt again.  

We knew, almost immediately, that we desperately wanted to travel the road of adoption again, but just didn't know when or how or where.  

And honestly, we still don't know much.

But I do want to fill you in on the very few details we have because so many have asked...

*We have been approved for the China Special Needs Program.  This does mean our child will have some sort of special need or disability. To quote our agency..."The special needs of the children vary from minor, correctable medical issues, such as cleft lip/palate, to more significant, lifelong needs, such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy."  We are a part of the minor special needs program.  

* We are requesting a boy that will be between 6 and 24 months.  Our understanding is that our request should be easily met.  

*The time frame varies depending on how quickly we move.  In a perfect world - ha! - we could bring our son home in 12-14 months. 

These are just a few of the details for now.  However, the only certainties of adoption are the uncertainties!  So we'll continue to walk by faith.

Unfortunately, our biggest mountain will be the same as it was last time - the finances. 

But Lee and I agree with something we've been told recently - adoption is not for the wealthy, it's for the called.  


So we invite you, family and friends, to join us again on this journey.  I ask that you begin praying with us and for us and for our son.  We're excited to see how the Lord works.  


But we are also a little anxious.  And a little nervous.  And a little fearful.

But A LOT HOPEFUL...


"...Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..."

Isaiah 43: 1-3




Saturday, September 7, 2013

saying I'm sorry

Any parenting advice worth its weight (from a book, blog or person) should include these words:

be ready to apologize to your children when you do wrong

That advice, however, can be one of those "easier said than done" kinds of things.  

Saying "I'm sorry" {to your babies or to a friend} is tough stuff because it forces you to not only see your ugly sinful heart, but to then admit it to someone else.  Our pride pushes pretty hard against that.  

And when your kiddos are involved, it can be even more difficult...


There are days when my patience is just non-existent.  I find myself feeling frustrated and aggravated by things that are really just "typical kid behavior." 

Now we're not talking about disobedient behavior here. We're talking "But Mom, I wanted the princess plate and she took it." Or "Mom, but I don't want to wear those shoes (as we're rushing out the door 5 minutes late already)." Or my favorite - "Mommy, I just spilled my juice...again...all over the floor you just mopped."  

Many days I'm able to smile and say "it's ok, accidents happen." But some days I have these crazy expectations that my 3, 7 & 9 year old should be able to function like adults and the end result is me loosing my temper and acting like the wicked step-mother.

And then the "mommy guilt" sets in.  If you are a mom, whether it's to one child or 8 children, whether your babies are 6 months or 26, you know what "mommy guilt" is.  Ugh.

In my short years of parenting, here's what I've come to realize...

Those moments are going to happen!  Go ahead and accept the reality - You. Are. Going. To. Loose. Your. Patience.  

You just are!  Don't get sucked into facebook and blog world by these moms who lead you to believe that every single parenting moment is pure bliss!  It just ain't so...

The "defining" moment is what you do after you realize that you've had one of those ugly spells.  Do you brush it off as just a bad day and assume that your kids aren't affected by your behavior?  Or do you go to them and apologize for your behavior?

Just today, I got frustrated with my Ellee girl while I was braiding her hair.  She is so very particular about every single strand of hair and this morning I just wasn't up to dealing with it.  Now I didn't realize that until I talked to her way more harshly than her behavior actually warranted.  

After she walked out of my room in tears, I was gripped with conviction over how I had treated her.  

I called her back in and told her how sorry I was for the way I had talked to her and asked her for forgiveness.  Of course that sweet child said it was ok and snuggled up to me and melted my heart.  Those big, brown eyes...

Not 10 minutes later, I heard her fussing at her brother for who-knows-what!!!  Sam is very skilled in how to annoy her and get under her 7 year old skin!  After giving him the run around for a minute {or two...or three} there was a long pause.  Then I heard Ellee repeat the words to Sam that she had just heard - "Sam, I'm sorry for talking like that to you.  I shouldn't do that.  Please forgive me."

Wow. 

They are listening.  They are absorbing.  They are mimicking.

Demonstrate humility.  Say I'm sorry.   And ask for grace.

grace, grace, God's grace
grace that will pardon and cleanse within
grace, grace, God's grace
grace that is greater than all our sin

Thursday, August 8, 2013

summer snapshots

Is today already the first day of school for my girls?  Are they really starting 2nd & 4th grade?

Is the summer already over?

And has it honestly been almost 4 months since I sat in front of this screen to update the blog?

Wow...

I'm always emotional on the first day of school. Always.  And although this first day wasn't nearly as bad as last year, I'm still not feeling very creative or catchy right now...

So that's why we're just going to do a photo update...

First, let's finish off the school year from months ago.  Both of the girls did exceptionally well at school and brought home many awards at Honor's Day.  A proud Mamma can brag, right?! {Addie even received the Principal's Award for having the highest GPA for the entire 3rd grade!}

 We enjoyed some vacation time with my parents!  We went to Dollywood, along with doing many other fun things...
...







Ellee has continued dressing Sam up.  Ellee was wishing for a little sister this day, much to Dad's disapproval...

The girls were beautiful flower girls in a wedding...

 We had our annual Brown Family Vacation...





While we were all together, we celebrated this little man's 3rd birthday.  As you may be able to see in the pictures, his obsession with Lightning McQueen continues...


  We enjoyed a few days in Kentucky with sweet friends... 


The kids and I, along with Mimi, my Aunt Joyce and cousin Lacie, survived a 13 hour trip to Arkansas to visit my brother and his family.  It was good to see their home and spend time with them...


{this is Charles, Chad's oldest son}

{and this is Paul, the youngest until January when their new baby arrives!}

  We went home by way of St. Louis, and you can't go to St. Louis without seeing the arch!  We even rode to the top...



Just for fun, here is a glimpse into dinner time around here...

video


My hubby and I celebrated our 12 year anniversary {which is so hard to believe - not because I'm surprised we've made it but because it doesn't seem like it's been that long!}...


*****************

Although the summer wasn't filled with anything too extraordinary, we did enjoy a lot of traveling and a lot of time with family and friends!

Whew, I think that brings us to today.

Here are the girls and their answers to the questions I always ask them on the first day of school.  You can see that the answers haven't changed that much from last year...

{Addie}

{last year's}


{Ellee}
{translation on a "Feven" baby - they have a cousin from Ethiopia named Feven.  The girls really want us to adopt again, but this time they want a "chocolate colored" baby brother!}

{last year's}







Here is what the girls took their teachers this morning.

The tag says "I did 'extra flipz' when I found out you were my teacher!  Happy 1st Day of School!"

It's a bag of Flipz chocolate covered pretzels with a pack of Extra gum attached.

Now I realize how super cheesy it is - Lee gave me that "really, you're going to do that?!" look - but I'm hoping their teachers will see past that and appreciate the thought.  I had to do 5 gifts, so it couldn't be too expensive!


*****************

More to come!!