LWA Project Fall Launch & Partners!! · October 30, 2013


It has been a quiet few months around this blog as I've settled my family into our fall routine.  But it is time to launch our fall line of LWA Project items!!

There will be NEW ITEMS.  
NEW COLORS.  
NEW DESIGNS.  

As most of you know, this project was born out of my desire to support orphan care ministries that help prevent the need for adoption, both overseas and locally here in the US through the local church, as well as supporting adoption and caring for widows and orphans personally.  I can honestly say, I have spent more energy on this project than I EVER have to fundraise for a mission trip, and I am not far from matching my effort to fundraise for our own adoption. :)  And it has been WORTH IT.  I've already been able to write a check to the Waulk family to go towards their adoption this past summer, with monies raised from shirts that YOU bought and YOU reposted about!!  So THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.  This is a labor of love and as I've said before, it may take a while for me to get it done, but I'm in it for the long haul!  Even if it means I have to get creative in how I do it!

If you are new to the LWA project, you can read more about it here.  I am just as committed to reaching my goal as when I started, and there is work to do to get there!  I still have a little more than $4500 left to raise.  And I could use your help!!  You guys have been great to buy shirts and give and share about the project, but I want to take it a step further!

I'm inviting YOU to partner with me, as a Love with Abandon Project Partner!


It's super easy, and you could earn your own free shirt or tote!

Here's how:
  • share about the project with your friends and family, via word of mouth, email, blogs, facebook, twitter, instagram--WHATEVER!
  • On Nov. 4, send them to the store to purchase their favorite items! Under "note to seller" in paypal, ask them to put "referred by" and your name 
  • OR you can collect their orders yourself and email me with the details and we'll make payment arrangements
  • FOR EVERY 10 ITEMS YOU SELL/BUY, YOU GET A FREE TSHIRT!
  • FOR EVERY 15 ITEMS YOU SELL/BUY, YOU GET A FREE SWEATSHIRT! 
  • FOR EVERY $100 YOU DONATE DIRECTLY to one of the ministries/families in the LWA Project, YOU WILL GET A FREE TSHIRT!!
Seriously, are you as excited about this as I am??!!  Even if you already have the tees you want, you could help promote the LWA project and use your freebie as a Christmas gift!  OR buy 10 shirts to give as gifts, and get one for yourself for free!!!  Heck I'll even mail them for you to your recipients with a personal Christmas note--explaining that their gift also supports orphan care and adoption--and saving you a trip to the post office during holiday rush season!! Seriously?! You could be done with your Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving!  Holla!!!

Also, this is the time of the year that everyone is looking for end-of-year tax-deductible giving opportunities, and here's your chance to do that AND get a free shirt!! (All the links to the ministries are located in this post.) All you have to is give, send me a copy of your paypal receipt or the giving site they use, and let me know which shirt want!! C'mon, this is gonna be so fun!!!

SO ARE YOU IN??!!  Then let's do this!!!   

The LWA Project store will be open from Monday, November 4 through Friday, November 15th.  Two weeks.  Items will ship at the beginning of December and will arrive in plenty of time to ship/distribute or give for the holidays.

Let everyone know YOU are a LWA Project partner!  Start sharing, start posting--link to this post if you want to--and let's build some excitement and anticipation!!  (Feel free to use the LWA Project partner image above on your blogs or pages.  I'll have one up on IG (look under #lwaproject) that you can copy and repost as well.)

I'll be posting some sneak peaks over the next few days on facebook and on instagram...feel free to follow along and repost too! (For instagram, use the #lwaproject hashtag so I don't miss your postings!!) The store will open on Monday with the new items, and then you can post links directly to the store so friends and family can SHOP TIL THEY DROP!

Please feel free to message me with any questions you have about partnering with me.  I'm figuring this out as I go, so I expect I'll have some questions along the way!  I am so grateful for those of you willing to be a part of the project by purchasing, by promoting, and by praying for it.  Let's take it to the next level and see what God can do!!

Thank you friends!!


I am Miley Cyrus. · August 27, 2013

I am Miley Cyrus.

At one time in my life, I was a girl who just wanted to be seen as a woman.

At times, I have acted certain ways because I longed for the approval of certain people.

At others, I have deliberately acted differently that how someone wanted me to act because I was determined to be an individual.

I have been manipulated by the praise and affirmation of people as easily as I've been wounded by their criticism and critique.

I have allowed the culture to define for me what it means to be a woman and to be desirable.

I have believed the lie that beauty on the outside means someone has more value or is more worthy of my attention.

I have acted without thinking about the consequences of my actions or considering the people who will be affected by them.

I have crossed lines in the name of blazing my own trail and finding myself.

I have been willing to compromise my character to get something I want.

I have celebrated my rebellion and laughed off my stubbornness.

I have wasted, squandered, and exploited gifts and opportunities that have been given to me.

I have acted entitled to things I did not earn and did not deserve.

And often, I have looked down on others who have done these things, as if I myself have not been guilty of the exact same things.

At times, I have been the good girl, and at others, the bad girl.

But at all times, I have been the girl who needs Someone to accept me-- not because of who I am but because of who He is.

I need to be loved with a love that does not depend on my behavior or my appropriateness or my lovability.

I need a Savior who was willing to be crushed not just for my bad behavior but also for my haughty self-righteousness.

I need a Friend who is willing to forgive me, despite the fact that I repeat my offenses on a daily basis.

I need a Father who will guide me, because left to my own demise, I repeatedly choose a way that leads to death. 

I need a King who is good and fair and wise to invade my life, conquer my strong will, and overthrow the inept ruler I find myself to be.

I need a God who will accept me and Miley as we are.  But not leave us there.

I need Hope.

I need Jesus.  Every day.  Every moment.



My God, my God, why has Thou accepted me?
It is the mystery of mercy,
and the song I sing.


LWA Project--Update & First Payout!! · July 26, 2013


It has been an exciting week for the LWA project!  I got the chance to give my first check with the monies raised through the project thus far.

The Waulks' birthmom is in surgery right now--as I type!-- to deliver their baby.  On Sunday, I had the chance to give them their $1,000 from the LWA Project to go towards their adoption expenses.  We took a moment to get a cheesy photo (should have made one of those cardboard checks! :)), because I wanted you to see where your donations are going and BE BLESSED like I am---that buying and selling a few silly shirts are REALLY helping create, build, and sustain families!!  

So THANK YOU!!  For all of your support the last few months, for buying shirts and wearing shirts, making donations, and promoting the LWA Project.  It was a little scary to write that check, knowing it was a big chunk of what has been raised, and I still have 5 more checks I want to write for that same amount!  Right now, total monies raised through the LWA Project are $1370.00.  So that's still $4630.00 left to raise.  But the Waulks needed it NOW, and I'm trusting the Lord will raise the rest in his timing and with a little blood, sweat, and tears along the way.  :) I'll keep at it until we get there!! (Looks like we'll need a fall line of LWA tees!! :))

Please know, too--if you feel led to support the project families and ministries directly--the links are all in my original post.  Just send me a note and let me know so I can count it towards my project total.  But the money does not have to come through me--you can give directly--in most cases in a tax deductible way.

And pray with me for the Waulks--baby Liam should be making his appearance soon!  YAY!!

UPDATE: 
Before I could even get this posted, Liam arrived!!!
10lbs 7oz healthy boy!! 
Thank you, Jesus and congrats Josh and Christy!!  Love you both!!


LWA Project: the Waulk family [in the home stretch!!] · July 11, 2013



It's been a little quiet here, but the LWA Project is ongoing.  The store remains open and the efforts to bless each of the families and ministries continues.  Our first pressing deadline is upon us, though, folks!  We have a birth mom due and a baby coming! And we have some funds to raise ASAP!!  So I invited Josh & Christy to share a bit about their journey with you and hopefully encourage you to be a part of their story, too!

Josh & Christy Waulk are dear friends, and we have served together for the last several years in our church.  They are in the process of their second adoption--birth mom is due any day now!!  Josh has a word to share with you today--so listen in, and be sure and stick around until the end to see how you can be a part of bringing this little one home and MAYBE even win a little something as well!! ;)

Here's Josh:
I love the contributions of so many adoption advocates to the cause of bringing children into Forever Families.

Over the course of the past three years, we’ve witnessed men and women of God lead a charge that I believe history will show was pivotal in American church culture. With the Holy Spirit’s leading, these adoption warriors have helped to de-stigmatize a matter that at one time was taboo, and not referenced at family reunions. 

 My wife, Christy, and I were able to experience this firsthand at a recent family reunion of our own. My Cuban side of the family, the Perez line to be specific, gathered together for a ten-year fiesta that was marked with more than a few special moments. 

For us, seeing our first adopted daughter’s name on the family tree, with her home state of Kentucky listed, was a matter of personal significance and joy. Her name had been grafted into the family, just as our names have been grafted into God’s family. We rejoice over her. 

When I first became acquainted with the blossoming adoption movement a few years ago, the picture of the Gospel put on display for the entire world to see was encouraging. I was compelled to get involved financially in the adoption of other families, and I was compelled to get involved as an adoptive dad, myself. 

It’s not as if I needed extra motivation, though. 

As a couple struggling with the realities of infertility, adoption was our road to growing a family. Infertility and adoption were both realities given to us by God, and both would change our family forever. 

In response, we embraced the adoption movement. We wanted to put the Gospel on display through this gift of God’s grace. We wanted to celebrate the miracle that we saw other couples celebrating. And, celebrate we did! 

But, for all of the theological implications of adoption, for all of the hype surrounding the numerous Christian books on adoption that were released during the season in which we brought our precious Karis home, I’m left with this conclusion when I reflect back: 

We just wanted to have a family. 

When you look back on human history, we see this undeniable pattern. Movements come and movements go. It’s a reality that I don’t think we should always fear. We have a natural propensity to not want to see good things fade away, but often times, God allows those good things to pass from the scene, so that we might experience something even better. 

I’m not suggesting that the Christian adoption movement of recent years is fading or ought to fade away. But, for me, as an adoptive dad who is hoping to adopt again, I’m choosing to leave the theological significance of adoption to the theologians and conference speakers. 

For me, the most important theological significance of adoption, in this season of life, is being a dad, and receiving the joy of seeing my wife become a mom. It’s just that simple. 

Today, we are within two weeks of our birth-mom’s expected due date. We’ve walked with her for several months now. We’ve prayed over her, and over the little boy growing inside of her, thankful that she chose life. She has, to this point, made a courageous decision in the face of insurmountable odds. 

We look forward to seeing how God completes this story in the years to come. 

For now, we commit to being the kind of parents to this child that God would have us be, for His glory. We commit to raising this little one in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We commit to providing for him in every way that our Heavenly Father allows. As He has loved and freely given to us, so will we love and give freely to this child, and all of our children. 

We can’t wait to meet him. We can’t wait to be parents, again. We can’t wait to introduce him to Trevor, and to Karis. We covet your prayers and generous, faith-filled donations to this effort. 

Here are the final details on how you can help us bring our little boy home: 
  1. Pray that God provides for a safe delivery for both baby and mother, and that He provides the needed financials in order to complete this adoption. 
  2. Consider making a tax-deductible donation to our adoption via PayPal, or you may join our iPad Mini Giveaway. Both links are located on our blog
We have an estimated $7,500.00 left to fundraise. 

According to our estimated due date, we have less than two weeks in which to see God move. 

That’s all the time He needs. 

We’re praying that His people will move with him.
Just $7500.  Chump change!!  Let's do this friends!!  Pop on over to the Waulks blog, and give a little! A $25 donation gets you entered to win an ipad mini!  [Be sure and let me know if you do, so I can count it towards our LWA Project total!]  Can't wait to see them FULLY FUNDED!!

Sixteen · June 7, 2013




Letting go is a better grip.
                      -David Crowder

Sixteen years ago this week my life changed forever.

When I found out I was pregnant I was 21 years old.  I had been married for almost 3 years, but it was a little earlier than we had "planned" to start a family.  I had always known I would be a stay at home mom, and while I looked forward to being a mom--I didn't know if I was ready yet.  I loved the freedom we had--just Joe and me.  I loved my job and I loved working.  I enjoyed my independence.  I enjoyed my sleep.  I knew this meant a big shift for me, and I felt unprepared and inexperienced.

Sure, I ran and got a copy of What to Expect When Your Expecting.   And it was fun to skim through it, look at sketches, and compare the size of the fetus to a walnut.  But mostly, I began to voraciously read anything I could get my hands on about caring for babies and child raising and parenting.  THAT was what terrified me.  While in my womb, this kid seemed to be fairly easy to handle, pretty good at fining for himself. Granted, my ankles looked like sausages and I had to pee every half hour,  but all in all--he was fairly low maintenance.

 But--what about after this rug-rat entered the world??!! Suddenly, it was up to me to make sure he eats enough and sleeps enough and poops enough and learns to walk and learns to spell and learns to ride a bike and be kind and love Jesus??  Suddenly I was the one responsible to make sure another human being didn't eat crayons or pull the dog's tail or fall down the stairs or play with matches or date too soon or do drugs or--heck, basically make sure he makes it to 18 in one piece!!! That's alot of pressure, people!!  So I read everything I could get my hands on, afraid I would be the one parent that security stops at the exit of the hospital and says--hey, what idiot signed a baby over to this lady??!!

But as the days went by, the idea grew on me (literally!), and by the time I went in for my sonogram at 22 weeks, I was excited.  Would it be a boy or a girl??  Either sounded wonderful.  The doc had told me I was gaining a bit too quickly, and might want to ease off the big macs, but hey--if I knew anything about pregnancy, I knew that it was my chance to really give Joe a run for his money at dinnertime since I was, after all, eating for two. :)  And hey, maybe I was further along than I thought!  That was a possibility too.  We watched the little monitor of the sonogram machine for anything that resembled shape of a baby, and hoped at least the doctor could make sense of the one dimensional black and white mumbo jumbo.

Doc smiled.  He pointed to a white blob.  Look--there's your boy.  I smiled and looked up at Joe. He had tears in his eyes.  A son. We were sharing a moment together---when I felt the doc abruptly move the wand through the goopy jelly all the way to the other side of my stomach, and said, "Aaaaand, there's another boy."

'scuse me??!!  TWINS.  Joe made some crack about becoming a TV evangelist, and I asked the doc if he was sure he knew how to use that thing.  Maybe he read the tea leaves wrong.  But he was pretty confident.  We were having TWO babies.  Not just one.  He smiled and said never mind what he said about my weight gain.  Looks like I was allowed to have all the big macs I wanted.

So if I had built up any hope that all my reading over the last few months had prepared me even the slightest to be a mom-- it vanished.  TWINS.  TWO babies.  Now I was REALLY gonna screw this thing up.

Luckily, I have a husband who finds joy and privilege in challenges.  He was over the moon.  When I asked where the heck we'd put the second one, he said we'd get another crib and another car seat and another stroller--no biggie.  When I was put on bedrest for 8 weeks, he picked up the slack all while working full time, finishing his last semester of seminary before graduating, and candidating for a pastoral position.  I knew from day one--we were in this together--and that helped. He was the first to change Josh's diaper and the first to give Nathan a bottle in the NICU.  Sometimes I think I learned much about mothering by watching my husband love those babies so well. 

And, it turns out, as days went by, and babies grew into toddlers who grew into little kids who grew into bigger kids,  I felt I was in a rhythm.  Certainly not that I had it all figured out, but I had grown into this role and mostly knew what I needed to do. I nurtured, I cocooned, I loved, I protected, I instructed, I corrected, I held tightly and I did everything in my power to communicate: you are mine and I am proud of you and I will always love you no matter what and I will always be right here by your side so you can feel secure and safe and treasured and adored.

Then, something crazy happened.  These two eldest of mine, they became teenagers.  And I began to wrestle.  Because what had worked for years wasn't exactly working anymore, and I sensed that wasn't all a bad thing.  They were changing, and I, too, had to change.
 
The teen years are the counterintuitive stage of parenting. Everything inside of you as a mom tells you to hold tightly, shelter and protect your little ones from harm and difficulty and pain.  It's on you and you alone--no one else will fight for your kids like you, no one else will have their best in mind or put them first like you, no one else will be responsible for them ultimately but you.  They need you 

But then, they're teens, and--they don't.  Maybe not overnight, but it can feel that way.  Now you're suppose to nudge them away from you, towards more independence and more responsibility, to a place where they don't need you.  Let out the rope.  And let go.

Yes, into the unknown.  But not into a void.  Into Hands that can be trusted.  And hoping not necessarily that they will always do the right thing.  Because they won't. But praying that they will pursue Grace, and find just that-- both in overcoming and in failing.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
                                                                       Hebrews 10:23
 
Letting go.  And holding on.

Josh & Nathan-- 16 years ago you gave me the title and profession I am most proud to bear.  I thought I knew what love was and what it meant to be in love, but I never understood the nature of love until you came along. You bring me great joy.  Yes, you are handsome and funny and smart.  Yes, you've accomplished much and are good at so many things I lost count a long time ago.  But watching you become men--- embracing your gifts along with admitting your weaknesses, being strong yet remaining humble, taking leadership while respectfully submitting--- is has blown me away.  Thankful for the men you are.  Happy 16th Birthday.




LWA Project: Embracing Hope · April 23, 2013


I am so excited to share today about one of the ministries in Ethiopia being supported by the Love With Abandon project, Embracing Hope. I actually met Jerry and Christy on my very first trip to Ethiopia in 2010. They had just moved to Africa.  When we visited Embracing Hope last year, it was less than a year old.  I am amazed at how a simple idea (of a young girl none the less, the Shannon's daughter!--lesson: listen to the inspired ideas of your kids!!)-- an idea of providing childcare for single moms-- has grown into a ministry impacting these women and their children in so many different ways!!  And to know that it is currently run by Ethiopian staff, yet another beautiful picture of what missions could and should look like. Amazing!

 Here's a bit from their blog, celebrating EH's 2nd birthday!:

We now have Moms who have built deep community with each other, the kind that makes sure that others do not go without and who care when suffering comes.   We have Moms who have started their own micro businesses.  We have Moms who have come to know Jesus.  We have Moms who have found better jobs than working in the dump.  We have children who are starting school and are at the top of their class.  We have children who would not have been alive had it not been for someone being there to care for them.  We have moms learning to read and write for the first time in their lives.  We have Moms who for the first time in their lives are not having their dignity robbed daily through begging and prostitution.  We have Moms on HIV medication so that they will be around for their children long term.   We have Moms who are still incredibly poor, yet they now have hope and are not alone.
We even have a few moms who have become so successful that we are dreaming of ways to graduate them from the program!  We have local and sub-city government cooperation – they keep giving us glowing reports.   We have a large number of moms who have saved at least one month’s salary.  We have healthy kids who are now able to learn and thrive.

We have families that are intact – Moms with their own children.  Orphans prevented.  Families Preserved.


All that these Moms needed was someone to walk alongside of them.  They were looking for a way out, an opportunity, a bit of a break.  Many of them were praying that somehow someone could intervene.   And then God led them to us and us to them.
 Go visit their blog and read the rest of this article here

You can support EH in one of two ways:

Donate directly to Embracing Hope. (If you do, please let me know so I can count it towards my LWA Project total!)

 
Or you can support Embracing Hope as well as the entire LWA Project by shopping the LWA shop here.

LWA Project: A word from Christy Davis · April 17, 2013


Over the course of the new few weeks, I will highlight each of the six ministries/families of the Love with Abandon Project.  Up first is my dear friend, Christy.  I am absolutely blessed by her courage to share with you today.

Christy was one of the first people I told about the idea of the LWA Project.  She had stopped by my house, and we chatted about life, kids, her adoption progress, and my idea to launch this fundraiser.  She was so excited and encouraging, as her love for widows and orphans has always welled up and overflowed from her own life and adoption, to look for new channels to support and champion.  That was Friday.

The following Tuesday, her world was turned upside down.  That was less than 2 months ago. Watching her these past few weeks, I have often found myself in awe--yes, of her faith, but even more so--of the One she is clinging so desperately to, the One who sustains her. Her Anchor, Who has proven to hold fast in the fiercest of storms.  And I find myself drawn by her example to that Source of strength in my own life.  Here are her words for you.  I pray it blesses you as much as it blesses me.
When God began to burden my heart to help care for widows and orphans back in 2010, I had no idea that a few years down the road, I would be looking right in the mirror at a widow, and in the very next room of my home, at fatherless children.  Back then, I felt a dramatic urge to jump in to orphan care with both feet, wanting to let Him use me to bring hope to people worlds away from my own.  His timing seemed slow to me, but I was convinced that it was right.  After becoming involved in various orphan care ministries, my wonderful husband Bryan and I knew it was the right time to begin our own family journey to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia.  All of our paperwork was completed and sent over there in July 2012. 
    Oh, how my heart began to care for our future daughter as the months went by, even though we knew nothing about her, we would probably still have quite a wait ahead of us, and nothing is guaranteed with adoption.  Our children began praying for their little sister almost every night.  The Lord was blessing us with good health and bringing in all of the necessary funds needed to accept a referral when the time came.   All of the pieces seemed to be fitting in place to open our home and our arms to a little girl in need of a family’s love.

    And then February 26 of this year hit, when my amazing husband unexpectedly went to be with Jesus, and life, as we knew it, seemed to crumble underneath us.  Adoption, along with other things that are close to my heart, now began to seem like dead end dreams.  And yet, I’ve had to choose to believe that they cannot be as they currently seem, for I know God never wastes our passion or our pain.  So here I sit, humbled and feeling a bit helpless to be among the widows, accepting the help, when I wanted to be the one giving the help to other widows.  I head to the mailbox each day and open card after card offering hope to my now fatherless children, reminding us that our Heavenly Father cares more about us than we will ever know this side of Heaven, and that we are never forgotten by Him.

    There is so much that hurts, and that I don’t understand about our current situation, and about my Savior.  What I do know, though, is that He is caring for us, and He is using others around us to show His love as we begin this difficult trek down a rough road.  The kids and I are being held in the palm of His hand as we walk through our days on this earth, and my sweet Bryan is now being physically embraced in His arms as he takes in the amazing wonder of Heaven.  Eternity is real, and the hope of it gets me out of bed each morning.  Our family, though small amidst a world of needs and pain, has a story that He will continue to write.  I have no idea what the future holds and can tend to become fearful and overwhelmed when I look too far ahead.  But I know my Savior has got me today, and I have to remind myself, sometimes moment by moment, just to rest in that reassuring and everlasting truth. 

“The Lord…upholds the widow and the fatherless…” Psalm 146:9

If you would like to give directly to the Davis family for their needs in the midst of this great loss, you may donate directly via paypal to scrappycdavis@yahoo.com.

You can also follow Christy on her blog, and I'm looking forward to her sharing more there in the days and weeks to come.

You can also support the Davis family as well as the entire LWA Project by shopping the LWA shop here.

Read more about the LWA Project here. 48::48 continues!  Read & join in the giveaway here!!


LWA Project: 48 in 48 Campaign & Giveaway!! · April 8, 2013


Well, it has been a little over a month since I started the Love with Abandon project.  I had originally set a goal to raise $6,000 by the end of March, but I can see it is going to take more time that that!  To date, I have raised $790. And that is OK!  Often my timelines are not God's timelines, and I have found that His are always better. 

So I am no less committed to raising the $6000 I set out to raise!  I'm just going to have to work harder and longer to get there!  But what a privilege!  I get to be a voice for some awesome ministries and families, and bear a small burden for their needs and requests.  In the end, it's really not about the money.  As I've said before: once it's divided by six, it's a drop in the bucket for the needs represented by these 6 ministries/families.

But what it IS about is obedience.  For me.  It's about extending the impact of a mission trip beyond my personal experience to sowing a seed into the work long term.  It's about supporting ministries that prevent the need for adoption as much as I support adoption.  It's about looking for opportunities right in my neighborhood to serve widows and orphans, and not ignoring those needs right in front of me because they require an extra measure of daily sacrifice and availability from me.

It's about narrowing down the wide circle of orphan care needs--- to not be overwhelmed by the great need to the point of inaction, but instead to DO SOMETHING.  It's about seeing where God can use me RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE as I sit at my kitchen table typing-- surrounded by dirty dishes and piles of laundry and a full inbox and pressing responsibilities--watching what He might do with a willing heart and available hands and a widow's mite.

So bear with me.  Rather--JOIN with me.  Only $5,210 to go! :)  If I get annoying, I apologize!  Know my heart is to SPEAK UP, and so I may get a little loud over here! ;)

You'll see me do a few different campaigns  and set mini-goals to continue to use my store to bring in funds.  You'll see me highlight each ministry and family over the next few weeks, and you'll hear from each of them specifically.  You'll be encouraged to give directly to them in a tax deductible way (and then let me know so I can count it towards my total).  And if I have to get creative and think outside of the box and try something new, I will! 

So this week--I'm doing a

48 in 48 Campaign & Giveaway!

The first order of shirts came in and they are AWESOME!  I've already had some more orders come in, but I need to hit a minimum quantity to reprint at the lowest cost.

 So I need to sell 48 shirts---24 Love with Abandon and 24 Speak up designs!  They can be any of the available styles (tanks, short sleeve, or long sleeve!), but I need 24 total of each design!  The hope is to get these printed ASAP so those of you who want them for Mother's Day will have them in time.

And I want to get these orders in the next 48 hours!  So: 48 in 48!

Can you help?!  
  • Buy your own shirt here
  • Share the link to this post or to the store on facebook, instagram, twitter, or your blog!  Ask others to share too!
Then comment below and let me know how you have shared!   You get one entry in the giveaway for each way you share!  I will draw TWO lucky winners-- and both will get their choice of a SPEAK UP tote or a Love With Abandon MudLove band!  We're going to run this for 48 hours(ish), so entries must be received by Wednesday, April 10th, at midnight.

I'll keep you posted on FB as to how many have sold, so you can count down with me! Thanks for your prayers and support!

SHOP!  SHARE!  COMMENT BELOW!
LET'S ALL 
LOVE WITH ABANDON!

LWA Project: The Waulks big news!! · March 13, 2013


Well, week one has passed and we still have a long Way to go to get to $6,000, friends!!

Thank you to those of you who have shopped, shared the link, and send encouraging messages.  This is a labor of love and I will labor as long as I need to--in it for the long haul! ;)

The Waulks revealed some big news on their blog this weekend, news I was not allowed to share last week.  Hop on over and you'll see why I HAD to include them in this project!!


Isn't that awesome?!  So let's keep going!!  Below are the ways you can be a part of this project to support 6 awesome ministries/families!

THE STORE
  • SHOP* here!!  
  • Share the link on your facebook and/or on your blog!
  • Donate directly to Bring Love In
  • Donate directly to Compassion Families (PLEASE make a note in donation that it is for Compassion Families--this organization supports other ministries)
  • Donate directly to Embracing Hope
  • Donate directly to LifeBridge Church
  • Donate directly to the Waulk family
  • Donate directly to the Davis family:
    • Paypal a donation to scrappycdavis@yahoo.com
    • Davis Children Trust, c/o Everbank, 26417 US Highway 19, Clearwater, FL 33761
(If you would prefer to donate by check to any of the above, please email me for information.)

(Please please let me know if you donate directly so I can count it in my total for fundraising!)

*Keep in mind, this is a pre-order, so while I have stock in a few things, most items will not ship until the end of March.  I appreciate your patience so I can keep my costs as low as possible and give the MOST away possible!!

LAUNCH: Love with Abandon Project!! · March 5, 2013

I am sooooooo excited about what I'm going to share with you today!  It's my version of March Madness!!  I may be crazy to think it can be done but I've decided to LOVE BIG and go for it anyway!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my "take away" from my mission trip last year.  Part of what I didn't mention is that even as soon as I got back, I felt the Lord pressing on me to do what I am about to share with you.  And while I blame a busy life for the delay, I also feel the Lord's timing is perfect, and that this, right now, is the perfect time.  I read something Levi from Bring Love In wrote on their blog a few weeks ago as well, and let's just say--it was the "kick in the pants" I needed to launch.

Last year I raised approx $2500 for my mission trip.  I decided I wanted to raise DOUBLE that amount to give to orphan care.  And thus was born the


I am setting a goal to raise $6,000 during the month of March so I can give $1,000 each to 6 different needs, each addressing the orphan crisis in a different way. (Originally I planned to raise $5,000, but I'll explain why that changed in just a second.)  Let me share with you first WHO I'm fundraising for, and then tell you HOW I plan to do it!

Levi and Jesse are the awesome couple behind Bring Love In, which works to create new families in Ethiopia by pairing a single mom and her children with other orphans in a home unit, providing a family structure and support for a lifetime.

 Peter and Elizabeth run Compassion Families, which provides drop-in centers for kids who need schooling, and/or after school care, also helping with needs like uniforms and school supplies and clothing and shoes.  Making it a little easier for those families who are struggling to provide basic needs for their children.
 

 Jerry & Christy Shannon run Embracing Hope, and it was their daughter's genius idea to provide a free day care for single moms so they can go to work without a child strapped to their back.  Providing food each week, and supporting the moms with micro-loans and saving plans so they can look ahead with hope to a future being able to provide for their family without having to beg or prostitute. 


LifeBridge is my local church, and we just moved 6 months ago into a building that's located in the poorest zip code in our county.  We are thrilled to be there, and each day the Lord is guiding us as to new ways to love the families in our area.  We have a group of folks who walk kids back and forth to church on Sunday when their parents don't feel like coming.  We have been running a soccer ministry in our back fiend since the local YMCA didn't have the space for a soccer program.  And most recently, a local pregnancy center is moving into a part of our building a couple of day a week, offering counseling and sonograms. Our ministries to the broken families in our area are just beginning.
The Waulks are our dear friends and part of our church family.  Josh is our Executive pastor at LifeBridge.  They adopted Karis 2 years ago, and are in the process of adopting domestically again, a baby due this summer. 


The Davis family
When I first decided to do this project, I was going to set out to raise $5000 for the 5 causes above.  My friend Christy happened to be one of the first people I told about my project, and she was so supportive and excited for my efforts.  She has always been the biggest cheerleader and supporter of many of our adoptions, long before they even began their adoption process last year.  They have been waiting to bring a little girl home from Ethiopia.  But just this last week, her husband died tragically,  leaving Christy and three beautiful children behind.  As many of my friends and I grieved, prayed, and served her this last weekend, it dawned on my how close to home it was now---the charge to care for widows and orphans.  Now it's my friend, and now it's her kids.  So it didn't take me long to decide to add their family to my project.
*********
So that's the WHO.  Now for the HOWAnd here's where you come in!

I am launching a store of fun items, and ALL the profits will go towards these ministries and families.  My goal is to be able to raise $1,000 for each.  I also will provide links where you can give directly if you prefer--just PRETTY please comment below or message me so I can count it in my totals! And if you can't give or shop at this time, if you'd share the link to this post on your facebook page or on your blog, I'd be so grateful!!

So it's my own version of March madness! : )  Are you in?!  OK so here's the links you'll need:

  • SHOP* here!! 
  • Donate directly to Bring Love In
  • Donate directly to Compassion Families (PLEASE make a note in donation that it is for Compassion Families--this organization supports other ministries)
  • Donate directly to Embracing Hope
  • Donate directly to LifeBridge Church
  • Donate directly to the Waulk family
  • Donate directly to the Davis family:
    • Paypal a donation to scrappycdavis@yahoo.com
    • Davis Children Trust, c/o Everbank, 26417 US Highway 19, Clearwater, FL 33761
(If you would prefer to donate by check to any of the above, please email me for information.)

(Please please let me know if you donate directly so I can count it in my total for fundraising!)

*Keep in mind, this is a pre-order, so while I have stock in a few things, most items will not ship until the end of March.  I appreciate your patience so I can keep my costs as low as possible and give the MOST away possible!!

OK people--let's do this!! 
SHOP!  DONATE!  POST LINK!! Let's all LOVE WITH ABANDON!!

PC from Ethiopia & of Waulks to Jess Olivero

Hard Days at Present//Exciting Days Ahead · March 1, 2013

I have been preparing for an AWESOME announcement and fun project for the month of March here on my blog.  I'm been on the verge of bursting with excitement--it's going to be so great!

But this week a dear friend lost her husband, and life has come to a bit of a screeching halt.  This week and weekend, I am grieving with and loving on this precious family.

So I'll be back on Monday, promise ya'll will stop by and see what all the hub-bub is about??  

And if you can pray for my friend and her three little kids, who are grieving the loss of a loving husband, wonderful father, and servant of Jesus--I'd be grateful.

She shared the song below with me--I had never heard it.  I can't stop listening to it-- and bawling as I do.  Hope it blesses you today as much as it blesses me. 

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love

You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you



See you Monday.

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One year later: what I learned about adoption on my mission trip

This time a year ago I was prepping and packing for a mission trip to Ethiopia.  Many of you supported and helped send me and my team, and while I had every intent of posting my thoughts and reactions from that trip, I never really did.  Pace of life, I guess.  But then I read something today that took me right back to my emotions and feelings last year after my mission trip, a stirring reminder of what God taught me about adoption.

Our church took a team of about 10 people to Addis Ababa last February.  We had a dual purpose: training for indigenous church planters and serving with widow & orphan care ministries. 

When I went on my first mission trip to Ethiopia in 2010, I was in the middle of our adoption process.  I had never been to a third world country. Truthfully, I had never been on a mission trip anywhere.  I was broken, in a good way, but I can't help but think everything I processed was seen by me, at least in part, through the filter of our adoption.  Of course I was motivated to share the love of Jesus with all those sweet children and to see the face of Jesus in the beautiful people of Ethiopia.   But it was also another layer to our story, to understanding the why of our decision to adopt internationally, seeing first hand the great need, and falling in love with a country that is now a big part of our life.

And I felt confirmed in our decision to adopt, and to adopt from Ethiopia.  I love adoption so much.  I love the gospel so clearly on display.  I love kids without families being fought for, being loved, and being pursued so intensely and sacrificially so they can have a forever home and a forever family. "One less." It didn't seem like much of an impact after witnessing such great need, but it was something.


Fast forward to last year.  This trip was my fourth to Ethiopia, traveling with my husband and dear friends, excited to see my Ethiopian friends and serve with ministries I knew were awesome.  Abby had been home for a little over a year, everything as smooth as one could ever hope for.  I wasn't such a newbie anymore.  I didn't know what God had to teach me on this trip, but I was ready. 

No sooner had we landed and were loading up in the van at the Bole airport, that our dear Ethiopian friend told us he had news for us about Abby's birth family.  While we've never gone into great detail about Abby's backstory publicly, suffice is to say our agency was, at best-- not helpful, and at worst--dishonest about the truth of Abby's background.  We felt, though, that we had a general understanding.  But we had asked our friend to do an investigation for us anyway, because we wanted to know about the area she was from, get any details from surviving relatives, etc.  And while I won't go into details here, for the sake of Abby's privacy (since she hasn't really processed it all herself yet), suffice is to say what he uncovered was not the story we were told, and it was not as tidy as we'd have liked it to be.  

And I will say this.  It forced us to deal with the truth that adoption is a messy business.  Worth the mess, and a wonderful answer to a great need--but it is only ONE answer.  And what hit me hard on that trip last year was, is it the best answer?  

Hear me out.  In some cases, yes, it is.  But perhaps in other cases, it's not addressing the systemic problem.  And--here's where it got tough for me personally to swallow--it might even be perpetuating unethical practices because we are so focused on working hard to get kids into our families that we don't even see the opportunity to prevent them from needing to be there in the first place.

I think of all the time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, and CASH poured into bringing Abby home.  Was it worth it?  Would I do it again?  Abso-friggin-lutely!!  In a heartbeat.  She's worth it.  And God is soverign--no doubt in my mind He brought her to our family.

But--here's the rub.  Am I willing to pour as much energy, time, resources, and passion into fighting to keep children with their birth families?  Because I believe--and my eyes were opened to--many situations where mothers and fathers are giving up children for adoption because they do not have the means or ability to meet their basic needs.  No parent should have to make that kind of decision.  It's a harder problem to solve, and often waaayyyy messier to deal with.  But as beautiful a picture as adoption displays of the gospel, isn't equipping a family to stay together and seeing it thrive also a beautiful picture of redemption and restoration?  

And God knew my heart was ready to learn this.  The timing of learning about Abby's family prepped my heart in an incredible way, to see with new eyes ministries I was familiar with but never really fully appreciated.  He couldn't have orchestrated our time any better.  We served with three ministries last year.  


Bring Love In works to create new families in Ethiopia by pairing a single mom and her children with other orphans in a home unit, providing a family structure and support for a lifetime.

Compassion Families Intl provides drop-in centers for kids who need schooling, and/or after school care, also helping with needs like uniforms and school supplies and clothing and shoes.  Making it a little easier for those families who are struggling to provide basic needs for their children.

And Embracing Hope, a little girl's genius idea to provide a free day care for single moms so they can go to work without a child strapped to their back.  Providing food each week, and supporting the moms with micro-loans and saving plans so they can look ahead with hope to a future being able to provide for their family without having to beg or prostitute.  

I could go on and on about these three ministries, how much I love the vision of each of these, how much I respect and admire the people who run them, and how amazingly effective the work they are doing is to support mothers and their kids, as well as caring for orphans within their own country.  How beautiful it was to me for God to show me three very different ministries, all meeting a need in some way that helps---well, helps remove the need for adoption.  At least in these cases. (If you're not familiar with them, you really should go visit their websites and pray about how you can be involved.)

Adoption is a great response.  I'm just not sure it should be our first response.

What I read today was this blogpost.  Oh please.  Go read it.  THIS is what I'm talking about.  THIS is my heart, laid out way better than I just did on my own above.  


And I am convicted all over again.  I want to be mobilized and advocating for the adoption of true orphans, particularly those who are overlooked or considered unwanted.  And, with the same passion and fervor, I want to fight for kids to stay in their families.  I want to support and advocate for ministries that share the love of Jesus and offer much needed help to women who just need a hand so they can care for their children.  And I want to serve firsthand women facing these kinds of decisions and let them know they are not alone, that someone cares for them and for their children.

It's a both/and.  The Walsers may or may not adopt again--we don't know.  God hasn't led us clearly on that yet.  But what He has clearly led us to do, both here in Pinellas County, Florida and in Ethiopia, is to seek out ways to support efforts to keep families together. 

Still...one less orphan.  One life at a time.

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(pictures by Jessica and Erica)

"Speak Up" Merch @ Created for Care


**Paypal is giving me fits.  Just message me if you'd like to purchase or click the donate button to the right, and add $2 for shipping to the purchase price, and let me know in the "notes to seller" the items you want!  Sorry for the hassle!**

I am blessed to be at Created for Care this weekend, attending as an adoptive mom and an exhibitor for my business, Proclaim Promo.  I printed some t-shirts and totes to sell, and wanted to make them available to YOU too, even if you couldn't come to C4C!!

The shirts say "Speak up", and have the scripture reference Proverbs 31:8: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves."  These were designed by my buddy Stephanie Moon, and they are sooooo cute!!  I have short sleeve and long sleeve and they all fit true to size.

These are LIMITED TIME ONLY.  I'm only printing what gets ordered.  I will be taking orders through Monday, Jan. 28th.  Below are the mockups, but see the picture at the top for what they look like in person.  Use the paypal links below to order or message me if you have any questions!!
"Speak up" tote $20.00

Navy SS "Speak Up" tee



Rusty orange SS "Speak Up" tee


Cream SS "Speak Up" tee



Navy LS "Speak Up" tee




Yellow "Speak Up" hoodie

MudLove bands


decals



Happy shopping!!

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