Piecing Together Abigail Lynne's referral fee...we're halfway there!!

What an amazing couple of days it has been! Wednesday we accepted a referral and posted all about it here. Today is Friday, and we're already halfway to our referral fee goal!!

$4498 raised. 220 puzzle pieces sold.

When we realize how much God has done in less than 48 hours, we are blown away. Those of you who are reposting on your blogs and facebook and twitter--thank you so much. You are helping spread the word and that is the first step! My sitemeter told me I had almost 1,000 page views on Wednesday!! This little blog has never seen anything like that, and it's just a testimony to your efforts to let people know about our story and this need. Thank you thank you!! It is a vital part of helping us right now!

Those of you buying puzzle pieces (and this is all of you buying t-shirts as well--because your name will go on a piece, too!)--I have declared you as our "Special Forces unit"! When the heat is on and the odds are stacked high, you send in the best...(Joe would say the Marines, but I thought special forces had a nice ring to it! : ))...and that is you!! You are Abby's rescue team! You are helping to bring our daughter home--in fact, we couldn't do it without you--and this momma can't find words to express how much that means to us. You will forever be a part of Abby Lynne's story, memorialized on her puzzle, and remembered for your sacrifice and support for our family during this critical phase.


So we are halfway there! But we still have the other half to go!

$3802 left to raise. 280 puzzle pieces left to sell.

I'm going to list again how you can participate:
  • Use the PayPal link to the right to donate any amount (Scroll back up & click the little image of the puzzle or the donate button...either way should work. **I have heard some are having problems with the link--I'm not sure why. So sorry--it's so frustrating! I can't figure out why it is working for some and not others. You can still donate through paypal, just designate my email: walserhome at tampabay dot rr dot com.)
  • You may make a tax deductible contribution through our LifeBridge Church adoption fund. Make checks payable to "LifeBridge Church", attach a note that it is for Abby's Referral Fee, and mail it to: LifeBridge Church, P.O. Box 520, Largo, FL, 33779
  • Shirts are still available, and 100% goes towards the referral fee! All the shirt details can be found here.
  • "Hannah" and "Danielle" tu-tu's are available at Kathryn's etsy shop, and from now until Aug 6th, she is giving 100% of her profits toward our referral fee!!! (Thank you, Kathryn!)
Remember, for every $20 donated, we will write your name on the back of a puzzle piece, and Abby will forever know the loved ones who helped bring her home.

Also, you can help by spreading the word. If you would like you can cut and paste this message on Facebook:
"Help piece together Abby's referral fee! The Walsers have 7 days to raise $8200~it's as simple as $20 for a puzzle piece! Be a part of bringing her home to her forever family! Go to www.lovewithabandon.com and donate today!"
I'll leave you with the image of our puzzle...so far. Thank you again for all you are doing for little Abby and for our family---we are eternally grateful!


"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

Uh...a short wait//IT'S A GIRL!!//We have $8300 to raise...FAST!!

So I promised you an update, I just didn't realize what the nature of it would be!

WE HAVE A REFERRAL!!!

As you know from our last post, we were placed on our agency's waiting list on Friday (the 23rd). We did not know how long it would take us to get a referral, but we figured it would happen fairly quickly. We just didn't realize how quickly!

We knew there was a healthy little 4 year old girl on the list of waiting children. She had been placed on that list because of her age, as there were no families waiting for a child over 3 yrs old. We saw her when she was placed on the list last month, and have waited to see if the Lord would move another family to change their age range and ask about her. We did not want to do anything ourselves until our paperwork was done and we were in a place to really do something. We trusted the Lord would place her right where He wanted her.


Well, when Friday came, and she was still on the list, we officially requested her file. And today, after much prayer, we let our agency know that we would like to adopt this precious little girl.

Her name will be...Abigail Lynne

Abby has been at the House of Hope since April, so several families who have traveled for their adoptions have met her, loved on her, and have been praying for her family. This fact alone brings tears to my eyes, and their loving words about her have given us a glimpse into the heart and personality of this special little girl that will become a part of our family. We are not able to post any pictures of her yet, but I can assure you, she is beautiful and precious, and her smile lights up her face.

So exciting, right?! As for timing, right now it seems we will travel for our first trip around the end of Oct, or early Nov, and then our second trip will be 6 weeks after that. There is a chance Abby will be home by Christmas...but probably no later than January of next year.

THE WORK AHEAD: Piecing Together Abby's Referral Fee

So here's what's next. We have a referral fee of $8300 due immediately (deadline of Friday, August 6th). We knew our process might go quickly, but we had no idea it would be this fast. We are currently being considered for several grants, two of which said we would be notified by the end of August. We had hoped these grants might be God's provision for the majority of our referral fee. However, our referral fee is due immediately and our agency cannot wait to see if we may or may not receive a grant. So we have to come up with the funds another way, and if the grants come in, they can be applied to other costs down the road.

So we are asking you to join with us and help us bring Abby Lynne home!! We are going to use a great idea some of our friends have been using for their fundraising, and piece together a puzzle as folks contribute towards our referral fee. Each piece will be $20, and we will write the name of each person who buys a piece (or pieces) on the back of the piece, and eventually frame the puzzle in a double glass frame. It will be a constant reminder, to hang on our wall, of those who came together to help bring Abby home. Below is the image of the puzzle we are putting together:

the White Umbrella by Sylvia Walker


500 pieces @ $20 a piece= $10,000 raised
(if fully completed)

You can contribute towards our referral fee in a few different ways ways:
  • Use the PayPal link to the right to donate any amount (Scroll back up & click the little image of the puzzle or the donate button...either way should work. **I have heard some are having problems with the link--I'm not sure why. So sorry--it's so frustrating! I can't figure out why it is working for some and not others. You can still donate through paypal, just designate my email: walserhome at tampabay dot rr dot com.)
  • You may make a tax deductible contribution through our LifeBridge Church adoption fund. Make checks payable to "LifeBridge Church", attach a note that it is for Abby's Referral Fee, and mail it to: LifeBridge Church, P.O. Box 520, Largo, FL, 33779
  • Shirts are still available, and 100% goes towards the referral fee! All the shirt details can be found here.
  • "Hannah" and "Danielle" tu-tu's are available at Kathryn's etsy shop, and from now until Aug 6th, she is giving 100% of her profits toward our referral fee!!! (Thank you, Kathryn!)
For every $20 donated, we will write your name on the back of a puzzle piece, and Abby will forever know the loved ones who helped bring her home.

We have exactly 7 days, friends. We would be grateful if you would help spread the word by posting on your blogs or on facebook or twitter.
(If you post, please leave a comment & let us know so that we can thank you!)

If you would like you can cut and paste this message on Facebook:
"Help piece together Abby's referral fee! The Walsers have 7 days to raise $8200~it's as simple as $20 for a puzzle piece! Be a part of bringing her home to her forever family! Go to www.lovewithabandon.com and donate today!"

This is a huge task ahead. It is alot to raise in a short period of time. But we believe that nothing is impossible with God, and it is His hurdle to jump, His sea to part, His mountain to move. We believe He has asked us to adopt this little girl who needs a family, even though we do not have the means, and we will trust Him to provide.

Thank you for all of your love and support and prayers! We are truly grateful! Let's watch and see what God can do in 7 days!!

The wait (officially) begins

It is official...as of today, we are a waiting family. On the waiting list. Somewhat surreal.

I have an update I'll post next week, on what the next steps are, where we are with our fundraising, etc, etc... But let's pause before we hurry there.

I am in Minneapolis at a business convention this weekend, with not alot of spare time, so I won't go on and on tonight.

But in a moment of transparency, I will give you a glimpse of my jumbled reaction/thoughts/feelings...

It has been a long year. I can't believe it took this long. I can't believe it went so fast.

Right now, I think I'm just existing in that place right on the verge of tears.

I'm surrounded by people, most of whom are only casually (if at all) interested in my adoption, and I feel like I want to burst with the big news I'm carrying. (Thank God for Facebook, the means by which community follows you wherever you go!)

God has given me one special friend here, who was with me when I found out, who gets how big of a deal this is to me, who's eyes filled with tears when she heard my news, and even more so when knew she was officially the first to hear it.

My husband is back home celebrating with my girls and googling potential names. My boys are with friends and don't even know yet.

I think, when I finally see Joe, I might just break down.

It's joy. It's relief. It's fatigue. It's hope.

For a year, it's been a paper chase. I've known a child waits at the end of it, but most days, I've been lost in cloud of notaries and background checks and references and authentications. Paper.

But today, I feel the tangible love and longing for my child. I hear a heartbeat. I feel a kick. I feel a life, growing. And I sense our meeting is just around the corner.
Hang on, Baby. Mommy and Daddy love you. We will not leave you as an orphan...we are coming for you.

Rescuing Girls from the Sex Slave Industry in India

Some things are just not right. When you hear about injustice, and especially this kind, it should stir up a righteous anger and a holy discontent. IT IS NOT RIGHT.

A friend of mine, Brandi, has asked for help spreading the word about an effort to rescue girls from the sex trade in India. A team is in place and ready to execute a rescue operation.

Go here, to Tom Davis' site, to read more about how you can be involved.

Thinking of Korah today


I read a post today from a gal I've never met, who just spent time with the beautiful people of Korah that Nathan, Hannah, and I met back in January. So many things impacted us during our mission trip to Ethiopia, but few left as indelible of a mark as Korah.

I have to admit, as horrible and sad as the situation in Korah is, this post gave me hope. I see what the Lord is already doing in the short time since we were there, and I have hope that the gospel will continue to redeem and impact a community for His glory.

Go read about her experience here.

We can help. It's as simple as providing these kids with a way out of the dump. School and all living expenses (EVERYTHING they need from food to clothing to books) for one child is only $700 a year! Divide that by 12 months, and that ain't much. So little making so much of a difference.

For more information on sponsorship through Sumer's ministry, Project 61, visit their website at www.p61.org.

Join me today in praying for my friend Sammy, for Sumer and her ministry, and for the children of Korah.

(You can also read my post @ Korah here, or read Hannah's thoughts & watch the video here.)

Loving orphans with abandon//thinking outside of the box

I wanted to tell you guys about two of my friends who, in my opinion, are living out the gospel in unique but beautiful ways.

BARBARA

(me and Mrs. B)

"Friend" is not a strong enough word to describe who Barbara is to me...and not only to me but to my husband and my kids as well. She and her husband Larry left their home and community in New Jersey to move to Florida to plant LifeBridge Church with us. They were determined to not spend their "golden years" just rocking on a front porch, playing golf, or traveling in an RV. They value Kingdom work above and beyond how many folks spend their retirement, recreating and relaxing. I have never met two people who work harder, sacrifice more, and serve more wholeheartedly that the Hoffmans. We are blessed to call them our family.

Barbara has started a blog, because even though she doesn't feel they are called to adopt (yet! haha), she doesn't want to miss an opportunity to speak up on behalf of orphans and stand in the gap for families, like ours, who are adopting. Go stop by her blog and say hello, and be encouraged by her example of loving orphans, not matter what your stage of life. (Oh, and if I were you, I'd go ahead and become a follower. This is a godly women, full of wisdom, and I for one don't want to miss any of her posts.)


WHITNEY

(Whitney, her son Javen, myself, & Erica)

Whitney and I met a year or so ago. She and her husband Scott live not too far from us, in Tampa. They have a one-year-old, Javen, and are in the process of adopting two baby boys from Rwanda. So awesome! But what always amazes me about this couple is their constant desire to give up more of themselves on behalf of orphans. They have been a big brother/sister mentoring couple for years. And Whitney explained to me not long ago, I know we are suppose to adopt, and we know there is a wait involved in that process. But we just don't feel like we should spend that waiting time just sitting around! So...while working through their adoption paperwork...they got approved to be foster parents. They are using this time, while they wait for their boys from Africa, to love on babies here in this country who need a home. The currently have a baby boy with them. I encourage you to go read her latest post, and hear the honesty in dealing with the challenges they have invited into their lives. And then to see her sweet response as she allows scripture to change her heart... Awesome.

So many people say, I'm not called to adopt, but then wonder how they can be a part of demonstrating the gospel through loving orphans. One of the reasons I named this blog & designed my t-shirts the way I did, "Love with abandon...love an orphan.", is because I didn't want to make it only about adoption. Sure, it is a beautiful way to demonstrate the gospel to orphans, and it is certainly what God has called the Walsers to do...but it is not the only way. Loving orphans can take many shapes and forms, and there is always a way for each of us, personally, to be involved.

These two ladies motivate me. They make me want to ask: What else, Lord? What more can I do for You, my King? How else can I "spend" myself on behalf of the least? Like them, I want to think outside the box, never limiting what God can do through "clay pots" like Barbara, like Whitney, like me. Though simply the vessels, we all have the potential to be the very means by which God reveals Himself to the world. Amazing.

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness", made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." ~2 Corinthians 4:5-7

"Fun never was part of the deal."

We say this all the time in our home. (I think it's a movie quote, but heck if I know what movie. My husband has all kinds of quirky one-liners I've embraced as my own with no concept of the actual origin of the saying...probably dangerous on my part, but anyhoo...)

"Fun never was part of the deal." Usually we are saying it to our kids, in the midst of whining or complaining about a task or situation, as we remind them we never promised them a rose garden. (See, I did it again...that one's a song, right?...)

While adoption and the whole process of adopting is chock full of blessing, I can't really say "fun" is the word that comes to mind for me when I think about the last 10 months. It has been grueling at times, testing my perseverance and my trust, as well as my sanity.


Lately, that testing has come in the form of delays. With our paperwork. Not to bore you, but more for fun*--so one day I can look back and read this and remember with clarity the hurdles we faced--here's a list:

  • Miscommunication with our home study agency delayed our process there for a good two months
  • Lack of fundamental math skills on my part resulted in a miscalculation of monies due for our FBI clearances, resulting in delay...resent with credit card info...in the 2 weeks that took for them to process that, my credit card was canceled due to an attempted fraudulent charge...delay again...
  • My I600A application was denied because a statement in my home study needed to be modified---very particular, nuanced wording had to be adjusted...DELAY. Fixed and resent...
  • My dossier docs, when sent to the capital of Florida to be authenticated, were rejected because of improper notaries on documents that had been checked and double checked. DELAY. They got returned to me on a 4-day holiday weekend, the day after which my husband was flying to San Diego--leaving us one hour on this past Tuesday morning to redo these documents before taking him to the airport. Resent and scheduled to arrive back to me today...
(*Maybe fun IS part of the deal, after all! : ))

Because we are soooo close, these delays are excruciatingly painful. The last one--the dossier docs--that one was a blow. I lost it. I had tears and pent up frustration that overflowed in a wave like a dam had broken. I knew it wasn't a
huge deal. I knew some people face way more difficult delays than we have. I knew some of my mistakes and holdups would help my friends who are adopting avoid the same delays...but, frankly, that did not make me feel any better. I was sick of being the guinea pig who couldn't seem to do anything right the first time!

I am ready to have this paperwork phase behind me. But apparently, God is not. In His timing, in His way, He has sovereignly overseen this whole process, and ultimately, I know it is He who is making me wait. Asking me to trust. Developing character and patience (that I apparently do not already possess) in me. And accomplishing exactly what He has purposed for our adoption. It is His work to complete.

We did not choose to adopt because we thought it would be FUN or easy. We chose to adopt because we were called to do so. Because we want to be a family to a child who does not have one. Because this is the heart of the message the gospel, and we wanted to reflect that. And also because, deep down, we know that walking a path of trust and obedience leads to great joy and fulfillment as we go deeper with Jesus...and we long for that.


And, this week, I am reminded that the hard part of adoption doesn't end when your child is home. If anything, it intensifies.Three awesome posts I read really hit home with me as I mentally prepare for what is ahead: Please read these and anticipate with me what is to come. I confess to you: I feel inadequate and ill-prepared, not only for today's struggles but also for what lies ahead. I am praying (and would you pray with me?) that these minor tests will equip me for the days and months and even years ahead, where I'm sure there will be times that I will cling to My Savior for strength just to make it through the day. My hope is in Him alone--not in the competency or accuracy of human beings, including myself. There is no way to know how to be ready for all that I will face, except to trust in Him and Him alone. This is HIS process, in me and through me, and I am along for the ride. And the goal, ultimately, is His glory magnified through it all.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 1 Corinthians 4:17
Pressing on in faith,
Rachel

Proud to be an American?


I grew up proud to be an American. Proud of our founding fathers, proud of our style of government, proud of our freedom and prosperity. I grew up in a church where military men & women were treated like rockstars and where we sang patriotic songs as much as we sang hymns.

I do not know that I would say anymore that I am PROUD to be an American. Before you stop reading, hear me out.

I am a patriot: I love so much about America. I am the daughter of an Airman and am married to a former Marine. I love hamburgers and apple pie, our mountains and our beaches, our diversity and our value of education, our art, our literature, our music...I could go on and on. And there is much that I enjoy as far as physical freedom and opportunity that is courtesy of my citizenship in this country. A country where men and women have fought and died to protect the principles of democracy, liberty, and peace. I do not take that sacrifice lightly. I am grateful. I love being American.

But am I
proud? How can I be proud of something I do not deserve? Frankly, how can we as a country, be proud of things we do not deserve?

Ultimately, our freedom is a gift. Many people & nations fight for freedom, and never get it. Why do we Americans get to blessed with it when others do not? Why do we enjoy the privileges we do?---Because we're better? smarter? more deserving because we work harder or have greater ideals? or--
an even more sickening thought--because we are a Christian nation? Are we--a Christian nation?? Is this what you believe?

Because I look at my nation some days, and I weep. I weep that we have rebelled and turned our backs on God. And do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about rebellion in the form of abortion, lack of prayer in school, or homosexual marriages. I am talking about our idolatry in all forms: our love of our stuff, our pursuit of the American dream and our belief that we deserve a life of comfort, prosperity, and self fulfillment--however that manifests itself. We are far from deserving of His grace and protection, as individuals or as a nation. This country provides me with a justified pursuit of my own selfish desires, under the guise of capitalism and an American work ethic. I get to be self-centered and be declared to be living "the American dream". While I agree our democracy and ideals are beneficial to me, they are far from godly.

There is only one godly nation. It is a monarchy. It is invisible-- but it's Ruler is no less real and it's subjects no less obligated to submission to His rule. This nation spans the globe, and being a citizen has nothing to do with where you were born or what advantages you enjoy. This nation does not propose that every man has the inalienable right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. Instead, it offers death to self, a life of servitude, and no guarantee of safety or prosperity. This, THIS nation, is where my allegiance lies.


I believe a sovereign God sits on a throne, and for whatever reason (namely, His glory), He has chosen to pour wealth and prosperity and freedom on America. I wonder...but for how long, Lord? How long will you withhold the judgment that is due us, a people who have bowed to other idols and worship created things instead of their Creator? Our freedoms and wealth are gifts from a sovereign God, who--I believe--would whisper to us, that to whom much is given, much is required.

Somewhere across the ocean is a child who was not born in this country. Not born into the same benefit and opportunity and prosperity that my four biological children enjoy. This child has known poverty and need, probably loss and maybe despair. Within the next year, this child will become an American citizen. What will I say, to him/her, about being American?


Is it better than being Ethiopian? Should my child be more proud of their American citizenship than his/her African heritage, tainted with need and injustice? Is it better to live in a prosperous nation with unlimited opportunities? Is it better to have the lavish, abundant resources we consume in wanton freedom and excess?


I'll be honest. Sometimes I wrestle with that question, of what is better. Things I am sure of: it is better to have a family. It is better to not be hungry. It is better to have health care and education and clean water. But even these things, are nothing, hear me, nothing--of no value--without Jesus. They only serve to prolong a physical life of despair and need and brokenness that will never be healed without a spiritual remedy.

I will encourage my child to enjoy the rich heritage and culture of both countries. I will tell him/her that more is not always better. I will let them try a hamburger and I will take them out for injera as often as possible. I will teach my child to be grateful for the way God has shaped and molded his/her life in the shadow of two beautiful countries.

But more than anything, I will teach my child about a King who offers citizenship to a Kingdom, courtesy of His redemption of us as sinners and His adoption of us as children. And I will tell him/her that this Kingdom offers all he/she will ever really need. Jesus.


Today, I do not hold my head up with pride in my nationality. Instead, I fall on my face, in humble gratitude for the ways the Lord has chosen to pour grace in my life, and pray that I honor His gospel by proclaiming it both here in America and to all peoples of all nations.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.
And this, friends, is true freedom.