Just Look...

Just Look...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

almost there...

The week of Thanksgiving, I was in Michael's (my favorite place to spend time, browsing all sorts of crafts I don't need). I was walking along when all of a sudden, the song playing over the loudspeaker just cut straight through to my awareness. When it did, these words were on:
A lonely road, a willing heart
Pray for strength to do your part
You're almost there, you're almost there
Trust the Father to provide
Bread of heaven prophesied
You're almost there, you're almost there
You're almost where the waiting ends
Delivering the life within
The answered prayer, Emmanuel
You're almost there

In that moment, I didn't realize it was a Christmas song. And in that moment, it was as if God was speaking directly into my weary spirit. See our situation is a lot different than most adoptions. Most are a year or longer and most involve very long waits. Although our process thus far has been incredibly (and miraculously, and NEEDED since our son is close to aging out) fast and I can't imagine the wait many experience, we are feeling a different sort of emotion. We haven't had to wait very long, but because we HAVE moved so fast, exhaustion is starting to set in. We called the agency August 16 for the first contact and in the time since have done all paperwork, homestudy, etc, fundraised like crazy people (1 major event each month plus several ongoing events), and are moving what feels like every piece of furniture in our home to make room for three more people, all while working full-time and running a side business. We opened an envelope from the mail on Monday at 4 and canceled everything for Tuesday so we could get in the car at 6 AM and head to Atlanta to speed that part of the process. Thanks to a very informed and willing adoption case manager, we have stayed two steps ahead of the process during each phase. And while we are forever grateful for the truly supernatural strength and provision of time and energy to accomplish this, we are also feeling the human weariness. 

So when those words cut through my fuzzy brain in that craft store, I stopped dead in my tracks in the center back aisle between the florals and the baking supplies. I usually cry when things like that happen, but that day there were no tears, just a flooding of peace and rest over my spirit. I just stood there, stockstill, and strained to hear the rest of the words. Eventually I picked up my phone to google it so I would have this promise documented. The song is Michael W. Smith's "Almost There" and it is actually a most beautiful Christmas song. For me, that day though, it was a promise from my Father. 

I know that many people in my life are waiting right now.... waiting for a long-desired pregnancy, waiting for a business dream to be fulfilled, waiting for a lost son or daughter to come home, waiting for deliverance from an addiction or struggle, waiting for hope, waiting for a promise from God to be fulfilled. I hope that this song speaks to your heart as it spoke to mine. You're almost there.

And to those who, like me, are in a state of exhaustion and weariness, be encouraged. Be filled. Be soothed. Be rested. You're almost there.

The link for the whole song is here:
And here is a beautiful video with the song alongside scenes from one of my favorite movies, "A Nativity Story":

Sunday, November 20, 2016

That's An Awful Lot of Quarters...

I've waited a day to try and find all the words for our night on Friday night (and really all of the month leading up to it). What I have realized is that I don't have the right words, so I just need to go ahead and go with what I have. 

We left Blythe-Bower on Friday night and I was kind of a wreck. The way I deal with the completion of major events is that I emotionally crash for a while. (After the very first Royal Family 5K, I came home and sat at the kitchen table. I ate three Little Debbies, drank a Coke, and cried hysterically for an hour. Then I went to bed and slept like I was in a coma for three hours. Then I woke up recovered and elated over the success and moved on with life!) Friday night, I probably had six crying jags for various reasons, most of which are absurd. I cried that some people's numbers weren't ever called, I cried that some people may have felt sad that their donation didn't bring a roomful of bids, I cried that I didn't take many pictures, I cried that my mom had worked so hard, I cried that maybe I didn't do justice to the amazing participation from so many, and in a dazzling display of maturity and ration, I cried while we were ordering at O'Charley's (we didn't get to eat or drink a bite from lunch until 10:30 that night) and Kraig said something about the hot dog grilling and I said, "You mean it was GRILLED hotdogs and chili and missed it??? I like that meal more than ANYTHING!" {cue hot tears} The most legitimate reason I cried, and a reason I had considered not sharing but I have vowed to myself to be open about all sides of this process, not just the happy ones, in an effort to live this out the way I try to live everything out-- transparently, hoping to encourage others on the same road that they aren't alone-- is that I didn't get to tell the girls bye when they left for the weekend. And I know that Friday ended a week in which I had been stressed, distracted, and probably snappy with them. And honestly, the tears were probably more for the deep fears I have that Emma and Kelsey might be feeling left out, or replaced, or like they aren't enough. I have no reason from them to think any of that, but I will be honest and say it's a struggle in my own mind that I have to give to God every day. I never want them to look back and feel that our love was divided. I want them to know that it was multiplied.

After all the crying Friday night, I awoke Saturday morning around 5 with my mind spinning over all the things I should have done differently and regrets I had. From 5 until around 7:30, the devil really had his way with me. I worried that I had limited God by praying for the room not to be too full, I imagined, "If this group hadn't shown up, that's a gaping hole!" "If this group hadn't come, we would have missed out on so many bids!" I am also wholly human, and I let the devil taunt me a little bit with hurt over some absences. In that place, though, as the first rain in Cleveland in 29 days fell, the Lord gave me what I truly think may be my first vision I have ever had. He showed me a dam with holes and water spilling through them. As I watched, each hole was filled. If another hole opened, it was filled. He spoke to me so clearly and told me that He will always fill the holes. I don't have to think about the what ifs and the could haves and the should haves and the weren't there's. He will provide in whatever way is needed. And the thing is, HE HAS. I just keep falling back into this default setting of mine that is composed of guilt and regret and worry. I don't know what it will take for me to finally wholly become the person He is so gently shaping me to be, but I imagine His patience is starting to wear thin. :)

By mid-day Saturday, and after talking to some of my crowd who keep me anchored, I had moved on to elation and excitement over the whole thing. We had OVER 250 items given to us.... GIVEN.... NO STRINGS ATTACHED... to auction off on Friday night. People I only interact with over social media and then only rarely contacted me to offer donations. People I have never even met who heard about the auction from friends gave items. We had so many valuable silent auction items donated by such dear people. Former and current students showed up in DROVES to donate the works of their hands. Colleagues, church family, family friends, my mom's people, friends, acquaintances, For Such a Time customers, high school classmates, family members, on and on and on.... all bringing gifts of their heart to welcome these children of ours. There are no words for the outpouring of goodness I have witnessed flow into my house, onto my kitchen table, and out the door to that auction Friday night. The only words I have are that you gave and your gifts are a reflection of my Father.

The work on this event was overwhelming. The work on this event would have been impossible for just me and Kraig. But instead of just the two of us, we had an army. My mom canvassed grocery stores for paper product sales for weeks. She probably made 8 trips to Cooke's the day the cokes were 79 cents (limit of 8...). She drove around and picked up items. She made things. She advertised. She helped me plan. She fielded a hundred phone calls from me asking her opinion. She cooked. She and my dad brought in a massive load of silent auction items, set them up, and carried them home. She has worked TIRELESSLY and I couldn't be more blessed to have her. My sweet friend Lea Broussard, newly retired, took days driving around town, asking for donations from stores and restaurants. Our great friend Nathan stepped up immediately when Kraig said to him, "The only way I can do good is if you'll help me," and he worked his hands to the bone Friday. So many people, including the mother of Emma's friend, Katie, who just happened to be dropping her daughter off for fall retreat and instead stayed and put out tablecloths and money jars, helped set up in the quick hour we had before it started. Joel Barnes was a most gracious host, not only renting the facility to us but working to help set up and clean up. My sister, Tina, and Melissa were the absolute best possible people for me to ask to deal with the money and entry, even giving me the money back at the end sorted and packaged. Jay Garcia, whom I had told I couldn't and wouldn't do this event without, was the absolute perfect emcee and he always goes along with whatever scheme I have going that needs a voice and a personality. Kim Davison worked like crazy and helped before and after. An ARMY of church friends stayed after to help clean up afterward, somehow allowing us to get out only 15 minutes after my estimated finishing time. My student volunteers from CHS (and Lizzie and Raylee and Tate) were essential to the process and they did it all with such a sweet and enthusiastic spirit! I'm probably forgetting someone (ooh! Jessica Garcia who fielded so many donations for me and Julie who gave me a million great ideas!), but those who provided the physical work of this thing were invaluable to me.

Finally, all of our shoppers and buyers and bidders and participants.... they made the whole thing happen. They were patient when we had to draw 27 numbers before we got a winner, they were fun to watch, they were generous with their bidding, they were and have been enthusiastic and supportive in all of their comments since. From church family (and our sweet pastor who started us off with a prayer) to friends to colleagues of mine and Kraig's to family members to those who heard about it and came to FBC peeps and people who just love the orphanage to our Mayfield table and our Stuart table and our CMS table.... the people in our lives, all four (7!) of us, love us so well and we are so incredibly blessed by them.

So.... we can't be certain until we make a trip tomorrow to a change counter but we are pretty certain our grand total is somewhere around $5,000. AMAZING. And the MOST amazing part is that's a true $5000, just for bids and silent auction and paddle donations. We think there were close to 200 people there and, although I have also cried some tears over the people I didn't get to speak to (and have worried that people didn't feel appreciate enough for coming), we are so stinking thankful for every human being who walked through those doors. It was such a beautiful night, a night I have very few pictures of to even show the kids later, but a night I will never, ever forget... a night in which God reached down again and used His children (you) to enable His children (us) to reach His children (our kids). What a portrait of His love. 

So thank you, thank you, thank you to each person who played a part in this one. We are forever grateful to you. Big giant hugs and lots of love!









Monday, November 14, 2016

home sweet home...

These are our official adoption fundraiser tees! Help us bring our sons and daughter (and brothers and sister and nephews and niece! 😊) "Home Sweet Home" to the mountains and valleys of East Tennessee! The sunshine in the upper right corner is from the Filipino flag since our kiddos will always carry their home country with them even once they are here. To order, send an email to forsuchatimecreations414@gmail.com and put "adoption tee" in the subject line. Just include your size, shirt style, and color (we can do most colors as long as the inks will show up). πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
{This shirt is also available in Comfort Colors for an additional $3 per shirt.}
#davis4androom4more #forsuchatime


Sunday, November 13, 2016

MY Millennials

I keep hearing all about "the millennials". Everywhere I go it seems, someone has something to say about "the millennials". It's funny, because I feel like I have heard all of these things before, so I did some googling and found out, sure enough, this is the same song, different verse because all of the same things were said about MY generation, "Generation X". And I bet the ones before them. And them. And them. Because somewhere along the way, it has become very fashionable to scapegoat the young. It has become fashionable to stereotype the young. It has become fashionable to criticize them instead of celebrating them, to bash them instead of bonding with them, and to mock them instead of mentoring them. I know, I know, you have seen them on the news, you have heard of them in the workplace, you know about them and their college "safe spaces". And maybe some of those representations are true of some of them. But if you don't mind to humor me for just a minute, let me tell you about MY Millennials.

MY Millennials are some of the most generous, most brave, most industrious, and most enjoyable people I know. I was talking to Kraig about all of this the other night and I told him, I have a shirt idea (that I am making, so no one else rush off to make it-- and I will be taking orders for it...)-- I want to make a shirt that says, "Most of my favorite people are Millennials." And it's the honest truth. Of my very best friends on earth, 3 are Millennials. Of my favorite colleagues, many are Millennials. Of the people who I share life with the most, the majority are Millennials. Of the people who spend the most time in my house, ALL are Millennials (except Kraig). Of the people I interact with most on social media, the vast majority are Millennials. Of the people I labor beside, serve beside, and love Jesus beside, MANY are Millennials.

MY Millennials are finishing degrees in colleges while working and volunteering. MY Millennials have scraped and pushed and clawed their way to a high school degree while supporting younger brothers and sisters when dropping out would have been so much easier. MY Millennials are Class Presidents who are also members of sports teams and honors students and have more volunteer hours in their pocket than any adult I know. MY Millennials showed up on Friday to shake the hand of veterans and write thank you letters to veterans they have never even met when they could have been just hanging out somewhere for an hour. MY Millennials send me texts, Facebook messages, snail mail letters, emails, tweets, and instagram posts of concern if they think I need it or appreciation if they think I need it or celebration if they think I need it or even correction if they think I need it. And that is a hard one to accept, but it has happened and happened very recently. If you are able to send a text to a former teacher you love and respect and tell them that something they said casually really hurt your feelings, you have backbone that most people with twice your years don't have. MY Millennials have started non-profits. MY Millennials run charities that provide furniture for those who don't have any. MY Millennials work as Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, camp counselors, and children's pastors. MY Millennials organize and run social justice organizations, voting movements, and diversity appreciation programs. MY Millennials have places at the head of classrooms in low-income schools, high-income schools, and all schools in between because they understand that kids are kids and all kids need an advocate. MY Millennials are foster parents, they are pastors, and they are social workers. MY Millennials build each other up, support each other, and love on each other. MY Millennials know how to disagree without destroying. MY Millennials are some of the best parents I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing as they guide their own children down life's sometime challenging way. MY Millennials organize food drives and bake cookies for nurses and make provision sacks for the homeless and visit the elderly. MY Millennials are adopting children from foster care and overseas. MY Millennials are teaching in rural classrooms in Thailand and ministering on farms in Cambodia. MY Millennials care for their friends and their loved ones. MY Millennials have started home businesses and advanced up the corporate ladder and won Employee of the Month at restaurants and factories. MY Millennials have played some role in my kids' birthday parties for the past four years and won't EVER let me pay them. MY Millennials aren't entitled, they are empowered; they aren't disrespectful, they are daring. MY Millennials are speaking up for the marginalized, they are standing up for the voiceless, and they are walking beside the hurting. MY Millennials are leading prayer before sports practices at Cleveland Middle School, they are sharing their testimony on social media, they are presidents of Beta Clubs at E.L.Ross, they are sitting beside the new student at North Lee. MY Millennials are having birthday parties in which they ask their friends to bring, rather than presents, something they can donate to a cause. MY Millennials are the girls I overheard in the locker room at the last swim meet, building up and cheering on and loving a teammate who was feeling discouraged about her performance. MY Millennials spent this weekend hosting an event to honor veterans. MY Millennials coordinated a 5K so that a war hero will have a chance to see the national memorial in his honor before he dies. MY Millennials not only coordinated a market today for the same purpose, but OTHERS of MY Millennials who weren't even on this committee showed up to run and shop just to support their peers. MY Millennials are interns for youth groups. MY Millennials give up their spring breaks to go to Honduras and Haiti to love on orphans. MY Millennials mow lawns to raise money to go across the ocean and spread the gospel and they walk out that same Gospel here in their own backyard. MY Millennials don't just talk about politics, they go door to door to support a candidate they believe in. MY Millennials ask me every single day, "How are you today, Mrs. Davis?" and they CARE about my answer.

MY Millennials have donated, in cold hard cash, $4383 toward our adoption, and many of these were accompanied by sweet cards and letters for us and the kids. MY Millennials, 26 of them, have donated items for our auction and many of those have contacted me themselves to offer. Another of MY Millennials who I don't even know contacted me to ask my permission to do her own fundraiser for us because she has a heart for our kids. MY Millennials love hard, and they love big. They are loyal and they are devoted. They are working to build a world that I will be proud for my grandchildren to inhabit. MY Millennials will have my heart, always and forever, and I will never forget the times that they have stood beside me, held my arms up when I was too worn down to do it on my own, prayed for me, sent me Bible verses, and just simply showed up.

I don't know if that sounds like the Millennials you are hearing about on the news, in social media, and in conversation, but those are MY Millennials. And I am proud of who they are and what they are doing and will do. I am honored to play a small part in their lives, either as their teacher or their parent or their mentor or their friend. Love you, mean it, MY Millennials.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Superhero Capes and Princess Dresses

I wish that was the title to such a cool blog post instead of another post about fundraising BUT.... It's not! :) However, it IS the title to a really cool fundraiser and one that is both accessible to people out of town AND that requires ZERO work for me. And that's something I can get behind! :) The link and information is posted below. Make sure that you choose "Davis Family" from the drop down so that we will receive credit. Christmas delivery is guaranteed if you order by 11/30.

Calling all superheroes and princesses! The Lord has provided in so many glorious and miraculous ways throughout our adoption process. We've been given an amazing opportunity to be a featured family for this cape and dress sale! How cute are these?! Take a look at the link below and select our family name on the dropdown menu if you're interested in ordering! These would also make a GREAT Christmas gift for the Superhero or Princess in your life! Orders must be placed by December 1 for guaranteed Christmas delivery. Products are on hand, so they will ship within a week of ordering.